We’re going on-location to Evil Intentions in Elgin IL to learn about their 2022 season. Evil Intentions is known for its ‘jungle gym’ rooms filled with actors choreographed to original music. Today we’ll hear from owner Mike Fitzpatrick.
We’re going on-location to Evil Intentions in Elgin IL to learn about their 2022 season. Evil Intentions is known for its ‘jungle gym’ rooms filled with actors choreographed to original music. Today we’ll hear from owner Mike Fitzpatrick about what makes the haunt successful and what they have planned for 2022. We visited Evil Intentions on June 10th during the Midwest Haunters Convention Haunt Tour.
Mike: So, my name is Mike Fitzpatrick, I am the owner of Evil Intentions Haunted House in Elgin, IL. Wow, Evil Intentions is in an old Elgin Casket Company building, so the haunted attraction, you actually go through a real-life haunted building. Lots of stories, lots of histories about the place.
Our theme, we try to stick with exactly the story of the building. So, all of our characters, all of our sets designs, our soundtrack, everything is tailored to what you may actually find if you entered this creepy building, it's a lot of old school with a lot of the new elements kind of involved in it. We don't really do a lot of the Animatronics, we do a lot of the fancy scenes, a lot of fancy sets, but we really focus on our characters. Its very actor driven, so 100% focus goes into the costumes and scare effects.
Philip: On that line, let's talk about the queue line, it seems to me like it was designed to show off your characters.
Mike: Exactly. Exactly, you walk into the queue and it kind of sets up what the haunted attraction really is going to be like. The music is cranked really loud, the lights are just power surging, it's very dark, it's very dirty, and our actors are climbing around and in your face from the moment you watch it to the moment you leave. A lot of people have said a lot of good things about the queue line.
Philip: I like how it is it's built so that the actors can physically climb around you.
Mike: A lot of our actors are referred to us from our actors that are there now, they're friends. We do a lot of ads, do a lot of social media ads looking to pick up people, and we end up picking up very talented, very good people. Our training starts around June. We start very early with the training, especially for the rooms we call the jungle gym room, like the ending role, Maximum Security, there's actors climbing, they're hanging upside down, sliding down poles. I mean, they need to really choreograph with each other. So, we will come in, we'll set out an outline for them, and then let them play within that outline. It's not too strict where you have to go here, and you have to go there. They can initiate it in that room and see what works better for them, where the scares work. We just kind of guide them a little bit, but it is very strict training for that. One wrong move, one wrong jump, somebody could get seriously hurt.
Philip: So you're giving them training, not just like how to move safely, but also giving them time to work with each other so that they can have a good cohesive scene.
Mike: Correct, yes, we've had actors that are still with us after 10 years and have worked in the same area together, and they're just so in sync, even with the music. There's one song in particular, it'll play through, maybe halfway through the song it will stop. The lights are out, they're power sound activated, so it goes completely pitch black, the actors know when it's going to hit, they know how long it's going to be off, and when it's going to turn back on, and they choreograph a routine and a scare for that part in particular, and it's very cool to see it.
Philip: Tell me why that is so important to you.
Mike: Well, obviously number one is the safety with the choreography, but the scares for us, that's what we love. We want to be the type of haunt that really scares you, not enough to where you don't go back again, but to where you're having a good time, you're coming out, you're sweating, you're laughing, and you want to come back with your friends and go do it again. It's kind of a different show every time around, so you can experience new things every time you enter.
Philip: You're very invested in that physicality. Why was that approach important to you versus you know, maybe not having climbing at all, or versus just like creepy walking down the hallway?
Mike: Right, we want to mix it up. I think if the customers kind of feel like they're being attacked from all angles, above you, way above you, below you, or crawling on the ground, customers are going to look all different ways, they're not going to know which direction it's coming from, which in turn provides a great misdirection scare for another actor to come get you. Yeah, we try to immerse them as much as we can with that.
Philip: Speaking of immersion, which you just mentioned it, tell me about the soundtrack.
Mike: So one of our actors, Tim Steadman, produced the whole soundtrack. Even before I met him, I wanted to have a specific soundtrack just for Evil Intentions, and I always had a certain type in mind. A great example for me is the Outlast video games.
The soundtrack, the score in there was so haunting and so creepy when you play those games. Tim came aboard, we met Tim and he says, "hey, I'm a sound engineer I can compose something like that." So, I showed him examples of what we would love to do, he went on his own, created a whole album for us, and just nailed everything perfectly like it's so good.
Philip: But I like also how you have the "welcome to the casket company" like you work that into the soundtrack in the queue line.
Mike: Yeah, I'm a huge Disney fan, and I love what they do to entertain people, and we've taken a lot of elements from that as well. When you pull up to the Casket Company, when you enter the queue line, you will hear that playing, "Welcome to the Elgin Casket Company. Your tour will begin shortly." The whole time.
Philip: And then also you're selling the soundtrack as well this year.
Mike: Correct, yeah, the CD's. You can pick them up here [at Midwest Haunter's Convention], they'll eventually be on our website that we're having redone to order. Yeah, they're proving to be very popular.
Philip: Talk to me about what you have planned for this season.
Mike: For this season, it's been a wild ride so far. Every year we always make changes, always make a lot of changes. We don't want people to come into the same sets, the same thing over and over, and we want to build new areas for actors to jump around to be crazy in. We're going to be redoing at least two or three new areas after MHC is done, add on a few more, maybe, industrial sets that you're going to see in there.
So, putting a lot more attention into our costumes. There's already a lot of work into him, we're going to keep upgrading the year after year. There's going to be a lot more in scare spots. A lot more, I want to say kind of old school scares that work very well, that we're going to be adding through.
Philip: And when does your season start?
Mike: Our season starts last Friday and Saturday in September.
Philip: And it goes through Halloween?
Mike: It goes through Halloween, it'll be six weeks, 21 nights total. We have your basic general, your VIP fast pass, and then we have an instant-in as well. Sometimes the line gets to be 3 or 4 hours and people just, they want to get in, so we just created an option for that too. People looking for a different style of haunt, a very intense, kind of old school haunt, come see us.