OLOWALU - Zombies growl in the distance as a group of civilians is escorted to a giant flatbed truck late Saturday night at Maui Paintball.
Warren Celario, field manager at the facility, is dressed in tactical military gear and barks orders to the crowd of about a dozen. The vehicle, or Zombie Emergency Response Truck, is ignited.
"Weapons hot!" Celario shouts.
A group of girls takes aim at a zombie Sunday night on Maui Paintball’s “Haunted Hayride” in Olowalu
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Holden Mowat of Lahaina scares visitors Sunday night during the “Haunted Hayride” at Maui Paintball in Olowalu. The 10- to 15-minute ride costs $20 per person and will be open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Seated on bales of hay, the group unloads a barrage of paintballs toward the undead, while being splashed by "zombie blood." A 10-year-old girl yells: "Save your bullets, we still have two stops."
Founder and owner Clint Hansen enjoys every bit of the action.
"I love it. I think it's phenomenal and an amazing start," he said. "I definitely see us doing more Halloween things in the future."
Over the weekend, Maui residents were treated to the nontraditional haunted house experience with mounted paintball guns and zombies. The 10- to 15-minute ride accommodates about 22 people and circles through the 10-acre West Maui property.
The "Haunted Hayride" will offer more rides from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for $20 per person.
"We had about 120 reservations, and I think we have more tonight," Hansen said Sunday of the weekend that just ended. "Next Saturday is looking incredibly booked. There are lots of openings . . . but they are booking up quite quickly."
Hansen, who opened the facility in January, credited the idea for the attraction to friends John Hughes of Wailuku and Lori Venus of Honokowai. The group put their love for Halloween, horror films and paintball into one.
"This was . . . spontaneous," said Hughes. "We were discussing it a month ago and we were like: Let's just do it."
The group and dozens of volunteers gathered recovered lumber to make crosses and stuffed dummies with recyclable bottles and trash bags.
"Nothing was purchased specifically for this," Hughes said. "We used old masks and old clothes so we're kind of keeping it as green as possible."
Venus, team captain of an all-female paintball team, provided the masks and has worked with Hughes on other haunted house projects. She said that the project took about three weeks to prepare.
"After work and weekends I'd come out here," she said pointing to props built earlier Saturday. "We were literally setting things up until four o' clock today."
Along with the scenery, the crew obtained a 50-foot GMC flatbed truck to reference the many armored vehicles seen in zombie films.
"We mounted the (paintball guns) so they can't actually turn where the people are and (instead) fire in a safe direction," Hughes said. "Otherwise people would have to wear safety masks and all sorts of things. This makes it a lot more comfortable and friendly and you can just show up and have fun."
Among the zombies running around the truck were Venus, who was dressed in paintball gear and wore green "zombie" contacts on her eyes. She said that the day started off slow, "But after that we had full buses coming through.
"We could hear everybody coming through and the screams and the yells; we kind of thrived on that to ham it up a little more," she said.
Venus was stationed in the cemetery - one of three sections the truck made stops in.
"Where our section is we're kind of close to the bus, so I think we may have gotten the brunt of the paintballs," she said. "Where I was hiding out . . . it looked like somebody took a case of paintballs and just dumped them on the ground."
Holden Mowat of Lahaina also volunteered as a zombie, and several bystanders complimented his acting.
"I try to make it look realistic," he said. "I drag my feet a little bit and I crawl. I stumble off over some of the bunkers and fall. I try to give that I'm a real 'walker.'"
Volunteers helping for at least eight hours are given unlimited free access to the field for two months, and free paintballs if they help longer. Mowat called it a good tradeoff, even though he took some painful shots Saturday, including one to his neck.
"I actually just got off of work," Mowat, who is a magician at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, said late Saturday night. "I've got my dress pants under this and pieces of my suit still on."
Saturday's participants enjoyed the unconventional haunted house ride and called it "more fun than scary."
"We planned (our attack) at first but then afterward all hell broke loose," said Sharla Carlson of Kihei, who was on the ride with her husband and eight friends. "I think this is better than the conventional paintball. You get to ride and shoot at other people."
Friend Zachary Fetalvero of Wailuku also enjoyed the experience.
"It was pretty dark but for the most part I thought they did a really great job in being able to show themselves and everything," he said. "I defintely hit some zombies."
Ed Santos of Kahului brought his family to the attraction, including son Mykah, 13, daughter Krysta, 15, and wife Gina. He said they drove by the facility's sign along Honoapiilani Highway several times and wound up getting Saturday night's last reservation.
"It was all right," Krysta Santos said. "Yeah, I screamed."
Looking at the satisfied customers, Hughes credited the volunteers for making the show come to life.
"The volunteers out there, they're not just wearing paintball equipment, they're wearing a costume (and) a Halloween mask over it," he said. "They're running around and getting shot to pieces.
"Everybody is going to run home and immediately take a shower."
To make reservations, visit mauipaintball.com/hauntedhayride.php or call 866-7034.
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at email@example.com.