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Behind the Screams

New Documentary Reveals the Secrets of Windsor’s Scarehouse
Author: Jen Brignall-Strong
Photographer: Syx Langemann
7 months ago
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What goes into the making of one of Canada’s premiere haunted attractions?

As the producers of the new “The Boo Crew” documentary can tell you, it takes a lot of zip ties, duct tape…and heart.

The new 8-episode docuseries, which airs on Bell Fibe TV starting October 3rd, delves into the inner workings of Windsor’s own Scarehouse. Showcasing design, construction, and operation of a haunted attraction, the ‘Crew draw thousands of visitors yearly to their multiple haunts, horror-themed bar, and immersive dining experience. And while the scares inside are frightful, the vibrant and dedicated team behind the scenes ensures an unforgettable Halloween experience, year after year.

Local filmmaker Gavin Michael Booth, who serves as the director and producer of the series, says he wanted to highlight the rag tag team behind the masks and show viewers the enormity of the facility and the care and dedication that has gone into turning Scarehouse into a sprawling 20,000 square foot nightmare. 

“I’ve known (Scarehouse owners) Shawn and Dario for over 20 years and I know how much they’ve put into this,” says Booth. “I feel like only 10% of Windsor even knows what Scarehouse is and that always bothered me. Some people might think, ‘Oh I’m sure it’s fun for the kids,’ but they have no clue just how big it is and what’s inside.”

Booth, who has been capturing footage of Scarehouse since they opened in 2008, says he had a chance to meet with Bell Fibe TV over a year ago and during their talks, the idea of a series hit him like a lightning bolt.

“I thought, ‘What if I follow the crew around for one season and let people see what’s actually going on?’”

Scarehouse co-owner Shawn Lippert says when Booth approached him about the documentary, the team was all in.

“We were immediately like, ‘Ok, let’s do it,’” laughs Lippert. “I don’t think there’s anything that he’s done that I haven’t liked. We are very much on the Gavin Booth creativity train. He really has become a conduit to other types of creativity. He’s shot a movie in there; he’s introduced us to other people who want to do things with us. Scarehouse has really become a playground for creatives, and we’re excited to showcase that.”

Booth says that while he’s seen YouTube videos and blogs following the making of haunted houses, they’re usually aimed at makeup techniques and technical specs on how to design props. When coming up with the concept for The Boo Crew, he really wanted to find the heart of the characters.

“I didn’t want this to feel like a reality television show where it’s like, ‘Shawn and Dario have two weeks till opening and they’re short on time to finish the project,’” he laughs, doing his best TV trailer impersonation. “I really wanted everyone’s personality to shine and I loved the misfit toys kind of feel of the people who work in Scarehouse. ‘The Boo Crew’ moniker comes from what they call themselves and we really wanted to use the characters’ own words and voices to narrate the story.”

The haunted house has a way of bringing together people from all walks of life, he adds.

“It’s a very strange collection of people; you probably wouldn’t find them all sitting at the same cafeteria table in high school, yet somehow Scarehouse is one of the most inclusive and accepting spaces in Windsor,” he explains. “There are people from all backgrounds; members of the LGBTQ+ community, football jocks, and all these stereotypical personalities crammed together under one roof working together because they all love the art of the scare.”

That sense of community extends outside the walls of Scarehouse as well. Through the series, Booth also focuses on some of the Boo Crew’s charitable efforts throughout the year.

“I think people will be surprised how much Scarehouse exists in the community outside of that one month a year,” he says. “There are zombie walks that raise money for local food banks. They’re also involved with the WFCU Centre and handing out candy at Spitfires hockey games. They’re even in the Canada Day parade, which is always amazing to watch. I think viewers will really be shocked at just how deep this runs.”

With so much history and so much footage of the team, Booth says it was a challenge deciding what made the final cut for the show.

“The edit room is tough because there are entire segments, entire portions of the Scarehouse’s history that had to go,” he explains. “For me, it’s a matter of feeling it out, feeling the pacing and just making sure that although it’s eight episodes, if you watch them back-to-back, they tell one cohesive story.”

Lippert says he’s excited for people to view the series and better understand what goes into creating Southwestern Ontario’s largest haunted attraction.

“I’m interested in seeing the reactions of how much effort goes into it,” he says. “It magically appears every Halloween season and the public goes through it not knowing all the planning and all the building has been happening throughout the summer and even while there’s snow on the ground. We’re literally thinking about Scarehouse year round.”

And while The Boo Crew might be about one of the most horrifying places in Windsor, Booth assures scaredy-cats that the documentary itself isn’t scary.

“For anybody who’s been a little bit apprehensive about actually visiting Scarehouse, this is the perfect thing,” he says. “You can check out what goes on in the building and not have to worry about being terrified.”

The Boo Crew airs on Bell Fibe TV beginning October3rd. Check local listings for details and be sure to follow The Boo Crew on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.

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