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11:47 a.m. - 2001-10-30

Alright then...today's first entry kinda told you what I was up against as I tried to organize the first Haunted House this city has seen in a decade. I've decided to dedicate this entry to a detailed walk-through of the absolute worst Haunted House you'd ever experience for three bucks and then tomorrow's entry will focus on some of the stories from the adventure.

If you want an extremely condensed version of the whole adventure, visit Edweird's take on the house.

Anyway...your walkthrough...

The building we used was an old warehouse that was red on the outside. There were two small windows on either end of the building and that was it as far as windows, so at least it was pretty dark inside. There wasn't a whole lot of cosmetic surgery we could do to the outside of the building to make it scarier, since our budget had been blown on 24 sheets of plywood and some 2 by 4's.

People bought their tickets at a ticket window as they walked in. This ticket window proved to be one of the more popular spots in the House, because it was this same ticket window that people came back to when they demanded their money back from this lame excuse for a Haunted House.

The sales manager from the newspaper, Lynn...a 48 year-old woman ... was dressed as a gypsy. This woman prided herself on her body which was just starting to really fall apart. So any chance she had to dress up in "sexy" outfits (apparently, a retarded gypsy qualified as "sexy") she did it. Lynn stayed up by the ticket window and spoke in a really, gawdawful Transylvania accent, "velcoming" people into the Monster Mansion. Her accent would bounce back and forth from Hungarian to Italian and back again. She smiled as she "velcomed" everyone in and people HAD to think that they were stepping into some children's Haunted House, meant for pre-schoolers. She was about as scary as a daisy.

I was dressed as a demented clown, only because I had a clown suit and was trying to get as much mileage out of it as possible. I was trying to look like Pennywise from "It", but looked more like Tammy Faye Bakker if she had gotten prepared in the dark. I had those fake Billy Bob teeth in, so it was extremely difficult to speak. I spoke in a heavy British accent because...well...I didn't really have a reason for that. I just did it. That's how lame this thing was...there was no rhyme or reason behind 90% of the House. It was all improvised.

I'd tell the people to not touch the monsters and "the monsters won't touch you". That was a bold faced lie. I had told the "monsters" to touch as many of the people as possible. For God's sakes...wiping your ass would give you more frightening episodes than this hellhole. We had to get as many scares out of the people as possible. If that meant some teenage girl with a surgical mask touched people on the arm and shrieked...well by God...I just hoped she didn't get backhanded by some jumpy redneck.

So I'd take them into the first room..."The E.R." We had a gurney set up with someone laying on a table and two or three "doctors" working on this person. After a while, the person would sit up, screaming "I'M NOT DEAD!!!" This was the cue for several Teen Squad members to come up from behind the group of victims and scream at them.

Aaaaaaaah!

In the "ER" room is where I had stationed the sound system. The first weekend we were open, I had one song on a loop...the "Halloween" theme from the movie of the same name.

Over. And over. And over again.

That was the biggest complaint from my volunteers...change that goddamned music.

I had it so loud that you could hear it all through the "Mansion". It turned out to be the most annoying thing about the House. The second week, I changed the music to rock music that was considered "scary". Some Metallica. I remember playing "Bawitdaba" by Kid Rock because it was brand new and kinda powerful.

But scary? Uhhhhh...no.

The next room was the Witch's Room. There was a witch in here, stirring a cauldron. When I say "witch", please picture a cute little teen girl with a pointed hat on and a garbage bag for an outfit with holes for her arms to come out.

Yes. Garbage bags.

So she'd stir the stuff in the cauldron (dry ice) and as the group would leave, a guy would jump out from behind a black curtain and scream at them.

Yep. We were pretty big on people jumping out from behind black curtains.

Let me just remind you...I was thrust into charge of this whole operation with about two weeks of advance notice, no budget, no ideas and no help from professionals.

Duh.

The third "room" was the "Scream" room. A girl was sitting in a chair next to a cell phone. We're talking bare bones production here...a chair, a table and a cell phone. A girl from behind a curtain would call the other girl on her cell phone. The girl would pick it up and say "Hello? Look, I told you...QUIT CALLING HERE!"

Just then (grab your popcorn and drink now...cos now it gets good!), a guy in a "Scream" mask and robe came bounding out WHERE??

FROM BEHIND THE BLACK CURTAIN!!

