Prepare yourself, for you are about to experience the greatest haunted attraction in the world, lit by broad daylight.
Haunted Overload is an outdoor, hand-built haunt situated in a beautiful New Hampshire forest. Back in 2014, it won ABC’s television competition The Great Halloween Fright Fight. I’ve featured it on this blog before. I visit it every fall. But this time, I went during the day.
The attraction is the brainchild of artist Eric Lowther, who, with his talented crew, creates enormous, intricate wooden structures using mostly chainsaws, hammers, and nails.
My photographs don’t do the crew’s masterful work justice or properly capture how utterly massive the structures are.
When I was there last weekend, the leaves had started to turn gold and were literally in the process of falling from the trees as I gazed up in awe at the crew’s work.
At night, Haunted Overload comes alive. It’s lit up in the darkness by colored lights and jack-o-lanterns. Fog seeps into the trails and costumed actors lurk behind corners, adding more terror to the experience.
But seeing Haunted Overload during sunnier hours was a special treat, because it offered me a rare chance to admire Eric and crew’s astoundingly precise and detailed craftsmanship.
Eric is a very kind and welcoming person who radiates pure madman energy. He loves making things and has a passion for scaring people, and it shows in every piece of timber he arranges.
And get this: He was kind enough to do a short interview for the blog! Here are my questions and his answers.
Q: If you had to dress in costume for Halloween, what would you wear?
A: I dress up as a chainsaw guy; I’ve got this cool mask and long black coat. I run around with a chainsaw all night. So that’s what I would dress up as. I’m not a good actor, but I’m good at timing, so I like to run up behind people and start the saw right away, so that’s pretty cool. That always gets ’em.
Q: Yes, that IS terrifying. I can attest to that, as a patron!
A: [evil, devilish laugh]
Q: What do you think is the best thing about Halloween?
A: The imagery, the lighted pumpkins. I’ve always enjoyed the artistic expression of Halloween. It’s a non-stress holiday, unlike Christmas. On Halloween you can just have fun, and the creativity is unlimited, as far as what you can make. I just love scaring people also, so everything goes hand in hand. The fall colors in New England are just beautiful.
Q: What’s your favorite scary movie?
A: Boy, there are so many awesome ones that it’s hard to pick. The Hills Have Eyes comes to mind. I love that one because I have a lot of structures that are really creepy and have kind of that vibe going on.
Q: How do you plan your creations for Haunted Overload? Everything is built so precisely! Do you have architectural training?
A: I have an artistic background. I went to Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey, so I thought I was going to be a cartoonist. But I’ve been doing this Halloween thing since I was 12 years old and got a little too old to trick or treat. And once I got the first scare from the trick or treaters and parents that came in, I was hooked on scaring people.
For a lot of the structures, I make detailed models. I come here and take measurements in the winter, and then I actually make 3-dimensional models. But for some things that I have to rush, like this thing right here [points to an unfinished 20-foot skull face near a ladder, a work in progress], I can pretty much do it out of my head. I just cut the boards, and then I break them and slap ’em on. Luckily I have a saw mill guy down the street that I can call up and say ‘OK I need 50 big beams’ or whatever.
Q: What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
A: It’s a toss up between Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Tootsie Rolls. I can’t stop eating ’em. When I smell them, it really reminds me of Halloween.
Thank you, Eric and crew, for your hospitality. Spending time with you was absolutely the highlight of my 2020 Halloween Season!
I strongly encourage anyone reading this who is even remotely near New Hampshire to go visit Haunted Overload. They’re opening tonight and have reconfigured the entire trail this year to allow extra space for social distancing.