I filmed the most extreme "full contact" haunted house in the world for over 3 years & made a documentary about the rise of terror as entertainment called "HAUNTERS: The Art Of The Scare" - AMA!
Hi Reddit! Happy Halloween!
I'm Jon Schnitzer, director/producer of "HAUNTERS: The Art Of The Scare" a film about how boo-scare mazes for Halloween have spawned a controversial sub-culture of "full contact" extreme terror experiences, the visionaries who dedicate their lives to scaring people, and why we seek out these kind of experiences - especially in scary and unpredictable times.
No surprise this Halloween is projected to be the biggest ever and that these kind of experiences are starting to be offered year round.
I filmed inside McKamey Manor, the most controversial extreme haunt in the world, infamous for going on for 8 hours, having no safe word and even waterboarding people. I also got unprecedented access to the creative geniuses behind Blackout, Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, Knotts Scary Farm, Delusion and more traditional haunts too. HAUNTERS also features horror visionaries John Murdy (HHN) Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska (American Mary / Hellevator), Jason Blum (producer of The Purge, Happy Death Day, Insidious, Sinister), Jessica Cameron (Truth or Dare / Mania) and more.
I always loved Halloween and horror movies since I was a kid, so I wanted to highlight the haunters as the artists they are, to capture the haunt subculture at a time when more and more people are seeking extreme "scare-apy", and to spark a debate about how far is too far.
But, first and foremost, I wanted to make a movie that would entertain people, so I have been thrilled to get so many rave reviews since premiering at Fantastic Fest last month - "9 out of 10" - Film Threat, "An absolute blast" - iHorror, "Genuinely petrifying" - Bloody Disgusting, "Shockingly entertaining" - Dread Central, "An intoxicating study of our relationship with fear." - Joblo, and more!
HAUNTERS was a successfully funded Kickstarter project, that I made for under $100,000.
My passion for this project also inspired some of my favorite composers and musicians to come on-board to create a killer soundtrack - Dead Man's Bones (Ryan Gosling & Zach Shields, who's also from the band Night Things and co-writer of the films Krampus and the upcoming Godzilla) and Emptyset, and an original score by Jonathan Snipes (“Room 237” & “The Nightmare”), Alexander Burke (recorded with Fiona Apple, David Lynch and Mr. Little Jeans) and Neil Baldock (recorded with Kanye West, Radiohead and Wilco).
Check out the trailers & reviews - www.hauntersmovie.com
Ask me anything!
Proof - link to this AMA is on our Reviews & News page
EDIT @ 2:48PM PST - Wow, I didn't expect to get so many questions - it's been a lot of fun and I totally lost track of time. I need to take care of some things, be back to answer as many questions as possible.
EDIT @ 3:40PM PST - Back again, I'll be answering questions for the next hour or 2 until I have to get ready to go see John Carpenter in concert tonight.
EDIT @ 5PM PST - Signing off for today, pretty sure I got through almost all of the questions - I'll come back tomorrow and answer as many as I can tomorrow. Hope everyone has a fun time tonight, however you may be celebrating (or ignoring) Halloween!
Great questions. Sorry for my delay, there are so many great questions and debates going on here. 1) Hard to say, but to me it's anything to do with food and puke. That was beyond what I could handle being around. 2) Probably Mandi when she kept repeating "I can't do it" over and over again because she had reached her breaking point and really needed to get out. 3) I've done extreme haunts, but I would never do McKamey Manor. Why? Because Russ wouldn't go through it. I'm willing to try anything knowing 2 things: 1) I can get out when I want 2) The creators know exactly what it feels like to go through it.
Thank you so much for these great questions.
The creator wouldn’t even try it??? That’s crazy and sorta fucked up in a way
Edit: I have now read some other comments and watched a few YouTube videos about the owner. Yes he is in fact fucked
I mean the guy is a sick piece of shit, so it doesn’t really surprise me.
Why's he a sick piece of shit?
Jesus christ though I just google McKamey and it's 4-8 hours long and there's no safe word. How is that even legal?
I agree that if that's what the customers are into they should be able to to do it, but I'm surprised McKamey's legally able to do what it does without a safe word, even with waivers
He isn't legally allowed to do it.
His screening process no doubt involves weeding out anyone with any ounce of a backbone or intelligence.
Russ wants dogs to come to his house, people who will be beaten without complaint and come out the other end saying it was great, because they were told to think so.
I met a lot of people who went through including a hedge fund manager, a graduate student in a sociology program and a variety of other backgrounds. It's more complicated than you think. People are more interesting that way.
Instead of just labeling him you should check out his story. People are more interesting than just one thing. It's all the pieces that make a people who and what they are that makes us all fascinating. I captured who he is, you might not like him, but I guarantee you 'll learn something about him, yourself and extreme haunts that will teach you a lot about society and it will do it in a very visceral way.
