Chamber of Secrets

Collinsville's Miners' Theater hosts a horrifying spectacle

Bumps in the Night

Miners' Theater, 204 West Main Street in Collinsville, Illinois

7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 27. Admission is $6. Call 618-628-9091 for more info. Some may find the material graphic and disturbing; no young children, please.

"In a haunted house, you have to walk to each scene. Here, each scene comes to you." That's taken from the press release for Bumps in the Night, the next step in the evolution of the haunted house.

Christian Dickerson and some pals from Collinsville's Creative Arts Theatrical Society have been working hard to create a different sort of scary Halloween experience. Audience members sit in a theater for a 90-to-120-minute immersion in blood that Dickerson describes as "like Friday the 13th live."

People will witness a violent stage drama designed to gross out and scare them, but that drama is not confined to the stage. Dickerson's Creative Control Productions team is also using six video cameras. Portions of the gory story will take place in various other rooms within the theater building and will be projected onto the big screen live. You won't have to move to witness the horrors onstage, onscreen, in the aisles and elsewhere.

When the lights go out, anything can happen. Dickerson has makeup and special-effects artists working on Bumps, along with lighting and sound techs -- clever illusions will trick the audience. The director is also a big fan of slime-rockers GWAR and was inspired by the band's "bile cannon" to come up with his own weapon that shoots nasty fluids (the audience should stay dry, says Dickerson, but wear old clothes just in case).

Dickerson says he "told my whole cast to scare the living hell out of people," but the actors may not have to work real hard. That's because the Miners' Theater is supposedly haunted. The director says he has seen an unexplained orange glow and felt moving shafts of cold air and invisible hands touching him.

You'll have to decide for yourself which ghosts are real.

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