If you’re the kind of person who enjoys creepy strolls through dark spaces with ghouls and goblins festering around every corner, perhaps it’s time to head to The Guild Hall in Porter Creek, as the Guild Society is preparing to scare the wits out of you at its annual haunted house of horror.
The event is one of the Guild’s biggest fundraisers, which helps pay for performance rights, directors, production teams and needed equipment.
It began as a 5-day event in 2010 with roughly 100 participants walking through their doors and has grown into a robust 600 to 700 people in the last few years.
The haunted house is the brainchild of former Guild Society president and artistic director Anthony Trombetta. He got the idea from going to a Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios in Florida, as well as the Playland Fright Night at the PNE Vancouver.
“We always had the idea to create something that was truly scary. Something more for the Halloween spirited adults” said Trombetta. “With our first go it really was testing what we could do in the space and we just kept improving or adding from there.”
The Guild uses almost all of it’s available space as it leads groups of four from the “Other Room” starting point, into the highly decorated lobby, across the multi room backstage area and winding corridors that weave throughout the darkly lit theatre as a cast of creepy characters use a plethora of scare tactics to disorient your senses.
Also adding to the creep factor is the Guild Hall itself, a former army barrack turned theatre that has its own tales of ghostly encounters.
Two years ago, the decision was made to crank up the fear factor and change the haunted house to an adult theme and to no longer permit anyone under the age of 14. Due to the dark, confined spaces and amount of people involved with the haunted house, the Guild Society has restricted alcohol use during the event for safety reasons. Anyone that is suspected of being under the influence will not be permitted inside.
Volunteers for the event play a huge part in it’s success. It takes eight to 12 people to run the show and 10 to 15 people to build it over three nights. Volunteers help to design the creepy set and dress up and create their own creepy “scare zone” inside the bowels of the haunted house.
Dave Paquette has volunteered his time for the last four years. “I have this amazing ‘evil clown’ mask. I stood at the end of a long, pitch black hallway. As the victims drew near I simply turned my flashlight on my face,” he said. “I just love the looks of sheer terror on people’s faces. They seem to get a real kick out of it. The haunted house is one of my favourite events. There’s usually lots of folks who want to be involved and it’s fantasy, so it’s a pretty fun atmosphere.”
The theme this year is Your Worst Nightmare.
“Expect to walk headlong into the Guild Hall populated by all the things that have been keeping you up since your childhood,” said general manager Brandon Wike.
Will the real Guild ghost make an appearance?
“I certainly hope we can count on the guild ghost to volunteer,” Wike said. “I’ve been keeping in touch through regular séances and he seems interested.”
The annual Guild Haunted House fundraiser presented by the Guild Society is located at 27 – 14th Ave. in Porter Creek. It runs October 26, 27 and 28, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is by donation. Youth ages 14 to 17 must have a guardian. For more information, or if you wish to volunteer call the Guild Society at 633-3550.