Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Knott's Haunted Shack Brochures

Digging through my box of non-Disney brochure and flyers, I discovered that I had three different handouts for Knott's Berry Farm's much-missed "Haunted Shack". Variations are something I love! Unfortunately none of these are dated, though I am guessing that they are all from the 1950's, and might have been used into the early 1960's. 

For those that don't already know, the Haunted Shack was similar to Santa Cruz's famous "Mystery Spot", in which gravity seemed to misbehave (water would flow "uphill", a broom would stand at a crazy angle), while optical illusions made people appear to grow or shrink. It was lots of fun!

This first flyer might be the oldest - it has a very spooky drawing of what appears to be a wailing ghoul clawing at the window. Yikes!

It's only a single-fold flyer - the back cover tells the "Legend of the Haunted Shack". I've always loved the names "Slanty Sam" and "Shaky Sadie". It sounds like the property has seen some pretty weird stuff over the years, going all the way back to the Nevada's Gold Rush.

Here's the inside spread. Look at those people. Witches, I say! That same pretty lady appears on a Haunted Shack postcard.

This next version seems to be a little bit scarcer than the others - it is printed on coated stock, which gives it a better print quality. The drawing of the ghost on the first version has been replaced with this crude, grinning weirdo. Is it Shaky Sadie herself?

Bonus points for "The Haunted Shack: By The Railroad Track".

Oo-la-la, this one is a three-panel (two fold) flyer! So fancy. They've added a photo of two carpenters standing at an impossible angle. Why did they have to throw their levels away? I'd like to think that one of the workmen needed to change his coveralls because of all the BLOOD!

The text on the inside spread is basically identical to the first version. Incidentally, that photo is the same one that's on the vintage postcard.

And finally, this is what I believe is the most common version. Shaky Sadie now dominates the front cover - perhaps she was drawn by a local high school student (remember, this was before everyone drew the Van Halen logo on their desks). The shack is "AMAZING, AMUZING, CONFUZING". Ghosts were never good at spelling.

"Men are fascinated, women adore it". So great. "Scientists and Engineers Baffled and Frustrated in this EMPORIUM of BEWILDERMENT"!. P.T. Barnum, eat your heart out.

And the back has more Grade "A" ballyhoo.

I hope you have enjoyed these Knott's items!


TokyoMagic! said...

I MISS THE HAUNTED SHACK!!! I recognize all the gimmicks/tricks mentioned except for "....stepping upon an ordinary kitchen table, as though hoisted by invisible hands!"

And for some reason, I like the description of how Slanty Sam and Shaky Sadie, "walked about stooped over at a grotesque angle"! I wonder who wrote that backstory for the attraction?

Thanks for sharing these, Major!

Chuck said...

The person who wrote the copy on the first pamphlet was right, as I still vividly recall my one and only visit to the Shack in October of 1976. I was the member of our group picked to sit in the chair on the wall, and it was such an odd sensation to feel myself being pulled back into the wall while seeing everyone else leaning away from me at a crazy angle.

Cool stuff today, Major. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Six Flags Over Texas had (and maybe still has, I haven't been in years) their own version of The Haunted Shack, called Casa Magnetica. It isn't original to the park, but was introduced in the second season (1962). It was presented in more of a "mystery spot" flavor, rather than haunted. Good fun, though!

Stefano said...

Thanks, Major, The Haunted Shack was a childhood favorite. I didn't care much for my only visit to the Knott's Halloween Haunt, which just gimmicked up a place that always had a spooky frontier esthetic going. The HS was the prime example; also Boot Hill and the Livery Stable hearses,plus the ghostie just past the main entrance that let you see your hand stamp glowing under black light. There was also a peek in next to the Birdcage Theatre of the Invisible Man and Lady having tea as a startled maid looked on; this was replaced by the Pepper's Ghost effect of dude in coffin turning to bones.

The flyer claims there were no tricks, but I recall one, the water-gushing faucet held up only by puny wires. That may have been added later, though. Remember the next-to-last scene with Slanty Sam and Shaky Sadie? He lay asleep with his chest heaving while she rocked and knitted with wonderful herky-jerky motion. Then the lights faded to ultraviolet with several spooks revealed on the walls.

At the end of the tour, painted on the wall in the spirit of P.T. Barnum: "This way to the Great Egress!"

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, it is a shame that the power-that-be decided that the Haunted Shack was not worth keeping. Gotta have another roller coaster! I’m sure that the capacity for that attraction was pretty low, but it had so much charm, and added so much to Ghost Town. “Kids won’t like this boring thing!”.

Chuck, I was always jealous of the people who were chosen to sit in the chair that magically stuck to the wall!

Stuart Powley, sounds like the Six Flags people are smarter than the Cedar Fair people. I have the feeling that all of the “gravity house” attractions are more or less the same, but that doesn’t make them any less fun.

