It was a spooky scene on Main Street in West Point Friday and Saturday night. Costumed monsters and children of all ages lined up outside the quaint Blue Mountain Theatre, ready for a frightfully good time at this year’s haunted house attraction, The Emporium of Unearthly Delights.
The theatre beckoned brave visitors to its doors with strung lights in purple and orange, and a very ominous-looking “front porch” strewn with hanging ghouls and witches, cobwebs, and the like.
The haunted house and accompanying story was created and operated by a team of volunteers, between 20 to 30 members of the community, adult and teenagers, as well as the theatre’s Blue Mountain Players.
One of the volunteers, Donna Rose, was a catalyst for the spooky event, having a love for Halloween herself. She hopes that the addition of the haunted house puts West Point on the map as a “Halloween destination” for the area.
Inside the “house” there were eight decorated rooms, each with its own theme created by the actors assigned to it. The rooms took visitors on an adventure back in time to the early Gold Rush days, to a fictitious version of West Point history, in which the small mining town suffered a deadly and mysterious “gold pan-demic” of its own.
Ushers at the door gave visitors a brief history of the horrors to be seen within, following a script while adding their own theatrics—with one usher describing a virus that swept through the fictitious mining town, “even worse than Covid”.
The “town” included an apothecary, fully stocked with terror-inducing potions, elixirs, and jars full of strange ingredients, such as fingers and “dried spider eyes.”
Next was the “West Point Ripper,” whose “carnage can only be imagined,” according to a script provided by organizers.
A town bakery/sweet shop was low in provisions but had plenty of “baked brains” in stock, while “Fur & Bone Pet/Taxidermy Shop” was fully stocked with dismembered teddy bears, skeleton mermaids, and other creatures with disfigurements and strange body parts.
An overflowing graveyard with bodies “rising and boiling out of the ground” caused some alarm, while Mort the Mortician was “quite overwhelmed” and became deranged “from the rot and decay”.
The town’s butcher, Bloody Mary, made the most of the situation, gleefully showing visitors her arsenal of dead townspeople and bloodied knives.
A final warning as visitors exited the terror-filled town, advised them to “watch what you eat and who you meet” and “have a scary Trick-or-Treat!”
While the haunted house was designed to be PG-13, young children were allowed in the presence of an adult.
One such young lady named Willow announced before entering that it was her 5th birthday on Friday. She had never been to a real haunted house before, though her family created one in their home for her last year as a birthday party for her and her friends.
Willow was excited to go inside with her mom and other family members, even though she thought the Fortune Teller in the ticketbooth window outside was “really scary”.
Inside, she braved an offer of eyeballs from the Madame of the Apothecary, and even the growls from a monster hiding inside an old trunk. By the time the group made it to the next room, however, Willow’s resolve left her and she cried into her mom’s arms the rest of the way through.
Willow was one of a few crying children at the Halloween attraction, but handfuls of older kids came out screaming gleefully, saying it was “fun” and wanting to go through again.
The sentiment was echoed by adults as well, with one middle-aged visitor calling it “pretty impressive” and others using the word “awesome,” hanging around to have snacks and drinks while chatting with neighbors and volunteers milling about outside of the theatre.
Though the crowds thinned around 8:30 p.m., over an hour earlier than they had planned to close, the haunted house had close to 100 visitors walk through in the two and a half hours they were there. The total number of visitors is estimated to be 240, according to Rose.
Admission was $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids, with all proceeds (including donations for drinks and snacks provided) going to the Blue Mountain Theatre’s continued maintenance and future productions.
The theatre has been a non-profit in West Point for over 20 years, and Director Vicki Sneed-Hinkell is grateful for the support they have received, saying, “People are so great. The whole community is so supportive.”
Upcoming productions at the Blue Mountain Theatre include a Variety Show to be open in November or December of this year, and a comedic production titled Cemetery Club, about four widowed women who keep a regular date with the cemetery to visit their deceased husbands, which will premiere in February.