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If you were to combine gore, violence, extreme horror, a dedicated cast and implement them all into a haunted attraction, the end result would be "The House of Shock" horror show. Based in Jefferson, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans, it is considered one of the most contraversial haunts today and has been rated as one of the top 10 haunted houses in the
country by MSN.Com. Using referrences to spirituality, sacrifices, violence and a number of other "extreme tactics" to scare their patrons, House of Shock is constantly pushing the envelope as a haunted attraction. It's a self-proclaimed "extreme haunted house" and has been at the center of contraversy by numerous church groups accusing the operators of conducting satanic rituals inside. Despite all the contraversy, the crew at The House of Shock have constantly pushed forward to create one of
the most successful haunts in the state that made cajun food and plastic beads famous.

Your experience begins with the que-line entertainment. The House of Shock features two stages, one where you are waiting to gain entry inside. On this stage, a theatrical show is held.

The basic plot to this performance has revolved around a group of religious protestors who oppose the event, who make their way on stage and make their voices heard, only to be silenced by one of the attraction's main characters, "Lord Belial" and his henchmen. The show features immense pyrotchnics including fire exploding from different points on the stage and even a 40 foot wide by 25 foot tall wall of flames, which rises up from the front of the stage. This show is put on 2-3
times a night and features effects by licensed pyrotechnician/co-owner Steven Joseph, who has done work for the likes of Pantera, Nickelback and Ozzfest to name a few.

The second stage, or side stage features various acts, depending on the night. These acts range from sideshow type entertainment, to groups that do drum acts mixed with fire, all the way to the more extreme acts such as body suspension. The House of Shock also has bands who will play on the side stage as well. Some of the performers featured include "Reverend B. Dangerous", who has been on Ozzfest and "Peter Pandamonium", who does alot of extreme acts locally.

In addition to the stage show and live acts, there are also large projection screens which feature gruesome underground horror movie clips for you to watch while you wait in line.

The actual haunt itself features 20,000 square feet with many "scare areas"; too many to list here. On any given night, "HOS" has between 100-120 volunteers acting inside but has a membership of over 350 dedicated members nationwide. Once you enter the haunt, you must walk through an old house, which is based on a real house which used to be in the area. Some of the atmospheres you will encounter throughout "The House Of Shock" include a New Orleans cemetery, a foggy swamp that holds more than just alligators, "The Church of Sadness", which is described as a church that has

been taken over by satanists who perform sacrifices and other unspeakable acts within it's walls, a coffin tunnel and a dungeon/dark hall. This year, they are adding a large mansion, which leads to a torture chamber then to a chainsaw maze. When I asked what the scariest part of The House of Shock was according to its patrons, I was told that the dark hall was actually the part where most people got scared, simply because it's so dark inside and they can't see what's there. Oddly enough, the scariest part in the haunt, the dark hall, is also the most tame in terms of acting because of the darkness.

Their dark ride is also unique, in the fact that it was completely built from scratch. It is housed inside a 7,500 square foot building. The cars feature dual speed and with no independent turning. "The cars can turn on a dime" adds co-owner Ross Karpelman. The ride is described as starting with classic gags from the dark rides of the past and moving into more "disney-esque" type scenes and gags. In 2002, weather conditions put a damper on the dark ride, wrecking some of the effects and scenes. Although their dark ride was well-received in it's first year, the crew at House of Shock felt it wasn't up to par, simply because they didn't have as much time as they had wanted to decorate the attraction. "But this year it will be back and better than ever!" explains Ross. The basic theme for 2003 will be "An Entrance Into Death", which is described as a journey into the afterlife.

2003 marks the 11th season for the House of Shock, it also marks the second season for their Coney Island-style dark ride, which was added in 2002. However, This year will be the 9th year as a commercial haunt. Originally it started as just a small haunt in a backyard by Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, along with friends Ross Karpelman, Steve Joseph and Jay Gracinette.
"We all grew up on movies like 'The Exorcist' and other movies of that era, not like today's slasher movies and thought it would be cool to recreate that feeling for ourselves. We grew up loving Halloween and didn't want to see that die." explains Karpelman, " who also added, "In our second year, the neighbors found out about us having the haunt in our backyard and didn't want us there. One of the local church groups found out about us and actually broke into the haunt in the backyard and
sprinkled holy water throughout the haunt. In our third year, the first year we were trying to go commercial, we had to battle the city council to be able to set up commercially. One of the council members said that if he found one thing that was offensive in (the haunt), he would shut us down". In the end, the first amendment, as well as "The House Of Shock" prevailed in this matter and they were allowed to set up commercially. Nine years later, "HOS" is still going strong and more popular than ever. While a large part of the popularity is due to the cast, who
constantly strive to create horrifying characters for the haunt and take great pride in their characters and hand-made costumes, the other contributing factor are the sets, which are hand painted. Allen Jaeger heads the art department and does most of the interior painting. Some of his other work includes posters and art for many rock/metal bands. Each year, The crew at "HOS" spends well over $100,000 decorating the haunt and getting it ready to open it's doors to the public.

Although Phil Anselmo was one of the founders of the attraction, his acting and participation have become less over the years due to his constant work schedule. He is not the only famous person to be involved with this attraction, however, as there is a whole list of famous people who have come through The House of Shock, some of which have actually taken the time to do some

acting inside. A few of them include Nine Inch Nails, the New Orleans Saints, Anthrax, Coal Chamber and Static X.

There is no denying the fact that the scare tactics that they use are a little unorthodox and the subject matter they cover may not be for everybody, but ultimately, it is the people who pay to go through year after year that keep this haunt going. Last year, about 28,000 people went through the haunt, with the attraction only being open for about three hours each night. These are the people that discern the difference between reality and theatre and realize that this is all just a performance, nothing more,
nothing less. When it comes down to it, that's what all haunts are - an interactive performance.

For more information on The House of Shock, visit their website at

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