Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this:
The Witch's Dungeon, a popular local fall attraction for more than four decades, opens tonight for the season.
Now in its 42nd year, the small shrine to Hollywood's movie monsters is open only weekends in October, but draws hundreds of visitors each year from around Connecticut and beyond.
Artist Cortlandt Hull, who created the museum as a young teenager and continues to operate it, said the recently automated sound system has greatly improved the experience for visitors.
The short trip through the non-profit museum takes less than 10 minutes, but includes sound clips from classic horror films and voice recordings from stars like Vincent Price and Mark Hamill made especially for the Witch's Dungeon.
"All the recordings, even the ones from the 1930s, sound like they were recorded yesterday," said Hull, who said the digital versions are clearer and cleaner than ever.
Visitors are encouraged to come early for the shortest wait in line. The line closes at 10 p.m., but anyone in line by that time is allowed to go through the museum to view the more than a dozen life-sized dioramas from classic horror movie sets.
A small group of people can pass through the museum at a time.
"We now have a ghost host that takes you through," said Hull. He said the figure wears a robe and carries a lantern, but does not touch the visitors.
The technological changes have improved the museum tour, according to Hull.
"It's smoother than it's ever been before," said Hull.
Hull plans to show classic movies on an outdoor screen starting Saturday, Oct. 4, to entertain those who are waiting.
Outdoors, behind the museum building, Hull said, a new Grim Reaper figure will join others next weekend in an outdoor cemetery display.
"It'll be a continuation of the graveyard of classic ghouls," said Hull.
In a trailer on site, Hull will have original movie props on display from E.T., The Exorcist and Planet of the Apes.
At the trailer, the museum will be selling Witch's Dungeon memorabilia as well as copies of a documentary about the first 40 years of the Witch's Dungeon on DVD.
Puppet master Bill Diamond will be a special guest at the museum on October 18, said Hull, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Though there is no blood or violence depicted, the life-sized figures of Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Fly and other monsters look realistic and may be frightening for children. It is not recommended for youngsters under the age of eight.
This year, the Witch's Dungeon will be open most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Halloween weekend, but it is closed October 24, 25 and 26.
Hours are 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and admission is a $1 donation.
The museum is located at 90 Battle St., Bristol.
For more online, go to the museum website at www.preservehollywood.org.
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