The architects of Halloween have begun their tasks leading up to the holiday. There are many aspects to the traditional celebrations of the night, but none have such a monopoly as the infamous haunted house. It is a favorite event of many, and there is a lot that goes into it.
Margee Kerr, a sociology professor at the University of Pittsburgh as well as an employee at ScareHouse, a renowned haunted house in Pittsburgh, makes it her job to know what scares people and to weave narratives that will give the traditional experience while reiterating it for a new generation. She told Mental Floss that there is a level of tradition that will always run throughout any haunted house. These traditions run deep and involve a science of scaring that predates and touches on aspects of psychology that have only recently been completely realized, Kerr spoke of this saying “There are a lot of old-school hack tricks that haunters discovered and now science is confirming.”
It is a primal and visceral experience that may be difficult to communicate, but everyone has a deeply rooted point of context when speaking of the dread and fear that a haunted house plugs into and utilizes. Call it what you may, the unknown, the dark, or even the feeling of being preyed on by an unknown predator, but humanity has a collection of fairly universal fears, and these are the ones typically put center stage in these events.
Kerr touched on how the figures in the houses may change and progress with the overarching fear trends in culture, such as the recent interest in zombies, or perhaps it is demons, but though these primary figures may change there will always be that underlying primal fear that they are plugging into.
In Portales there are a number of annual haunted houses that are put on, with one for just about any age range. Stephen Yung, a member of the Eastern New Mexico University chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, spoke about the preparations that have gone into the fraternity’s annual haunted house.
The group chooses a theme and then begins planning all of the different rooms that serve as compartmentalized experiences based on the overarching theme, with this year’s being an insane asylum.
The preparations have been made and the haunted house will open Saturday, October 29, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and will run throughout the weekend closing at 12 a.m. on Halloween.
Haunted houses are a major part of the holiday, and can be a lot of fun. There are many local options if you are looking for a fright this Halloween, and they promise to be good ones.