Haunted houses are for pussies
October 26, 2010 10:07 AM   Subscribe

'Death' is different than a haunted house, according to Michael Speece. "We don't have a safe word to give you an easy out. If you don't like the experience, tough".
posted by 300two8 (134 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Spoilers!
posted by Artw at 10:11 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd do it.
posted by reductiondesign at 10:11 AM on October 26, 2010


In My Dinner With Andre, the titular eating companion describes burial alive as a cathartically positive experience. But then he didn't have his head bagged first.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:12 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


LOLfirstworlders
posted by Burhanistan at 10:13 AM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


As the men drove away, heads still covered, I saw my car 30 yards in the distance. My keys were in the ignition. A note on the steering wheel read, "Live."

WHOA DUDE JUST LIKE IN FIGHT CLUB.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:17 AM on October 26, 2010 [24 favorites]


It's too bad they don't actually kill you though.
posted by Mister_A at 10:17 AM on October 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


Along possibly similar lines, there's also the Vortex Theatre Haunted House.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:18 AM on October 26, 2010


LOLfirstworlders

Hey, Michael Douglas types have got to get their kicks somehow.
posted by Artw at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, Michael Douglas types have got to get their kicks somehow.

Is this where we talk about plot holes so big you can fly a 747 through?
posted by griphus at 10:23 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Joe Beese: "In My Dinner With Andre, the titular eating companion describes burial alive as a cathartically positive experience. But then he didn't have his head bagged first."

I love that movie, but that's one of the parts where Andre really annoys me. Which I guess is the point, or one of the points.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:23 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


> It's too bad they don't actually kill you though.

They could let you stay dead for a few minutes but totally bring you back just like in Flatliners. Then you could have the ghosts of your conscience manifest as self-inflicted wounds brought on by paranoid hallucinations. The safe word would be "risperdal". Halloween is awesome!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Scaring someone was easy 50 years ago," Speece says. "You leapt out and shouted, 'Boo.' But every decade since, the bar's been raised.

...

A waiver must be signed before anyone may enter the basement of this Minneapolis art gallery, and no one under 18 is allowed inside without a parent. On top of that, a special word is provided ("uncle") that allows those too terrified to continue to be swiftly removed from the mayhem. Many have screamed it in abject desperation.


What could be more stereotypical of 50s-60s horror than signs out front saying "must sign waiver" and "no one under 18 permitted" and "many have screamed and have had to be removed"?
posted by DU at 10:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Life is already adequately fraught with dread and stress. For "free"!
posted by everichon at 10:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong?
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:25 AM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


For $10 I will have someone hit you in the head with a shovel when you're not expecting it.
posted by boo_radley at 10:25 AM on October 26, 2010 [38 favorites]


"As the men drove away, heads still covered, I saw my car 30 yards in the distance. My keys were in the ignition. A note on the steering wheel read, "Live.""

For an extra twenty bucks they'll change all of your radio presets to Rush Limbaugh.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:25 AM on October 26, 2010 [35 favorites]


It's too bad they don't actually kill you though.

Yeah, that's really it. The biggest trick of any sort of haunted house is making you believe it's "real," which is nigh impossible. The only way it really works if it you don't tell the person, which turns it into a prank (which is basically what the article (breathlessly!) describes).

There are better ways to be scared, some of which are actually scary. I like haunted houses because I'm not easily scared and I enjoy the production aspects, but I don't really get this.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:26 AM on October 26, 2010


Which I guess is the point, or one of the points.

Exactly! I love that movie too.

posted by mrgrimm at 10:26 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing that this story is...well...bullshit, but points for creativity, I suppose.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:28 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


In My Dinner With Andre, the titular eating companion describes burial alive as a cathartically positive experience.

if they would only put a dvd player in the coffin so you could listen to it while buried - of course, the jetsons movie would be better - that's guaranteed to put you to sleep
posted by pyramid termite at 10:28 AM on October 26, 2010


I shouted that if Speece was one of those involved he was ruining his chance for any free publicity.

That was pretty funny.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:29 AM on October 26, 2010


WTF? For real? Someone is going to end up dead from this stupid game.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:29 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]




There are better ways to be scared, some of which are actually scary. I like haunted houses because I'm not easily scared and I enjoy the production aspects, but I don't really get this.


Well, things like sky diving obviously trigger that "holy shit I'm going to die" response, without making you piss yourself or cry, and there's a much smaller chance that the people taking you out will be stabbed, shot or head butted in the teeth by a panicked patron.

Because hey. If the participants don't get safewords, neither do the thugs in masks right?
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:29 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I cried" it was better than Cats!
posted by stormpooper at 10:30 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


DU: "What could be more stereotypical of 50s-60s horror than signs out front saying "must sign waiver" and "no one under 18 permitted" and "many have screamed and have had to be removed"?"

Actually it sounds like Mr. Speece would agree with you on that. His haunted house - or prank, or whatever you want to call it - doesn't have that stuff.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:30 AM on October 26, 2010


That's it. The situation might be tense, uncomfortable, but the end result isn't so much fear, but angry. Even the writer admits as much, "Death" doesn't scare you so much as it pisses you off.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:31 AM on October 26, 2010


Christ, what a pretentious asshole.

This is why conservatives argue that so-called "art" is shit and shouldn't be supported. Even worse, it's why they win.


The entire time I'd been angrily informing the crew that there would be no column, just a phone call to the cops. I shouted that if Speece was one of those involved he was ruining his chance for any free publicity. I never received a response.

So why didn't you call the cops then instead of writing the column and giving him free publicity? Christ, what an asshole too.

Jesus. Assholes everywhere. Is it really so hard to not be an asshole?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:31 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


It should have ended with everyone having a laugh and eating that freshly killed goat. I mean why waste a perfectly good dead goat?
posted by burnmp3s at 10:31 AM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Next up, an interview on a boat!
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


oh, and how did he know he was lowered into a hole in the ground when he was in a coffin with a hood over his head?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:33 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Furthermore ... Mr Speece has to have some kind of a pre-event waiver, just to protest his cast of masked thugs from concerns over broken or missing property or injured patrons. All the more reason to call bullsh*t on this "Death" experience.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:34 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


People have been missing the original point of haunted houses for a long time. A few cheap, spooky thrills and laughs have turned into expensive, genuinely traumatic exercises pandering to people who have zero imagination.
posted by hermitosis at 10:35 AM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Protect. Not protest.

("I protest!")
posted by grabbingsand at 10:35 AM on October 26, 2010


This is kind of like bondage without the fun parts.
posted by Mister_A at 10:36 AM on October 26, 2010 [18 favorites]




People have been missing the original point of haunted houses for a long time. A few cheap, spooky thrills and laughs have turned into expensive, genuinely traumatic exercises pandering to people who have zero imagination.


Sort of like horror movies.
Having a girl squeal and try to squeeze the bones out of your hand is fun. (Pardon the casual chauvinism) You just don't get the same reaction out of Saw style torture-porn. That just makes everyone feel sort of sick and ashamed.

Maybe I just like my scares a little bit less gratuitous.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:38 AM on October 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


I call shenanigans!
posted by gallois at 10:39 AM on October 26, 2010


Like The Game.
posted by Edison Carter at 10:39 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


According to Speece, "Death" operates much like a rave, with the time and place passed along solely by word of mouth. The spectacle never appears in the same setting twice and is illegal in most municipalities.

"We've had it in St. Paul and Minneapolis and haven't been caught yet," he says.


So each time, they grab one person and bury them? This just doesn't make sense.
posted by anazgnos at 10:40 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


and how could they know that someone wouldn't call the police when the guy was being kidnapped? - even if in a deserted spot, someone could have chanced by

and last of all, why didn't they let him in the fraternity after initiating him?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:40 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


they should make the note on the steering wheel say "penis"
posted by Greg Nog at 10:41 AM on October 26, 2010 [35 favorites]


I'm sure it took just a minute or two to dig a hole big enough to hold an adult-sized coffin.
posted by oddman at 10:42 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


how did he know he was lowered into a hole in the ground when he was in a coffin with a hood over his head?

Well, you'd know you were being lowered into something. You would have that same brief feeling of being "lighter" that you do when an elevator starts to descend.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:42 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


they should make the note on the steering wheel say "penis"

They should break into the hotel room and leave photos of the toothbrush up their bum-bums.
posted by Artw at 10:43 AM on October 26, 2010


This will be all the rage from St. Paul to Minneapolis.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:45 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


WTF? For real? Someone is going to end up dead from this stupid game.

No, for play-play.

This is why conservatives argue that so-called "art" is shit and shouldn't be supported. Even worse, it's why they win.

Except it's not real.

So each time, they grab one person and bury them? This just doesn't make sense.

Of course it doesn't make sense - it's not real.
posted by muddgirl at 10:45 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, you'd know you were being lowered into something.

like a flat surface? - or a bathtub?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:45 AM on October 26, 2010


A much better version of this is where you sign up to be buried on Halloween, but they unexpectedly kidnap and bury your kids on some other day instead.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:45 AM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


This is why conservatives argue that so-called "art" is shit and shouldn't be supported. Even worse, it's why they win.

What an odd way of finagling things to fit your worldview.
posted by proj at 10:46 AM on October 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


And when he got home he noticed there was a hook stuck in the bumper of his car! And he looked in the city records and found that Michael Speece had died ten years ago! And the cute chihuahua he found in an alley was really a sewer rat! Spooky!
posted by Pyry at 10:46 AM on October 26, 2010 [22 favorites]


how did he know he was lowered into a hole in the ground when he was in a coffin with a hood over his head?

