In front of a tattered haunted house, a vampire lurks in the shadows. Her glossy white eyes pierce the darkness as she makes her way through the front gate to greet arriving guests.
“Welcome to Hell… Town,” she says. “My name is Hellen Vegas.”
Hell Town, a horror-themed film studio and back lot, opened Dec. 13 at 6425 W. Richmar Ave. with a private event of film producers and event planners.
“It’ll be open (to the public) year-round but not like the Goretorium,” said general manager Gary Sax. “It’ll be strictly open for hire for film productions, parties and stuff like that.”
The lot consists of a haunted mansion and casino, cemetery, theater, and a coffin ride that simulates being buried alive.
Guests can rent the studio and back lot for low-budget films, commercials, music videos, weddings, parties, photo shoots, funerals and even seances.
“There’s a lot of people out there that are into horror stuff,” Sax said. “People are going to come in with their own vision, and depending on what their need is, we can tailor (Hell Town) however they want. We’ll conjure up anything.”
Though Halloween is 10 months away, business partners Sax, a Paradise resident, and Randy Grigg, a southwest-area resident, said they purposely opened Hell Town in the off-season.
“This is our slowest time (of the year), so we thought we would try to do a little something to see how it works out,” Grigg said. “I think it’s going to be OK because we’ve gotten a good response so far.”
A new Nevada film tax incentive starts Jan. 1, offering a 15 to 19 percent tax credit for productions that shoot at least 60 percent in-state and have a budget of more than $500,000. Sax and Grigg said they hope the credit will draw business to Hell Town.
“It’s like a catalyst to bring more productions into Nevada,” Sax said, “and we’re trying to capitalize on that ahead of time.”
Though Grigg has been a professional “haunter” since 1997, his obsession started when he was 5.
“I made my first haunted house in the crawl space under my dad’s house, and all the neighborhood kids came out scared and dirty,” Grigg said. “It’s a disease; it really is. If you’re not into it, you wouldn’t understand it.”
The haunted mansion in Hell Town was originally Grigg’s first haunted house constructed for Texas Station. He also designed Bloody English at the Hard Rock and Blood Village at the Henderson Pavillion with Sax.
“After we took Bloody English down last year, I suggested we open a film studio,” Sax said. “It was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment idea, but it hasn’t been a spur of the moment putting it together.”
Sax has been an actor and film producer since the 1980s. He produced the television series “Harmony Street” in 1992 and produced Zombie Precinct at New York New York in 2009.
“After I started acting, I realized I enjoyed behind the scenes a lot more,” Sax said. “In Hell Town, we plan on doing our own in-house projects and film festivals.”
North Las Vegas resident Darlene Zuodar plays Hellen Vegas, the studio’s vampire character. Her dog also plays Vegas’ dog, Satan.
“Almost every Halloween I dress as a vampire or witch,” Zuodar said, “so when I found out they could use a character as a vampire, I was all for it.”
As an ordained minister, Zuodar can perform wedding ceremonies as Hellen Vegas, other horror characters or her “normal” self.
“The thing is, if we were normal, we wouldn’t be doing this,” Sax said. “There’s nobody normal here.”
For more information, visit helltownlasvegas.com or call 702-203-3018.
Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0403.