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Guys behind Ultimate Terrors haunted house know what scares



Not all of the disembodied limbs were in their proper place as Jim Bates walked through his haunted house, pointing out soon-to-be sites for a jumping spider and a striking snake.

"A lady peed her pants right here last year," he said, motioning to the floor.

With Darrell Duer Jr., Bates is co-owner of Ultimate Terrors, a three-in-one haunted house attraction that opens Friday for its second Halloween season, through Nov. 1. Last year's house debuted on Interstate 240 and Pennsylvania Avenue, but now resides in the former Linens 'n Things, 1741 Belle Isle Blvd.

"The learning curve was steep. I'm never ceased to be amazed by what Joe Public can teach you," Bates said of 2008's maiden voyage of mayhem. "It's exhilarating when you see a family walk out of the door, smiling and laughing " or screaming, in our case " and we know that our hard work has paid off."

Noting that Halloween is the second most celebrated holiday in the United States, just behind Christmas, he and Duer thought jumping in to the horror industry would make good business sense.

And it has, but "it's also fun," Duer said. "It's just so much fun creating new scares. Everyone enjoys scaring other people."

"For some reason," Bates said, "people like getting scared, and we try to offer it to them."

That comes in the form of three separate attractions under one, 18,000-square-foot roof: Skull Manor, a more traditional haunted house; Code Blue, with an industrial workplace setting; and 3-D Chaos, a clown-based walk-through with eye-popping effects.

Amid their collective halls and walls hide bugs and mummies, a rabid dog, an autopsy room and spinning tunnels designed to disorient. Visitors can stroll by a shower scene reminiscent of "Psycho" in one area, and squeeze their way through hanging body bags in the next.

"I think people would walk away disappointed if it didn't have a chain saw guy," Bates said. "So we give 'em a chain saw guy."

Actors come courtesy of the Oklahoma City University drama department, covering each end of the scare scale so that no attendee walks away unfrightened.

"We like to take it a step further and not just rely on the startle effect," Bates said. "We do that with scent, we do that with sound, we do that with distractions. You're not going to know where the scare is coming from."

They also have incorporated a number of phobias, such as rats. In one stretch of Ultimate Terrors, visitors have to walk over a nest of the rodents "¦ the live kind.

"We're going to get into your mind and use all your senses to prepare you to get the fire scared out of you," Bates said. "The question everybody asks is, 'How long is it going to take me to get through?' And our answer is, 'Are you walking or running?'"   "Rod Lott

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