Oklahoma City haunted house employees gear up for Halloween

Haunted house employees in Oklahoma City open up about the art of scaring, their attractions and why they enjoy the terror industry.
BY TIFFANY GIBSON tgibson@opubco.com Published: October 23, 2011

Darrell Duer gets paid to make people cry.

He owns and runs the Oklahoma City Ultimate Terrors Haunted attraction, which consists of three haunted houses that focus on the frightening story of the Skull family. It is at 7000 Crossroads Blvd. at Crossroads Mall.

“The crazy thing about it is, people will pay us to make them cry, and we do,” he said. “We have people cry, we have people wet themselves. Last weekend we put an OU linebacker on his backside because he was so scared.”

Running a haunted house

Duer, 39, said he's been in the amusement industry for 15 years and wanted to run his own haunted house for several years. He has been the owner of the Ultimate Terrors attraction for four years now, holding it in various locations across the city each October.

“Originally, it was a business investment, but now it has grown into a passion,” he said. “You really have to use your creative senses to figure out where you're going to get your scares at.”

Duer said he tends to stay away from movie characters and sets because they could have copyright issues. In the Skull Manor house, he focuses more on startling props, severed limbs and live crawling critters.

All three houses also tell a story, he said.

Because of some gory scenes and terrifying characters, Duer said the house allows children but is more for adults. He said he usually recommends children 11 and under stay at home.

“I'm usually found each night by the door asking people when they leave what they thought. This is all about entertainment,” he said. “We'll have you looking one way at a prop and have somebody scaring you from the other way.”

Bombarding the senses

The goal is usually to bombard a person's senses, Duer said. Those who dare to enter the house might have to use them all to escape.

Chaz Guice, 23, of Oklahoma City, said he tried out for the part of a zombie this year in the Skull Manor house because he enjoys scaring people. He said he has to be serious at his other job, but this is the one place he can work and have fun at the same time.

“It's a thrill. It's a rush,” he said. “I think this is going to be one great Halloween.”

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