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Monday, June 24, 2024

Morbid Profits

Not many people have 70 zombies stored in the backyard on a typical day. But for Kevin Alvey, that’s nothing out of the ordinary.

Standing in his backyard with a tarp over their heads for protection are several of Alvey’s “My Pet Zombies” creations, including Crispy Christie, Burnt Urnie, and Bill Gluttony, a blood-soaked butcher. Yes, each of the creatures in this zombie product line has a name. Morbid? Maybe, but that’s how Alvey, owner and founder of Gore Galore, a company that manufactures Halloween costumes, decorations, and props, prefers it. “It’s so morbid; it’s awesome,” he jokes.

Seen from the street, Alvey’s Cynthiana, Ind. home is typical of the other homes on the block. It’s a 1920s farmhouse with a large front porch. Peek around back and catch the barn doors open, though, and you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into a scene from a horror movie. Alvey’s workshop is far from ordinary: A table of torture boxes contains severed heads, shelves are packed with zombie body parts ranging from discolored hands to disfigured heads, and there is an area in back full of over-sized costumes creepy enough to send chills up Freddy Krueger’s spine.

Besides the “My Pet Zombies” line, Gore Galore custom manufactures oversized creature costumes, latex corpses, and sells many other Halloween-themed products, including 16 volumes of sound effects for haunted houses called “Sounds of Gore.” Alvey turned his passion for the gor-iffic into reality when he started the company more than nine years ago on the first floor of a home near Haynie’s Corner in Evansville. With an overall growth of more than 25 percent a year, he quickly needed a new home for the expanding business and found just that in the 4-acre Cynthiana property.

His costumes are not anything like the ones you can pick up at the store for Halloween. The body parts for each costume and prop are produced from latex and include hours of detail work for their life-like appearance. Alvey describes them as “dependable, lightweight, and strong,” adding that they are built for performing at haunted attractions or theme parks.

The oversized costumes, such as Squeaker the Clown, Freakenstein, The Zombie Lurker, or The Wraith, are Gore Galore’s proprietary design featuring a backpack, a fiberglass shoulder system to rest on the wearer’s shoulders, a welded steel frame to support the latex, independent head movement, and an internal, MP3-based audio system with five different creature sounds.

“They’re sturdy enough you can ram it through a wall,” Alvey jokes.

Considering the hours of work that goes into the creation of each oversized costume, an average price of $2,500 doesn’t seem unreasonable for Alvey’s customers who keep coming back. “We’ve sold oversized costumes to more haunted attractions than you could shake a stick at,” Alvey says.[pagebreak]

Gore Galore has also shipped products across the country to several Six Flags theme parks; Knott’s Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, Calif.; Ocean Park, an indoor water park in Japan; and to a professional football player, who ordered an oversized Squeaker the Clown. His corpses have hit primetime on two episodes of the hit television show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

With such big clients and enough orders to fill a 12-hour workday, Alvey still hasn’t let his love for all things haunted — which began when he was involved in the Newburgh Haunted House as a boy — succumb to the stress of owning a business.

From November to March, Alvey and his three full-time employees spend time considering new products. “We always try to develop some stuff that will rock everybody’s world,” he says. Much of the inspiration for Gore Galore comes from trade shows they attend nationwide, where manufacturers similar to Gore Galore gather to show off their finest haunting masterpieces.

Jake Rich, Gore Galore’s lead sculptor, graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design and Special Effects and says he went to college with a job like this in mind. “I’ve wanted to do something like this since I was nine,” Rich says. “I used to watch a lot of movies like Star Wars and Predator, and it got to the point where I was like, ‘I want to do this.’”

Gore Galore seamstress Jennifer Goff didn’t have any experience in the costume-making business before coming to this shop of gore but says she can’t imagine working anywhere else. “This is the best job I’ve ever had because it’s just amazing to see what you can create in a matter of weeks.”

Goff makes clothes for the larger costumes and enjoys combing thrift stores to outfit zombies. Bill Gluttony is her favorite creature to dress because he doesn’t wear a suit like many of Alvey’s other zombies. Bill is a casual kind of guy; he wears jeans, a flannel shirt, and a bloody butcher’s apron. “You can make the zombies look pretty stylish,” Goff says, “I try to give each one its own little style.”

Check out Alvey’s creations at www.gore-galore.com.

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