A Slice of Life
The Haunted Hoochie at Dead Acres
13861 E. Broad St. SW, Pataskala
Reality can be scarier than fiction, and the Haunted Hoochie takes full advantage of that fact in crafting its scares.
“It’s the guy bagging your groceries, your child’s bus driver or the stranger cruising your Facebook site,” says owner Tim May. “True horror surrounds us; we stand right next to it every day. I bring our audience into my mind, and it’s a very scary place in there.”
The tried-and-true visual scares are crucial, too. They keep the audience distracted and mesmerized – creating perfect opportunities for the attraction’s ghouls to burst forth and make their presence felt, May says.
“This is my 24th season of operating ‘The Hooch,’ but I grew up in the biz working for my grandfather’s haunted hay rides right here at the Dead Acres farm,” says May.
Human Touch (of Evil)
2605 Northland Plaza Dr.
There are a lot of sources of terror at the ScareAtorium, but the best frights come from the attraction’s actors, who have honed their scare senses and know just when and how to make their presence felt.
“Actors are the key,” says Jason Wilson, marketing director. “Animatronics look animatronic, (and) props are pretty noticeable too, but it’s the randomness and the interactivity you get with actors that provide the best opportunity to be successful.”
Though some of the best scares come from actors, staffers are constantly looking for new ways to garner shrieks.
“With the move into more technologically advanced props and displays being used in haunted houses, both the visu
al and jumpy – referred to as ‘startle scares’ – run a pretty even race,” Wilson says. “It really is a balancing act to be able to use them both effectively and avoid the mistake of relying on one more heavily than the other.”
If Looks Could Kill
Walking Dead Mansion
625 E. Jenkins Ave.
Distracting the audience to keep its members off-guard is an art form at the Walking Dead Mansion – and a distracted patron is a prime fright victim.
“The best scares are the loud bangs of an air cannon or the actor coming from an unexpected place,” says creator Beau Bayliss. “We give the victim something to focus their attention on and attack from another location.”
Those attacks can come quickly, because while the mansion is filled with the cursed spirits of the undead, the ghouls are not slow like those that stalk the TV show of the same name. The attraction is not affiliated with The Walking Dead show, which it predates.
“The undead do walk the halls of our haunted house, but are not slow like on the TV show,” Bayliss says. “Our undead people were burned alive in a fire in 1972. They want their revenge and will stop at nothing to get it.”
Jeanne Cantwell is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.