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story.lead_photo.caption Keith Bryant/The Weekly Vista Jason Nelson, left, foreground, and Steven Burkett monitor the Nightmares Haunted House through an array of cameras and set off traps and scares remotely. "Is it right to be having this much fun in here at their expense?" asked Burkett, watching guests grow increasingly nervous.

The Nightmares Haunted House is up and running, with a machine gun-equipped bus tearing through to bring guests to a series of dimly-if-at-all-lit, surprise-lined corridors.

The haunted house, located on Frontage Road, is open from 7 to 11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in October, as well as Thursday Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 28 and, of course, Wednesday, Oct. 31 for Halloween. Tickets are $20, with an option for a VIP ticket that includes a T-shirt and allows people to skip the line at $35.

Gary Carter, first vice president of the Lions Club, said that the club helps organize the event -- which is staffed by roughly 125 volunteers -- and raises funds for 25-30 charity organizations, which are donated throughout the year. He hopes the haunted house can earn at least $200,000 to give to the community, he said.

"We try to give it all away," he said.

Lions Club president Jeff Newton said the haunted house is functional because of excellent technology and volunteers alike.

Volunteers in the control room can monitor guests via 64 night vision equipped cameras, which cover nearly every inch of the house -- including the dark tunnel and enchanted forest.

Many of the scares are computerized, with one particular brain-rattling piece of equipment running on three different computers, he said. Others are a bit more low-tech, with motion sensors setting off lights to give actors their cues.

Workers in the control room use radios to keep in touch with actors and use switches and buttons to control various aspects of the house -- setting off scares at just the right moment or opening and closing doors to control the flow of guests and keep them spread out and in small groups.

Muffled banging and screaming can be heard in the control room, which sits near the center of the facility, a family can be seen on-camera holding on to each others' arms to form a human chain and better navigate a dark room.

Newton said the footage can also be used to judge the show and revise it, to see what's working and where the performers can improve.

Between the actors, props, makeup and technology, Newton said, there's a lot of work that makes this show possible. It's fun, he said, but it's still a challenge.

"This is really, really hard," he said.

Among those volunteering were Kimi Henley and Belly Deatherage, who both handle makeup and costumes and both had a similar start with the haunted house -- they started volunteering when each of them had a daughter volunteer for the event, then kept doing it well after their kid finished high school.

"It's actually fun," Henley said.

They make most of their props and makeup in house, including prosthetic face-pieces and masks, which are often made with latex in a hand-cut mold, which is then painted and fine tuned before it goes on a person.

It makes for a great creative outlet, she said, and there are limitless designs someone could come up with.

She also works with student volunteers, who function as interns of a sort and learn how to make costumes and their components.

As she explained the ins and outs of costume design, Grace Guy, 15, walked in to have some adjustments made to her crazy cat lady costume.

Guy said this is her second year volunteering and she's had a lot of fun working in the house. She's played the same character, she said, and outside of working the event she likes to come through when she's off and see the other side of the haunted house.

Her character appears to be dead, she said, only to begin crying for help as guests get close.

"It's a lot of fun scaring people so much," she said. "I love it."

General News on 10/10/2018

Print Headline: Nightmares Haunted House returns

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