McKamey Manor is not for the faint of heart.
The “extreme” haunted house, which operates locations in Summertown, Tenn., and Huntsville, Ala., touts itself as the nation’s "one and only 'extreme haunted attraction' and 'survival horror challenge.’” While the manor’s owner and operator claims there are tens of thousands of people on the waiting list to tour the home, a new petition to shut down the terrifying attraction had gathered over 63,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
Days before Halloween, a Change.org appeal surfaced online, urging Tennessee's governor and the state Senate, as well as Alabama's state Senate, to shutter the spooky sites for good.
“[McKamey Manor is] advertised as “an extreme haunt” when in fact it is NOT a haunted house. It’s a torture chamber under disguise,” the petition, organized by Frankie Towery, begins.
The appeal alleges that the owner, Russ McKamey, “uses loopholes” to avoid arrest for the extreme practices that reportedly take place in the haunted house, such as “getting duct tape wrapped around your head, [being] forced to eat things, be waterboarded and [being] forced underwater.”
The petition continued to slam the manor as “a shame to all haunted houses,” claiming that there have been “reports of sexual assault” there as well.
“It’s literally just a kidnapping and torture house. Some people have had to seek professional psychiatric help and medical care for extensive injuries,” Towery claimed, linking to a Reddit post for further discussion.
According to Fox 13, the manor’s rules for admission are clear in explaining that the site is no typical Halloween haunted house.
Participants do not pay an entry fee, and instead, bring a bag of dog food for the owner’s pets. For entry, adventurers must be over the age of 21 or have a parent’s permission if they are between the ages of 18 and 20. Guests are required to pass a physical exam, bring a doctor’s note detailing that they are physically and mentally cleared for the experience, pass a background check issued by McKamey Manor, have proof of medical insurance and be screened before visiting, according to their website.
Participants must also read and sign a 40-page waiver, create a “safe” word and watch a two-hour warning video before beginning the tour, which is said to take about 10 hours to complete, according to Fox 13. Visitors have the option of weathering the experience alone, in an option known as “Desolation,” or partner with another for a two-person experience.
No one has yet successfully completed the entire tour, but if anyone ever does, the owner and operator has promised to award the feat with $20,000.
Despite the intense regulations, McKamey told Fox 59 that there are over 27,000 people on a waiting list to tour the haunted houses, describing himself as an entertainer skilled in hypnosis.
“People have to use common sense and it’s just really, to me, so simple… The ace up my sleeve is I use a lot of mind-control techniques, I use hypnosis,” he said. “So if I hypnotize someone I can make them believe whatever I want to and that’s the clever nature of the manor. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors.”
An unnamed source who lives near one of the haunted houses, meanwhile, offered a different take on his claims.
“People come out screaming and hollering,” the neighbor told Fox 59. “It’s not a haunted house. A haunted house is about ghosts and goblins and stuff, it’s not about that right there. It’s just a torture thing.”
“Anybody that wants to hurt people and stuff like that is evil,” they added.
Lawrence County District Attorney Brent Cooper told the outlet that he has heard concerns regarding the Summertown McKamey Manor, as deputies have previously been called to the property.
“There were multiple reports; one was a neighbor seeing a woman dragged behind a vehicle and then there was another report of screams. A person ... saw a woman being put in a vehicle against her will,” Cooper said.
The district attorney continued to state that torture between two consenting adults is technically legal, but that McKamey and his team are toeing a fine line, as anyone can revoke consent at any point.
Though the petition to close the manor is gaining steam, Fox 59 reported on Tuesday that McKamey finds the appeal “humorous” and insists he is not doing anything illegal.
A spokesperson for McKamey Manor was not immediately available to offer further comment on news of the petition.
McKamey’s original haunted house was located in San Diego, Calif., but closed down, ultimately relocating and expanding with its current locations in Tennessee and Alabama, Fox 13 reported.