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Haunted Houses Grow Bigger, Scarier

Tonawanda, NY (WBEN) - Americans are getting harder and harder to scare.

Steve Szortyka knows that better than anyone. Szortyka is the General Manager at Frightworld Screampark in Tonawanda, which is filled with five different haunted houses.

  AP Photo

MUSTANG, Okla. (AP)  Blood is splattered along the garage door that apparently  smashed someone's head. Another man lies a few feet away, run over by a truck.

 Homeowners outside Oklahoma City strived to scare, and their decorations certainly have. At least one woman has called 911 on their macabre - albeit fake- murder scene

Jennifer Mullins used her husband's work clothes and blankets for stuffing, and placed a  life-sized dummy at the garage, and then another next to the truck. A sign above the dummy in the garage door reads "you're next." The front yard is filled with spider webs, skeletons, crosses and RIP signs.

"People think we went too far, and you know, we're devil worshippers and we must not be Christian folk," the 32-year-old mother of two girls said. "They've said all kinds of stuff. But we're normal. We love Jesus. We celebrate Halloween."

As for the woman who called 911, Mullins called it "ridiculous" and said if it was her, she would have gotten out of her car to check on the person and then seen it was a dummy.

"Plus, I'd probably put two and two together, seeing the decorations in the front yard and then seeing the bodies and then think, `Oh, it's Halloween,'" Mullins said.

A spokeswoman for the local police department said no crime has been committed because of the false-alarm 911 call.

Some of the Mullins' neighbors said that while the display initially created some spine-chilling moments for them, they aren't opposed to it.

Chris Wilson, 38, who lives a few houses down, said he saw what he thought was the body of his neighbor under the the garage door, blood trickling from his body. He grabbed his phone and ran over to the home, prepared to call for help. But then he realized the body was fake, made up of cloth and blankets.

"He got me," Wilson said with a chuckle.

"Back in 2005, a black maze might scare a customer, today that doesn't go over so well" Szortyka said as he prepares for his busiest time of year.

Frightworld is only open 29 days a year, nine of those days will be between this weekend and November 2nd.

While Frightworld is only open for business a handful of days each year, Szortyka says that for some of his staff, bringing the newest technology to Western New York, then figuring out how to use it, is a year-round job.

WBEN EXTRA:  Go  Inside Frightworld with  A WBEN Photo Album BELOW

"For several of us, this is a 365-day a year job, creating designing, and researching the new scares."

And Szortyka says a lot of that work goes in to figuring out how to put the scare in perennial customers.

"The houses change significantly from year to year. We either bring in new houses, or completely redesign the floor plans of existing houses."

And just who is scaring you when you walk through these terrifying mazes?

Szortyka says that many "scarers" are drama students at local colleges, but he gets people submitting applications from all walks of life.

More Halloween Coverage:
On The WBEN Liveline

How Much Do We Spend on Halloween? And On What? Hear Kathy Grannis from the National Retail Federation

WBEN's Cinema Bob Stilson joins John & Susan for a look at the scariest Halloween movies of all time.


RELATED COVERAGE: What are You Wearing? The Fox says Ka-ching!

How much do you spend on Halloween?
Less than $20
( 63% )
$20 - $50
( 23% )
$50 - $100
( 10% )
More than $100
( 4% )


Inside Frightworld
A Selection of pictures by  WBEN's Brian Mazurowski

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Topics : Technology_Internet
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Locations : New YorkTonawandaWestern New York
People : Steve Szortyka
10/24/2013 5:24PM
Haunted Houses Grow Bigger, Scarier
What do you think about Haunted Houses?
10/25/2013 8:22AM
10/25/2013 4:01PM
Frightworld!!!!!!! woooo hooooo!
We go to it every year! It's awesome.
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