The Interview October Built: A Chat With Genre Icon Bobby Roe

Image courtesy of Bobby Roe

BJ: Did you notice any big changes in filming between Houses 1 and 2 based on the notoriety that you guys had within the Haunt industry?

Bobby: We used a drone, which we didn’t use in the first one. Is that what you’re referring to?

BJ: I mean more like where you are getting noticed more? There’s a scene where I think one of the Haunt actors named Click—

Bobby: Clicks! Yeah. That’s real. That’s a real scene.

BJ: Again, one of my notes says, “This has to be real.” Did you have a lot of moments like that?

Bobby: Yeah, and it was tough because with having some of that anonymity gone, you lose the natural reactions with some stuff, right? It did happen several times, but the Clicks one, we had the cameras rolling, and it fit the story really well, and was an authentic moment. The movie really mattered to him, and as a veteran scare actor, he just got really excited ’cause it was a movie about what he does for a living. It was a little bit more difficult to come in because people knew also that we probably had something up our sleeve that didn’t happen in the original, where we could pull off whatever we needed to. If we started peppering the people with Blue Skeleton questions now, most of the time, they’d know what we’re talking about. That would have kind of ruined it. It was a little bit harder, a little bit of a challenge to kind of get through, but it wasn’t terrible because some of these places are off the beaten path. So when it did happen, you just tried to roll with it and use it, and we lucked out that one of the encounters became a scene.

BJ: One of the lines that I absolutely loved in Houses 2 is when one of the Blue Skeleton crew enters the RV and says, “You smell different when you’re awake.” I think it’s one of the most unironically funny lines in a horror movie.

Bobby: And freaky! If you think about that line for a second and then just go…oh wait that’s really disturbing.

BJ: Maybe I’m reading into this too much, but is that one of the guys from Houses 1 that breaks into the RV and films you?

Bobby: We’ve talked more on trying to do these ties where you, you know, you see Porcelain showing back up, so what are the ideas of what are these other guys doing? You only see them in masks—the skull masks, so they can be anything. They can be anybody. The idea that some of these guys are popping back in and out is kind of a wink to the audience. It was something we tried to put in all throughout. There are probably about eight or nine nods in Houses 2. But the line was something that Brandy’s character is not aware of; it was a callback. That was very astute of you to pick that out.

BJ: What causes Porcelain to have that change of heart to give Brandy the fake gun and the squib?

Bobby: How do I answer this with, there’s part of this that is a plot point for what we want to do with Houses 3, so I can’t get into it too much. It feels like, God, no matter how I answer this…there’s a reason for her to let Brandy in on it. Also—spoiler alert for anybody that hasn’t seen Houses 2—the idea to double-cross everybody was really important, so by Brandy getting that information also screws over the four guys. To me, the scariest thing you could do now in this world of McKamey Manor and all this other stuff is to think that you had been responsible for killing your friend. That you got your friend killed. It’s terrifying. That was kind of this weird meta thing that we were trying to do with the guys because they were in charge the whole time and kind of leading this adventure, for it to kind of blowback in their face. It was the only way to do that when Porcelain lets Brandy know.

Porcelain shows Brandy what her friends are really up to...
Porcelain shows Brandy what her friends are really up to…

BJ: Where did the design for Porcelain come from?

Bobby: I wish I could take credit for designing that mask. It’s a CFX mask, and it’s great. They mold it to your face. When I first saw it, you know any mask does not move with your cheekbones, like a regular mask. Theirs do. They stick on almost like latex. When her jaw, when you can see her movement, it becomes real, like it becomes part of her face. To me, that was really, really scary. We never knew she was gonna be so in the forefront, we just knew how creepy that mask was, and it’s blossomed into something else. CFX makes incredible masks. You should check out their website.

BJ: You brought up McKamey Manor, which is something I wanted to touch on. You’ve obviously gone to a lot of Haunts at this point. How far do you think is too far? Do you think that as long as you’re willing and giving your consent they can literally do whatever they want to you? Or is there a line Haunts shouldn’t cross?

