Working in a haunted house can be a blast, but I have seen people come and go through the years who simple could not “hang” with the ups and downs that come with the territory. Before you decide it might be fun to make a bit of extra cash scaring people, consider these pros and cons from an old time “haunter.”
1. Yes, it is a great deal of fun.
Scaring people is a rush of pure adrenaline, especially if you are doing your job properly.
2. You can learn a great deal, especially if acting is something you wish to pursue.
Acting is acting. Regardless of what anyone tells you, you can learn a great deal about acting at a haunted house. In fact, it would probably do some established actors a world of good to experience it first hand.
At our haunt, we are very much like a family. After all, blood is thicker than water, even if it is fake blood.
4. If you want to learn make-up or costuming.
This is a great place to be schooled in these things as well. It is especially great learning how to do such things “on the fly”. Those skills come in handy in a lot of other careers too.
Though we have an excellent team of designers, make up artists, and costumers, we didn’t have these things when I first started. Now I am so used to doing these things myself, I am eternally grateful that they still let me do my own thing. I don’t think it would be nearly as enjoyable for me otherwise.
5. Extra cash.
Yes, the extra money really does help out, especially when you are getting paid right before Christmas, but…
1. Minimum wage.
That’s right, we can paid minimum wage, that’s all. This goes for new employees, as well as old timers like myself.
2. Work, work, work…then get paid.
In addition to it being a minimum wage job, which does get taxed, by the way, you also have to wait for payment until after the season is over. I have seen weeks when I wasn’t even sure I would have the gas to get there. I still had to manage, all through the end of September, clean through October, and sometimes to the middle of November to be paid.
3. Grueling hours.
Especially towards the end of the season, you can get really tired. If you are not used to it, this can even happen at the very beginning. I have seen many a “newbie” not make it through the first night, simply because it can be…
4, Very physical, and mentally taxing as well.
Especially if you are doing your job right, you will get tired…very tired. Not just physically tired, either, it can be a mental strain as well, especially on slower nights when you have long waits between scares. Other night you simply get exhausted, and may work from 7 pm to 4 am straight, with no breaks to speak of.
5. Not for the weak of heart or constitution.
You will see people cry, scream, and even pee themselves, or lose bowel control. You may even be injured by one of them. Though this is usually accidental, it can happen. I have been punched, poked, prodded, slapped, headbutted, kissed, and even injured myself a few times in my own zeal to perform. It is not the safest of jobs.
These are just a few things to be aware over before applying to work in a haunted house, both positive and negative. I would advise people to reflect hard on the cons before doing so. While it can be a great deal of fun, and a massive learning experience, you will have to deal with a lot of negative aspects at the same time.
Ask yourself before considering haunt work, “Can I stand it? Am I tough enough? Can I take a punch, and keep working as though nothing happened?” If the answers are “no”, then you may want to look for extra work elsewhere. If the answers are “yes”, then come on down, and let’s scare the living pee out of some people!
Source: Over eight consecutive seasons as a haunt actor, make-up artist, costumer, and prop designer.