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5:25 a.m. - 2001-10-31

Here comes the third in my trilogy...the "Return of the Jedi" ... the "Rocky III"...The "Porky's Revenge" of diary entries.

Yes, I know there were more "Rocky" movies after "III", but I never saw them. Thus, there's an open invitation to blow me...please...feel free.

Today...the STORIES behind the Absolute Worst Haunted House ever.

The first night was literally a nightmare. We were supposed to open up at 7 p.m. and it was 7:45 before the doors opened. Thus, we had about 20 angry people on our hands. Certainly not enough for an "angry throng" of people, but 20 was enough.

I was so busy that I didn't have time to get made up myself. So instead of being an evil clown guide, I was an irritable writer guide dressed in a dark and mysterious windbreaker.

Each time I took a group through the house, I realized more and more that this house wasn't scary at all.

In the "Scream" room, where a girl was standing behind a curtain and dialing her friend's cell phone who was actually in the scene, at one point the girl behind the curtain couldn't get through to her friend's cell phone. These two were teen squad gals with little acting experience. The only acting experience I can imagine either one of them having is that they could probably act like they understood simple math problems in a classroom. That was it.

So after about 60 seconds of the group of guests watching a girl sit quietly in a chair, you heard the girl behind the curtain say quietly "Ring. Ring. Ring."

I was doubled over with laughter.

Opening night also found us without a "Jason"...somebody to wear a hockey mask, wield a chainsaw and come flying down a darkened hallway toward the guests.

I had to beg a guy to do it who had been there to help set up and was going to leave to go home to his wife.

The man's name is Chuck.

...And he's about 60 years old.

Chuck had probably not seen a horror movie since "Frankenstein", if he ever saw that. Chuck is by far one of the nicest old guys I've ever met. He works for the United Way and is always in a great mood.

"I dunno Uncle Bob," he said. "I don't know if I can do it."

"Sure you can, Chuck," I said. "Just put this hockey mask on, crank the chainsaw up, and come running at the kids. Don't forget to grunt real loud or scream. Act like you're wanting to chop them up."

"I dunno Uncle Bob," he said again. "I just don't know."

I managed to talk him into it. I also managed to talk him into taking his coat and tie off since I don't really remember any "Friday the 13th" movies where Jason was wearing a suit.

So while I'm walking the groups through various scenes, from the other end of the house, you'd hear Chuck fumbling with that chainsaw, trying to get it started. Apparently, it was an old chainsaw and it was leaking oil everywhere in his hallway. It kinda took away the frights when people would be in the ER and hear a chainsaw in the distance, knowing they'd be coming face to face with a quasi-Jason on down the line.

Chuck was right...he couldn't do it.

First off, the guy had the hardest time getting the chainsaw cranked. There's nothing less scary that standing in a darkened hallway and hearing an old man at the end of the hallway trying unsuccessfully to crank up a chainsaw and saying "Dammit...dammit...dammit...DAMMit...dammIT...dammit...DAMMIT!" after every unsuccessful crank.

The group was all laughing. Finally, he'd get it started and he'd emerge into the light saying "You kids get outta my house! Go on! Get out of my house!"

...Hardly frightening, but damned entertaining.

I mentioned on the first of these three entries about the troubles I had with my brother in law being a complete and utter dick.

But he was NOTHING compared to one girl from the Camarilla vampire-wannabes.

This girl, we'll call her Kelly, started out okay. We got along good and she seemed like a fairly decent person.

On the second night of being opened, I had some friends of mine from a local TV station come out and film some of the scenes in the house to put on the news. Basically, they filmed the Frankenstein room, the Camarilla room and the chainsaw hallway because those were the only three scenes that had any sort of organization behind them.

We did this minutes before we opened the house up for business.

I was standing outside, saying goodbye to the news crew and thanking them for giving us some publicity when I see Kelly standing there about to freak out.

"We need to talk," she said.

"Okay," I said back.

"I didn't give anyone permission to put my face on television," she said. "I didn't sign any waiver or contract to grant my likeness to any media."


"This is the news, Kelly," I explained. "They don't have people sign waivers or contracts to put their likeness on television. At best, a three second snippet will be used on the air. That's not how the media works."

This girl had watched way too many episodes of "Matlock". She had no idea what her rights were in this situation.

"This is unacceptable," she hissed. "There is absolutely no way that I will allow this to happen. You should have had us all sign waivers if you were putting us on television."

Okay. You're dressed as a pseudo-witch in a Haunted House that will show up at the end of the 10:00 newscast with the newscaster chuckling about how scary it looks and encouraging everyone to come out and support a good cause. I told EVERYONE that I was walking a camera crew from the local TV station through the house and for everyone to be as scary as possible. You KNEW that you were about to have a TV camera shoved in your room.

Tell me...what in the blue fuck is unacceptable about that?

She was adamant about it. She wanted me to call the TV station and tell them not to run any of it or she would sue me.

