Got Gore? An Interview With Kevin Alvey, CEO of Gore Galore
By Rick Whitlow
This month, I got a chance to talk with Kevin Alvey, CEO of Gore Galore.
From the his beginnings in haunted attractions, to his current projects running his company, you
will get an insight into the man they call "Mr. Gore". In this interview, you will find out more about
Gore Galore, and how their ideas are conceived, but before you read on, you might want to do one thing - "Getcha Some Gore!"
HauntSearch: At what age did you break into the haunt business? Kevin Alvey: I actually started
working for a local attraction at the age of 15. I worked at a pizza
place across the street and was very curious so I went over to the
attraction and they were nice enough to give me a tour. I even ended up
as a chairman of that same haunt. HS: How long did you work at that haunt before you became chairman? KA: Probably five years or so. It was a matter of graduating high school, or something to the effect. HS: Did you still do acting once you became chairman, or did you focus more on the business side of things? KA: You know, the acting is still the most enjoyable part of it. I will never give that aspect up, if I can help it.
HS: Do you still act, or has your company taken up all of your time? KA: Yes and Yes. Usually by the 1st
of Oct, with careful planning, our orders are close to being filled,
which gives me time to get to act at the attraction. Another Chairman
and myself are the first scene, or I should say are the "greeters". We
invite approximately 4 to 6 patrons into a shed-type structure and
begin to establish their expectations of the event, or rather, We make
them very UNCOMFORTABLE!
HS: Which attraction do you work at? Is there a "base haunt" or do you work at different attractions? KA: The Base Haunt is 'The Newburgh
Civitan Haunted House'. This year, the theme was the "Family of Fiends"
and the "Zombie Farm", but we (Gore Galore) also travel around and
perform for whomever contracts us to act with the "Giants" (Puppets).
I still do props for (Newburgh) 20 years later. HS: How many years have you been in the business of making props? KA: We have been in business for
five years now, but I have been doing props for haunted houses and
event companies for over 20 years.
HS: How did you get into prop making? KA: Well, I have always been into
making things even at a young age. But again, the Civitan club and
classes in school are where things did get started. HS: You just mentioned that you
have worked with other haunted houses and event companies. Would you
care to share some of the clients you've worked with? KA: Six Flags, Nautical Nightmare,
Busch Gardens. We (have worked with) others like Castle blood, Eventco,
Verdon Manor, Queen Mary's Shipwreck and way too many other haunted
attractions to mention. We've also worked with USA television
(we did a bunch of corpses for Law and Order SVU). We've done corpses for Van Hook studios and other
makers. We were even lucky enough to send a whole
of stuff to a naval base in Japan this year. We can now truly say we
international company. HS: That's an impressive list of clients... HS: Where did the idea for "Gore Galore" come from? KA: My long time love (Kathy Pepe)
and a friend (Eric Ridenour) were just sitting around trying to come up
with names for the business with (an emphasis) for fun and "Gore
Galore" came up pretty early and we just laughed out loud and here we
HS: How many people are involved with your company? KA: Well, it depends on the situation... HS: Would you mind explaining who's involved and what their job(s) are? KA: Kathy does some latex casting
and works with me with the Giants, Eric does quite a bit of sculpting,
Matt Bozone is a puppeteer, and his wife Sarah also helps with the
Giants and most of the executive decisions are mine to make, all the
smart decisions and ALL the mistakes.
HS: How big is your shop that you work in? KA: Our shop is broken up into 4
studios and each studio has its own specific task(s). We have a
warehouse space, the construction studio, a casting and painting studio
and a sculpting and molding studio. HS: How do you come up with the ideas for your props? Do you have meetings and brainstorm, or do you just create them on a whim? KA: That is the fun part. It is
usually just inspired or impulsive. We might be watching a movie, and I
or Kathy may think of something and we will stop the movie and make
note of it. That doesn't mean we do everything we think of, but I more
and more trust my impulses and intuition.
HS: Let's talk about your corpses. How are those conceived and created? KA: Well, that is actually the
simplest part. Eric and I just started by saying what kind of corpses
could people use. We actually studied mummies and some corpse pictures.
That is where Chester came from. Lester came about because we wanted a
more active looking corpse that looked electrocuted. Blubbo was just
the first Fat corpse we had ever seen. Then Ben the Bog man was
inspired by a real Bog Man.
The Mummy came from well we just wanted to see how detailed we could
make a mummy's wrappings. Now we are working on a 1/2 female hanging
upside down for our new Body Banger animation. Corpses are our
Specialty. That is why we call our line a "CADAVERAMA". HS: What are some of the materials used in creating your corpses? KA: We have at least a thousand pounds of clay sitting
around that we use for different projects. But it takes approximately
500lbs of clay and we throw it on what we call a "Gurney" and create
our clay sculpt with tons of patience and detail work. When we are
satisfied with the design we mold it in plaster. HS: How long does the process of sculpting, molding, painting and finishing up a corpse usually take? KA: Well, Sculpting can take from a
couple days to a couple weeks. It just depends on if we are satisfied
with the design or not. Molding usually only takes a full 10 to 15 hour
day because it has to be completed or else the layers may de-laminate.
Casting and foaming usually takes about an hour or two, pulling,
trimming and repair usually takes about 30 min. Painting is usually
only about 1 hour for each piece. That is really about it.
HS: With you animated "Torture
Boxes", those are unlike anything I have ever seen. Care to explain
where the idea for those came from? KA: Just another impulsive idea. We
had started our business with severed heads because, well, you have to
start somewhere, right? Well it was a weird way to use the severed
heads we were making. And I thought they were funny.