Strange that that these questions are going unanswered.
This is my first AMA and I'm learning as I go. In the beginning my answers were really long. Going for shorter responses to get to as many as possible. I've also been answering questions since 7am and will go as long as possible to answer as many questions as I can.
Why would anyone put themselves through McKamey Manor?
What are the best and worst things about making an independent movie?
TIL people will pay to be water boarded. Looks like I may have a new job lined up after this one after all.
Actually, when I was filming at McKamey Manor it was 100% volunteer and nobody paid with money it was 1 bag of dog food or 4 cans of dog food to get to go.
Grace, a neighbor of McKamey Manor never went to any haunts before going to the Manor. She decided to go through because in 2008 she lost her job and she said, "I wanted to quantify the horror I was feeling in my life." That line burned in my mind and I thought was really insightful. People seek out horror attractions to scream, freak out and feel like a kid again, but some people need more and have areal need to test their limits to hopefully discover that they are stronger than they realized. Something they hope to take from the haunt and use in their real life. Kinda like using haunts as therapy, I call it scare-apy. But this only works if you have a safe word. Without a way out you have no control. No control means you're no longer testing a worst case scenario you're now in one. I asked Carol who was the co-owner of McKamey Manor at the time, why don't you let people have a safe word and she said if they had a safe word here, people would use it right away.
Best and worst about making an independent you get to control everything from the music, tone, feeling, story... The worst is that you're responsible for everything and that (especially on a very tiny budget) can be overwhelming. I'm so lucky I got distribution to help me out and that I was in Fantastic Fest. It's the biggest and the best horror film festival in America an it introduced me to an entire supportive community. I feel like a made 100 new best friends at Fantastic Fest! And one of the best things was having some of my fav horror and documentary directors watch my movie and then call me and even meet with me to tell me how much they loved it. Really that blew me away that people who made films that inspired me where inspired by the film I made. Such an amazing feeling. Thanks for your questions!
What was your expeince at McKamey Manor?
What in your opinion, is off limits in full contact haunted houses?
What has been your most negative experience whilst researching?
Filming at McKamey Manor was even more intense and shocking than I thought it would be. I saw the videos Russ made and I saw how he always warned people, "you don't wanna do this", but I'm also a HUGE horror fan and I love the entire spectrum of horror, so I know when I see trailers for a horror movie or a haunt that says, "the most terrifying experience ever" - it's just a marketing gimmick to sell tickets and it's never actually horrific, it's just fun for people who like a good scare. But McKamey Manor is different. Here's how...
When you watch the McKamey Manor videos you don't know what it smells like in their. Russ uses a lot of fake bad smells which all combined together smell very bad. Russ and Carol when I was there had about 10 dogs and since the haunt was in their backyard sometimes the dogs would walk to the backyard and poo and pee. Then there was "Mothers room", that was the room I had to run out of. That's where they feed you gross stuff so that you puke. Ok, now combine all of these smells all together....yup, it's really bad.
The first room at the Manor had steel walls, so when you are pushed against a steel wall and you feel that it's real then it clicks in your head."this is real" and it's hard not to freak out and panic.
When people scream for help and that they want to get out and their screams are ignored or mocked that adds to the panic attack atmosphere. Made me think of the dinner table scene in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre when the woman is screaming for help and they laugh back at her. Only, this isn't a movie, it's a simulation that blurs the line so much it feels 100% real.
The feeling of the Manor is like a prolonged panic attack. There was one time when I stopped filming because Christina Buster, who flew all the way from Kuwait just to do McKamey Manor, went into shock. She started to not respond to questions, and looked dazed. I put my camera down and told Russ she's in shock. I quickly picked her up and took her out of the haunt and into the living room. 30 minutes later she snapped out of it and said,"Why am I not in the haunt anymore?" I told her that she went into shock and then she yelled at me,"I flew 19 hours for this put me back in!" She then told Russ to put her back in and then the put her back in for 4 more hours! When it was over she thanked Russ and his actors. And then she went back 3 more times! That really blew my mind and made me realize that this experience isn't for everyone, but it was really made for Christina.
What's off limits in my opinion? No safe word. I filmed a scare study, but couldn't include it in the film because it wasn't finished yet, but now it has. one thing they discovered is that if you have a safe word in an extreme haunt and you use it then that makes you feel empowered because you reached your limits and even encourages you to return and see if you can make it further the next time. But when there is no safe word at all, then you aren't accomplishing anything, things are just happening to you. Even with Fear Factor you have an option to stop, so when a contestant continues and wins it is an accomplishment. Think of it this way, if you run a marathon and you eventually cross the finish line that's a HUGE accomplishment and something you completed on your own. But if someone dragged you the entire time and threw you across the finish line then you didn't do it on your own. How would that make you feel? There's a moment in the film where I interview people after they finished the matter and some would never do it again and others wanted to work their after. Their reasons for both were really fascinating.
