âThis is my room,â said Kiana Solem, a young actor who claims to dibs in a space that later this week is likely to rot with rotten food and boiled body parts. He talked about possible zombie looks: stitched lips, a torn and bloody chefâs coat.
Solem belongs to a group of scary fans eager to return to the crime scene – a retired ore boat with a history of getting a haunted makeover in the fall. Haunted Ship: Fear of Twin Ports marks a comeback for the Great Lakes vessel, which has not been a ghost since 2017.
Four years ago, Solem found her niche with zombies, where she was the best at scaring tourists.
Kristen Puchalla of Superior scares volunteers as a broken porcelain doll at a training session for Haunted Ship artists on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at the William A. Irvin ship museum in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
âThat should be your permanent room,â he recalled friends telling him.
In 2018, the ship was towed to Fraser Shipyard in Superior, where it was repaired and painted. After it returned to its home on the Minnesota Slip in Canal Park, COVID-19 meant the cancellation of the often indoor experience.
One afternoon over the weekend, nearly 30 people – both novices and veterans – gathered below deck to discuss the haunted ship -shop: donât shout in peopleâs ears, donât touch anyone, donât do it personally if your schtick doesn’t always work. Stay away from your victim; try something else
Volunteers walk through a tunnel indicating vertigo while training for artists on the Haunted Ship on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at the William A. Irvin ship museum in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Next stop: The Skin Room
Scares are not a seasonal thing for Steve Rankila, director of interior operations at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. When a Haunted Ship closes, preparations begin for the next. He and the rest of the staff attend national conferences for the latest in technology, props, scare tactics, and bottled smells – like blood and hot chains. These characters seek to attack all the senses and handle all the phobias.
âOur goal is to scare as many people as possible,â Rankila said.
There were torture devices, a headless head, a clown who seemed to always make eye contact. There are bumps on bumps and clouds and shadows. The floor isnât always the floor and there are spots for scientists who have lost the bullshit, kids with boundary issues, and a nod to Tim Burton.
Brody Fleming of Duluth, dressed as a victim of torture during a training session for Haunted Ship volunteers on Saturday, September 25, 2021, at the William A. Irvin ship museum in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Thrill seekers pass the single file along the thin, dark hallway and through themed rooms defined by those in the know as, for example, “the torture room” or “the skin room.”
âThe Catch-All Roomâ is dressed like a sociopathâs workshop on a police procedural television show: newspapers glued to the wall, indiscriminate blood, a trash can, equipment, torn clothes, a copy of a thin novel, “The Cheerleader,” on a shelf.
Wanted: A nylon tube
One past Saturday, two dozen artists gathered on the lower level of the ship for pizza and a tutorial led by actor coordinator Dave Stafsholt. On a white board behind him, there was a list of items: a nylon tube strap; 2-4 remote channels.
Veterans will be recognized by their Haunted Ship sweatshirts.
Haunted Ship actor coordinator Dave Stafsholt, right, leads a tour of the venues where the actors will be put on a training session on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at the William A museum ship. Irvin of Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
âDonât shout in their ears, donât shout in their head,â Stafsholt advises into a microphone. “In fact, don’t scream.”
In a side room, Jinx Dollens, the top makeup artist with sharp pointed nails with green dip tips, showcased the artists modeling the look of this season. Dollens’s creed: “When in doubt, throw it away.”
There were red gaping wounds, a blood clot, a mouth that seemed to be stitched, sunken faces and dark eyes.
âIâm a horror fanatic – and anything that erupts at night,â said Dollens, 24, who has been working on the ship since their parents signed the original consent form more than a decade ago. “I’m not leaving.”
Nick Ackman said he met the bride eventually while they were both working on the haunted ship. This year, she included their children Kairi, 12, and Dorian, 14.
Artists for Haunted Ship walk the deck of William A. Irvinâs museum ship during a training session for volunteers on Saturday, September 25, 2021, in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
âWe all love Halloween forever,â Ackman said.
As Stafsholt led a tour through the shipâs maze – passing dolls, torture devices, and straight to the grip of claustrophobia, longtime horror fan Henry Batjes trained the annoying moans and groans. His main move: surprise – where it needs to be done to him.
âI saw that coming from a mile away,â he said at one point.
‘It’s creepy as heck’
Props, circular saws and thick clouds beside – 83 -year -old William A. Irvin, who has been actively carrying coal, iron ore and U.S. Steel guests to ports in the Great Lakes for more than 40 years, already has a certain reputation.
âItâs creepy as heck,â Stafsholt said.
The ship drew more than a team of paranormal investigators, who spent the night.
Rankila has had her own experiences with things seen out of the corner of her eye and rising from above. One winter night, as he was inspecting the empty ship, he heard footsteps. He thought his co -workers were fooling him, but when he climbed onto the deck:
âNot a footprint in the snow,â he said.
In makeup and costume depicting a victim of torture, Brody Fleming of Duluth scares other artists at a training session for volunteers for the Haunted Ship on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at the William ship museum A, Irvin of Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Addison Severs is relatively new to William A. Irvinâs squad and already has a creepy feeling that heâs not alone when heâs, presumably, alone. Recently, when the doors were locked, he heard the bumps of other creatures aboard the ship.
He bought a device to detect electromagnetic fields appearing in spaces believed to be haunted.
âIâm in a backpack,â he said.
Steve Rankila, director of internal operations at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, passes by the Haunted Ship feature barn on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, on the William A. Irvin ship museum in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Yes: Haunted Ship: Fear of the Twin Ports
When: 6: 30-10 pm Oct. 7-8, Oct. 14-15, Oct. 20-22, Oct. 28-29; 4-10: 30 pm Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23, Oct. 30-31
Wherein: William A. Irvin, 301 Harbor Drive
Tickets: Start at $ 15 at duluthhauntedship.com
Jars of fresh scab sat on a shelf in the makeup room at Haunted Ship on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at the William A. Irvin ship museum in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
A prop found in one of the rooms on the Haunted Ship on Saturday, September 25, 2021, at the William A. Irvin ship museum in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
The depiction of a victim of torture, Brody Fleming of Duluth, frightens other artists during a training session for volunteers for the Haunted Ship on Saturday, September 25, 2021, at the William A. Irvin ship museum in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune