PINHEAD'S GRAVEYARD

CANTON, NORTH CAROLINA

ARTICLE BY: VENISHA VON MORTIS

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It’s week 3 of my Scurryface tour and we are running full force into haunt season with more monumental speed than a new final girl sprinting to make it to the end of your favorite slasher series. Temperatures are dropping, heartbeats are pounding and this terror roadtrip mobile isn’t stopping any time soon. This week, I’m attempting to turn back the clock and time travel with our readers to a special spooky place where my love of haunting first began…Pinhead’s Graveyard.

 

Looming in the western wooded regions of Canton, North Carolina, you will find Pinhead’s Graveyard. It’s a local favorite that has been in operation for 25+ years. This haunted trail has had various locations throughout different decades and has continued to add loyal fans to its roster with each fall season. The distinct trademark that makes this attraction stand out from others, you may ask? It’s a haunted maze that specifically features horror villains and all of their classic scenes. Ghostface, Michael, Jason…you name your favorite on screen killer…these guys have most likely got them. This year, we visited Pinhead’s at their new location in downtown Canton known as “Slasher House”. As I braced myself to see which nefarious horror icon I would come face to face with, I could only hope that I survived to see the sequel.

 

Locating Pinhead’s Graveyard is as easy as an autumn breeze. Take I-40 until you find Exit 37 then turn right onto Asheville Hwy and follow it all the way into downtown Canton. Along the road trip, you will see beautiful fall foliage from the surrounding Appalachian mountains. For past visitors, they will immediately recognize the familiar lonesome backroad they are traveling on. It’s the same one customers ventured upon to this haunted trail’s previous location. You are engulfed in dark, overshadowing forestry and decaying, dry cornfields on either side of the street. If you suddenly hear banjo music, brace yourself and keep driving until you see the massive, looming paper mill smokestacks billowing grey puffs into the air. Congrats, you have reached your destination.

 

If previous Pinhead fans were worried that city life would affect the haunt at their new location, allow me to inform you that is not the case! The nearby decrepit warehouse setting is what this attraction has been needing to take it to the next level. Its an old factory district with time chiseled brick  buildings and multiple railroad tracks lined along the haunt’s backdoors. Let the dusky sky and smoggy air settle in around you, a lone train comes creeping through out of nowhere then combine that with Freddy Krueger, hanging out of the upper story windows, yelling taunts at the cue line and it’s like you’ve be instantly pulled through your tv screen, doomed to play out a real life Nightmare On Elm Street movie. If this doesn’t get your adrenaline going, don’t despair. Pinhead’s very own special spokesperson, Otis B. Driftwood, tends to wander about outdoors from time to time, causing customer chaos with his maliciously charismatic personality. It’s an eminent concoction for the sinister spook-show that awaits you inside.

 

Upon entering the doors of Pinhead’s Graveyard, haunt goers can purchase tickets. They are available at their front desk. Currently, they have no online options. Cash is the only acceptable form of payment. General admission is $30 with the option to upgrade to a hands on experience for an extra $5. It comes with a shiny glow stick. They also offer $20 ticket pricing for military, seniors 65+ and for children ages 6 and above. Children 5 and under as well as parking are FREE. 

 

Once you’ve paid your admission, you’ll be invited to have a seat inside this attraction’s small, festively decorated lobby. You will be entertained on screen by Otis and Freddy Krueger as they go over the haunt rules and safety protocol…all with their own personal flair, of course. There is also a ghost hunting video about the true life paranormal activity inside of Pinhead’s new factory location….did I forget to mention it’s legit haunted? No, seriously, we aren’t joking. I was fighting the constant urge to break out a pair of dousing rods.

 

Once, everyone has been advised of all of the dangers and common sense precautions, the show can begin. Your group is invited inside of Pinhead’s personal greeting chamber where he will give customers his legendary and petrifying warning. He told you not to come there and now, you’re fair game for all of his evil friends. Given his chilling introduction mixed with the vivid scenery of extensive metal chains dangling from the ceiling and a filleted corpse suspended in midair from meat hooks, you may be concerned about what trouble you have gotten yourself into, but it’s too late to turn back now…

 