I thought about the fact that she and her little group of pansy-assed vampires hoarded every prop I had managed to wrangle up for their offensive room. I brought two truckloads of props on loan from a local college's drama department ... and these bastards happened to be there the day the props were delivered and carried every prop to their room. 300 square foot of room in a 9,000 square foot-plus Haunted House.

I thought about what a bunch of geeks they were, that everyone of them smoked and everyone of them bitched that they wanted a smoke break after each group coming through and that they all bitched that I wasn't showing any enthusiasm about their scene.

So I laid it on the line.

"Kelly, if you don't want your likeness on television, fine. Get your friends, get your stuff, and get the goddamned fuck out of my House. I run this place, not you. I've had it with you and your whining. You can either get back in there and get ready or you can leave. I don't give a shit what you do."

And I walked away.

She stayed.

They all stayed.

But man...they HATED me for the next four nights.

A sidenote...when it came time to clean up the warehouse after it was all over with, not a single camarilla came to clean up their room. The rules were, everyone came and cleaned up their own areas. They had slung more animal parts, fake blood, flourescent paint and crap everywhere than any other room.

I just left it like that. They were given a key to the warehouse to come and clean their area. And I'm willing to bet they never did.

I had to get on those idiots several times. Most of the time for sneaking out back and smoking and then disrupting the groups of people, casually walking right past them back to their room. They didn't respect me and I sure as HELL didn't respect them and their geeky little fantasy world.

I've seen Kelly twice since then. And both times I turned away and avoided saying "Hello" to the pompous little slut.

To this day, I hate the word "camarilla".

The first couple of nights were the roughest. Mainly because my Teen Squad girls left about two hours earlier than the house closed.

So their scenes became empty rooms. I'd try to make stuff up off the top of my head as we walked through them. "Watch out, kiddies," I'd growl in my faux British accent. "Looks like my monsters came and ate everyone out of these scenes. Don't let yourself be next. Muahahahahhaaaa!!"

...I know...lame.

By the second week, I came up with an ingenius plan.

Since there were so many hallways in this warehouse that were behind the scenes, I had people playing different roles in different scenes.

So the nurses in the ER wore surgical masks. As soon as we walked in the Witch's room, the nurses ran to the "Scream" room and performed a scene there. Then EVERYONE had to converge on the Zombie Pit at the end, so that the group was confronted with what looked like an endless amount of zombies coming towards them. Luckily, we had a bright projector light shining in their eyes at this time, so all they saw were silhouettes slowly moving their way and couldn't tell that these were the doctors from the ER moving their way.

Sometimes pandemonium would break out in the zombie pit. At one point, they were running around for some unknown reason and this guy Todd ran smack dab into a younger kid helping out, headbutting the kid. Luckily, no stitches were required but I think it knocked the kid loopy.

After Chuck's horrible playing of "Jason" the first night, the person in charge of playing Jason after that was Drunk-Assed Jamie who I used to write about quite a bit here when I still worked for the newspaper.

Drunk-Assed Jamie, unbeknownst to me, was carting in several bottles of liquor and beer every night and leaving them down in his darkened hallway. This was the ultimate gig for Jamie. Every ten minutes or so, he'd have to get up and turn on his electric power saw (we had to ditch the chainsaw after the first night, that didn't work), and come running at the guests with the saw raised above his head and screaming "GET OUT!! GET OUT!!!"

Like I reported earlier, Jamie had no idea how to remove the blade from the power saw and if he had, it would have looked phony as hell. So I told him to JUST BE CAREFUL and not drop the power saw and kill anyone.

I told him this when I thought he might still be sober each night he was doing it.

One night, he came barrelling down the hallway, screaming and scaring the kids when I smelled it.


I ushered the kids out of the house, went back to Jamie and said " honest...have you been drinking tonight?"

He laughed and said "Hell, I've been drinking EVERY night!"

What am I gonna do? Fire Jason??

I told him to bring some breath mints for chrissakes...we've got parents with their kids smelling liquor on a guy in a hockey mask and holding a real power saw above their heads. Hell...I'M scared of all that.

I think it was the last night...maybe the next to the last night...that I needed a drink myself.

So while the monsters took their smoke break, I snuck into Jamie's lounge area with three other people and we drank as much alcohol as quickly as possible.

The rest of that night was a blur. But a fun blur just the same.

I'm sure there's other stories that I've forgotten. The night the fog machine broke and the fog got so thick in the house that my brother in law got offended and opened the side doors to let all the fog escape. Then we had NO fog, which we really needed for some of the creepier lighting effects.

There was the sad irony that one of the girls who was playing a car crash victim in the ER had her parents show up early into the evening to tell her that one of her friends had been killed in an auto accident just hours beforehand. The girl came and asked me if she could go home because her friend had just been killed.

I told her no and to get back on that gurney and pretend that you've been in a car wreck NOW!

Actually, of course...I didn't. But man...that was a sobering reality on the first night of this excursion.

I'm out of time, but not out of stories. If I think of any more that I can print, I'll finish this thing up in this afternoon's entry.

Thanks for listening.

Be careful tonight.

Don't let the Camarillas fake bite you.

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