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Dustin Putman

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Monsters Wanted  (2013)
3 Stars
Directed by Brian Cunningham; co-directed by Joe Laughrey.
Featuring: Richard Teachout, Janel Nash, Kaley Roberts, Kenny Schell, Dusty June.
2013 – 90 minutes
Not Rated: (equivalent of an R for language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, August 22, 2013.
An always engrossing documentary about the ambitious 2011 preparation of the Asylum Haunted Scream Park in Louisville, Kentucky, "Monsters Wanted" is something of a successor to 2002's outstanding "Hell House"—minus all of the religious politics. Directed by Brian Cunningham and Joe Laughrey, the film centers on park owners/masterminds Richard Teachout and Janel Nash, who have quit their jobs to put their full attention into the construction, casting, and actor training of a middle-America Halloween attraction. Giving back to their love of all things horror, they and their colleagues—including stage managers Kaley Roberts and Dusty June—exemplify the dedication of hard-working people who aren't only bringing to impressive fruition a vision and dream, but in each other find a newfound acceptance.

"Monsters Wanted" is focused and perpetually fascinating. It may not feature the thought-provoking social commentary that "Hell House" provided, but this particular story, about the love of something rather than the persecution of people over a belief, doesn't necessarily call for it. As a lifelong lover of that tail-end October holiday, it is easy to specifically relate to Cunningham's and co-director Laughrey's human subjects, if not necessarily the lengths they go to actualizing a self-made haunt. Indeed, as thousands upon thousands of dollars are thrown into this project, Rich goes broke a quarter of the way through the process, leaving an increasingly spacy Janel to pick up the tab. Her dismay at the kind of money she's spending is understandable, their greatest hope to break even when all is said and done. As she says near the end, though, "Life is short." The point of "Monsters Wanted" is that the sacrifices these individuals are making—the pressing labor, the squabbles, the lack of sleep, the financial strain—are worth it to them because of the end result. They love what they do. They can worry about the rest of their grown-up responsibilities in November.
© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman