Ashley McElveen wanted to start a haunted house in the Beaufort area last year. But she had never done it before. She didn't even like scary movies.
Within 16 days, she had one up and running in time for Halloween. She put it in the space she and her husband, Ricky, run a business. By day, it's McElveen Marine and A-Sure Sign and Graphic Design. By night, it's the House of Horrors.
The House, located at the foot of the Broad River Bridge, is up again this year. It's bigger and better -- and scarier. It's for adults and older kids who can handle a good scare. Fake blood is commonplace, as are jump-off-the-floor scares. Organizers claim one girl fainted last year before she even got in.
Weeks of planning are involved. Ashley travels from here to Atlanta searching for the right props and costumes. About 25 volunteers help, dressed as a variety of ghouls and horror movie characters. Before each showing, the cast arrives about an hour in advance to dress and run through routines.
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Without revealing too much, Ashley and her cast gave a behind-the-scenes peak at what they've learned about scaring their visitors, or, as they call them, their victims. Here are some of the finer points of scaring someone silly:
One recent night, Matt Torres played the role of the monster. Brett Drawdy informed him of his duty. Torres, wearing a grotesque rubber mask, was to jump out from behind the black curtain in the back, grab the head of the corpse (which was detached the whole time), and throw it toward the corner of the room, away from the victims. In the corner is a metal cabinet. Chances are, the victims haven't noticed the cabinet because of the scene in front of them. The flying head hitting the cabinet produces a unexpected bang. If anyone still is in the room, they'll surely be out by then, Drawdy said.
"How do I do that in a straight jacket" he asked his buddy, Jason Tuten.
"Kick them with your feet," Tuten replied.
Tuten had played that role before. The surprising thing? It doesn't take much to get a scream out of the assembled crowds. Are people pretty easy to scare?
"Yeah, they are," he said. "It's pretty cool."