It’s finally October, which means it’s time for pretty foliage, sweaters and boots, cider, and all thinks spooky and haunted. As a teenager, haunted houses were one of the biggest things I looked forward to in this best-of-all-months, and I can’t wait for my kids to get older so I can go again and pretend it’s so I can take them.
Below are stories from 17 haunted house employees recalling some of their best days at work, and you’re not going to want to miss a single one.
#17. We got so many people.
“A large Halloween event I worked a few years ago (multiple haunted houses and such) had the best scare actor plant stunt I’ve ever seen. They would dress a scare actor up in normal clothes and tell them to go make friends in the queue line. The lines weren’t terrible, 15 to 20 minutes, but in that time their job was to make up a backstory (usually a story of why they were alone in line) and make friends with people around them. Once in the haunt this person would go through with the group and then all of a sudden get attacked/dragged away/taken by the monsters…all the while calling out for help from the people that they just made friends with. The best part of the stunt was that it was supposed to look like they weren’t in on it; they weren’t loaded with blood packs, they didn’t have UV paint on them, the were just ‘kidnapped’ into the haunt kicking, screaming for help never to be scene again. It was soooo damn simple but got so many people.”
#16. Some just took the loss.
“In college, my hall council turned the basement of my really old dorm and the really old dorms next to it into a pretty awesome haunted dungeon.
One year, the RAs had gotten permission to use pargos/electric golf carts to move victims from one basement to the next, and I was part of a zombie horde that popped out of the bushes and chased after the carts.
It was unseasonably warm, and on more than one occasion, girls lost their sandals by either running out of them or kicking them off on the cart. Every time that happened, one of my zombie horde would find the shoe and present it to the girl IN CHARACTER before they went into the next basement – slouching, snarling, groaning, etc.
The look on their faces was hilarious. Some looked really confused. Some just took the loss and ran off.”
“The amount of people that literally pee their pants is insane. We used to get a $100 body fluids bonus. Anyone losing control of their functions would be noted and there’d be a bonus.
I once slammed open a door as a group of Japanese tourists were coming up into the first room. Made $700 without saying a word.”
#14. The princess farted on me!
“I worked in a haunted woods for several years. The funniest thing was the year they decided they wanted to have a pretty princess to throw people off. I was the pretty princess.. I stood up on a bridge that you walked under towards the begging of the trail and looped back around towards the end and you would walk over it. I had a handle I could pull that would blow air at the people walking under but that was the extent of my ability to scare anyone.
Now since I was on top of a bridge I was exposed to all the weather so I wore ALOT of clothes under my enormous princess dress. It’s a pretty loud place to be anyway with all the sound effects, chainsaws, vibrating platforms and general screaming. So I thought between those 2 things there was no way anyone could hear it if I passed wind. What I did not realize was that there was a little kid kneeled down directly behind me tying his shoe… he immediately stood up and yelled “the princess farted on me!!” And ran off.
A few minutes later one of the managers walks by to see if I need a bathroom break and I’m still laughing so I told her what happened. Now at the end of the season we would have a staff party and everyone would be “awarded” a certificate that said something cheeky about their involvement in the experience. That year my certificate said “I don’t need no stinkin’ air hose””
#13. That was a fun month.
“We made three people throw up from fear one night. And a grown man punched my 16 year old self in the face after I popped out of a coffin screaming in full demon bitch from hell make up. And the hottest guy at my high school who was on the under 18 staff came out to me because he said I was nice and I wasn’t enough of a bitch to tell anyone while we were playing pattycake next to the altar in the “Satan room.”
That was a fun month.”
#12. Which made it worse…for her.
“I got beat with a shovel…and I thought it was hilarious.
The shovel was a prop in a scene last year. It seems to be a theme here;
The scene was a creepy campsite. Bloody clothes on a line, we had a real fire (since we were outdoors)…and I was the maniac with a chainsaw.
Anyway, my character came out and scared the shit out of a group of people. One of the two girls bolted to what was essentially a dead end, so of course I targeted her for more “stalking” by slowly plodding towards her with the chainsaw wide open.
I was walking towards her and I ended up getting caught up in the clothes hanging on the line. Wasn’t intentional…but I couldn’t see her for a second or two.
I didn’t flinch, stayed in character…I just kept my slow plod towards her…knowing I’d come out of the sheet momentarily.
And the second I did “CLANG!” She had grabbed the shovel and decided she was Babe Ruth.
I got it upside the face with the shovel. Thankfully it was a small, lightweight, aluminum snow shovel…and the girl swinging it wasn’t very strong either. It didn’t hurt at all.
I legitimately started laughing, which made it worse (for her) and revving the chainsaw up even more, and ended up basically having a “sword fight” with her. She’s be stabbing at me with the shovel and I was deflecting it with the chainsaw bar.”
