Phobia House is a Michigan haunted house with a twist - or is that a twisted side? PHOBIA HOUSE.
A haunted house with a twist - Or is that a twisted side?
The theme for Phobia House 2015;
Will be released after September 24th 2015.
You never know what you might find lurking in our dark halls
So bring your running shoes and a friend
You won't want to walk the halls of Phobia House alone this year!!!!!
The Following Stories And Events Are True.
All Happened In Phobia House Over The Past Few Years.
Last year we had groups of people crawling on the floors trying to get away,
some of our victims didn't stop running until they were half way out into the
parking lot, and others had to sit and rest before they could go on.
If you made it outside you were not safe then either because some of our creatures
followed and chased the victims to their cars and even down the street
(Four blocks down the street in one case).
I didn't think it was possible to scare the $#!+ out of somebody, but we did it many
times, we also had over one hundred people admit to wetting themselves, and
we had to stop over 100 tours because some of the victims were to afraid to move.
On one night there was so much vomit on the parking lot,
you had to watch where you were walking.
We had one lady and one man who actually fainted from fright.
The real nail in the coffin came when the police showed up and escorted a man to the
Psyc. ward of the local hospital - he was foaming at the mouth. I'm not sure but I believe
that this may be a first for the Haunted House industry. If not, at least it was a first for us.
Granted there were a few who said they were not scared,
however, by the many e-mails that we received over the years,
we believe that we scared a large majority of our victims (Guests)!
If you made it through PHOBIA HOUSE 2001 through 2014
Than this year is a must! PHOBIA HOUSE 2015 will be much more intense.
Because this year is our 15th anniversary, we did a 90% new design.
The Theme For Phobia House 2015;
will be released after September 24th 2015.
A few days before opening fright (night) Fred Western and Antony Gerard (myself) were running lighting, sound, and special effects tests late at night. The fog was working great, the sound effects were fantastic, lighting was out of this world, and the special effects were equal to all of the above.
A siren was heard passing the building but nothing was thought about it because the night before there was an accident outside. No attention was paid to the second siren even though it was heard to stop near by. But when a third and fourth sirens were heard and all of them stopping near by we decided to investigate. Both of us have had some medical experience and we thought we could be of some help so we grabbed our coats and went outside.
As we exited the building we found ourselves surrounded by 30 to 40 police, emergency, and fire trucks. They had closed Kalamazoo and Michigan avenues and were in the process of hooking up hoses and getting out their axes when we exited the building. I walked over to the nearest fire fighter and asked what was up. He pointed to our building and said to me as if I were blind "The building's on fire!!!!!!!!!!" To which I said "You mean the haunted house". When I think back to the look he gave me that night it sends chills up my spine. If he wasn't so MAD I would have asked if he would like to work the haunt. He had the attitude for it. Thank goodness he was not the person in charge. He did point out the person that I had to tell next. It was the person standing in the middle of the street directing the emergency vehicles and shouting out commands. His response to what I had to say was much the same as the first mans. But when I told him that we had informed the fire chief of what we were going to do that night his anger towards me ended.
You see if there is one thing that I have learned in the past 30 years of being in business, it is that you always follow the chain of command. Tell the head honcho (in this case the fire chief) what you are going to do and he will pass it down the chain and make sure everybody that needs to know knows. I did what I was required to do but for some unknown reason the fire chief did not and the chain of command was broken. I was told later that if I had not told the fire chief what we were going to do that night. I would have had to pay for causing a false alarm and with all of the equipment and man hours that were involved the bill would have been in the thousands. So unless you have money to burn always follow the chain of command and let the authorities know before hand what you are going to do. Fred and I brought some of the emergence people inside for a tour through the haunt that night and invited them back when they were not on the job.
As the last truck left Fred and I looked back at the building with lights flashing like fire, screams and moans filling the darkness, and fog rolling out of every door, window, and crack in the building and we laughed. Then we had a cold beer! And yes this is a true story.
Two of our best scare team members are Tony Gerard the 2nd and Tom Kracker. One night they followed (chased) two screaming girls out of the haunt. The girls headed to the safety of their car where their father was waiting for them but they were out maneuvered by our two monsters. So the girls ran to the front of the building and recruited the help of the officer that we had on duty that night. He came out to investigate with both girls following close behind. He pointed out to them that there were no monsters on the parking lot. Stating that they must have gone back inside which was just what he was going to do because it was quite cold out that night. He left them standing there cold, alone, and scared. They slowly started to inch their way back to their fathers vehicle when one of the monsters appeared from behind a parked car. They ran to their car and this time managed to beat our monster there. Oh no the doors are locked, they knocked but got no response from their father. Our monster was now only a few feet away. They turned to face him trembling with their cold backs against the car. Then he spoke
"DON'T TURN AROUND!"
