Good people turn psycho-killers, innocents are made malevolent and great horror classics come to life at the Castle of Chaos in Midvale.
“Freddy Krueger, he’s my favorite. He did really good. There was also this lady, she bit my neck. I got gassed by the [Zombie Doctor] that was cool. I did the level four and that has been the best experience in a haunted house I have ever had,” said Dawson Peterson, an attendee.
From a ramp leading to the inside of Joyce Byers house from Stranger Things to the heat filled boiler rooms of Freddy Krueger’s layer in Nightmare on Thirteenth or the old and new It films, this haunt played with and mixed modern pop culture horror with ‘80s slasher films.
“I came here last Saturday with my family and we just had so much fun. The fact that, because I’m in a wheelchair, I was wondering if they were going to mess with me like everyone else and they did. That made me feel like I was included and that doesn’t happen very often,” said Malinda Bird, telling her experience with the fourth level of the haunted house. The entire haunted house is not only fully underground, it is also completely wheelchair accessible.
Castle of Chaos was one of the first haunted houses in Utah to provide a more hands-on level of fear. According to Dalton Brown, general manager, they have upped their game by adding even more sadistic and malicious endeavors with their level five tier. Partially due to many haunted houses now having hands on as a standard. According to many of the actors, and provided on the Castle of Chaos Facebook page, this house doesn’t just push, it picks up and shoves you into “safe” torture.
“We’ve always considered ourselves on the boundaries of haunting. We have been dabbling in a more extreme experience over the last couple of years and we final felt like we had the right levels and experience to give a more extreme experience (which is safe and fun for everybody),” said Brown. Though the level five experience has not been open to the public in the past, only to those close to the cast and workers, they have finally opened it up.
Only veteran actors are allowed to play in the top levels according to Michael Harmon, an acting coach. They go through rigorous training after one full-year of working to ensure safety and terror are balanced.
The change actors go through when preparing for their roles is also astounding. Makeup artists turn people like Steven “Papa” Harmon, Father of Michael and a seasoned veteran, into ghoulish cannibal hillbillies.
“I have been an actor [for a while], it was my son who got me interested in doing haunted house acting. While it uses some of the same talents, it’s [completely] different from acting on stage. I used to think the ultimate accolade for an actor was a standing ovation, the ultimate accolade is a 400 pound guy on the floor in the fetal position crying and begging you to leave him alone,” said Harmon. From friendly chatter and banter as they put on the makeup and cinema grade foam prosthetics to then shoving people in a closet or slamming them into walls, these changes show the fun they have while taking the roles seriously.