Krampus on Halloween: Michael Dougherty, David Koechner on walking through Pittsburgh's ScareHouse

Not content to dominate the art of fear connected to one holiday, Halloween, the ScareHouse haunt of Pittsburgh has moved on crafting nightmare fuel around Christmas as well. And what high-quality, artistic nightmares they are.

As we revealed last month, the haunted attraction has partnered with Legendary Pictures and Universal to create a themed scare zone surrounding the upcoming Christmas-themed horror comedy Krampus. The result is an incredibly gorgeous, but undeniably freaky, “artisanal” haunt that also serves as a unique, interactive piece of marketing for a major studio film.

On a recent trip to Pittsburgh, I walked through Scarehouse with a group of journalists, followed shortly by Krampus actor David Koechner and director Michael Dougherty (who also directed the cult anthology flick Trick ‘r Treat, which also has a dedicated haunt here).

While I cannot say it was the most scream-inducing haunted house I’ve walked through, it is certainly one of the loveliest. While instilling a creeped-out sense of dread, punctuated by the occasional well-placed actor jumping out, the area is indeed haunting. It made me curious and intrigued me enough to want to stop and explore, then it stuck with me after I left.

And all that was even before the reveal of the Krampus area, which Dougherty called "flattering." So, when we took a step inside the movie, we were confronted by a homicidal horde of gingerbread men come to life. A toothy Jack-in-the-box and Teddy Bear terrorized. Then Krampus himself took his turn, as did his evil dark elf minions. In fact, we learn that Krampus has all same the tools as Santa, just on the dark side. Speaking of the fat man, even he seemed to be a dastardly character, a little too quick on the “Naughty” label for my liking.

All in all, I learned that all hell is going to break loose this holiday season when Krampus is released Dec. 4. I was already excited to see what Dougherty had in store, but the experience of walking through the movie brought it to life in a clever way that exceeds even the cool activations of San Diego Comic-Con.

So, what did Koechner and Dougherty think? After walking through, I had the chance to sit down with them to discuss the scary experience and how it helps them sell a movie through the unique Scarehouse partnership. We also discuss Christmas in general and how it can be a terrifying holiday all on its own.


For his part, Dougherty said, "There is something special about ScareHouse; there's a lot of love, craft and care poured into this" and that it "feels more intimate" than bigger haunts. Meanwhile, Koechner said it was cool experience doing the haunt for publicity instead of a standard junket. 

"I thought we were going to go through lights up," he said. "I’m still digesting it," but he added there was a "hey, that's ours" element to it when he could see, and be scared by, the creatures from a film he is in.

Check out the video, and if you’re in Pittsburgh this weekend, do not miss the incredibly worthwhile ScareHouse.

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