As if they were one they turned to discover the second monster in the back seat of the car. I was told the screams could be heard for blocks. This time the officer had to escort the girls to the car. As they got to their car each clinging to one of the officers legs they found their father not dead but nearly dying from laughter. You see the back seat idea was his.
One night I was told by one of our scare team members that the building was really haunted. He had seen a ghost. But he wasn't the only haunt member that had seen it. Nine others said that they saw something. Nobody could say for sure what they saw but there was something there. After closing the haunt that night everybody searched the building for the ghost but we came up empty handed.
The ghostly apparition continued to make its night appearances right up to closing night. Now our haunted house is not located at a permanent location. It is one that we have to tear down each year. And that is just what we were doing late one cold September evening. We were nearly done in fact we had only six walls left to take down when the ghost flew past me. Well OK it didn't really fly past me it ran by. The ghost as it turned out was a Black Cat that had taken up residence in the haunt. He must have been there from opening night on (six weeks). We tried to catch him but he disappeared as he appeared into the blackness of the night.
This story involves my son Tony Gerard the 2nd. But first a little back ground information. I have been involved in the Martial Arts (Karate and Kung Fu) since fourth grade. To me the Martial Arts is not something you do, it is what and who you are. Both of my sons have earned their black belts and treat the Martial Arts with the respect it deserves. If you go to our home page you can find a link to our karate page where there are many picture of my second son Nick who is on the U.S.A. National Karate Team. Many of our scare team members are also in the Martial Arts which helps in the event of trouble. Well one night Tony who is also a professional stuntman jumped down from the catwalk and landed right in front of one of our victims (guests). The man let out a Bruce Lee like karate yell (WAHH SAHH) and got into his karate fighting stance. Without batting an eye Tony did a reverse cresent kick right over his head. The next yell we heard from the victim was not a karate yell. It was like a cartoon. With a scream his hands went straight up in the air, he turned and ran
right into a wall.
He didn't know what way to go first and after running around in circles a few times he made his escape into the darkness of the haunt leaving Tony and the rest of the scare team laughing themselves silly.
Speaking of laughing, this story proves how important scare team training is. This was to be Becky's first night as a coffin screamer. She tested out great in her scream test and she, with a little make-up, looked the part. Her job was to lie in the coffin as if dead. She was instructed to play dead until the last person in the tour group had gone by. Then as the tour was about to leave the morgue she was to sit up and scream.
The last person was at her coffin, Becky sat up, and let out a blood curdling scream that chilled every victim to the bones. If it had ended there it would have been a great scare however as she was lying back down in the coffin Becky giggled. I mean she really giggled. The tee-hee tee-hee type of giggle! Well, needless to say it killed the scare. So much so that the last person in the tour bent over and whispered to Becky "You better work on that". She did, and her scares as the night went on became much better. The memory of that first scare though will out live all of the others.
To this day every time we see Becky we say BOO and follow the Boo with a tee-hee tee-hee.
If you run a haunted house here is an idea that you may want to use. You will need a ceiling high enough to allow you to have catwalks above the victims heads. Here is what we did.
In a dimly lit corridor one of our knife wielding monsters (The Catwalk Slasher) made his appearance above the victims. He did so in the middle of the group thus breaking up the group at about mid point. He held the end of the group back by slashing at them with his knives. On this particular night the person at the front of the held back group was a young High School student that was going through with her father. Her father however was at the back of the group that had gone by already and had rounded the corner and was out of sight. At this point something drew the catwalk slashers attention away from the group for a moment. This allowed the back of the group to run by and catch up with the rest. As they run under him he growled and again slashes at them with his knives but it was to late. The group was out of his reach. The young girl not wanting to be separated from her father again clung to his shoulder and walked right behind him where she would be safe. It was a good idea on her part but a little late. After a few steps her father stoped dead in his tracks. She cautiously looked past him to see what caused him to stop so abruptly but saw nothing to justify his actions. At that time her father looked back at her and she at him. But it was not her father it was The Catwalk Slasher. She ran past screaming Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and the rest of the tour followed her screaming all the way.
