It’s Saturday night, and a line is starting to form outside of Cutting Edge in Fort Worth. Those brave enough to run through it have to first pass through a metallic skull with glowing, red eyes and into a dense fog.
Inside, they’ll traverse horrifying swamps, creepy circus folk, an ancient tomb, a two-story “human processing” plant, and more.
Co-creator Todd James, who also operates Thrillvania in Terrell, says people actually look forward to what lies ahead.
“It’s a bunch of fun,” he says. “A lot of the technology that Disney and Universal had the privilege of using in the past has become affordable. Whether you’re afraid of zombies or clowns. We’ve got dinosaurs. We’ve got a giant, life-sized dragon.”
Actors, makeup artists, and costumers are getting ready backstage. Teresa Hudspeth is having the final touches added to her creepy doll look. She’s been acting her whole life, but she says this kind of performance is special.
“You get to know the rhythm of the groups when they come in, so you know when to do what you’re going to do,” Hudspeth says. “There are certain tactics you figure out that work well. I scare people anyway just for giggles.”
Fellow actor Duvirr Garcia and makeup artist Brooke Johns are at a nearby station. They say the chainsaw-wielding butcher you meet is a definite highlight. It’s made even scarier when you learn that the building is actually a century-old meat processing plant.
“Let’s say you’ve got a big group coming through,” Garcia says. “As soon as you start it up, they just literally bolt out of the room. It is instant scream and then bolt.”
“The sound of it is terrifying enough,” Johns adds.
Sociologist Margee Kerr is a scare specialist who has been studying fear for a decade. She says getting startled is like a jolt to our sympathetic nervous system. Our survival instincts immediately kick in.
“Haunted houses give us an opportunity to recognize and to acknowledge that these fears are there, but then to laugh at it and keep on moving,” she says.
While some people walk in grimacing and hearts racing, after nearly an hour of scares, everyone leaves Cutting Edge laughing.