The Blog of The World's Largest Haunted House
More specifically, Ray is an artist with a sinister bent. He obsesses over all things creepy, dark and dangerous. “I’ve been doing Halloween since the beginning of time, it seems like.”
Ray is one of the full-time crew at Cutting Edge. When he’s not doing makeup you can find him with a hammer or a paintbrush, building and painting the eerie, disturbing sets that furnish the colossal haunt. In his free time he also paints murals and faux finishes, designs movie sets and takes on whatever artistic odd jobs come his way.
Cutting Edge is a maverick in the haunt world, one of the few haunts that opens up at different times throughout the year, for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and every Friday the 13th. This year Friday the 13th occurs in September and December. It’s April, however, and there’s a buzz of activity at Cutting Edge today.
“It’s HauntCon,” says Ray. “We’re one of the spotlight tours.”
The Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Conference, or HauntCon, is an expo and convention “designed by haunters, for haunters” held at different places around the country every year. Last year it was Pittsburgh; this year it’s Dallas-Fort Worth, and Cutting Edge is scheduled to provide a spotlight tour to convention goers Friday night, April 26.
As with every other show night, Ray and the 8 to 14 makeup artists he supervises will work in shifts, to makeup Cutting Edge’s 150 to 200 actors. They will keep going all night, retouching as necessary until there is no more need for them. By the time Ray gets through making sure the makeup is put away and the makeup room cleaned, it’s usually 1 or 2 in the morning.
“That’s early,” he says. “Many of the actors are often here until 5 or 6.”
It’s a strenuous job at times, but one Ray wouldn’t trade for all the chainsaws in Texas. “When the show is running, it’s probably the best time of my year. It is so much fun. We have a blast!”
For Ray and the others, one of the best parts about working at Cutting Edge is the camaraderie among the cast members. “It’s a big family, you know. I love them. These guys are crazy, but they’re loyal.”
Still, after a solid month of haunting, it can get to be a little bit exhausting. “By the time October 31st gets here, we’re so over it. (Head Makeup Artist and Set Designer) Frances and I have been best friends for 20 years, but we don’t want to see each other for about a month!”
Rest well, Ray; you’ll get exactly six weeks before Friday, December 13th!
Lights, Camera, Action!
Cutting Edge has a new star!
Making his acting debut on the horror stage this year is
“Buttercup” the scariest pet dragon/dinosaur this side of Jurassic
Park. Buttercup lurks in a dark rainforest
with the other dinosaurs, just waiting for unsuspecting visitors to stop by and
admire the scenery. Then suddenly,
without warning, out he springs with a loud, ear-splitting, blood curdling roar
sure to make your heart leap into your throat.
Frozen in your tracks, face to face with the monster, though your
reasoning mind knows this couldn’t possibly be real, you think just maybe – he
- is – going – to – EAT YOU! Poor Buttercup,
we haven’t been feeding him lately, and he’s all skin and bones, well bones
anyway. So when you come to the Cutting
Edge Haunted House this year, be on the lookout for our newest pet. He can’t wait for you to come and visit -
he’s just dying for a bite.
“Danger Dave” doesn’t like to talk about how he got his nickname. As head of the maintenance department for the Cutting Edge Haunted House, he’s had a few close calls, sort of like Tim Taylor on Home Improvements fictional “Tool Time.”
Of course, he’s been with the Cutting Edge since 1996 and still has all of his fingers, so he must be doing something right. During that time he’s seen a lot of changes, as the attraction continues to grow and expand. “This year we’re attempting to make more changes than we’ve ever done in one year,” he says of the frenzy of production going on at the massive old converted meat-packing factory.
Dave favorite new section of the attraction? Ruckus Land, a chaotic boneyard of old sets and props haunted by chainsaw wielding acrobats. “It’s going to be really, really cool.”
Not everybody in Dave’s family shares of his love of haunted houses. “My mom still refuses to come,” he says, “that’s not her cup of tea.” Dave’s wife and her family, however, are another story altogether. “Her family comes up pretty regularly,” he says proudly. And his wife, does she share his enthusiasm for the venue? “We all love it. That’s why we’ve worked there so long.”
