Everyone loves haunted house experiences. Well, some people love haunted house experience. Others, however, take one step into the darkened hallway and lose all their senses. After all, anything could be lurking in the shadows—and no one knows that better than the people who actually work in these places. From the adorable to the dangerous, these Reddit users share their own best scare stories, proving that being a professional “scarer” isn’t as easy as it looks.
1. Potty-Mouth Grandma
This is probably the cutest story I know. We had a family going through the haunted attraction, including the grandma. When the actor scared them all, the grandma yelled a profanity really loudly. Immediately, a look of total horror crossed her face. She turned red and then said, adorably, “Oh no! I haven’t cursed in over a decade!”
2. A Profitable Evening
When I was 12, I went into a haunted house all tough and stuff, but got the crap scared out of me. I was going through a place where you had to squeeze through a small space to get past, and when I got out, some teenager jumped out at me. My reaction was awful. I socked him straight in the face without thinking.
He fell back and was just like, “What the heck, bro?” I felt really bad and told my grandma when I got out, and she gave him $50, so that’s nice I guess.
3. Blue Words
I went with a guy one time who, on the first scare of the house, grabbed the shirt of the guy in front of him as he jumped and ripped it clean off the guy. Then, the guy behind me seemed like the most innocent man in the world, but proceeded to swear like a sailor the entire time. I haven’t laughed so hard in years.
4. It’s All Fun and Games Until…
I worked at an all-volunteer haunted house and one year, we had like 10 teen guys show up, all dressed as the Grim Reaper. The organizers decided to put them all together in a corridor and make people walk a gauntlet through menacing scythes. This one young woman was really freaked out as she edged through the rooms; senses on high alert, visibly shaking.
As a living mannequin, I decided to just say a quiet “good eeevening.” It was the worst thing I could have done. Just those two words sent her scrambling away from me and into the Reapers’ corridor. They all converged eagerly, scythes flashing, and she shrieked and dropped like she was a puppet and her strings got cut.
She’d passed out cold. All the Grim Reapers were standing over her uncertainly, shocked. Then from one skull came a wavering, really worried: “Oh, crap. We killed her.”
5. A Mother’s Instinct
The most memorable was a mother who was using her teenage son as a human shield as she progressed through the haunted house. When I burst out behind her, her response was chilling. She used her death grip on his arms to twirl him around and throw him at me while she ran down the hallway screaming, setting off animatronics and props as she went.
Unfortunately for him, not only did she almost dislocate his shoulder in her desire for self-preservation, he also smoked his head on one of the vertical purloins holding the hallway/mod tent up. I had to drop the chainsaw to catch the poor guy, as he was quite stunned. Yeah, that’s one woman who’s not winning Mother of the Year.
6. Sensory Surprise
I worked as a generic “scarer” where my creepy makeup was having one of my eyes blown out. So I had mountains of goo on my face every night. A guy got freaked out and basically face-palmed me right in my fake non-eye. He then looked down at his hand covered in sticky fake blood and gore, gagged, and said “Oh God.” Ran out of the exit.
7. We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes
I was like 6’6″ my senior year of high school. The haunted house I volunteered for liked to have me play Norman Bates dressed as his mother. My set was a bathroom with a mirror and fake sink, etc. This was the last or second-to-last group through before closing. It was a group of loud dudebros rolling through. I was in my nook, standing quietly.
They were all laughing at the bathroom stuff as they entered the room. As the last one entered, I started moving, and he noticed me but I motioned for him to be quiet since he wasn’t very scared. I walked next to him at the end of the group. Since everyone was focused forward, the rest didn’t really notice me. So I made my ingenious move.
They all got to the shower curtain and stopped. They were making fun of the room and talking about how it was lame, and that someone was going to jump out of the shower to scare them. One of them told a joke about hitting whoever jumped out and some of them laughed, but when they did I let out this crazy, lunatic laugh.
It made most of them at least jump, but the guy in front of me realized that the laugh was directly behind him. He swung around with a half-hearted punch that he tried to stop after he realized I was about 6 inches taller than him. The punch kind of just thumped me in the chest and he just stood silent for a second. Then I made it worse.
I slowly looked down at my chest and he looked up and I let out another crazy laugh. He just kind of melted. Like you could see the resolve leave his face and he bolted through the shower. His friends started laughing, admitted that I scared a few of them, and followed him through the curtain. I was pretty pleased with myself.
