Actors Gear Up To Give A Good Scare At Markoff's Haunted Forests | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

Actors Gear Up To Give A Good Scare At Markoff's Haunted Forests

Play associated audio
Keenan Smith has been scaring people professionally for the past seven years.
Keenan Smith has been scaring people professionally for the past seven years.

This month, a record number of Americans — more than 42 million — are expected to visit some sort of haunted house for Halloween. These businesses will rake in around $1 billion in ticket sales.

But for many of the ghosts and ghouls behind the scenes, it's not really about raising money or turning a profit. It's that scaring people happens to be really, really fun.

"Nothing is more exciting than watching somebody jump or scream or yell, or actually get terrified," says Paul Brubacher, who has worked for 15 years at Markoff's Haunted Forest. "As far as the science behind it goes, I have no idea, but it sure is fun to do."

The haunted forest outside Poolesville, Md. is one of the D.C. region's longest-running haunts, now in its 20th year of professional scaring. Last year, ticket sales brought in over half a million dollars, money that funds an outdoor education non-profit through the rest of the year.

"Today, believe it or not, I was teaching leave-no-trace outdoor ethics skills to a bunch of sixth graders," says Matt Markoff, his face covered in fake blood for a night at the haunted forest. He and his two brothers began the haunt in 1992 as a way to help start a summer camp for kids.

A few hours before opening on a recent night, more than 100 actors are being shuffled through the makeup and costume shops.

"What draws me to scaring people is just the pure joy you get out of their reactions," says actor Keenan Smith, his head and neck dripping fake blood. "Being obsessed with horror movies and being obsessed with scaring people, and knowing that you're good at it, you get a thrill after seeing someone freak out. It's almost like an ego boost."

"It is a big adrenaline rush," says Victor Vissari, costumed as a zombified monk. "Some people skydive, some people do base-jumping, some people go mountain climbing. I scare people."


[Music: "Unsolved Mysteries" from TV's Greatest Hits]

Photos: Haunted Forests

NPR

A 'Lasciviously LA' Lunch With Crime Novelist James Ellroy

Ellroy's new novel, Perfidia, follows the Los Angeles police response to a brutal murder on the eve of Pearl Harbor. In a vintage steakhouse, the author discusses the book and his tech-free lifestyle.
NPR

Reality Check For Young Farmers: It's An Expensive 'Habit'

More young people are trying their hand at farming, hoping to make a living out of it. But, as it turns out, passion and grit are just a few of the prerequisites for success.
NPR

Clintons Return To Iowa To Rally Democratic Hopefuls

The Clintons are back in Iowa at an event that is the place to see and be seen for ambitious Democrats. NPR's Arun Rath talks with national political correspondent Don Gonyea.
NPR

Gaming Expert: Destiny Is Good, But 'There's Not Much There'

The much-anticipated video game, Destiny, was released this week. NPR's Lynn Neary speaks with gaming expert Adam Sessler about the new game and whether it was worth all the hype.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.