It’s going to be A Madhouse this Halloween at Literally a Haunted House at The Culbertson Mansion!

The lunatics have taken over the asylum at Culbertson Mansion’s Literally a Haunted House, and your only hope of survival is to either escape or join them!

True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?

Edgar Allan Poe – The Tell-Tale Heart

This year marks the 31st season for this haunted attraction in New Albany, IN and just like every year in its long and distinguished history, a new Halloween season means a completely new theme and reworked sets and characters. I stopped by the haunted carriage house next door to the 1867 Second Empire-style mansion this week to get a sneak peek at what they have in store for Halloween 2015 and was barely able to escape with my life and what’s left of my sanity.

Those people are crazy. Literally.

The first sense I got that something might not be “quite right” at the mansion was when I was greeted by longtime Chairperson, Holly Crisler, who told me she was stepping down this year to the position of Managing Director and letting her old manager, Gary Collins, take over as Chairman. Collins, who has been working with Crisler for 14 years at the haunt is certifiably insane. Trust me, I’ve bumped into Collins at enough horror film festivals and Misfits concerts to testify objectively about his mental state, and in technical terms, he’s as mad as a hatter.

As Collins gave me the guided tour of the work-in-progress for this year’s Literally a Haunted House, I began to get the sense that things would be different this year. For years now, I’ve often thought of this little haunt as a “perfect starter haunt” and a “great family oriented haunt,” but as we passed through the dank halls, padded cells and therapy rooms being constructed for this year’s attraction, I got the sense that Collin’s wanted to add a bit of shock therapy to this Halloween tradition.

I don’t know, maybe it was the words “Happy Place” scrawled across the bathroom walls in human excrement, but something seemed a little edgier than ever before.

“This will be a full sensory experience,” says Collins. “When you enter the bathroom, you will smell everything and even see a patient eating what you smell.”

“When you get to the lab, you’ll smell the urine samples,” he continues (between twitching and drooling a bit). “We’ve added a sensory deprivation area where guests will be in complete darkness, and they’ll feel things touching them, maybe even be forced to reach out and touch some strange, gross things in the dark and get a little shock therapy.”

“The brain surgeon will be letting everyone touch the cold, slimy props,” says Collins.


“The theme this year,” chimes in Holly Crisler (giggling and pulling at her hair), “is based on turn of the century mental institutions. They used to charge admission, like at a zoo or a theme park, and let paying guests walk through the hospital and look at the inmates.”

“We’ll still keep a couple of Culbertson’s classic scenes,” she continues, “like the coffin ride and Vortex to Hell at the climax.”

“The graveyard scene will still start off the haunt in the yard next to the carriage house as usual,” injects Collins, “but this year we have a little surprise for guests that they won’t be expecting to get them running up the stairs and into the first scene.”

Literally a Haunted House will be open for tours every Friday and Saturday night in October, but since they’ve already lost all sense of normality and reality this year, they will be hosting an early opening event on Saturday, Sept. 26 known as the Culbertson Mansion Coffin Races and Zombie Fest! This will serve as a “test night” for the haunt and admission will cost only $10 with all proceeds going directly into the restoration of the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site.

There is no charge for attending the Coffin Races, in which attendees are encouraged to design and build their own “coffin rides” to carry the body of William Culbertson down Main Street and back to his mansion the fastest. Awards will be given to the winners as well as to BEST DECORATED COFFIN and other categories. The mansions’ grounds will be overrun with vendors selling food & wares and providing entertainment.

Click here for more information:

If you can’t beat ‘em, join the crazies this season at Literally a Haunted House at the historic Culbertson Mansion in New Albany.

The Phantom of The Ville

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