Lying on the ground with a garbage can lid and a hypodermic needle anxiously waiting for my next “victim” to enter a room is a thrill I will never forget.
I learned this firsthand when I had the chance to be a part of Terror on the Coast, a haunted house attraction filled with Hollywood movie sets, found in a warehouse near the Lowe’s on U.S. 49 in Gulfport.
Terror on the Coast is presented by Sideshow Props 2.0, a prop house created to become part of a central hub for the movie industry in South Mississippi.
It is the creation of Lawrence Barattini of Slidell and Kevin Mitchell of Gulfport, who partnered last year to create something more than your typical haunted house.
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“What separates us from other haunted houses is that we use movie-quality props,” Barattini said. “All the props are movie quality, and have been in films and television shows.”
Guests are immersed in Hollywood sets such as a saloon from the recent “The Magnificent Seven” remake, a hotel front from the Matthew McConaughey movie “Free State of Jones,” and props from the TV series “American Horror Story.”
While walking through areas such as a mad scientist’s lab, a hospital, a graveyard, a butcher shop, torture chamber and many others, you will find realistic and often grotesque items on display without any ropes keeping you away. That is, if you dare.
“Every night after the haunted house closed last year we would find at least one shoe,” Barattini said. “People hauling a-- just trying to get out of here.”
Anxious to be part of the action, I visited opening weekend to experience what it was like to be one of the volunteer actors who put on the production. When I arrived, I found people of all ages being transformed into various characters.
Learning that I was going to be a “homeless junkie,” I sat down in a chair in front of Colby Logue, who masterfully applied makeup to my face and arms, making me look creepy and strung out. From there, I went to a room made to look like a dirty alley and was introduced to Nathaniel Morrow.
“It just attracted me,” Morrow said of returning to Terror on the Coast for his second season. “I love scaring people. The people are great, and it’s a bunch of fun.”
Before guests were let in, Jonah Monet and Wesley Cavins, a producer and director team from the on-property production company Searing Cinema, met with each actor to explain how to elicit the greatest amount of scares.
At first, it felt a little foolish lying on the floor, thinking there was no way I would scare anyone out in the open. It was only after the first couple of times people came through that I realized no one noticed me, at least, until it was too late.
While the guests’ eyes took time to adjust to the strobe light, I slammed a metal garbage can lid on the cement floor next to them, then jumped up to ask if they wanted to try a dirty hypodermic needle I supposedly found. Needless to say this garnered shrieks and screams from virtually everyone I encountered.
Wanting to get the full guest experience, I later enlisted Jonah Monet to accompany me through the terrifying haunt. I lost track of how many times I screamed out loud, much to the amusement of my “date.”
Terror on the Coast is open Fridays and Saturdays this month. It also will be open Halloween and the Sunday before.
Live entertainment for people waiting in line is featured some nights, including aerial performers from New Orleans and local favorite DJ Bella.
Author Christopher Dearman, who moved to the Gulf Coast a few years ago, wants to take advantage of all of the Coast has to offer. He writes a series of occasional articles highlighting some of the Coast’s treasures for the Sun Herald.
Terror on the Coast
Where: 3450 Giles Road, Gulfport
Contact: 228-326-1405; www.facebook.com/Terroronthecoastofficial