PORTER TOWNSHIP | A huge, new haunted house so scary that medics will be standing by to help those who can't handle it is just weeks away from opening in the Valparaiso area.
The haunted house, called Amhurst Asylum, is being designed by two people who have a combined 20 years of experience in haunted houses and horror movies.
The 23,000-square-foot, all-indoor fright house will be open from 7 to 11 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays from Oct. 1 through 31 at the old Alvarez Arabians horse stables at 228 S. County Road 500 West. This is 4½ miles south of U.S. 30 on County Road 500 West.
"It's not for the weak of heart or stomach," said fright expert Nadia Hatter, who is designing the house with fellow scare master "Zombie" John Jones and businessman Jim Alvarez.
The partners, all from Chicago, are constructing frightening sights such as a morgue and an area where victims are cut apart. They are trying to sign up 100 people who are at least of high school age to volunteer to be part of the production, with jobs including actors, technicians and security. Volunteers will get a chance to learn from professionals about acting, costumes, makeup and set design. People can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
"This will be one of the top 10 (haunted houses) in the United States," Jones said.
They expect to draw 15,000 people nationwide who want to enjoy a terrifying 25-minute journey through 15 rooms. The cost will be $20, but discounts will be available to their Facebook friends and fans, and through their official website – www.amhurstasylum.com – which is set for launch Wednesday. A video preview of the haunted house will go on the website Sept. 6.
Hatter said visitors to the haunted house will experience an Amhurst Asylum theme. The story they tell is that crazy Dr. Amhurst once owned the haunted house land. The doctor's wife had a terrible illness, so Dr. Amhurst opened an asylum so he could harvest organs from the criminally insane and conduct experiments on them.
The haunted house features a room where experiments are performed on victims, places where scary people pop out, a room where a real clown magically bounces around and, finally, a morgue and a place where bodies are incinerated.
Kids 12 and younger will not be allowed to enter the house without a parent. If there are groups of youngsters, the staff will take them around for a toned-down tour.
Alvarez said because this is the first year for Amhurst, haunted house fans will see things they have never seen before. The partners also expect to benefit on cold nights because everything from the ticket line to the exit is indoors. Alvarez plans to make Amhurst an annual attraction.