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Confessions of a Haunter
By Christine Stoddard
Editor's Note: This essay was written in November 2010 and was originally posted on Virginia Living Magazine's blog.
Photo courtesy of Blood Lake Haunted House
A Washington suburbanite all my life, I had never even heard of the suburb Glen Allen until I transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. But art students tend to make strange friends and, similarly, life choices. So, before I knew it, I was working for a Glen Allen production company famous for its haunted houses, ghost tours, and theatrical interpretations of Edgar Allan Poe's works. I began by acting in a couple of Poe plays and performing as Moaning Myrtle in their Harry Potter themed haunt for children. Scary? Meh, creepy at best. I mean, I was just a weepy, cowering girl with a plaid skirt. No psychological thriller there.
In truth, Quick Pulse Productions, LLC had—and has—far more frightening attractions: particularly their opus, Blood Lake. In October 2009, I upgraded to the realm of “screamdom” and, occasionally, “make-'em-pee-on-the-floor-dom.” I transformed from an actress with a penchant for morbidity to a full-fledged haunter.
If you're thinking that Blood Lake is another one of those places where 'actors' don big, black robes and run around yelling “BOO!”, you're wrong. Blood Lake's haunters are trained professionals. Many of them are even theatre folks. They understand the importance of establishing a presence. Better yet, they know how to bring grown men to tears. We have medical staff on site in case anyone becomes short of breath or has a heart attack.
Yeah, we're spooky, sometimes even horrifying.
“Okay,” you say, “How?”
Well, heaven forbid I divulge the secrets and magic of the haunt. You truly have to experience all the hair-raising fun firsthand. I can, however, disclose a few tantalizing details.
We normally have three distinct haunts, each with a different theme, set of characters, and cohesive story. This past year, for instance, we had a Victorian orphanage, a Victorian vampire's lair, and a 1970s summer camp. These are not the same ones we had in 2009, so you can only guess what's in store for 2011. All of them are atmospheric, but not overwrought in terms of their set design and decoration. It is people, not plastic ghouls and goblins, who will scare you first and foremost.
I will also proudly relay some of the biggest accomplishments from this past Halloween season. One of my roles this year was that of a nun. Believe me when I say I scared a handful of customers into dropping to their knees. Thanks to Blood Lake, I can now add “delivering demon spawn” to my resume, too. As governess of the orphanage, I had one customer wet her pants. Time after time, regardless of my role, I encountered customers who were too nervous to look me in the face or answer my questions (Blood Lake encourages audience participation). Many shrieked and wailed, and some cried. In a couple of instances, certain customers refused to enter my room until one of their friends or family members forced them to do so.
The best part? My role was definitely not the scariest one in the haunt. You can imagine how customers reacted to other characters at the attraction. Blood Lake's actors may not touch you, but, trust me, there's no need for them to put a pinky on you. Their voices and non-touching actions prove blood-curdling enough.
It may be too late for you to visit Blood Lake this year, but you can start dreaming about how traumatized you'll be next October. Let the nightmares begin! Your cries of terror make us haunters feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
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