The Examiner investigates SETX haunted attractions
Two haunting destinations are sure to scare even the bravest willing to explore their dark corridors and mist-filled graveyards this Halloween season in Southeast Texas.
The Examiner investigated Dam B Haunted Village and Maze of Terror on Oct. 3 and Oct. 5, respectively, to experience the horrible happenings and abominations that inhabit these two haunted attractions.
Dam B Haunted Village
Nestled in the woods near Steinhagen Lake between Woodville and Jasper, Whispering Valley awaits haunted-house lovers looking for something more than their average fright. The village, complete with three different attractions — House of the Criminally Insane, Undead Annihilation and Widows Dark Side — holds a sinister secret daring to be discovered. There are several aspects that set this haunt apart from its competitors, but perhaps the most interesting is the story behind the scare. The legend, owner Kevin Irvin explained, was created by his mother, 72-year-old Sonja Cowart.
In the late 1800s, the Winslow family settled what would become Whispering Valley. While developing the land, the family found something mysterious buried beneath the soil emitting a powerful energy. Perhaps a low-grade uranium or an alien material not of this world? Unsure what to do with the radioactive material, the family discarded it in a nearby stream, which unfortunately for them, would become their future water supply.
Irvin said animals in the area began to lose their fur and villagers began to get sick … in more ways than one.
“They were so crazy that the state could not even ship them to a criminal mental institution. They had to build one on site,” Kevin said.
Infected and insane, villagers were quarantined in the asylum, where they were treated by a sadist doctor with evil intent.
“He was into pain,” Cowart said. “He would get them out of their cells and torture them.”
The patients’ deaths did not cease their misery, however, as they would rise from their crypts and seek revenge on the village.
More than 100 years after the terrible incident, visitors will get a chance to investigate three Whispering Valley attractions and hear and experience the story firsthand.
“Kevin wanted ghost stories or zombie stories to give the attraction life,” said Cindy Irvin, Kevin’s sister. “Each house has a storyteller to go with it.”
Another unique aspect, Undead Annihilation, allows visitors to take out zombies themselves with paintball guns during a trek through the graveyard.
“Zombies pop out everywhere to eat you,” Kevin said. “You’ll run out of ammo.”
The Widows Dark Side is the Winslow’s manor, where visitors discover all the gruesome family secrets.
Kevin opened Dam B Haunted Village four years ago, he said. He has been creating haunted houses since he was six, and said that there isn’t a lot of profit in the business.
“We don’t do it for the money,” Kevin said. “It’s a very expensive thing to do. I’ve got $1,200 a night going out in employees’ (wages) … $3,000- $4,000 going out in insurance. I’ve got taxes.
“If you don’t get paid, you can’t play. You’ve got to make enough to open it up the next year.”
Kevin compared his passion to that of a painter.
“I do it because I love it; it’s fun,” he said. “It’s a performing art. When you scare someone so bad they go into a fetal position or see grown men come out in tears, you know you’re doing good.”
Dam B Haunted Village, at 12420 Hwy 190 East in Woodville, opened Oct. 4 and will run through Nov. 2 Fridays and Saturdays from 7:30 p.m. to midnight and Thursday, Oct. 31 from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets start at $10 for one attraction, $18 for two attractions, $25 for three attractions, or $35 for a VIP pass. VIP ticket holders do not have to wait in line, and move directly to the front of the line for all attractions. Patrons who bring two cans of food will receive a 20 percent discount off the $25 combo ticket. Items will be donated to Southeast Texas Food Bank. For more information and directions, visit www.dambhauntedvillage.com.
Maze of Terror
Lost in the woods in Vidor, trailed by a killer, you venture forth through the mist-filled dark. Unsure of which trail to take, you hastily choose the cemetery path. Unfortunately for you, you have disturbed its inhabitants’ rest. The dead rise up out of their dusty, worm-ridden tombs, hungry … for you. This is only the beginning of your nightmare, which includes an approximately 300-yard trail of terrifying twists and turns ending at the house of a serial killer. Where does he hide the bodies? You’ll soon find out.
“If you want to be haunted, go to a haunt,” said Jim Denson, who has been constructing spooky attractions for more than 10 years. “If you want to be terrorized, come to the Maze of Terror.”
Maze of Terror recruits talented young actors from Vidor High School’s drama department, said Ettie Thompson, the attraction’s owner.
“They are already over the top,” Thompson said.
“We don’t have to explain to them how to get into character,” Denson added.
Over the past two years, the Maze of Terror has raised more than $10,000 for Vidor High School’s Project Graduation and has also donated to The Boy Scouts of America, who volunteer at the attraction, as well.
Denson said what sets Maze of Terror apart from other spook houses is the realism and the work that goes into it.
“We have four real caskets,” Denson said. “We try to do everything as real as possible. If we can build something, we build it instead of buying something because when you buy Halloween, it ends up being Halloweeny. Our graveyard is as real as it gets without the bodies. We don’t use the Styrofoam, fake tombstones. We actually have molds and build our own tombstones out of concrete like they did in the Old West.”
The attraction isn’t focused around one theme either, Denson explained.
“It’s constantly something different,” he said. “It’s not like one spook house with one theme. As you go through, you get multiple feelings.”
Ready to be terrified? Make your way to 1745 Highway 12 in Vidor. You can’t miss it. Look for the blood-covered school bus and the hearse.
Vidor High School Choir will be selling candy and drinks on site to raise money for a trip to Disney World.
The attraction opened Oct. 5 and runs through Nov. 2.
On Nov. 2, Pitch Black Night, every group will get one glow stick for its trip through the maze, Thompson said. Not much illumination, but just enough to reveal the horrible creatures hiding in the dark..waiting for you!
Tickets are $13 a person, and hours are from dark until business slows down. For more information, visit www.mazeofterror.org.