On Friday night, Ryan and I went to the Leitersburg (Maryland) Haunted House for their final weekend of fright before closing down after 30 years. It was a cold, rainy night and the town looked perfectly spooky with its old houses and semi-bare trees. The haunted house experience started with a terrifying show put on by the staff, which made me clutch Ryan's arm and hide my face in his sleeve...you know, the fun kind of scared. The second half of the experience, however, was a bit more intense for me psychologically. They ushered us into a pitch-black maze where we were forced to feel along the wooden walls, people searching blindly for a way out behind and in front of us. As soon as we entered the maze, I realized that I must suffer from a bit of claustrophobia. I started to hyperventilate and get light-headed, and had to remind myself that this was supposed to be fun, orienting myself by keeping an eye the whole time on the rafters at the top of the building that had a bit of light on them. No one jumped out at us, and there really wasn't much to see. It was just pitch black and tight spaces for a dreadfully long 15 minutes. Several times we actually ran into dead ends; that really almost sent me over the edge. Then we were ushered down a dark, metal tube slide that shot us out into the open air...finally. Phew! I could taste the fear and adrenaline in the back of my throat as we walked toward the car. I was a bit unnerved at first, but I must admit it was still a lot of fun to be that frightened. It can really take you out of your comfort zone, and highlight your most potent fears and how you might handle yourself in dangerous situations. My fight or flight instincts were on high alert!
Speaking sociologically, the haunted house afforded an interesting perspective on the cultural artifacts of what humans deem scary. For instance, someone dressed up in a hospital gown and a mask was enough to send a domino cascade of screams through the line leading to the haunted house as he walked through trying to scare people. How did these two simple props come to be considered horrific in our society? How did the concept of mummification from ancient Egypt come to be such a dominant presence in grindhouse and horror flicks over the years? It was fun to look around at the costumes at the haunted house and think about their historical adaptations and how fear-inducing they have come to be.
Ryan and I usually like to send out a little Halloween photo created especially by Chace+Smith Photography. This year's spooky photo project was especially eerie since we had Ryan's parents' attic at our disposal. I found his mother's old prom dress up there and Ryan put on one of his suits. We powdered our faces white and painted dark circles around our eyes. Then we sat up in an abandoned corner of the attic and scared ourselves silly. Keep in mind when looking at these photos that the flash went off at the very beginning, but the shutter stayed open for a good 30 seconds while we sat in the dark with crazed looks on our faces. So for an hour and a half we basically sat in the dark attic donning strange clothes and facial expressions. In the end it was a real hoot (Ryan's parents got a big kick out of it), and certainly a fun way to scare ourselves a bit. Have a look. Some of these are downright spine-tingling!
(For this one, Ryan used his headlamp to trace the letters during the 30 seconds the shutter stayed open. He turned it off, then turned it back on to cross the T just before the shutter went off.)
All photos by Ryan Smith©
All photos by Ryan Smith©
How have you been ghoulishly expressing yourself lately?