Haunted House Silly Stories

I, personally, have never been a big fan of horror movies, haunted houses, and the like. I’ll laugh at it at the time, and then spend the rest of the day/night completely paranoid, and have small moments of thinking things are lurking behind the shower curtain for a week.

Thus, as Halloween approaches and the “haunted ____” season kicks into high gear, I’d ask for people to share stories of going to haunted attractions and actually laughing (not fear-laughing, mind).

My story comes from a haunted barn I went to with my family. I went and sat out by the exit, but could see the final scare area, and had a good chuckle watching the various people screaming. People came out of a series of cornstalks into a room with a coffin that a guy dressed up like a vampire would pop out of. In one group, a rather burly gentleman leaned against the coffin, his arm on top of the lid. When the guy was supposed to pop out of it, he had to heave on it a couple times, and by that point the main impact of the scare was gone. However, the guy leaning against the lid had provided a good laugh for the rest of the group by screaming and jumping about a foot in the air when he realized that the lid he was leaning on was moving.

When my family came out, they mentioned that at one point, when they were walking down a dark tunnel, there was a person all dressed in black that was supposed to be stalking their group down the tunnel. However, apparently the person forgot that they were only supposed to follow for a specific period of time, as they followed the group right out into the next area, which was lit up. The person muttered “Oh, shoot!”, and turned around and hurried back into the tunnel to catch the next group.

Any similar stories out in DoperLand?

The biggest laugh I can recall offhand at a haunted attraction was at Busch Gardens Tampa’s “Howl-O-Scream” event a few years back. One of their haunted houses was called “The Mortuary.” It was fairly popular, and the entry queue had its own little performance elements to entertain the folks waiting in line-- there was a spooky Poltergeist 2-style preacher on a microphone, an old-fashioned hearse parked out front, etc. However, one of the elements was just weird beyond description.

The main entranceway was designed to look like an overgrown cemetery garden, with monuments and trellises all shrouded by gnarled ivy. There were performers in the garden, dressed in form-fitting grey bodystockings complete with pantyhose-style masks concealing their features. These costumes were studded all over at random with large, soft cones-- they were supposed to blend in with the ivy, I guess. The performers would flit silently from one monument to the other, wrap their arms around it for a while and hold still, then flit over to another spot. What the hell this had to do with the mortuary theme, I have no idea. I don’t know if anyone found it frightening at all, but to me it looked like some kind of fey sex toy-themed Mummenschanz routine. The bodystockings’ highly visible bulges left no doubt which performers were male, and the puffy cones all over their bodies didn’t help. So I was giggling pretty hard before I even got inside. That wasn’t the funniest bit though.

The Mortuary itself was actually a pretty well put together attraction. They had all the traditional spooky bits that you’d expect: ghoulish funeral scene, gruesome embalming room, malevolent gravediggers, and such. Then, at one point, in the mortuary parlor amid all the caskets, there was a cat in a box. Apropos of absolutely nothing, there was this stuffed black cat sitting inside this aquarium-like transparent viewing box on a sort of pedestal, with a looped recording of cat noises to suggest that it was alive. The cat was rigged on a pneumatic piston, so that every few minutes it would suddenly shoot forward and slam its head against the glass. I presume the intended effect was to spook groups of visitors as they walked by. But in the middle of all these morbid trappings, the incongruous sight of this raggedy fake cat abusing itself was the most hilarious thing imaginable. “Mrrreeeowww… mrreeoooww… THUMP Mrreeooouww…”

I stood and watched it meow plaintively and slam its head against that glass for what seemed like minutes, laughing uncontrollably all the while, tears of pure mirth pouring down my face. In retrospect I probably seemed pretty frightening myself to other people. The rest of my group was pretty peeved at me, but I made them all go through the attraction again later that night. I loved that cat.

Next year they had the Mortuary attraction again, and I made sure we hit that haunted house first. Dammit, neither the gay vine people nor the cat were included a second time. I guess some killjoy probably complained that having a display of a fake cat beating itself up was cruel or something.
A year or so later I had another big laugh at Howl-O-Scream. I have to give them credit for being experimental and trying out new and unusual varieties of haunted house on occasion. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This one was the worst idea I have ever seen.