It's hard to say what my most negative experience inside the Manor was, but it's easy to say that the mist negative experience I had while making this movie was dealing with threats from people who hate McKamey Manor. When people saw my Kickstarter video and saw that the Manor was in my film I got threatening phone calls, emails, Facebook messages from people threatening to come after me to stop me. Others made videos lying about how I am, and that I wasn't making a documentary, but that I worked for Russ, and so on, and so on. In my opinion, if I'm doing a doc about what;s going on in the haunt world then I must talk about the conflict between traditional haunts and extreme haunts and there's nothing more extreme than McKamey. I had to include it and now you can see what it's really like to be inside it without having to actually go through it. People, real people are fascinating and it was fascinating to film people who sacrifice everything to bring your nightmares to life. That being said for months after I filmed at McKamey Manor I had horrific nightmares and not of anything made up and surreal, but actual memories about what really happened and that panic attack feeling. It took a long time for the nightmares to stop. I talk with people who have gone through it and when we do it must be what it's like for Troops tor reunite with people they served with.
Thanks for such a well considered and detailed answer. It makes me wonder why someone would put themselves through something like that unless there is a huge underestimation of how traumatic and realistic it actually is.
What are your opinions of people who work there? I feel like you need a particular set of skills I dont possess or be quite sadistic. At the first sign of panic and real fear I would be pointing people to the nearest exits.
On a side note, do you remember what they fed you!?
Thanks for your questions. When I interviewed people I asked them why they wanted to do the Manor and they usually would say they wanted to learn something about themselves. So many people want to either prove that they're stronger than they think they are, or see what their limits are. Same reason why people jump out of a plane. In society unless you join the Military there are few ways to have a "rites of passage" to test yourself and prove how brave you really are.
To be clear: I filmed it, but refused to have it done to me. I filmed Russ while he filmed people so I could show exactly what it's like inside. I also never joined a frat in college cause I would never want to be hazed or to haze anyone else. I also was bullied as a kid so I knew the Manor would not be for me.
You get to meet the actors and learn about who works there in my film. When I first started filming the people who worked there were really nice kids. Yup, kids, High School kids. These kids were really nice, but they were encouraged to go crazy on people going through the Manor and kids being kids they go too far. It's not their fault because they're kids and they were trying to do what Russ wanted and they would get carried away with the duct tape etc... Eventually he had to replace the kids with adults, but he didn't replace the kids with haunt actors. A great haunt actor has compassion. Legendary haunt actor Shar Mayer is in my film and she talks about the connection between the monster and the human. How the "victim" is scared and excited and the monster is 3 times as scared and excited. When she scares you, it feels dangerous, but you can also feel that the person behind the mask is an entertainer and that's why in mazes with monsters like Shar we scream and we laugh because we know it's all for a thrill and for fun. Who were the adults that replaced the teens in the Manor? Well, Russ had a selection process that was questionable just like it was with the teens.
What did they feed people? Usually tofu, or meat, but mixed with food coloring and sprayed with gross scents to make you gag. They also at one point had coagulated snake eggs, but when the food part in "Mothers Room" would happen I would last a few minutes and then have to run out. It was too much for me.
Have you interviewed or know what happened to any of the kids that this guy used to employ? Did they grow up to be regular adults or what are the questionable parts of the selection process?
I interviewed them and they're great kids! Awesome people. The questionable part of the selection process of the adults is that most of them are not scare actors and some have backgrounds that make it clear they shouldn't have physical contact with people.
You say some people wanted to work there after going through it? Sounds to me like some people see that they can get away with torturing people for the fun of it. I think that this place is fucked up in eve st which way. It's not a haunted house. It's a horror movie sinulator
I actually film the exact moment someone makes that decision and it will blow your mind. I learned a lot about people making this.
I'm pretty sure that sexual assault should be off-limits.
And you do have a risk that the participant will say "fuck this, I'm done here" - and they will leave very, very violently under their own terms.
That is off limits and you're right.
My question is how does nobody react with violence? You'd think some of these participants would fight back at some point...
It happens, but it's very rare. The people who seek this out really want to see what they can take and how far they can make it. When Christina did 6 hours she bragged about it online for months. Them went back 3 more times. Different for everyone.
It wasn't so bad back in 2005-2007 it was a typical chase people around with fake stuff... I have always wondered if the attraction is family owned. Its just a small house in the suburbs
Yup over the years it got more and more extreme. I had some great interviews with the neighbors about that.
What do the neighbors have to say about it?
Some love it, some hate it. I was surprised with how many of his neighbors thought it was cool. All of his neighbors really liked him and he would DJ block parties too. In my neighborhood if you play your music too loud the cops show up.
having no safe word and even waterboarding people
You're going to have to explain that one.
