BRISTOL — The Witch’s Dungeon classic movie museum just opened for its regular season, offering visitors a chance to step into their favorite old films, both through life-size wax figures and authentic movie props and makeup.
Here are five things you should know about the museum, which is housed in the Bristol Historical Society, 98 Summer St., until Nov. 2. The owner: Cortlandt Hull
This is the 53rd anniversary of the Witch’s Dungeon, which Hull created when he was just a teenager at home.
“I started it in 1966, when I was just 13-years-old,” Hull said. “We’ve been continuing it ever since.”
Hull makes the figures himself, from the molds and designs from the actual movies. Some of the figures include “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “Count Dracula,” and “The Frankenstein Monster.” Many of the figures are modeled from the original actors’ own face and bear a striking resemblance to the people who brought them to life.
Hull had an insider’s knowledge of the industry through his great uncle Henry Hull, who, among about 70 films, played the original “Werewolf of London.”
Over the years, largely through connections in the film world, Hull has been able to collect these molds, as well as props and makeup. His friends Vincent Price (“House of Wax,” “House on the Haunted Hill”) and June Foray (voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Cindy-Loo in “The Grinch”) have also lent their voice talents to the museum.
His first figure is still a part of the collection in a big way — as the greeter to all those who enter.
“Zenobia the Gypsy Witch” was Hull’s first creation, a character he made up.
Now, the exhibit is considered the longest running exhibit of its kind in the country, according to its website.The characters
“You can see recreations, very accurate to the films, of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Lon Cheney, and many others,” Hull said.
Hull said a rare one that very few people have seen, but which “is beautifully done,” is actor John Marais as the beast in “La Belle et la Bete,” a French film of “The Beauty and the Beast” from 1946.
“My personal favorite, because he was my great uncle, is actor Henry Hull, as the very first Werewolf of London in 1935,” Hull said.
Other figures feature David Hedison as “The Fly” and the very first Dracula, "Nosferatu" or “Count Orlok”, played by Max Schreck in Germany in 1922. Film showings
After you walk through the museum, you can stay to watch some classic horror-fantasy movies shown on film and projected on a screen.
“We have a wide variety of classic horror films and fantasy films and it’s a different movie each night,” Hull said.
On Sunday, the original “King Kong" and episodes of "The Munsters” were shown, however, each night is a surprise. The propsand makeup
Besides the wax museum set up, the museum also shows off original makeup and props used in motion pictures from “ET” to the “Exorcist.”
“I was fortunate to know John Chambers, who did ‘Planet of the Apes’ … and Dick Smith, who did the makeup in the ‘Exorcist,’” Hull said. “Both of these makeup artists gave me original pieces from these films that you’ll see on display.”
One of the fake heads used for a spinning effect in the “Exorcist” is on display, along with a few “Planet of the Apes” character busts. The museum holds an original “ET” prop that was used in the movie and other film memorabilia in photos and objects. Hours
The Witch’s Dungeon is only open seasonally, from Oct. 4, to Nov. 3. You can visit Friday through Sundays, from 7-10 p.m. each night.
The museum is also open on Halloween, a Thursday this year.