Ready to get your spook on? Halloween isn’t just about dressing up and scoring lots of free candy. Across North Texas, it's prime time to take tours of dirty, dark haunted houses, filled with cobwebs, ghosts, mysterious noises, bloodcurdling screams and kooky creatures — if you dare.
After all, you might not get out alive. And if you do, the hair-raising experience could haunt your dreams for years to come.
But how did these mansions get to be so terrifying? In North Texas, many haunted houses have developed elaborate, creative "stories" — or are they nightmares?
Oh, don’t be scared. Take this spine-chilling tour of some of the spookier haunted houses in Dallas-Fort Worth and across North Texas. Here's how they got to be so horrifying:
Here’s the alleged back story on Hangman’s House in Fort Worth: In 1882, a lynch mob put an end to the murderous rampage of Hezekiah Jones — known as the Hangman. He would stalk his victims along the Trinity River and hang them. But then he was killed by his own rope. The next morning, all that was found was a broken rope dangling from the limb of a rotting oak tree. "The Hangman won't die until the souls of those 120 victims are gone. Every year he takes a soul from his rope to continue his horrible existence. But when they're used up, he will die. Unless of course, he kills again."
The story of fire-ravaged Tayman is a tragic, mysterious one: "After the collapse of the mine, the Tayman residents were subject to more tragedy as a mysterious plague tore through the town, causing people to become feverish, ravenous and so deliriously violent that they turned on their own family and townspeople." In Tayman Graveyard Haunted Theme Park in Midlothian, you'll venture into the Tayman Funeral Home, the Graveyard, the old Tayman Mining Co., and Fappy the Clown's Theatre of Wonders, a "unique 3D experience that takes place in a town assembly hall on Tayman Main Street. Carnival performers, side show oddities, and danger all lurk within the walls of this late 1800s building."
Here's how the Dark Hour, a 47,000 square-foot haunted house in Plano, came about: “Frustrated that only one of the 13 could be at full power each month, the Witches of the Dark Hour Coven enlisted the aid of a sect of chronmancers." But "the chronomancers are using your visit to distract the witches from the ultimate goal: steal the witches’ energy to power their own evils in the future!" Dark Hour is just one of several holiday themed "shows" throughout the year — others around the calendar include Wreck the Halls at Christmastime and St. Patrick's Slay. But the Halloween show, Dark Hour, promises the most scares: "Sets worthy of a Broadway production, professional actors, as well as strategic use of technology produces a genuine theatrical experience in terror."
Forget the Dark Path Haunt haunted house – its website is plenty dark. The site features photos of the monstrous, malicious beings you'll encounter in the deep woods at Goatman's Bridge, built in the late 1800s to connect Denton to Alton. As you attempt to make your way through four acres of woods — home to "various murders, suicides, disappearances, séances, ghost sighting and paranormal investigations since 1938" — you'll experience the fruits of what happened one night to local businessman Oscar Washburn, known as the "Goatman," and his family in August of that year. "With their headlights off, a group of men crossed the bridge, dragged the Goatman from his home, and lynched him over the side of the bridge. Peering over into the water, his murderers saw a rope, but not his body. In a panic, the men returned to the Washburn residence and brutally murdered his family by burning their shanty to the ground while they were trapped inside."
Thrillvania in Terrell includes three haunted attractions on 50 acres, including Verdun Manor. It was the home of a werewolf, Baron Michael Verdun, and his vampire wife (of course), Lady Cassandra. She abducted poor souls and Baron Verdun conducted cruel experiments on them, "turning them into human-animal hybrids." If you make it out of Verdun Manor alive, don't miss Cassandra's House of Clowns and Sam Hain's Trail of Torment, too.
KERA profiled Thrillvania in this 2009 story. (Warning: it could scare you out of your wits.)
The Parker House in Denton is home to the feel-good story of the Halloween season – a truly heart-warming tale of a family business gone bad. Once upon a time, the FBI shut down a home-based mortuary in the 1940s thanks to the shenanigans of Parker’s daughter, Mary. Parker had died and Mary was left to run the family business at such a young age. She witnessed so much death around her that she lost her sensitivity for human life. (Poor thing.) "As she grew older, so did her desire for the warm flow of blood."
The award-winning Cutting Edge Haunted House in Fort Worth is located in a "100-year-old abandoned meat packing plant in a section of Fort Worth historically dubbed as Hell's Half Acre. The meat packing equipment from the Old West is still in use, but now it is a two-story human processing area." The website says it takes an average of 55 minutes to get through the downtown building — if you make it that far.