I'd just assume, 'Tupperware. I'm probably in Tupperware.'
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:46 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


A flat surface? A FLAT SURFACE??!~??! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
posted by Mister_A at 10:46 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hate, hate, hate haunted houses. I just don't understand them at all, not even a little bit. Haunted houses used to be kind of fun, sort of goofy, with gotcha!-style jumps and some cheap, good-natured thrills. I didn't love those - just not my speed - but I could see how they were fun. Now they're these relentless, grinding trauma machines of explicit grossness. Basically the Saw franchise in person. It's all just so explicit and...I don't know, imagination-less. Why would you want to do that? Ugh.

And this I just don't get at all. There's an Onion article in here somewhere...or maybe a Bradbury short story about the hollow emptiness of life in the future and how people will pay anything to feel something, anything. Except it would have had to have been written in the 60s, about the time period roughly correlating to...now. Waitaminnit.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:47 AM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


They should break into the hotel room and leave photos of the toothbrush up their bum-bums.

there's a scene in something that i've been trying to write where a couple of burglar kids do just that - and get interrupted by the cops right as they're doing it - and one of them ends up running from them with the toothbrush in his ass

from that day on, he's known as "toothbrush"
posted by pyramid termite at 10:48 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


THE TEXT INVITE TO GO TO THE FAKE HAUNTED HOUSE THINGY IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!
posted by Mister_A at 10:48 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


They should send the journalist out to the worst part of town, with strict instructions not to take a wallet or cellphone and, well, that's it.
posted by Artw at 10:48 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll bite. It is probably fake and there are many ways in which this is not legal or likely to happen very many times without police or legal intervention. However, the vitriol that's emerging here in the comments is kind of baffling, as if no one here has ever been scared by a scary movie. Really? "It's a shame they didn't actually kill you?" Is that necessary?
posted by proj at 10:50 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


[[ Well, you'd know you were being lowered into something. ]]

like a flat surface? - or a bathtub?


I was thinking something like this.

If there weren't that fence at the top - and the elevation were a bit shorter - lowering someone to the lower surface would feel like being lowered into a grave.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:52 AM on October 26, 2010


They should steal your social media passwords and send nasty messages to everyone you know while you;re wandering around in a parking lot. The horror! The horror!
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Add farting on his head while in the trunk and you would have had Jackass 3D
posted by stormpooper at 10:54 AM on October 26, 2010


Some context might help:

The author is Tom Mischke, Minnesota radio host and writer and, as his Wikipedia page points out, a man who is known for his stream of consciousness humor, who frequently pranked 411 on the air.

It's published in City Pages, a local newsweekly that certain has a taste for pranks.

And there is the classic urban legend of the haunted house so terrifying that it can't be finished. I once wrote a story for The Reader in Omaha in which I visited haunted houses, and finished it by claiming I had been to the unfinishable haunted house. Although my ending was, I thought, self-evidently a joke, we got dozens of calls asking for it's location. As urban legends go, it's sort of irresistible.

So what do you think? Is this a true story or not?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:54 AM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Mr Speece has to have some kind of a pre-event waiver, just to protest his cast of masked thugs from concerns over broken or missing property or injured patrons. All the more reason to call bullsh*t on this "Death" experience.

Actually, I think that's a reference to the other haunted house mentioned in the beginning of the article. The author doesn't seem to suggest that Speece makes you sign any forms... he doesn't even suggest they've actually met. Michael Speece could not even be his real name. He just tells him to show up somewhere and he's kidnapped.

Which is why, while I'm not entirely on the "OMG this is all fake" bandwagon, I think but the entire legal premise of this act just seems high-school level ridiculous. Mainly, you can't just waive your right to have a crime committed against you. There have been multiple court cases that have resolved this.

There is no legal binding document, short of something longer than a dictionary that I refuse to believe the author wouldn't have had a lawyer look at first, that says it's suddenly legal to commit fraud, kidnapping, assault, false imprisonment, car theft and attempted murder.

OP: Ah, okay, reading Astro Zombie's last comment, I'm updating my position. This column is entirely bullshit. Expect e-mail forwards about it from your grandma by the end of the week.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:56 AM on October 26, 2010


Needs more bees.
posted by Artw at 10:56 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


My keys were in the ignition. A note on the steering wheel read, "no John, you are the demons"

And then I was a zombie.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:57 AM on October 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


Well, things like sky diving obviously trigger that "holy shit I'm going to die" response, without making you piss yourself or cry

don't tell me how to skydive
posted by Hoopo at 10:57 AM on October 26, 2010 [42 favorites]


Slightly off topic of the OP, since it smells of fake, but what are quality contemporary haunted houses actually like?

