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Alton is known as one of America’s most haunted towns, and during October, the haunts around town are scarier than ever. One of the scariest is The Apocalypse, happening at 304 E. Third St. at the YWCA.
The haunt began four years ago with Erin Murphy, Tommy Riddle and Michael McCann, along with a few others who wanted to bring a haunt to life.
“I have been a Halloween fan since I was a kid,” Murphy said. “My family would always go all out with the costumes and makeup. And then I found Tommy and he talked to me about doing a haunted house and I said, ‘sure, sounds great’ and that’s really how it all got started.”
Even though the point of The Apocalypse is to terrify and frighten people, the team also came up with an idea to appeal more to the younger generations.
“We had several actors with young children and we came up with an interesting idea that maybe we should come with something for those kids,” Murphy said.
They began a haunt called Fear-less in 2013. Fear-less is a family-friendly version of their haunt; one which children as well as their parents can enjoy. Children can walk through with the lights on while trick-or-treating with the actors handing out candy.
“The first year wasn’t too successful,” Murphy said. “We weren’t very well-known then, but the second year was extremely successful. We used to have the Fear-less tour every Saturday, but we didn’t get a ton of people every week, so this year we are doing just the one day on Oct. 31 during the day from 4:30 to 6:30. The haunted house is really intense this year, but the kids enjoy it during their specific time.”
The haunted house doesn’t always get people who are willing to scare themselves. There are a variety of people who come through the haunt, Murphy said.
“The people that go through the haunt range between those who love it and are talking about it to those who don’t really know what to make of it, which is something we get a lot in adults,” she said.
Being a part of something so unique, there are unique perks as well as favorite aspects of this type of job as well as various job titles.
“My favorite thing about the haunt is the screams,” she said. “I act in it as well and I just love the adrenaline rush that comes with scaring people. At the end of the night there are the actors just hanging around talking about their favorite scares they got that night. But my other favorite is the production of everything and seeing it all put together.”
Not only does Murphy act during the haunts, she has a list of other titles as well, none of which could really fit under one specific category. She does a little bit of everything including: floorplans, building and putting the sets together, decorating the different rooms, costumes, half of the makeup, all of the digital accouterments like the website as well as their Facebook page, and fliers. “It’s difficult to put a title on all of it, but I’m just one of the Apocalypse people,” she said.
With any haunt, there are certain stereotypes of the Halloween season that people expect to see in a traditional haunted house, which is something the Apocalypse team incorporates into what they do as well. They have the traditional butcher, at least one clown and a nurse, which are the three main types they make sure to incorporate into their haunt.
While there are many different rooms within the Apocalypse, Murphy has one favorite — the Plant Room.
“It’s the evil plant room,” she said. “It’s a black light room and it’s one of my favorites because it was my idea. It’s a very visual environment, so people are easily distracted by everything around them, which makes them easy to scare.
“That room is my baby for sure, but the clown room is always the most fun to decorate because there is always something fun about smearing fake blood everywhere,” she said, laughing.
“The Apocalypse has really become quite scary and I think it is like a dare in a way,” Murphy said. “People thinking, ‘I won’t get scared’ so they do it. It’s an adventure to go on with friends. We come from a small town, which we love and we just want to make something that is worthy of it.”
The Apocalypse is open 7 p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday and the Fear-less tour is 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 31. They will also have a float in the Halloween parade, but will be open after the parade ends. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.apocalypsehaunt.com.