Faces Behind the Fear: Rae Rothwell of Fright Nights

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be one of the scary people who inhabit local haunted attractions? In this installment of Faces Behind the Fear, we look into one of these people.  Her name is Rae Rothwell, and she is not only an assistant makeup artist for Momento Mori, one of the larger haunts at Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds, she is also one of the most elaborately made-up costumed characters at the event, and functions as character designer for the haunt- meaning that she comes up with the characters in each room and what they should wear, as well as helping them with scares. Lastly she is the house leader for the haunt, which means she walks through the haunt with a radio and makes sure all of my actors are safe and happy and calls in any technical issues or trouble patrons.





1) Do you like scary movies?
– the answer is YES ABSOLUTELY! I’ve watched horror movies since I was a little girl. They actually used to scare me to the point where I couldn’t sleep, but now whenever I see a new horror flick I always try to take as much inspiration as I can. I love the classic horror movies such as The Wolfman and Frankenstein, as well as The Shining and Halloween. I even love gory movies such as Saw. Anything with great story lines and characters that really stick with me. And, of course, great makeup and monsters.

2) How long have you been a makeup artist?
– I have been doing makeup since 2013. I actually did my first special fx makeup about a week or two before my first night at Fright Nights. Which was great for me because I was able to watch the makeup artists work on everyone’s makeup and asked a bunch of questions and learned a lot of tricks.

3) What inspired you to become a makeup artist?
-as weird as it sounds, getting into makeup just sort of… happened. I loved watching face off on TV, which is a special fx makeup competition. But I never thought about doing it for a living. One night I just decided that I wanted to make a really gory and realistic Halloween costume. So I watched a bunch of you one tutorials on special fx makeup and the next day I was at the Halloween store buying all of the products I needed. Once I got home and tried it out, I fell in love and just haven’t stopped since then.

4)Do you enjoy haunted houses? If so which is your favorite?
– I have actually never been to any other haunted attractions. I have to admit, I am a huge baby and get startled very easily. I know that sounds weird because I work at a haunted house and scare for a living. I guess I can dish it out, but can’t handle it if I were actually the one getting scared.

5) This year, you have become one of the main faces of Fright Nights, appearing on the website as well as numerous stories promoting the haunt. What is your favorite part about having your image represent the entire staff of the attraction?
– well it was a very surreal feeling, seeing myself on the website and flyers we used for promotion. I think my favorite part about my image representing the event is the simple fact that it’s my character that I created and makeup that I did all on my own. Seeing all of my hard work that I put into the makeup and character being used to promote is a huge honor, and I hope I am doing the haunt justice with this character.

6) There are several schools of scaring, if you will. What technique works best for you?
-I would say my favorite technique is utilizing the space I am in and make the scares as unexpected as possible. Having a presence that is intimidating and real to the patrons is the most rewarding scare, because that’s how you know you really got into their head and brought out a big fear of theirs.

7) Several of the house leaders have gone on to design their own haunted house attractions. Have you considered this as well? If so, what would your haunted attraction consist of?
– I definitely have ideas in my head all the time that I think would be great for a haunt. If I’m ever asked to design a haunt, I would do it in a heartbeat. If I were to do a haunt, I would want there to be areas that isn’t just based on scares, I would want it to be like people are watching a show with a lot of crowd interaction. I want our guests to wonder “how on earth did they do all of this?” I want to shock their senses and invoke everyone’s most hidden fears.

8)How do you go about developing characters for the haunt?
– this year was my first time being able to come up with characters for the whole haunt. I definitely did a lot of research on history (since the haunt I was a part of was a New Orleans voodoo haunt) to make the characters look like they are as realistic as possible. Once the haunt was halfway done and the rooms had enough detail, I would sit in each room and envision what would scare me if I were to walk into the haunt and what I would want to see. And once I had a solid concept I would look for costumes to add more realism to the character and would brainstorm with my haunt designer until we agreed on all of the characters. It was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again next year.

9) What advice would you give someone interested in a haunted attraction?
– I would tell them that it is some of the hardest work you’ll ever be a part of. It’s a lot on your body to keep the same amount of aggressive energy when you have thousands of people a night coming through. You also have to go all in. You can’t care about what guests think of you. You have to overact everything if you really want to scare people. I feel like sometimes people have a hard time letting loose and not being self conscious. It’s definitely something you have to work through.

10) With all of the haunted attractions out there, why should someone come visit Fright Nights?
– people should visit fright nights because we put so much time and effort into making the scenery in the haunts, the characters, the makeup, and the costume. We want to transport everyone into whatever world we have created. However, if you’re not into haunted houses, we have rides. If you don’t like rides, we have entertainment, if you don’t like entertainment, we have art venders. We have something that everyone can enjoy. It’s not just haunts.

Fright Nights is split into four separate haunted attractions: Animal Farm, Memento Mori, Beyond the Gates, and Meadow Lakes. To get a full sense of what they have to offer, we here at Palm Beach Happening highly recommend visiting each haunt at least once.


$25 General Admission + 3 out of 4 haunts, plus UNLIMITED Midway ride

$10 Monster Bash (Oct. 25, 2015)

You can also upgrade your experience for $5 per haunt by adding the RIP option, where you are given a “fastpass” time to return for the haunt with little or no wait time. You can spend your waiting time in their special RIP tent, complete with a full bar, photo opportunities, and lots of room to sit and relax before your imminent destruction!

Dates of Terror:

October 22-24, 29-31.

Open from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Thursdays.

Open from 6:00 pm to Midnight on Fridays & Saturdays.

For more details, be sure to visit MyFrightNights.net! Also, be sure to check out some of our other Faces Behind the Fear interviews!

Remember that Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity. It is a time to come out of your shell, and to acknowledge the mischievous spirit that resides within all of us. Be sure to keep following Palm Beach Happening for news on other spooky events in the Palm Beaches. If you know of another local event that would appreciate the undead light shone upon it, please let us know!