Any stories?
posted by Theta States at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2010


Dogs can lick hands too.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Um, folks? Check the author. It's Twin Cities local legend TD Mischke. (2000 Atlantic Monthly profile | 2005 local alt-weekly article | Mischke Madness fan archive)

His radio broadcast used to run with the following disclaimer: If you listen closely, you may notice that Mischke takes great license with some of the details surrounding the news of the day. Listen at your own amusement. Thank you.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 10:59 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was there any doubt that this was made up?

Anyway, apparently it was done for real in England.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:01 AM on October 26, 2010


I'll bite. It is probably fake and there are many ways in which this is not legal or likely to happen very many times without police or legal intervention.

I hate it when someone figures out something's fake before I do. You're right.

Fakeroni.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:01 AM on October 26, 2010


... what are quality contemporary haunted houses actually like?

I don't know. But since Danny Trejo is coming to one of ours as "Machete" - though I don't think they're allowed to use the name - I may find out.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:02 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


So did they let him into the Freemasons or not?
posted by bondcliff at 11:03 AM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


Sometimes, when we talk about the War of the Worlds broadcast, modern people will be like, "OMG how did anyone fall for that???"

Seriously, there is nothing about this story that read "factual" to me - it's an entertaining piece of fictional writing that ruminates on the current trend of allegedly ultra-scary haunted houses.
posted by muddgirl at 11:08 AM on October 26, 2010


I would expect that this kind of entertainment wouldn't scale very well. And $45 per person? I mean, do the math. This isn't making anyone any money.

Yes, of course it's fictional.
posted by norm at 11:09 AM on October 26, 2010


However, the vitriol that's emerging here in the comments is kind of baffling, as if no one here has ever been scared by a scary movie. Really? "It's a shame they didn't actually kill you?" Is that necessary?

Well I think the point of this (fake) story and that comment is that the ongoing ratcheting-up of realness in horror is getting somewhat absurd. The progression from the simple "boo" scares of classic horror to today's all out torture-porn style doesn't leave a lot more room to go more extreme in that direction without actually abducting and torturing real people.

For example in my opinion the original Funny Games worked as a satire of the mainstream Horror genre of its time because it took out all of the fun aspects (unsympathetic victims, campiness, sex, quick pacing, etc.) and left only the disturbing and miserable elements. Whereas the shot for shot remake that came out a decade later was completely unremarkable when compared to films like Saw or Hostel, because a slow-paced film showing helpless characters being tortured and killed was no longer inherently ironic or surprising.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:11 AM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Whereas the shot for shot remake that came out a decade later was completely unremarkable when compared to films like Saw or Hostel, because a slow-paced film showing helpless characters being tortured and killed was no longer inherently ironic or surprising.

Is that particular odious subgenre dead yet? God I hope so.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on October 26, 2010


And then a skeleton popped out.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:18 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The killer was in the back of the coffin all along!
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


a slow-paced film showing helpless characters being tortured and killed was no longer inherently ironic or surprising.

I realize this is a derail, but I find this fact disturbing. Not in the breezy, glib sense of the word, but in the "What the fuck has happened" sense of the word.
posted by everichon at 11:20 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Please note that I said, "It's too bad they don't actually kill you though," which has a completely different sense than, "It's a shame they didn't actually kill you." I'm not suggesting that I wish "they" had actually killed the author, which would be mean; I am pretending to wish real actual death was part of the "performance," which is absurd.
posted by Mister_A at 11:22 AM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


everichon - something something Iraq something, I think is the usual explanation.

/Shrugs.
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2010


I think the bigger question is this: is it ethical for a paper, even a BS VV-weekly, to post an article as journalism when it is fiction? I have a problem with it, and I'm a Twin Cities resident and a long time reader of the City Pages (hell, I've posted a City Pages article here myself, years back). And this has all the hallmarks of a web publicity stunt. I think there's a funny smell coming from the warehouse district, and it's not the hot dogs left over from the ALDS.
posted by norm at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you have not read City Pages in a while. "Ethically questionable stunts to get online readers" is basically their editorial agenda.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:25 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Touche. This just seemed an extra foot or two over the line for whatever reason.
posted by norm at 11:28 AM on October 26, 2010


everichon - something something Iraq something, I think is the usual explanation.

Something.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:29 AM on October 26, 2010


Is that particular odious subgenre dead yet? God I hope so.

Totally not dead yet. The final Saw movie comes out Halloween weekend. I will see probably see it the following weekend.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2010


Oh, yeah, we know how to party in the TwinTowns.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


For example in my opinion the original Funny Games worked as a satire of the mainstream Horror genre of its time because it took out all of the fun aspects (unsympathetic victims, campiness, sex, quick pacing, etc.) and left only the disturbing and miserable elements. Whereas the shot for shot remake that came out a decade later was completely unremarkable when compared to films like Saw or Hostel, because a slow-paced film showing helpless characters being tortured and killed was no longer inherently ironic or surprising.

