DES MOINES, Iowa -- Haunted attractions are now part of a billion dollar industry, and a central Iowa man is hoping to build and cash in on the momentum by bringing the terror to the metro.
"There's nothing like the feeling of stalking someone down the corridor and then creeping up on them the last second and then just scaring the life out of them," said an actor who plays Dr. Jekyll at the Slaughter House. "But they pay for that, so that's what they want."
And there are many people willing to pay to be scared.
"In our world that is completely inundated with technology, I think that there's a huge separation between reality and the technological realm and virtual reality, if you will, and so an attraction gives you that experience to actually get immersed in something and actually experience something on a tangible level," said Ian Miller, co-owner and operator of The Slaughter House.
It's been Miller's life-long dream to create a high caliber haunted attraction. Miller calls the Slaughter House a nightmare come true.
"In our eyes, a good caliber haunted attraction includes a narrative that works as a storyline, so that you feel completely immersed in the environment from beginning to end and even aside from the experience of the attraction itself," said Miller. "And then, of course inside the attraction, we deem a rated attraction to be something that has Hollywood-style props and set decorations, something that really feels like you’re in actual environment and therefore can truly frighten you.”
And it's an art form.
"All areas of artistry are involved in the creation of a haunted attraction," said Miller. "It's one of the reasons why I'm so drawn to it, personally. I get all my fixes in the attraction, so everything from painting and set dec to acting and costuming to design and what not."
Actors improvise their performances in the attraction, so every guest has a unique experience.
"You got to have a special kind of talent to do it," said actor Karnie Biggs. "I mean, there has to be a deep, dark, part that's inside you that can, contains all this stuff to push it out and you've got to give it your all. I mean, you can't slow down, you can't stop, you gotta work at it just instantly."