Confessions of a scare actor

Jacqueline models her zombie attire for Fright Fest. Photo Courtesy of Catherine Kalisch

As fog fills the hallway of the abandoned RV with the word zombie smeared in blood across its side, I crouch down and wait until feet appear on the floor near me. A few timid feet begin to appear through the mist I suddenly leap in front of them, nearly brushing their skin, with the sudden startle, the scare is in place. They unleash a blood curdling scream that leaves my ears ringing.

Working at Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest as a scare actor for the past three years has been one hell of a rewarding ride of terror. The maze I work for is the 13th scariest maze in the world, Aftermath. It is a post-apocalyptic world filled with smoke taking over the air and fire that can be felt throughout the entire maze.

Being able to clock into work, put on aged ripped clothing and makeup to finish the look of the baby eating zombie I portray is an experience I will never forget to tell my grandchildren.

The scare tactics I strive for are to be something the guests are not expecting. Screaming in their face can scare a few people but not everyone. It is an minimal attempt at scaring and people can not be feared by something they can also do.

Using shaker cans will help the scares but you can tell the creativity is lacking. Scare actors often use it to shake it near or behind the guests face, or to be slammed against something in the maze in order to make a loud noise. It may cause guests to freak for a split second but it works to an effortless extent.

I use a variety of different scares to spice up the humor and fear when guests enter Aftermath. I aim to give the guests a scare they will not be ready for, instead of slamming noise makers and screaming into their helpless ears.

The scare I take deep pleasure in, is appearing when they least expect it. It is a thrill to see the reactions of the guests when they see me sitting at the front of an abandoned taxi, with the fog rising, for one second and then appear directly in their face the next. It is the notion of not expecting a trick without a trap door or placed scare area.

Right after I get the first group of scares I move to the rest of the guests walking through it. I simply move my body at a slower pace while moving along through the crowd. I quickly get right into guests faces and mimic what they do to avoid me going after them. Another scare is to quickly move when a guest is checking out the setup of the adondanced RV. It sets up the perfect trap to appear in their face before they turn their head to notice me looking dead as can be into their eyes.

It brings laughs to large groups of people who are there to either enjoy the scenery or get scared trying.

The mind of a scare-actor is one of convoluted thought, lying and waiting for the next opportunity to scare an unsuspecting victim is an adrenaline rush not many get to experience for a living.