A Brief History Of The Haunted House!

How Walt Disney inspired the world’s scariest Halloween tradition.

The scariest haunted house of 2016 is in a 40,000-foot office park on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. Named House of Torment, it features virus-crazed, flesh-eating zombies, maniacal beasts and, of course, terrifying clowns. Last year’s winner, Haunted Overload, dropped slightly in the rankings, but still frightens so effectively, so inescapably, that people with heart conditions are warned against buying tickets.

This is what a haunted house is supposed to do. They exist to scare people. The idea behind haunted houses is not new, of course— people have entertained themselves with spooky stories for centuries — but haunted houses are different because they are inseparable from the holiday that vaulted them to cultural prominence. The tradition could not exist without Halloween; Halloween would not be the same without it.

The origins of the haunted house date back to 19th-century London, when a series of illusions and attractions introduced the public to new forms of gruesome entertainment. In 1802, Marie Tussaud scandalized British audiences with an exhibition of wax sculptures of decapitated French figures, including King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Marat and Robespierre. Tussaud’s likenesses were remarkably accurate, and with good reason — she created death masks of the French Revolution’s many guillotine victims. When she set up a permanent London exhibition, she dubbed her grotesque collection the “Chamber of Horrors” — a name that has stuck to the wax museum to this day.

At the turn of the 20th century, as Rebekah McKendry describes in Fangoria magazine, the closest relatives to modern haunted houses began experimenting with macabre themes. In Paris, the Grand Guignol theater became notorious for its on-stage depictions of graphic dismemberment; the theater’s director, Max Maurey, famously boasted that he judged each performance by the number of people who passed out, shocked, in the audience. In 1915, an English fairground in Liphook debuted one of the first “ghost houses,” an early type of commercial horror attraction. The public appetite for horror was picking up.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/history-haunted-house-180957008/#LABgt85UfJDUS5Xq.99

About Andrew

Co-founder & lead investigator of Paranormal Encounters. I've experienced the paranormal all my life, having encountered ghosts, angels and demons. I live in a haunted house and when not exploring and researching the unknown, I enjoy single malt Scotch whisky & potato chips (though not necessarily at the same time).