Behind-the-Screams: The Hill Has Eyes Haunted House

Behind-the-Screams: The Hill Has Eyes Haunted House

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Take a peek behind the curtain of one of Milwaukee's scariest haunts

The concept of Halloween has always struck me as, well, odd.

….we reward our children with candy for pretending to be someone else? We dress our houses in lights and cobwebs to try and frighten strangers?

This week in Community Stories I faced my fears and took a peek behind the “mask” of Halloween.

Or, more literally, spent a night with a team of people that know Halloween better than anyone in Milwaukee: the employees at The Hill Has Eyes Haunted House in Franklin.

Daniel Peters

….Chainsaws?! A terrified group leaves The Hill Has Eyes Haunted House in Franklin.

Voted the #1 haunted attraction in Southeastern Wisconsin by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Hill Has Eyes takes customers on an hour-long haunt through graveyards, operating rooms, carnivals and even a chair lift.

Or, excuse me, a scarelift.

Ski chairlift turned ‘scarelift’ takes customers up the hill at the Rock Complex.

But with over a hundred employees, I quickly learned that working a haunted house isn’t as easy as it might look,

“We work some long nights. It’s a blast, though. Customer’s expect you to not be nice to them, it’s the opposite of a real job,” explains Brad Metzger, one of the house’s ‘scarers’.

Fresh out of makeup and wardrobe, actor Brad Metzger smiles before going to his scene for the evening.

Fresh out of makeup and wardrobe, actor Brad Metzger smiles before going to his scene for the evening.

And for being covered in blood and guts, Brad, a full-time pharmacy manager in Muskego, assured me that the ‘scarers’ are a lot more normal during the day then they are at night,

“I’ve got a wife, three kids…. [my wife] would never come here in a million years. She’s deathly afraid.”

Detailed and tedious, the makeup team at the Hill Has Eyes makes sure each character looks realistically terrifying.

Detailed and tedious, the makeup team at the Hill Has Eyes makes sure each character looks realistically terrifying.

But how does one start working at a haunted house?

Surprisingly, a background in theater really helps.

hills-5062Daniel Peters

“I was a set builder five years ago and was hired with an art background and a construction knowledge-base, so I was [initially] hired as a part-time seasonal employee,”  explained Drew Retherford, who is now one of the head honchos with a self-given title, “Mastermind of Horror.”

[There are] all different parts of life, you're happy sometimes, you're sad sometimes.... [scare] excites people.

But, back to my initial question, why do we enjoy being scared?

Drew "Mastermind of Horror" Retherford in action. Daniel Peters

Drew “Mastermind of Horror” Retherford in action.

While each person may have their own explanation, Metzger, while dressed in dried blood and full military gear, gave me the best answer,

“[There are] all different parts of life, you’re happy sometimes, you’re sad sometimes…. scare builds up that emotion of fear and a reaction. It excites people. It builds up adrenaline and energy.”

Ready to be scared? The Hill Has Eyes at the Rock Complex in Franklin is open until October 30th. For tickets and more, check them out online at www.mke.hillhaseyes.com