The kids who do the scarin’ at Ghoul Mansion in downtown Sharon had a celebrity target Friday night.
Makeup and special effects artist RJ Haddy, fan favorite on season two of the SyFy network’s “FaceOff,” is visiting Sharon this weekend to share his talents and meet his fans.
Ghoul Mansion owner and creative director Jim Bugos said 99 percent of the actors at the annual haunted attraction are high schoolers and they were eager to try and spook the man whose creations took him to the finals of the popular cable competition show.
“Then they’ll go online and Tweet ‘I scared RJ,’ ” Haddy said Friday afternoon with a boisterous laugh and thumbs-to-fake-cellphone pantomime. “I scare very easily. That’s why I love it! It’s fun!”
Haddy’s come a long way since running his own haunt as a teen in his family carport in Charleston, W.V., and making creatures and puppets in the basement “laboratory” with techniques he picked up from magazines and watching movies like “The Dark Crystal,” “Labyrinth” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Gremlins.”
After attending the Joe Blasco Makeup Center in Hollywood and embarking on his dream career, Haddy moved home when his late father took ill and for 10 years taught film, television and multimedia at his alma mater, Capital High School in Charleston. He also did injury simulations for police over the years.
While he can do gore makeup, Haddy said he prefers creating characters and creatures.
His students pushed him to try out for the show and were huge supporters.
Haddy said the break from the industry coupled with his experience on reality television gave him the drive to get back into it.
“I’m having a ball. This has irrevocably changed my life for the better,” Haddy said of the show.
In preparation for a stint as art director the upcoming film “Breath of Heaven,” Haddy also has developed his own line of airbrushes.
He’s also been traveling to conventions – he did his own makeup to appear as Batman villain the Penguin at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, fooling legendary suit actor Doug Jones and “Face Off” judge Ve Neill – and other haunted attractions.
“The fun thing about haunters is they’re all so friendly,” Haddy said of the folks who spend October weekends dressed as goblins and zombies.
Joe Cantrell, 22, of West Middlesex, designs fright sets and lighting for the mansion and got his start as a 15-year-old actor there.
He said people enjoy haunted houses because of the adrenaline rush they get from being scared and not knowing what’s coming next.
Haddy said he planned to help the Ghoul Mansion actors get ready Friday night and jump in where he could before the spotlight seen in the sky all over the Shenango Valley beckons people to downtown Sharon.
In its 19th year, Ghoul Mansion has drawn thousands of daredevils to the city with their motto “Fear is Good.”
Bugos said this year there’s one “horrifying haunt” with six terrifying themes. Patrons will walk from the dungeon of doom through the gauntlet of ghouls and more.
Haddy was at the mansion, 66 N. Main St., Friday night and will appear today at noon at Quaker Steak and Lube and again at the haunted mansion this evening.
Tonight he’ll perform a makeup transformation on the winner of a raffle to raise money for make-up artist Brian Wolfe, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Tickets for the raffle are on sale at the mansion until the drawing, which Bugos said will be at 5 p.m.
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