As audiences grow accustomed to the “boo” scares of traditional haunted house experiences, haunters across the country are turning to extreme measures to ensure even the most scare-free customers get weirded out.
Last year, independent Pennsylvania haunt ScareHouse offered Inside the Magic an exclusive look inside their three killer attractions, including a video hosted by Creative Director and co-owner Scott Simmons. This time, ScareHouse has brought us another first look, this time inside “The Basement.”
Literally taking their haunted attraction down to the depths of the decades-old building, The Basement allows just one or two guests to enter at a time for an additional price, promising a terrifyingly intimate experience. All who enter must be 18 years or older and are required to sign a waiver first.
Inside, guests can expect an up-close and hands-on thrilling experience, seen in part in the video below, along with updates to ScareHouse’s three other mazes.
Video: ScareHouse 2013 including The Basement
Extreme haunts are all the rage today as many fans of Halloween attractions demand more insane experiences. The Basement provides an R-rated experience, though Simmons notes there is no nudity or anything obscene involved. Instead, it’s all physical and psychological, with a bit of twisted humor.
The concept is quite similar to what Knott’s Scary Farm has done with Trapped and Busch Gardens with Alone, as well as independent events like Blackout and Sleep No More. But despite similarities like actors touching guests and even placing a hood over guests’ heads, The Basement is different by design.
“The Basement is very intense and intimate – but we deliberately avoid some of the really nasty and violent content that you might see at other attractions,” said Simmons. “I honestly think that people will get tired of the graphic violence or subject matter of other extreme haunts – BUT I do think that audiences will start seeking out more customized and personal experiences.”
It’s a noticeable change from the conga-line type walk-through experience that has been synonymous with a “haunted house” attraction for many years, but one that’s being welcomed by many patrons. “I think what we’re really seeing with the success of The Basement is a desire for more interactive and personal encounters that are just not possible in a standard high-throughput haunt.”
Ultimately, however, despite the illusion of complete chaos, safety is of utmost concern for Simmons. “The Basement feels very raw and out of control – but all interactions take part in highly controlled settings, with trained actors, under close supervision of cameras and management staff. […] For the hood scene – for example – that takes place right next to our security station, there are two actors involved, surveillance cameras, and the customer is sitting down and handcuffed…that not only makes it more intense, obviously – but it greatly reduces the danger of someone getting hurt.”
Ultimately, Simmons believes the notion of an extreme haunt is an exciting trend int he haunt industry right now, but the classic shared experience of walking through a haunted maze will never fade. As such, ScareHouse continues to update their other experiences as well with new features to keep guests coming back.
“The challenge is to stay relevant and contemporary, and always be just one step ahead of expectations. Once the customers aren’t being surprised anymore, you’ve lost them… But we’ve also created some characters and attractions that people really love, and you hate to take away something just because you’re afraid of being stale.”
This year, the popular mascot ScareHouse Bunny has a twisted female counterpart for the first time. And Creepo’s Christmas in 3-D has a few new surprises as well, pushing the edge of technology with unique 3-D video projections. There’s also a new introduction to the entire experience based in a lounge filled with live entertainment – though ultimately even that goes horribly wrong.
The ScareHouse and The Basement have just a few nights remaining, on Halloween as well as November 1 & 2. Tickets and more information are available at www.scarehouse.com.