McKamey Manor

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McKamey Manor is an American haunted house attraction where “survival horror" events are performed,[1] and a pioneer of the notion of "extreme haunts".[2] It was founded in San Diego by resident Russ McKamey and was originally located on his property. The house operates year-round and the tour can last from four to ten hours. Guests must sign a liability waiver to participate.

Since its opening, McKamey Manor has attracted significant controversy, criticism and media scrutiny for its use of simulated aggression and various forms of physical and psychological torture towards guests.


The house permits just a handful of patrons to enter each weekend. Guests are not required to pay an entrance fee. Instead, McKamey accepts payment only in dog food for his pet dogs and local animal shelters. At the Tennessee location, those age 21 can get in, or 18-20 with parental consent. The Alabama location is 21 and over. The tour can last from four to eight hours, and no guest has made it all the way through.[2] Despite previously not allowing safewords,[2] McKamey says that guests have the option to use one that ends the experience immediately.[3] The house operates year-round, and there is a waiting list of over 24,000 people.[4]

The newest iteration of the performance, a ten-hour experience called Desolation, offers a prize of $20,000 for successful completion, but deducts $500 from the prize for every failed challenge.[5]


During the tour, employees of the Manor may physically assault patrons, hit them with vibrating toys, waterboard them, force them to eat and drink unknown substances, have them bound and gagged, or engage in other forms of physical and psychological torture.[6] One journalist, Tara West, mentions that in the communities where it occurs, the residents question how the attraction stays legal, even with a waiver.[7] While there is a safe-word, one participant, Laura Hertz Brotherton, says that during her experience she repeated the safe phrase for several minutes before employees stopped torturing her. She later went to a hospital for extensive injuries. Participants can also be drugged during their experience.[8]

One of the volunteer guides detailed that the 40-page waiver signed by participants lists all of the possible risks endured, including pulling out their own teeth, a chance of getting a tattoo and getting fingernails pulled out.[9]

According to an editorial by Jeff Heimbuch of HorrorBuzz, the haunt community does not consider McKamey Manor a part of traditional Halloween horror houses.[10][8]

The McKamey Manor facility in Summertown, Tennessee has been the subject of numerous complaints in Lawrence County. County Commissioner Scott Franks wrote about an incident in which deputies were called to the property after a neighbor saw a woman dragged screaming from a van as part of the experience, saying "Staged or not, this is simply something that none of us want anywhere near us." District Attorney Brent Cooper said that the program is legal because people are subjecting themselves to it voluntarily, though participants can withdraw their consent at any time according to Tennessee law.[11]

Popular culture[edit]

McKamey Manor was featured extensively in the 2017 documentary film Haunters: The Art of the Scare and on the Netflix original series Dark Tourist.[12]


  1. ^ "warning - mckameymanor". Retrieved November 15, 2019. MCKAMEY MANOR, is not your standard (boo) haunted house. This is an audience participation event in which (YOU) will live your own Horror Movie. ... The next evolution in intertactive 'SURVIVAL HORROR' theartre.
  2. ^ a b c Carroll, Rory; Ryan, Mae (30 October 2015). "Extreme haunted house: inside the real life kingdom of masochists". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  3. ^ Brentzel, Chelsea (August 4, 2017). "Extreme controversial horror house 'McKamey Manor' comes to Huntsville area". WHNT 19 News. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  4. ^ World's scariest and most exclusive haunted house with a 24,000-person waiting list, New York Daily News
  5. ^ McKamey, Russ (August 9, 2019). "MCKAMEY MANOR Presents (And Then There Were None) REVISED". Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  6. ^ Carroll, Rory; Ryan, Mae (30 October 2015). "Extreme haunted house: inside the real life kingdom of masochists". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  7. ^ "'Extreme' Haunted House Or Legal Torture? McKamey Manor Allows You To Live A Horror Movie [Video]". Retrieved 2019-06-11.
  8. ^ a b "Tennessee's McKamey Manor: Torture on Demand". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  9. ^ Yasharoff, Hannah. "'There's a chance of death': Extreme haunted tour employee explains their terrifying 40-page waiver". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2019-11-16.
  10. ^ Heimbuch, Jeff (2018-04-28). "Editorial: The Problem With HAUNTERS Is Russ McKamey". HorrorBuzz. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  11. ^ "Tennessee's McKamey Manor: Torture on Demand". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  12. ^ Netflix’s ‘Dark Tourist’ Tackles McKamey Manor, The World’s Most Extreme Haunted House

External links[edit]