You may understand them as the deranged clown, the mad scientist, or that guy with the chainsaw who won"t avoid chasing gaggles the shrieking girls under a dimly lit hallway. Yet behind the fake blood spatters and also caked-on makeup, they’re simply regular people trying to have some funny while making money. To uncover out what it takes to it is in professionally terrifying, us spoke through three world who offered as "scare actors" (as gibbs at haunted homes are well-known in the industry) and also lived to tell the tale.

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1. THE project ISN"T simply FOR HIGH school KIDS.

Sure, you’ll more than likely see part high college students functioning at haunted houses, especially smaller operations operation by ar centers. (Some work-related for free to rack up their volunteer hours—a necessity at plenty of high schools.) however students aren"t the only world employed at haunted houses. Christine Mancini, that works at the ScareHouse in Etna, Pennsylvania, says the gibbs at her establishment come indigenous a diverse range of fields. “We have almost everywhere from doctors, lawyers, and also psychologists to college kids working in ~ McDonald’s and waiting tables,” she tells psychological Floss. Mancini and also several of she ScareHouse partner are mental health experts by day—a project that"s not unusual in the scare industry. “We actually hire a the majority of therapists and also psychoanalysts since they actually obtain a kick out of seeing how this every plays out,” Joshua Randall, the co-founder the Blackout in new York City, told CNN.


Hiring protocols differ from location to place, and also some haunted houses don’t organize auditions in ~ all. For those the do, managers typically want to check out an actor’s improvisation an abilities and capability to think on their feet. The ScareHouse, because that instance, has prospective actors finish a timeless interview first. Some inquiries are standard, while others are more specific to the project (Why do you desire to work-related in a haunted house? space you allergy to latex or makeup? are you physical able come wear heavy costumes?). As soon as the interview section is out of the way, candidates are asked come act out a spooky scene.

Actors need to re-audition each season—which generally starts in early September—and “not everyone is constantly hired back,” Mancini says. This can be for numerous reasons. Because that one, the sets space usually already designed by the time auditions room held, and also managers might be in search of certain an abilities or body types to to fill a certain role. Because that instance, a petite person can be needed to squeeze into a tighter space, and some that the costumes might require an actor of a certain height. Then there’s the competition. “Better talent is a thing each year as well,” Mancini says. “ScareHouse is continuously upping the power expectations each season.”

3. SCARE acting IS naught LIKE continual ACTING.
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Acting in a haunted house requires more improvisation and audience communication than many other varieties of acting. Some people come in with substantial theater experience and also fail miserably in their auditions. “Just due to the fact that you’re a great actor doesn’t intended that you’d be a great haunt actor,” Mancini says. Others get hired yet end up quitting halfway with the season since they hate the high level that interaction and also demands the the job (both physical and also mental).

Shawn Lowry, a railroad building and construction worker who provided to volunteer in ~ the Haunted Hillside in mountain Pleasant, Pennsylvania, says being confronted by customers is often the hardest point for brand-new actors to adjust to. Patrons might scream in your face, mock you, shot to gain you to break character—and you have to have the ability to take it. “You’re walk to acquire heckled. It’s no going to be like being on a stage where people are paying to watch and also be quiet,” that says. “You’re being challenged by the audience.”


Getting fight in the face is one of the many occupational risks of being a haunt actor. If actors are doing their jobs really well and scaring the living daylights the end of people, the could create a “fight or flight” solution in your patrons. The former reaction is as soon as things start to acquire pretty scary—not simply for customers, yet for the actors, too. “They forget that they payment to have fun and also play along with the show, and also that they room not yes, really in any danger,” Lowry says. “I’ve watched some hairy instances with drunk folks reflecting up and getting rough with actors.”

Jacob Hall, a previous haunted residence actor in mountain Antonio, Texas, wrote around his suffer with drunk customers for Esquire. “On Friday and Saturday nights, the bar-dwellers come out. So did their inner demons. The very first time ns was ever punched in the challenge came courtesy of a frat bro,” he wrote. “The scariest point in a haunted home is often the world who visit it.”