He'd "slit the girl's throat" with his extremely plastic sickle and then lunge toward the group.

By this point, those in the group that were still paying attention to the scenes were almost lulled to sleep from boredom.

I would then take the group past a bunch of black curtains. But this time (imagine the psychological scars forming...) THERE WERE NO MONSTERS BEHIND THE CURTAINS!

I mean...there would have been plenty. Except we ran out of

A)Masks

B)Volunteers

C)Garbage Bags

So we kinda reach a stopping point here. I gathered the group in a tight circle and told them that what waits beyond this door is some of the most terrifying things they'll ever encounter. If anyone wants to leave now, just say so and there's an exit behind you.

On one side of the group, the actual exit.

On the other side of the group...you guessed it...a black curtain.

I think one person out of all of the groups that we carried through there for two weekends straight had had enough fear driven into their hearts and wanted out.

The rest of the people yawned and opted to try and get at least a quarter's worth of scare out of us.

Oh.

And there was a monster behind the black curtain. A guy in a skull mask. Horrifying, I'm telling you.

We ushered the kids into Frankenstein's Room which was highlighted by my slacker brother in law running after kids on stilts.

I'll hand it to the guy, he had created one of the scarier rooms in the house. He had beakers and a Jacob's Ladder that shows an actual spark of electricity traveling up poles.

Hey. At least the guy brought his own props.

Anyway, the group was ushered in the room in the dark. Pitch black. We'd slam the door behind them and they'd think they were trapped in there.

Frankenstein's doctor would do some stupid spiel my brother in law wrote that included the doctor squirting "blood" (aka water) all over the guests with a syringe. Har har har.

He'd go to operate on Frankenstein, a strobe light would go off, my brother in law would growl and then be up on his feet in no time, a hulking monster chasing the kids out of the room.

Straight into "Edweird's Hallway.

Edweird had the idea for a pitch black hallway. Three quarters of the way down the hallway, the walls would close in, making people squeeze through the opening, where there were THREE MONSTERS waiting for them!!!

We hung wet string from the ceiling, which, in the dark, felt like cobwebs. It was pretty nasty as the strings would smack you in the face.

We hung up army blankets on the wall, wet those down and stapled big wet sponges to them, so that if the guests touched the walls, they'd get a handful of wet sponge. Doesn't sound like much, I know...but try it in the dark, pal.

As they got closer to the walls closing in (Edweird basically built a partition that forced the people to one side of the hallway), there were cutouts in the partition where Edweird would squirt air through an air hose at the people. My idea for the air hose. And it wasn't all that scary.

Oh...we nailed some rubber tubing to the bottom of the partition, that felt like fingers running against your legs. Edweird was right all along...he thought we could do more with the house if it was completely black inside and people had no idea what was going on.

The hallway was by far the creepiest part of the house and elicited the most screams. Then again...it was competing against a series of black curtains. It wasn't much of a contest.

Once everyone had made it past the partition, a light would be shined on the three monsters who would scream at the guests and usher them into the next room.

"The Really Fucked-Up Room had no real scare to it. It was basically two of these camarilla dudes fighting. It looked like really bad outtakes from an Austin Powers fight scene. Lotsa overacting and cheesy dialogue. One guy would slam the other guy into a wall and that was it.

The guests would stand there and wonder what the hell was going on. Two nerds fighting. At this point, the biggest fear running through anyone's mind was if they'd make it out of the house with their wallets.

We then got into the "Camarilla Room" as I explained in my earlier entry today...these Camarillas were the biggest bunch of suck-ass nerds I've ever met. They seriously thought that they were vampires. They tried to come off as being mysterious when they were just pathetic geeks that got the shit kicked out of them on a daily basis in junior high.

A group of these buffoons were standing around a table with one of their own on the table. For extra added effect, they had written Satanic messages on the walls of the room that were only visible under a black light.

We didn't have a black light in their room. So the messages were never seen.

They'd be shouting some Latin phrases in unison, then pretend to pull out the guy's heart. The guy would jump up from the table, run up to the group of guests and scream in their faces, thus backing them up into...

...say it with me...

A BLACK CURTAIN!

Behind the black curtain, one of the Camerillas was waiting who would pull one of the people from the group kicking and screaming back into their "abyss". The person in the group was a plant, a guy who was friends with the Camarillas and knew this was going to happen. The only place where you'd find cheesier acting would be an Erik Estrada film festival.

