Standing in line, waiting to get into Nightmare on 13th Street, you can while away the time watching two big-screen TVs. Each is showing a different video, taped inside the Nightmare haunted house in previous years.
On one television, patrons are shown as they walk around a corner and are frightened by a sudden noise and blinding light. On the other, the camera was set high in the wall of a bedroom. As various groups walk through the bedroom, a demented-looking woman in a bathrobe plunges out of the closet waving a knife.
The people standing in line laugh uproariously as they watch last year's patrons mostly teens like themselves jumping and squealing and running in terror.
Sometimes the crowd starts laughing even before the light goes on or the knife-wielder appears. They laugh because the girls in the videos begin to cower from the moment they walk into view. They cower before there is anything to be afraid of. Most of the girls in the videos hide under each other's arms or behind a boyfriend's back.
Sometimes one boy can be seen trying to shelter two or three girls under his arms as they make their way through the haunted house. These boys tend to look exceptionally calm. They seem proud to be surrounded by a bevy of fearful females.
Troy Barber, the owner of Nightmare on 13th, says there is something fun about watching people get scared. He thinks the folks standing in line experience some of the same emotions his employees do. His proof that people enjoy scaring each other? Every year, Barber says, he has about twice as many job applicants as he can hire.
When Rocky Point Haunted House closed last year, Nightmare on 13th became the undisputed most-visited haunted house in the state, Barber said. He expects at least 50,000 visitors this season.
This year, Barber says, Nightmare on 13th was able to expand its operations because he has more space. Barber has hired about 10 additional employees, for a total of 75 or 80 ghouls and weirdos who work each night.
Nightmare on 13th boasts a new ticketing area, complete with a castle. There's a new automated headless horseman riding over the outdoor entryway. And at least half of the scary scenes inside the house are also new.
As for the videos of last year's scariness, well, they are not a new attraction. Last year the big screens were stationed at the exit. This year they are at the entrance.
As you stand in line watching the videos, you can also eavesdrop on the conversations of those who are about to be scared. Most people act brave, even as the televisions prove to them that their boldness might be hard to maintain for much longer.
One recent night a mom held the hands of some small boys and said to the older kids who were also with her, "Do you guys want to go ahead without us?" And one of the older boys said, "No, I want to go with the little kids."
Then the mom realized why he wanted to stick with his siblings and she forbade it, saying, "I know you are just going to try to scare them to death."She seemed to think watching someone else get scared was one of the reasons he came to the haunted house.
If you go ...
What: Nightmare on 13th Street
Where: 300 W. 1300 South
When: nightly through Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $15-$25
Phone: 467-8100Web: www.nightmareon13th.com
E-MAIL: [email protected]