Pageant of the Monsters

Once every 5 years the creative brains behind the Pageant of the Masters endeavor to resurrect the dead in an off-season production titled Pageant of the Monsters. During the last week of October, the dearly, and not so dearly departed, will fester throughout the haunted house labyrinth in the Pageant’s backstage area. We asked Executive Director, Diane Challis Davy, to explain the method behind the morbid madness.

What inspired the first Pageant of the Monsters?
The Pageant of the Masters is a veritable treasure house of old props and sets. I had always thought that with a bit of imagination they could be transformed into a haunted house attraction. So I then I came up with the name which was pretty silly, and in 1996 when I became director of the Pageant I thought that the volunteers would relish the opportunity to have fun dressing up at Halloween time. It was the perfect storm! There was a good community response, as the Pageant of the Monsters was fun for families—and not terribly scary or gory. It was just old fashioned fun.

Do you have a fascination with horror?
Before age 10 I definitely believed in ghosts. As a kid I remember loving (and being scared by)
those scary movies on our black and white TV. The Mummy, The Black Cat, Frankenstein 1970, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Innocents, The Haunting. And then in high school we saw The Fall of the House of Usher with Vincent Price IN COLOR! Sorry to say I am not very fond of current movies in the horror genre…

What specifically fascinates you about Halloween?
I’m very interested in period costumes and stage design. I also love the idea of working with a theme and making due with what we have on hand.

Do you have a background in special effects?
No, but I work with several people who are excellent lighting and sound technicians.

What emotional response do you seek to invoke from visitors to the haunted house? Do you want people to leave petrified, amazed, giddy?
Most important is the element of surprise-the guests walk through the scenes not knowing what is going to happen next. I hope there will be more laughs than screams, but I guarantee more than a couple of good scares. I think folks will be amazed to see up close what fantastic sets we make for the Pageant.

What does an undertaking of this magnitude entail ie: number of volunteers; pounds of makeup; quantity of fake blood; ghoulish costumes; props; technology. Where does it all come from?
We had 200 people volunteer and Over 100 will end up participating. We have substantial costume and makeup supplies backstage already—but I think we will need to buy some fake blood. We have several smoke machines and 2 machines called “Cryoblasters”. You’ll have to wait to see what they do!

When does development for this production begin? Is it over a 5 year span?
No, we start thinking about it the summer before.

Is there a group brainstorm like Pageant of the Masters?
Yes staff members all contribute ideas and skills.

How do you prioritize your time when you have another Pageant the following year?
I don’t really. I just bounce from one thing to another. Its all fun and creative. (I have a Pageant budget to work on too! Now that’s frightening!)

Is there a particular scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark which inspired this theme?
We have some landscaping on the Festival grounds which is lushly landscaped and a bit jungle-like. We also have an exact replica of the South American Golden Idol.

Could you give us a teaser of what to expect?
“Follow the footsteps of legendary archeologist, adventurer and treasure hunter “Cincinnati Smith” on a whimsical and haunted spoof of a popular movie series. Cincinnati is on a perilous quest to recover the greatest treasures from exotic locales across the globe. He has set his sights on the holy grail, a golden idol, and the arc of the covenant! YOU, his guests will trek through the creepy jungle empire of the Amazon to the long abandoned desert tombs of the Pharaohs. Encounters with cannibals, mummies and yes, slithering reptiles are likely…”Oh
NO not SNAKES!” Yessssssssssss! indeed, there will be snakes. PLEASE watch your step!”

What else can we expect on the FOA grounds this year? Live music, concessions, etc…? 
We have some very funny sideshows on the grounds that are returning from previous years, most notably THE ALIEN AUTOPSY and THE DEMENTED CHEF. There will be a DJ playing thrilling tunes, pumpkin carving demonstrations, Crafts for Kids, and we hope, some very talented fortune tellers. There will be snacks for purchase too.

Are the grounds free admission and the haunted house requires a separate entrance fee?
The ticket is all-inclusive. Guests may go through the Haunted Maze once for the admission price.

Is this haunted house appropriate for kids under 5?
Remembering how scared I would get as a child for almost no reason, I would say that under 5 is too young. Seriously, the first part of the maze is a rather steep incline and there are some stairs, but for those with disabilities, that section of the maze can be easily bypassed. 

Where do the proceeds go from this production?
Proceeds (if any) will go to the Festival of Arts which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the appreciation of the arts in the community of Laguna Beach.

Purchase online: or (800) 487-3378.

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01 Oct 2018

By Laguna Beach Vibe

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