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Back to Behind The Screams Of ScareHouse

The projects get weirder and weirder.

a man sitting in a carGraphic designer Steve Benton got his start with ScareHouse when he and co-founder Scott Simmons worked together in the Creative Services department at WPXI-TV.

“Scott and I always had a good working relationship. When he started to move into the professional haunted house realm he started sending me a lot of print stuff to work on. In the beginning it was a lot of posters and flyer design. Imagery of this creepy clown, and we had the logo on tickets and flyers. Then it went into a lot of video and animation. Just post-production craziness.”

They would end up incorporating their backgrounds with local news production into ScareHouse, like one of Benton’s favorite ScareHouse projects: Pittsburgh Zombies, which showed the Steel City in complete disarray, like a Roland Emmerich disaster film.

“The whole thing was that the city was taken over by Zombies. We used our news background to cover it as a news story. I had photographs of the South Side on fire. The Roberto Clemente Bridge with a pile of cars. Penn Avenue just post-Zombie-attacked. It was really cool.”

One of Benton’s areas of graphic design expertise has become catching people off guard in a very jarring way.

“When we moved into video, there were a lot of special effects we would do. Our first venture into that was some character bursting through the screen at you. We had fake infomercials that would lure people in and then—boom—this ScareHouse character would burst out of the screen.”

Every year the projects get weirder and weirder. Benton even got to parody the recent Space Jam sequel.

logo“Scott thought it would be a cool idea if we had this creepy bunny burst through the screen with an ax. ‘That’s all folks!’ I got some video of the bunny just dancing around with the ax and having him come out of the circle background [like the Warner Bros. logo].”

Basically, if you’ve seen the ScareHouse logo, whether it’s slamming into the screen or on a flyer, or you’ve seen a character bursting through a screen, you can look to Benton as the culprit.

“I’ve done everything from all the creepy Christmases to all of the haunts that were branded; Scott would approach me with the look and the animations that would go along with them. It’s all been pretty cool. I handle graphics for the axe-throwing, Bold escape rooms. I do all of those logos.”

In addition to being ScareHouse’s graphic designer, Benton still works at WPXI.

“When Scott hits me up with these crazy projects, it’s always fun. And it’s so random. You never know what it’s going to be. One minute it’s billboards or tickets for Costco. I love it, because it’s always top-secret, and then he reveals it to the public.”

And WPXI colleagues are always a little surprised when they learn about Benton’s secret side hustle.

“Most people don’t associate me with haunted houses. They’re like, oh, you do haunted house stuff? I’m very into scary movies, but my daily job is that I do a lot of car commercials and lawyer commercials. So it’s so out of the box to have this creepy other side, to do these other types of graphics and design work.”