Though it's not everybody's cup of tea, lots of people enjoy the thrill that comes from having the buhjeezus scared out of them. It's why we like horror movies, telling ghost stories around a campfire, and walking through creepy haunted houses. But the community of Summertown, Tennessee complains McKamey Manor, a "survival horror" house that has set up shop in their town, goes too far.
Now they're organizing to get the place shut down for crossing the line from harmless fun to actual torture. Their change.org petition to "Shut down McKamey Manor" has collected over 80,000 signatures as of publication, and the allegations in the summary by petitioner Frankie Towery makes some disturbing claims about the establishment and its owner.
Towery claims owner Russ McKamey, who does not charge admission to his house of horrors, uses the fact that it's free, plus a 40-page waiver, to indemnify himself from being sued. But folks in the community question whether even a signed waiver that thick can allow some of the activities they say go on with McKamey's OK. And the claims are truly horrifying.
The petition alleges there have been reports of sexual assaults and that Russ brags about hiring people with violent criminal records to work the attraction. Towery also claims attendees have been injected with drugs to induce hallucinations, and that torture practices like waterboarding are employed.
You probably have a few questions — we did too after learning about this attraction that sounds like a live reenactment of a Saw movie. First, what could possibly be in it for this guy (other than sadistic thrills)? Well, it seems he may be making real money off the venture — from the footage he obtains of his scared patrons.
McKamey's attraction has been featured in the documentary Haunters: The Art of the Scare, as well as the Netflix series Dark Tourist. In the former, Russ calls himself a filmmaker and says he'll "do anything to get that special footage!" He also brags about not having a "safe word" people can scream to signal they want their experience to end. Though that's changed since the doc was filmed, Towery and others allege it will often go ignored "even when people repeat their safe word for several minutes."
The petition further claims people have had to seek psychiatric and medical care after their experiences at McKamey Manor, which also has a location in Huntsville, AL. The original McKamey Manor was in San Diego, but it was shut down in 2017 when McKamey moved to the south.
Based on a video uploaded this week by somebody who attended Russ's newest location, the Tennessee attraction seems a far cry from what the Netflix doc showed. A YouTuber by the name of Wolfstar shared a video of McKamey dunking him under some murky water for 30 seconds and verbally abusing him. The YouTuber also alleges the $20,000 prize offered to anyone who can finish the experience is a lie — because McKamey just declares you unfit to continue.
"This was his backyard," reads the description. "He lives in a trailer in this yard." Wolfstar says he was forced to "exercise to death" after staying awake all night, and that after all he endured, McKamey found him "mentally unfit" to continue on to actually enter the "manor."
Based on the video, I wouldn't be surprised if the petition was a publicity stunt to drum up interest in the new haunted house attraction rather than a concerned neighbor's authentic reaction to what goes on there. Without having seen the attraction in person, it couldn't possibly be scarier than McKamey's website, which is a true horror to look at:
McKamey certainly seems to be eating up al the hate, sharing every article he comes across about his attraction on his Facebook. Whether he's behind the protests or not, he seems to revel in the bad publicity like a modern-day PT Barnum.
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