Anyone who's seen Hitchens get waterboarded knows that isn't a joke.
People who've been waterboarded say that if they had to choose, next time they'd rather have their toes chopped off.
Ya... I didn't believe it until I saw it. It's not pouring water slowly the way we've seen it done on the news, but it's submerging people under water while they have a cage over them and a hood over their head. Still way too much for me and I was more surprised when people who went through it then went back for it again and again. Not everyone. Most do it once and then either never go back or go on to work there.
I learned a lot about people filming this doc.
What do you think has caused the interest in these horror experiences in recent years?
Do you think this is something that will go away anytime soon?
I asked this exact question while doing research for my doc. So I looked up when horror films, haunts and Halloween made the most amount of money and I noticed some really fascinating correlations.
All the classic monster movies for Universal Studios came out during the depression and were major box office hits, Halloween made it's most amount of money during 2001, right after September 11th and was beat out by 2008, the financial meltdown, but this year Halloween is on track to make more money than ever before, $9.1 BILLION. Why? Because people use Halloween, horror and haunts as a safe way to face their worst fears and scream their heads off. I learned a lot about people and how horror is a mirror that reflects society's worst fears.
And your second question. Do I think this is something that will go away anytime soon? No. Turn on the news, there's a lot to be nervous, fearful and scared about and as long as real life is really scary, people will need horror experiences as a way to both confront their fears and escape the horrors of reality.
Wow that's a real interesting correlation and would've never thought of that myself, but it makes so much sense.
Even when I think about it a lot of my favorite horror movies came out in the 70s-80s during the cold war, and had things like the Satanic ritual abuse scare going on.
That's why George Romero was a genius! Horror is a mirror to society.
I think that we used to get scared more - less stimulation, more unexplained things - but thanks to science and the internet and our phones, we live a very soft life.
No big ghost stories or unexplained natural phenomenon-we know hurricanes are coming and that sacrificing virgins won't prevent earthquakes.
But that innate need for adrenaline, that need to be scared, remains a primal desire.
Not only that, but consumers are getting more savvy and demanding intricate, full products. They want better than what they can get by themselves, and with unlimited access to EVERYTHING, that's a hard product to deliver.
Look at Disneyland and the vintage rides - they're charming in their innocence and delicacy. But modern culture supports this genre of full-on terror inducing, immersive experience.
Yes and no. This was a HUGE year for Disneyland's Halloween Time, Knott's Scary Farm and Universal Studios sold out so many times they have to extend into November. There's a huge spectrum of sub-genres of horror from horror comedy, supernatural and monsters to slasher and torture porn and everything in-between. And now there's a live horror attraction that represents each kind of sub-genre of horror. I see it as something for everyone. But the question remains: How far is too far?
Were there ever any moments of compassion or second guessing from the employees, or did they stay totally "in character" the whole time? Did you ever find yourself wanting to stop the most extreme moments of the experience as you witnessed guests going through it?
There were some actors at McKamey Manor who were very compassionate and would "check in" with people that they felt had reached a breaking point, but even when they did that it was in character. Sometimes Carol would come out and would talk to them and make them feel safe and then Russ would go back to unleashing hell on them.
Yes, I wanted to stop it and take people out, but I only did that once. I'm gonna copy and paste where I shared that story from earlier:
There was one time when I stopped filming because Christina Buster, who flew all the way from Kuwait just to do McKamey Manor, went into shock. She started to not respond to questions, and looked dazed. I put my camera down and told Russ she's in shock. I quickly picked her up and took her out of the haunt and into the living room. 30 minutes later she snapped out of it and said,"Why am I not in the haunt anymore?" I told her that she went into shock and then she yelled at me,"I flew 19 hours for this put me back in!" She then told Russ to put her back in and then the put her back in for 4 more hours! When it was over she thanked Russ and his actors. And then she went back 3 more times! That really blew my mind and made me realize that this experience isn't for everyone, but it was really made for Christina.
The experience is free with a donation of small dog food. How does Russ afford to keep it open?
Are the employees volunteers?
Were there any employees that you think are too unstable to be working there?
What is the quickest you saw someone want out?
And the one thing that confuses me is that there is no safe word but apparently no one has ever made it through. Do the actors just stop? How does it end? Is there even an actual ending, or does it gone on as long as it takes for someone to quit?
The rumor is that there's a room in vegas where wealthy people watch the torture and place wagers on the victims.
That rumor was created by Russ. He wanted people inside the haunt to think it was real, he wanted people watching the videos to believe that there was the underground gambling ring in Vegas, but it was all made up.
When I first heard about that it made me think of the comedy Rat Race. When I filmed at the Manor I asked Russ if he saw Rat Race and he laughed and then told me that's where he got the idea from.
What, like in Rat Race? John Cleese betting on which hotel maid can hang from the curtains the longest?
See my response above. You're exactly right!!!
