Behind the scenes at Into The Dark


We’ll be the first to admit it: we’re scaredy cats.

We don’t really do scary movies (ok, we do, but we handle it poorly), let alone scary interactive haunted houses in a creepily historic San Francisco building thrown by an iconic San Francisco Drag Queen.

If that sounds oddly specific, it’s because it is: we were recently lucky enough to get a behind the scenes tour of Into The Dark, SF’s premier immersive haunted house in the historic Old Mint, put on and hosted by the internationally acclaimed Peaches Christ.

Into The Dark combines a wide array of craftsmanship in the spookiest, most spectacular way possible: set design, makeup, acting, sound, and sculpture (see: wall made entirely of severed baby doll heads). From the costumes to the sets to the timing behind each blood curdling scream, each element of the production has been meticulously planned and plotted by the amazing team behind this month’s long production.

Building on last year’s critical success, the team is really upping the ante this time around. On top of the immersive haunted house experience Terror Vault, attendees can try their luck in Apocalypse, an interactive zombie team survival game, as well as enjoy the Morbid Midway’s bar, retro pinball machines, and fortune tellers.

We recently sat down with Joshua Grannell, the mastermind behind  Peaches Christ, as well as Production Designer David Flower and Lead Scenic Artist Ric Ray to talk everything from terror to jobs to the terror of jobs, as well as just what roads in their life lead them to spending hours a day crafting realistic witch doors from huge hunks of styrofoam.

Into the Dark runs from October 10 until November 11. Head over here to buy tickets for Terror Vault, Apocalypse, the Morbid Midway, or all three! Last year’s show sold out quickly so don’t sleep on experiencing the terror for yourself!

And if you‘re feeling lucky, hop over to our Instagram feed where we’re giving away two free tickets to Terror Vault for this Friday, 10/11! All you need to do to enter is watch our stories and DM us your favorite horror buddy. Good luck

Peaches Christ

Production Designer David Flower

Lead Scenic Artist Ric Ray

How did you end up in the haunted house business?
Peaches Christ: The first one I ever produced was way back when I was thirteen years old. I'd write a script, audition all of the neighborhood kids, build sets and props and then open it up to the public. My parents were actually really supportive. I was a weird kid, I realize now. But at the time, I took it for granted that my mother would run the ticket booth and my father would dress up and take the chain off the chainsaw and be in our final. All these years later, it's been really satisfying to return to it as an adult and my first adult production was the one we did last year.

David Flower: I was in my first one when I was 12 and at summer camp. They had a carnival and my brother and I were asked to be in the haunted house and I fell in love with it. As an adult, I first started doing haunted attractions in Provincetown because I just really wanted to do it and I would take over Summer seasonal places that we're closed by October. It was a hobby that I wanted to turn into a business.

Ric Ray: I've worked for many years for Peaches Christ Productions as the Art Director, and when Terror Vault came along last year, Joshua tapped me to be part of the team. I met David and we've been great collaborators ever since.

What kind of work did you do prior to this?
PC: I work primarily as a drag entertainer, "Peaches Christ". I've been doing this for years. I write and direct stage-shows starring Drag Queens. I've also made movies. Regardless of whether it's a movie, or a stage-show, or a haunted attraction, I think about it all the same way- it's storytelling. I want to transport people and have them forget about their regular life while they're being told a story.

RR: I've worked for Peaches, as well as being a hair stylist, a musician, an artist, and a costume maker.

Worst job you've ever had, and what did you learn from it?
PC: I once worked as a server for a horrible chain restaurant on the East Coast called "The Ground Round". They had this thing on Tuesday where children were charged a certain amount of money based on how much they weighed! I'd have to put these poor kids on a scale and then write their weight on a balloon that attached to their wrists. Parents would shame the fat ones. It was awful. I learned that I never wanted to contribute to the humiliation of a child, ever again.

DF: I was a dishwasher in a senior home and I learned fast that I did not want to spend my life washing dishes.

What's your favorite part of creating Terror Vault?
PC: The best part is for sure when we're open and people are going through the show and screaming and laughing and just truly enjoying it. That's where the real satisfaction and fulfillment comes from.

DF: Designing the scares is my favorite part. I really like to get in and figure out creative, new ways to startle people or creep them out.

RR: Being able to show up to work everyday and be creative, working with people I really love, the creative problem solving are all things I enjoy about this job.

Favorite scary movie?
PC: A Nightmare On Elm Street. It's the first horror movie that really inspired me to realize that there's this fantastic intersection between horror and fantasy and that we can exercise our fears through the fantastic.

RR: I love the old Universal Monster movies! Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature From The Black Lagoon... all greats!

Where do you pull inspiration from for your work? 
PC: I really like to look at the world around me, examine the "normals", and pull inspiration from how bizarre and strange and twisted they really are while then celebrating the underdogs: all the queers and weirdos and fat kids who were treated poorly.

DF: I pull it from a lot of places, primarily from theater and performance. I also love art installations and horror movies so you put all of those together and get these immersive scary attractions.

Published October 8, 2019