As a teenager, I loved the haunted houses that popped up in the weeks before Halloween. It was the perfect way to spend a weekend evening, because who doesn’t love getting your pants scared off while having the perfect excuse to grab on to the hand of your crush?
I’ve never thought too much about the people who work there, though now that I am, I think I would read their stories all day long – like these 15 tales of the times they were forced to break character when things got too strange.
15. I want to watch this romcom.
I (M) was playing a grim reaper statue that comes to life and lowers my (fake) scyth blade in front of guests from behind.
This college age girl walks up to me and, convinced I was just a statue or a prop, grabs my parts to prove to her friends it was safe.
I looked at her slowly and asked “So do you take me to dinner now or…” that was the best scream we got all night.
14. Pure and lovely, but WHAT is wrong with those parents?
One night this couple comes in with a 3-4 year old girl. She is throwing a huge fit, kicking, screaming, crying, the whole 9 yards, she doesn’t wanna go in.
Now, a logical human being would see this and say, “well I guess we dont go” but not these two f**kos. They keep trying to force little girl to go through the house, but she wont budge. This is causing a bit of a scene as well as backing up the line. Myself and one or two other monsters tell them “look, you gotta either get her to go in, or you gotta leave, you’re holding up the line” but they are adamant that she has to go through and she is not having it. Now were pissed off because, why the fuck are you trying to make this small child go through when she is obviously terrified and scared out of her fucking mind? We realize something has to happen, so we seek out one of the girls from further down the house who was a witch we called Baba Yaga since she was the most human looking of us. We told her the situation and asked if shed help walk the girl through the house, and she agreed.
So we bring Baba to the little girl, and she goes into this cartoonish russian accent “HellO leetle gorrl, I am Baba Yaga the gOod weetch! I am going to heyalp you scare all the mon-stors awaY!” She takes the little girls hand and off they go. We run off through the house spreading the word, “If you see Baba with a little girl, let the little girl scare you”. Sure enough, whenever they got to where one of the monsters was hiding, the little girl would yell “BOO!” and whoever was there would lose their marbles. Screaming, running around in circles, falling all over the place. Sometimes there’d be more than one monster and they’d run into each other like the Three Stooges, all to the delight of the little girl, who was now giggling and jumping up and down, clapping her little hands, it was adorable. The adults that were with her look annoyed, but fuck them, the rest of the group that got lumped in with them were having a great time as well watching this tiny child scare the mean ugly monsters away.
I’ve never seen an entire house break character like that, but it was fun to be a part of.
13. Turn around, losers.
Not a worker, but as a customer, my sister and I once took a wrong turn in the haunted house.
We were cornered by a dude in a hockey mask who was revving his chainsaw as he approached and we were screaming in terror…
Then he took his mask off and said in exasperation, “guys you’re not supposed to be back here.” Then he shooed us back into the main hallway. Lol
12. Maybe not, but it was funny.
My second year working there I was in a different house, working the end of the house which was an outdoor area. I had a door I could use to get out of my area and I could either jump into another part of the house, or go down a bit and go to our break room (I believe this was also an emergency exit, but it’s been a while) the door was made to fit in with the scenery as you enter my area, as you exit the previous section, you come into a little shed like building, and then come out into where I’m at. In the shed is an old, metal, screen door, my door. Whenever you opened it it would “creeeeeeeeak” and then slam shut if you let go.
One night, it was kinda slow, I’m chilling in my hiding spot, drinking some water when I hear the “creeeeak” of my screen door, I wasn’t sure who would be coming through my door so I went to take a peek. Then I hear a voice. “I- I’m sOrrY mmiSster..I dIdNt MeAn To Be BaD, p-PlEaSe…dOnT kiCk Me OuT…” I look through my little peep hole, and I see my house manager walking a very drunk woman into my area through the screen door. She is fucking wasted and can hardly walk. My manager is talking to her as though she was a small child, “well, I promise I am not going to kick you out, but we need to go talk to security and tell them what you did, and then they will decide if they think you need to be kicked out” and she goes back to apologizing.
