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This extreme, torture-horror haunted house pays $20k if you finish it—but nobody ever has

McKamey Manor claims to be the world’s scariest haunted house, one that you have to sign a waiver before entering, and nobody has ever completed it.

This extreme, torture-horror haunted house pays $20k if you finish it—but nobody ever has
[Photo: Melanie Wasser/Unsplash]

What: What appears to be the world’s most effective haunted house.

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Who: Russ McKamey and the team behind McKamey Manor.

Why we care: Enter the haunted house that seems like it could actually make a ghost out of its visitors. McKamey Manor is the “extreme haunt” that is so extreme that potential visitors must apply to enter, sign a 40-page waiver, create a safe word, do a Facebook screening, and furnish proof of a recent physical before maybe getting inside. (As of 2015, the owner claimed there was a waiting list of 27,000 people hoping for the opportunity.) All it costs to get in is some dog food, and anyone who makes it all the way through the entire eight-hour atrocity exhibition gets $20,000. But to date, nobody has made it all the way through.

A typical haunted house delivers its thrills and chills with becostumed beasties jumping out from dark corners and possibly a fog machine. McKamey Manor, by contrast, will apparently shatter your psyche, force-feed you something besides fear (vomit has been rumored), confine you with spiders and cockroaches, and do a rather convincing impression of trying to drown you. According to The Guardian, some past guests have called the authorities to complain about their treatment, but owner Russ McKamey tapes every scare and the footage has never quite matched up with anyone’s accusations of crossing certain lines.

The brainchild of ex-Navy, theater studies major McKamey, the destination for adrenaline junkies has existed for about 20 years now, first in San Diego, and now in Summertown, Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama. While it started as more typical Halloween fare, McKamey Manor eventually ditched children as clientele and started getting more and more aggressive. It’s featured both in Netflix’s documentary Haunters and an episode of David Farrier’s Netflix series Dark Tourist. To get a quick idea of how hardcore things get at McKamey, watch the below video of all the visitors between July 2017 and August 2019 at the moment they decided to throw in the haunted—more like tortured—towel.

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