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It Rubs the Monster on Its Skin...

Article by: Mary Ellison & Scott Feinblatt

Heretic tests the boundaries of art in an ultra-realistic, underground event

Image supplied by Adrian Marcato

In the world of haunted attractions, there are those which are
family friendly, there are those which push the boundaries of taste
and endurance, and then there are those which pepper the
spectrum. As my experience of Alone taught me, I am capable of
handling the extreme ones. That being said, I am more fascinated
with the art and philosophical aspects of extreme haunts than I am
interested in having my clothing damaged and my knees scraped. 
Fortunately for me and you, dear readers, there's Mary.

Mary Ellison is a bird of a different feather. She is a proud member
of the horror community of Los Angeles as well as a member of
another community which involves ropes, whips, and probably
riding crops. Our coverage of Fetish Apocalypse is the closest
that Horror Works has come to rubbing elbows with the bondage
community, as it is not exactly what we are about; regardless, it is
a good thing that I know Mary (whom I first met at Alone, 
incidentally), as she was perfect for this mission and more than
willing to take one for the team!

Our story begins with me posting photos of the Edwardian Ball on
the Horror Works Facebook page when a cryptic message came
in. Someone who goes by the moniker Adrian Marcato (the chief
witch [or warlock if you want to get technical] character from
Rosemary's Baby) invited me to attend his exclusive haunt,

Heretic. It sounded interesting, so I looked into it. Somewhere in my research, I read that Marcato's artistic
inspiration was the controversial film Necromantik – a film which included, among its low-budget assets, actual
animal parts. This was a definite turn off; however, since taste is subjective – and since the mission of Horror
Works is to explore the various types of horror-themed art and artists of the greater L.A. Area – we had an
obligation to investigate. So, I sent Mary.

Image supplied by Adrian Marcato

MARY'S TALE

Heretic's horribly grotesque photos in its Facebook feed really set the stage. The psychological impact will give you
nightmares. There is one inquiry, on the page, which asks the greater audience if they had received any “strange
phone calls.” My reading of this question coincided perfectly with a set of middle-of-the-night emergency phone calls
I received.

In fact I nearly canceled my reservation out of fear of references to the House of Masoch [a masochism cult]. I did a
search on the man who started it all, Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch. Please check this character out for yourself. 
After a little obsessive Internet exploration, I also discovered a loose association with the film Necromantik and its
creator – a bit of information that I would rather not know about. Needless to say, the fear in my own mind was even
greater during the simulation. (Expertly done Adrian!!)

My appointment was changed/rushed at the last moment due to a venue crisis, so I missed the precursory
psychological evaluation and waiver signing, which, in all likelihood, could have caused me to change my mind. The
event itself took place in a seemingly abandoned area behind the L.A. Brewery in East LA….

I go to the location and wander around (forewarned not to
wear anything nice), minding my own business when I am
accosted by a desperate looking man. He's not hideous or
anything, just agitated. He grabs me by the neck and
forces me into the back of an abandoned garbage-filled
minivan. He immediately, and painfully, handcuffs and
straddles me. The adrenaline rush is very confusing as he
roughly kisses and bites my neck. It is disgusting and
compelling at the same time.

Then, I hear some moaning coming from behind…a child
perhaps? My abuser immediately starts punching the poor
masked creature, and I am completely mortified. He then
grabs me – talking the whole time about waiting his whole
life to finally see the Master – pulls me out of the car, and
covers my handcuffs with his sports coat…lest my cuffs be
observed by passersby.

I am then roughly lead into a dark and scary space, forced
to my knees, and invited to begin dinner. On the menu is
the fishnet stocking-clad rear-end of an obese woman. Just
as I gag back my vomit-reflex, I get pushed into a dank
restroom and locked in. There is a peep hole through
which I see horrible eyes staring at me. I feel a little sick
when I am attacked by a slimed-covered, naked, young
woman. I am just starting to enjoy the experience when I

get dragged out by the abuser. He takes me to a lovely smoke-filled bohemian party and seats me next to an elegant
beauty out of the 1930’s, who is blinded by cataracts. She keeps talking about a Buick that her mother left in the
garage.

Then I am politely asked to dance by one of the corpse-like party goers. I feel loved and adored by their caresses. I
don't want to leave this trance-like party. Suddenly the abuser forces an ill-fitting (and quite suffocating) mask on my
face. I am then lifted off the ground by two very strong men who slither me downstairs, into what appears to be a
white slavery studio, to face and be video-taped by a hideous man-beast. He is fully decked out in a gothic corset and
faux vagina. They throw me onto a filthy, blood-stained, plastic-covered mattress and then the beast imposes his full
weight on me. I scream in terror for what seems like hours before being dragged and thrown out of the back door. I
hear someone say “get the fuck out of here, you are enjoying this way too much!”

Prior to receiving this manuscript, Mary messaged
me that this was “...quite possibly the most fun I've ever
had.” My apprehension was allayed; I had not, in fact, 
sent Mary to her death. Of course, the extremity of her
report left me with many questions for both her and for
Marcato.

I wanted to know why, specifically, Mary found this
experience to be such a thrill. Basically, she
experienced liberation through this extreme immersive
theatrical event. She enjoyed being made to feel
vulnerable and frightened within the context of a staged
situation. Furthermore, she felt privileged to be included
in an exclusive, underground event, and she was
impressed by the production values (set, costumes, 
make-up, special effects). And she had this to say
about the performers: “The actors are completely
method. I had moments where I felt they weren't acting
at all. It was as if they really were members of a cult that
worships and exploits the very worst in mankind.”

At the heart of this cult is creator Marcato, who has
worked on special effects for various horror films
(Hatchet 3Dead Sea) and haunted attractions (L.A. 
Haunted HayrideThe Great Horror Campout). 
Marcato's wife, Jessica Catherine, also contributed to
the art, wardrobe, and music of Heretic. Marcato's
candid response to our inquiry about his production
reveals the methodology behind his ultra-realistic
simulation. He says:

Image from the Heretic page on Facebook

“It started out as a short film, and one night we were trying to cast the right actors. I [asked] my wife, 'What if we
just threw random people into the situations I had written and see how they react?' I have been through a ton of
haunted houses, I love Blackout and Alone, but they still felt, to me, disconnected from the genre. I wanted to
keep a paranormal element, keep the monster elements. I want patrons to be thrown into controlled scripted
situations where they are the vital element of the story. These were just beta tests. If I had funding I would
eventually want to make that more elaborate – create a horror film and have the patrons walk in on it and have to
let it play out in order to get out. In October I am doing this method. Heretic: Violent Entities - is my newest
version of Heretic. This scenario will be very intense and put patrons into these film-like scenarios. It will be more
visceral, more intense and VERY scary. I am mixing elements from some of my favorite horror moments from
The
Entity to Poltergeist and The Exorcist III.”

Image from the Heretic page on Facebook

Though there are apparently options for participants in
terms of how scary they want their experience to be – 
ranging from levels one to four (with four providing a “happy
ending” with one of the monsters. [no foolin'!]) – this is
clearly highly experimental territory. It is not for everybody -- 
especially since it is an invitation only event. Even those
who had been invited could not all cope with the
experience; Mary revealed to me that a guy who had gone
through before her became irate and bailed out after being
disrobed by one of the performers. The fact that Heretic
takes such commitment on the part of the performers as
well as the guests makes it something quite intimate as well
as exclusive.

Mary, for one, can't wait to subject herself to more of
Marcato's experiments, and I can't wait to hear more about
them and share them with you!

To follow the development of the Heretic project, 
visit its
Facebook page (if you dare).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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