The year 1970 saw only two of the original Chambers stunts in place as the rest of the house was dark again, literally.
Cliff Johnson, a local 17-year-old from Bristol Eastern High School, convinced the Nortons to replace ten monsters,
which he would make for $1,000...

Here in Cliff’s own words, is what transpired:

“As a kid, it always bothered me that our Laff In The Dark was increasingly becoming all dark with no laffs. After I visited Disneyland for the first time I fancied myself a young Walt Disney and got it into my head that I would turn our Laff into the Haunted Mansion. Ah, youth.

I received permission to go into the Laff and my high school sweetie and I measured the dimensions , position of the cages , and the track layout. I went home and built a cardboard scale model of the ride. She drew some illustrations. The next thing I know this 16-year-old kid is proposing to build ten monsters for $1,000 at a board meeting of the Norton family. Mysteriously, they agreed to let me loose inside the ride.

The ‘we’ was the cast and crew of my Super 8 feature-film-in-progress, "The Return of the Freshman." We used wood, wire from coat hangers, and steel mesh to form the body shapes and then layered them with "plaster tape." similar to that used for making a cast for a broken leg except this was designed for the hobbyist at a bargain price. We spray painted the monsters with oil paints and mounted them inside the existing empty cages (10) I believe with two or three more original monsters only left.

I didn't want to use the ugly steel grills over the monsters originally installed in the 50's and I thought of plexiglas, but discovered that it could shatter. Then I came across something called polycarbonate that the hardware guy demonstrated by taking a hammer to it and battering it. It did not shatter. So all the monsters were sealed with polycarbonate and I used the $ 1,000 to fund the completion of my film. "Stretch" Norton became Mayor of Bristol and had a cameo in the film, gawking up at a flying saucer over City Hall.”

Mike Dudko, the ride operator in 1974, fondly remembers refusing a ticket from then Governor Meskell, which was a good thing as the ride broke down again with the good Governor in it! He then turned on all of the lights, escorted the Governor out and was assured everything was OK. Mr. Meskell would keep the ticket as a funny memory. In 1975, Peter Rasulo was asked to “snaz-up” the façade up again, so he filled the white backdrop of the gable as much as possible with an imposing black bat. Come 1979, Stretch Norton had no funny memories of the infamous “maintenance headache” as he called it. Another ten years had taken its toll and the Nortons decided to trade the interior stunts, track, six cars and operation booth to Mr. Bobby Bechard (owner of Modern Amusement Company) who in turn traded a small kiddy coaster to fill in the Dark’s emptiness. Richard Norton had the “Laff” removed from the sign and replaced with “Roll” to put the final touches on along with repainting the bat to white.

In 1982, the Roll in the Dark was permanently closed due to an electrical fire in the “Roll” part of the sign itself. Go figure! Now, Compounce uses a Sally interactive dark ride by name of Ghost Hunt to entertain customers.
Photos courtesy of Howard Behrendt