People say that McKamey Manor is more like a torture chamber than a haunted house because people are tied down, given drugs, and hit.
Haunted houses are universally appealing — anyone looking for a few harmless scares will get a kick out of their simulated danger. McKamey Manor in Summertown, Tennessee, on the other hand, may have gone too far.
To enter Russ McKamey’s haunted house, both a doctor’s note and a signature on a 40-page waiver are required. McKamey even initially offered a $20,000 prize for completing the challenge — but no one ever won it.
Most only lasted a few minutes before begging to be let go.
While it may appear that McKamey has created the scariest haunted house in America, if not the scariest haunted house in the world, thousands of people disagree. According to a Change.org petition with over 170,000 signatures, it’s not an extreme haunted house, but a violent “torture chamber disguised.”
Explore McKamey Manor, Tennessee’s infamous “extreme haunted house.”
*How McKamey Manor Became America’s Scariest Haunted House
Russ McKamey, a former Navy seaman turned wedding singer turned haunted house enthusiast, created McKamey Manor. He began his haunted house in San Diego before pulling up stakes and relocating to Tennessee.
He provides guests with an all-immersive “extreme” haunted house experience there. Guests can try to endure the McKamey Manor experience for the price of a bag of dog food — McKamey is an animal lover with five dogs.
However, there are a few ground rules. All participants must be at least 21 years old (or 18 with parental permission), pass a physical, a background check, be screened via Facebook, FaceTime, or phone, have proof of medical insurance, and pass a drug test.
In addition, participants must read aloud and sign a 40-page legal waiver. However, this is not just any legal waiver. It’s full of scenarios ranging from pulling someone’s teeth to shaving their head to having their fingers shoved into mouse traps.
Though participants can choose two items to avoid from a list of more than one hundred, everything else is fair game. For some, this is reason enough to withdraw from the challenge right away.
The braver souls are permitted to proceed. Most, however, do not make it very far in the McKamey manor challenge. In fact, most last only eight minutes before begging for it all to end.
Thousands of people have been convinced by those eight minutes that Russ McKamey is not running a haunted house at all. They claim he built a torture chamber.
The Uproar Over McKamey Manor’s Extreme Haunted House
McKamey Manor, according to a Change.org petition with over 170,000 signatures, is “a torture chamber disguised.”
The petition, which calls McKamey Manor “torture porn” and “a shame to all haunted houses,” claims that participants have suffered sexual assault, drug injections, and extreme physical harm.
According to the petition, Russ McKamey “uses loopholes to avoid arrest,” and “one man was tortured so badly that he passed out multiple times… Workers only came to a halt because they believed they had killed him.”
Several people have spoken out about their terrifying experiences at McKamey Manor. Laura Hertz Brotherton, who visited McKamey’s haunted house in San Diego, claims that the experience sent her to the hospital. She arrived bruised, with scratches inside her mouth caused by actors “fish-hooking” her cheeks.
Brotherton claims that actors blindfolded her, submerged her ankles in water, and buried her alive with only a straw to breathe through.
Other participants say they were forced to eat their own vomit, had their faces shoved in rancid water, and were locked in coffins with insects and spiders.
“It’s literally just a kidnapping and torture house,” the petition claims. “Some people have needed professional psychiatric help and medical care for severe injuries.”
But, according to Russ McKamey, the backlash has been exaggerated.
Russ McKamey’s Justification For His Terrifying Experience
Russ McKamey may accept that he has built the scariest haunted house in America — possibly the scariest haunted house in the world. But he’d deny that McKamey Manor is anything other than a truly terrifying haunted house. He assures us that it is not a torture chamber.
“I’m a very straight-laced conservative guy,” McKamey complained, “but here I run this crazy haunted house that people think is this torture factory, fetish factory.”
That is simply not true, he stated. McKamey even removed the $20,000 prize because it drew “the crazy ones.”
“You’d be surprised how many people have claimed something happened to them inside over the years,” he said.
That is why McKamey films each and every participant and uploads the videos to YouTube. When people complain about something that happened to them, he simply hands them the raw footage and says, “Here ya go, here’s the full show.”
McKamey, in his opinion, is simply a good creative director. He claims to tailor each show to each individual’s fears. He insists that countless participants were duped into believing something happened that never happened.
“I can put you in a kitty pool with a couple inches of water and tell you there’s a great white shark in there, and you’ll think there’s a shark in there,” McKamey explained.
“So, when you have that kind of power over people and make them do and see things you want them to see, they can leave here thinking it really happened, and they’ll go to the authorities and say, ‘Oh, whatever,’ and I have to come back and show the footage and say, ‘It didn’t go that way at all.'”
“It came in handy a thousand times.”
Having said that, McKamey had made a few changes to his haunted house. He currently provides a six-hour “Descent” experience. “People can make it through — it’s not as difficult as some of them,” he said.
Finally, McKamey claims that his haunted house is all a hoax. A simple suggestion is often enough to frighten people — and sometimes to persuade them that something happened that didn’t.
McKamey insisted, “It’s a mental game.” “It’s really just me versus them.”
Whether real or not, it appears that McKamey Manor will continue to attract visitors. It’s one of the world’s scariest haunted houses, attracting endurance athletes and horror fans alike.
However, as Russ McKamey observes, “the Manor is always going to win.”