Remember the fictional haunted house that I wrote about in “The Ultimate Haunt?” You know, the multistory haunted house where you get a partial refund for each floor you complete (but no one has ever completed it since it’s so scary)? Well, it turns out that it now has a name The Chimera House.” Not to be confused with “The House with Chimareas,” it’s Wikipedia page reveals a new twist to the urban legend: Apparently the story has inverted in on itself and the house become an actual supernatural location masquerading as a haunted attraction! Another variation has the Chimera House located inside an abandoned hospital. Speaking of Wikipedia, I want to thank Atomic Mystery Monster for being kind enough to update the Chimera House entry for me so that it wouldn’t get deleted. While AMM noted how the legend was the basis for a story in a horror anthology called Haunted Houses, he neglected to link to a (partial) preview for said story (which features the author’s ideas on what the first two floors would be like). However, the story is not the inspiration for the name, as it came out years after the earliest reference to the name “Chimera House” I could find in 2005. Poking around Google Books also led to my discovering a haunted medical center called “Chimera House” being featured in the novel Ghost of a Smile by Simon R. Green. While I can’t say for sure whether or not this was inspired by the legend or merely a coincidence, I did think it was interesting. Searching online also revealed that variations of the legend were still going strong, with a prank radio broadcast by the Q102 Freak Show helping fuel the fire. Perhaps it’s a good thing the legend hasn’t died, as groups of people roaming around in search of the Chimera House are bound to wind up at other haunted attractions and help boost business.
My research also led to me rediscovering one of the haunted attractions believed by some to be the inspiration for the Chimera House, Britannia Manor. In case you didn’t read my writeup about it in “The Ultimate Haunt,” I’ll provide a brief explanation. Game designer Richard Garriott used to run an elaborate haunted house in his home every October. How elaborate? Besides the enormous expensive of transforming his mansion into a haunted house, patrons would have to sign waivers and pass fitness tests in order to participate, as they would have been overcome various obstacles (such as swinging over a pit) in order to advance! The Wikipedia entry for it has much more information about the history of the haunt. Although it ceased operation in 1994, its legacy lives on. Several of the people who worked at it went on to form the similarly elaborate (and interactive) Wild Basin’s Haunted Trails in 1996, which ran until 2005. After that, the props and volunteers were utilized in an expansion of Jarrett Crippen’s (aka “The Defuser”) home haunt in 2007. Now located at the Austin Elk’s Lodge #201, Scare for a Cure was born. The haunt eventually became a non-profit and Garriott began sponsoring the event two years later, allowing the event to be held in the unfinished “Britannia Manor Mark 3.” You can find more information at both the official website and official Facebook page.
Now that we’ve gotten the “rich” portion of this portion taken care of, let’s move on to the “famous” part. The House at Haunted Hill in California began as a simple home haunt. But as the years went on and the crowds got bigger, the creators (Lighting Designer Matt Ford and actress/singer/dancer Lori Merkle Ford) decided to make it something extra special. Television screenwriter Ed Valentine was tapped to write the script and composer Christopher Hoag created the unique score. On top of that, Corey Burton lent his vocal talents as the voice of the narrator. You might remember his dead-on impression of Paul Frees, the “Ghost Host” of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. As if those famous names aren’t enough, even NPH himself is a fan!
As for the haunt itself, it’s an entirely-automated show that can be seen by those who walk by the house. That’s right, it’s a free show! While spooky, it is appropriate for all ages and runs from 7:00 PM to Midnight on October 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st. For directions, please visit the official website or the official Facebook page.