Meet the monsters roaming the haunted sites of the Capital Region


When you’re face to face with a cannibalistic butcher or a murderous clown, what you don’t think about is, “Hey, who’s that ordinary person behind the bloody apron or the bulbous red nose?” You are more likely to think (and shout): “Run!

But for six weeks a year, hundreds of seemingly ordinary people transform into extraordinary monsters whose goal is to scare you the living shinola.

Double M Haunted Hayride

  • When: Friday to Saturday in October; Thursdays have been added in the last two weeks. Timed entry begins at 7 p.m.
  • Where: 678 NY-67, Ballston Spa
  • Tickets: reservations required on line or by calling 518-884-9122.
    • $39.95 general admission
    • $60 Scream Pass (available online only). Includes no wait at the first attraction and express service to the hayride.
    • $70 VIP Experience (available online only). Includes premium seating, no waiting at the first two attractions, express cart ride service, upgraded cart ride experience, and a cider and donut voucher.

One night terrors

  • When: Fridays and Saturdays in October. Timed entry 7-9:30 p.m.
  • Where: 4193 Route 7, Schoharie
  • Tickets: reservations on line highly recommended.
    • Online: $30 per person, $150 for six tickets
    • At the door: $35 per ticket, cash only


Building an immersive haunted experience takes more work than pouring out artificial blood and moans. Jennifer and Leo Martin, owners of Double M Haunted Wagon Rides at Ballston Spa, and Kristen Doyle, founder and owner of Night Terrors Haunted Farm in Schoharie, let’s say paperwork (scary in another way), planning, and setting construction is a year-round affair. Both haunts rotate regularly and update existing walk and hay rides and develop new ones every few years to keep the frights fresh. In September, the spooky actors come to add the final spooky components.

To find their zombies and demonic farmers, the Martins conduct face-to-face interviews with applicants to gauge their creepy instincts and, most importantly, their enthusiasm. Doyle tries not to turn down anyone who wants to work as a “creeper”, the Night Terrors nickname for its creepy crew. She does background checks, but she wants Night Terrors to be welcoming to anyone interested.

Many are returning cast members, like Night Terrors fan favorite Cletus the Butcher, played by Lionel Bliss, who joined eight years ago. Bliss and his wife were looking for a haunted house to take engagement photos – the couple got married on Halloween – and a friend recommended Night Terrors. Bliss loved the lair, joined the crew, and quickly created the flesh-eating butcher.

“Once the season starts, Cletus lives in my head,” Bliss said. “I have to be very careful when interacting with people on a Sunday or even a Monday because the responses that come out of my mouth may not be appropriate.”

Over at Double M, PJ Duell, the makeup artist behind the gruesome hayride look since 2005, will assign actors their look, whether it’s a gruesome cowboy or a rotting corpse with worms oozing from head wounds. He applies special effects makeup in the locker room barn, airbrushes between 50 and 60 actors an hour on a spooky party, then the actors grab their costumes from shelves of bloody hazmat suits, medical scrubs, costumes of Santa Claus and clown costumes. From there, the actors of Double M create their characters, from scripts developed by Double M.

Night Terrors encourages its cast to offer in-character answers to common customer questions to keep attractions immersive, Doyle said. Night Terrors also has a manual for its creepers to help them prepare, including tips on how to “scare” to get groups moving through the attraction to avoid traffic jams, and the standard structure of a group of guests. Yes, the actors know that the group’s scary cat tries to hide between the bravest people in the front and back of the group, and yes, they plan their scare tactics accordingly. There is no hiding place of horror.

“If you’ve been doing it for a long time, you can spot them as soon as you see them,” said Tom Stockadale, who worked as a scary actor for five years, including two at Double M. “You can tell by their body language.

For Stockdale, scaring Double M is the best adrenaline rush of his life – and the Glens Falls native spends his days working at Adirondack Extreme Sports and as a whitewater rafting guide.

“I really like putting on a show for people,” he said. “Scaring so many people every night is one of the best feelings I think I’ll ever have.”

Each actor has their own pre-show ritual. Stockdale likes to curate a heavy rock music playlist that is specific to whoever he is playing that year. Bliss also goes for loud, heavy music to prepare for Cletus. A car ride with the loudspeakers blaring and lots of screaming warms up his vocal chords and prepares them for the loud, aggressive butcher.

Chase Street, who was a scary actor for 14 years, four of them with Double M, can put on a costume and fall into character almost instantly. His favorite in his career? Ethel, a murderous granny wearing a pink mumu with a gravelly voice like Harvey Fierstein.

Gray wigs, airbrushed decomposition, and prosthetic disfigurements work wonders for masking actors’ identities. Night Terrors creeper Jen Scheuer, who started creeping 11 years ago after a family trip to Night Terrors in its opening season and now helps dress up and dress up, loves anonymity costumes . Of course, the people she lived with in Schoharie for 47 years don’t recognize her when she’s covered in blood and chomping on brains. But she recognizes them.

“They can’t figure out how this thing knows their name,” she said. “That can definitely work to my advantage because now they’re really, really freaked out.”

The more we panic, the better it is for everyone. “People come because they want to be scared,” Street said. And if someone with a not-so-empty bladder gets super spooked at Night Terrors, they can help a vine win a coveted Wee Wee Award, a bronze toilet statue commemorating the event.

Along with a potential “pee-pee” splash zone and the occasional strained throat, the job carries another hazard.

“We’re getting punched more than we’d like,” said Street, who is completing his terminal leave from the military. Sometimes fighting instinct trumps flight, but when a punch is thrown, it’s almost always an accidental reaction followed by a flurry of apologies.

Building alarms is a community effort, which makes the occasional punch, long hours, and strained vocal chords worth it. Jennifer Martin said Duell would do the Martins’ Halloween makeup when their son Michael was younger so they could sneak in the trick or treating on the busiest night of the wagon ride. Leo Martin isn’t afraid to grab a suit and step in if someone is sick. Street helps build sets for Double M, Bliss created gruesome props for Cletus, and Scheuer played dual roles as an actor and crowd control in the Corn Maze during Night’s opening weekend. Terrors.

“You see monsters spraying blood and someone saying, ‘Come here and I’ll fix your veins,'” Doyle said. “They all take care of each other. Everyone gets into it.

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