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Netherworld to open with new creepy creations

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Netherworld co-founder Ben Armstrong poses in his completed gargoyle costume inside of the Norcross haunted house. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)

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Netherworld co-founder Ben Armstrong applies black make up while behind the scenes. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)

If You Go

• What: Netherworld Haunted House

• When: 7 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday, open again Oct. 4-Nov. 3; times vary

• Where: Netherworld, 6624 Dawson Blvd., Norcross

• Cost: $22 to $50

• For more information: Visit fearworld.com

Fun Facts

• The path through Netherworld is longer than six football fields.

• There are more than 250 special effects and animatronic creatures inside, including a 40-foot-long spinning tunnel.

• The museum at Netherworld features a rare collection of skulls and bones from around the globe, Crypto zoological artifacts and an actual 2,000-year-old mummy wrappings.

• Several celebrities have visited the haunt including Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Evander Hollyfield, Billy Corgan, Andre 3000, Jermaine Dupri and Bow Wow.

• Netherworld is widely considered one of the scariest and best haunted attractions in the world and has been included in countless top haunt lists over the years, including No. 1 rankings in “Fangoria,” “USA Today” and “Hauntworld Magazine.”

NORCROSS — Each haunting Halloween season, Netherworld co-founder Ben Armstrong and his crew are prepared to get down and dirty in polyfoam and silicone prosthetics, grease paint and bulky costumes just in the name of scares.

This year, the Norcross house has created two new scenarios: “The Dead Ones,” in the large upstairs warehouse and “Boogeyman,” tucked away downstairs. Together, the haunts use more than 100 actors an evening.

“Every night we’re open, we have 100-plus actors working to scare you,” Armstrong said. “The armory deals with the big suits and complex costumes. We have wardrobe that handles the bulk of the actors. In make up, we are working with a lot of prosthetics this year.”

This means a team dressing about 100 people quickly throughout the night. Armstrong’s gargoyle outfit alone is 17 pieces before makeup. There are also eight to 10 makeup artists a night to airbrush many monsters. Five or six creeps receive extensive work with the prosthetics.

“We use any technique you can image because they all have validity depending on what we’re trying to achieve,” Armstrong said.

The polyfoam is easier to create and wear, but it’s only good for one or two uses. Silicone is a little more durable, but has its own drawbacks, according to Armstrong.

“We’re doing a lot of foam, making it fresh for a use or two out of it,” he said.

The concept of “The Dead Ones” is that when people forget the festivals and old ways, there is a price to pay. That’s when the dead ones come and remind humans that they haven’t been good.

“The inquisitor summons the dead ones, which come to wipe out our civilization,” Armstrong said. “These ancient, skeletal mummies characters come forth and everything they touch turns to dust. So their mysterious temple has appeared in our swamp and it’s full of the dead ones — you have to wind your way through the dead ones without getting turned to dust.”

To make these horrors come to life, Netherworld has made a variety of new prosthetics: witches, mermaids, skulls. All of which were designed specifically for the 2013 theme and will be re-made several times now through the beginning of November.

In the basement is another story. The “Boogeyman” is a nightmare show and anything you’re afraid of can be down there — clowns, bugs and filth.

“Of course, our boogeyman character is a silicone full head and you’ll encounter him in many forms,” Armstrong said. “That’s the thing down there in the basement. The boogeyman puts you into a coma and feeds off of you while you’re trapped in this nightmare world.”

Over the years, Netherworld has acquired sets from slasher-horror flicks. New this year is the area where the boogeyman lives.

“It’s actually from the movie ‘Prisoners,’ the one that just came out,” Armstrong said. “It’s the set from that movie. They shot it in a big sound stage, then we got it and configured it. You go down there and it’s really, really creepy.”

Friday and Saturday, Netherworld is hosting Military Appreciation Days with discounted prices for those who have and are currently serving in the military. Military personnel can get free tickets for opening weekend through the Veteran Tickets Foundation at www.VetTix.org. If all of the tickets allotted to the Veteran Tickets Foundation are distributed, anyone with a military ID will still be able to purchase a combo ticket at the box office on opening weekend for 50 percent off the regular price.