You may have heard of Clown College, an enterprise run by Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, but have you ever heard of Boo U? That’s where Fort Worth Haunted House Cutting Edge cast members go to polish up their scaring skills.
While it sounds more like somewhere that Casper’s less friendly brothers went to college, Boo U is actually an educational program run by Cutting Edge every September as part of the screening and training process for new employees. After an exhaustive training session, employees are auditioned in one of Cutting Edge’s scare rooms and scored on their performance.
You see, there’s more to scaring someone than just jumping out and yelling “Boo!” Much, much, MUCH more.
Cutting Edge employs a technique known as the “creep factor.” Rather than growling, screaming or howling, which would only take away from the super cool, jammin’ music, Cutting Edge’s Boo Crew is trained to sneak up on you, silently. One minute there’s no one there, then suddenly there is. And then they’re gone again, and you’re left with a pounding heart and an uneasy sensation in the pit of your stomach.
There’s nothing more frightening than a ghoul who is suddenly uncomfortably close. The trick is being able to vanish again before it becomes an annoyance. Too close is terrifying. Too close for too long is grounds for a restraining order.
Not only are the Boo Crew’s suddenly-there tactics much more terrifying than even the most convincing of blood-curdling screams, but they also save the actors from going hoarse by the end of the night. Let’s face it, few people know how to relax their vocal cords while screaming, and voice coaches are expensive!
While the basic techniques are compulsory, new cast members are encouraged to bring their own unique personality quirks and costume ideas into the equation. Over the years, cast members develop their own individual characters, much like on a long-running hit TV show. In fact, many of Cutting Edge’s Boo Crew have been with the show for decades or longer, and have their own hardcore fans who come to see them every year.
As Haunt Master Todd James will tell you, a haunted house is only as good as its actors. Animation and special effects can only go so far; it’s the human equation that really makes or breaks the performance. Scaring people is kind of like a comedy routine; it’s all about the timing.
Come and see Boo U’s latest graduates in one of their nightly performances, and judge for yourself whether or not this all-star cast is worthy of a Golden Chainsaw award for best ensemble in a nighttime horror show. No applause is necessary – just a terrified scream will do.