Like Roger Ebert, I loathe the attempts to defend Funny Games as some kind of artistic enterprise or art piece. Wait, that's really the message? That a horror movie won't be entertaining if you remove the entertainment part? Holy shit, we're stumbling onto something big here, boys.

That's really all those defenses are- saying that if you take any form of media- book, film, video game, whatever, and remove the enjoyable parts from it you are left with something that is supposed to make you realize how horrible things are without the enjoyable parts, as if that's supposed to be a goddamn revelation or something.

There's a scene in Modern Warfare 2 where a character is murdered. If you made a special edition of the game where all it was was the character getting murdered for two straight hours, it wouldn't be a very fun game. Which is why I don't play multiplayer because that is exactly what happens to me.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


dozens of real stories like this give pause. (IMO, thats the trick or treat part).
just google the pertinent names and the word "sentenced" or "shot 3 people because he was locked in a trunk"

wa-la.
posted by clavdivs at 11:34 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The final Saw movie comes out Halloween weekend.

Profitable horror franchises never die.

Never.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:39 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


He just repurposed the ending from The Vanishing.
posted by basicchannel at 11:39 AM on October 26, 2010


...and the next day, he found a BLOODY HOOK stuck in the door handle of his car!
posted by steambadger at 11:40 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slightly off topic of the OP, since it smells of fake, but what are quality contemporary haunted houses actually like?

I was dragged to one a couple years ago by a group of friends. It was on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Big rambling farmhouse in general mild disrepair, further cosmetically roughed up to have the appearance of unsafe footing. The inside was chopped up into a warren of small, claustrophobic rooms and lots of levels. Each of the rooms had a different "scare" in it; they all used dramatic lighting and jumpy atmosphere changes - pumping in cold air and smoke, strobe lights, the sound of something falling - to keep you on edge. The actors in the attraction were made-up with theatre makeup and costumes and had props.

This particular one had an overaching story about, I think, an inmate revolt at an asylum. So there were a lot of chainsaw-wielding crazy guys jumping out at you from behind a corner, that kind of thing.

Examples of a room I thought was pretty good: You'd leave one particularly gory room and "escape" into a room that was dimly lit but apparently empty. You'd be walking to the other side to get to the next exit, when a guy would come from nowhere - I'm pretty sure it was a green screen situation where he was under a blanket or something and they had been projecting a brick wall over him and the wall behind him. The illusion was pretty good until he moved. He'd come lumbering at you and rattle the chains with which he'd been "shackled" to the wall. A few more people would materialize and you'd seem to be surrounded. Ooooh, good theater trickery for scary jumps!

Example of a room I thought was bad, bad, bad: You're walking on a gangway past a gallery of dudes torturing women. Literally basically just walking by and looking at girls screaming, fake blood and shiny metal everywhere. A guy would turn around, "notice" you, and make a grab, his victim screaming all the while. WTF?

This one ended in a giant hay maze, with chainsaw-holding guys hiding all over. They were real chainsaws, without chains. They'd rev them and give chase when they saw you.

Overall, blech.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:42 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


> The final Saw movie comes out Halloween weekend.

Profitable horror franchises never die.


Since it's in 3D it probably will be more gross-out comedy than anything actually resembling horror. Watch out! That jawbone is spinning right towards you! Ouch! That spear went right through that couple and right out into the audience. Wacky!

Kids will get bored and then go home and look at ankle breaking sports video clips on YouTube.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:44 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The worst part about this, regardless of its fakeiosity or whatever, is how incredibly trite it is.

Danny Trejo is coming to one of ours as "Machete" - though I don't think they're allowed to use the name

'Ladies and Gentlemen, Marty Janetti!' doesn't have the same ring; they should just use the Spanish translation.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:48 AM on October 26, 2010


This was an interesting story, but then I was buried alive under the butthurt comments! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:49 AM on October 26, 2010


Overall, blech.

It actually sounds really similar to my high school band/orchestra charity haunted house, with better production values. We even had a guy who'd chase a fake patron with a chainless chain saw...

You'd think that money would buy you better ideas than "lots of small rooms with people jumping out at you", but I guess you'd be wrong.
posted by muddgirl at 11:53 AM on October 26, 2010


Now they're these relentless, grinding trauma machines of explicit grossness. Basically the Saw franchise in person. It's all just so explicit and...I don't know, imagination-less. Why would you want to do that? Ugh.

This is one of my favorite Halloween topics actually. I agree with you completely, why put yourself through it? But the thing is, there is no "it". The Haunted houses are not houses of horror. They are a ride, a simulation in the purest postmodern sense.

What they appear to be are assaults on your limbic system faster than your rational brain can remind you that you are on an amusement park ride. Boo! BANG! splatter! Zzzz. But they never do anything to you, they just do stuff around you. But people say they want to go through them "to see how much they can take." Before what?