From the moment guests are granted access behind the big black forbidden curtain at the maze entrance, they are ushered feet first into a real life Micheal Myers Halloween multiverse. Starting off, haunt goers come upon the three masked children from Halloween 3, placed in chairs, watching their favorite Silver Shamrock Song on a vintage box tv. Hurry along your way. You never know when their monster transformations may take affect. As you round the next corner, you travel through a white terrace decorated with a quaint and oh to familiar Jack-o-lantern sitting on its porch, courtesy of Strode Realty. Don’t get too comfortable walking through the front door. You’ll soon be transported inside a strobe lit, ransacked Haddonfield Hospital where customers come face to masked face with a knife wielding Michael Myers who has already claimed one victim lying prone on a stretcher. Sparks will literally fly from his blade as he pursues the crowd. He’s aggressive with tons of high energy. It’s great terror fuel to start your action packed, jump scare journey throughout Pinhead’s Graveyard. I won’t give away all of the shocking twists and turns of the haunted maze, but there were many screams and piggyback lunges from customers during the entirety of our 35 minute walkthrough. I am what fellow haunters would often refer to as a “frigid witch”. I’ll be your biggest hype girl if you have a sick costume and I love watching others get spooked, but I rarely react when actors try to scare me. Working in the industry, I can usually see when something is coming, but Pinhead’s Graveyard got me! I blame the replicated Saw dungeon. This area has been designed to look exactly like the chained bathroom scene from the first movie. I’m still not sure that wasn’t an actual rotting corpse laying on the ground. Once, the red robed Pigman literally burst into the scene with a deafening boom, my heart about stopped! That’s how good the attention to costume detail and actor mannerisms are with this cast. Pinhead’s Graveyard has almost every horror bad guy or girl you can think of…a battle axe brandishing Jeepers Creeper ready for mutilation, a machete toting Jason Vorhees dying for a teenage camp out and even a child sized Chucky chasing customer shadows in the dark…these are only a few of the big slasher names that reside within this haunted attraction. These characters are all about the full customer experience and always ready to take pictures with their favorite victims. Just make sure you ask first. No one likes a blinding camera flash in their face. I don’t know who is the bigger selfie hog, Art the Clown or Otis, but these movie killers strive to make their intended victims’ ending a fun filled one. Also, don’t worry about the curb side service either. Leatherface will always be eager to help you find your car. Such a good boy.

 

The attention to set design is rather noteworthy at Pinhead’s. They lean towards the basic side of haunting when it comes to scenes and props. Nothing too over the top, but all instantly recognizable. For example, any “Nightmare” kid can tell you what Nancy Thompson’s red doorway on 1428 Elm Street looked like or what would be inside of Freddy’s torture filled, rust covered boiler room. Walking through this maze is like being inside the slasher film itself. It’s as if the creators paused these onscreen shots on their television and flawlessly duplicated them to bring them to life. Older fans of Pinhead’s will be excited to learn they have also added several new electronic props in the factory trail this season, a big step up from their previous outdoor location.

 

The actors of Pinhead’s Graveyard do an ample job of dragging innocent trail goers into their infamous horror film scenes. They are sufficient at knowing how to work a group of customers as they travel throughout the maze, scaring from all sides, front to back. Sometimes these scare actors appear to show up out of nowhere and you’ll question yourself exactly how did they do that? There’s no unnecessary loud screaming in the customer’s ears or in their face. The actors recognize that they don’t need it to achieve a scare. This cast also isn’t afraid to spend quality time with their customers and make it a personalized experience for them. That’s a noticeable trait that can easily get lost within other larger haunted attractions. I would personally like to add Pinhead’s Graveyard is a volunteer based haunt. These actors aren’t here for a paycheck. They’re here because they want to be. They have an obvious love for haunting and it shows. There have been haunts that I visited in the past and it was clear the actors were only there for the cash, giving a mediocre performance that fell flat with fans. At Pinhead’s Graveyard, that’s not the case. This cast will scare you and enjoy it while doing so. It’s easy to see they have a genuine passion for the horror industry.

 

In Closing:

Growing up in a small southern town with a tiny population in the late 90s, there weren’t a lot of options when it came to haunted attractions. I wish I could explain the excitement this trail once held for me every October as a child. All of my fellow haunters have been there, I’m sure. Getting out of elementary school on a Friday afternoon and rushing home to put on my favorite Disney Halloween sweatshirt. Grabbing a quick personal pan from Pizza Hut for a cheap treat and then heading up the road to the dark, ominous woods behind Waffle House where Pinhead’s Graveyard and all of their horror movie villains once lay hidden in wait to chase me. It was a special core memory that I had hoped to recapture when I visited their new location so many years later. Times change as you navigate into being an adult and the “magic” of childhood can often fade. I have distanced myself from the small town mindset. Throughout the years, I have visited more haunts than I can count. Some filled with lavish excessive sets and construction designs, humongous virtual 3D projectors and loud, pulsating DJ booths. While I will admit that all of those things are thrilling, I can also say the “spark” is still there at Pinhead’s Graveyard. This haunt proves that you don’t need extra opulent additives for quality entertainment. Sometimes all you need is a love of scary movies…just ask Ghostface. Pinhead’s Graveyard stays true to their southern, old school slasher genre roots. They don’t try to be something they’re not. They’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and they’re okay with that. It’s a combination of simplicity, horror and a general passion for the craft. I have seen these guys show substantial growth over the years. I can’t wait til see what else is in the future for them. I highly recommend Pinhead’s Graveyard for customers who are looking for a beginner haunt for their little ones as a introduction to the world of haunted attractions or to anyone who is a dedicated 1980s-90s horror fan. It’s a one of a kind, surreal encounter you have to experience for yourself.

 

Side note: if you miss out on seeing these horror villains in action this season, make sure to keep an eye on their social media pages. Pinhead’s Graveyard plans on hosting multiple holiday events through the upcoming 2023 year!

VENISHA VON MORTIS