Behind the scenes of the Auburn Haunted House
Scrambling through the dark with ghouls and goblins frightening you at every turn. Haunted houses are meant to be terrifying. They’re meant to get your blood pumping, your senses heightened and your heart racing. At least that’s what Sarah Kidder hopes happens to patrons of the Auburn Haunted House.
“We don’t back down,” Kidder explained. “You pay us to scare you, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
And apparently people like that. The haunt sells out almost every night.
Kidder, who has been scaring for the haunt 11 years, said there are typically three types of monsters featured at the house. Actors can be a creeper, aggressor or victim and they are allowed artistic license when creating creatures.
“I’m considered more of a creeper but I’ve been becoming a little more of an aggressor,” Kidder said.
While those are the main players once the haunt’s door slams shut behind you, there are several other people who put in a lot of hours to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
For members of the Auburn Haunted House, planning for the next year’s haunt begins as soon as the clean up of this year’s house is finished – playing off of its first haunt 13 years ago.
“We made $60 our first year,” co-founder Tammy Pritchett said. “We were literally out in the street, begging people to come in.”
Kidder attended the Auburn Haunted House its opening year.
“They were using garbage bags,” Kidder said of the house’s decorations. Since then, the decorations, make-up and props have gotten better. The group, which Kidder and Pritchett both describe as one big family of “weirdos and freaks,” attends Halloween, haunted house and special effects conventions across the United States looking for new ideas and techniques to expand the haunt’s scare factor.
“We also try to do a lot of actor training. We do events and put people in situations where they have to stay in character,” Pritchett said.
It was one such event that made Pritchett take on a new actor three years ago.
Tyler Berola is a 17 year old, Auburn native who is the exact opposite from someone you’d imagine wanting to work at a haunted house. He’s tall, has a mop of blond hair, and is all smiles.
Even Pritchett was worried about Berola when she first met him. However, as she’ll admit, the haunt needs people.
“We won’t just take anyone though,” Pritchett explained, so she gave Berola the task of creating a character and joining the Auburn Haunted House for their appearance in the State Fair parade that year. When Berola showed up dressed like a clown, she thought he wasn’t going to hack it.
“When he became all sober, I knew he was right for us,” Pritchett said. “He likes to be with freaks and weirdos for the rest of his life and we’ve got a deluge of weirdos.”
One of Berola’s favorite events, aside from the actual haunted house, is the group’s bowling outings. A couple times a year, the actors of the Auburn Haunted House get all dressed up, as zombies, and go bowling.
“My friends think I’m the strangest person,” Berola said.