Now, I have a conundrum. See, we are told to scare everyone who comes through. But.. she’s apparently in trouble, so do i still scare her? I decide that, of course I do!
Now, as soon as you walk out of the shed, and into my area, to the left there is a wheelbarrow (my area is like a graveyard scene basically). So, she walks out of the shed, she is watching her feet because she is so drunk, so she doesn’t see me run up at her. I run full speed and roar at her, she shrieks and falls into the wheelbarrow. My manager turns away from her so she cant see him laughing, I’m standing a few feet away just staring at her menacingly, also doing my best not to laugh, she sits there, looks at herself and where she is, then looking like she’s about to cry she says, “that wasn’t very nice”. I slip back to my hiding spot, my manager helps her out of the wheelbarrow, and as they walk by I make a few noises at her, startling her even more. My manager puts his clipboard over his face so she cant see him laughing, and he slips my a thumbs up.
The problem is, theres another actor just a little further down, behind a big metal cage. So a few seconds pass, and I hear the other actor start to rattle their cage and scream at this girl, I hear her scream and then a few seconds later again I hear, “that wasn’t very nice”
11. Oh lord have mercy.
Not a worker, but I got to witness it. The worker was dressed as a crazy doctor. We enter the room, and the worker says “Are you ready for you autopsy?” in a really creepy voice. My friend responds “…Yes?”
The worker’s face just changed from menacing to complete confusion, then she dropped the act and asked “Do you know what an autopsy is?” My friend did not know, so we had to explain it to her.
10. How could you not?
I was an actor at a haunted house years ago. We had separate rooms connected by hallways for guests to walk through (like, there was a murder room, a haunted house room, a circus themed room, and a zombie room). I worked in the zombie room, and played a zombie.
The room was made up to look like a living room of a house that had been broken into by zombies– furniture toppled over, lamps laying on the floor, the door hanging off the hinges, a broken window, blood everywhere, and a half-eaten body lying on the floor. I was to be hunched over the dead body, pretending to munch on it when the guests walked in. And I’ll say, our make-up crew was skilled. I looked like something from The Walking Dead.
Well, this dude walks into my zombie room, he sees me hunched over the dead body, and I did this creepy thing where I slowly look up at him and stare with my mouth hanging open. He goes “Oh, HELL no!” and stumbled backwards onto the couch, tried to scramble off the couch, only to trip over the lamp that was on the floor, and wound up falling facedown on the floor.
I have to admit, I broke character and laughed. I couldn’t help it.
9. We all just want to have fun.
Former monster clown. Whenever someone mentioned the word “phobia” or approached me to tell me that someone in their group was too scared of me to go through, I’d introduce myself and turn my back to that group.
I didn’t want anyone to get hurt, and I wanted them to GTFO my room so people would keep moving through and not get all bunched up. Huge groups of people were no fun for the guests or the actors.
8. Talk about seizing the moment.
So I was stationed in a small room just off to the side of a long hallway with a strobe light at the end. It made it hard for guests to see down towards me, but very easy for me to see them. So one evening a group of a five teens come through; four girls with one guy leading them. Just as they enter the hall, the guy turns around to talk with them.
Having just been handed a golden ticket here, I sneak up right behind this guy. The girls all go stone silent and when the dude realizes they’re looking at something beyond him, he turns around and finds me standing within inches of his face. I give out the most guttural scream I can, and in response, the guy LEAPS backwards and knocks down all four girls behind him like they were bowling pins, leaving them all a tangled pile on the floor.
I literally could not hold it together. I had to run off into a staff only area because I was laughing so hard and could not stop. Easily one of my favorite memories from that place.
7. Didn’t see that coming.
I worked in haunted house for many years. Lot’s of examples when someone made me and other actors break character. Some were people’s ridiculous reactions, like giant guys crying to people pushing their children down to run away, or because of their behavior like people trying to hit us or having medical issues like people throwing up, or because of trashy parents bringing toddlers inside (please don’t do that!).
However, the one the sticks out the most is when a woman came through alone, walking really slowly with her down while dragging her nails really hard along the walls. And I mean HARD. I could her scraping before I saw her. I should mention, these walls were made from cheap particle board full of splinters and decorations.
The weird thing is that as she approached, I realized I didn’t hear any of the actors before me, which were my que to get ready. Just creepy music and nails on the ragged walls. When she finally got to my scene, as I was about to do my jump scare she came straight to me and touched my costume and mumble something. Her eyes were glazed over and she was just not there. She just turned and started scraping the walls again on the way out.
I didn’t even get a chance to perform. I just stood there utterly speechless. Since I was the last actor in the haunt, as soon as she left, a bunch of the actors ran to me and said the same thing: WTF was that?!?! Somehow, she managed to scare/creep out over a dozen veteran haunted house actors. Looking back, I am pretty sure she was on drugs, but I can’t help to think that she must have absolutely destroyed her fingers, gotten a bunch of splinters or even ripped her nails off.
6. Not an appropriate reaction, lady.
Used to work in one years ago. I worked the crowd – but mainly by standing at the entrance in a coffin that was fitted with an undertaker. I walked in the undertaker’s feet but my upper half was in the coffin. One night I was standing there. Bone still. I did my own makeup and frankly it was good. Made me look “fake”.
I’m standing there completely silent and still. Some German woman; drunk (because you can smell the beer on her) goes “is he real?” Cue me to kick the back of the coffin as a jump scare. She then proceeds to back hand me across the face.
She did not get to go through the haunted house and was not refunded her money.
5. Why do some of these sound like the start of a romance novel?
Last year my boyfriend and I went to the fairgrounds near my house where they had three different houses. The first one was a space horror theme, like an alien containment facility or something. We’re heading through this section with chain link fences up to the wall. There’s bodies hanging from it along with some props, not to mention people behind the fence somewhere waiting to scare. Did I mention there was strobe lighting too?
Anyway, my boyfriend is very easily scared by horror movies and such, so he’s a bust for protection. But we pass by this one guy gripping the fence staring down at us, still surrounded by other scary shit. In a panic I scream to my boyfriend, “I can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t!”
The man hanging from the fence, in a sly tone, replies, “Oh I’m real baby!”
I tense up and say, “OKAY THANK YOU!” Pretty sure that got a smile out of him but kind of hard to tell with the lighting.
4. Know your safe word/signal.
Worked a haunted trail/hayride when I was younger.
When we see someone clearly not into it we’d ask if they were okay and if not we had a codeword we’d pass down the line to let them just go through.
Not sure if others worked like this though…
3. Oh, too bad.
As a haunted house customer…
I walked into a room full of female performers dressed as asylum inmates, with crazy hair and tattered straightjackets and everything, all muttering “They’re here, they’re coming,” stuff like that. One got right up and glared at me and for some reason my brain said “So… what time do you get off?” I definitely saw a little crack-up.
I thought I had a pretty good shot at it until she got killed by the guy with the chainsaw.
2. You gotta set that right.
I said “I’m gonna skin you bitch!”
She replied, “no you’re the skinny bitch!”
I broke character and told her what I really said.
Maaan, I was there to scare not bodyshame.
1. Everyone’s a comedian.
A friend of mine caused a lady to break character. Near the end of a local haunted mill a woman in demonic type makeup jumps out of a pentagram/summoning circle thing. Shrieks “I will teach the meaning of true pain!” and my buddy just goes “Lady, I’ve been married for 20 years, you ain’t got sh%t”.
She burst out laughing, gave him a hug and told him to get the f*ck out.
I don’t know what to say about most of these stories, but I am here for them.
If you’ve ever worked at a haunted house, add yours to the bunch!