For some people, Halloween isn’t enough. One day a year to scare strangers and freak out friends just doesn’t cut it. One of these casual sadists, the Amazing Johnathan (“the Freddy Krueger of Magic”) has found a new way to stretch out the terror: He’s taken over the Las Vegas Club Hotel and turned it into a multi-level haunted house. Visit Johnathan’s SCREAMont Experience for $20 (nightly from 7 p.m.), and read on for scare tips from the man himself.
How did this all start? My family. My family was big on scaring people. If you said, “I’m going to take a shower,” naturally, somebody would go hide behind the bathroom door and wait for you to walk in. Or maybe, after you got out of the shower, somebody would click off the fuse box and you’d be left standing there in the dark, in the cold.
That’s pretty dark. That’s nothing. Sometimes, at night, my dad would just stand in my doorway and laugh. When he found out that I was scared by this Jane Fonda movie where the killer had a silver nose, he made a nose out of tin foil and stood in the doorway wearing that.
The Horror Issue
- Events guide: Haunted attractions 2012
- Creature creator Miriam Writer spills her DIY Halloween secrets
- Chatting with Travel Channel's Zak Bagans while he investigates the paranormal
- Beating Fright Dome’s freak-outs with basketball skills
- Horror and more at the third annual PollyGrind Film Festival
- The dubious history of horror movies set in Las Vegas
Was Halloween your favorite childhood holiday? At first, Christmas was my holiday, but then Halloween took over and Christmas took a back seat. Satan is winning the game.
And now you’re playing the game yourself. You’ve opened up a haunted house on Fremont Street … Seven years ago, I turned my warehouse into a haunted house. It was fun, because there were no rules—no fire marshals, nobody saying, “Don’t grab people.” We had alcohol with no license and sex acts onstage—totally illegal. Everything was wrong. But this year, I was approached by the Plaza and asked to turn the Las Vegas Club into a haunted house. They gave me full access to everything. And I put in another $25,000 on top of that.
Is that enough money to compete with Fright Dome and Goretorium? All the money in the world can’t buy you scary. You got to know what scary is.
What’s the key to scaring somebody? There are certain levels of scaring people. Jumping out and going “Boo!” means you’re an amateur. Sometimes the right sound is no sound. I’ve scared people by looking behind them and making a face like, something really bad is behind you.
Any specific things our readers can do to scare trick-or-treaters? Make your house as dark as possible. On your porch, get a table and cut a hole in it. And you put a carved-out pumpkin with a hole in the bottom on top of the table. Then you hide under the table, and when a kid reaches into the pumpkin for candy, you grab his arm and try to pull him in.
What else? Falling spiders are always great—on a fishing line. The spider should be big enough to scare people, but not so big that it looks fake. I have a real spider in a glass tank, and I set the fake spider up in front of that, so people are looking at the real one when the fake one drops—that really messes them up. –Rick Lax