Ten Reasons to Visit Your Local Haunted House

Recently, I visited the local haunted house, Chambers of Fear, in Surprise, Arizona, and it was absolutely fantastic. I screamed my lungs out and experienced a great range of emotion, witnessed some spectacular costumes, and got to watch others express themselves freely in a way only available in such houses of fear, awe, and weirdness. I highly recommend haunted houses for every one of the ten reasons I’ve detailed below.

1. Setting the mood. Haunted houses are the perfect way to get into the mood for the Halloween season, the only time of the year save Mardi Gras when it’s okay to don a mask and cape. For all those who always wanted to be superheroes or villains, super heroines or villainesses, or gender neutral caped crusaders, this truly is the time of year for you, and it all begins with a haunted house.

2. Using your imagination. Only in a haunted house can you really get in touch with your inner horror flick character. Whether you imagine you are the blonde chick who screams, runs, and buys it in the first scene, the token black guy, the sexy hero or heroine, you really get a chance to channel the character and ham it up.

3. Finding dress-up fashion tips. The local haunted house is a great place to check out various forms of makeup artistry pre-Halloween when looking for ideas. Convention goers and cosplayers get a chance to enjoy something like a mini-convention. The festive atmosphere, costumes, and awesome performances are always worth a visit. As well, for the dedicated costume buff, this is your chance to get to see many of your friends in action, check out some amazing live art, and enjoy others’ creativity.

4. Observing human behavior. Some aspect of voyeurism is always involved in attending haunted houses because, even if you are afraid out of your mind, it’s funny and comforting to watch your friends and family, even complete strangers, freak out when they encounter demented child-ghosts or frolicking chainsaw massacre-ists.

5. Supporting local community, causes, and artists. Most local haunted houses, even volunteer-based ones, employ and/or support the local thespian community. Actors who might perform in local theater productions often moonlight as zombies or cackling witches at haunted houses.

6. Witnessing and participating in a production. Haunted houses draw the observer away from television mode, in which participating is not necessary, and into active motion. You physically walk through the haunted house and are approached, harassed, and even followed by all manner of frightening or funny creatures.

7. Getting in touch with your emotions. Haunted houses and their denizens will lead you through a colorful array of emotional responses–from that sickening ewww feeling when recoiling from a bloody zombie, to incredulity, nervousness, surprise, and even downright fear (yes, the clowns get me every time), the performers will dazzle you and play your emotions like an out-of-tune upright piano.

afraid8. Expressing fear. We live in a world in which we often leave our fears unexpressed. Any psychologist will tell you that fear festers and multiplies in the subconscious when it’s held inside us. Haunted houses provide a safe environment to express all that fear we keep bottled up. You can scream bloody murder, and it’s perfectly normal, even applauded.

9. Facing fear. As an exercise in facing your darkest demons, literally, you’ll never find a better place. Participants walk through disorienting mazes, weird rooms, and are subjected to random frights and things that usually only live in nightmares. The momentum created when facing fear allows a kind of release rarely possible in the real world.

10. Haunted houses allow you to pass over and through fear. Afterward, you really touch words memorialized by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We truly “have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Fear is a survival mechanism, a creation of what it is to be human, and those who design haunted houses probably have this fact in mind when they create their productions.

So, visit your local haunted house, and embrace the experience. Be afraid, and don’t be scared to let your screams rip—doing so will let the builders and performers know they’re doing their jobs. Chances are, you’ll learn something about yourself along the way as well.