Undead mutants shuffling about. Demons in clown makeup threatening to swallow souls. Talking ventriloquist dummies wanting to trade places. These may be the stuff of legend, but, in truth, they are probably more afraid than the guests.
It is a haunted house performer's job to conjure up scares for their local thrill-seekers thanks to appearance-altering makeup and spooky special effects. But, as it turns out, some of the biggest scares are not part of the act. What happens when the ones in costume become the victims of real horror? These redditors share their stories as actors for haunted attractions who, unexpectedly, went method.
Who Was That?
“It was less a haunted house and more a haunted storytelling tour, but I worked with a theater group that used a historic antebellum home as its base. During Halloween, we would help out with a ‘haunted’ tour of the grounds with us in historical, ghostly costumes and makeup. We would tell a creepy campfire story at each station.
One of the stations was the front porch of the house, which had several large windows. My friend was posted there in a hoop skirt and parasol, telling the story of two lost lovers who came to a tragic end. A kid and his mom came up, she told the story, and they were suitably impressed.
As they walked off, they chatted about the story and what they liked about it. My friend really dug the input, until the mom said, ‘I really like how the guy inside the house walked up to stare at us through the window when she told us he had died. That was SOOO CREEPY! I loved it!’
This, of course, scared the righteous heck out of her, because one of the caveats of hosting the tour was that no one was to have access to the inside of the house. It was locked up tight and none of the caretakers were on site.
We still have no idea what it was.”
Monsters Come In Many Forms
“We were 15 years old working in the local haunted house to raise money for our school music band to go to New York City for our music trip. I was working a scene with my best friend that required you to jump forward and get close, but not so close as to touch the guest. We were, under no circumstances, allowed to touch anyone while we did our bit.
An older man, maybe in his 40s or 50s was alone going through the house when he came across our scene. We were able to see him approaching from peepholes. She jumped forward to scare him. Without saying anything or jumping back like he did in the other scenes previously, he reached out with both hands and groped her chest roughly.
She was a 15-year-old, 5’2″ girl with G or H cups. She pulled back and he would not let go for a moment until I came running from my spot. When he spotted me, he made a break for it through the final scenes and out the exit. She literally collapsed and bawled. The music teacher working the house with us and I half-carried and half-walked her out of there.
It was absolutely disgusting. All the other girls and I had a hard time coming back after that happened.”
No One Expected That Scare, Least Of All The Kids
“I began working at a haunted festival that had eight different haunted houses. My first few weeks, I worked in the basic houses: werewolves, vampires, mummies, the basics. After those few weeks, I was invited to work at the most popular house.
This house was filled with people who were actually terrifying in real life. Normally, you would go to work and meet up with your make-up artist and they would proceed to do their fancy art all over your face, feet, and body (depending what monster you were). After getting sent to this house, I was surprised to find there were no make-up artists. You would come in and grab a bucket of blood and a pair of scrubs. You would take the bucket of blood and cover yourself in it and go to your position in the haunt. I ended up being the first distraction in the first scare. Normally all houses have a distraction and a scare.
While I was pounding on the steel cage to distract the guests, I got a horrible bloody nose. It was gushing out of my head like a faucet turned all the way on. While this was happening, I was doing my best to stay in character. I would try shoving pieces of my own scrubs up my nose but it didn’t work. I had to go to the medical facility at the festival. Well, the darn medical area was located deep in the heart of Hanna-Barbera Land.
There I was, covered in fake blood, while having the worst darn bloody nose in the history of bloody noses. I walked my bloody self through hordes of terrified children and angry parents. By the time I got to the medical facility, someone had already called park security. I was yelled at for a few minutes by one of the park managers. I kept asking him, ‘What the heck am I supposed to do?’ It was ticking me off. I had gallons of blood spilling out of my head and they were worried about the darn children.”
A Walk Through The Woods
“I worked at a haunted hayride one year. We were riding along with a group of children when the axle broke on the truck. This was about six miles from the main road in an area with no cell reception. All the kids thought it was part of the ride.
‘Hahahah! You can’t scare us,’ they taunted. ‘This is just part of the ride.’ But I assured them it was not.
