Scary business: not for the faint of heart

Friday, October 19, 2018

Editor’s Note: With Halloween approaching, the scary and the spooky pushes itself to the fore. Scaring people has even become a full-time business for some.

Tribune reporter Erin Morris takes a personal look inside of one of Marshall County’s several scary attractions with this piece.

Erin’s first article for the Tribune last fall was about ghost hunting at Henry Horton State Park, hopefully beginning a tradition of assigning stories that will scare her every October.

Between the jump scares and the incredibly detailed scenes with dedicated actors, I almost peed my pants.

No, really. Malice Haunted Attraction even has buttons made for those who do. It wasn’t an award I wanted to win.

It was a bad night, to begin with. I psyched myself out on the drive to Malice.

When I was younger, I visited some haunted woods and ended up punching someone before the end of the night. I was not too thrilled about this assignment.

It seemed like it was getting darker, and the sky just looked angry. The clouds were more defined and had some serious spooky shadows.

Now, I got there early, which could’ve been a great thing for fighting the massive line, but I had to wait on a friend.

The owners had the lights off still, and there were hardly any cars. The whole place creeped me out, to say the least.

Then my friend canceled on me.

I saw a group of screaming kids sprinting out of the woods. That was the first sign of a good haunted house.

I went in thinking I’d be okay because I found a group of people to walk in with.

Boy, I was wrong.

As I was walking through those haunted woods, I felt like I was in an actual horror movie.

There came a point where I ran through a few scenes, just so I could get out of there quicker.

Something tempted me to turn on my cell phone flashlight just so I could have an idea of what was actually hiding in the dark, but that’s against the rules.

I really didn’t want to get kicked out of a haunted house and explain to my boss that I chickened out.

I couldn’t see anything unless it popped out at me. I’m fairly certain I screamed at everything, even if it wasn’t that scary.

Malice has been around for three years. It all started with Bill Aichast and Rob Osborne. Both of them have been working in haunted entertainment since they were kids.

“We went from a backyard haunt to 17-acres,” said Osborne, of Malice’s old location on West Commerce Street by the railroad overpass.

“This year is only the beginning,” said Aichast. “Every year, we get bigger and better.”

Malice isn’t your typical haunted woods. We’ve all seen the cheesy props like styrofoam headstones and actors that only interact with you once or twice if you’re lucky.

“We strive to be different,” said Osborne.

At Malice, the haunted attraction uses genuine things like real caskets and genuine headstones.

“Almost everything you see is an actual thing. We’ve tried our best to find authentic things we can incorporate here,” Aichast said. “We want the experience to feel real.”

The owners want more than just a haunted woods feel, they want the entire experience to feel like you’ve walked into a horror flick gone wrong. From lighting colors to smells, the owners have constructed one of the best haunted attractions I’ve been to by tapping into anyone’s senses and using genuine creepy props.

Malice is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is $10. Their new location is on Nix Road, towards Belfast on Fayetteville Highway. The haunted attraction will remain open until Nov. 3. Oct. 31 is kids night, which means kids can tour the scenes but without the actors there to scare them.

Malice is just one of the few spooky things that are happening in Marshall County. Haunts have become a cottage industry over the last decade.

The Haunted Bus at Ridge Stone Gardens on Nashville Highway just south of Henry Horton will be open until the end of the month on Fridays and Saturdays. This haunted attraction has a designated hour dedicated to just props for the younger kids, but come after 9 p.m. and you will get to see actual performers. During the kids hour, admission is $5. After that, admission is $10.

Starting this weekend, Hi-way 50 Drive-In will be playing “Halloween,” followed by the haunted woods on Oct. 19, 20, 26, and 27. Gates open at 5 p.m. The movie will start at 8 p.m. and the woods will be open at 10 p.m.