Scary sale: Out with the old, in with the 'boo'

Haunted house production company to unload spooky wares in rare sale at Vancouver site

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator

Published:

 

If you go

What: TW Productions opens up its 16,000-square-foot warehouse to get rid of the bulk of its props and costumes, many used in the company’s popular Scream at the Beach Halloween attraction at Jantzen Beach, Ore. As a nod to Sunday’s holiday, an evil Easter Bunny may make an appearance. Judging from the look of its sharp fangs, this rabbit seems to have a hunger for more than carrots.

Where: 315 Grand Blvd.

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

On the Web: TW Productions.

For the right price, you, too, can own a monster.

But if being surrounded by severed body parts, man-sized snakes and towering, toothy monsters sounds more like the makings of a nightmare than a dream come true, you might want to steer clear of 315 Grand Blvd. on Saturday.

That's when exhibit design company TW Productions — best known for its popular Scream at the Beach Halloween attraction — will open its nearly 16,000-square-foot warehouse and workshop for a rare sale, planning to unload a majority of the props, decorations and costumes it has stockpiled over the years, including many designed and created in-house.

Imagine "The Munsters" having a garage sale and you're on the right track.

Though the company operates from a normally nondescript facility tucked among other warehouses, visitors won't miss two 12-foot-tall Grim Reaper statues strategically stationed at the entrance. It's a ghoulish greeting befitting of the macabre marvels stored within.

Inside TW Productions' home, there's a flying "death creature," a big box full of mangy monkeys, and even a 9-foot-tall robotic beast capable of shuffling a short distance and grasping for victims with its gnarly claws.

"We call him 'Baby,'" said Henry Miller, owner of TW Productions.

Baby and other props were once the stars of Miller's attractions, but he said it's now time to clear the shelves to make room as his company prepares for a new Zombie-themed event this October.

So now, it's out with the old, in with the boo.

Haunted house cleaning

It's been about 10 years since Miller held a sale of this magnitude.

In 2001, his first Jantzen Beach haunted house opened, inspired by Miller's childhood love of Disneyland and its immersive environments, particularly The Haunted Mansion. Since then, the Portland attraction has grown extensively, while continuing in its mission of balancing screams and smiles. Nearly 35,000 people visited the haunt in 2008, its most-attended year. Using money made from Scream at the Beach, the company bought its Vancouver warehouse around the same time.

TW Productions is closely tied to Scream Entertainment, a nonprofit focusing on theatrical arts and education. Based in the same facility, Scream Entertainment hosts workshops on production design, makeup, costuming and acting. The organization trains many ghouls and ghosts seen in TW Productions' exhibits.

Scream at the Beach became "Scream" last year when it moved from its longtime home to Portland International Raceway. Now Miller is planning another transition, searching for a suitable spot to fit the event's size and tone: an old factory, empty hospital or maybe even a shuttered school.

Kid in a creepy candy shop

For a self-described "Halloween maniac," getting a chance to stroll through rows of dusty, devilish decorations was a delight for Lisa Christopher.

Christopher and her husband, Brian, spotted a sale sign outside the warehouse earlier this month while driving to the Pearson Air Museum, quickly pulling a U-turn to investigate.

"We just stumbled on it," she said. "It's like being a kid in a candy shop."

The Christophers make a point to decorate their Camas home every Halloween with fun, festive frills.

During their visit, the couple snatched up a few detailed skull masks, some vultures and a 6-foot-long rubber snake to add to their collection.

Miller said that the early March sale was a small-scale precursor to tomorrow.

"This is the big one," he said.

It promises to have all the makings of a graveyard smash.

Stover E. Harger III: 360-735-4530; www.twitter.com/col_hoods;stover.harger@columbian.com.