Bradley Goad has always had a passion for Halloween, the holiday that lets him channel his creative juices on a grand stage.
The brains behind the Haunted House at Hillsville’s Carter Home since its inception nine years ago, Goad wasn’t about to stop doing what he loves when the Hale Wilkinson Carter Home Foundation made the decision to end the Haunted House this year. The result is a new haunted house, The Scare Shack, located in the old Martin’s Cleaners building in Hillsville next to the ABC store on U.S. 58.
“The Carter House has so much going on now they couldn’t justify the building being tied up with Haunted house for a month. Brad was absolutely heartbroken when this happened because this is what he loves to do,” said Shannon Dalton, sponsor of the Interact Club at Carroll County High School. “So he searched and searched and searched on his own until he found a building he could get for free. He took out a small personal loan to keep it together.”
As a member of the CCHS Interact Club, Goad was the mastermind behind the Haunted House at the Carter Home the past nine years. Now a college student, Goad has continued to help with the Haunted House.
But now that The Scare Shack is his own private enterprise, he still continues to put to use the lessons he learned as a member of the CCHS Interact Club, a group based largely in volunteering. He plans to give the profits he makes from The Scare Shack back to the Interact Club to do an Angel Tree at CCHS for needy students there.
“The Scare Shack is not an official event of the Interact Club, but some of the members are helping him with the Scare Shack,” Dalton said. “He is an independent entrepreneur at this point but he wants to give his profits to do an Angel Tree here at the high school, which is really nice. He is not out there trying to make money for himself, he just loves Halloween. He loves Haunted House, he loves theatrical makeup, he loves costumes, and he just loves the whole pageantry. He wanted to do something so the teenagers and people in the community would have something to do for Halloween.”
The Scare Shack offers plenty to frighten even the most seasoned Haunted House aficionado. Goad said this theme is based off a serial killer’s house “and the different ways he tortures a victim.” The Scare Shack, which will be open every Friday and Saturday during the month of October, as well as Halloween night, incorporates about 20 actors each night – many of which are Interact Club members. The average visit to The Scare Shack will last between 10-15 minutes, Goad said.
One room features newspaper clippings of the killer’s victims. A “chop shop” features the devices of torture used by the manical lead character, while another is full of deranged dolls and one has the “chopped up heads” on display as sort of a trophy room. Strobe lights, black lights and creepy music add to the mystique of The Scare Shack. Goad honed his craft in The Hacker House in Pilot Mountain, N.C., which has been dubbed one of the 10 scariest haunted houses in America.
“He has done a very nice job. It is very professional. You go in and he has got a sewing machine room with actors - the night I was there the girl had stitches on her face. He’s got a meat chop shop and there is a clown room. If you have a fear of clowns, that haunted house is right up your alley because there is a whole loop of creepy clowns. It is scary,” Dalton said. “It’s really impressive. He’s got a toxic waste dump area. He’s got a lot of optical illusion things, things like plastic coming down from the ceiling like a maze and you have to find your way through all this plastic.”
Dalton said The Scare Shack allows Goad to showcase his creative abilities. He does almost all the hair and makeup for the actors himself. He also looks for items in thrift stores, on clearance racks, and other places throughout the year that he repurposes for The Scare Shack.
“He just sees different purposes for stuff. He is very resourceful and has a massive stockpile. The amount of detail he puts into these things is just amazing,” Dalton said. “He shines in doing creative things. It’s not like he just decided in September to throw something together. He’s been working on this all summer long. The kids here love haunted houses and he wanted to save it for them.”
Goad’s work has even appeared on television recently. The decorations he did for the judges’ area at the Smoke on the Mountain BBQ State Championship in Galax this summer appeared on a recent episode of Food Network’s “The Shed.”
Goad is thankful for the Martin family, who let him use the building for free to put on The Scare Shack. The Scare Shack is open every Friday and Saturday night during October from 6-10 p.m., and the same hours on Halloween night. The cost is $5 for adults, and $3 for children 11 and under. Goad said arrangements are made to scale back the fright for younger visitors.
“We try to accommodate them,” Goad said. “If a little kid comes through, we are not going to go full-on like we would with an adult.”
Parents should use their own caution about letting certain ages visit The Scare Shack.
“It is at the discretion of your family. He does try to scale it back for younger people. Obviously it is not intended for small kids, but they do try to make accommodations for that,” Dalton said. “If people give him a chance and go, I think they will have a great time.”