Stefano, oh man, I loved having my hand stamped with that glow ink! And yes, the hearse with the corpse that sat up, the grave in Boot Hill that you could stand on and feel a beating heart beneath your feet… so wonderful. And the peek-in with the body turning into bones was one of my favorite things. I totally remember the gushing water faucet. People would ask, “How does it work?”, and the host would say, “Very well!”. Gosh, I don’t remember actually seeing Slanty Sam and Shaky Sadie at all, how can that be?

JC Shannon said...

I loved these "mystery spots" as a kid. Any pilot who is Instrument Rated will tell you how easily the visual senses can be fooled. Deadly in the air, fun at Knotts. The narrative in these cool old pamphlets is beyond cool and these are something tangible from the past to remind us of times gone. Thanks for these great scans, Major.

Anonymous said...

This is all new to me. Fascinating stuff.

Those ad images are so corny, they're frightening in themselves. Hard to believe someone green-lighted printing those.

There is/was(?) a similar attraction on the North Coast called the Mystery Spot, I've never been there either, but the photos I've seen look familiar.

We saw a museum exhibit, I think at the San Jose Tech Museum, where there was a room you walked into and when viewed from outside, the perspectives were all off and crazy, but when viewed from window at 90 degrees, the trick of the sloping floor and walls was evident. The trick only worked from a specific viewpoint. But that can't be the case here since you can walk around in it?

I conclude it is either ghosts, or aliens.


Chuck said...

Stu, I remember Casa Magnetica in the '80s. I was there with a group of fellow teenagers from our church youth group, and we accidentally got in that line instead of the line for the log flume. The rest of the group was a little irritated once we discovered we were entering the wrong attraction, but I loved it. I remember thinking "this is like the haunted Shack at Knott's." No idea if it's still there (and I'm afraid to look it up; it's starting to get really depressing every time I find another lost attraction that I remember).

JC, reminds me of the story of a crew that accidentally rolled a '141. I don't remember all of the details (the instructor told it the last time I went through the altitude chamber, which was more than 22 years ago), but the gist of it was either the AC or the co-pilot had been leaning over to the side, looking through his chart case for a couple of minutes. When he sat up, his equilibrium was off, and the combination of that and a view of clouds at a slant through the cockpit windows gave him the impression that the airplane was banking when it was in fact flying straight and level.

His immediate reaction was to grab the yoke and roll the opposite direction of the perceived bank. From the other pilot's perspective this was completely illogical and unexpected, and it took him a moment to react. In the mean time, the aircraft transited (at least according to the story) a 360° roll while also entering a dive. Fortunately, they were at a high enough altitude for the other pilot to regain control of the aircraft and pull out of the dive before making sudden, unplanned contact with the ground.

The moral of the story: trust your instruments.

Anonymous said...

@Chuck, I have heard of these incidents while flying. My dad the pilot had a couple of similar mottoes. "Loseth Not Thine Airspeed, Lest the Ground Rise Up and Smite Thee." comes to mind.


JC Shannon said...

Chuck, you are right, spatial disorientation has killed more pilots than I would care to remember. It is all about the instruments!

JC Shannon said...

JG, here's another one. What are the two most useless things to a pilot? Sky above you and runway behind you!

TokyoMagic! said...

Stefano, I forgot all about those words painted on the wall, after leaving the room with the Sam and Sadie figures! And at the very end of the tour, just before the exit, there was that outhouse with the door that would fly open, revealing a skeleton sitting inside!

Matthew said...

All I can think of is The Swirling Eddies and their song "What A World, What A World." And I quote Verse 2,
"Now, I could drive some old car
Through the desert tonight
Sleep on hotel sheets, all soft and white
I will stop at the Mystery Spot
See water run uphill
I know I can make it, I'm convinced I will
Roll, L.A. River, roll
And take me to a better world
Where the sun, it shines all day
And the children laugh and play."

Don't know the Eddies? They are the alter egos of another fantastic band, "Daniel Amos." You can check out the song here... but warning... it's a mellow California song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_U21-fXgpE Verse 2 starts at 1:07.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Anonymous said...

@Jonathan, yes! The version I was taught was "Worthless Things: Altitude Above You, Runway Behind You, Fuel In The Tanker." Also, "You can never have too much fuel, unless you are on fire".


Melissa said...

I like that they use the same gimmick as Disney's Haunted Mansion. At Disneyland it's "We built a house and brought ghosts from all over to live in it," and at Knott's it's, "We found this haunted house and brought it here." Either way, the ghosts are real and have just as good a reason to be in this amusement park as you do!

I'm not convinced that the gravity's wrong in a hiuse until I see Fred Astaire dance up the wall.

The face in the window of the first brochure makes me think of the painting "The Scream."

Chuck said...

JG & Jonathan, those are all gems.

Jonathan, I found an oblique reference to the incident (someone's recollection in a message board), and apparently the maneuver the '141 executed in the incident related above, which the poster said happened in the late '80s, was more of a split-S rather than a full 360° roll. Still, a rather sporty event in a big airplane with two people fighting over the controls. Glad I wasn't there when it happenedn(particularly in the crew latrine).