After identifying the problem, I realized there was no way that I was going to fix it there by myself. Most of the parents stayed behind because there was a brewery attached to the farm. I guess they were more interested in drinking. There was only one mom with us. At that point, obviously, we had to walk down to the farm and get a van to get all the kids home, and a mechanic could fix up the truck later on. I told the lady to stay with the truck and chaperone the children, while I walked back down to the farm.
It was already late when we embarked on the trip. By this time, the sun was starting to set. I thought I could take a shortcut through the woods instead of following the winding road. The course of the ride was sort of a C shape. Only, the sun had set and in the darkness, I stepped into a big pile of cow droppings, which sucked onto my boot. I fell forward into another pile. My chest was pretty much plastered in cow dung. It was a pretty chilly evening, so I could not take off my sweater. I was stuck wearing a dirty hoodie.
In the fracas, I totally lost my sense of direction. I could not tell where I had come from or where I was supposed to be headed. I thought that a certain path looked like the right way to go. After another hour of walking, I ended up back on the course I had been driving earlier, but about 200 feet further along. The truck was already in view. I thought I’d go report my failure so that the kids would be aware that they would still be stuck here for a while.
As I approached, it was eerily silent. I figured the children were probably asleep at this point because it was almost 11 pm. I climbed into the back of the truck. All I found was a lonesome scarf.
So many thoughts rushed through my head. I thought that some of the hill people might’ve found them and kidnapped all of those kids and that poor mom. I rushed back to the road. I almost didn’t stop running, despite the dark and uneven terrain. I thought I would have to call the police as soon as I could.
When I called the cops, they gave me a ride back to the farm, covered in poop, mud, and ticks. Most of the staff had left already, except for one old guy who was waiting for me to get back. I almost broke down crying, trying to tell the guy that all those kids were dead. Only, he called me a fool.
It turned out that while I was wandering around in the forest, the staff back at the farm had figured we were taking too long and already sent a van to go check it out, picked up the kids, and let them go home.”
Love For Torture
“I worked at a haunted hayride in college. We had a spot at which you passed a torture chamber with body parts hanging from the roof, a guillotine, someone in the birdcage begging for help, and someone at a whipping post being whipped.
Everything looked great with good props, good lighting, and great makeup work. Everyone was doing a great job. The person on the rack whimpering, the girl in the birdcage pleading pitifully, person running the whip getting loud cracks with it. But, the guy tied to the whipping post sounded more pleasured than tortured.
We had to replace him.”
They Were So Worried About The Monsters, They Almost Missed A Bigger Scare
“A couple of years ago, I got to work at a haunted house.
My favorite room was one with two people. One was the diversion who sat in a chair and was in charge of changing the lighting for effect. The other was the monster who hid inside a fake painting. I was the diversion and was remarkably good at flopping and looking like a stuffed scarecrow.
A group of bros came in and started nudging me and proclaiming that I obviously wasn’t a person. I did my job, hit the lights, and the monster came out, like always. I stood up while everyone was focused on the monster. Then, they noticed me. One, instinctively, punched me in the face.
They all cowered in the corner. Another bro started apologizing and said it was fine if I kicked the puncher in the balls. The monster and I laughed hard after they moved on.”
Talk About The Fear
“A couple of punks hopped the fence into the corn maze hoping to avoid buying a ticket. Unfortunately for them, they ended up getting lost because of the minimal light and wandered into my area, which was a freak show part of the haunted hayride.
One of them started sobbing hysterically because she was afraid of clowns. Everyone in this attraction was a clown, including the supervisor who walked them out to security.
Honestly, many of the actors were more scared of them because they could have had a weapon or have been mentally unstable.”
That’ll Teach Him To Try And Sneak A Deuce Again!
“A couple of years ago, I worked at a charity haunt. On most nights, I was hiding in a corridor that was designed to look like a forest and dressed in a ghillie suit. In this part of the attraction, it was supposed to seem like there was absolutely nobody there.
One night, some guy realized the same thing and decided to squat over and take a dump in the corner. He wasn’t facing me, so I saw the perfect opportunity to literally scare the life out of him. I snuck up behind him and scared him. He was in the middle of pulling down his pants. He released his bowels all over his jeans, and it went all over the ground.”