Of his nearly 16 years with the Cutting Edge, Dave says, “We’ve all been together so long and worked together so much that we’ve all become family,” and he describes the core of regulars who have been with the Cutting Edge through the years as, “guys that I’ll do anything for.”
And his job, “It’s like hanging out with my friends every day. How many people can say they get to go to work and hang out with their friends?”
As to the overwhelming popularity of The Cutting Edge? “We take away many things that are really dear to you, sight and sound are my favorites.” You only see what we want you to see, and hear what we want you to hear, and being able to do that throughout the whole show, keeping that kind of consistency is one thing that really throws people off.”
It’s got to be an overwhelming experience, on a treacherous trail that is extremely long. “People ask ‘how long does it take?’” says Dave. “I don’t know, how fast can you run?”
People are fond of saying that everything’s bigger in Texas, and here at the Cutting Edge Haunted House,we have to admit that’s true.
Just waiting in line is one gigantic block party, with DJs, raucous music, zombies and ghouls running amok everywhere, creeping you out in the parking lot, lurking around the porta-potties. We’ve got more scares going on outside the attraction than other places have in their whole haunted house.
As for the zombies, you can’t hardly swing a dead cat without hitting a zombie at the Cutting Edge. We’ve got zombies with chain saws, zombies playing in a marching band, zombies in a drum line – heck, our zombies are downright musical prodigies!
And as for the attraction itself, well it’s a colossal 200,000+ square foot meat-packing plant, with bodies hanging from a conveyor belt traveling overhead. We’ve got disturbing tableaus and dioramas, dinosaurs and dragons, crazed clowns and maniacal monsters, more animatronics than a Disneyland ride and a cast of hundreds so that you’ll never know for sure whether something or somebody is real or not.
In fact, it’s all about the illusion. Your rational mind knows that you’re safe, but part of you isn’t quite sure.
The Cutting Edge is so big that people often ask how long it takes to get all the way through once they cross into that netherworld of illusion. The answer? Well it depends, how fast can you run? Last year it took most folks the better part of an hour, but this year it’s longer – a whole lot longer. And don’t forget, you also have to negotiate an actual maze and a giant wall of foam.
So yes, things are bigger in Texas, especially here at the Cutting Edge, but don’t take our word for it, come on out and see! One thing though, you’d better make sure you take the opportunity to use the porta-potties before you come in, because we’re going to scare the crap out of you!
Brent is a different kind of superhero. By day a humble firefighter-paramedic, by night he transforms into the chainsaw-wielding, eerily skeletal figure known only as “Chainsaw” to the regulars at the Cutting Edge Haunted House.
It’s a calling. Some people collect stamps, others build model airplanes. Brent’s passion is the Cutting Edge, where he volunteers to scare the daylights out of people as part of the “front line entertainment,” which he has been doing since 1994.
If the truth be told, he just gets a kick out of startling people, even going so far as to climb into their cars with them as they park. Just his presence near the line of porta-potties will keep the patrons at a distance, squeezing their knees together and waiting for him to leave the area.
“I’ve seen people wait for an hour, and wait for me to leave,” he says. “And as soon as I walk away, a hundred people will rush over to the toilets.”
Brent also puts his paramedic skills to good use on the “Band Aid Brigade,” providing first aid services wherever needed should someone manage to scrape a knee or twist an ankle, but his favorite part about the job is just seeing people’s reactions as he quietly appears beside them.
“What amazes me is, I’m out there with the parking lot lights on and everything, and people still manage to not see me. They actually know I’m there, and they forget I’m there and get scared anyway.” It’s the creep factor, a Cutting Edge trademark.
“That’s the whole thing about our stick, especially outside, creeping is something that we can do.” It’s all part of a superhero’s mission to “give them a good time, and that’s what it’s all about.”