8. All in a Day’s Work
I made a girl just immediately crumble into foetal position. But that wasn’t the best part: Like it was routine, her boyfriend scooped her right up like an egg and kept going.
9. No Surrender
So one night, we were doing our thing, scaring people and what not, when this kid comes BOOKING it through the scene. He’s all alone and just completely terrified. There was an emergency exit because if someone ever said, “I can’t do this, I want out” we’d have to exit character (the only time we were allowed to) and escort the person out.
So this kid is sprinting. I don’t know if he got separated from his group and was trying to find them or if he wanted to just hurry out or what, but he gave us about a second to try to scare him as he flashed past us. Well, the ground was uneven and a little damp, and he slipped and fell and slid to a stop against a barrel right by the exit door.
We walked over to him and he was lying on the ground, panting hard, staring up at us with sheer terror in his eyes. I said, “For real, dude, not playing. Are you ok?” And he quickly nodded, eyes still bugging out and looking between us. I said, “You sure? Do you need to leave?” He took a second, looked at us again and shook his head. So I unleashed on him.
I looked at my husband and then back at this kid and screamed “THEN GET UP AND GET THE HECK OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OOOOOOOOUTTT!!!!!” That kid jumped up like he had rockets strapped to his back and flew into the mineshaft, leaving my husband and me rolling. I’ll remember his reaction forever.
10. Brave Fairy
I remember a time when I was trick-or-treating with two friends in 4th grade, there was one place that really scared us. The guy was sitting in a chair with the bowl of candy underneath the chair, limp like a corpse. He had on jeans and a hoodie that covered his face, utterly silent. We thought he was a decoration, like a scarecrow or something.
But we weren’t sure, so we poked him in the leg with a stick to make sure. He didn’t move or say anything, so he must have been a dummy. But we were still scared that he might be a real person waiting for us to do something. We kept waiting in contemplation until another group of kids came up and started looking at him too.
We asked a little girl in a fairy costume to get down there and take the bowl of candy. As she was going down to get the bowl, all heck broke loose. The guy in the hoodie jumped up and grabbed her. We were screaming and scared out of our minds, I remember it so vividly. Still, then he gave us the candy. Worth it.
11. How I Met Your Mother
I was at the local state park/camping area my family would go camping in every year for Halloween. Everyone decorated their campsites and the kids went around trick-or-treating. One year I was essentially a scarecrow, with a real but dull sword. I took my place in the field with the other decorations, but I made sure I was reasonably close to the edge where people would walk by.
My first scare was the best. A family walks up with two kids. The kids are telling the mom that I am real. The mom is telling the kids I am not real and she decides to show them by coming up and touching me. She comes close and looks back at the kids saying, “See, it’s not real.” So I terrified her in the best way possible.
I raised the sword in my left hand and reached for her raised hand with my right as I stepped forward. The kids go nuts. She turns around and sees me and tries to walk back but just falls on her butt, screaming. The kids run. The dad is doubled over in laughter, literally in tears. Once the mom has herself under control, I offer her a hand and help her up.
The kids, who have stopped about 15 feet away, are yelling, “We told you so!” and the mom is fake-hitting me as she half laughs and curses at me. The dad can still hardly breathe. The best part, though, was the fact that I was 14 and that night, I also unknowingly frightened a little girl of 11 who, around 15 years later, I would marry.
12. Domino Effect
I remember a guy who was poking stuff and laughing. His girlfriend was kind of scared, also trying to poke through a cage I was in at me. I reacted like a robot for long enough that he got bored, and just as he went to go, I grabbed his fingers, started waving a knife around like mad, and pressed a foot pedal for some sounds.
This 6-foot-plus guy ran out back toward the entrance screaming, and my manager came back in to have a laugh. We actually shut down for 20 minutes or so because the guy’s raving in the lobby had caused so much fuss. Some thought he was a paid actor; kids started crying, and the line doubled up. It’s my proudest moment.
13. The Birth of a Legend
My friend was in Boy Scouts, and every year they put on a haunted trail through the woods/ baseball field. One year, he invited me to join him even though I’m not in Boy Scouts. I figured sure, why not. His mom is a great artist, so I went over there with my cheap little werewolf kit and she did the whole thing for me.