At the time Russ worked 2 jobs and Carol worked two jobs and all of their money went into the haunt. Everyone who works their is a volunteer and most have gone through it before...everyone except for Russ!
Some people wanted out the second it began.
How does it end? Russ doesn't stop until he believes he has captured your true terror reactions on camera. He wants to film you having a total breakdown. When Russ thinks that has happened it's over. Sometimes that's 10 minutes sometimes 6 hours. Another reason why people should have a safe word.
Russ McKamey seems to be pretty particular about the photos and videos that are put out there and doesn’t tend to do a lot of interviews, how did you go about getting permission to film and were there any restrictions on what you could or couldn’t show?
You're right. At first he wouldn't let me film anything and then wanted me to have restrictions. I told him I need to be able to film everything so I can show the Manor and him as they really are. I spent a weekend interviewing him and when he heard my questions and saw how I was filming in a cinematic way (not just point and shoot) he trusted me to tell the story.
By having all access and being able to show Russ building, filming, editing, etc... it really provides a ton of insight.
So, all that said, why are Russ' videos so bad?
I'm a professional filmmaker as well, and I couldn't find anything that I could remotely finish while clicking through his enormous youtube channel. Everything is 40min+, filmed gonzo style and lacks any sense of story. If I was a potential customer trying to see an overview of what the Manor is, I'd still have no goddamn idea what was going on. Your trailer is the first McKamey Manor content I've seen that makes sense.
Does he have a method behind the way he presents his videos, or is he just shooting a ton of footage and then uploading 90% of it? What were his concerns regarding your footage and the way you'd present his haunt?
Russ considers himself a director and his videos do have a real effect on people. He wants to freak people out, but is very careful to not show too much. I told him I had to have all access and be able to show whatever was needed to give the experience of what it's like to go through the Manor. At first he was really scared, but the he allowed me to film. I'm so glad he did because the moments that burn into my brain are when you get to see Russ filming and editing. I always wondered about the man behind the curtain and we reveal him as he is in my film. I'm really proud of that.
how does the full contact work? Do people jump out of nowhere and grab you? What if i punch someone out of instinct?
It means they can touch you and you can't touch them back. You're question about punching is really interesting and something I explored a lot in my film. In extreme haunts I almost never saw anyone fight back, but in traditional boo scare mazes it's much more common.
Scare Actors like Shar Mayer have had to deal with Fight reactions from scared guests and even get attacked by drunk people who attacked her in a maze. Scare Actors have a love and a passion for giving us a great scare, but when people who want to be scared, get too scared and actually fight back it's horrible for the Scare Actors who already work so hard and insane hours and push their bodies to the limit.
Someone asked me if it can be so dangerous why do people like Shar continue to do it? It's like being a boxer or a football player. If you have a real talent, skill and passion for doing something you'll do it even if it breaks you. It's amazing to meet people who love something so much that it's their true passion, their art, what they live for.
I wonder if the reason you so rarely get people fighting back is because the scenarios are so extreme that the only people who would sign up are submissives and masochists. Like, it self-selects for the most dedicatedly passive participants by its very reputation, maybe?
I'd be screaming and windmilling my fists like no tomorrow 😂
Yes, but you wouldn't go. There are so many people who look for experiences like this. It's fascinating.
I have a friend who works in a haunted house during the season. She always jokes about the 3P's: the poopers, the pissers, and the pukers. She says the ones who get the most scared are the big burly stereotypical tough guys. Did you and the actors ever develop a sense where you could look at someone and say, "oh, he's going to cry like a little baby" ?
The 3 P's!!! HAhaha. I've never heard of that, but I know all 3 happen. You're right the bigger they are they bigger the Fight or Flight reactions. I even interviewed a guy who is not a haunt fan and he got so scared at Knott's that a monster jumped out and he hit the monster. it turned out it was a kid and the kid was a little girl. He never went back to haunts because he doesn't want to hurt anyone and he knows he can't control his reflexes.
In traditional haunts I can tell who will freak out the most by the way they act waiting in line. Anyone rubbing their hands together while they wait will be screamers. But McKamey is not a normal haunt and the people who go really want to test themselves so there's no way to predict who will do what in an environment like that.
This is actually a very true thing. Most people who have the "fight" reaction don't go to haunts.
Psychologically either you're okay giving up control, or you're not okay with it. As a haunter you really need to be aware of 3 primary groups of people.
1.) People who willingly cede control, they will likely remain docile and posses a 'flight' instinct.
2.) People who willingly cede control for the express purpose of fighting back. These people likely get tossed from most haunts quickly as they'll be very aggressive in their reactions. Pushing back at the slightest touch.. etc... They're looking for a fight, but they're unlikely to be truly dangerous.