During the off season Brent helps with the sets, and has been very busy with all of the new construction this year. Asked about the major changes taking place he says, “Oh wow…to me it’s mind boggling, what we’re doing and the renovations that we’re setting up and getting ready for our guests. I think our guests and our patrons will be really pleased with what we do.”
And his favorite new area? “The area I’m working on is our Dragon’s Lair – I’m really pleased with the way it’s turning out.” The big new attraction there is Drago, Cutting Edge’s newest pet dino-dragon. “That’s one of our new pet projects, literally.”
As for Brent’s family, they fully support his extracurricular activities, and patronize the Cutting Edge on a regular basis. “They think it’s great. They like being there all the time.” His friends, however are another story. Although his volunteer work entitles him to free passes, he rarely takes advantage of them. “Half my friends are afraid to go in.” It’s lonely being a superhero.
Ah Valentine’s Day, the romance, the candlelight, the roses, the – zombies? That’s right, zombies! Jealous, lovelorn, bloodthirsty ghouls who are positively green with envy will be making the rounds at Cutting Edge Haunted House this Valentine’s Day, looking for a date, anybody’s date – even yours! Cutting Edge puts the adrenaline back into Valentine’s Day with our “Twisted Love” monster date night extravaganza, chock full of chills, thrills and twisted romantic themes you’ll never see on a Hallmark card.
The World’s Largest Haunted House will be illuminated only by candlelight for this one special night, so that you and your date can enjoy the ambiance as you run screaming through the hallways, stalked by monsters wielding roses, chocolates and chainsaws. You’ll think you’ve wound up at a zombie prom, complete with 60′s and 70′s Motown love music; only the zombies are more interested in your brains than your dancing ability – eating them, that is. Don’t worry, they’re zombies; you can outrun them. Now, as for the rest of the monsters – well, just be sure and wear good running shoes!
And whatever you do, hold tight to your date and don’t let go. Cutting Edge cannot be held responsible for dates that are lost, stolen, misplaced or um, you know, eaten. For a fright to remember this Valentine’s Day, plan to spend a romantic evening of “Twisted Love” at Cutting Edge Haunted House. Because nothing says “I love you” like a bloodcurdling scream.
“This is like playtime every day, and this is what we do for a living,” she says of the work that she and nine other full time employees perform year round at the world famous house of horrors. Although the basic “season” for the Cutting Edge runs from around the second weekend of September through the first weekend in November, the work at the gigantic fear factory goes on year round. A ghoul’s work is never done.
Frances worked as a theatre set designer when she first met Cutting Edge owner Todd back in 1998. As a single mother of two young children she found it difficult to travel to New York for work, so when James offered her a job right here in Fort Worth, she jumped at it, and she has never looked back.
“It’s just amazing how big this thing has gotten,” she says, referring to the enormous popularity of the Cutting Edge and the staunch loyalty of its patrons who return year after year. “People don’t throw away their parking passes,” she says, “and it’s a different color every year. And sometimes you’ll see someone with like, ten different colored parking passes hanging off their rear view mirror.”
In fact, she relates a story of how Todd was driving to work recently when a motorist behind him began flashing his lights impatiently for James to pull over and allow him to pass. Todd was irate at first, but as the other car whizzed by, he spotted five or six Cutting Edge parking passes dangling from the vehicle’s rear view mirror. “I just let him go on by,” he told Frances later with a smile.
Frances’s not the only one of her family to be bitten by the haunted house bug. Her daughter Jessie, now 21, started getting into the act when she was ten. “There were some nights when I couldn’t find a babysitter” says Frances, “and so I brought her in and let her stay in the cast room.” Jessie wanted to get into the action, though, and so one night Frances made her up to look like an evil little girl and put her in one of the tableau displays with an adult cast member to keep an eye on her.
Later that night, the adult cast member told Frances, “Your daughter is creeping me out.” It seems Jessie was taking plastic baby dolls from the tableau and hanging them all by the neck from the bed canopy. “That’s my girl,” said Frances. Jessie went on to become a regular cast member at the Cutting Edge.