The Last Haunted House
“At my college, one of the fraternity houses is allegedly haunted. They team up with one of the sororities to put on a haunted house each year with proceeds going to charity. One of the parts was in the bathroom. The people going through were supposed to look into the mirror. A sorority girl dressed as a ghost would come up behind them to scare them. Apparently, with one group, the girl came out to scare them and saw an extra face in the mirror from someone who was not in the room.
They moved locations for the haunted house the next year.”
In The Forest, It Waits
“I volunteered at a haunted forest while in college. I hid in a ditch with a creepy old man mask and a hunchback and did this weird walk which made people lose their minds. It was hilarious, until a group of teens came by.
I believe it was three couples. One of the guys ran off. The second guy literally shoved his girlfriend into me knocking both of us over. The third guy punched me hard in the arm. Then, all of them bolted. The girlfriend sprained her ankle and was crying. She got up and hobbled away after them. There was no one around as far as other workers since we were so spread out, so I just let it go.
Had a nice bruise for a few days.”
Don’t Let His Scythe Touch You
“I was working at a haunted house that was held outside a high school football field in my town. It was not a very good haunted house, so they asked for volunteers to help with things like setting up the spooks or being an actor. When I was working there the first night, a family of three (the two parents and a 9 or 10-year-old boy) brought with them one of my best friend’s brothers.
As they were going through the attractions, I thought it would be funny to try and scare him, even if it meant leaving my designated area. I ended up sneaking up behind the first young boy and touched the back of his neck with a plastic scythe I was given. As soon as that happened, he jumped, looked back at me in costume, and immediately threw up all over his friend.
As a semi-natural response to being vomited on, he, too, vomited on the floor which caused us to have to stop the line and clean it up. I ended up delegating that to someone a few grades below me because I knew I could.”
Even Clowns Get Scared
“I was a clown at the ‘Old Tooele Hospital’ known as Asylum 49, which was featured on Ghost Adventures twice. It was truly haunted, but was also a haunted attraction from the end of September to the end of October. Once, some customers claimed to see a little girl at one specific part of the attraction. She was not part of the show.
I saw spirits. I was touched by something that was not there. I had my T-shirt stolen by the spirits that resided there. It was also not rare to see someone else’s face looking back at you. I was in a room with a lot of mirrors when I was a clown. After a week or so, we kind of just got used to it. We were not allowed to be alone in a room at one time and had to have, at least, two of us in a room because of this.
My significant other was in a hallway as a bloody nurse in another part of the attraction near room 666. She was a big skeptic but claimed to hear scratching, banging, and other noises in that room. That room was not to be entered by guests or actors alike. It was always locked closed.
To cope with all of this, I would walk out, make conversation, or take a break before going back in, whatever I could do. At first, it was extremely unsettling. Just before leaving, I explicitly told whatever was there that it was not welcomed in my home, car, or anywhere else in my life for that matter. I figured it was better to face whatever was there then try and pretend it wasn’t real. Just kind of felt like something I should do. Didn’t see the point in pretending.
I also used to ghost hunt there. I personally had a hand print on my shoulder from one of the ghost hunts and witnessed a flashlight turn off and on and roll around the room. On that same hunt, I took pictures of a hallway, maybe three or five photos in a row consecutively without moving. One of the photos has two crouched figures which are clearly not in the previous photos.
One day working at Asylum 49 sticks with me because it was in broad daylight:
It was not uncommon for friends and I to stash snacks and drinks in one-off places so that we did not get too famished. It’s basically acting for eight hours straight. On one occasion, in the evening just before sunset, a few friends and I headed to our rooms to clean out old snack wrappings and garbage. In broad daylight, three friends and I heard a banging sound emanating from somewhere nearby. We couldn’t pinpoint where it came from. We froze.
Then, it started up again, only, this time, on a beat. It was just my friends and I in this room. No one else would have been there and everyone we knew in the adjacent rooms were off getting ready, applying makeup, or getting in costume. We all had an overwhelming sense of dread. Even a friend of mine who was normally dismissive of these sort of things said, ‘I don’t know, man. You got me there.’
