Scariest haunted house in U.S. requires 40-page waiver, doctor’s note, safe word

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SUMMERTOWN, Tenn. — You really don’t want to do this. This is what every person must utter after failing to complete a tour of McKamey Manor.

Russ McKamey owns and operates the most terrifying haunted house experience in America — one you’re not allowed to attend until you watch a two-hour video, sign a 40-page waiver, create a safe word, pass a physical, and more, WFLA reports.

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic images and embedded video.

Featured on Netflix’s “Haunters: Art of the Scare” and on an episode of “Dark Tourist,” McKamey Manor is a see-to-believe type of attraction.

The Summertown, Tennessee, horror house is so extreme, no one has ever successfully completed the experience.

And yet, McKamey says his new haunted show, ‘Desolation,’ is his most extreme haunt yet.

“Nobody’s even made it to the starting clock with this new show,” McKamey said. “With the new mental game, it’s much more difficult. And because of that, no one’s even started the clock.”

Think you have what it takes to tour the Manor? If you do, it only costs a bag of dog food; McKamey has five dogs. And if you complete the tour, McKamey will hand you $20,000.

So why wouldn’t you want to do this?

It’s not as easy as just a bag of dog food. The Manor’s website lists seven must-do items before the tour can begin.

  • Be 21 years old or older, or 18-20 with parental approval
  • Completed “sports physical” and doctor’s letter stating you are physically and mentally cleared
  • Pass a background check provided by McKamey Manor
  • Be screened via Facebook, Facetime or phone
  • Proof of medical insurance
  • Sign a detailed 40-page waiver
  • Pass a portable drug test on the day of the show

Waiver signing at the McKamey Manor

There is also a two-hour movie McKamey requires to be watched before visiting the manor.

The video, “And Then There Were None,” is a collection of every contestant who attempted McKamey Manor between July 2017 and August 2019.

The video is a montage of people quitting the tour, uttering the required phrase: “You really don’t want to do this.”

When it comes to the tour, McKamey has a list of warnings and rules to follow:

  • Warnings: Intense audio, lighting, extreme low visibility, strobe and fog effects, damp and wet conditions, physically demanding environments, close contact with creatures (you might be touched), very real and graphic scenes of horror.
  • Rules: No smoking, drinking, eating, running inside, or touching of props and/or actors. McKamey Manor reserves the right to refuse admission to anyone for any reason. The guest voluntarily assumes all risks/dangers associated with participation in this event.

The McKamey you meet outside of the McKamey Manor is not the McKamey you’d expect.

He says he’s never been drunk is his life, never smoked a cigarette, never had a cup of coffee and he doesn’t take illegal drugs or smoke marijuana.

“I’m a very straight-laced conservative guy, but here I run this crazy haunted house that people think is this torture factory, fetish factory,” he said.

“All of these things that it’s not, but people believe that based upon the films that I have made.”

McKamey films every tour. He then publishes the results on his Youtube page.

McKamey says he doesn’t curse and doesn’t allow cursing during the haunted tours. If you do, and many can’t help themselves, he deducts cash from your potential $20,000 prize.

“More of an inside little joke — that the manor is the most extreme haunt in the world but there’s no cussing involved,” he said.

“I’ve already put in well over $1 million into the thing,” McKamey said. “And I don’t charge any money, of course, to get into it. A bag of dog food is the initial price. Which is crazy. I’m not a very good businessperson.”

You’d think McKamey’s favorite horror genre would be the “Saw,” or “Hostel” type. That’s not the case. McKamey has an appreciation for the classics.

“My favorite genre is more like Alfred Hitchcock, old-school 1950s ‘Vertigo,’ ‘Rear Window,’ ‘Birds,’ ‘Psycho,’ ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much,’ ‘North by Northwest,’ the mental ones,” he said.

“Because that’s what the Manor really is. It’s a mental game. It’s really me against them.”

McKamey is so good at what he does, he’s had people sue him over things they thought happened during the show, but didn’t happen.

McKamey doesn’t just film every show for entertainment purposes; he does it to protect himself in court.

“You’d be surprised over the years how many people have claimed something happened to them inside,” he said.

“And I need to go back and show whoever needs to see it the raw and unedited footage, saying, ‘Here ya go, here’s the complete show.’”

McKamey Manor

How is McKamey  so good at playing make-believe? He says hypnosis is a great tool.

“When I use the hypnosis I can put you in a kitty pool with a couple inches of water and tell you there’s a great white shark in there, and you’re gonna think there’s a shark in there,” he said.

“And so, when you have that kind of power over people, and have them do and see things that you want them to see, then they can leave here thinking it really happened, and they’ll go to the authorities and say, ‘Oh, whatever,’ and I have to come back and show the footage and say, ‘It didn’t go that way at all.’

“It’s saved me a thousand times.”

Over the years, McKamey has been able to tap into the fears of everyone that’s come through the manor. He says he works each show around everyone’s individual fear, so it’s never the same show.

McKamey says a common fear people share is water.

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