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13 Things Haunted House Actors Wish They Could Tell You

Find out what happens on the other side of the mask.

Haunted Garage Decorationphoto by Pam Susemiehl/Getty Images

Straight from the actors themselves

While we’re all wondering what Halloween could look like this year, a certain favorite Halloween activity comes to mind: Haunted Houses. It may be likely that it will be a while before we can visit the houses of horror en masse, but that doesn’t mean the actors don’t have a few pointed words to share with you before you step foot in the haunted halls. Whether you just like to attend or you want to take part from the other side of the curtain, keep these things haunted house actors wish they could tell you in mind.

Male model in make-up chairKjell Leknes/Shutterstock

It takes a people person

Being a haunted house actor involves being around a lot of people practically all of the time. When you’re not with your makeup artists or fellow actors, you’re interfacing with dozens, sometimes hundreds of people per night. You may be a fine performer, but being a truly scary haunted house actor is an entirely different animal. Read up on some of the creepiest real haunted houses in America.

Portrait of screaming young man with afroWestend61/Getty Images

Vocal exercises are a must

Anyone in a heavy metal band knows that screaming isn’t just a sound effect—it’s an art. As a haunted house actor, if you scream the wrong way over and over again you could do permanent damage to your vocal cords. Vocal exercises and proper vocal techniques are helpful for getting through the scaring season.

BruisesSantipong Srikhamta/Shutterstock

Bruises come with the job

Some haunted houses are so extreme that the actors are allowed to essentially torture anyone who signs the entry waiver—and often they sustain a few bumps, bruises, and scratches themselves. People can react violently when scared. Read about a man that sued a haunted house for being too scary.

pumpkin head monster sign hand space halloweenalexkich/Shutterstock

They can read you like a book

Your personality and physical behavior have a lot to do with how haunted house actors go about scaring you. An actor can easily pick out the timidest person in a group and make that person the focal point of their scare.

closeup of a scary evil clown wearing a dirty red costume in the woodsnito/Shutterstock

They sometimes scare their makeup artists

The talented makeup artists who work on bringing these gruesome creatures to life may be used to freaky faces, but that doesn’t mean they never get scared. A makeup artist for Pennsylvania’s infamous “Terror Behind the Walls” event at the Eastern State Penitentiary says that she often creeps herself out when creating clowns. Learn more about the secrets Halloween costume designers want you to know.

scary hallway walkway in abandoned buildingSanchaiRat/Shutterstock

It’s all about improv

Working as a haunted house actor is a rather organic process. Sure, they have their cues and general routine mapped out, but how it all unfolds depends on their improvisational skills when faced with different types of people and situations. Do you know the story behind these 14 spooky Halloween superstitions?

Still life skull and US dollar banknote on grunge wood board,hard work less income concept.Foto2rich/Shutterstock

It’s not about the money

Haunted house actors are there simply because they want to be. They enjoy trying to scare the living daylights out of you! A lot of these actors work their haunted house gigs for years despite getting pretty low wages, because it’s just that fun, apparently.

Bloody hockey mask hung on the wall of the mortar. Looks awesome on Halloween.Wood Water Wall/Shutterstock

It’s a great stress reliever

Believe it or not, many haunted house workers do the job because it’s good for their mental health. Actors often see the opportunity to work at a haunted house attraction as a way to blow off steam and let out their pent-up aggression. How many of these terrifying haunted houses have you been to during the Halloween season?

man in a hood and skull mask with a big machete on a black backgroundVoroand/Shutterstock

They’re definitely laughing at you

The situation may feel serious to the patrons who are waiting to be petrified by whatever is around the next corner, but it is definitely more lighthearted for the ones doing the scaring. Part of the fun of working as a haunted house actor is seeing just how frightened people can get. For example, not everyone can keep control of their bowels when the haunting begins…

Old books on the shelf clockVersta/Shutterstock

Arrive late


A writer for The Odyssey gives this pro tip: “Never be the first in line at a haunted house!” All performers, from sports to the stage, need a few minutes of warm-up before they get their game on. You probably don’t want to be the last in line, either, because by that time the actors will be tired of chasing people down dingy hallways.

Young woman putting some special effects makeup on faceCreativa Images/Shutterstock

Oatmeal can be used as makeup

Ever wonder how makeup professionals pull off those eerily convincing zombie or slasher victim looks? One secret ingredient is oatmeal. Putting oatmeal on your face and then covering it up with paint gives your flesh the appearance of rotting or serious injury.

Black boy wearing firefighter Halloween costumeGranger Wootz/Getty Images

Kids are braver than adults

One haunted house actor tells CNN Money that little children are actually the most difficult patrons to scare, but teens and college students are likely the easiest prey. We wonder how many kids have been to see America’s longest running haunted house.

Asian girl killer holding kitchen knife with blood to kill man in room houseSorapop Udomsri/Shutterstock

Macho men beware

Haunted house actors like to pick on the scaredy-cat in the group, but the most fulfilling scare is the macho man. If you’re the guy in your friend group who likes to play the role of the big, strong protector, haunted house actors will work extra hard to get a scream out of you! Check out the things you probably didn’t know about Halloween.

Taylor Markarian
Taylor Markarian is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest's Culture, Advice, Travel and Pets beats. She is also a music journalist who has contributed to Alternative Press, Loudwire, Revolver, Kerrang! and more. Markarian is the author of the book, 'From the Basement: A History of Emo Music and How It Changed Society', which analyzes the evolution of punk and mental health. She holds a degree in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College.