#11. Total meltdown.
“My spot was very simple. As the groups turned a corner, I would reach out of a trap door near the ceiling, wearing a creepy alien hand, and poke them in the head or something. I’d always wait until the first person in the group passed, because the scaredy cats always hid behind the brave one.
One group came in, three good sized dudes. Dude 2 was clinging to the back of Dude 1. I reached down and pulled off his beanie.
He freaked out and started sobbing, total meltdown. I came out of my spot to show him hey, dude, I’m a highschooler with a glove on, here’s your hat, lemme direct you to the exit.
Turns out, I made the goalie for the local Ontario Hockey League team cry. Oops.”
#10. I think it’s a Texas thing.
“I scared a guy so bad he spit his gold grill out.
I was the chainsaw guy. I would fire the chain-less motor up behind a bloody clothes line.
I scared one group pretty good and noticed something shiny on the floor. I picked it up and got it in the light. It looked like a gold retainer and it occurred to me it was one of those “gold grills”. I think it’s a Texas thing.
I turned it into the front and they said he got it back.”
#9. A herpes showroom.
“If there is a dark corner or spot some one will have their hand in some one elses pants there. Half of what we did was yell at teenagers to stop fooling around. That whole places was basically a herpes show room.”
#8. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
“Lawsuits USUALLY go in favour of the haunted house when someone decides to sue.
It’s pretty hard to argue that you hurt yourself because you WILLINGLY put yourself into a scary situation.
Look up the case of Scott Griffin vs. The Haunted Trail in San Diego. The TL;DR version was that in Griffin ran from the chainsaw wielding maniac, tripped, fell, injured both wrists which required to be in casts for several months.
The Judge sided when the haunted house. In fact, Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal agreed with the Haunted Hotel, Inc. and dismissed the case, noting that Griffin “was still within the scare experience that he purchased.” She added: “Who would want to go to a haunted house that is not scary?”
He appealed that decision, and in October 2015, lost – again.
This time, Justice Gilbert Nares wrote, “Being chased within the physical confines of the Haunted Trail by a chain saw–carrying maniac is a fundamental part and inherent risk of this amusement. Griffin voluntarily paid money to experience it.”
The Haunted Hotel’s attorney summed it up with the best line ever: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.””
#7. GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY CORN!
“I worked at a Maize Maze during a summer at University and at Halloween they changed it into being a Halloween themed place. It was really good and they had several attractions so, being a poor student, I signed up for some extra beer money over Halloween. It was awesome.
The main attraction was a walk through the cornfield where stuff would jump out at you. A tractor would drop you off at the start of a path and you’d make you own way through.
They made me up to look like some kind of demon/reaper with a cloak and massive head wound. As people came down this first path I’d emerge for the corn and scare some of them then.
However the tractor dropped off fifty people at a time so I was positioned a little way along the path to hold people in a queue, split people up and stagger them as they go through for maximum effect. On busy nights people would be standing around for a while so I’d have to entertain people a bit. Each group I’d do something different.
For one group I pretended to be mute and just made rasping sounds, which would freak a few people out. This time the line was quite long and so I had to prowl up and down to stop people getting bored.
Towards the back I noticed a bit of a commotion and realised that a guy had gone into the field and was pulling off some of the cobs. As he got back in line he hadn’t noticed me so I got behind him and bellowed ‘GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY CORN!!!!!!’ in a crazy voice I conjured up from somewhere.
He screamed, jumped two feet in the air and threw the cob he was holding over his shoulder and hit his mate in the face.
I had to try so hard not to break character and laugh in his face.”
#6. This poor, poor guy.
“One of the rooms in our guided haunted house was full of vampires feeding on a corpse. The head vampire would yell, “Are you still hungry? Then feed!” The vampires would rush the crowd and drag out someone we planted in each group while the guide freaked out and rushed the rest of the crowd out of the room.
When I was the plant I chatted with people waiting in line to give it more impact when I was dragged away. One guy and I hit it off talking about horror movies, and why isn’t there a movie about a haunted house where the attendees are really getting killed off. We made a pact right then that if something crazy happened in this haunted house we would have each other’s backs. Bro, we are so pumped and ready for this haunted house, bro!
We get to the vampire room. The vampires rush forward, grab me, and start to drag me away. I am on the ground kicking and screaming and selling this moment with all my heart, and I’m looking straight at my bro the whole time begging him to help me. This poor, poor guy freezes in panic. He is staring at me with horror and guilt warring on his face as he is forcibly pushed out of the room by the fleeing crowd.
I probably should have let him go on with his life always wondering if what just happened was real. Instead I went outside and caught him on the way to the parking lot. He was pale and shaking and staring off into the middle distance while his concerned friends pulled him along. He saw me and nearly collapsed in relief. Then he started apologizing profusely for panicking and not trying to save me. We had a good laugh, but he was clearly shaken by the ordeal. It was an awesome and humbling experience.”