Because the the potential because that danger, numerous haunted homes are well-equipped with defense cameras and guards. Mancini claims a protection guard is constantly stationed inside the ScareHouse’s camera screen room, and if any type of of the workers require assistance, they have the right to turn to the nearest camera and also make a hand signal that they"ve been briefed ~ above in advance. That will certainly summon backup immediately.

5. Your BODIES take A BEATING.

In enhancement to the hazard of acquiring clocked in the face, the task is likewise physically exhausting. Part actors have to sit motionless in a rocking chair or stand quietly in a corner for hrs on end, pouncing only when a team of people walk in. Rather are forced to slide throughout the floor ~ above knee pads or hobble approximately on stilts every night. Ky Scott, that volunteered in ~ a couple of haunted attractions in Vancouver, brother Columbia, told psychological Floss she functioned three-hour shifts through no breaks, lying quiet in a coffin and popping increase whenever a group walked through. “To remain in character doing the same thing more or much less over and over again is hard on the voice and hard top top the body,” Scott says. “By the finish of it, your voice is hoarse, she sweaty, and you require a shower and also a nap.”

6. THEY might WEAR ice cream VESTS TO keep COOL.

It can acquire really warm in the haunt, especially early on in the season as soon as temperatures could be upwards of 80 degrees. This is particularly true if you take place to be wearing a full-body costume. “In the past we"ve had a complete grizzly be afflicted with costume—head-to-toe fur, relatively realistic. It have the right to be too much for part actors,” Mancini says. “But if someone does one of those characters, the haunt has ice vests because that folks to wear therefore they don"t overheat and stay as comfortable together they deserve to in it.” The many-pocketed vests space filled with little ice packs, and also a manager goes around replacing the ice packs in the pockets as soon as they melt.

7. Yes sir A RIGHT and also WRONG way TO SCREAM.
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When it concerns voice protection, proper screaming method is crucial. “If friend scream every night from your throat, you’ll shed your voice after ~ night two,” Mancini says. The actors at she haunt space taught how to growl and also snarl from your diaphragms instead of your throats—the same technique many experienced singers use.

Even if there"s no screaming involved, different character voices need a little bit of preparation. Scott studied theatre arts in ~ Vancouver"s Studio 58 maintain school, so she knew she must do many vocal warm-ups before talking in her “weird tiny girl voice” because that the function as a possessed doll. If all else fails, tea and honey are a scare actor’s ideal friend.

8. THEY can BRAG around MAKING YOU autumn DOWN.

When client aren"t around, one gibbs might speak to out to an additional “I dropped them!” In haunted residence parlance, this way a visitor was so scared the they dropped to the floor—and it"s considered an accomplishment. “It’s always an excellent every time an actor does that for the very first time due to the fact that it is one of the cooler points to do,” Mancini says. It"s an also bigger victory if who “melts into the floor” in fear and has come crawl the end of the room on your hands and also knees.

Some might even lose control of their bowels. One time, a ScareHouse patron was so petrified the she pooped she pants, Mancini recounted through a tinge of proud in she voice. (She"s no an outlier, either. One haunted house in mountain Antonio offered a $200 price to any type of actor who might make a client defecate.)

Sure, it might be a little sadistic to enjoy scaring people, however Lowry states adult customers are fair game because they knew what they to be signing up for. “I’ve seen actors high-five and also laugh due to the fact that they had grown-ups crying—like, ‘Oh man, walk you view that woman? She was bawling,’” Lowry says. Yet for him and also many various other actors, youngsters are an exception. Lowry has damaged character before to stop other actors indigenous tormenting youngsters who were already terrified.

