With a week of recovery, the haunted house is over. Actually it seems like it’s completely gone. The website plain white, facebook page deleted, everything from House of Screams is gone. Honestly, it seems like a reflection of my past month. Yet with all those lost days, I have made quite a few friends and just might find myself doing something similar next year. Though, while I’ve done a number on myself physically and otherwise in this adventure, it really was fun. I have had some amazing scares, great tales to tell, and had an incredible trying out different roles that didn’t limit me to one small spot of the haunt.
I don’t think I need to go much into my first role as that’s the one I started in. I was one of Clyde’s “cousins” sitting on the porch. Sometimes hiding to jump out and chase after people into the kitchen area, it was a pretty sweet role. It was something I got to make my own and if I didn’t terrify you, I had you laughing with lines like “Have you folks seen any arms around here? I seem to have lost a pair.” or “Them mighty fine arms you got there. I recon we gonna trade.” These lines later turned into threats of how I was going to “wear your arms as a fashion accessory” and that they would “look great in the spring.” Between that and working with one of the haunts best actors, we had people running, bartering, and sometimes rushing past a number of the following scenes. All in all, it worked out rather well but was a lot of stress on my voice and body. So I figured it was time to mix things up.
The next role, I only managed a couple times but worked out rather well. In the haunt’s “Dark Room” where everything was built as a medical office, I chose to be the victim instead of one of many deranged threats. It took a lot of work, feeling out what was effective and what wasn’t, we eventually worked out a bit that used my wheelchair to an advantage. Screaming, the doctor would push me down the hall as a begged and pleaded for safety and eventually release from the torture. We’d turn a sharp corner at the customers coming through as I shouted for help. Then we’d turn back around and I screamed “I don’t wanna go back to surgery!” This worked out rather well in a hospital gown with the blood drenched sleeves covering my hands. At this point, either the doctor would kill me or leave me to plead and beg for death from the customers passing by. This scene also had the occasional moment of humor as I once said, “I don’t want to be a dolphin” to which the doctor replied, “You will be a narwhal and you’ll like it!” Another was when the doctor said I’d be chopped up for meat meant for consumption. I don’t know what I was thinking but this lead to me saying “I don’t want to be a Lean Cuisine.” No one seemed to really notice it but it left us laughing afterword.
The final role was in our clown room. I really don’t find clowns to be the least bit terrifying but I gave it a shot as another actor I desired to work with spent quite a bit of time in there. While it was a while before we did work together, being a clown was the easiest role I played. People ran from me and all I had to do was laugh. Granted there was some chasing involved but it was worth it for the most part. For the first few hours in the role, I managed to terrify people while being completely silent which I feel is some level of achievement. Eventually, I started staying as a clown full time and the powers that be asked my blessing to change things up. In light of American Horror Story, we had our own freak show which I played the star attraction which was fun but was a double edged sword.
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve heard a lot of things that no one has dared say to me before. In the clown room, and what became the freak show, made that all much worse. It is something that I fully understand why it happened and have to come to accept as being, in part, my fault for setting up the situation. When I said yes to the freak show, I was thinking of how terrified people would be and forgot all the risk. This was the reason I swore to never join a modern freak show. In my time in the clown/freak show area, I’ve been touched multiple times (and there is a strict no touching rule. It’s what keeps me from actually killing people you know?), nearly carried away, maliciously laughed at, and harassed as one would expect in a side show attraction. Assuredly not the best highlights of the haunt as a whole.
Aside from the acting side of things, how did the haunt go as a whole? I honestly couldn’t tell you much. There were a number of 5 star reviews on various sites such as Yelp and AZHauntedHouses but they were few and far between compared to how many I recall coming through. Considering that everything House of Screams put up is now gone, my assumption is they didn’t do too well. I can only guess how much they spent on the mass of new animatronics, banners, and two billboards. I highly doubt they ended the season with a profit.
So, overall, the haunt was a fun but very stressful and taxing experience. There was a huge lack of communication at times, constant changes to the schedule, and countless balls dropped. I put a lot out there and there was some reward and just as much, if not more, loss. I got burned more than a few times when trying to own my disability and use it to the benefit of the season and I’m certain it won’t be the last. Yet I am wiser for the experience and enjoyed all the crazy things I did. Except for spontaneously shaving my head. That was one I regretted the moment I got home and for a couple days afterword thanks to the latex in my hair.