ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — An end of an era. Sunday, Oct. 29, was the final night for Blue Ridge Nightmares on 9th Street in Roanoke. The cast and crew shared with WFXR, reflecting on the three years of scares and screams.
Blue Ridge Nightmares creator Anthony Giordano worked in New York as a film makeup artist for years. After moving to Virginia, due to personal loss from the pandemic and health issues, he was approached by a member of the center in the square to start something new.
“They pitched the idea of a haunted house and what I would need to create a haunted house and I told them I need parking and upgraded sprinkler systems,” Giordano said.
Giordano opened the first night in 2021, and the rest is history. Sponsors like Grand Furnishing, Hotel Roanoke, and more gave donations and props for the venue to give it that beloved “old Roanoke” feeling. What started as an empty building became something special to the community.
“The props are very much quality. I like that it has local elements, things that you would recognize if you’re from the area. I mean I love it, the way that it’s laid out,” said Ransom Holliday, a visitor of the haunted house.
From loss to success, Giordano said he relies less on blood and gore to reach the audience, and instead, relies on creepiness. He said this year, the attraction saw more mechanical effects and the response has meant a lot.
“Just seeing the people’s responses of coming out of the haunted house – the giant smile on their face or they’re screaming and crying — that’s the payoff and really seeing people’s response and reaction to something that came out of my head,” Giordano said.
The creator says he can’t take all the credit. His team helped along the way.
“A lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this and creating this, so it’s been an incredible experience,” said Angelica Jimenez, a make-up artist for the attraction. “Everyone – whether they’re scared or it’s funny for them – it’s a great experience, and it’s been awesome.”
Actors who’ve been part of the project said, through the years, they’ve seen the number of people visiting the Blue Ridge Nightmares dramatically increase. They said they feel lucky to have been part of the experience.
“I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to be a part of one, which makes it so special to me personally because I’ve always loved Halloween in general,” said actor Shaneea Hairston, who’s been with Blue Ridge Nightmares for two years.
“It feels really good and really unique to be doing what I do here and have people receive it so well and enjoy it so much,” said Kalani Seymour, who’s been an actor for two.
Giordano says he plans to continue his art and special effects makeup in the film industry. He says with the actor’s strike hopefully ending in the near future, he hopes the public will see his work on the screen soon.