One time, I almost hit a clown in the face at a haunted house. It was a knee-jerk reaction (I guess we know where I stand on the "fight or flight spectrum"), but luckily I didn't actually sock him. Still, I've always wondered just how many close calls haunted house employees actually have. Their jobs are to scare people, which can result in some pretty hilarious (and potentially dangerous) interactions with those who brave the halls of a horror house. An actor in a haunted house aka a "scare performer" did an AMA on Reddit and revealed some of the most interesting secrets of the job. Sounds like working at a horror house can be as frightening as making your way through one!
1. How many times did you startle someone and get punched/almost get punched?
"So my section involved a flickering light so what I usually did was stay idle for a moment, then when they were off, I would pounce at them so I would reappear in front of them. Startled many, many people with that method, including making two faint! This of course led to an awful lot of reflex punches. Luckily the mask cushioned most of it!"
2. Were there any instances where you will "hold back" if you see someone who might be more vulnerable to a real scare?
"I didn't see as many as my act was second from the end, and people who couldn't handle it would usually be escorted out sometime during it. We did have this clown though that actually acted as a guide for people who wanted to get through it to the end, so he would accompany those who were scared and he would bop us on the head with his hammer to let us know they were coming so we would go easy on them!"
3. Have you ever scared someone so badly they got sick or hit you?
"I actually counted! Over the one month I made two people faint, three people wet themselves, 11 I scared enough to make them run into each other or a prop and hurt themselves (not badly), and countless times have I been attacked. I was lucky enough to be in full costume which acted like armour but some of the poor actors had little to nothing to help them. There were guests who would come in and just attack the actors for their own amusement, and then blame it on 'being scared' but you could easily tell who was scared and who just wanted to hit people."
4. What sort of training did you have to go through before you were given the role?
"What they did at first was give me one costume, give me a room, and see what I was like in there improvising. I went through about four rooms before they found the perfect role for me! We had a couple of vocal training lessons on how to scream without losing your voice and how to do weird movements with your body. We were then trained on how to get out as fast as you can in the event of a fire or someone who's attacking you, and that was about it!"
5. What's the craziest/funniest/weirdest story you have from working there?
"I think the craziest/funniest moment was when I scared a young teenage girl to which she fainted, and when someone faints you have to get security. Only problem for me was getting to them, as the closest security member to my section was through a secret door leading to the first room/entrance, and we were not allowed to break character. So meanwhile on the other side of that door, there was a couple who were so terrified that they couldn't get passed the first scare (it was just a creepy hotel manager asking them if they knew what room they were in). Then, all of a sudden, the wall opens up beside them and I, a deformed bird man, comes out squawking like crazy! The couple turned and ran out the door, giving me time to get the fainted girl out of there!"
6. Did you ever see anything actually creepy to you, whether it was intentional or not?
"About halfway through the month, about three people quit because they were convinced that by pretended to speak Latin in a fake sacrifice, they ended up summoning a demon! I took little notice of it but for the rest of the time working there, I did keep seeing silhouettes of people and kept feeling things brush by me!"
7. Did you ever have to go and speak to people because they were panicking or terrified?
"There were a few people who went into panic mode but like I said in another answer, we weren't allowed to break character, so the best thing to do would be to go around them and scare them out of the room!"
8. What was your favorite reaction to the house?
"My favorite reaction would probably be when a group of young lads sending one guy who was clearly terrified in front while they laughed from behind. When my light flickered, I went around the front guy, and scared the the others, making one fall to the floor, and another wet himself!"
9. Do some people get scared easier than others? Age? Gender? Level of Intoxication?
"The majority of the scares would have been young-to-middle-age girls, while the guys usually laugh at them getting terrified. You did often see lads who go in trying to taunt the actors to show off how cool they are to their friends, so it's extra special when you scare them! In terms of intoxication, they're either drunk enough to get scared easily, or drunk enough to want to fight you."