ROANOKE, Va. – When people come to Blue Ridge Nightmares, they may not be ready for what they are about to experience.
“We’re trying to use a Hollywood-quality set on a street in any town in America. That’s just a little wrong,” Anthony Giordano said, with a bit of a smile creeping onto his lips.
Giordano is turning a 60,000-square-foot warehouse at 1910 9th Street SE in Roanoke into a haunted attraction that may be, well — scary good.
“I don’t think anybody’s really done this for a concept like this,” explained Giordano.
And he would certainly know.
He’s also worked on numerous other major products in special effects, he helped build the creepy arms for Dr. Octavious in 2004′s “Spider-Man 2″ and made weapons for the 2003 film, “The Last Samurai,” starring Tom Cruise.
Giordano has also had a big hand in producing heavy metal music videos and considers the members of the rock band Metallica his friends.
“It’s not your typical scare event,” said April Corbett of Roanoke’s Center in the Square. “This takes everything to another level. Special effects that he’s able to create through his makeup and different sounds and lighting qualities and things like that just really helps to sell to the audience that this is a full immersion theater experience.”
Center in the Square jumped on the scare bandwagon, after the fundraising success from Illuminights at Christmas.
Like that attraction, Blue Ridge Nightmares promises years of returns for the downtown nonprofit.
“You look at the level that we’re trying to create here. Add something that you would see at Universal Studios,” Corbitt said.
As we walked around the attraction a few weeks before opening, Angelica Jimenez, a special effects artist, casually told us as she dabbed glue onto a plastic skull, “So right now I’m working on a head that’s eventually going to transform into a dead body.”
Not most people’s everyday work routine.
Elsewhere, workers were rushing to construct the rest of the haunted town that will resemble Roanoke during darker times.
It’s set to include touches like a sink from an actual jail.
“Most people would just leave that sink to just sit there. I’m trying to make water elements. We’re doing that little extra,” Giordano explained, as he showed how the sink would feature flowing water.
Giordano wound up in Roanoke after his father passed from COVID-19. Add in the fact that work in movies slowed to a stop, and this was the right project at the right time.
“It’s not just a haunted house. It’s a passion project for not only myself, my crew, my family and the dedicated people here in Roanoke, it wants something like this,” he said.
In order to give smaller children a chance to see the show, there will be a less scary option called the “Not so Scary Matinee” on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, which will give behind-the-scenes tours that are family-friendly.
When you add actors, and professional makeup artists to the town, the lighting and a few surprises they aren’t willing to reveal yet, Blue Ridge Nightmares promises to attract tens of thousands of people when it opens in October.
Let’s just hope they know what they are signing up for.
Click here for more information and to buy tickets for Blue Ridge Nightmares.
Halloween attraction opening in October,