News / USA

'Haunted Houses' Attract Big Crowds on Halloween

'Haunted Houses' Attract Big Crowds on Halloweeni
|| 0:00:00
X
Greg Flakus
October 08, 2012 7:41 PM
Halloween season has arrived in the United States This curious celebration of the macabre has origins in ancient pagan Europe, but it has become a 6.5-billion-dollar US industry, mostly from candy and costume sales. As part of Halloween, "haunted house" attractions are set up every year in major cities, including Houston, where VOA's Greg Flakus went behind the scenes to prepare this report.

'Haunted Houses' Attract Big Crowds on Halloween

Greg Flakus
Halloween season has arrived in the United States This curious celebration of the macabre has origins in ancient pagan Europe, but it has become a $6.5 billion U.S. industry, mostly from candy and costume sales. As part of Halloween, "haunted house"  attractions are set up every year in major cities, including Houston.

There is something in human psychology that makes people enjoy being scared.

During Halloween season for the past 26 years, thrill seekers in Houston have come to Screamworld and paid good money to be terrified.

Having things jump out at you in the dark does the trick.

Having a creepy setting also heightens the anticipation of what could come next.

Screamworld owner and operator Jim Fetterly designed every part of the attraction to frighten his customers.

"If you can catch a person off guard for a split second, you can get them (scare them) really good and people like that," Fetterly said.

Screamworld includes some mechanical devices, but Fetterly says humans can be much more frightening.

"You must have good actors. They are the ones who have the high-impact scares that the customers crave," Fetterly said.

For that, Screamworld employs dozens of people to play zombies, maniacs and monsters.

Most of the actors are either students or have other jobs during the day, so they have little time to get ready before the attraction opens.

Chris White, who works in IT by day, directs the make up team.

"We basically have about two hours to get 50 to 75 people made up," White said.

The transformation can be stunning. But the actors also employ skill and experience.

"If you ever took choir or singing, you are taught to use your diaphragm and not strain your vocal cords. (In character) You are already dead!," said one man dressed as a zombie.

"You have to put yourself in that mindset - my parents are dead, I probably killed them," said a girl with bloody face makeup.

Actor Tristan Baldwin says his wall-climbing zombie role has helped him land roles in horror movies.

"To develop a character every night actually helps me with my acting career, so I am building up something - 'Hey, I have been a zombie for five years,'" Baldwin said.

But the actors and owner Jim Fetterly have less than two months each year to cash in on Screamworld's seasonal appeal.

"I tell you it is crazy because you base your whole livelihood on what you can make in six weeks," Fetterly said.

But he and his cast are also in this business for the thrill of thrilling others.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid