Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2009 (4259 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There's a simple explanation for why I spent several hours Friday night leaping out of the bushes on a spooky farm outside the city, terrifying small children and their parents by shrieking like an escaped lunatic and chasing them around in the rain with a chainsaw.
I forgot to take my prescription medication.
No, seriously, I did it for charity. I agreed to be a "guest monster" at the Haunted House on the Double Spurs Ranch near Dugald. The terrifying concept here was that we'd scare the pants off innocent visitors and collect food donations for Winnipeg Harvest at the same time.
The Haunted House is a product of the slightly demented minds of Sylvia Schnieder and her husband, Brian Twerdun, who moved here about four months ago to open a branch of their company, Unique Events.
Armed with seven semi-trailers loaded with Hollywood-style props, they've set up their ghoulish exhibit in a 3,200-square-foot-barn on a 75-acre site they bought after selling an apartment in downtown Vancouver.
This is not your run-of-the-mill, cheesy haunted house. It's hard to describe, using mere words, how creepy it is, but I will try: It's very, very creepy!
It's a walking tour of terror packed with spine-chilling displays featuring pirates, a medieval torture chamber, a gory butcher shop, Linda Blair's bedroom suite from The Exorcist, a western ghost town, a graveyard, creepy clowns, headless zombies, dismembered corpses -- all the stuff we loved as kids.
"I do my best to make people cry," Sylvia chuckled. "I spend three hours each night getting made up as Spooky the Skeleton Bride. It's all about Winnipeg Harvest. We're hoping to collect a ton of food."
Joining me in the Haunted House Friday night were my good friends Beau, Tom and Frazier, the normally not-so-scary morning crew from 99.9 BOB FM.
Beau was a "skeleton zombie," while Tom was some kind of reject from Lord of the Rings. Their job was to hide in the shadows and sneak up on hapless visitors. Frazier planned to be a "sexy bee," but ended up camouflaged as a pile of leaves so she could blend in with a leaf-covered wall, then pop out at random, causing entire families to lose control of their bodily functions.
"I saw a grown man come out of his skin," Frazier giggled later. "It was fun!"
"Scaring people is addictive," Beau noted. "You can't wait for the next one to come along."
And that's where I came in. I was the Chainsaw Guy. Which means, because it was a cold, rainy night, I was stuck outside in a tree-lined mock cemetery near the exit. I'd loiter in the shrubbery, wait for happy couples, friendly families and indifferent teens to saunter by, their guard down, relieved to be heading home, when -- "AAARRRGGGHHH!!! -- I'd roar out of the shadows.
I was dressed as Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, complete with latex mask, grisly "apron of souls," arm and leg shackles, and, of course, a chainsaw, from which the chain had been removed to avoid costly lawsuits.
I don't want to brag, but I was really scary. Which happens to be the point. People LOVE being scared! All night, I heard shrieks of terror turn to squeals of delight inside the Haunted House. About 400 or 500 people came through. The lineup stretched waaaay out the door.
But if there's one thing better than being scared, it's scaring other people.
When I burst out of the "graveyard," the typical victim shrieked like a little girl, jumped cartoon-style into the air, then skittered along, feet never touching the ground, until they got back to their car. Here are some unbiased reviews from people I terrified:
"Oooooh, that was brilliant! That was probably the most scariest!" -- Nicholas Dujlovic, 12.
"I really got scared when you jumped out. I thought that was really creepy!" -- Kolton Fifi, 12.
"You scared the bejeezus out of me! It was a 10 out of 10 for sure!" -- Sharon Adamson, mother of Janelle, 13.
"I was afraid mom wouldn't be able to drive home." -- Janelle, 13.
But the best part of all? That was the moment when I caused my wife and her sister to flee like frightened woodland creatures.
"You were so scared," I told my wife later.
"Not really," she sniffed, "I was just surprised because I didn't think you knew how to operate a power tool."
The Haunted House is located at 29145 Prairie Grove Rd. near Dugald. It will be open on Oct. 29, 30 & 31 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.
"ö If you have young children, it's less scary during the first hour when the lights are on and the displays are static.
"ö Bring a non-perishable food item for Winnipeg Harvest and you'll get $2 off the $12 admission.
You'll find more information and a map online at www.ds-ranch.net
Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.
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