And that's the point. How much you can take before nothing. The haunted house is a simulation of a horror, but it is a very real experience of no-defense. A haunted house is a exercise of pure passivity.

After giving the matter extensive personal reflection (i.e. Why don't I like haunted houses when they would be the kind of thing that I would have thought I liked?) I came to the conclusion that what I don't like about them is not the gore, etc. which I actually find quite droll, it is how stifling and unreal they are.

You literally have no freedom of action in them. That is what is actually scary about them - they can do whatever they want to you and you can't do anything back. A pure experience of fear is the id manifested in reality - the orgy of madness. The nightmare or the fantasy that becomes real. But a haunted house only simulates the id through the characters and effects. It isn't a real nightmare, so there is no real collision between fantasy and reality.

What the house actually is is an orgy of the superego. It is a representation of absolute control on the part of the spectator. No matter how much you want to instinctively react, your superego suppresses all action. You body screams to fight or flee. The superego says to do neither. And that is a scary thing - to deny your body from acting on its own survival instinct. What makes a haunted house an uncomfortable experience is that this is what is going on in the head of every spectator: I DON'T CARE HOW SCARED YOU ARE DO NOTHING! That admonishment is what is scary, the manifestation of that much control on yourself to suppress you survival instinct. And of course, the superego is right, you can't punch the masked creep in the face because he's just an actor, it's all pretend, but the harm you caused him is real. So the tension is keeping the superego in charge at all times.

And to want to subject yourself to this--to let you superego run wild--is very masochistic in a very real way. Think of the dominant-submissive sado-masochistic relationship, which is very applicable here. This is the part people want - people want to be victimized in this very real way. They want the submissive experience, which is a masochistic desire.

Now the people signing up to do the scaring want the dom/sadist experience. But that isn't what they get, not really. But the dom experience offered by working for a haunted house is only simulation of letting one's sadistic id run wild. It is in fact their superego run amok just like the spectators. DO ONLY THESE THINGS AND ONLY TO THIS EXTENT AND DO NOT DEVIATE IN THE SLIGHTEST OR YOU WILL BE PUNISHED. Because like in the dom-sub relationship, the sub is really in charge of what the dom can do. The haunted house is in reality a business that operates within normal society and the rules of normal society still apply within it, including morality, norms, tort law, etc. The startler has to be constantly reigning himself in constantly supervising his own action under the threat of dire consequences. Why would anyone want to do that? Because they aren't actually sadists either, they are actually masochists as well.

But people are attracted to work for them anyway and to go through them, even knowing they are really fake and the scares can only go so far. Because what really drives the participation in these things from both sides is the need to let the superego run wild.

The haunted house is really an extreme expression of the control and restraint we exert over our baser natures. They are not an extreme expression of our baser natures themselves.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:54 AM on October 26, 2010 [26 favorites]


peachfuzz: or maybe a Bradbury short story about the hollow emptiness of life in the future and how people will pay anything to feel something, anything. Except it would have had to have been written in the 60s, about the time period roughly correlating to...now. Waitaminnit.

If you dial for the sense of being trapped in a future dystopia already described by sci-fi authors of the previous generation, I'll dial for the same but with greater venom!
posted by rusty at 11:55 AM on October 26, 2010


When are the Sex Olympics?
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on October 26, 2010


The final Saw movie comes out Halloween weekend.

Profitable horror franchises never die.

Never.


Yeah, I figure the "final" Saw movie will be as final as Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter or Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday or Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.
posted by kmz at 12:08 PM on October 26, 2010


When are they going to do one in space?
posted by Artw at 12:08 PM on October 26, 2010


Man this thread is like Dr Tongue's 3D house of Metafilter.

"Can I interest you in a plate of... beans?"

*moves plate of beans towards viewer*
posted by fleetmouse at 12:16 PM on October 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


THEN WHO WAS POST-IT?

sorry.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 12:23 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Profitable horror franchises never die.

I am sure the Saw franchise will be ready for a big director reboot come 2014.
posted by Theta States at 12:24 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


you can't punch the masked creep in the face because he's just an actor

Always wondered: Do people ever freak out and react/injure the actors in a haunted house? I've got to believe that's happened a bunch of times.
posted by jbickers at 12:33 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


dozens of real stories like this give pause.

If this happens to you during a prank, just yell "AQUA BUDDHA!" to CYA.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:43 PM on October 26, 2010


Do people ever freak out and react/injure the actors in a haunted house?

I was accidentally hit in the face once working at our high school haunted house - in retrospect "Clown Room" was a terrible idea, as 90% of the population isn't scared by them, and 10% of the population is so scared they will start flailing and foaming at the mouth in an attempt to OMG GET THEM AWAY FROM ME.
posted by muddgirl at 12:51 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


The final Saw movie will be SeeSaw about a group of reasonable looking but somehow a bit unlikable teenagers who are tortured by being made to watch the whole Saw franchise. The final shot will be a pull back to reveal that another group are watching this film and then a pull back to reveal that another group are watching this film and then a pull back... FOREVER!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:55 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


"what about people who don't watch movies?"
"That's why we are making the VIDEO GAME!"
***FINAL REVEAL***
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on October 26, 2010


Do people ever freak out and react/injure the actors in a haunted house?

Man, some of my friends were foolishly trying to get me to go to that Vortex Theatre thing mentioned above, which I was okay with until I saw the "YOU WILL BE BADTOUCHED" disclaimer. Because, yeah, any unexpected creepy touching from creepy strangers is going to be met with immediate and determined violence from me. It's not really something I can turn off.
posted by elizardbits at 1:12 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, I just remembered this week's The Moth podcast is on theme: Kimya Dawson: Mariah in the Haunted Forest.
posted by kmz at 1:21 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, some of my friends were foolishly trying to get me to go to that Vortex Theatre thing mentioned above, which I was okay with until I saw the "YOU WILL BE BADTOUCHED" disclaimer. Because, yeah, any unexpected creepy touching from creepy strangers is going to be met with immediate and determined violence from me. It's not really something I can turn off.

By design. Shit, this stuff needs to go the way of bear fights.
posted by odinsdream at 1:32 PM on October 26, 2010


Do people ever freak out and react/injure the actors in a haunted house?

The girlfriend of one of the hosts of Keith and the Girl works in one, and according to her, they freak out and touch the actors all the time.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:37 PM on October 26, 2010


There's this theme park Fuji-Q Highland in Japan where they have a haunted hospital attraction. It's actually friggin huge like a real hospital, and you get to choose which hallways you want to go down and stuff, and there's these crazy doctor dudes with scalpels and these messed up "patients" and it's mostly empty rooms with kind of nasty hospital stuff in them, and perhaps worst of all.... there's a huge lineup.
posted by Hoopo at 1:38 PM on October 26, 2010


Fun fact: for a brief period of time, something like this happened when you joined metafilter. Many a man has woken, screaming, from a nightmare involving Cortex and a donut. A horrible, horrible disfigured donut. You don't want to know what jessamyn did.

I guess they switched to the $5 thing after a few weeks.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:20 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Always wondered: Do people ever freak out and react/injure the actors in a haunted house? I've got to believe that's happened a bunch of times."

In high-school I spent a few Octobers working at a haunted house (run by a Christian Youth Group) that was a lot like what peachfuzz describes. We used to have the largest, most physically capable guys run security. There were many, many security guys because in some rooms the actors and spectators intermingled and, yeah, people could go crazy. This is also why the rooms all had back doors / escape hatches.


My favorite room was the black and white room. Basically the room was painted in a 1 sq. ft. checker board pattern, walls, floors and ceiling. The room had no furniture or adornment besides being painted. It was lit only be strobe light. The actors wore jumpsuits and make-up in the same pattern as the room. So, if you stood still against a wall you were rendered basically invisible by the strobes. It would scare the hell out of people whenever we'd decide to jump at them.
posted by oddman at 2:21 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm updating my position. This column is entirely bullshit. Expect e-mail forwards about it from your grandma by the end of the week.

Being that both of my grandmothers are deceased, I would find this to be rather -

Hold on.

Holy fuck.

I just got an email from my dead grandmother.
posted by flarbuse at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


clavdivs: " wa-la."

It's voila. It's a French word.

Seriously, who needs a safe word in a haunted house?
posted by IndigoRain at 2:41 PM on October 26, 2010


How long until this makes it onto an episode of either "Bones" or another one of the prime-time crime drama shows? (Has it already been done?)
posted by NoraReed at 2:45 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hooray! More sky-is-falling denunciations of modern horror films from people who don't watch them and can't stomach the idea of them!

Look. The Saw series tells a baroque, twisted, hilariously moralistic long-form story in a stylish and memorable way. Hostel, which is often the whipping boy in these sorts of discussions, is a pretty sharp commentary on Americans' perceived entitlement. The first film has forty minutes of set-up and a total of maybe ten minutes of footage that could reasonably be called disturbing.

Believe it or not, the movies that actually do resemble people's notion of "torture porn," i.e. 90 minutes of watching characters be tormented and tortured, invariably flop. Remember Captivity of The Poughkeepsie Tapes? I didn't think so.

No one has to like these movies but I wish people wouldn't blithely dismiss them with false generalizations and a superior air.
posted by eugenen at 3:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Theta States: Slightly off topic of the OP, since it smells of fake, but what are quality contemporary haunted houses actually like?

Not sure if this is listed as "quality" and "contemporary" or simply "really impressive," but I've heard about the Park Brothers Haunted House yesterday, and wish I lived in their neighborhood (or state). The brothers are senior scientists for the U.S. Army (or electrical engineers who do secure work at both the Pentagon and Fort Belvoir) who have amassed quite a show. Each year they improve on their show, and now it spans two neighboring houses (they own both, for display and storage purposes). They take a month off of work to set up the show, and they re-use discarded (or unadopted) military tech:
One of their remote-controlled robots on wheels was designed to disarm bombs for the military.