What we did was; when the front and back of the group were separated a second monster dressed as The Catwalk Slasher stepped out from a hidden box and started following the front part of the group. Then when the back group caught up with the front they thought that the monster was the last person from the front group. The Catwalk Slasher would stop and allow the front part of the group the go on. He then would turn and the
On a few occasions our ghouls, demons, monsters, and beasts scared our victims so much the it caused mass hysteria which resulted in a stampede. Our tour guides tried in vain to slow down or stop the running mob but succeeded only in getting run over by the frightened group. I remember on one occasion asking Dan Mohill (one of our tour guides) what happened to his costume. It was torn, dirty, and had what looked to be footprints all over it. He told me that he was in front of the group when the Evil Clowns appeared behind the group. The tattered costume was the result. He then asked if we could put through smaller groups.
If you look at the Phobia House pictures you will see our giant radio controlled King Rat. He runs at about 25 miles per hour, is about four feet long, squeaks, and has glowing red eyes. I made the first King Rat for Paul Daniels who used it on his BBC television show.
We use him to chase our victims out in the parking lot and down the street. He is an expensive toy to have running around a haunted house ($795.00) but well worth it considering the reactions he gets. Right now he is in recovery. You see I just finished chasing a person (I mean victim) down the street and was bringing him back to the haunt when his batteries died. Now when the batteries die the King Rat doesn't stop right away. He keeps running for about 100 feet. The road was only 50 feet away. Yah you got it and so did the King Rat. Two cars and a truck swerved not to miss but to hit the giant rodent. It wasn't funny at the time but as they say "Time wounds all heals".
One of my favorite shocker movies of all time is Candyman. Watching it brought back memories of sitting late at night with the lights out and watching the first "Frankenstein" movie or years later watching "Alien". It was the type of movie that kept you on the edge of your seat. And the choice of Tony Todd as the Candyman was perfect.
I knew that I wanted a character that would remind people of Candyman in my haunted house but there were none available. Due to the fact that there was not a Candyman mask available on the market I sculpted one myself.
I wanted a large tall man for the part. My younger brother (Hans Intgroen) was perfect for the role. On one of the first nights of the haunt a rather large (AA) lady came through with her two sons. One under each arm and all three wanting to be somewhere else. They approached the mirror at the end of the hall which read "Call me if you dare!". The mother looked at the mirror and said "Candyman". In unison the two boys screamed
She looked at them and then back into the mirror and said "Candyman" a second time. Now more then a little panic stricken they pleaded
She said OK which relaxed the two boys a little but then she added "Candyman" for the third time. The boys screamed
again and pushed their heads deep under their moms arms and trembled waiting for the inevitable to happen. But nothing happened. The mother then said triumphantly "See nothing". Now one of the best parts of the Candyman character is the fact that there is usually a pause before he makes his appearance from the mirror (which is what we did). A four to six second pause. A pause just long enough to relax the victims. Then in a loud bellowing voice he makes his appearance and says
"WHO DARES CALL ME!"
What happened next I will remember for the rest of my life because the lady did not scream. No what she said I can not put in print. It was in the lines of
To which the two boys said
I don't know about you but I find that funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have stated in a couple of the other stories that members of our scream team will quite often chase screaming victims down the street. I remember on one such occasion seeing the screamer chasing the three victims two blocks away. I watched as the group rounded the corner and disappeared behind a house with the screamer close behind. About five seconds later our screamer was seen rounding the corner in full sprint heading back towards the haunt. I thought to myself "why is he in such a hurry to get back. It was then that a group of not three but eight to ten victims was seen rounding the same corner and in full sprint chasing the screamer.
I laughed as the screamer ran by me with his newly found fang club right behind him. I never did find out if they caught him or not.
Many of the animals at Phobia House are real. We do have the rubber ones also but its the real ones that chill the hearts and souls of our victims. The live animals include large Rats, Tarantulas, Millipedes, Pythons, and Scorpions. On the night in question one of the larger Tarantulas escaped from his cage. We didn't know of the escape until one of our victims asked a tour guide where the third Tarantula was. The tour guide looked into the cage to point him out but discovered the cage empty. She got on the walkie talkie and informed security of the problem and rushed the tour along. When security showed up in the Morgue to capture Erick the Tarantula he was nowhere to be found. All of the tour guides were told of the escape and were asked to look for him during their tours. It was about three hours later that we captured him. He was found because one of our victims complemented us on the realistic spider prop that was walking up the wall in the lab. The lab incidentally is on the opposite side of the haunt. How he made it from one side of the haunt to the other we don’t know for sure but the opinion of the scare team is "He hitch Hiked".