He had no explanation. We knew the ins and outs of these rooms and had no explanation for why thumping occurred all around us at the same time. It was like vibrations emanating from every wall all at once. It still skeeves me out sometimes.”
Abandoned At Dusk
“At the end of the night, just behind the last group of guests, the teenage supervisor was supposed to walk through and tell all the actors when we were done for the night. Closing time came and went and I had not seen any guests for some time, nor had I seen the supervisor.
After more than 20 minutes, I left my spot and headed outside toward the parking lot. Everyone else had left already. I was ticked and never came back. The response I got from the manager was kind of an ‘Oh. Oops. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.’ I wasn’t sure if the supervisor girl had done it deliberately or if she had genuinely messed up somehow, so nothing happened to her. But I didn’t want to deal with stuff like that.
As a teenager alone in a haunted maze out in the middle of rural cornfields and having to walk out to an empty, dark parking lot, it was scary. Funny now, but not then.”
A Sneaky, Terrifying Prank
“I worked at Universal Studios Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights. I was a zombie in the streets near the Mummy’s Revenge ride.
My favorite story was towards the end of the season when, we more or less, stopped caring. We had this large lady being pushed in a wheelchair through our zone. One of my coworkers zombied up to the person pushing the wheelchair and gave them a look to say, Give me the wheelchair and don’t tell the person.
My coworker began pushing the wheelchair without the lady noticing. He pushed her probably 50 feet before she turned to say something to who she believed was pushing the chair. She screamed, jumped out of the chair, and ran out of our zone.
My coworker broke character laughing, threw his arms up, and says, ‘I am Jesus.'”
What The Children Saw Could Not Be Unseen
“Back in high school, I volunteered at this haunted house that benefited some school for people with developmental disabilities. This one year, they hired a guy who was known for the particularly intense local haunts he would set up in the area to coordinate things. It quickly became apparent that judgement was not his forte. Once vans started pulling up with costumes and props, everyone realized that he was given complete creative control over the endeavor. That year’s theme? Sanitarium.
He called in favors from some of his friends who worked doing makeup for Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. We all, admittedly, looked pretty terrifying. I was in a Tyvek suit with a rotted green jaw mask and elaborate neck makeup. Even so, it seemed too excessive at the time to use all of these resources on some high schooler doing this pro bono for kicks. They also found two dilapidated wheelchairs for us to incorporate into the haunt, so naturally, we spent the daylight hours racing them and just generally learning how to do stupid stuff that probably would have been frowned upon in any other setting.
The school for the developmentally disabled decided to show up one night with some students to give them some fresh air and let them enjoy the season. On a Friday. At 9 pm. When we were at our busiest and the most messed up, backward stuff was going down at full force. Blood buckets and all.
I guess they rushed them to the front of the line because one of the organizers came blazing through the haunt yelling at us to stop everything and just wave. Even in the low light and lacking context, we could all tell that she was absolutely not messing around, so we complied. Then they killed the music. Two hours of grind-core later, and all we heard was a high-pitched ringing over deafening silence, followed by awkward greetings emanating from the front of the haunt, indicating that they had entered. This sound continued to move through the halls as they came closer.
Finally, they turned the corner and we all immediately pooped our pants. These students were all extremely developmentally disabled, as in truly unable to discern what the heck was going on. Two specialists accompanied them, positioned at the front and the back of the line, both donning the wide-eyed expressions of shock amidst impish grins that we all shared, showing that not a single person on either side of the aisle had seriously thought this through. You could feel the realization of how poor in taste this was in execution washing over everyone in the room. My jaw would have dropped had it not been a latex prosthetic adhered to my face.
They, sort of, begrudgingly pushed these kids through as I jumped up from my wheelchair and sheepishly waved. Then the door behind me to my left flew open.
Nobody told the scary closet guy that he needed to stop being the scary closet guy. He howled. They howled. They jumped around. He stared in awe. The specialists scowled and forced them all into the next room. It was a disaster. I am pretty sure that the haunt coordinator was not invited back the following year.
On a similar note, a guy in a wheelchair showed up a few groups later. We stopped and stared at each other for a second, unsure of what to do. So, I popped a wheelie, he popped a wheelie. Cheers were had. It was still freaking weird.”