By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Every day life – dolls, clowns, kitchens, 18-wheelers, forests – all turn scary in the black maze of the Haunted Theatre.
The Tupelo Community Theatre-produced haunted house takes its victims through 11,000 square feet of scares, and director Steve Miller is creating the biggest one yet. Last year there were 18 big scares; this year there are 22.
“We’re going darker and darker every year,” he said. “We want to outdo ourselves. We’re not really doing zombies; we did zombies last year.”
Miller doesn’t take inspiration from scary movies, but more from real-life scary situations.
“Walking in front of an 18-wheeler blowing the horn – how do you prepare for that? You don’t,” he said.
A creepy doll collection will be housed near the most haunted part of the theater: the fabric room. Legend says the Lyric’s resident spook, Antoine, haunts the upstairs of the theater, especially that room.
“He started after me last night when I was leaving,” Miller said. “I could hear clacking noises up here.”
Haunted Theatre’s goblins and ghouls rely on theatrical make-up rather than masks, but Miller did buy one elaborate $1,000 costume at an expo this year. He also created some out-of-this-world characters using PVC pipe, the inside of a bug zapper, lamp parts and a broom handle.
Miller built the carriage-style hearse that can be seen at this year’s Haunted Theatre, as well as the Tupelo Tornado, the dizzying vortex that was the highlight of last year’s event.
The Tupelo Tornado is making a comeback this year.
“We changed the lighting on the inside to make it more effective,” he said.
The Haunted Theatre isn’t recommended for kids 10 and younger.
“We’re a no-touch (haunted theatre),” Miller said, “but that doesn’t mean we don’t try to terrorize you.”
• What: Tupelo Community Theatre’s Haunted Theatre
• When: Begins 7 p.m. Oct. 17-19, 24-26 and Halloween
• Where: The Lyric
• Cost: $15
• Info: (662) 844-1935, tct.ms
• Extra: Not recommended for kids under 10