Tens of thousands of people are calling for an ‘extreme’ haunted house to be shut down, claiming it is little more than a “torture chamber”.
McKamey Manor in Tennessee only allows people to enter after they sign a 40-page waiver and pass a background check. Owner and operator Russ McKamey doesn’t take payment, except in the form of dog food for his hounds.
The tour, which has been running in some form for more than 30 years, can last up to 10 hours, and is based on your personal fears. McKamey runs one per week, and if a person lasts until the end of the tour, they can win US $20,000. No one ever has. (It’s also against the rules to swear, with McKamey taking away $500 from the $20,000 prize pool for every curse word.)
More than 80,000 people have now signed a petition calling for authorities to shut the tour down. The petition claims people have been waterboarded, drugged, and had their safe word ignored while being tortured. It also claims people have sought professional psychiatric help and medical care for extensive injuries.
“This can be an aggressive experience, and our actors will come into contact with you,” the McKamey Manor site warns.
It’s important to note that plenty of the claims here are (so far) being made by people who watched a Netflix documentary on haunted houses and the people who run them, not people who have experienced it themselves. However, questions have been raised for years over the ethical nature of what McKamey does, and petition starter Frankie Towery has set up an email for people who have experienced trauma from the tour to get in touch (PEDESTRIAN.TV has also reached out.)
“It’s literally just a kidnapping & torture house. Some people have had to seek professional psychiatric help and medical care for extensive injuries,” Towery says.
In an interview with The Washington Post, McKamey wouldn’t confirm or deny which experiences the petition claims are legit or not, but did deny he tortured anyone or was involved in anything illegal. (The Post writes that McKamey “calls police to warn them before each new participant begin the tour in case they get reports of any issues”, which doesn’t sound as comforting as it might have been intended.)
McKamey has claimed in multiple reports that he uses mental techniques such as hypnosis to convince people they’re being tortured. It’s partly why he films every experience, he says, using it as an insurance policy against potential lawsuits – of which there have reportedly been a few, all based on things McKamey claims never happened.
“You’d be surprised over the years how many people have claimed something happened to them inside,” he said.
“And I need to go back and show whoever needs to see it the raw and unedited footage, saying ‘here ya go, here’s the complete show.’”
Some of those videos have been spliced into a two-hour ‘warning’ movie, which would-be participants are required to watch before entering the mansion. People are shown crying and begging for McKamey to let them quit the experience. One man is shown being buried alive, begging for the horror to end.
“I can’t. Russ, please, I can’t. I quit,” he says, struggling to breathe.
McKamey throws more dirt on his face.
“Russ, you serious?” the man says, spitting out dirt. “I quit round one. I can’t handle being buried alive.”
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