9. CLEANING offers ARE regularly KEPT NEARBY.

Considering the ns of bodily role that wake up from time come time, cleaning gives are often tucked away wherein customers can’t check out them, follow to Mancini. Someone from administration will come clean up any puddles of to pee or piles of poo that may have actually escaped their frightened guests, and also this deserve to usually be taken treatment of quickly without interrupting the flow of foot traffic. Because that bigger spills, an actor can be inquiry to remain in character and also prevent customers from progressing to the next room while other staff clean up. Employee have additionally been well-known to hand out garbage bags to patrons who have had accidents—“to protect their vehicle seats once they leave,” Mancini explains.

10. 2 ACTORS might TEAM up TO acquire A enlarge SCARE.
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It’s a classic scare tactic: One actor is the designated “distraction” while the other swoops in from part dark edge to scare you silly. The decoy actor climate does something even bigger to save ramping increase the fear. “It’s a team effort,” Mancini says, including that she loves being the distraction.

For example, in one outdoor scene this season, she plays the function of a demon. She starts the end by crouching down in the center of the path and also staring creepily in ~ guests, i beg your pardon freaks them the end without her having to do anything huge or bold. She adds: “Then they fear themselves an ext by proceeding to relocate by me, still wondering what I"m going to do. Climate the various other actor in a hidden space amongst the trees in the yard scene comes out to do their scare. Then I would pop up and scare them from the rear. So, 4 or more scares by two actors in a fairly small space by utilizing distraction and also timing come our advantage.”

11. IF she VISIBLY SCARED, YOU’LL more than likely BE TARGETED.

Feel like you’re the only one gift chased and taunted? You most likely are. Numerous scare gibbs look at a customer’s human body language when selecting their next victim. “You always know who’s going come be straightforward scare because they’re go in a guarded ,” Lowry says. “They’re holding your boyfriend or girlfriend tighter and also they have their eight crossed.” other actors, choose Mancini, choose to target patrons who look like they’ll be much more of a difficulty to gain a reaction out of. “Our score is because that every customer to ‘get got’ at the very least once,” she says.

12. THEY have actually FEARS, TOO.
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Longtime fear actors could be desensitized come haunted houses, however that’s not the case for every actor. For some of those with fears, the a lot easier to occupational in a haunted residence than to visit one. “I’m petrified that going right into haunted houses yet I really prefer acting in them because I’m top top the other side of it,” Scott says.

Similarly, Lowry is claustrophobic—a usual fear that many haunted house designers try to insanity into. Once, if visiting a new haunted house, that freaked out in one those “giant sphincters” (officially recognized as squeeze out rooms) the you need to push your means through. “Other people’s encounters have to be exfoliated ~ above those things. I’m walking through and also it smells prefer a locker room and also I literally had actually a panic strike when i went v it,” he says. Fortunately, the haunted house he functioned for no have any kind of super-tight corridors.

13. The NOT always EXCITING.

Haunted dwellings have plenty of slow-moving days at an early stage in the season, for this reason there’s a the majority of standing around. Sometimes, things can obtain a little too sleepy: Lowry says as soon as one of his fellow actors was claimed to ring a bell come alert actors in the following room that a team was about to come through, but since there were so couple of customers that day, he fell asleep in ~ his station. Patrons believed he to be a prop so they preserved walking right into the next room, where they were perplexed to check out Lowry and also a couple of of his co-workers “BSing the end of character v masks off.” Oops.

On the other hand, Lowry recommends no waiting until Halloween day come visit a haunted house. Not only will that be overfilled on Halloween, there’s also a good chance the actors will be tired and also “phoning it in,” therefore you most likely won’t acquire to check out their height performance.

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14. THEY’RE no IN IT because that THE MONEY.

Scare acting work tend come pay about minimum wage, or about $20 a night, Mancini says. However, this varies from one haunted house to the next. A couple recent task postings top top Indeed, because that example, offered a rate of $50-$75 per night. Suffice to say, the not specifically a money-making venture. Both Lowry and Mancini love the macabre, and also Scott states volunteering in ~ a haunted home was a fun method to develop her acting chops. “Everyone that loves haunt acting does it since they get something the end of it,” Mancini says. “No one proceeds to it is in a haunt actor for an extended period of time because that the money.”