Where to get scared

I am completely baffled by the notion that it is fun to scare oneself. Scaring others I understand; as the oldest of three, I am deeply familiar with the thrill of hiding behind the bathroom door and jumping out at the last second. But putting myself in a position to be frightened- this strikes me as basically unnatural. Why would one engage the mechanism of fear, designed to keep me aware of when I’m really in trouble, when one could stay home and play checkers? It feels like forcing my body to cry wolf.

Once in college, a well-meaning friend invited me over to his apartment to watch the latest installment of Saw, movies known for their intensely frightening scenes. Obviously, the thrill of being scared must be relatively commonplace to invite me over for the sole purpose of being scared. So this Halloween season, I set out to figure out why it is that people like to be scared, and where you can get yourself scared here in Nashville.

“People like the adrenaline rush,” says Brad Webb from Nashville Nightmare. “The unknown that lies behind each corner or what is lurking at the end of a dark hall gets people’s emotions pumping. People also enjoy escaping reality into a world where they can… just scream out loud and have fun.” Dana Chapman of Dead Land Haunted Woods says that folks simply like to “laugh at their friends and feel like a kid.”

Getting the adrenaline going I understand. Laughing at my friends I understand. But why resort to a haunted house, when I can go for a run or drag my hapless friends out to karaoke? Terry Carter from Death Valley Haunted Woods lays it out for me: “We have a bridge that falls 6 inches out from under you.” He also claims to have a “graveyard with live zombies and a live funeral!” These are things you just don’t experience when going for a run through Shelby Park.

Nashville Nightmare, Dead Land Haunted Woods, and Death Valley Haunted Woods all feature live actors (as many as 80 at Dead Land Woods!) who are passionate about what they do. Chapman, who operates Dead Land Woods with her dad, says the best part of what she does is “watching people have fun and make memories.” Carter says, “We love seeing Mom and Dad coming through with their children.” Webb laments that he “can’t just single out one thing. The whole place is incredible.”

While I might never make scary movies a habit, I’m definitely going to give these haunted attractions a shot this Halloween.

Dead Land Haunted Woods is located at 7040 Murfreesboro Rd. in Lebanon. It is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. - Midnight, Sept. 23 to Oct. 29. Admission is $15.

Death Valley Haunted Woods is located at 796 West Main St. in Hendersonville. It is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. - 1 a.m., Sept. 1 to Halloween. It is also open on Sundays in October until 11pm, and daily the week before Halloween. Admission is $15.

The Historic Edgefield Home Tour will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 1-8 p.m. The tour will showcase the diverse architectural styles and wonderful renovation projects that compose the homes of Historic Edgefield. Tickets are $10/person and may be purchased during the tour at Edgefield Baptist Church at 700 Russell Street.

Nashville Nightmare is located at 1016 Madison Sq. in Madison. It is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. - 1 a.m. from Sept. 16 to Halloween. It is open on Sunday from 7:30pm to 10:30pm Oct. 9 to Oct. 30 and Halloween night. Admission is $15, but mention this article and receive $2 off!

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