I looked terrifyingly realistic. The wild hair, fangs, giant ears, claws, ripped up clothes, and of course blood. So I walked in unnoticed, and I didn’t check in at the clubhouse because I’m not even a Boy Scout. I found a nice bridge in the woods that goes over a small dried up creek and I took up residence there.
A few scouts came by to try to claim that spot but saw I was already there. They kept walking, occasionally asking, “Who is that?” So the trail starts, I get some really good scares, and I was super into it. Jumping out of trees, running around on all fours, climbing out from under the bridge. Eventually the haunt came to an end, but the best was yet to come.
During the event, my friend came and found me from his post and said he was going to skip the meeting. Apparently during this meeting we skipped, the Scout leaders started asking who the werewolf on the bridge was, but since I was never supposed to be there, and my friend never exactly mentioned me, this freaked the group right out.
Some believed an actual werewolf haunted those woods. That happened like 20 years ago, and I think some people still believe it.
14. Worth the Risk?
The father of one of my friends had a ton of stuff put out every year. He’d put the bowl of candy on the lap of a scarecrow who sat in a chair on the front porch. Then he would change places with a different decoration each Halloween and jump-scare kids. Kids would risk it each year, because they knew you could pick a couple of pieces of candy, and they were usually King sized.
The year he swapped as the scarecrow, I just about peed my pants. I remember just screaming and my dad saying, in the most nonchalant voice ever, “Hey Bill.”
15. Wardrobe Malfunction
I worked in a haunt that was an old prison. I was dressed as a clown and I was hidden in the last jail cell. I stepped out in front of these two middle-aged women. One of them screamed and leapt backward off her feet, and slammed onto the ground so hard her wig flew off. I didn’t even have time to wonder if I should break character, because she grabbed her wig and ran out the door in a blink of an eye.
16. And the Award Goes to…
My friend was dressed in a ragged prom gown and actually scared a guy so bad she made him puke. That was the highlight that year. The rest of us were wondering why, all of a sudden, there were no guests coming through. Then we heard “Clean-up in aisle 7” announced over the audio system, followed by, “We have a puker!!!”
17. Low Blow
I got kicked in the nuts really hard by a kid. I was a chainsaw-wielding clown on a haunted hay ride. We would hide until the wagon went past us, and then run and jump onto the wagon with running saws. One kid didn’t like it AT ALL and hoofed me right in the clown balls. I kept a bit more distance after that.
Not mine, but I watched another scarer do this bit where she’d pretend to be one of the dummies on the floor and do a super quick spider-crawl the guests’ way once she got their attention. A group of teenage boys came by and she did her thing. They shouted “Oh my God!” in absolutely perfect unison. It straight up sounded like a choir. It was beautiful.
19. Entertainment for Mom
I was dressed as the grim reaper. The costume was excellent, with lots of blackout bits and bones on the gloves and face, etc. Our doorbell rang and this girl of about 10-12 years old in a full ballerina getup was at the door. I slowly opened the door while staying hidden behind it, and I jumped out from behind.
She screamed bloody murder, turned, and ran full steam off our property and down the street. Her mom was on the sidewalk, laughing herself breathless. Wheezing, she had to call her daughter back, again barely able to catch her breath because she was laughing so hard. She made her take her picture with us and told us we were the best she’s ever seen.
20. They Grow up So Fast
One Halloween, I volunteered at a haunted house because I love scaring people. My job was to sit behind a fake picture dressed like a zombie and pop out when people walked by. I saw my 8-year-old niece walk by and I had to take my opportunity. I pushed my head out and yelled her name, but her response was absolutely legendary.
She said “nice try (insert real name)” and kept walking. I was so proud and defeated at the same time.
21. Trial by Champagne
When I was in elementary school, some rich family friends held a massive Halloween party every year. They had a scare hall, and anyone could volunteer to work at it, so I would every year, and it was lots of fun scaring people. One time, a married couple was walking through, and when I scared them, the wife reacted by instinctively dumping her full glass of champagne on me.
It got in my eye, and I smelled like alcohol for the rest of the night, but it was still pretty funny.
