There are reports that the world's "scariest haunted house" could still be open in 2022, even though many have accused it of being a "torture chamber in disguise".
McKamey Manor's interactive extreme haunt experience took place across the US and became infamous as one of the most terrifying experiences in the world.
Its current existence is debated regularly on Reddit, with some saying the creator and former Navy veteran Russ McKamey is still taking participants but it is a much more toned-down version of the extreme haunted house it once used to be known.
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Others have said it’s no longer running and Russ – who has been slammed for his inhumane treatment of participants – is currently working at Walmart.
The events held at the US haunts located in Summertown, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama were deemed so terrifying participants went through a rigorous screening process, which reportedly involved passing a background check, a drugs test and being screened via FaceTime.
Reportedly they also needed to sign a 40-page waiver, which mentioned potentially being "crushed in a pit by various objects" and being okay with the possibility of experiencing injuries such as cerebral or retinal haemorrhage.
In recent years, people who previously entered the manor have spoken about their experiences, with some claiming they have had to seek therapy and suffer from PTSD.
While McKamey Manor started as a local haunted house that hired local teenagers to dress up in costumes to spook participants, over the years it became more and more sinister.
Around 2013 Russ replaced the teen actors with adults and started uploading videos to his YouTube channel. Here he would show clips of each participant's experience in McKamey Manor, with many trembling and begging for the experience to end. These videos became darker and more alarming over time.
As well as physically hurting participants, Russ and his team would play mind games by convincing attendees that they were in harm's way, even if they weren't.
One of the ways he achieved this was by telling people that their haunt experience was being livestreamed to people who were betting on them in Las Vegas. People have since claimed that no livestream existed
Over the years Russ would release different iterations of McKamey Manor, with each one increasing in intensity. Some videos online show people unconscious, with the 'actors' continuing to slap them.
Stories from what goes on inside the experience include waterboarding, teeth being pulled out of mouths and close encounters with chainsaws.
One woman, who goes by Gabs online, said the experience felt more like someone's "twisted fantasy" as opposed to a haunted house.
She signed up for the experience when it was first starting out, as she was after an experience that would actually scare her.
"Scary movies for me weren't cutting it. My idea of a perfect time or a fun day was going through a haunted house that was me living through a scary movie … I used to work in a haunted house so knew all of the tricks and all of the secrets," she explained on her YouTube channel.
"I found a video of McKamey Manor on YouTube and I was like 'oh this looks like a legit scary haunted house', that's how it was advertised. It was like a boo haunt, they could grab you they could get physical but it wasn't going to do anything crazy."
Gabs went on to claim she and the other woman she went in with were the 'guinea pigs' for the torture aspect of McKamey Manor and it was a lot more sinister than she was told to expect.
"The waiver that I signed basically said they could push me, they could tie me up, they could cut my hair and stuff like that. And if I died that it wasn't their fault. It was a basic waiver," she claims.
"I didn't have to see a doctor beforehand, I didn't get drug tested, I didn't have to see a psychiatrist beforehand, he didn't give me a questionnaire beforehand, I didn't see the waiver beforehand.
"There was nothing that made me think 'oh goodness they might waterboard me, they might cut my hair.'"
Gabs said she was in McKamey manor for six hours and was blindfolded for the majority of it.
"The things I do remember happening to me, I remember being waterboarded, which is not a good experience at all and I remember the spider on my face," Gabs shared.
"There were moments where I was scared because of what was happening but mostly I was numb and trying not to freak out. I did have a panic attack in the haunt when I was in the big, deep freezer which they locked me in.
"They spit in my face, I got choked, my hair was pulled … some guy put his fingers in my mouth and ripped my head to the side. They spit fake blood into my mouth. [There was] nothing that's like 'oh this is a haunted house', it just [felt] like 'oh this is someone's twisted fantasy'."
She also claims she was tied up and put inside a paddling pool with something put over the top so that she couldn't get out. Gabs claims she struggled to breathe as she had chains around her neck and only a small section of the pool wasn't submerged in water.
In a different video on YouTube, a man said their friend wouldn't tap out from the experience, so Russ took a drastic step to ensure that he would.
He claims: "So Russ dragged him on his back through gravel while he was wearing nothing but a tank top over his chest and he ended up in hospital."
In another video, an unnamed woman can be seen covered in bruises with knotted hair, visibly shaking a day after entering the manor.
"He said it wouldn't be nearly as physical. Yeah, tell that to all of these bruises. I guess I'm okay and alive," she said.
"I don't know how I'm going to go outside or go home. I got pulled from my tour for psychological reasons, so at least I can say I didn't quit but things got crazy in there.
"I tried to downplay it but I was hallucinating really bad and what they do to start you off, Russ pulls a pretty mean trick right at the beginning and before I even touched the waiver I thought I was done. I'm not sure how long I lasted, maybe an hour, I don't know."
The people who have spoken out since leaving McKamey Manor don't end there, as a woman named Laura Hertz Brotherton spoke to Nashville Scene about the ordeal she claims she went through.
"I was waterboarded, I was Tased, I was whipped," she claims. "I still have scars of everything they did to me. I was repeatedly hit in my face, over and over and over again. Like, open-handed, as hard as a man could hit a woman in her face. … Even through them hitting me, I was just so numb by what had happened previous to that, I didn’t even make a sound, not even a grunt. Nothing. I didn’t cry, I didn’t scream, I didn’t say 'ouch.'"
Laura claims her eyes were covered with duct tape and she was submerged underwater by her ankles. She was under for so long that she claims her body started involuntarily thrashing.
It didn't end there, as she claims Russ and his 'actors' made her dig a hole in a patch of dirt with her bare hands, before forcing her to lie in it while they covered her face with dirt, providing her with only a straw to breathe through.
"[The dirt] started to go into my throat, and I started to swallow it," she claims.
"I’m coughing and I keep saying, ‘I need water,’ and they would just splash water in my face. They wouldn’t actually give me water. That went on for, I want to say, 20 to 30 minutes."
Laura said the tears eventually kicked in and she claims that she repeatedly said her safe word for several minutes before they stopped hurting her. She claims she went to the hospital because of her injuries and she later went to the police. Unfortunately, she claims that the police said she couldn't take the case any further because of the waiver she signed.
In an interview with The Washington Post, McKamey insisted that no torture or illegal activities are part of the extreme experience.
Instead, he claims to use mental techniques to terrify guests.
He said: “There’s no torture, there’s nothing like that, but under hypnosis if you make someone believe there’s something really scary going on, that’s just in their own mind and not reality.”
Daily Star has reached out to Russ and McKamey Manor for comment.
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