October 20, 2021

A frightfully good time

Homer venue hosts haunted house, spook show

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Mr. Shivers, played by Matt Steele, holds the guillotine rope while Greg Moller, who plays a professor, explains how the machine works as part of the Chiller Haunted House on Saturday at the Center for the Arts in Homer.

As Megan Hill and Cassandra Storey waited in line for a seance, a man wearing the pig mask from “American Horror Story” approached them. They screamed, squirmed and looked away.

It was the same pig mask that had scared the two women as they walked through Jim Coon’s Chiller Haunted House on Saturday night at the Center for the Arts of Homer.

“The pig mask from ‘American Horror Story,’ that’s what got me,” Storey said. “He popped out and he ran after you and then as you kept going someone else comes out and touches your leg.”

It was first year the haunted house was set up at the center after years at Suggett Park in Cortland. Coon had to move after code enforcement officers told him the Burch Building where Chiller was set up in past years lacked necessary sprinklers.

However, the move allowed Coon to expand the haunting theatrics. He created a seance room and a vaudeville spook show that included dancing and comedic acts.

“One day the scene came to me of Greg (Moller) and somebody else and they’re having this dialog and the guy says, what’s your name? And it begins this Abbott and Costello thing,” Coon said.

Jim Coon’s dad, Wayne Coon, attended the show as he waited for the non-scary haunted tours to finish up. He was laughing throughout the show.

“I thought it was very entertaining,” he said. “The ringmaster, whoever he was, he was very good. This is really old-time entertainment.”

Wayne Coon said he remembers going to theater shows like that when he was a kid. He also said it was cool that his son decided to add another family-oriented piece to Chiller.

However, what everyone was really thrilled to do was walk through the haunted house, featuring several spooky rooms and scary people. It was so popular the wait was close to 40 minutes. There was a room full of baby doll parts that were strung up, a hallway of mirrors with Jason masks attached to it. Goblins, ghouls and monsters all hid behind curtains or in furniture waiting to lurk behind people, pop out and scare them or grab their legs.

Wayne Coon said it was his 36th time going through the haunted house. For many years — about 14, Coon said — the haunted house was actually at his house before it moved to Suggett Park. He’s glad his son has continued using people to play the monsters.

“I like the idea of the monsters being in there,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of the haunted houses and they don’t have the monsters.”

Hill got such a scare from the various monsters she said she lost her voice from screaming.

“It was scary and I’m not easily scared,” Storey said.

Hill said she was so frightened walking through the house that she grabbed on to Storey’s arm.

“I don’t think I let go,” Hill said. “It was one of the scariest haunted houses I’ve ever been to.”