Halloween may be another six months away, but Nick Bambrick and John McCann know that people love horror movies year-round.
Bambrick and McCann are the organizers behind Maineiac Manor, a haunted house experience in the Bangor Mall that hasn’t limited its offerings to the Halloween season.
Maineiac Manor, located near JCPenney in the former location of Hollister, will be open from 3:30-7 p.m. April 23 and 1- 5 p.m. April 24, as well as 3:30- 7 p.m. April 30.
Maineiac Manor is a labor of love for Bambrick and McCann, who grew up together in Bangor. As kids, they were enthusiastic fans of Halloween and horror culture, and each year built elaborate haunted houses in McCann’s mother’s garage.
Now, as adults with careers and kids of their own, they’ve turned their youthful obsession into a creative outlet and a part-time business. Maineiac Manor opened for the first time in October 2020, with a haunted house experience throughout the month of October, which they successfully repeated last year. Last year they also offered a haunted Christmas village, complete with an undead Santa Claus and Krampus, the monster from European folklore who punishes children for behaving badly during the holidays.
This weekend and next, Maineiac Manor will offer a special slasher movie-themed haunted experience, as part of the annual Bangor Comic and Toy Con, set for April 22-24 at the Bangor Mall.
“We try to change it up each time, and people come in and go at their own pace,” Bambrick said. “We definitely want people to get their money’s worth. It’s definitely bigger than you’d expect it to be, looking at a mall storefront from the outside.”
Bambrick and McCann and some fellow horror lovers built Maineiac Manor by hand. They source masks and costumes from artists and companies that make masks and prosthetics. Or they collect props from thrift stores, garages, basements and even from the side of the road, like the clawfoot tub, dentist’s chair and old baby carriage used in various rooms of the house.
They’ve even been able to incorporate parts of the mall itself into the experience, like the massive wooden shelves formerly used to display clothing at Hollister, or the mannequins they salvaged from Victoria’s Secret when it closed in 2020.
“Sometimes you forget you’re inside a mall,” Bambrick said.
Bambrick and McCann are aware that most people associate haunted houses with the Halloween season, but given the fact that the horror genre is among the most popular genres across nearly every form of entertainment, there’s a market for scares throughout the year. And, as Bambrick says, it’s as much fun for them as organizers as it is for the people who come.
“I’ll admit, I myself don’t love getting scared,” Bambrick said. “But when you’re the one scaring people, it’s really fun. It’s great when you get screamers. We’ve had people say they peed their pants. One girl fell over and took out an entire Christmas tree. That’s a big part of the fun.”
Maineiac Manor will be the place this weekend where Bangor Comic and Toy Con goers can meet and take photos with special guest Kane Hodder, an actor and stunt performer best known for playing legendary supervillain Jason in four movies in the “Friday the 13th” slasher movie franchise. Bambrick and McCann have even set up a replica of Camp Crystal Lake, the famous summer camp from the movies.
Bangor Comic and Toy Con, now in its eighth year, set up shop permanently in the Bangor Mall last fall, taking over two storefronts to regularly host pop-up events, like a holiday market held in December and a gaming weekend in February, as well as the group’s actual annual convention.
This year’s flagship event will kick off at noon on Friday at the mall. All weekend, artists, guests and vendors will be set up in several areas of the mall, alongside the Winterhouse gaming lounge, which will host a Mario Kart tournament at 3 p.m. on Saturday. There’s a kickoff party at the Downunder Lounge at Seasons in Bangor at 8 p.m. Friday, and there’s a cosplay ball, also at Seasons, at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Guests at BCTC this year include Hodder; R.A. Mihailoff, who played Leatherface in several “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movies and who will also appear for photos at Maineiac Manor; “Stranger Things” actor Randy Havens; Hollywood stunt performer Jim Winburn; “The Walking Dead” stars Matt Lintz and Joshua Mikel; and an array of voice actors from a number of highly popular anime series.
Tickets for the convention start at $20-$30 for single-day passes, or $40 for the whole weekend; there are also family packs, VIP passes and tickets just for the cosplay ball on Saturday night.
Admission to Maineiac Manor is separate, and can be purchased at the door to the haunted house for $15.