More recently academics have started studying why consumers would pay to feel fear. Kerr teaches college courses in medical sociology, but has an unusual side gig: She consults for ScareHouse, a haunted house in Pittsburgh with employees that, according to her, has about 3, customers a night during its peak season. I spoke to Kerr earlier this month, and the interview that follows has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Joe Pinsker: Do you have a sense of how the haunted-house industry is doing right now? Is it a pretty stable industry? Was it hurt by the recession? Margee Kerr: I would love to know the truth, but there is a very disorganized haunted-attraction association.
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They all view each other as competitors, so they don't share numbers, or what works or what doesn't. Are hay rides doing well, versus indoor attractions? It's also hard because there's no standard for what a haunted house is. Pinsker: It's really funny to hear you say this. Part of my job is a slow realization that everything that I assumed as a kid to be ragtag and impromptu, like baseball cards , are the result of a series of sophisticated business calculations and planning. So it's funny to hear that this is really a part of the world where it truly is as disorganized as I imagined it to be.
Kerr: Yeah, I think that a lot of the mega-haunts today are doing thousands of people. They grew out of the sort of old-school, tied-to-a-church, family-friendly haunts. I think the next generation of haunters are much more progressive and much more forward-thinking, and they're not really lumping themselves in with this old guard of haunted houses. But I think people are coming to expect more from haunted houses, and so that is leading to smaller haunts not doing as well or just closing altogether.
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Pinsker: I read in your book that after going through the data collected by the haunted house you worked at, you predicted the rise of zombies back in the late s. Can you talk a bit about that? Do you have any theories about why zombies had their moment? Kerr: Yeah, that was really fun. I remember getting that data set and looking at it thinking, "Wow, zombies are really starting to be a thing.
It was right after the recession. I think that it was sort of speaking to this fear that they were going out into the world with no real hope.
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I don't have any evidence to support a theory like this, but I think that they were really concerned that the apocalypse was going to happen in their generation. I think that the zombie narrative probably landed a pretty good connection with them—all hope is gone and it's a man-eat-man world trying to get jobs. Kerr: Wide eyes. I said that for everything that they do in marketing and also in the haunt, they should focus on trying to include very big eyes. They wrote ,. I took the offer and moved into the condo apartment.
After a month or so, I was asleep in the living room and I had this dream of him standing in the hallway facing the living room. Even made a stupid joke and everything. There was nothing around me and it tripped me the hell out. It was still nice to see him in my dream once again though. I had the viewer up so that I could see myself in the webcam. Behind me, there was the stairs leading up left of camera view and the entrance to the living room right of camera view.
My younger sister would typically fall asleep every night on the couch in front of the TV and make her way up to bed in the middle of the night. Without saying anything to my gf, I got up and looked into the living room and there was my sister passed out on the couch. I sat back down and asked my gf if she had seen anything in my camera.
I lived in the basement room and often just felt like I was being watched all the time. The bedroom in the basement has a secret storage room behind a bookshelf with a locking latch. I would always wake up to find the door wide open. It happened so often that I would wake up cold and routinely go shut and lock the latch of the door in the middle of the night. Pets do too. I tend to think that was the handy work of a 4 or 5 year old girl ghost who hangs out and she just wanted to play with the kitty. They explained:.
Suddenly the overwhelming urge to get out from underneath overwhelmed me. No sooner than I got out, the truck fell to the ground, the jack had slipped. Freaked dad out, he thought I was under it. When mom got home, we mentioned it, and she started crying, sobbing pretty hard.
It turns out the previous owner died in the driveway, under a vehicle, in that spot. Old houses always tend to be creaky and noisy. But this one is a little bit more spooky than just that. Me and my brother and sisters slept at other places because my parents were away for quite a time. I had to go to hockey practice but I forgot some gear so me and my friend went to get it. The house was engulfed in darkness en very silent.
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As we walked out of my room; we hear footsteps in the attic. Two of my siblings had their bedrooms there; so I thought one of them was at home.
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I shouted at them which made the footsteps stop. Very strange.
But I saw nothing. It would usually occur on the opposite floor as I was — upstairs if I was downstairs and downstairs if I was upstairs, and would stop right when I got onto the same floor. I went back to the bathroom and almost right after I shut the door again I heard more knocking.
Hearing unexplained noises is very scary.
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Seeing unexplained things? That might be even scarier. User MaryJaneTrims wrote that they lived in a house from One night the curtain on my closet moved. I pulled the lamp chain and the room lit up. My husband thought I was crazy. I saw nothing so I pulled the chain again to turn off the lamp. I tried to sleep again but a few minutes later I heard the lamp chain swinging against the lamp base. When I reached out to see if I felt it swinging and to stop it, something cold touched me.
Uh… this one is just slightly terrifying?! Okay, way more than slightly.