13th Street Morgue
Red Oak, Texas

The GOBLINHAUS interview

Back in 2005, we first set foot inside 13th Street Morgue. Zero expectations, it was one of a very large number haunts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and set up in a barn on the grounds of the long running Reindeer Manor as a seeming side attraction. But Holy Hell. That year my friends, is what you would call a game-changer. The Morgue was still small then, but it was unlike any other. And we were stunned at how putting on a haunt show had just been totally re-defined.

Here were are excited to bring you this exclusive interview with Alex Lohmann, the driving force behind one of our all time favorite haunted houses.

GOBLINHAUS: 13th Street Morgue is always one of the best haunts in the DFW area. There isn't another haunt like it. Where does your inspiration come from?

ALEX: Well thank you! Me and the crew try our best! Its kind of hard to say, over my life there's been lots of things, both big and small, that effect and inspire me. It would be pretty fair to say though that my main motivation comes from classic ghost stories and haunted house tales. I was always the most effected as a kid by ghost stories and I preferred the type that took places in dilapidated old mansions that had been abandoned for unknown reasons. Another very key piece of the morgue in particular is the fact that I wanted to be a funeral director and in a weird way I'm getting to live out that life too. One of the other things I enjoyed as a kid was well done sets and props. I remember as a kid being very effected by the Kilgore Oil Museum. It wasn't a horror type attraction but it was set up like a street with stores on either side and dirt on the "road" and clouds on the "Sky". All the "stores" where packed full of old furniture that was very appropriate. To me a good design is almost like time travel, you get to place people in a time and place that doesn't really exist. That's the goal of the Morgue, to take people back to mid-December in 1930, in an old funeral home South of the big city of Dallas.

GOBLINHAUS: You have some of the most unique props. They aren't things you would find at the local Halloween stores or even at haunted house conventions. Where do your creepy collectibles come from?

ALEX: Sometimes its as complicated as hunting down lots of odds and ends and spending tons of time to assemble them just right, other times it's as simple as being patient and just finding them on Craigslist! But at the Morgue props and decorations have to be "just right" and fit the theme well. Sometimes a particular piece of furniture just doesn't "feel" right and it wont go in the show as a result. Lots of the props are handmade, custom one-offs, though they can very well be inspired from major production pieces. The horse drawn hearse was built by my old business partner years ago, he also did the initial assembly on the horse skeleton. The 1910 Embalming table was purchased from a funeral home that was shutting down, and along with it we brought home LOTS of other stuff. A lot of the antique furniture has been collected over the years from garage sales, online auctions, and from people contacting me with stuff they just want to be rid of.

GOBLINHAUS: 13th Street Morgue is one of the few remaining haunts that DOESN'T make a promise that the customer won't be touched which totally gives you an edge over other haunts. How do your customers respond to it?

ALEX: Hehe, they cringe, the scream, the run and they keep coming back! While we don't grope or grab, we let our customers know they may become part of the show. Actor contact goes hand in hand with something I WONT use in the shows...hand rails. When you walk through the shows there aren't any rails to separate the customer area and the "scare" areas because I want my customers to walk THROUGH a scene, not next to it. I very much like the idea that the dividing line between safe and not safe is blurred, at least from the perspective of the patrons, and light contact further blurs that line. Our customers are IN the show, part of it and not just observing it from the sides. This approach has its drawbacks as well. When you don't use rails the entire area is now a customer area and has to be safe from all angles. The use of a safety rail gives a haunter a very finite space to make safe and passable but I think its well worth it to make the whole area fair game and safe. That puts a limit on the last question. There's lots of great looking stuff I wish I could use but if its not safe for customers to be near then it can't be used or has to be used in a place no one can get to. But touching is ahem...a touchy subject. Not all the crew gets the privilege and if its your first year with us, forget it! The ones who are allowed are trusted and they know what the limits are. But examples of what might happen is someone sneaking up and brushing your hair in the dark or asking a customer to take your hand while you lead them through the graveyard. Our customers respond well to it.

GOBLINHAUS: 13th Street Morgue is now neighbored by the new Dungeon of Doom for the 2nd year in a row. Last year you kept a lot of the scenes the same as it was set up when it was the Dungeon of Doom at the museum of art in Arlington. Have you done anything to mix things up this year? Do you still have some of the old DOD feel or is it an entirely new haunt?

ALEX: DOD got a pretty decent overhaul this year, at least partially, and there's lots more slated for next year as well. But overall it will always have the old DOD feel to it and that wont change. The rooms will change but the intent and style will live on, so while it's in a new location now its evolution will continue undisturbed. Several of the old staff came over with the show and they have proven to be vital consultants for style. A few things are done a little differently, we're beginning to focus more on detail and while DOD never had any animations before there's a few props on the list that may be animatronics. Not as a focal scare per say but as a tool for the staff to use. The nice thing about DOD is since its not locked into a very, very tight theme like the Morgue, we have a little more freedom to design in. There's nothing worse than devising an excellent concept for a room and have no place to utilize it!

GOBLINHAUS: Do you have anything going on at the Morgue that you want people to know about? New things to expect, special events, future plans, stuff like that?

ALEX: The Morgue is expanding for next year...again! Dungeon of Doom is also looking at a possible expansion in the next year or two. Next year is also going to be our first year for video commercials so keep en eye out for those. But it'll really just be business as usual for us this next season, gotta keep making it bigger, badder and scarier!


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