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Nightmare Chamber Haunted House is your ticket to fright

The spooky October staple for Southern Oregon, Randall Theatre/Eventweks’s annual Nightmare Chamber Haunted House, is set up for successful scaring all while keeping COVID-19 guidelines firmly in place, organizers say.

Robin Downward, creative producer for Eventwerks and Nightmare Chamber, stated in a press release that with multiple precautions in place, the event producers hope that guests will come out and have fun while keeping themselves and others safe.

This is the 11th consecutive season for the Nightmare Chamber Haunted House, which first opened its doors in 2010. Back then, the designers for the haunted house had an idea — change the theme each year, reconstruct the interior and give the local population something exciting, scary and totally different every year. That trend has continued to this day.

Over the past decade, the haunted house has seen the ghouls of “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill,” both based on highly popular video games. The icons of horror Leatherface, Michael Meyers, Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kruger joined forces one year to terrorize the Rogue Valley, while one season took you into your worst nightmares with “Night Terrors.” In 2019, the cult classic horror movie “Evil Dead” turned the event into a walk-through haunted house.

The theme for this year’s Nightmare Chamber is “The Return of the Family.” Downward wanted to bring back one of the most talked about and loved themes of the past 10 years. The haunted house was themed after “The Family” in 2017, which sported a group of inbred cannibals who trapped unwary travelers in their underground labyrinth, where they hunted them for sport — and food. The theme was a hit with the guests and the actors alike, so much so that the decision was made to resurrect the theme for 2020. Aside from the “family’s” return, the haunted house has been reconstructed and more than 50 percent of the maze itself is all new for this season.

Appointment ticketing will be used this year — a bonus for those who hate waiting in line for the haunted house.

“One of the comments we get from a small percentage of patrons that return year after year is that the haunted house is fantastic, but that the wait can sometimes be long,” Downward says.

“Although the tickets by appointment only was originally set up to help protect from COVID by keeping people separated, the happy side effect is that wait times are reduced to a fraction of what they had been in previous years. Once you select your time and pay for your tickets online, all you need to do is show up 10 minutes before your appointment time, get into your designated time line and then walk in with virtually no wait time ... Compared to one and a half hours (in the past), it’s a huge bonus that we hope everyone will take advantage of.”

Guests can book appointments on-site, but tickets will cost $2 more per ticket. and there is no guarantee of availability for that night. A down side to the new system is that if a guest is late, they miss out on their time for that night. If a guest is late, they must book for another night, and there will be a $5 per ticket rescheduling fee.

Appointments will be booked every five minutes, which will give ample time and space for each group to experience the scares of the haunted house without the risk of groups bunching up on the inside of the haunted house. In the past, the time between groups had been around two minutes, and there was a tendency for fast groups to catch up to slow groups.

As always, security will be posted inside the haunted house as well as video cameras to watch for any issues, including those not following the CDC guidelines.

Masks are required to enter the haunted house and also will be worn by all actors and staff. Anyone found not wearing their mask properly will be warned once, and if they are still found to be non-compliant, they will be escorted out of the event with no refund, Downward says. Guests also will be required to sanitize hands on-site and be given disposable sanitary gloves to wear before entering the haunted house, and sanitation of surfaces will be conducted between each group. Any actor that would be closer than 6 feet to any guest will be covered in a mask, gloves and total body costume. Clear plexiglas will also be used to separate any areas closer than 6 feet from guests.

In addition to the haunted house, guests can visit Cascadia Axe Throwing, which will have its remote axe throwing trailer on-site for people to try their hand at throwing axes, and Apocalypse Chow will have food and beverages available for purchase.

The Nightmare Chamber Haunted House is not recommended for children 10 and under, and any child not able to walk on their own will not be allowed into the haunted house.

The Nightmare Chamber Haunted House, located at 10 E. Third St. in downtown Medford, will be open Thursdays through Sundays, Oct. 16- 25, and Tuesday through Sunday, Oct. 27-Nov. 1. The haunted house opens at 7 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. most nights with some nights being open until 11 p.m. and midnight, respectively. Tickets are $13, or $15 for appointments made on-site. Tickets also include discounts at Magic Man Fun Shops in Medford and Grants Pass and Crunch Time! Wreck and escape Rooms in Medford. If a guest purchases a wreck room session from Crunch Time! in the month of October, they will get a free ticket to the Nightmare Chamber Haunted House.

See nightmarechamber.com or crunchtimefun.com, or call 541-632-3258.

The 13th annual Killer Valley Horror Film Festival

The 13th annual Killer Valley Horror Film Festival will be held virtually this year, beginning Friday, Oct. 9, and running through Sunday, Nov. 1.

The festival includes films from all over the world, including one feature-length film, 27 shorts, and 16 micro-shorts, and also the top-10 films of 2019 from the 15-Second Horror Film Challenge.

For a full listing of films and further information, see killervalleyhorrorfilmfestival.com.

Actor Rhyon Ingalls gnaws his way out of a body during tours of Randall Theatre's Nightmare Chamber Haunted House in Medford in 2017.{ }Mail Tribune file photo