Interview With Ed Short of Chambers of Horror
By Noah, Creator & Webmaster
Introduce yourself and give us a little info on how you first got involved in the haunt industry?
My name is Ed Short, owner of the Chambers of Horror, I grew up in Middletown, Ohio and always enjoyed helping my mom decorate the front porch for Halloween. In 1973, at the age of 10, my family took a trip to Disney World and I fell in love with the Haunted Mansion. Fascinated by the props, I drew up some designs on the long drive home from Florida, including a floating candelabra, doors with moving handles, and a thirteen hour clock. I built these props and that Halloween I took over the porch decorating. After the second year, I outgrew the front porch and moved to the garage.
Tell us some about the other people involved in bringing Chambers of Horror to life?
My brother and right hand man, Tim Short, has been the most help the last couple of years; although he has worked off and on over the last twenty years or so. My mom stills helps out as much as she can each year and runs the concession stand while we are open. A handful of others has been helping out over the years including Malcom Bailey, Gary Neal, Ron Kirby and Denzil Miller.
How did Chambers of Horror first begin and how has it become the haunt it is today?
The Chambers got its name in 1977, when a group of friends and me had a club in a friend’s garage. That October, we used our dues money to go to a local haunt. We were somewhat disappointed with the haunt and figured we could do better than that, so we did. We turned the garage into a haunted house and had about 150 people in three nights. After kicking around several names for our haunt, we decided on the Chambers of Horror, each room is a chamber.
We now have over 30 “Chambers” of Horror. We were always trying to come up with new ideas for scaring people, including moving walls, falling ceilings and a realistic guillotine. Years of research and development, trial and error, and blood sweat and tears has helped The Chambers change every year into the haunt you know today.
How would you compare Chambers to other haunts in Ohio?
The Chambers is one of the best haunts around, with intense in your face action around every corner, and no time to catch your breath. We have some “one of a kind rooms”; that others have tried to copy with little or no success. But the biggest difference between the Chambers and other haunts is training. Sure, everyone knows how to scare people, but they can always be fine tuned. Timing is everything! You pick out the biggest guy in the group and go after him. If you get him, you’ve got the whole group.
What goes into organizing Chambers of Horror ever year?
We start our year out in January with our monthly meeting and brainstorming new ideas for the upcoming year. By the first of March we have decided on most of the changes and start on construction. By August we are rapping up the changes and start contacting anyone that did not show up for the monthly meetings. The beginning of September we start training, where we go through our safety, crowd control and scare tactics workshops along with dress rehearsal/family night where we can get some hands on training and fine tune everyone without sacrificing the public’s time and money. Let’s not forget about advertising and security.
Your actors are pretty intense. How do you decide to pick your actors for the haunt?
Our actors are no different than at any other haunt. The thing that sets them apart from others is the training that we provide our cast. The best actors are usually ones that have never worked in a haunt before; they are easier to train because they aren’t set in their ways and have been trained wrong or not at all. Just because a person works in a haunt, they think they know what they’re doing. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for 34 years. There’s more to it than you think. We don’t have much of a turnover, only about five new people each year. The rest of the cast have been with me for the last five years or more. But even the veterans get training every year to make them even better.
Where do you see Chambers of Horror going in the future?
This is just a stepping stone toward the bigger picture. One day, the Chambers will be “the name” for haunts across the country. Sorry, I can’t give out any more information because there aret too many copy cats out there.
What is your favorite room to construct and why?
The Crusher is my baby… probably because of the response by the public. I love to sit back and watch most everyone hit the floor. The Crusher is a one of a kind room that will never be duplicated, although some have tried. I like to recreate movie scenes, to get them as accurate as possible, so much that you think that you have stepped into the movies. My favorite room to work in would have to be Pick-a-Door because of the many options that you have to mess with the public.
How would you best describe Chambers of Horror for people who’ve never been to your haunt?
The Chambers of Horror, Ohio’s Twisted Haunted House, is a one of a kind haunt. You won’t just walk the path through the haunt; you have to find your way out. With over thirty rooms including moving walls, falling ceilings, slanted and shrinking halls and almost one hundred doors, some hidden; you will walk, run and even crawl to find your way out and feel like you are going in circles. Our 30-minute indoor walk through your favorite horror films will give you what you are looking for. This is not your average haunt. Not recommended for small children, pregnant women, those with Closter phobia, heart problems or epilepsy. Special lighting, fog machines, loud noises and intense, “in your face” action around every corner. Be sure to check out our “Local Haunt Bulletin Board” near the exit, for nearby haunts. We’ve kept our price down so a family can afford to go through for what some haunts want per person. We’re still only $10 each, bring in a flier and a can of food for $1 off, that’s only $9 each! See our website for all the chilling details at www.thechambers.org