I don't know what it is about our evil clowns that so terrifies people with Coulrophobia (The Fear Of Clowns) but on nearly every tour we have victims running, crawling, and sitting on the floors trying to get away. On one such occasion a victims friend tried to get her friend up and moving by telling her "Don't worry its just Bozo". Our evil clown countered with "Bozo's got nothing on me Bit@#" as he stared at her with blood red eyes and bared fangs. She left her friend sitting there on the floor and disappeared into the darkness of the haunt followed by our evil clowns. The last thing that the left behind girl heard as they disappeared into the haunt was the clowns calling out to her friend You can run but you can't hide - hee hee - hee hee
This story comes from Jen one of our coffin screamers.
There was this couple that walked up to me in the coffin on one of the first nights because my face wasn't hidden. She looked at me and said to her husband "she's not real". Then he said "yes she is". They bickered back-n-forth about it, and finally he reached out to touch me. He placed one finger tip on my forehead as his girl friend said "that is so sick don't touch that". I fought the urge to sit up and say "didn't you read the no touching rule"? I knew that if I played it right and didn't move it would be a great scare. I kept my breathing as shallow as possible and waited. He was standing there with his finger on my forehead, when the second coffin crashed to the floor. This gave them a good start which caused them to lose interest in me. That is when I sat up and screamed on cue. The man screamed and jumped back so fast and far that he went right through a black curtain wall and into the next room where he landed right in the arms of Freddy. I think he learned his lesson about touching things in coffins.
If Erick the escape artist Tarantula didn't send a shiver down your spine, then maybe Rats on the loose will. I knew that rats were notorious escape artists. That's why we put heavy weights on top of the metal screen cages that the rats were housed in. I try to plan for the worst, that way I am not surprised as often. Well at least that's what I thought.
I had no idea that rats could and would eat through metal screens to make an escape, which is just what they did last year. It took eight of us two hours to corner all but one of the rats. We caught the last rat the next day. And yes the haunt was in full operation while the one rat was on the loose. I believe that the last rat was more frightened then the guests. He came back to the animal containment room on his own.
Tony, our head evil clown, had three scares to accomplish in the course of three minutes, one of which required that he not be in clown character. This meant that he could not be in clown make-up. He had to, instead, wear a custom painted clown mask. Tony painted the masks eyes to somewhat resemble a bat face. It was quite an eerie and realistic mask when finished. On one of the performance nights a real bat entered the haunt and made a straight line for Tony. It landed on Tony's mask (while Tony was wearing it) and flapped its wings for what must have seemed like and hour (actually ten to fifteen seconds). But if you have a bat flapping its wings while attached to your face for ten to fifteen seconds, it will seem a LOT longer also. The bat must have thought that it had made a new friend. Tony's response was "It's enough to drive you batty".
The creatures inhabiting Phobia House are haunters first, however, many are
also practical joker. What this amounts to is; At Phobia House nobody is safe. Not even the tour guides.
On one of the occasions that a tour guide was had, the tour guide was supposed to
leave the tour when the lights went out and run down a long hall and wait for the
tour to catch up to him. On this night our creatures closed the heavy fire door
that was positioned half way down the long hall.
You could hear the sound of the tour guides footsteps running down the hall
and then a loud thud, followed by an “OUCH”. Hey Sam next time keep your hands out in front of you.
On an other occasion, the tour guide was supposed to open a sliding door and escort
the victims (guests) through the “Blood Curtains” corridor and to the next room.
However, when the tour guide opened the sliding door, a skeletal creature leaped from
the darkness and attacked her. She let out one of the loudest screams that I have
ever heard - followed by a “Mother Fu@%er!!!!!!”. She slowly regained her
composure and went on with the tour. The reason that I know it was
“one of the loudest screams I have ever heard” is because
I was the skeletal creature. Watch that language Sara.
It is not uncommon for our victims (guests) to lose shoes while running through
Phobia House. We actually have a burn victim prop (named Pete) who we dress
up with many of the lost items which we find after a night of scares. Pete is our
official lost and found department.
On one of last years run nights two ladies were running for their lives when one
literally ran out of her shoes. In the darkness she called out to her friend
“I lost my shoes!”. To which her now long departed friend screamed back
“They are just FUC%@ shoes"
For the past three years we have had a live suspension troupe performing during
one of our run nights. If you do not know what live suspension is, it is when a
person has large hooks put through their skin and than they are suspended
(HUNG) from the hooks.
As a tour was passing the suspension room, one of the victims (guests) says
to his girl friend "That is so fake!" No sooner did the words come out of his mouth
that a trickle of blood ran down the performers back who was hanging from the
six large imbedded hooks. The would be critic promptly fainted.