Why you should love being scared at ‘The 17th Door’ in Tustin: Review and Interviews

"The demons came out of the man, and entered the pigs"

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Only in its second year, The 17th Door is bringing more of what you loved and more of what you hated in its Freshman year. You need to go there: It is horrifying and amazing! There are 21 rooms, including an escape room. There are tons of new surprises. The story line will continue where last year’s left off with Paula’s attempted suicide and asylum residency. She’s the same main character, and it’s still mostly taking place at Gluttire University. There are pregnant Paula characters at every turn. We see what a truly messed up life she has had! We experience with her, a horrible childhood and follow her on a continuing downward spiral. But what makes The 17th Door succeed? What makes it so extreme and amazing? It starts with an incredible amount of work from Heather and Robbie Luther, and Chris Fogelsong all year, writing the script, getting the place together, building the sets, finding the talent and creating the haunt magic.

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Besides being a truly shocking haunted attraction (more than you even can guess) The 17th Door goes to great lengths to offend and scare. Vegans, vegetarians, pro-lifers and religious folks beware. The 17th Door also touches on many extreme human phobias and fears. Phobophobia- The fear of fear and xenophobia- the fear of the unknown, are pretty basic, and at the top of any haunts list. But if you are any of the following, you may have to face your fears literally head on at The 17th Door! Coulrophobia, claustrophobia, arachnophobia, ophidiophobia, mysophobia, monophobia, katsaridaphobia and zoophobia. (Yes, I’m making you look these up yourself!) Weirdly enough after going through The 17th Door you may need to add tokophobia- the fear of pregnancy and didaskaleinophobia- the fear of school, to that list. Can you make it through without crying Mercy? I did, but many people can’t!

The other side of The 17th Door I wanted to explore this year, was backstage. So, in addition to doing my walk through, I got a chance to talk to a few of the scare actors and makeup artists to find out about the folks that make the vision, a reality. On my way in I talked to Shar Mayer, Carlos Curiel and Adam Lozano; all scare actors in the haunt.


Los Angeles Zombie Girl: Can you tell me a little about your characters in The 17th Door?

Shar Mayer: “The character I’m playing this year is Dr. Cosmo, the doctor that takes care of Paula. She’s no longer my patient but I’m still here to talk to everyone else. Last year we saw Paula flatline, but we brought her back and I’m one of the people that helped bring her back. I am here to welcome people to sophomore year.”

Carlos Curiel: “I play three different roles. One of my roles is the janitor. In there I torture the guests in a number of different ways, that are secret. But you will, get tortured in there. Also, I’m in the ball pit room. I’m a crazy clown in there, being real interactive with the guests, up, close and personal. My last role is the meat locker, which has hanging pigs, crazy meat and seafood kind of things. It’s pretty intense. It’s a very shocking room, a lot of mercys in that room. It’s crazy.”

Adam Lozano: “I also am a breaker with multiple roles. My main roles are the blood room, and the shooting room which is basically a reenactment of a high school shooting. But my favorite is the bug room, because I don’t like bugs, I hate them, but the way my mind goes and how my character goes, it’s two different people. When I’m in there I transform into a crazy doctor.”

Zombie Girl: What made you want to be a scare actor? Why is it a great job?

Shar: “Well I’m one of the oldest scare actors in the business, I’ve been doing it almost 40 years. I started working at a home haunt for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and there is nothing in the world like haunting. When you are scaring somebody, you and that person make a connection and its really intimate for a moment. You get a great reaction out of them, kinda like the way comedians work a room, where they get people to laugh. We do something like that, but on a more basic level, we’re working on the inside of the brain. When we are causing people to feel afraid, or feel that scared, its very primal. We are hitting people on a very, very deep level, A lot of people don’t even realize why they like coming to a haunted house, they just know how fun it feels. But we know, it has to do with releasing adrenaline, the same kind of adrenaline people get released in their body when they go through a haunted house, we feel that too. We feel the same thing, but we’re controlling the scare because we’re causing it. We’re the people that manipulate the scare, but we are also people who dig that adrenaline rush feeling too.”