"They didn't want it, so I built it for Halloween," Brian Park explains.
Sadly, I couldn't find any better pictures than these shots in a local paper's site, which also has more information on the brothers and their set-up (which includes the gore scene, the pirate scene, the space scene with Yoda, storm troopers, robot graveyard, ultraviolet graveyard and the cemetery). Somehow it's not easy to find haunted house pictures for "Crowley Place" or Mount Vernon.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


My husband has this great plan for a Haunted House. You put an employee in each group, then at some point during the tour through the haunted house, that person gets attacked, making the danger very real to the patrons.

He was very sad when I brought up that Missouri is a conceal and carry state, and that likely the "attackers' would get shot.
posted by fyrebelley at 5:18 PM on October 26, 2010


It should have ended with everyone having a laugh and eating that freshly killed goat. I mean why waste a perfectly good dead goat?
posted by burnmp3s


This would probably be the most disturbing part for me. I'd b really pissed off that they killed a perfectly nice animal, and I'd be feeling pretty bummed out and disgusted.

I don't really consider myself to be a terribly brave person. I hate thrill rides, I hate flying in airplanes. I don't particularly like most horror films--and yet, despite all that, I imagine that I wouldn't really be that worried about what these people were doing to me, because it's not like they're going to kill me for real, right? I mean, this is something I'm paying for. These guys make money like this, right? How much would they make if they actually killed their "victims"?

Much like a skeezy Craigslist hook-up, I'd leave all of the information I had on these people, including my last known whereabouts, with someone I knew. I mean, these dudes have to be planning on something like that, right?

I would really hate that they killed an animal for this macabre little pageant, though. What dicks.
posted by apis mellifera at 5:29 PM on October 26, 2010


No matter how much you want to instinctively react, your superego suppresses all action. You body screams to fight or flee. The superego says to do neither. And that is a scary thing - to deny your body from acting on its own survival instinct.

This is a pretty accurate description of what happens to me every time I have to fly in an airplane.
posted by apis mellifera at 5:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Last year I helped Metafilter's own fuq with his haunted house in Bed Stuy, which was entered across an overgrown lot, down skewed and weedy stone stairs to the underground, and through a creaky rusted iron door.

A young mother who ran out screaming left one of her lbaby's tiny Nike shoes behind. A group of five pre-teens panicked and buffalo-stampeded several of the black plastic walls down. Some teenagers, fronting tough up-stairs, panicked and charged out the other way, knocking over the amps and mixing board responsible for the creepy soundtrack.

After it was over, and we were breaking down the set, some kind of social worker was telling him that he would have to meet with these kids and a professional therapist in the near future.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR: "Mainly, you can't just waive your right to have a crime committed against you."

I was going to cite Dethklok, but expert analysis reveals that courts have overturned informed consent. Brutal.
posted by pwnguin at 9:00 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Has anyone notice that Speece could be....Specious?
posted by batgrlHG at 11:36 PM on October 26, 2010


Life is already adequately fraught with dread and stress. For "free"!

This is why I refuse to play Monopoly.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:59 AM on October 27, 2010


How long until this makes it onto an episode of either "Bones" or another one of the prime-time crime drama shows? (Has it already been done?)

It was a Supernatural episode a few years back iirc.
posted by elizardbits at 5:14 AM on October 27, 2010


I vote for corn mazes these days, but I did used to make my bedroom into a haunted house for the sole purpose of scaring my best friend--no coffins or burials, but what do you want from fourth grade?

And I hate those Saw movies. So there.

And, Serene Empress Dork, I also refuse to play Life, Risk and Jumanji--too many pieces and take too long!
posted by emhutchinson at 10:47 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Def. do not play Jumanji - that infernal game can be used as an incantation to summon Robin Williams. *Shudder*
posted by Mister_A at 1:16 PM on October 27, 2010


Corn mazes are the closest I can get to being in a labyrinth, and, as such, rock.
posted by everichon at 1:42 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


As the men drove away heads still covered, I saw my car 30 yards in the distance. My keys were in the ignition. A note on the steering wheel read, "Live." Live."

I think a big part of why people go in for this sort of experience is that the fear and the adrenaline give you a rush, a heightened sense of reality, even temporarily enhanced senses.

Take this guy, for example, who after his encounter could now read a note on his steering wheel from thirty yards away.
posted by webmutant at 3:53 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously, though, the writer shouldn't have been pissed... He knew basically that this was what was going to be happening.

He knew that he was going to be experiencing "Death", so when he was tagged and bagged, what's the problem?
posted by Vamier at 4:31 PM on October 27, 2010


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