Are haunted houses too much?

Lucy Lopez, Culture Editor

Would you sign a waiver to live through your own horror movie? I’ll preface this by saying I’m the friend who will end up bawling in a haunted house. In fact, I haven’t set foot in one since sophomore year of high school when I chickened out of half of it. I’ve never been in a chainsaw-induced chase, nor do I plan to be.

But despite my nightmares where my friends somehow disappear and I’m left to fend for myself, every year I can’t help myself from watching shows like Travel Channel’s top ten scariest haunted houses. I keep wondering why people who adopt abandoned buildings don’t capitalize on their creepiness and sponsor ghost tours or a harmless haunt.

Recently it’s as though people are into that crazy “Saw” movie-like haunts. You know, the kind where you have to sign a waiver because they’re allowed to touch you, tie you up and basically throw you around all they want because it’s “scary” … no thanks.  Horror movies are not the same as they were when they started. The classic slasher-films such as “Friday the 13th,” “Nightmare on Elmstreet,” and “Halloween” can’t be replaced. Switch to a more disturbing idea, the idea that you’re in a game like in the movie “Saw” and tortured half to death and may or may not live through it should not be the premise for a haunted house.

I came across a promo video of McKamey Manor.  This is known to be one of the most extreme haunts in the country. Located in San Diego, California, those brave, or crazy enough to go must be 21 years old and sign a waiver. This year-round haunt gives you a chance to live through your own horror movie. Tours can last anywhere between four to eight hours. McKamey Manor has an expansive waiting list of thousands.

Recently, a reporter for KPBS, San Diego News, gave their account of the experience and stated that the waiver said, “Welcome to McKamey Manor. I have been selected from a list of thousands to participate in my own personalized horror movie. Once I accept this challenge there is no turning back, no quitting, I will not be removed under any circumstances. I accept this challenge freely and without being under any type of distress.”

It’s said that people crack from the mental and physical distress of the tour. No one really knows what goes on in there and people who come out don’t really have words to describe it. Similar extreme haunts like Blackout in New York have experienced lawsuits and have come out victorious. They must have the best lawyers in the country. I wonder how extensive these waivers are that people need to sign. Currently, McKamey remains in the clear of any lawsuits.

An article on The Daily Beast describes Blackout, saying, “it’s haunted house season, and they don’t come much darker than Blackout, where the frights come with nudity, intimidation, and very few boundaries.” Unlike McKamey, Blackout offers participants a safe word they can use to get out if it becomes too much. Yelp reviews say Blackout’s haunt is much less intense than in years passed, and while before you had to walk through alone, you’re now allowed to go in groups.

What is curious to me is how these extreme haunts are up and running with thousands on their waitlists. McKamey only requires a donation of dog food for charity while people have to pay actual money to experience Blackout. Could going through something like this cause permanent psychological damage? Through looking for answers, I have concluded that haunts like this are mentally and physically draining. McKamey Manor at least has a screening process before allowing someone in. Still, I am left with so many questions on the after-effect of these barely-legal houses. I don’t understand how they are considered fun.

You could not pay me enough money to go through one of these. I’d honestly turn down a million dollars, and a date with Liam Hemsworth.