House of Torment opens with new ways to thrill and chill

Even on an innocuously bright and sunny weekday morning, a behind-the-scenes tour of the under-construction haunt House of Torment has one group of visitors straining to keep their wits about them.

After 11 years, the tradition seems to get creepier every year, and this season will be no exception when the haunts open on an appropriately timed Friday the 13th.

“Our goal is from the second you get out of your car, we want to be engaging you, entertaining you, scaring you, making you uneasy,” said Jon Love, House of Torment’s vice president. “It’s mayhem.”

Although guests view it as a once-a-year ritual, the haunted house is a year-round project. This year, the crew has revamped the frights in the main haunted house, the Blackthorne District — a town spotted with heaping mounds of blood and gore and littered with hanging corpses. Something horrible happened in the Blackthorne Asylum.

“Dr. Ectobius was conducting experiments on patients because the Blackthorne Corporation was telling him to do so,” Love said. “Unbeknownst to Ectobius, they were trying to open a rift to the Realm of Torment and let all the monsters and terrifying creatures through.”

Which is precisely what happened.

“All these monsters came through and infested the city and so they locked the city down,” Love said. “Our guests will be breaking into the city to find out the secrets of what actually happened in the Blackthorne Asylum.”

This season’s traipse through terror offers a daunting combination of tried-and-true scares — monsters jumping out at you, clangs and bangs in the dark, chainsaw wielding maniacs — and new frights including the Hellion, the haunt’s largest monster to date. The Hellion, created by Wayne Anderson of Syfy’s Face Off, is a blood-thirsty creature with horns, talons, and a 15-foot wingspan who lives in the House of Torment’s second haunted house called Cursed: Ancients Emerge.

Yes, second haunted house. The House of Torment is a three-haunted-house, multi-leveled affair covering an impressive 20,000 square feet.

The third element of this amalgam of distress is called Slaughterhouse: The Harvest, a big wooden maze of a construction set ominously out by itself in the “fields” of the mall parking lot. Inside, guests will face vicious and cannibalistic savages and a most horrible looking creature called the Scarecrow.

Fun times.

True horror devotees who can maintain their composure long enough to see beyond the panic will appreciate the exceptional creativity and dedication of the haunted house crew.

“We spitball ideas and whiteboard them,” Love said. “Sometimes those ideas are story art. Sometimes those ideas are characters or monsters. Sometimes those ideas are things you can do to do someone in the haunted house to scare … them. It’s a theatrical experience.”

On weekends this year, there will be a DJ, ghoulish dancers and videos rolling on the side of the building creating a festival feel in the lot. But expect more fright than fest.

“We really went above and beyond in terms of both production and design,” said Daniel McCullough, founder of House of Torment. “We hope you’ll come scream with us.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Austin360

John Prine at Waterloo Records? It’s happening, on June 4
John Prine at Waterloo Records? It’s happening, on June 4

John Prine has added a June 4 Waterloo Records in-store to his Austin itinerary for next month. Contributed/John Kurc Legendary songwriter John Prine already had two local appearances on the books for next month: June 5, taping “Austin City Limits” at ACL Live, and June 30, playing Bass Concert Hall. Now he’s added a third...
Obamas sign multiyear deal with Netflix to make movies, TV shows
Obamas sign multiyear deal with Netflix to make movies, TV shows

Former President Barack Obama has signed a multiyear deal with Netflix to produce films and television shows on the streaming service with former first lady Michelle Obama. >> Read more trending news  According to Netflix, the Obamas’ agreement includes scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and features produced by Higher...
How Texas history became one woman’s life passion
How Texas history became one woman’s life passion

If you stop by the side of the road in Texas to check out historical markers regularly, you likely read her words. If you attend lifetime learning clubs in the Austin area, you likely hear her speak. And if you browse the Texana section of any decent-size bookstore, at some point you’ll run across the name “Myra McIlvain” on the spines...
That’s not brisket, that’s Grizzly Bear: Brooklyn band to play at Stubb’s
That’s not brisket, that’s Grizzly Bear: Brooklyn band to play at Stubb’s

Grizzly Bear will play the outdoor stage at Stubb’s on Sept. 12. Robert Hein for American-Statesman Brooklyn indie-rock band Grizzly Bear, whose 2017 album “Painted Ruins” reached the top-5 of the Billboard rock albums chart, will play the outdoor stage at Stubb’s on Sept. 12. Tickets, $46-$51, go on sale at 10 a...
‘Deadpool 2’ tops ‘Avengers’ but fails to surpass its predecessor
‘Deadpool 2’ tops ‘Avengers’ but fails to surpass its predecessor

Two Josh Brolin-led Marvel movies dominated the domestic box office this weekend, led by 20th Century Fox’s “Deadpool 2.” “It’s Deadpool’s world, and we’re just living in it,” said Chris Aronson, the studio’s president of distribution. The film opened in first place with $125 million, the second...
More Stories