Inside a humble workshop just outside Calgary, the producers behind the city’s first Halloween-themed expo are busy working on props.
“I use these masks and fill in all the eyeballs. I stuff them all and then I’m going to fully costume them with brand new fur,” Matthew Underwood, a prop artist, said.
Over the next few weeks, Underwood will create around 200 props out of mannequins, plastic skeletons and masks. Some of the life-sized figures will then be transported to The Halloween and Entertainment Expo (also known as HEX) coming to Calgary in October.
From Screamfest to HEX
HEX is the child of annual horror festival ScreamFest. Last year, co-founder Mike Sheppard decided to shut down the festival and rebrand it into a part Halloween and part entertainment expo.
“We’ve been doing haunted houses for 19 years and we’ve grown Screamfest for 13 years. The one thing we’ve heard over and over is that there’s a lot of people that love Halloween but don’t like to get scared,” Sheppard said.
“We didn’t allow kids under 12. So why don’t we do something appropriate for kids? So we just wanted to create an event that is more inclusive. Hex really has ScreamFest inside of it.”
Screamfest was an annual festival that had seven haunted houses for those aged 12 and up. There were also carnival games, escape rooms, axe throwing and stage shows.
Sheppard said HEX will have all of those elements and more. Vendors, costumes and makeup seminars will be available at the expo.
“If you want to carve a pumpkin you can buy a pumpkin and we’ll have a guy who can sit down and teach you how to carve a pumpkin,” Sheppard said.
“ScreamFest kind of created this whole Halloween, scaring culture and it’s become an annual thing that people do and now we’ve just taken that and broadend it.”
HEX will also have a handful of celebrities dropping in for the weekend. Actor Robert Englund, best known for his role as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street will be there. As will rock legend Meat Loaf and actor Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers in the Halloween franchise.
‘I’m kind of like a lego master builder:’ Underwood
Back at the workshop Underwood is figuring out how to fix two styrofoam ghouls who’ve had their face smashed in. He’s also got three plastic mannequins he’s going to turn into creepy monsters.
“I’ll just look at it and sort of see the shapes or figure out what I can do to make it look really creepy and then sort of go with it,” said Underwood.
“I’m kind of like a lego master builder.”
Visitors are also invited to dress up in cosplay or costumes.
The Halloween and Entertainment Expo is at the BMO Centre on the Stampede Park and runs from Oct. 11 to 14.