3.) People who are adverse to ceding control. These people don't like 'haunts' probably don't go to them, and if they do it's likely they were coerced by someone else. These people can be very unpredictable, they may have a 'flight' instinct. But they might have that pure adrenaline 'fight' instinct. The one that makes them go from cowering in fear to beating people to death with their bare hands in a literal moment.
The truth is that third group of people, they probably aren't going to sign up for any kind of extreme haunt, and the vetting process especially the interviews will likely expose them.
Yup, and every once in a while you get a drunk jerk who wants to hurt people. But mostly people who go to haunts are looking for a scream and a laugh and a great story to tell.
Do you think it's possible that naiive people may sign up for this (which sounds like voluntary torture or BDSM), not understanding the health risks, and then come away with mental health scars? If so, how could this be prevented?
The only way to prevent real problems is by having a safe word. I don't know you, or what your limits are. Your limits might be very different than mine. The only way I can ensure that I don't push you so far passed your breaking point it results in real damage is by giving you a safe word so you can end the experience at any time.
I've always seen a connection between haunted houses and horror games as interactive ways to experience horror. Nowadays a lot of popular horror games really are just basically virtual haunted houses (PT, RE7, etc.)
Do you play horror games/video games in general? What are some of your favorites?
YES! Actually I just created & directed a VR project called FLATLINE EXPERIENCE where you go through someones actual near death experience. I had this idea for over 16 years, but wanted to wait for VR to be.... well the way it is today.
VR is so exciting because when it's done well it takes you out of your daily life, prevents you from looking at your phone and makes you be an active participant in an experience. That's the same thing I love about haunts!
One of my fav haunts this year is The 17th Door and they started their attraction with a VR experience that made me SCREAM out loud! I was freaking out because they strapped me into a metal chair and then when the VR began everything I saw touch me in the VR experience I would also feel in real life. Even some shocks here and there.
That was such a rush!!! I'm excited to do more VR especially with horror VR where people can face their worst fears in the safest way possible.
I'm currently in charge of doing the videography for a haunted maze in So. Cal. Based on your experience, what would you say is the most effective format for capturing footage and creating an enticing video? Which shots do you think work best and have the best effect?
Premiere Pro CC is my fav way to edit. What we all want in a haunt promo video is something that captures the feeling of the haunt. A mix of flow through and awesome SCARE REACTIONS!! I think we all love watching scare reactions when people scream and then laugh.
And focus on getting great music and adding sound effects. And you want to show soem of the haunt, but sometimes it's what we don't see, what we only hear that really scares us the most. Keep the mystery alive and sell it with the reactions.
Every see the reaction photos from Nightmares Fear Factory? Those pics sell that haunt better than anything else every could.
Good luck, I know how challenging it is to film in a haunt. Happy Halloween!
What does "full contact" mean? Like, are visitors allowed to fight back?
It means they're allowed to touch you, even in a rough way and you're not allowed to touch back or fight back.
That makes no sense. Is this just a masochist house then? Sounds like it has nothing to do with horror and everything to do with getting off on getting tortured. Plus from a legal standpoint, if you make someone fear for their life and don't respond to their calls for you to stop then they have every right to touch back and ultimately that could lead to something ubfortunate.
The set design looks incredible and he has robots and massive props some are original some cost $20,000 and are a real spectacle you usually don't see out of a theme park. I was there and it scared the hell outta me, but I know what you mean. The controversy is about the safe word. To me, any extreme haunt must have a safe word.
It started out as a home haunt just for Halloween, and then the week of Halloween, then the month of October, and every time it went on longer it got more extreme - so when it became year round it was transformed into this extreme terror experience it is today.
Did you see any visitors try to fight back?
I actually never saw anyone fight back at the Manor, but I did see people fight back at boo scare mazes. I was really surprised.
This is retarded. A one way street.. Don't get me wrong, this place sounds neat, but I would 100% be returning whatever contact was given to me.
And you wouldn't go to the Manor. Anyone who feels that way would never go.
I'm a casual haunt goer! I go to universal every year and get the scary farm pass every year. I typically go with a friend or two and mostly hang out to interact with the actors. What type of things did you learn or discuss with the representatives you met from Knott's scary farm?
I LOVE Universal and Knott's. I go every year too and this is my fav year for both Scary Farm and Universal. Knott's and Universal are mostly in my film for historical context. My focus is traditional haunts vs extreme haunts, how haunts got to be so popular, when extreme haunts began and how far is too far. But I filmed over 250 hours of footage so I have a TON of bonus features. In the bonus features you get to see some of Scare School at Knott's Scary Farm. I filmed when Brooke Walters was running Scare School and it;s really cool to watch her direct the Scare Actors and teach them how to become a monster. And you get the John Murdy story. John Murdy is the creative director for Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights and when he was a kid in the 1970's he made his first haunted house a Star Wars haunted house! We show the pics and everything. There are so many emotional moments from traditional haunters in the bonus features.