Carlos: “Basically I’ve been a scare actor my whole entire life, except the last two years, is the official time I’ve done it. I got into it because I saw it on Facebook and now that I’m part of it, it’s the most amazing thing, and like I said it’s kinda like my normal life. I’m a jokester, with my friends. My whole entire life I’ve been scaring and pranking, and The 17th Door just gives me a chance to go all out and use my improv skills to really connect. I’ve had so many people cry, laugh; the reactions are amazing. And that makes you feel good. It pumps you up a lot and gives you a lot of adrenaline. I love it.”

Adam: “I started out being terrified of haunted houses. I was about 9 and went to a neighbor’s haunt and he terrified me to no end. I could not get into Halloween and would be stuck indoors, not trick or treating, I was afraid of my neighbors. So, flash forward, to about 23 years old and I started doing home haunts because a friend brought me into it. Ever since then I’ve been at theme parks, but here I’ve been able to show my personality, which is very different, because I’m not a terrifying scarer, I’m more of an impulse scarer. I’ll scare you and make fun of you, for being afraid of me.”

Zombie Girl: What is the best part about working at The 17th Door?

Shar: ”I love being part of the wonderful cast, working with great people. Robbie and Heather have put something together that is so unbelievable! I couldn’t believe they came last year with zero haunt experience. They put something together that is visually and technologically beautiful, the story is totally weird and out there. We have people from different haunts, new haunters, and everybody just gelled and came together, it’s a really nice blend of people. Everyone working on this haunt are the sweetest, nicest people that just like to scare everybody else.”

Carlos: “I love the freedom of expression. I’ve never worked at any other haunts, but here they give you so much freedom to get into your role, your character, and if the role that they put you in isn’t your strong point, they will put you in another role. They work with you here and we are like a big family. We do things outside of haunt, the vibe here is great, no drama, it’s just awesome. It’s amazing how everyone works together to make all this happen.”

Adam: “It’s not as cutthroat as other haunt experiences I’ve been through. This place is a lot safer. Especially for newcomers. This is where we can shine, where we never shined before. It’s the kind of thing you can experience here and if you do you will always want to come back.”

After going through the over half-hour of 17th Door craziness- I spent a few minutes backstage with the girls behind the makeup; Haylee Detroit, Krystal Geannie, Rachel Boese and Elizabeth Quell.


The girls behind the makeup: Haylee Detroit, Krystal Geannie, Rachel Boese, Elizabeth Quell

Zombie Girl: What brought you to The 17th Door to do makeup?

Haylee: “I used to work at Fright Fest the past two years and then I moved down to Orange County. I made the trek up there last year and it was terrible. I found out about this place and its right down the street, so it was convenient and I’m really happy I made the move because this place is awesome.”

Zombie Girl: Why is The 17th Door a great place to work?

Krystle: “I like that you get a lot of creativity here. You can express yourself and not do the same thing over and over.”

Rachel: “I worked at a haunt in Kansas City and compared to there, everyone really wants to be here. Every single person, from the actors to the makeup artists, are here because it’s a labor of love. They are excited, they’re exuberant, it brings light into their life, and everyone absolutely loves what they are doing. Because of that it’s really fun to be around here. They give us a lot of creativity, they listen to what we say as far as input is concerned, we work together and because everyone is so excited, it works.”

Zombie Girl: What is your favorite part of the makeups you are doing this year?

Beth: “I like that the makeup isn’t cheesy. A lot of haunts want to go towards cheesy and campy and that’s not this at all. Here the gore looks real, everything looks legit and it makes me really happy. Also, we have clowns and I like clowns. We have masks by Immortal Masks and prosthetics by Boneyard Effects and European Body Art sponsored us. We have incredible access to supplies and the quality of the prosthetics and masks are the top. We can explore and have fun with that. We get to use things we personally never got to use before.”

Krystle: “It’s just like a movie! I like the way the whole thing is all connected, it’s just like walking through a movie.”

Haylee: “It’s my first year heading a haunt, so that of course was pretty fun, I have additional things to do, like ordering, but the fact that I get to help everybody, and teach some people some new things that they hadn’t done before. Working with the effects faces prosthetics that are sort of under the umbrella of Boneyard, but are their own entity, working with new people and new products has been really fun.”

ONLY a few MORE DAYS to experience something you’ve never tried before! $5 OFF Tues 10/25 & Wed 10/26 with code FEAR17 at www.the17thdoor.com/tickets Limited tickets available!

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