by Bob Groeneveld/Special to the Langley Advance
It’s not every year that a Halloween attraction can be opened on Friday the Thirteenth.
This is one of those uncommon years, and it’s adding to Barry Brinkworth’s excitement.
The Murrayville resident has created Brinkworth Dungeon to help celebrate the spooky season, and at the same time, help to make life just a little easier for people in need, by accepting donations for Langley Food Bank.
His sculptures of dark-souled creatures, movie monsters, instruments of torture, and all things gruesome covers more than 3,500 square feet at 22260 48th Ave.
Starting on Oct. 13 this year, the exhibits will be open for public viewing. He asks that people visiting the display donate suitable food items.
“Last year was a pretty light year,” he said. “We filled our trunk with boxes of food, but it wasn’t what we were used to.”
Until four years ago, Brinkworth and his monstrous creations resided in Richmond, and the crowds they attracted there “filled up four Chevy vans full of food.” The food bank there was “blown away with the amount of food.”
“Here, I think, people haven’t got to know us enough yet,” Brinkworth said. “This is our fourth season here. We haven’t had the budget to do any advertising, so it’s more word of mouth and our website and whatever gets put in the paper.”
He added, “I’d love to be able to take a truckload of food to the food bank. It would be fantastic.”
For Brinkworth, his creations – from Elvira to Frankenstein’s monster, from gremlins to Jack the Ripper – aren’t really about Halloween, although they fit the theme of the season well.
“I am a big horror movie buff,” he explained.
Asked to pick his favourite horror movie, he simply couldn’t.
“If I had to pick one…” he paused: “I have so many different ones – a classic one would be the original Frankenstein, and then, anything to do with Texas Chainsaw, because that was a real event. I think that’s one that’s really close to my heart.”
The amount of work involved in creating the special effects in the “chainsaw” movies fascinates him.
The skills that allow him to create his dungeon dwellers come from his lifetime work as a model engineer, building architectural models and special projects of all sorts.
But despite his love of horror flicks, he doesn’t work in the movie industry.
He is continuing the family business, Brinkworth Model & Design Co Ltd., started in 1945 in Great Britain by his grandfather. “It was carried on by my father and mother, Al and Elza Brinkworth, in 1966 – whom I have proudly worked alongside since I left school at the age of 15,” the 54-year-old Brinkworth said.
For the past 38 years, he has been building custom models for clients such as BC Ferries. “The models that you see when you go and ride on the ferries, they have them in the foyer there, and they’re like three or four feet long, those are our family models.”
His list of clients includes a number of famous race team owners in the Indy Car series: Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, and David Letterman among others.
But he keeps coming back to his enthusiasm for horror films.
“My hobby interest has always been driven by the love of horror and monster movies and wax museums,” he said.
He has been creating his “haunted attractions” for 17 years, building a significant following in Richmond before his move to Langley four years ago.
“I love sculpting and creating monsters and setting them each in their own unique backdrop scene, much like a wax museum. I just love creating full size figures with backdrops,” he said, “And I love wax museums. That’s something that is very exciting to me: touring through a wax museum and creating that environment for people to go through it.”
He also loves that it creates “a really good opportunity to collect stuff for charity.”
“But it takes a lot of time, the actual hours that it takes to create figures,” Brinkworth noted. “There’s definitely not a lot of money to be made in it, but I really love doing it.”
The whole family is involved in his enthusiasm.
“My wife Tammy, the love of my life, works alongside of me when she can,” he said. “Last year we jointly built ‘Boris’ our 10-foot diameter roof tarantula. We are now known as the spider house of Murrayville.”
His mom and dad handle the promotion art and the brinkworthdungeon.com web page and Facebook presence.
“Even my younger brother Bill proudly sculpted a couple of well known characters in the mansion,” he said.
The joy is in “creating the fantasy stuff from nothing, striving to make something look real when it’s not actually real,” said Brinkworth. “And I think people like that, too.”
The Brinkworth Dungeon opens on Friday the Thirteenth of October at 22260 48th Ave., 7 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.