This year my Fav at Knotts was Infected Special Opps (the awesome Zombie laser tag game), The Dark Ride, Pumpkin Eater, The Lights Out version of Trick or Treat and the new opening to the Shadowlands which is a really cool Japanese inspired haunt. Universal I LOVED every maze, but I especially lost my mind during Ash vs Evil Dead, Saw, AHS, The Shinning, The Blumhouse triple feature maze (The Purge, Happy Death Day and Sinister) and the Titans of Terror with Freddy, Jason and Leatherface. This was such a great year for HAUNT!
Did you see anyone not get scared? I don't mean dudes trying to be tough but anyone who genuinely didn't really seem scared or freaked out by the whole thing.
Yes! That's my wife. Nothing in a haunt scares her, but i scream my head off.
I did film 1 guy who wasn't bothered by anything at McKamey Manor. It turned out he's into S&M and he had a wonderful time.
he's into S&M and he had a wonderful time.
Lol. How did that make the actors feel like knowing this afterwards?
Hahahah. They were very confused.
Im sure youve been asked this before but what scares you that is not IRL? The dark with my own imagination are mine.
That's a tough question because I LOVE to get scared. Whenever I'm not feeling well I put on A Nightmare On Elm St and it always cheers me up. My favorite kind of scare is something supernatural that feels real. That always gets the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. The idea of Freddy killing you in your dreams is still the greatest idea in horror to me because we ll have to sleep. BTW - Have you ever seen the documentary THE NIGHTMARE by Rodney Ascher? That is the scariest movie ever and it's REAL! It's people sharing their stories about their worst sleep paralysis nightmares. the movie even convinces you that now because you're watching this movie that you're gonna have sleep paralysis too! When I saw that at SXSW it kept me up all night. I've seen it 4 times since and each time it scares me. When you watch it turn the VOLUME up really loud and get ready to be freaked out.
Can this just go straight to Netflix? Nobody wants dvds.
Wish it was just that easy. But the bonus features are crazy awesome. I spent sooo many months working on them. It's on iTunes too. You don't have to have a physical copy. Hope I answered your question.
I recently went to Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride in PA and it was my first haunt experience, I enjoyed it, was sometimes scary sometimes funny mostly entertaining. Touching was allowed but it was very light. The way you describe Mckamey is like nothing else I could imagine. My question is: Are there others like it?
There is nothing like McKamey Manor. There are more extreme haunts that touch you like Blackout, Freakling Bros, and interactive theatrical extreme like Alone, The 17th Door etc... There's a very exciting world of haunts out there to explore and now the ones in Japan are even doing amazing work!
Would you kick a horse if it bit you?
Stupid question from a wuss: do you have any jump scares in your movie? I am fascinated by movies like yours primarily because I HATE horror movies and haunted houses and such, and am always interested in the people who DO find them fun, and are able to create them. After the AVGN's Halloween video this year though, I'd rather not be caught off guard by more screamers at the end of a video trying to be 'scary/funny.' I'd at least like to be prepared. Thanks!
What was the most fun you had making the movie?
No jump scares. Movies use jump scares as fun gags, but my film proves that real life is way more intense than a horror film. It's a roller coaster of emotions, you'll laugh a lot, but when it gets intense it builds to it.
Most fun was getting to hang out with people who sacrifice everything for what they create. That's why I called it "The Art Of The Scare" because anyone who knows what it's like to create art knows it's all about sacrifice. What are you willing to sacrifice to bring your art to life? Being around people like that is really inspiring and pushed me to sacrifice more for my film. You'll either love it or hate it, but you won't be able to doubt my passion and dedication and I feel the same way about the Haunters themselves.
It's out now! You can watch this right now. Go to our website and click the buy button and see a ton of ways to watch it today! And thank you so much!! Happy Halloween.
So from the YouTube videos and your description, it seems like McKamey Manor is more just a torture experience rather than a scary experience. If you don’t fear actors in masks, pain or eating disgusting things there isn’t really anything to be afraid of. It’s really just how much torture you want to endure. Obviously everyone has a limit to how much torture they could endure which is a different experience in my mind than being frightened. The only fear I would have would be contracting some sort of disease from some of their practices. Is this place subject to any health dept inspection or regulation? Also, they claim no one has made it thru to the end. Is this true?
No one makes it to the end, but one guy would've but they had to stop because their was a 10pm cut off from being in a sub division in San Diego. Nothing phased Rudy because he was into S&M. After seeing so many other people freak out, watching Rudy was like watching Superman. It was crazy.
No, there are no regulations on extreme home haunts. Mostly because the world is just discovering them. There are more regulations on lemonade stands.
I understand you're aiming to push your movie, so push it to me. I've seen plenty of Youtube videos of those places, why should I pay to watch you dissect things I can watch for free and any remotely intelligent person will figure out anyways? What exactly is in the movie that I should pay you to watch it instead of just hitting youtube.com, tab, "McKamey manor walkthrough"?
