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TLO Haunted House Review: Terror on 10th

Oklahoma City Haunted House

My father used to play a fun game with me wherein he would hide behind a door and wait for me to come home from school. As soon as I walked over that threshold, out he would pop, leather belt in hand, and begin beating me until I could barely walk.

I guess you could say that’s the main reason why I’ve always avoided going to funhouses. The whole idea of things jumping out from the shadows to scare you—the meat and potatoes of what these places are built on—was just something that I couldn’t get into.

But, like many a survivor in a horror film who’s been through a traumatic experience, I stupidly felt that it was time to confront my fears of being afraid, once and for all; I could no longer allow those things that keep me from entering dark rooms or sleeping without a nightlight continue to rule my life. It’s been a demon that I’ve needed to slay for far too long and what better way than pay some professionals to do the job Native American Mental Health Services couldn’t.

Perhaps the most popular spook-houses in Oklahoma City are the ones of the more EXXXTREME!!! variety that are proud to offer five scream-filled levels of bloodcurdling horror in a vacant Bricktown building where a waiver must be signed and a ticket price of $30 ($1 off with a Pepsi can!) kick off the horrific proceedings.

At first I thought that maybe one of those high-profile, top-dollar downtown haunts is where I should start, but, as I learned the hard way, the scariest thing about those downtown places isn’t what’s inside—it’s the drunken rednecks, sweating in their wife-beaters and growing increasingly agitated as the ever-lengthening Saturday night line doesn’t seem to budge for hours on the outside, looking to pick fights with anyone and everyone. After about 20 minutes of some guys behind me doing just that, I left the scene, totally prepared to scrap this whole piece.

And besides, I reckoned on the drive home, let’s be honest: how scary can a corporate, multi-million dollar indoor premier haunted attraction that features all of the latest EFX from Hollywood be anyway? I watched as people came out the exit, laughing and cavorting like it was nothing. There was no mystery, no fear and, worst of all, no reason to bother. A bunch of underpaid teens and fog machines, inebriated sweathogs and three bills to top it off? No thanks. I’ll just live with my fear another year.

That is until…

haunted house oklahoma city

I don’t know how or where I heard of Terror on 10th Street, but before I went to bed that night I decided to check out their Facebook page and it seemed…different. Less manufactured. More off the grid. And with showings every night for the next couple of weeks, coupled with a ticket price of $8, it seemed like something that I could work into my time, budget and wholly shattered psychological profile.

My friend Eric (host of the local horror-film podcast Deus Ex Media) and I made the short drive to the Ten-Penn area Monday evening. It wasn’t hard to find, with its glowing sign that read “HAUNTED HOUSE” that took on a very ominous glare as the sun set in the distance where the AMC Flea Market once stood. Parking behind the house—and it was a house—there were all types of junk hanging from the trees and scattered about the ground to dodge.

Now there was nothing clean or pristine about this set-up. Unlike those other guys that have Hollywood-style sets and the like, this whole attraction was composed, literally, of trash. Garbage. Salvage. Refuse. Broken children’s toys fused together with outdated yard decorations, weather-beaten signage stapled to kindergarten class novelties, splitting latex masks nailed to trees…it wasn’t professional at all. It was creepy. It was off-putting. It felt like the type of house your friends would dare you go and ring the doorbell at 1 a.m. and then run away. Everything loomed in the shadows without rhyme or reason, as if you accidentally stepped into a Rob Zombie movie where you weren’t sure if this was a spook house or a front for an actual Satanic slaughterhouse.

okc haunted house

The chill in the wind didn’t calm my nerves as the hostess at the door, an older woman who you were never sure was playing a character or was truly an eccentric who meant it when she cradled her two-headed devil-baby, read us off the rules and regulations. Paying our $8 each, the only other people in line were a pair of Vietnamese exchange students who spoke nary a word of English but were holding each other tightly, totally out of nervous fear.

The wait outside the door was short but nerve-wracking. Every so often someone would poke their head out and scream at you. We saw a small child come running out the back exit hollering and crying, banging on his parents’ car door, begging to go home.

Hell. I could feel the bile in the back of my throat turn sour as the door opened and we were led inside to the living room, the only light a flickering black and white television. The Old Lady, as she called herself, face caked in blotchy white make-up, told us a corn-pone story of terror featuring Hee-Haw jokes about ghosts and the like, managing to throw in plugs for Fisk Brothers Termite and Pest Control and an upcoming Mid-South Wrestling event featuring Vader.

And that should have made things less scary, it should have taken us out of the picture, but she was so close to our faces when she talked, so overly-dramatic and so A.D.D. that it took on a time out of place feel that caused all of us to nervously giggle and let our guard down, which was a mistake, because on the couch sat a still, lifeless mannequin in a gorilla suit that…when things got quiet…jumped up and lunged towards us.

I let loose a guttural croak of total fear. I tried to swallow spit as we were ushered into room after room where one ramshackle scene of murder and monsters, death and demons lurked in the darkness, jumping out of closets, hidden doors, barely-lit corners and everywhere in-between. Tears started to well in the corners of my eyes as I realized I couldn’t hug the wall and I couldn’t maneuver peripherally…the panic set in as I started to shake with tension, just waiting for the next attack.

The Vietnamese couple were not doing so hot, both of them hiding behind me, using me as a human shield in case things go south of Heaven fast. My companion wasn’t faring much better either, fading in and out of hyperventilation and nervous giggles with each new descent into this fear-riddled abyss.

A grotesque bathroom scene that could’ve been straight out of Frank Zito’s wet dreams…a dining room set-up that proudly with a demon-infested coffin on display…it was hard to know where I was going and what  I was doing, disorientation settling in for the long haul…but then…peace.

We were led to an unlit utility room where the only illumination came from The Old Lady’s make-up. She spoke in a hushed tone.

“All of this is avoidable…if you give your life to Jesus Christ.”

We, as a group, nodded fearfully. She, as the leader, got louder.

“I don’t want this to happen to any of you! DO YOU ACCEPT CHRIST! DO YOU!?!?”

Scared out of my mind, I admitted “YES! YES! I DO!”

“Are you sure?” she cooed.

“Yes, I promise! I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior!” I cried to the Heavens above.

Happy with that response, we were led to one final room. Loud swirling sounds and a strobe knocked off any remaining equilibrium we had, causing a massive group disorientation that utterly impacted the final scare as a hideous demon appeared on a bed in the middle of the room, leaping out from the sheer curtains that hung from each of the posters, smiling and taunting us, whispering maleficent prayers behind the mask.

It was too much. We all started to move as fast as we could to the exit, falling to our knees and thanking our newfound Lord that we got out of there alive, jumping out the back door, running past the chainsaw wielding maniac waiting behind us. We were so relieved that this wasn’t just some weirdoes in the middle of nowhere looking for people to bump off and feed to a caged beast underneath the house. That it wasn’t a family of mental deficients that would bind us to a chair and slowly slice off various body parts while reciting nursery rhymes in a perverse child’s intonation. That is was the most fun Halloween event we’ve been to since childhood when fear was real and monsters were reality.

The Terror on 10th Street Haunted House lived up to its name and helped me get over certain childhood fears in ways I couldn’t be more grateful for. Now I can walk into the darkest room and comfortably stride about knowing there’s not some form of abuse waiting for me in the shadows, be it physical, demonic or, most likely, both.

Maybe next year I’ll be ready for a haunted corn maze. Can’t rush it though. Progress, not perfection.

Terror on 10th Street is located at 2005 NW 10th and is open everyday at 7 p.m. until November 2. They re-open on November 15th for a special Thanksgiving haunt that features total turkey slaughter.

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