Bobby: I almost think they should be in two different categories. To the Haunt community, McKamey Manor is this weird outlier that’s probably not good for business—most Haunted House kids go to [it], also. It’s usually appropriate for kids aged 10 or 12 to go to them, but not McKamey. I just think they’re two different things. Whatever your interests lie in, I think you should go do that. I understand the idea of topping yourself each year and trying to figure out what to do to make people say, “I have the scariest Haunted House in the world.” I understand that’s a badge of honor. It’s very interesting how, like 3-D was this thing for so long, and now we have 4-D theaters. I just think that’s us as human beings getting desensitized towards something and wanting more. Now we want to touch it, feel it. Haunts we do the same thing.

You used to be able to touch all the time, and then that went away, now it’s back. I think that the jump scares aren’t really enough for a lot of people who are now paying upwards of 50 bucks to go through. They want to be scared. But we’ve seen too much. Whether it’s the internet or something, we’ve seen everything. Sex must start to get crazy because you are into a space where there’s Playboy, and things like that, now you have crazy, crazy fetish sites and things like that. I think people start to get numb and want something different. Or more. Something extreme. I think that Haunts do that. To each their own, hopefully, everyone is just being safe about it because I can see how that can go really sideways. The simplest answer I can say to you is that they are two different categories to me. I don’t put them under the same Haunted House field.

BJ: How do you think COVID has affected the Haunt industry?

Bobby: I think it decimated it last year. I’ve heard numbers of like 91 or 92 percent closure last fall. That’s really hard because, sure, it is a place where there are tight spaces, and you get touched. I think it’s a shame. I’m hoping this Fall is the return of Halloween, that everyone’s comfortable going back out there. These are amazing experiences that people wait 11 months for. It’s like Christmas. The audience is there! I think it’s upwards of 15 million people go to Haunts every year now. To take that away from them is terrible. It’s not Halloween without a Haunted House, to me. You at least have to get in a couple through October. I’m hoping the majority of the doors will be open this Fall. We’ve been in contact with a lot of them lately, and they seem to all be open.

Haunt Society logo
Image courtesy of Bobby Roe

BJ: On that topic, you put together something called Haunt Society. Who all is involved in that?

Bobby: That’s Zack and [me]. We’ve wanted to do it for a long time. We have these relationships all over the world with these Haunts, and I think there’s somewhat of a disservice—there are a couple other sites that are doing it, and it’s fine, but you want to put them on display the right way. These people work too hard to not have it done up properly. We wanted to do that. We started learning more and more as we went over a decade of doing this. We were invited over, flown over, to go speak to Haunt owners in the UK. That was really eye-opening. Most of their Haunts are not during Halloween—they open in April or May. They don’t have the same season as we do. They’re these incredible Haunts that have these different flavors to them.

I would love, in the US, for people to be aware of them. When someone is going to Europe, Haunt fans or Halloween fans should check that stuff out, but they don’t know about what’s going on! So we wanted to consolidate them and have a directory that would give people a [map], whether you use the Haunt near me application we have, or you can study and look at the maps. These commercials that they’ve made are incredible. So many of these Haunts have spent a lot of money and a lot of time to make it right. They’re cinematic as hell, and not everyone gets to see them. You get to see your local ones, the one you went to look for that’s in a 10-mile radius of you, but there’s Ohio, Georgia, Dallas. It’s phenomenal what these people are doing. We wanted to put them on a macabre pedestal. I think that’s important. Hopefully, we’re taking the knowledge we’ve learned and getting these Haunt names out there, the same way we did with the five or six Haunts we would use in each movie.

BJ: Have you noticed people from the Haunt industry taking notice of the website?

Bobby: Yeah, we’ve had several reach out, which has been great. There’s a handful, probably some of the top Haunts in the country, maybe even the world, that we have and are part of Haunt Society. Cutting Edge is one of our Haunts, one of our featured Haunts in Texas, and it just got named by USA Today as the number one Haunt in the country. It’s really cool to be part of that, for us to have their back and them to have faith in us. Especially with a brand new site. We know what we’re doing, and have been in that world for such a long time, this is just kind of putting it on paper.

BJ: This may be an unfair question, but do you have a favorite Haunt?

