While the idea of a coffin ride and being buried alive might make the average person cringe, for Chris Lankford it’s just another day at the office.
During the fall months, Lankford serves as the owner and operator of Eville Studios, a haunted house located at 210 N. Fulton Ave. As a full-time job year round, Lankford, an Evansville resident, works as a team leader at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana in Princeton, Indiana, where he has been an employee for the last 16 years.
Lankford began working with haunted houses when he helped out at the Newburgh (Indiana) Civitan Haunted House, where he spent 10 years, which later became the Zombie Farm.
When Toyota took Lankford to Texas and later returned him to Evansville, he began working with the Evansville Asylum Haunted House, which was previously located in the basement of the old Sterling Brewery building. After a couple of years, an opportunity came up to own the haunted house and Lankford went for it.
“I have always been artistic and I was looking for an outlet,” says Lankford. “Working in a factory, there are only a limited number of things I can do with creativity. I personally did a lot of haunted house makeup. That’s what ended up bringing me back.”
With new ownership, the name changed from the Evansville Asylum to Eville Studios, and also moved locations from the Sterling Brewery building to the former Central Labor Council of Indiana, at the corner of Fulton Avenue and the Lloyd Expressway. Eville Studios opened Aug. 13, 2012, and will soon begin its third season.
“We’ve become a blended crew,” says Lankford. “We’ve all done prop making, haunted house building, and makeup, and combined we have extensive working abilities in haunted houses and the haunt industry. We’ve actually kind of expanded ourselves and blended ourselves where it is an even more interesting experience. We are doing a lot more and building a lot more props, and branching out.”
The haunt season runs from late September into early November. In addition to the haunted house, Eville Studios also offers the coffin simulator ride, where customers experience a super-realistic ride inside a coffin on the way to being buried alive, and the Shoot-A-Zombie attraction, where guests use paintball guns to track down and kill a zombie. And for a calmer scene, Eville Studios has a no-scare tour, which takes guests behind the scenes from 6 to 6:45 p.m., as the actors and actresses prepare and apply makeup and costumes for the full-scare house, which opens at 7 p.m. and runs until midnight.
“A lot of people don’t realize the work that goes into it,” says Lankford. “It becomes sort of a family, and when your ideas start coming together, it gets really exciting.”
For more information about Eville Studios, call 812-518-0454 or visit evillestudios.com.