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Petition Aims to Shut Down Haunted House 'Torture Chamber'

McKamey Manor is a controversial horror attraction in Tennessee
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2019 7:11 PM CDT
Updated Oct 30, 2019 5:01 AM CDT
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Stock photo   (Getty Images / CherriesJD)

(Newser) – Tennessee's McKamey Manor sounds intense: Per its website, the haunted attraction requires participants to be at least 21, get a "sports physical" and a note from a doctor declaring they are both mentally and physically cleared, pass a background check, be screened over the phone or a video call, have proof of medical insurance, sign a 40-page waiver, and pass a drug test on the day they attend. Once inside, it's not your typical haunted house; rather, you're in for "an audience participation event in which (YOU) will live your own Horror Movie. This is a rough, intense and truly frightening experience" that can last for hours, the website says. But according to some locals, the attraction is actually a "torture chamber" in disguise, and they've started a petition to have it shut down, which nearly 50,000 have signed so far.

"They do screenings to find the weakest, most easily manipulated people to do the 'haunt,'" the petition says, claiming the "scares" involve things like "getting duct tape wrapped around your head, forced to eat things, be waterboarded & forced underwater, ... he uses needles to inject people with drugs, forces them to ingest pills/questionable items." Sexual assault has even been alleged, it says. Going down the rabbit hole on McKamey Manor turns up quite a few interesting reads for those who want to delve deeper:

  • A Reddit post about the attraction, which was featured in the movie Haunters: The Art of the Scare, notes that Russ McKamey, who runs it, does not accept payment from participants, and adds that several parts of the documentary made the Reddit poster feel like "the manor is tip toeing on some kind of line between a haunted house and Russ's perverse need to torture."
  • Years ago, the attraction was in San Diego, and a "victim" spoke out against it before it moved to Tennessee.
  • This deep dive at the Nashville Scene notes that controversy was already surrounding it at its new Tennessee home soon after it arrived in the state. The author of the piece also started a Reddit thread here. A third Reddit thread worth reading is here.
  • McKamey himself tells WFLA no one has ever "completed" the manor "tour"—an accomplishment that would bring with it a $20,000 prize. As for the allegations of torture, he says, "I’m a very straight laced conservative guy, but here I run this crazy haunted house that people think is this torture factory, fetish factory. All of these things that it’s not, but people believe that based upon the films that I have made."
  • If you're not put off by all of the above, the McKamey Manor YouTube page has much more here, including those aforementioned films of patrons' experiences on the tour. McKamey is said to livestream on a Facebook group as well.
(Read more haunted house stories.)

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