Disturbed Souls Yard Haunt Brought the Screams Home for Halloween!

A new breed of home haunters has risen from the Golden Age of Trick-or-Treating to bring the thrills and chills of the Halloween season back where they belong: the American backyard.

This is the Phantom of the Ville with my last official report of the 2013 Halloween season, and appropriately enough I’m not in a mega-budget haunted house, but in a neighborhood back yard in a quaint subdivision of Jefferson County. After the rain soaked disaster of Thursday night that sent parents and kids fleeing to the shopping malls for trick-or-treats, I had little hope that a rescheduled neighborhood Halloween event would draw the little ghosts and goblins out of their homes.

I was wrong.

As I pulled into the neighborhood where Disturbed Souls was hosting their haunted back yard on November 1st, just as twilight loomed on the horizon, I was surprised to find dozens of costumed kids running up and down the leaf covered sidewalks. At least in this neighborhood, the spirit of Halloween would not be drowned by a little rain.

There’s a new breed of home haunter out there today. When I was a kid, we were thrilled if somebody bothered to dress up like a dummy, stuffing their clothes with newspaper and donning a cheap rubber mask, and would spring to life when one of us would try to take some candy out of the bowl sitting in his lap. It’s hard for me to imagine how we would have reacted to something as elaborate as Disturbed Souls along our regular trick-or-treat route.

In Shawn Pulliam and Kristy Ferrell’s J-town backyard, trick-or-treaters find a free haunted attraction nearly as elaborate as a professional, for-profit haunt, and it’s not the only one in town. There’s the Hetzer Haunted House in the South End and the Twisted Silver Yard Haunt in New Albany too. I wish I could have visited them all, but to do so in one night would have required a time machine!

This was Pulliam and Ferrell’s second year haunting their home in Jeffersontown, but they bring to Louisville their over 20 years of experience as home haunters with their Rest in Portland Yard Haunt in Portland, KY. They spend 6 to 8 months out of the year drawing up plans for the Halloween yard haunt, acquiring new props and working on set pieces, and then spend two months building the complete haunt that will only be brought to life for a couple of nights in late October.

“It’s his mom’s fault,” says Ferrell.

“True,” says Pulliam, “I guess my whole obsession with Halloween and horror started when my mom took me to the New Albany Drive-in to see ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ when I was five years old. I’ve never been the same.”

It’s hard for me to even wrap my head around the amount of professional scare equipment Pulliam and Ferrell have set up in their backyard: full size animatronics, pneumatics, an 8 by 10 foot movie screen, fog machines, laser tunnels,  a Chucky rollercoaster, a “Hellraiser” set, a graveyard scene, aliens, clowns, ghosts, werewolves, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface. It’s all free, by the way.

After you pass through the entryway, you’ll come across an animated skeleton at the ticket booth before sitting down in an outdoor theater for a two minute introduction on a giant screen. This setup includes Chucky attacking on a rollercoaster and Freddy Krueger coming out of the movie screen to start you on your journey.

You’ll enter the first room to encounter Jigsaw and some other silver screen boogiemen before exiting into an elaborate graveyard scene. Then it’s forward to an alien themed area and into a disorienting, fog filled laser tunnel that includes an unexpected sparking electric scare. Next you’ll pass Pinhead and his torture playground before entering a maze with evil clowns and shocking blasts of compressed air!

Then you’re headed for the finale, but first you’ll come face-to-face with the Frankenstein monster, Michael Myers and one full sized animatronic werewolf in a cage plus a live one that has unfortunately escaped. Just when you think it’s over, you’ll meet Leatherface and his favorite toy in a chainsaw chase-out that sent several crying kids running down the street.

I saw a couple of terrified kids last night, but I bet every one of them carries this Halloween memory with them for the rest of their lives. The tears and screams coming from the back yard didn’t deter the crowds out front, where the line stretched down the driveway and onto the sidewalk. I tip my coachman’s hat to Pulliam and Ferrell for pulling off such an amazing homegrown house of horrors!

Well, my friends, the haunting season is over for this year. It’s time to put our plastic pumpkins and Styrofoam tombstones back in our garages and attics until next year. Don’t despair, however, Louisville Halloween isn’t going anywhere this year. There are still plenty of urban legends, haunted places and spooky events to report on the whole year long. Louisville is kooky like that! Although I might not be posting as often as I have in September and October, I will continue from this day forward to seek out every strange and unusual corner in the Ville. If you know of anything that needs investigating or have something you’d like us to shine a spooky light on, drop me an email at phantom@louisvillehalloween.com.

The Phantom of The Ville

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