Haunted house attractions such as 13th Floor and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure are popular in San Antonio, however, the most frightening haunted house is right on Trinity’s campus. Every year, the Swashbucklers, members of a special substance-free hall with a pirate theme, puts on a Haunted Hall. In the months leading up to Halloween (or in this year’s case, Nov. 2 due to a scheduling conflict), students create scary room themes, recruite actors from within the hall and prepare to transform the second floor of Susanna Wesley Hall into a living nightmare.
I’m participating in Haunted Hall as an actor this year. While my responsibilities won’t begin until next week around the day of the event, I’ve been part of numerous weekly Haunted Hall meetings where Swashbucklers have discussed room ideas, themes that have worked well in the past and buying props and decorations — the last one is a necessity, due to an incident over the summer where most Swashbuckler costumes and props that were used for Haunted Hall were lost. While this event was unfortunate, room managers are currently in the process of buying new decorations, and will be reimbursed for their purchases.
Erin Ford, a junior and Swashbucklers captain, will serve as a tour guide in Haunted Hall, along with fellow captain and junior Blue Mohr, and former captain (or Grand Admiral, in Swashbuckler vocabulary) and senior Ryun Howe. The role of tour guides is to help groups of students navigate Haunted Hall — and perhaps scare them a little on the way.
“Personally, as a tour guide, I really enjoy how the people in my tour group react to how I respond to rooms, because that’s what will really freak them out. If something very disturbing just occurred, they can still be scared, but they’ll be even more freaked out when I laugh it off and skip merrily away,” Ford wrote in an email interview.
Some of the most memorable rooms featured in last year’s Haunted Hall include a “fancy cannibal” room, a room where a girl was performing a seance to bring back her dead boyfriend’s ghost and a “sadistic doctor” room.
“Every year Haunted Hall gets better, generally, and every year we have different rooms because we have a slightly different group of people coming up with ideas,” Ford wrote. “As a tour guide last year, I would always ask the people in my groups which room was their favorite after the tour, and the most popular opinion was the Red Eye room, which for trade-secret reasons I cannot describe further.”
Delia Rogers, a senior Swashbuckler, spoke about some rooms that students have found scary in the past.
“People tend to like rooms where you can’t quite see what’s going on,” Rogers said. “I’ve also heard a lot of people say that the ‘creepy doll’ room is scary, although we’re not doing that this year.”
Rogers acted last year and is currently a room manager.
“Last year, I was in the crazy doctor room. But this year — it’s a surprise. You’ll see,” Rogers said.
Aubrey Kehn, a junior Swashbuckler and room manager in Haunted Hall, is excited to participate in Haunted Hall for the first time. Kehn discussed the theme of her room, which I will leave as another surprise for students to discover if they come to Haunted Hall and enter room 221. However, the theme is related to a certain popular Stephen King horror franchise.
“What I like about [my theme] is that it’s unpredictable. It doesn’t have, like some of the rooms, a set scene or a set script. It’s fun for me, someone who does a lot of theatre — I’m a theatre minor — to ‘read’ each group that comes in, and create a character in response to each group that comes there differently,” Kehn said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, the tour guides don’t know … it’s just very unpredictable.”
This year’s Haunted Hall will be on Nov. 2 in Susanna, from 8 to 11 p.m. Students with questions can email the captains at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.