That's a great question! Thanks for asking.
I watched the McKamey Manor videos and I always wondered what was going on behind-the-scenes, who the real Russ is, how can it be scary with a spotlight on his camera and what is he doing as he films.
Some of the most fascinating moments are when I split screen and show you the look on his face while he films. What it looks like when he's talking to people in his McKamey Manor voice.
I didn't capture a caricature of Russ, I show him 100% as he really is. The videos Russ makes are movies, but they don't capture how it feels to be in there. Everyone who has gone through the Manor, who I filmed that watched the movie told me that the way it is in my movie is the panic attack feeling they felt while inside the Manor.
You also get to meet the people who work there and see the how the people who went through the Manor react when they see footage from their videos for the first time. It's also a trip to watch his actor auditions. What he describes what he wants them to do. Really fascinating.
You also get to know Russ and each of the Haunters in the film as the people they are and you get to watch as they sacrifice everything to create these experiences. Some of it will make you laugh out loud, other parts are emotional, shocking and even strangely inspiring. I'm so proud of this film. Watch with a big group of friends, crank up the volume and get ready to scream and debate.
Thanks again for asking.
Why do you think Russ Mckamey moved Mckamey Manor to Tennessee/Alabama?
A lot of reasons, but #1 he was forced to tear it down due to complaints. Not complaints about what he was doing, but about the un-permitted structures.
How does local law enforcement react to some of the more extreme places like McKamey Manor? Do they ever try to shut these places down? Or deal with complaints from "customers"?
Great question. Russ almost got shot once when the cops kicked the door down and came running inside to save the people screaming for help. When they meet Russ he puts them at ease, they leave and he goes back to it. I think most other people would've been shut down by now.
Do you think these haunted houses can withstand an increasingly safety conscious culture that seems to want to legislate away any risks a person may encounter? Are there any movements to get full contact or extreme haunts banned that have gained any traction to this point?
There's a lot of fear in the haunt industry that someone might die in an extreme haunt and that would end haunting across the board or create a ton of legislation. I disagree. How many people have died on roller coasters or at theme parks? How many times have we seen people stuck upside down on a broken roller coaster? Are theme parks getting shut down? No.
My hope is that extreme haunts spend more time and energy selecting and training their actors. Most do a great job of this and are 100% professional, but some need to do a better job. People need to be trained to do any kind of job, their are rules, regulations and systems created to insure safety and the same must be done in the haunt industry.
Again, most haunts do a great job of background checks and training their actors and that's why I love them so much. A safe way to get a great scare and have an amazing time.
So what are YOU scared of?
Everything that's been on the news lately has been really scary.
What is Russ like? He seems like an absolute wild man, but I like him. That's so cool you got all those legends on for your soundtrack!
Russ, like most people when you get to know them are really fascinating and can be really cool. I don't agree with everything he does and most everything that happens in the Manor was waaayyy too much for me, but anyone who's willing to go "all in" and risk everything to create something is fascinating to me.
People who now Russ or who went through the Manor were really surprised by the film because you get to really know him and hear his thought process on who works there and why. Some of has sparked even more debate
And YES!!! The soundtrack is amazing and it was a dream come true to work with so many talented composers. They give the movie a pulse and a soul that helps bring you behind-the-scenes and into the experiences in such a visceral and cinematic way. I'm so proud of every song in this film and every musician who worked so hard to bring my first feature film to life!
Shar was easily my favorite part of your movie, do you keep in contact with her still?
I love her too! One of the best parts of making this movie is that I met Shar and we're going to be friends for life! We just did a podcast together and you get so much more Shar and her passion for haunting and she shares more about herself that I didn't know about until after we finished the movie.
The podcast is called Women in Caskets and you're gonna love this: http://www.womenincaskets.com/posts/2017/10/25/episode-59-interviewing-the-haunters?rq=haunters
What’s been your favorite haunted house so far?
Too tough of a question because there's a haunt out there for every kind of mood or experience i have. This year my fav extreme / interactive adventure is The 17th Door if Fullerton CA! The Reign Of Terror has 100 rooms and is a massive old school haunt with all the latest techonology. CreepLA is doing a great job with their LORE interactive haunt and I need to check out it. This is a BIG year for Haunted Overload in NH! So many more though!
someone asked what mckamey feeds people and you said tofu or meat.
this may come off ridiculous (as i haven't read the wiki for the mckamey house), but do you think it could be dog meat? seems odd they'd ask for so much dog food...
Hahah... Nooo. They love dogs too much. No dog meat. They did donate the dog food to a Greyhound rescue group and they adopted so many sick dogs that they took care of. Some even had to be spoon fed because the had bad necks. There was a lot of love for dogs at the house. The people screaming in the backyard...that's another story.
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