The name of the attraction was… “Corporate Nightmare.” Yes, it was a white-collar haunted house. On the way in, I said sarcastically to the rest of the group: “So, what are they going to have inside, evil staplers?” The first thing we saw upon entry was a shelf of evil staplers. You knew they were evil because they were all chattering away by themselves, not actually stapling anything, which is just a pointless waste of staples.

The rest of the attraction looked suspiciously like the designers had a warehouse of used office furniture on hand and just decided to call it a “haunted house.” Apparently its poor quality also enraged the forces of nature, because within a week a big tropical storm came through and blew the whole thing away. “Evil staplers” became sort of a running joke among our group after that.

The Busch Gardens people seemed a little off their game that year; among other things, the mascot of that year’s event was an “evil cabdriver” character who was patently indistinguishable from any other cabdriver. This year’s effort seems a lot more promising: deformed evil twins. Which, I submit, is both scarier and less objectionable than deformed non-evil twin mascots.

There is a big haunted house set up here in the city called Scream Fest. Last year I went twice! Loads of fun, with about 5 haunted houses and a giant fire in the middle with some performers and others in costumes and games and such.

Well several people wear costumes and run around trying to frighten people. One guy was all bloodied up and running around with a chainsaw (don’t worry, the blade was removed… otherwise it was pretty much a real chainsaw from what I could tell). Standing in line for one of the houses, we watched as he chased this one guy around the crowd. This guy was so freaked out, hiding behind people and jumping if any of the other guys dressed up got too close… but he was terrified of this guy with the chainsaw.

As we watched he went up over the fence that half blocked off the houses from the rest of C.O.P. (don’t want anyone tripping into the luge run in the dark…). The funniest part wasn’t that though, the funniest part was this fence was a good ten, maybe fifteen feet high… and there was a gap in it only about five feet to the right of where he climbed over. Big enough for anyone to walk through.

I would have thought it part of the show except for a couple of things.

  1. The guy seemed genuinely terrified.
  2. I went back a second time with friends about a week later and the chainsaw guy was there still, but not the other guy.

I seriously think he took something before he went to the fest, which was a really bad idea. That must’ve been a baaaad trip.

Last year a friend and I went to a Haunted House in the city, it had to be the worst haunted house ever. (I am a big chicken though, so it scared me anyway). I was a pitch black labyrinth, you couldn’t see doors, openings, anything. We were constantly turning around and bumping into walls. The frustration was almost enough to bring the scare level down to nothing. (almost) We were near the end, when we hit a run that flashed into sight with mirrors, black lights and a wicked looking clown that screamed at us. We took off to what we thought was the exit, with no luck, we tried again, no luck. Finally standing there somewhat as a loss, the clown mumbles, “There on your left, follow that hall down to the right.” From there on out, even my weenie self had trouble doing anything but laugh.

Last year, we went to Nightmare on 19th Street, a new venture that started up here. One cool thing about it was that, being a struggling start-up operation, it was staffed largely by unpaid volunteers, people who were really into Halloween and wanted to scare people. There were (and are again this year) three attractions as part of the whole event: a standard haunted house, a dark maze filled with crazy clowns, and a moonlight walk through the country past a number of scenes.

Which leads me to the funny bit. My wife and I went with two friends of ours, who told us on the night we went that they were bringing another friend’s kid, a 12 year old boy (he’d wanted to go, so his mother sent him with us). So, we’re going through everything with this kid in tow, and watching him reacting to everything is almost better than the haunted attractions themselves. The kid got noticed by the staff, and one girl in particular made it her mission to get him at every opportunity. She was dressed in a sort of black “corpse bride” motif, and she was very good at moving along silently, easing up behind him and scaring the crap out of him. Whenever we could, we’d help her; we told her his name so she could call out for him, we kept him distracted and guided her to where he was, that sort of thing. For the last attraction, the moonlight walk, she pretty much chased him at a run for a mile and a half. Overall, she tailed him for around two hours. It was great.