This article originally appeared on VICE Canada
I'm a huge fan of horror films but if I'm being honest with myself, you don't quite get the same visceral thrill from being scared in front of a screen as you can IRL. So with Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to spend a little more time with the heroes whose job it is to freak people the fuck out—the haunted house employee.
The epicentre of haunted housedom in Canada is in Niagara Falls, where the falls and cheesy attractions draw hordes of out-of-towners. I decided to head there to see what these haunted houses were all about, in particular the three scariest in Clifton Hill: Nightmares Fear Factory, Haunted Manor, and Frankenstein's. My question for their them? What are the craziest things that have happened to employees on the job. I was definitely not disappointed (only really scared and slightly disgusted).
Mark, General Manager at Nightmares Fear Factory
VICE: Considering you guys have the reputation of being the scariest haunted house attraction on Clifton Hill, what has been some of your experiences?
Mark: We've had literally almost everything happen in here. Puking, throwing up... One time a wife and husband finished and came out into the main waiting area and the wife sat on the stone bench we have out here. When she got up I couldn't help but notice a huge wet ass-print right on the seat.
Oh wow, and she just left? Guessing she was extremely scared from the attraction. Do you typically warn older people to not walk through the house?
I mean, if you have a medically weak heart we suggest you don't but other than that no. We had a 94-year-old that came in with her daughter and granddaughter so we had all three generations go through. She made it through like a champ.
I barely want to go through haunted houses now let alone when I'm 94. What do you think makes people want to come back?
We definitely aren't your typical haunted house. We try to prey on people's worst fears and phobias, so we're constantly switching up the actual scares inside the house. When people call and ask what they should except we never tell them because what's the fun in that?
Are you ever in the actual house or are you more of the face out here?
We actually don't have "workers" in there. We like to call them spirits.
Phil, Owner of Haunted Manor
VICE: I have to say, this place is terrifying even in daylight. What goes on here at night?
Phil: We have ten attractions on site and usually all packed during the weekend. The whole place is usually lit up with screams but we have had some pretty interesting experiences due to the scare factor we have. One time, these five huge football players went into our catacombs, and all you could hear were high pitched shrieks right when they got in there. The employees in there told me afterwards that it was the guys and they dropped right to the ground in fear.
Breaking masculine stereotypes, I like it. Any bodily fluid-related stories?
Yeah, a couple from the States were in the corn maze and a green plant monster jumped out at them. When they walked out, the wife had her legs held together. We had to fan out the place afterwards.
Also, a lot of our employees have gotten injured in some way due to people's fear reactions. One employee who was wearing a pig mask scared these two girls and one of them kicked him in the balls over and over again. I definitely had to decide if it was her fear reaction or actual abusive behaviour.
That's one intense fear reaction. Do you guys go out of your way to get this reaction?
We usually listen to people's conversations as they wait to get in. This way we can pick up names so the employees can say them in costume. Usually gets a good response.
Ryan, Professional Scarer at Frankenstein's
VICE: As someone who actually works inside the actual attraction everyday, what's the biggest WTF moment?
Ryan: One time a guy asked the front ticket lady if he could go through naked and for some reason beyond me, she said yes. So, he went through the house butt naked. It turned out that he lost everything in his wallet in there too so I had to go through to find all of his cards.
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