On a hot and humid October night a cacophony of screams and buzzing chainsaws echoed throughout the rolling hills that surround the Haunted Chicken House in Hollis. Owner “Chicken Dan” Hopkins was giving the 80 or so volunteer actors a motivational speech and a meal of fried chicken before the gates opened last Friday night ... Friday the 13th.
Hopkins, who is the fire chief at the Hollis Volunteer Fire Department, said this is the 14th year for the seasonal attraction, which is a fundraiser for the department. When it first opened, it ran for 23 days and had 800 visitors; last year it was open for 10 days and 13,000 passed through the gates.
Hopkins said $65,000 was raised last year, which has allowed the fire department to purchase 5 acres of land for a new fire station, a new rescue truck and money used for matching grants.
There currently are three attractions to frighten visitors at the 62 acre site: a haunted hayride, the Chicken House and a walking trail named ‘Psycho-Path’. The Chicken House has a macabre path that patrons follow from one themed room to another. The themed rooms are based on horror movies and other frightening scenes of terror and madness.
One room called the bathroom featured a room full of torture equipment and bathroom stalls. A hulking, shirtless and masked man played by Dalton Greyson was clutching a large reciprocating saw waiting for his next visitors. The room was spattered in blood and visitors had to walk through a maze of clogged commodes to exit the room of horrors. A blood covered Greyson rattled the bathroom stall doors and other objects with the loud saw to terrify his victims.
As soon as Crystal Anderson and her son Reed, 13, from Jacksonville entered the room, Greyson rushed up to the pair and he started his saw.
“I’m terrified,” Anderson said as she grabbed her son and fled through the maze of toxic toilets to the next room.
The haunted hayride takes a trailer full of visitors on a bumpy ride that passes all kinds of horrific scenes. Actors jumped on the trailer at times to scare or just make evil stares at the visitors. One of the stops was a makeshift shack with a moonshine still. A psychobilly mountain man armed with a chainsaw, demented children, clowns and deranged women charged the trailer with screams and expressive language.
“I love it, I love it, it’s awesome,” said Jennae Young from Ohatchee who was clutching her teenage daughter, Carly, during the hayride. Carly covered her face for most of the hayride only peeking out occasionally.
At another stop a “Chicken Boy” did a dance on the front porch of a mountain shack. At another stop a disgruntled mountain man in an outhouse yelled at the visitors as fake gunshots rang out.
Adrienne Munkus, 27, has been volunteering at the Chicken House for six years.
“I’m the insane girl that does the whole hayride. I scare, scream, holler and change my voice,” Munkas said as she applied white makeup to her face before the gates opened. Her eyes had white inserts with unusual black pupils that made her look possessed.
Munkas said that she has gotten used to the screaming over the years and has learned how to block it out.
“You have the high-pitched screamers, you have the loud screamers, the squeaky screamers and you have some that can’t scream; they freeze up,” Munkus said.
Over the years Munkas has seen patrons react in all kinds of ways besides screaming.
“Some pass out, pee their self, panic attacks, crying,” Munkas said.
The Chicken House also has celebrity appearances scheduled. Last Friday Michael Koske who plays a zombie on the TV show “The Walking Dead” had a table set up to sign autographs and pose for photos. He appeared during seasons 2-5 and has been killed numerous times; he even had his head chopped off by one of the main actors. Koske had the video on his phone and was showing people how his head was sliced off during a zombie attack.
Chicken House production manager Sam Locke, 24, is also the deputy chief at the Hollis Fire Department. Before taking a managerial position at the Chicken House he portrayed Bobo the clown.
“If we do a good job here that’s better for the fire department,” Locke said.
According to Locke, next year a corn maze and a freak show, portrayed by actors, will be added to entertain visitors.