22. The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall
A lot of the times the big beefy guys lead their group. In cases like this, I go for the middle of the group because it gets better reactions. One time, however, I had zoned out. It can get quite slow in between groups, so I was like OH RIGHT gotta scare. At first, it was a huge mistake. I jumped out to see this big, beefy, hulk-size of a man.
But then this giant lets out a 5-year-old’s scream, jumps so high he knocks his head on the hanging dolls, and falls on his butt, trying to hold on to the wall behind him. As a 5-foot-tall, 16-year-old female, it was the best scare I had.
23. Code Rainbow
My ex-girlfriend was one of the “scarers” in a one-week-long annual Halloween event. They got multiple “code yellows” daily, “code browns” at least once a day, and had a “code rainbow” at least once a year. A code rainbow is everything: poop, pee, and vomit. No clue how someone can be so scared they do all three…but these weren’t just kids.
24. Marketing 101
A girl fainted and briefly became a part of the scenery. Luckily, her sister came back for her but the poor girl had to literally drag her to the exit. Meanwhile, all the people waiting in line went “OOOH!” and got really scared. Nothing makes a better impression than someone being dragged out of your haunted house, unconscious.
25. Buns in Peril
I was stuck in the back and the chainsaw guy accidentally lifted my skirt with it. There was no chain, obviously, but I swear my life flashed before my eyes for a second when there was a revving chainsaw that close to my buns.
26. Stopping to Ask for Directions
When I was 14 or 15, I went to a haunted house and somehow was designated “leader” in my group of friends. Moving through the pitch-black hallways, guided only by a tiny red laser, was difficult enough without having my friends clamoring behind me to keep a hand on me, as if I was some magical talisman that could protect them.
Suddenly, a loud noise made my friends scream and strobe lights temporarily blinded me. I started to panic when I realized I couldn’t see the red light anywhere, and I instinctively reached out to grope the wall—Except there was someone standing there. I was so shocked that I just froze and stared at him for a couple of seconds.
Mercifully, the worker took pity on me, physically turned me around, pointed my head at the red light, and hissed, “This way,” in my ear. I successfully herded my friends through the maze.
I was working in a haunted corn maze, and a couple of girls came walking toward me. I was waiting for them to get right up to me, and I heard them say something about a picture. They stopped and turned around to take a selfie. I stood up, photo-bombed them, and crouched back down. When they saw the photo, their response was priceless. They screamed their heads off, and I just laughed quietly next to them.
28. You Have One New Voicemail
I was on the hay ride portion of the haunted house and I was given the role of a woman begging for her life before getting beheaded. I had to scream and beg for someone to help me, and then ultimately my head would get chopped off. One night during one of these performances, I accidentally butt-dialed my Mom’s work phone. Then it got worse.
I ended up leaving a voicemail of me screaming along with my usual “Please help me!!! He’s going to kill me!” Fast-forward to the next morning, Mom went into work and listened to her voicemails on speakerphone as she normally does. Then my voicemail from 2am started screaming at her. She and all her coworkers freaked out and she had to call me to make sure I was still alive.
I’m a long-time haunter, but this is my absolute favorite reaction. A large family came into my room. Our haunted house was huge, and depending on the night it was not fully staffed, so there were several rooms that just appeared creepy and you just walked through. This family, assuming that this was one of those rooms, stopped to take a large group selfie next to the prop body.
I had no idea, and I jumped out of my closet right as the flash went off. The dad who had taken the picture just dropped his phone and ran. His phone was fine, and I’m 100% sure they got an awesome surprise scared group selfie.
30. Worst Nightmare
I volunteered one season to help my friend with their new haunted house. My teens knew I worked there, but the crew was sworn to secrecy about our roles. I had the role of creepy stalker. I looked and stood like a grim reaper. I saw my daughter and half her hockey team go by me. I silently stalked after the last one. When they noticed me, the girls went screaming and running away into a corner and piled up together in a heap on the floor.
Then one looked up at me and said, “Kristen! I think that’s your mom.” The screaming stopped, they all looked up and quietly got up and walked away like it never even happened.
31. A Noxious Night
I had a dude once come through, and he jumped about a mile in the air when I scared him. But then it got really weird. He just stopped after, with this far off look, and said, “I just pooped myself.” I stayed in character until the smell hit me. I then broke and asked if he wanted an escort. The dude seemed to snap out of it and said “Nah, I pinched the rest back” and off he marched.