West Springs Spook House has scary surprises

Derik Vanderford Staff Writer

October 31, 2013

WEST SPRINGS — An attraction billed as the oldest continuously-running spook house in the southeast looks to scare attendees this evening.

The West Springs Spook House has run annually since 1974, when it began in an old house behind the home of West Springs resident Bucky Sprouse. It was soon moved to its current location — an 800-square-foot building which was formerly a cannery built in the late 1800s. Sprouse, Randall Bogan, Steve Lawson, Alan West , Larry West , Marshall Bogan and Wayne Henderson are the West Springs Spook House founders. Now — 39 years later — the spook house is considered one of the oldest of its kind in South Carolina. Spook house volunteer Michael Gault said he is thankful for the previous generation who has passed down the spook house tradition to current volunteers, and he said several of the founders still volunteer, running concessions, taking tickets or doing whatever is needed.

The spook house features eight rooms — including its famous transformation chamber — and will surprise patrons using trap doors, hidden paths, chains, chainsaws and more scary surprises. Those brave enough to enter will encounter evil clowns, werewolves and numerous other Halloween characters who will appear from every direction.

An ominous warning on the West Spring Spook House ‘s Facebook page reads: “If you honestly can’t take it, please DO NOT come through. Once you’re in, the door is LOCKED behind you and there’s no turning back. So again, if you cannot take a good scare, PLEASE DO NOT come through. For those of you who can take it. Good luck!”

Some who have visited the spook house apparently missed the online disclaimer because one entire group — while being led through the spook house — decided to turn around mid-tour and go back out the way they came — through the entrance.

“They backed out on us,” said volunteer spook Adam Harris. “They made it halfway through and they didn’t want anymore.”

“I believe the group just had a couple of scaredy cats in it,” added another spook house volunteer, Jonathan Burnett. “It kinda wore them out a little bit. By the time they got to the electric chair room, they didn’t even want it turned on.”

Spook house volunteers say the sound of the chainsaws have caused grown men to hide in the fetal position and run as far as a half-mile. They also said teenagers can be seen every year running until they find a car or an adult to provide shelter.

After years of experience, spook house volunteers have accumulated numerous stories of their scare tactics. Harris told a story about a spook house visitor who received a shock.

“This was a grown man — like 40 years old. He started raising cane and we all jumped out of the woods,” Harris said.

He and fellow spooks noticed the man had disappeared.

“We started looking for him and he had crawled up under his truck and was in a fetal position bawling his eyes out — crying like a baby!” Harris said.

Gault said themes in the spook house change from year to year, but traditional favorites — such as the transformation chamber — are mainstays.

“This year, we incorporated more props, including some automated machines,” he said.

Gault said there is a core group of around 10-15 volunteer workers, and the annual attraction could not run without them.

“We start in September every year to be ready a few weeks before Halloween,” he said.

The spook house is run each year as a fundraiser for the community. All profits go toward the annual West Springs 4th of July community celebration.

Tonight will be the final night of the year for the West Springs Spook House to be open. Doors will open at 8 p.m.