#5. I’m not telling them anything.
“Ive shared this before but it’s still fun.
I worked at an amusement park with a haunted house. I worked in maintenance and my workshop was in behind the house. I could hear people going through on the other side of the wall getting scared, screaming all that fun stuff.
I would try to be quiet when I hear someone going through so as not to have people hear “Hey Joe, pass me a screwdriver.”
I also had things like chains and metal gates and industrial supplies, so in an effort to “help” out with some atmosphere if I had a moment I would rattle some chains, run a bar over the gate, or smack the wall with an extension cord.
After a few years the manager of the house was in my shop asking for a cord or something and remarked how you can really hear the actors well from back here. I said yes and rattled some chains against the wall.
His eyes went huge and he yelled “It’s been you!!”
Apparently, his young and creative crew working in a dark creepy environment have been certain that the place was really haunted because these “inexplicable” noises happen and kinda freaked them out a bit.
I said “Oops, well now you can let them know.”
He smiled and said “ I’m not telling them anything. Keep it up.””
#4. Knocked herself out cold.
“I worked a charity fundraiser haunted house about 15 years ago. I was a “leader” which meant that I was supposed to walk the group through and position them for maximum effect.
One girl got so scared that she sprinted for the exit and ran smack into a wood column and knocked herself out cold. I took the rest of the group outside and hit the light switch which turned on all the interior lights, then go back and find her. Per our policy we had to call an ambulance, but when it arrived she was already conscious and she refused to be checked out.
We had one group of neighborhood kids who would hang out near the haunted house but would never pay to go in, and would tell anyone walking up that our house sucked and that it wasn’t scary. We had two chainsaw murderer characters, so we sent one around the block. The first murderer started chasing them down the street, then the second one came up the back street towards them. Yeah, they were scared.
Last one was the douche-y bro who went in with his girlfriend. She was scared but he was just trying to act macho, saying “Aww, that ain’t scary.” At the end his guide quietly mentioned that he was supposed to act scared too so the girl would get close to him. He then spent the next 10 minutes trying to convince the girl to go again. He did not succeed.”
#3. The poor kid.
“Not a haunted house, but a haunted trail. We do a different theme every year. This particular year, it was a Stephen King theme and I was working the Christine exhibit.
So I’m sitting in the middle of the woods, hidden in this old black car covered in leaves and branches and definitely can NOT be seen from the trail, and my job is to wait until the group gets super close to the car, crank it up with the headlights on full blast and rev the ever living shit out of it. As people started running away up the trail, a St Bernard with foam on his mouth (Cujo exhibit) charged out of the woods, barking like a maniac. Every group left in total chaos.
It was great fun, employees got a good laugh, customers got a good scare, everyone left happy until the last night when someone decided that it was a good idea to bring their highly autistic son through (approx 8-9years old). By the time I realized this poor kid was not capable of dealing with everything going on around him, he had gone into total hysterics and we had to have an EMT crew come in, sedate him, and take him out on a stretcher to have a serious talk with his parents.
Moral of the story: parents, please make sure your kids can handle Halloween events. It’s upsetting and potentially dangerous for them.”
#2. Still echoing in the grove.
“I’ve been the chainsaw guy for 11 years at my family’s haunted house. Though as a grown ass man I’ve had to move more into the management side lately.
Scene: We set up the chainsaw scare one year to be in a large open area under some old oaks which is accessed via a trail about 100 yards long. We build a church at the beginning of the area, just off to the side and build a ramp down from behind the church facade. I’d hide behind the church and spring my trap as they filtered into the open area, usually looking away.
The Standard Douche Bro decides to be “funny” and run ahead of the group down the trail and straight through the open area. I let him go; everyone volunteers so we’re literally just in it for the scare, so you target the group and let the Douche just run off and miss everything. There’s a twist, however! Douche turned around and comes back, still at a run. Needless to say, I met him halfway with that old Stihl revved to the moon, head on. He was so scared he screamed, his eyes were the size of saucers and when he tried to stop, both his legs shot out from under him and he landed flat on his ass, his high pitched squeals still echoing in the grove. I turned and went back, preparing for the next group. His group laughed at him mercilessly, probably sick of him ruining the event for everyone.
I probably pick up a over dozen of these stories a year but that one is one of the best. I’ll never forget the feeling of triumph, his friends’ laughs, his screams.”
#1. Mother of the year.
“So I had been put in charge of running a haunted house for a work family event. The only snaffu was that I had not been told it would be for 3-10 year olds. The best story that came from it would he the jump scare where the mother knocked her child over and ran leaving this screaming kid with me.”
Happy Haunting, everyone!