WARNING: This article contains graphic images and embedded video.
SUMMERTOWN, Tenn. (WFLA) — “You really don’t want to do this.”
This is what every person must utter after failing to complete a tour of McKamey Manor.
Russ McKamey owns and operates the most terrifying haunted house experience in America — one you’re not allowed to attend until you watch a two-hour-long video, sign a 40-page waiver, create a safe word, pass a physical, and more.
The Summertown, Tennessee horror house is so extreme, no one has ever successfully completed the experience. And yet, Russ says his new haunted show, “Desolation,” is his most extreme haunt yet.
“Nobody’s even made it to the starting clock with this new show,” Russ told News Channel 8. “With the new mental game, it’s much more difficult. And because of that, no one’s even started the clock.”
YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO THIS
Think you have what it takes to tour the Manor? If you do, it only costs a bag of dog food– Russ has five dogs. And if you complete the tour, Russ will hand you $20,000.
So why wouldn’t you want to do this?
It’s not as easy as just a bag of dog food, as you’ve probably gathered by now. The Manor’s website lists seven must-do items before the tour can begin.
- Be 21 years old or older, or 18-20 with parents approval
- Completed “Sports Physical” and doctor’s letter stating you are physically and mentally cleared
- Pass a background check provided by McKamey Manor
- Be screened via Facebook, Facetime or phone
- Proof of medical insurance
- Sign a detailed 40-page waiver
- Pass a portable drug test on the day of the show
There is also a two-hour movie Russ requires you to watch before visiting the manor. The video, “And Then There Were None,” is a collection of every contestant who attempted McKamey Manor between July 2017 and August 2019.
The video is basically a montage of people quitting the tour, uttering the required phrase: “You really don’t want to do this.”
When it comes to the actual tour, Russ has a list of warnings and rules you must follow:
Intense audio, lighting, extreme low visibility, strobe and fog effects, damp and wet conditions, phycially demanding environments, close contact with creatures (you might be touched), very real and graphic scenes of horror.
No smoking, drinking, eating, running inside, or touching of props and/or actors. McKamey Manor reserves the right to refuse admission to anyone for any reason. The guest voluntarily assumes all risks/dangers associated with participation in this event.
WHO IS RUSS MCKAMEY?
The Russ you will meet outside of the McKamey Manor is not the Russ you’d expect. He says he’s never been drunk is his life, never smoked a cigarette, never had a cup of coffee, and he doesn’t take illegal drugs or smoke marijuana.
“I’m a very straight laced conservative guy, but here I run this crazy haunted house that people think is this torture factory, fetish factory. All of these things that it’s not, but people believe that based upon the films that I have made.”
Russ films every tour with his video camera. He then publishes the results on his Youtube page.
Russ says he doesn’t curse and doesn’t allow cursing during the haunted tours. If you do, and many obviously can’t help themselves, he deducts cash from your potential $20,000 prize.
“More of an inside little joke — that the manor is the most extreme haunt in the world but there’s no cussing involved,” he laughed.
“I’ve already put in well over a million dollars into the thing,” Russ said. “And I don’t charge any money of course to get into it. A bag of dog food is the initial price. Which is crazy. I’m not a very good business person.”
You’d think Russ’s favorite horror genre would be the “Saw,” or “Hostel” type; ‘the more blood the better.’ That’s not the case. Russ has an appreciation for the classics.
“My favorite genre is more like Alfred Hitchcock, old-school 1950s “Vertigo,” “Rear Window,” “Birds,” “Psycho,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” “North by Northwest,” the mental ones,” he said. “Because that’s what the Manor really is. It’s a mental game. It’s really me against them.”
Russ is so good at what he does, he’s had people sue him over things they thought happened during the show, but didn’t actually happen.
Russ doesn’t just film every show for entertainment purposes; he does it to protect himself in court.
“You’d be surprised over the years how many people have claimed something happened to them inside,” he said. “And I need to go back and show whoever needs to see it the raw and unedited footage, saying ‘here ya go, here’s the complete show.'”
How is Russ so good at playing make-believe? He says hypnosis is a great tool.
“When I use the hypnosis I can put you in a kitty pool with a couple inches of water and tell you there’s a great white shark in there, and you’re gonna think there’s a shark in there,” he said. “And so, when you have that kind of power over people, and have them do and see things that you want them to see, then they can leave here thinking it really happened, and they’ll go to the authorities and say, ‘oh, whatever,’ and I have to come back and show the footage and say, ‘it didn’t go that way at all.’
“It’s saved me a thousand times.”
Over the years, Russ has been able to tap into the fears of everyone that’s come through the manor. He says he works each show around everyone’s individual fear, so it’s never the same show.
Russ says a common fear people share is water.
If you think you have the guts to even attempt McKamey Manor, you can contact Russ here. I will stay behind.
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