Horror fans creep about house for Halloween

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 23, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

How many of us can say that Freddy Krueger was one of our greatest inspirations? Who can say that the scarred-faced, striped-sweatshirt-wearing uber-villain with a gleam in his eye and a tongue as sharp as the blades protruding from his gloves gave us a sense of direction in life, one that’s we’d remember a full 10 years after seeing him for the first time?

Justin Fluhr can.

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&uot;About 12 years ago, my brother held me down and made me watch a Nightmare on Elm Street movie,&uot; recalls the 18-year-old. &uot;I was freaking out at first, but after about half an hour, I just sat there and watched it.&uot;

When the long-awaited Freddy vs. Jason flick came out over the summer, in which Krueger took on the &uot;other&uot; horror icon, Jason Vorhees of Friday the 13th fame, guess who Fluhr was rooting for?

&uot;That was Freddy is his full form,&uot; he says. &uot;Jason just goes in and kill people without making jokes like Freddy does. Freddy takes them into their dreams, through their worst nightmares. He takes the time to play cat-and-mouse with them before he kills them.&uot;

For the next week, Fluhr gets to take one step closer to the world of his horror hero; decked out in Krueger’s sweatshirt, glove and, of course, burnt face, he portrays the creature in the Spooky Acres Haunted House near the intersection of Godwin Boulevard and King’s Highway.

&uot;I’ve been doing this for about six years,&uot; says Fluhr, who recently left his job to play Freddy. &uot;They wanted me to work evenings and weekends, and I wasn’t going to be able to do that and this,&uot; he says of the house. &uot;I figured, hey, I only get to do this once a year, and I’ll find another job.&uot;

Now in its ninth year of existence, the house will be scaring the &uot;yell&uot; out of locals of all ages. It’s open from 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 24, 25, and 27-31. The ticket booth opens at 6:30 p.m., and customers can purchase a raffle ticket for two tickets and pit passes to the Pop Secret 400 NASCAR race on Nov. 9. The last customer on Halloween night will make the drawing, and the winner need not be present to win. A portion of the house’s proceeds will go to the March of Dimes.

&uot;We’ve had offers to do the house back home,&uot; says Paige Barton of Norfolk, who runs the house with her husband Darren, &uot;but the kids get so excited in Suffolk that they start calling me to participate in June, and they work so hard on it.&uot; When Hurricane Isabel damaged the house’s roof and partitions, several cast members came out to help Darren with repairs.

When the house first opened, Alan Hatfield was one of its first patrons.

&uot;After I walked through, I asked if I could join it, and they said yes,&uot; he recalls. &uot;We don’t get paid; we just get to scare people! To have somebody in fear in front of you while you’re laughing at them behind your mask is great. These years have gone by way too fast.&uot;

They’ve passed just as quickly for Lauren Bradshaw; 2003 will be her third and probably final year of helping to terrify Suffolkians.

&uot;I’m going away to college after this year,&uot; says the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy graduate. &uot;I drove about 95 miles an hour to be here today (the house opened on Oct. 18). I was at Bridgewater College, which is about four hours away. My friend and I made the drive back in two. This is my favorite place in the whole wide world.&uot;

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the house’s customers; at least not immediately after departing (usually at high speed) the dreadful dwelling.

&uot;I thought that it wasn’t going to be that scary,&uot; pants Destiny Turner, 11, after scurrying out of the pipe that marks the house’s exit. &uot;I was screaming the whole time, because there were people jumping out at me.&uot;

Karen Shaw brought her daughter and three friends to the fright fest.

&uot;I think I was more afraid than they were!&uot; she laughs. &uot;I was about to pull one of their jackets off! I think the scariest part is when they grab you and don’t let go.&uot;