A smiling severed head getting hit with a hammer. How is that not funny in a masochistic and sadistic kind of way? HS: Although they seem unusual, are the torture boxes popular among your customers? KA: We do maybe 20 or so a year. I
think that is good. We build them using steel so people would be
getting quality pieces for a decent chunk of change.
HS: I've already asked you how you got started making props, now I'd like to ask you, how did you get started with animatronics? KA: I keep thinking of the work I
did with the Event Company (Rainbow Communications). We actually did
parade floats two years in a row that won best of parade at the
Kentucky Derby Parade. This is what actually introduced me to
animatronics. Their float had a animatronic band that was controlled by
a PLC. It was rather funny. I also did some fairly violent animation
for the haunted house that held up for years so I also began to trust
my methods. HS: In addition to the animated
torture boxes, you also offer some larger scale animated props, "Dizzy
Lizzy", "Mummy's Crypt", "Lestercution". How did those ideas come
about? KA: The idea for "Dizzy Lizzy" came
from watching 'Evil Dead'...There's a scene where a woman's head and
body are out of synch. "Mummy's Crypt", we just thought it would be
cool to offer an animation that could be used as the centerpiece of any
mummy or Egyptian scene. With "Lestercution", 'Lester' was one of our
first corpses, and the intention was to do an electrocution type
animation using that corpse.
HS: Now, with your puppets, some may say that they are a copy of Ex Mortis' "Stalkabouts" KA: Well, we actually created the first Towering Terror 10 years ago.
Also, ours are taller, and are used for totally different
purposes, and are built totally differently. They're used for queue line
entertainment. You wouldn't even be able to fit one of ours into a
house. I wish we didn't have to compete with Wayne (Ex Mortis) for
because I think he is a brilliant artist, and a very nice guy.
Wayne and I actually have a quite a bit in common with our interest in
operated devices (i.e. all different kinds of puppets.) HS: How did you come up with the idea for the giant "puppets"? KA: Well I have to give Eric the
credit for the basic idea. He had actually watched the Olympics and saw
the 20' stick figures, and we just thought it would be fun to build a
big puppet, and I had already had experience with puppets, and had a
couple years before made "Stick Boy", who is 7 feet tall so this was
not beyond us. We also had experience with fiber glass and that was
right up our alley. Everything has always just been a matter of a
challenge just to see if we could do it. This was no different. Just
bigger and better. HS: What are they constructed of? KA: Well the construction materials
have changed drastically over their history. The first was a lot of
sculpted bead board, lumber, and lots of fiber glass. The second was
similar but substitute steel and aluminum for lumber. Cranky the Robot
75 lbs The first Spooky Ernie weighed 70 lbs. The third was a major
change and it is kind of a trade secret, but we use molded urethane for
the heads and molded latex and foam for the hands. Zang the Destroyer
35 lbs and Giggles the Clown 45 lbs. All approximately 15 feet tall.
HS: Are they hard to keep upright given their size and weight? KA: Well a person about 6' or a
little taller will have the least battle with them, but it is still a
work out. It is a matter of balance and learning to walk with subtlety,
without extremes of movement, but they are such a blast to work. People
just crap when they see them. Little kids to adults just can't believe
it. Everybody just stands there with mouths gaping just watching. Matt
Bozone, the new puppeteer, and new found friend just put it on. I have
never seen anyone look so comfortable with one of the giants on.
HS: What are the other products that you offer? KA: Well, now we offer full scale
and automated animations, lots of severed heads, and tons of different
architectural details. Most involving skulls of some sort. Fog
chillers, fog heads and my favorite the Gargantuan Human Skull. We have
been lucky enough to strike up business with Terror By design (TBD), so
next year we will be doing a joint project called "Yacko" TBD will be
animating our skull. We also hope to have full body costumes next year
and tons of other items. We are a dealer for lots of different haunt
CD's, as well as Masks by Lubatti. HS: What is the giant skull? What is it's main purpose and how popular is it among your customers? KA: The Giant Skull is a skull face
that is 3' tall. It is just a skull but it is now flat on the back and
easy to display. It used to be $750 to buy, but we have made some
product changes that brought the cost way down and made it cheaper to
ship. We are also going to be using it to make giant corpse heads.
These are going to look like real corpse heads, but over 3' tall with
long hair and rotted flesh. I think they are going to be a big hit. The
reason I explained the change is because they were not selling very
well until we made the change and now they are doing well. I guess you
would use it as part of your facade or just as a quick scenic detail if
you want a little more eye candy. It is not something you would see
anywhere so it would get your patrons attention.
HS: I noticed your prices for the corpses seem to be VERY reasonable. For a full size corpse, you can't go wrong at under $300 KA: Well, I think so. The corpses are flat on the back making it easier to keep the price down.
Well, we don't do much business with other dealers so we keep our
prices reasonable for end users and other haunters. That was one of the
main concepts for our business. Reasonably priced props for the
descriminating haunter. I guess it does help that I am a haunter, and I
know what it is all about because I have been doing it for so long. I
guess you could say our props are by haunters for haunters. Actually,
all of our items are field tested before they are put on the market at
our haunt (Newburgh) .
HS: What is in the works for 2003? KA: "Yacko", the joint project with
TBD. The Body Banger, Dead man Rising, and Head Banger series, some
full body costumes, and I am sure there will be more items that we have
just not decided on yet. We hope to have The Meat Head animation, and
some giant creature animations, but the designs are still a secret .
You should see all the new items at Transworld in booths 3443 and 3445,
or the same booths as last year. Just look for the big blood splat in
the sky . HS: In closing, I'd Like to thank you for your time and wish you the best in the up coming year. KA: Thanks for the interview, and Keep Gore Alive!