Netherworld Haunted House Brings the Dead to Life

PHOTO Netherworld, in Atlanta, Georgia, which means land of the dead, was rated number one on Hauntworld magazine?s Top 13 Haunted Houses in 2010.
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Bloody faces, paths so dark you can sense the terror that awaits you. Beware the fangs of the undead as creepy things break through the floor.

And don't be surprised to see goblins suspended above and Ouija boards promising more horror ahead.

Netherworld is the name and scaring your socks off is the game.

"People will run, bounce off the wall and just laugh," co-owner Ben Armstrong said. "They continue to be scared, truly scared."

Armstrong and Billy Messina are the creative minds behind this fright machine. The 20,000-square-foot haunt house in Atlanta draws crowds from across the country, the founders say.

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Warehouse by day, haven for ghouls by night, Netherworld Haunted House has two fright tours where customers walk through darkened paths and encounter various monsters. This year marks its 14th anniversary with the themes Gargoyle and Dead Salvage.

What makes Netherworld stand out is its animatronic monsters, sound effects and live actors. When scouting for actors, Armstrong and Messina look for people who have theatrical and haunt-house experience.

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"It was challenging to find actors [at first], but now they come to us," Armstrong said.

In two hours tops, they transform from humans to walking-dead men. Armstrong describes the 25 minute walk-through, Gargoyle, as a more grandiose performance, filled with tons of stunts. Dead Salvage is gorier, more modern.

"It's like a movie," he said. "Customers want to have a good time and they want to be scared."

Netherworld, meaning land of the dead, was rated No. 1 on Hauntworld magazine's Top 13 Haunted Houses in 2010.

The haunt house has welcomed celebrities from the music industry, such as rock band Smashing Pumpkins and rapper Bow Wow. The cast from the film "Fast and the Furious" has also stopped by for scares.

Armstrong anticipates that Halloween Day will draw many young adults to celebrate the holiday with their friends. The goal each year, he said, is to outdo the previous effort.

Netherworld Brings Dead to Life

Relying on the actors, costumes and make-up staff, he added, everyone pulls together to make the show a success.

"Every year we try to top ourselves," he said. "I want to do this until I can't anymore."

Tickets are $22 for Gargoyle and $27 for Gargoyle and Dead Salvage.

For more information, call (404) 608-2484 or visit Netherworld's website at www.fearworld.com.

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