So what is a typical working day for the Headmistress of Horrors in a haunted meatpacking plant? “I usually get there around noon,” says Frances, “to get all the costumes and things ready, organize the makeup and make sure we have what we need. Then the makeup artists and the costume girls come in. In October we have anywhere from six to eight makeup artists plus apprentices and two to three girls in the costume department.”
At around 3:30 to 4:00 the stage managers arrive, and by five o’clock Frances and her team are “hot and heavy” prepping 75 to 100 cast members for a night of shock and awe. “We have some amazing makeup people,” she says, “they work like a finely tuned clock.” By 7 o’clock if not sooner, the Cutting Edge is ready to open.
“Sometimes around Halloween people show up early because they don’t want to wait in line,” says Frances, adding that eager patrons often arrive as early as 5:00 on those nights, and if the cast is ready, James will sometimes open as early as 6:00 pm.
Although the lines can be quite long and the wait on a Friday night in October can be as much as three or four hours, fans don’t seem to mind. “It’s like a party outside,” says Frances. The carnival-like atmosphere includes a DJ playing outrageous sound tracks, a monster hearse motoring about providing photo opportunities, a full brass band of zombies and members of Cutting Edge’s eerie undead precision drum line keeping the crowds entertained and giving them a taste of what’s in store for them inside.
In addition to Cutting Edge’s own staff, the action in the parking lot is often enhanced by the presence of radio station personalities doing promotional giveaways and “MTV Zombie Tacos” offering complimentary munchies.
For Frances and her team, the nights can be long, especially during the peak of the season, and they often do not close up shop until around 3:30 or 4 in the morning – if not later. It’s usually about one hour after “the kids” get into the cast room, she says, that she and security are able to finally lock up and go home. “I’ve been leaving as the sun comes up.”
She tells about one Friday night when Halloween fell on the weekend and they actually had to stop selling tickets. “Todd realized we just couldn’t get everybody through the show before morning. He finally told them to shut it down.” That night James called them all up onto the rooftop.
“We were standing up on the roof and looking out over the parking lot,” says Frances, “and there was a solid sea of people as far as you could see. We were looking around going, ‘is this real?’ It was just such an amazing feeling.”
Cutting Edge Haunted House is a dark attraction filled with terrifying live actors, amazing special effects and incredible monsters. Celebrating its new Guinness World Record, this intense, cutting edge, multi-story, multi-themed haunted attraction is widely considered to be one of the best Haunted Houses in the nation, full of chilling detail and unbelievable scares!
Located in a 100-year-old abandoned meat packing plant in a section of Fort Worth historically dubbed as “Hell’s Half Acre,” the Cutting Edge Haunted House is built upon a foundation of fear. The meat packing equipment from the Old West is still in use, but now it is a two-story human processing area. Realistic looking human mannequins are hoisted up to the second level and brought through the entire meat packing process until the conveyor system brings the butchered corpses back to the first level. The old meat-packing plant in downtown Fort Worth is a great home for the fantastic special effects that our loyal customers have come to expect.” It takes visitors an average 55 minutes to explore Cutting Edge Haunted House. The walk-through is replete with frighteningly-realistic props.
Cutting Edge Haunted House has established a reputation for being one of the best haunted houses in the nation. The new Guinness World Record has helped to solidify Cutting Edge Haunted House’s standing as one of the country’s best and largest haunted houses. Come see what new horrors lurk in the twisting corridors of Fort Worth’s ultimate haunted house.
“Cutting Edge is the best haunted house I’ve been to in my combined 16 years as a reviewer and customer. “ -Texas Haunts.net
“Recognized for their attention to detail, high-quality special effects, and overall scare factor” -Wall Street Journal 2008
“This is the best haunted house I’ve ever seen” -Jeff Mosier, Arlington News
“Members of my review team loved this place and said it was the scariest haunted house they had ever been to” -Haunt Reviews.com
“The longest adrenaline rush money can buy!” -Denton Record Chronicle
“Thou Shalt Shudder” -Dallas Morning News
“…A whole new level of intense entertainment…On the ‘Spinal Tap’ rock scale!” -North Texas Haunts.com