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Dark Works 2002
The Premiere Home Haunt Got Even Better In 2002
By Rick Whitlow

Over the years, "Terror Syndicate Productions" has revolutionized what we have come to know as a "home haunt". No longer is it just a house with a "ghoulishly" decorated yard, but now more and more people are beginning to build their own props, and some are even creating walk-through type attractions on their property. With this in mind, this month I am going to be taking a look at "Dark Works 2002", the latest creation of macabre by Steve Hickman, creator of TSP. I am going to show you what's new and give you the answers to the questions you know you've been asking yourself.
Dark Works; it is the ultimate walk-through home haunt. It started out 4 years ago, in 1999 then named "Shallow Grave". It was a small "haunt" which combined Steve Hickman's uncanny prop-building skills with his unique sense of creativity to create something truly unique for it's time.
In 2000, the haunt was named "Damnation". This was it's last name change before finally settling on it's new name in 2001, "Dark Works". This has been the most appealing as well as the most fitting name for his haunt. For the last 2 years, and probably for the next several years, "Dark Works" will be the name that stays. In Steve's own words, "Dark Works is just what it says... a collection of dark works." What I'd like to focus in on, is Dark Works 2002. Easily the largest and best haunt that Steve Hickman has built to date.

Dark Works 2002 was open on October 26th, from 7pm until 10pm, and on Halloween night, from 6pm

until 9:30 pm. They received 318 guests this season and ended up running about an hour over each night. Steve says he tries to keep his creation low profile for his neighbors' sake, even though most of his neighbors went through his haunt and loved it! This year, walking through Dark Works took approximately 5 minutes or so, depending on the group.
In the past years, this walk-through style haunt has been constructed mainly underneath his large deck. This year, however, it was built as a free-standing modular haunt in their driveway. Not only was it larger than in previous years, but the props were outstanding. The size of the building used to house the haunt was 12x40 (480 sq ft), but if you include the que lines etc, the size was 22x40 (880 sq ft). It featured 12 pneumatic prop scares, as well as 3 scares from a single actor inside. The biggest change this year was the direction in which the haunt ran.
In previous years, it had gone length ways along the back of the house. This year, it was free-standing and ran from their garage door to the back of the property. Some of the other changes included the large wall display on the side of the house was all new along with the re-designed crawling gargoyle. The main gate entrance to the line
was all new and included two smoke towers. The gate to the haunt was cut down in size and reused. One of the unique items that was created for this years haunt was a custom built hot chocolate machine, which I will admit, made me jealous because I wanted one!

New props for this year were not in short supply, as Steve created even more awe inspiring props that could easily make any pro haunter green with envy. The 2002 season included around 15 new and modified props. Many

of the corpses were re-worked into new props, several pneumatic props were constructed, as well as new static props and light fixtures. The "Wall Crawler" was modified and had gargoyle wings attached, adding more life to it. Terror Syndicate Productions delivered big in this year's lineup, creating some of the best looking props so far. Some of them included "The Angel Of Death" minus the wings, which was a
static prop, "The Barrel Prop", "The Chained Coffin", and one of my favorites, "The Monument Prop" which is just amazing in it's concept.

Now for the technical side of Dark Works. The entire haunt is controlled from one location inside their shop. All the electrical, video, audio, fog control and air lines are run to the

haunt through a 4" diameter access port installed in the side of the house.

Construction on this haunt didn't begin until late in the year. Walls didn't go up until early September and took them over a month to give the "monster" life.

Work on Dark Works was non-stop until opening night on October 26th. Thousands of dollars were spent on the this project. Steve says, "I don't work with a budget so I try not to think about it. Time is the biggest investment in building a haunt like this."

When the "off-season" arrives, Dark Works, like all haunts, must be put into "hibernation". All the walls from the haunt are stacked

and stored outside covered in weatherproof tarps. 90% of the props are placed in a 12x16 storage shed, while the remaining props go into his game room as "decor" to give the room a little more life, or should I say, "death".

With so much work and love poured into this haunt, it's no wonder why "Dark Works" and

"Terror Syndicate Productions" has become so popular among home and professional haunters. I hope this article has given you some insight into this year's haunt, as well as answered the questions that you've been wanting to know about "Dark Works". After reading this, it's not hard to see how Steve has re-defined the term of "home haunting".

If you would like even more information on "Terror Syndicate Productions", check out their website at From there, you can view photos of haunts and props from years past as well as order "how-to" books for creating awesome props just like the one's you've seen here, not to mention other great merchandise!

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