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The height of fright

Longtime haunted house proprietor puts emphasis on each gory detail


by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Valley Catholic Middle School eighth-graders Angus Johnson, Tyler Wahl, Erin Connelly and Chloe Golik anxiously walk around a corner to the next room at the 13th Door Haunted House on Southwest Murray Boulevard.Coursing through the labyrinthine chambers of the 13th Door Haunted House on Southwest Murray Boulevard, the only visible connection one encounters to the real, less frightening outside world is an occasional emergency exit door.

Given the elaborate detail of the sets, the actors’ convincingly creepy performances and overall sense of claustrophobic dread the tour delivers, it’s a rare, hardy soul who doesn’t at least ponder escaping through one of them.

For Aloha resident Raymond Latocki, that’s a sign he and his frightful crew are on the right track at 13th Door, the haunt he and his wife, Ellen, relocated earlier this year from the West Hills to the former Grocery Outlet store at 3855 S.W. Murray Blvd. Since late September, the couple attracts up to 1,500 guests a night who pay $15 apiece to have their Halloween-season reality skewed toward the frightful and the macabre.

After running their Haunted Production’s 13th Door haunted tour for 12 years — including locations at Washington Square Mall and the county fairgrounds — Latocki, 52, knows a thing or two about scaring the daylights out of his clientele.

“We’ve been really heavy on high-detail sets,” he said. “When you’re walking from the crypts into the catacombs and from the pipe area into the medical wing, the tone instantly changes.”

And how.

In addition to crypts, catacombs and the “medical” wing — which, by the way, specializes in face transplants — the tour encompasses a classroom whose students have long stopped, um, paying attention, an alien room, plenty of disembodied heads, body parts and animals, startling noises, flashing lights and completely dark passages among a myriad of other indescribable thrills ’n’ chills.

A crew of 18 hideously made-up and outfitted actors — who Latocki auditions in a one-day casting call — goes to great lengths to make sure no visitor is alone for very long. Trouble is, you’re never quite sure if one is in front of you, behind you, or about to pop out of any number of darkened doors and hidden crannies.

“I tell the actors I want to get a scare,” says Latocki, whose actors are aged 16 and older. “And if not, do a follow-up. Either make ’em laugh or gross ’em out. Do something corny. That’s what makes it fun. It’s scary, but you’ve got to have fun too.”

Latocki, who set up “yard haunts” at his parents house when he was an adolescent, drills the actors with flash cards with instructions such as, “you’re a rabid zombie, and you just ate a brain.”

Otherwise, he encourages them to improvise and do what comes naturally — or not.

“I pretty much let them have the room the way they want it,” he said, noting most of the set pieces come from his head with input from his family members and other associates. “The only thing the actors do is act. I don’t let anybody in until it’s up and running.”

Jeff Mack, a North Plains resident, said he heard about 13th Door from a friend and decided to check it out on Tuesday night.

“I really like the detail they put into it,” he said. “I’ve gone through my share of haunted houses, and I was pretty well fascinated with this.”

Tommy Bentley heard enough about 13th Door to come from Camas, Wash., for a night of fright.

“It was spooky,” he said. “The overall ambience was kind of eerie and disconcerting.”

While intrigued by the darker side of human nature, Bentley doesn’t get too wrapped up in the culture of the haunt.

“I don’t take it totally seriously,” he said. “In my normal life, I don’t have time for this kind of fun. But I look forward to it every year.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Raymond Latocki, owner of Haunting Productions LLC has put on haunted houses for 12 years, including this year's 13th Door Haunted House at the old Grocery Outlet location in Beaverton.

Happy haunting

What: Haunting Production’s 13th Door Haunted House

Where: 3855 S.W. Murray Blvd

Admission: $15 per person, group rates and private events available

Hours: Through Nov. 2, weekdays 7 to 10 p.m., weekends 7 to midnight

Owners: Raymond and Ellen Latocki

Website: 13thdoor.com/index.php

Call: 503-222-5554




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