Wednesday, October 5, 2011
In Defense of Freakling Bros.
I've worked in the haunted attraction business. I've worked for Duke Mollner and Freakling Bros. in Las Vegas. The above story really gets me angry.
Haunted houses are intense. Freakling Bros. and other attractions have to compete with movies and video games for attention. So the creators crank it up, make it as scary as possible.
When the house tells you that if you have a heart condition or epilepsy, you may not want to go through, it isn't a publicity stunt. When they make you sign a waiver (as Freakling Bros now does for its "Gates of Hell" attraction) telling you that you are going to be sworn at and possibly lightly touched on the shoulder or knees, it's not for publicity. It's because the guys running the show have to protect themselves from bullcrap like people trying to shut them down because their 17-year-old daughter got called a bad name.
In the above news story, the parents of one girl claim she was licked. Here's the thing: if you are in that haunted house and are more scared than you have ever been, your mind is going to make the experience even worse than it actually is. If an actor licked his or her finger and ran it across your shoulders, you're going to think you've been licked. (Yeah, that's kind of gross and probably a bit beyond what was intended. I'm not saying that's what happened. I'm taking a guess based on my experience as a haunted house performer.)
I've been in those houses, as a patron and and actor. As a patron, Freakling Bros. put me on my ass. They are scary. As a performer, I said some mean, vile, cruel, and intense things to strangers. In character, I more than once threatened to beat people with a shovel. I never touched anyone. Yes, I spoke very closely to some people to scare them as much as I could. That was my job and that was what they paid for.
Just like any business, if you want it shut down, don't go. I remember the groups of protestors outside the attraction, yelling through bullhorns that we were all going to Hell. You know what that did? It brought more people out. So will this. There will even be weirdos show up who want to be touched, some who might even want to be licked. But guess what? That ain't going to happen. There are rules. I happen to know that if you break Duke's rules while on the job, he finds someone else for your part.
So, if you don't want to be scared, don't go to the haunted house. If you don't agree with what's in the warnings or the waiver, don't go. And if you sign the line and go inside and don't like what happens, well, it's your own damn fault.