Monsters Wanted review: chasing a nightmare

Monsters Wanted green llight

A rare unromantic look at just how much labor (and risk) goes into a labor of love…
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Louisville, Kentucky, is a city that loves its scary stuff. Its annual Zombie Attack, the world’s largest zombie parade and block party, is happening this Thursday, August 29th. The city hosts several competing participatory theatrical events for the Halloween season, including Asylum Haunted Scream Park, home to multiple attractions, this year featuring the intriguingly entitled “Zombie City: Mutation” and “Darkness Falls,” indoor and outdoor “haunted house” scenarios; “Xterminate: Zalien Attack,” an interactive live-action first-person shooter; and “Carnivale of Lost Souls,” a carnival complete with old-fashioned sideshow freaks and geeks. This is only the third year for Asylum: at this point in the late summer of 2011, business and life partners Rich Teachout and Janel Nash were pouring all their time and money into creating their dream “haunt”… and filmmakers Brian Cunningham and Joe Laughrey were following their every step. As a veteran — or perhaps survivor is a better word — of community theater, with which this sort of work shares a lot of similarities, I recognize the wonderful madness that grips Teachout and Nash and all the driven, passionate people they recruit to help build their dream, and the perseverance and just plain insanity it takes to carry on even when success seems far from certain. Because what else are ya gonna do? As Nash explains, she and the whole crazy bunch are oddballs who don’t quite fit in with the wider world who have no choice but to invent their own space for them to be happy in, even if the price to be paid is a life that runs on exhaustion and adrenaline and maxed-out credit cards. Anyone who is following their creative, eccentric bliss — or trying to — will see themselves in this affectionate but honest portrait of the Asylum crew; this is a rare unromantic look at just how much labor (and risk) goes into a labor of love. But horror aficionados should get a kick out of this, too, for the behind-the-scenes peek at how Halloween hauntings get produced. From the actor who loves his chainsaw and wields it just a tad too enthusiastically to the visit to the Halloween trade show that is like horror heaven, this is blood-and-guts at its most fun.

Watch Monsters Wanted on iTunes.

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