The height of fright
Longtime haunted house proprietor puts emphasis on each gory detail
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, its a rare, hardy soul who doesnt at least ponder escaping through one of them.
For Aloha resident Raymond Latocki, thats 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 Productions 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.
Weve been really heavy on high-detail sets, he said. When youre walking from the crypts into the catacombs and from the pipe area into the medical wing, the tone instantly changes.
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, youre 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. Thats what makes it fun. Its scary, but youve 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, youre 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 dont let anybody in until its 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. Ive 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 doesnt get too wrapped up in the culture of the haunt.
I dont take it totally seriously, he said. In my normal life, I dont have time for this kind of fun. But I look forward to it every year.
What: Haunting Productions 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
Call: 503-222-5554Add a comment