|A Trip To The House of Frankenstein!
By AL J. Vermette
Ever since I was a kid, there has always been a place dear to
my heart where monsters lurked and mad men ruled the darkness.
It was a location smack dab in the middle of a little vacation town my
parents took my two sisters and I to when we were little. The town
was Lake George in upstate New York with motels, camp sites,
amusement attractions, gift shops, restaurants and video arcades.
But among all this family friendly stuff was one location that truly stood
out among everything else, it was The House of Frankenstein Wax Museum. Located dead center in Lake
George Village stood this large haunted 18th century mansion facade with a tall tower peek that loomed
over the village and could be seen from almost every part of the town. Above the entrance way was a
large window where from the street below one could look up and see the Phantom of the Opera playing his
organ in all his creepy fashion. Once you entered the building, there was a coffin with the lid being lifted by
a bony hand along with other creepy delights and a little gift show.
But it was once you enter the wax museum that the real terror
began! As you enter and climb a staircase, you just know deep with-
in your soul that something scary and yet wonderful was about to hap-
pen. Being that I have visited this house of horrors pretty much since
its very creation in 1971, I for the most part knew every nook and
creepy part of this museum.....well for the most part. Although much
of the show remained as it was 50 years ago like its Torture Cham-
ber, Classic Monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man,
The Creature From the Black Lagoon and The Mummy, a few
modern monsters like Freddy, Jason and The Predator were also
added for a new generation. Also added was a spinning Time Tunnel that one would find in a modern
haunted house attraction that was not there some 40 years ago.
Walking through The House of Frankenstein in May 2019
brought me back to my childhood and it was the 1970’s all over
again. With a add-on's of the newer monsters to update the house
a bit was a very nice touch of the old and the new. Once thing that
has always been part of the House was its amazing almost Disney
like special effects all throughout the House. Depictions of The Wolf
Man turning from man into beast and Dracula turning into a bat right
before your eyes has always been a staple of this attraction and still
hold up today just as they did some 45 years ago. Another landmark
staple of this house of wax is the Torture Chamber scenes that are
just as creepy and gory as they can get. A man being pulled to death on The Rack and a poor soul being
tied to a chair with his head locked within a small cage as a large rat eats away at his face. Let me tell you
that was just as scary seeing it as a 54 year old as it was when I was 10 year old child. A man being sliced
in two in a scene depicting The Pit and The Pendulum as well as someone cooking away within an
Electric Chair. Fun Stuff!
Another older scene that is still in use shown a man lying in a
bathtub as his not so loving wife hacks away at his body with a
hatchet. Another depicts a person lying in bed as a ghost floats
over the mattress. This was a scene I remember vividly from my
last two visits in 1995 and 2001 because the ghost with his glowing
blue eyes was so cool looking. Sadly this scene was changed a
bit....gone was the ghost but in its place was The Grim Reaper now
floating overhead. I was kinda looking forward to seeing this ghost
scene but its replacement The Reaper was just too cool to feel sad.
He did however still have the same blue glowing eyes.
What has always made this attraction work so well over the years was its
use of lighting, sound and visual effects. The creatures and other figures may
be forged in wax and other materials, but they are brought to life with a blend
of animatronics, recorded dialogue and music. The clever use of mirrors to
turn Dracula into a bat and back again before your very eyes holds up today in
2019 as they did in 1971. The way the unseen mirror moves to show the figure
of the vampire before shifting ever so slightly blacking out the count and show-
ing only the bat as it seems to float where Dracula once stood. And then again
the mirror would shift again to phase out the bat and show Dracula once again
standing in the room.
Clever is also the way the haunt is laid out. You walk through a maze and
look in on each scene from behind glass or bars keeping you just far enough
away from the wax figures to not see the magic on how they move or other
effects but close enough to have them right in front of you. If you are lucky upon
your visit to the Lake George Village, you just may see Frankenstein himself
standing in front of the attraction. It has been part of the show ever since its
70’s start and nearly 50 years later, big Frank is still hanging out in front of
his name sake horror attraction. If you are ever in the Lake George area and
you are a horror fan, then it’s a must for you to visit this iconic house of wax. If you are like me and love
creepy set design, beautifully crafted monsters and other figures in wax, then this is a place you must see.