Bobby: That would be a conflict of interest…[laughs] How we always answer that is, and I do agree with this—this isn’t a copout—but there are different rooms that stick out to us as opposed to entire Haunts. Zack always talks about the whiteout room that was in El Paso, TX. Everybody has blackout rooms, but this was a whiteout room. You almost had vertigo through it; it was like being in John Carpenter’s The Fog. People would come out completely dressed in white. I hadn’t seen that in any other Haunt. Stuff like that sticks out. We did a press tour for Houses 1 and took the RV—basically didn’t learn our own lessons from the movie. We drove from LA through Texas and then premiered in Telluride. We went to one Haunt that was okay, and they were told to go off the beaten path and go to another Haunt, in the outskirts of Albuquerque. We just did the stupid things our characters do in the movie, and we went. There were bags put over our heads. They said, “We know who you are, and you haven’t seen shit.” I had two metal cylinders put up my shirt, and it was the head of a shotgun. I could feel the cold metal on my skin.

Basically, we got split up. It was me, Mikey, and Zack, and were set to pick up Brandy the next day. We got split up. My brother got blindfolded, and how he described as kicked off a cliff…but it was probably only about 15 feet into a foam pit, though he said it felt like 100 feet. I got put in a box, where I was getting sprayed, and it was very warm and did not smell good. If you didn’t know any better, it’d be p*ss. I’m a big guy, but I was locked in this crate with an actual master lock on it and getting thrown down a hallway. It was funny; by the end of it, we met this incredible clown, who was fantastic. We talked to the owner when we were done. It was all an experience and fun, but they said they had 191 “p*ss-outs” that year. Like people who p*ssed their pants and asked to quit. We met a lot of crazy characters that night. One guy, in particular, I was trying to put in Houses 2, just because he embodied his character so well, and I had not seen that before. It was a very different approach to a Haunt. It was very memorable, that’s for sure.

BJ: I could only imagine. Are there talks or updates on filming/writing Houses 3 in the near future?

Bobby: It’s all planned. Before we’re doing that, we’ve worked on it for three years with the producers of The Walking Dead called A Wicked Tale. We were supposed to shoot last summer, but COVID. We’re hoping that goes back into production in the spring. Then we have another film; I can’t really announce that yet. Those two are probably going to be taken care of before we get back into Houses 3. We’ve been asked a lot about that and where it is. It’s important to take a beat and get into the feature world at the same time.

BJ: Can you talk about anything regarding A Wicked Tale?

Bobby: It’s a grounded version of the Grimm Brother’s fairytale but modern. We are taking the approach of putting the R back into them. Most people’s recollections of them are very Disney, so we want to kind of put a different spin on that. Unlike any way that anyone has done in the past. That’s been a lot of hard work for about three years.

BJ: Can you give any aspiring filmmakers any advice?

Bobby: My advice is you don’t have any excuses anymore. Film used to be expensive and was the only way you could do it. We have screenwriting software, you can color correct anything you want with your own personal computer, and it makes something intangible tangible. It’s the same advice I’d give for writing a children’s book. It doesn’t matter what happens to it, it just needs to breathe. Whether it’s a script you want to write, whether it’s a movie, you know, you basically can do the bad version of it or the cheaper version of it to get it right. Then maybe you can sell it and redo it! That’s what we did. I think, also, if you do a short then make sure it can be a feature. Make it be a proof of concept for a feature. I think that is the best use of your time and your money to get your ideas out there. Just get pen to paper, even if you end up filming it with your phone. It’ll give you a base and a foundation and will show you things you want to make better. It is a dry run!

BJ: I really do appreciate you taking the time to sit and chat with me. Before we head out, any final thoughts or any projects you wanted to plug?

Bobby: If you haven’t seen any of the Houses movies, they’re both on Amazon Prime and Hulu this Halloween. I would propose you watch them back to back if you have the time. Other than that, when you’re looking for Haunted Houses this year go to You can plug in your zip code, and it will tell you all the ones around you, or ones that are featured in your state. Hopefully, that helps your Saturday Halloween night out!

BJ: Bobby Roe, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. This has been the highlight of my spooky season. Stay safe and stay spooky.

Bobby: Have a good Halloween!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

The main couple carrying their child

Lamb Is Another Win for A24

A man cast in shadow stands before a window, bathed in intense blue light

Nightstream 2021: Landlocked Blends Fiction and Reality