Starting its operation making masks in one bedroom of a two-bedroom apartment in 1978, Distortions grew in leaps and bounds over the years to expand its product line to props, full-size monsters and animated sculptures. As the product line grew, so did Ed’s business.


The company moved several times before settling at its current factory in Greeley, Colorado.
Ed runs Distortions with his wife Marsha who serves as Vice President.They’re in charge of a year-round staff that includes designers and artists.

Best known for its Brutal Planet haunted attractions in more than a dozen Six Flags theme parks, Distortions also creates scary stuff for spooky sites worldwide. If you’ve been in a Halloween Haunted House or an amusement park fun house or dark ride recently, chances are you’ve been frightened by a Distortions prop or animated figures
.
The revamped Zombie Castle resulted from months of collaboration between the Trahanas family and Ed Edmunds. Ed flew to New York to view the old Zombie in September 2001. Many phone conversations followed before Nick again met with Ed at the IAAPA convention in Orlando. The ride follows Distortions’ storyboard sketchbook, drawn by Distortions house illustrator Brandon Hovet, with a few exceptions. In this exclusive interview, Ed reminisces with Laff In The Dark about his work on Zombie Castle.




LITD
: Your company is known worldwide for its masks and props, its impact on haunted attractions, and its famous Brutal Planets, among its many accomplishments. Over the years some of your stunts have been integrated into the likes of classic single-rail dark rides such as Coney Island's Spook-A-Rama. Is Zombie Castle the first single-rail dark ride you designed?

EDMUNDS: Yes. Zombie Castle is the first dark ride we have designed and created product for. A LOT of product.







LITD
: Nick told me you came out to view Zombie Castle in September 2001. As you saw, it was an eclectic array of stunts from several defunct classic dark attractions, one holdover devil stunt from the 1940s, as well as stunts and sounds created by Nick and Jim. However, it didn't have a story line. What was your impression of the Trahanas Family's work?

EDMUNDS: Zombie Castle in 2001 was a clever and fun ride. You’re right about no story line. It was - as I'm sure many dark rides are - built up and created as stuff came along and improvements were made. This collection of odds and ends makes it pretty impossible to create a story line. However it was a great ride already; probably the best of its kind I've seen. It was a little sad to tear it out. But . . . by starting from scratch with a good budget and state of the 'dark' art props it went to a new level.



 


LITD
: What inspired you to develop the central character Max Rotten and what talented individual lends his voice to Max? Also who wrote the snappy script for Max?

EDMUNDS: Nick wanted a mascot out front to entertain patrons and Joe Montalto, Director of Playland and Deputy Commissioner of Parks & Recreation for Westchester County, wanted to have the character utilized several times to carry the story line throughout the ride. The voice is that of Al Domingez, the district attorney in Greeley. He is an avid theatrical actor and had a very distinctive voice. He did the studio work for free since it would be a paperwork nightmare for us to pay him. The script was co-written by us and T. Jefferson Carey.


LITD
: The scene where the two young Zombies have a tug-of-war over the corpse has to be one of the most horrific in dark ride history. This was not among the original sketches. What was your inspiration for this?

EDMUNDS: We originally had another concept, but Nick wanted something better so we came up with this or Brandon Hovet, our illustrator, I'm not sure. It's great that you see it as horrific, we thought it was funny.

LITD: I've seen the Vomit Barrel inside and outside many dark attractions. It's presence outside Coney Island's Ghost Hole dark ride draws patrons. Zombie marks the first time I've seen "Vomit" play into a story line - in this case, a victim is overcome by what he has seen, and empties his stomach into a customized Castle receptacle. Is this a first for "him" or has he figured into a plot before?

EDMUNDS: I'm sure he has been worked into many plots by other attractions. We like him in the castle because it adds gross to the mix. We like to provide a variety of emotions to any event we work on so there is something for everybody.


 

 

 

LITD: Of all the Castle’s Torture Chamber stunts, "Spinal Tap," is one that really gives me the creeps - both the victim's movement and sound. I’ve never seen anything like it. Did you design this and if so, what gave you the idea?

EDMUNDS: I think our kind and sensitive Vice President, Marsha came up with that one. Never judge a book by its intestines


LITD
: Another horrific stunt in Zombie is the "King & Queen." I take it the Queen is supposed to be a rider who was pulled from the car, dressed as a bride by the zombies, and offered to the King as his meal. I understand this is another stunt created exclusively for Zombie Castle.
Am I correct on this premise and can I ask this question once again, how'd you think of it?


EDMUNDS: Probably half of what is in Zombie Castle was created for the ride - some was then added to our line. Yes, you are correct or at least close since we provide only a loose basic story line and let the guests fill in between the lines. As far as how we come up with this crazy stuff, we have a very talented crew and hire outside talent. These kind of fun projects and the right people almost create themselves, like the sculpture waiting inside the rock.




LITD
: I understand Nick came up with the concept for the final scene: The riders blown up by Max's dynamite. Was it fun collaborating with Nick?

EDMUNDS: Nick and the guys were all great! They had great ideas and pretty much gave us a free hand to get very intense.


 

LITD: With the success of Zombie Castle, have any other parks or ride owners contacted you about designing more single-rail dark rides?

EDMUNDS: Not yet. The timing of this was perfect we had been talking to theme park and dark ride people about taking dark rides to the next level or degenerating them a new low depending on how you look at it, and Nick called and got it all started. This is a direction we really are excited about and hope to do more of in the future.