Nightmare Chamber Haunted House offers its final year of Halloween fright
After 12 years, the ghouls appear to scare one last time. The Nightmare Chamber Haunted House, the October high-scare staple for Southern Oregon, is putting on its final season at its home on Front and Third streets in Medford.
Robin Downward, the producer of the charity haunt, said in a press release that many reasons factored into the decision to make this season the last hurrah for the Medford haunted house, the lack of reliable volunteers being the chief factor.
“It was simply too difficult to find people willing to do what it took to give the level of commitment we needed in order to continue the quality of haunted house we wanted to provide,” Downward said.
“Haunted houses are not an easy thing to be involved in. Many people think it’s just a big party, but it’s not. Everyone goes through quite a bit of training, both actors and our safety team, in order to produce the high quality our patrons have come to expect. In the past few years, it has become more and more difficult to find people willing to put in the time and effort to make a great show, and to do it for charity. We’ve been able to find just enough people to make it work, but it’s been a big stress factor each year. We’re always pounding the pavement, so to speak, looking for people who understand the high level of commitment that is needed. It’s getting to the point where it’s just too difficult to keep searching.”
The Nightmare Chamber, in order to run as designed, requires the participation of at least 20 actors, and at least eight people for the safety team. Downward, who is a trained actor, and has worked as a professional in the performing arts industry, requires his fellow actors and safety staff to give 100 percent of their energy to their roles and jobs inside the haunt. “Once the haunt starts and people realize just how hard the work can be — standing, doing repetitive movements, being in a dark, foggy, noisy space for three to five hours — it’s tough. I get it, because I’m 53, and I’m there every night working as an actor right alongside everyone.”
Many of the dedicated participants have been with the Nightmare Chamber for many years, and feel that it’s worth their time and effort. Downward stated that the crew truly becomes a family of individuals sharing their love of the Halloween holiday with others. After the haunt closes each night, everyone shares the stories of their favorite scares.
“They discuss how they best scared people, and rejoice in the common goal of seeing how many patrons will lose control of their “bodily functions” by their hands” said Downward. “It’s a badge of honor to hear someone say “I just peed!” as strange as that may seem. We truly love one another. We enjoy each other’s company. When a new, dedicated person joins the group, they start out a little shy, but in no time, they are scaring with the rest of us. They become part of the group, part of this family of people that share their love of Halloween with others. It’s wonderful to see.”
The Nightmare Chamber opened in October of 2010. 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 new every year. 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 yet another season took you into your worst nightmares with “Night Terrors.” In 2019, patrons saw the cult classic horror movie “Evil Dead” turned into a walk-through haunted house. This year sees the creatures from your own worst nightmares coming to life to escape into the world of the living by scaring you to death while you sleep.
“Haunted houses are to Halloween as Santa Claus is to Christmas,” said Downward. “They are that important to those who love the holiday. The holidays actually start with Halloween in my opinion.”
The haunt runs from 7 to 10 p.m. through Sunday, Oct. 24, and Wednesday through Sunday, Oct. 27-31, at 10 E. Third St., at the corner of Front and Third streets in Medford.
The Nightmare Chamber is a high-scare haunted house and is not recommended for children 10 and under, if you are pregnant, prone to seizures or have problems with flashing lights and loud sounds. Any child not able to walk on their own will not be allowed into the haunted house for their safety. Visitors must wear a mask and sanitize their hands before entering the haunted house. Each actor will routinely disinfectant their areas and wear a mask if they are within 6 feet of any patron. Actors who have been vaccinated will be given the choice to wear masks or not.
Regular tickets are $12. Tickets discounted $2 can be purchased at all Magic Man Fun Shops in Medford and Grants Pass. Fast passes are $13 in advance, $15 at the door, with a minimum purchase of two tickets. Fast passes allow visitors to skip wait time with a scheduled appointment. For more information, tickets and COVID-19 rules, see nightmarechamber.com or 541-632-3258.