The group would give off the impression that they were ready for it all to be over with by this point. Not out of fear...but they had to make it home in time to catch "Step By Step" or "Growing Pains".

The next room was the frightening "Aluminum Room".

Ahem.

Basically, we hung aluminum foil all over the walls so that the walls were all aluminum. We placed a strobe light in there. We put a clown wig on my wife and she sat in a corner, rocking back and forth.

No clown makeup.

Wearing her glasses.

And smiling. Not a demented smile. A smile that said "Hey! Glad you could make it to the Aluminum Room!"

That was it.

Next...it wasn't necessarily a room but a scene.

We had a guy who had the full get-up for "The Phantom of the Opera". He found some girl who had nothing better to do and no outfit to wear. She laid on the floor like she was dead and he knelt over her like he was mourning.

Did he jump up and scream at the group?

Uhhhh...no.

Die he spit blood and lunge at the group?

Uhhhh...no.

Any black curtains around???

Uhhhhh...no.

He didn't move. She didn't move. And I was forced to say something.

So I'd say "Witness the poor death of this young girl."

And we'd keep walking.

We'd then enter the "$1,500 Hallway". This was the hallway that we blew our entire budget on to construct. On one side of the hallway, there were people banging on the other side of the wall with hammers making a horrible racket. On the other side of the hallway were painted messages..."Turn Back Now" "Go Back!" "This Is Your Last Warning".

Of course...there was very little light in the hallway so these messages couldn't be seen. Hindsight's 20/20 I guess.

For the biggest shock in the hallway, we hung an old mirror on one of the walls where a little light was seeping through a crack in the wall. If people looked at it at just the right time, they'd see....well....they'd see a mirror. But for some reason, we thought it would be pretty scary if you looked to your left and saw someone standing there.

Even if that someone was yourself.

Did I mention I was smoking an awful lot of pot back then?

No?

Okay...that should be brought into the equation as well. Most of these ideas seemed like a good idea when I was stoned at my house.

This hallway took forever to make it down. We threw army blankets on the floor to make it hard to walk through. Of course, army blankets on lineoleum tend to slide out from under you.

We're lucky no one sued us for bruised tailbones.

Once down the hallway, the group walked into a huge room where "Night of the Living Dead" was being projected onto a wall.

So we'd stop, take a breather and watch a bit of the movie.

...Just as all of the monsters combined throughout the house came walking slowly toward us like zombies.

I originally wanted my zombies to look like they stepped out of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.

I settled for a buncha Teen Squad members wearing garbage bags and baseball caps.

Limited budget...remember?

The zombies would circle the group and herd them into the final room..."The Absolutely Free Hallway

We had a pretty cool light hanging from the ceiling and pointing towards the group in this hallway. I'd usher everyone in and make them stand against a wall in single file. I'd thank them all for coming out ... and then...I'd realize...oh horror of horrors....we've wandered down the wrong hallway.

Well, we can correct that...let's all just turn around and walk...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!

At this point, a guy would come running from the darkness at the end of the hallway with a chainsaw!!!

GOOD GOD EVERYONE...RUN!! FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST...RUNNNNNN!!!

Ummmm...this is where people got confused and pretty bored. They were tired of running from Teen Squad members with hockey masks. And heaven forbid they see one more black curtain.

It was next to impossible to convey to everyone to run down the opposite end of the hallway, AWAY from the chainsaw guy. They would stand there in a cluster, watching the chainsaw guy.

Who...ummm...didn't really have a chainsaw.

He had a power saw.

Not nearly as scary.

BUT ... in his defense...he left the blade in it and was pretty damned drunk every single night.

So if he slipped and fell and the saw hit someone, you'd sever an artery or two and we'd end up on the news the next day.

Maybe even the national news.

And that's pretty scary.

So finally, we'd get everyone out the exit door. All the monsters would chase them outside.

I use the word "chase" liberally. There wasn't much chasing done on most groups. Most of the groups left in an orderly, lollygagging fashion, shocked at their utter waste of cash more than the horrors inside our house.

Tomorrow...Tales From The House...my God...this is where it gets good, people. The Behind the Scenes crap of that gawdawful Monster Mansion.

Tomorrow, the stories to put fear in your hearts.

...Or at least realize how ignorant your Uncle Bob can be sometimes.

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