"Metal and Macabre" Spotlight on Mechanical Mayhem
By Rick Whitlow
Props in haunted attractions today have become more and more popular, and with the growing number
of props, comes a growing number of companies to manufacture and supply the props.
While there are the more famous names in the world of prop-making, we often overlook the smaller
companies that are starting out, trying to make a name for themselves in this growing industry.
One such company is 'Mechanical Mayhem'. A company that just started in 2002, it is comprised of
5 people, from varying backgrounds and trades, including: electronic and sound technicians,
artists, mechanical engineer, web design, graphic arts, quality assurance, among others.
Also enlisted to help them is Joe Pachorkowsky, of Mayhem Manor (Located in Mt. Bethel, PA.),
who, with his working knowledge of haunted attractions, has been most informative in helping
with consulting and providing information for the props that they build.
For their first line of products, they wanted to go with props that the industry has become
familiar with, starting with "Toxic Terror", "Nightmare Lifter" and "Smokin' Joe", among others.
While most of their props are pneumatic, Smokin' Joe uses an electric motor, and they offer a few
static props, such as the foam-filled busts and "One-Eyed Jack". Mechanical Mayhem also creates
their own sound systems, as well as special effects CDs to accompany theM. The systems
come in the form of a 15 watt amplifier speaker system, and speaker urns.
In the works for 2003 are a gargoyle corpse with a pneumatic wing pack, as well as the
"Flying Dutchman" lifting mechanism for the prop. Concepts are currently being developed for
completely original props to be unveiled in 2003 also.
Mechanical Mayhem is currently manufacturing custom props for a movie trailer that is going to be
filmed locally. Some of these props include severed torsos, decapitated heads and various body
parts, blood and weapons. They are also providing some small effects and makeup. Filming is set
to begin at the end of September.
This company may be new to the industry, but it's creator, Tom Marchak, is not new to building
props. For the past 7 years, Tom has been building props for a friend's yard haunt. One of the
props he built for the haunt and decided to market is "Smokin' Joe", which originally was used
for a 'Pepper's Ghost' effect. (For those of you who don't know, Peppers Ghost is the effect
using a reflection of an actor off a piece of glass, giving a ghost-like appearance. The
Haunted Mansion at Disneyworld uses this effect.)The prop was designed for a home haunt. At the
time he didn't have the talent roster that he currently has for developing his own creature
Tom was searching for realism in the prop and found that in the Monster Makers mask-making
bust. Having decided to sell the prop professionally, they needed to create their own figure.
This was primarily due to that desire to manufacture all of their own creatures as well as making
a more durable figure for the prop.
Realism and detail is something they strive for in their work, and you can tell by looking at it.
Tom thouroughly researches conceots before creating a new prop. For him, it is the taking of an
idea and bringing that idea to life or death, in this case.
While creating props mainly for haunted attractions, Mechanical Mayhem's options are remaining
open for the future. Tom explains, "MM is looking to pursue other interests in an effort to
expand the business. Our primary interest lies within the haunted attraction and home haunter
arena and we are dedicated to that goal. Since it is a seasonal business we are looking for
other opportunities to help fill the voids."
Also, on November 2nd, Mechanical Mayhem will be helping out for a charitable cause.
They will be assisting the Eastern Association of Home Haunters in organizing a costume party to
raise money for the at-home nurses in the area.