Haunted house returns for thrill of the scare

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Jayln Nelson, 18, left, her sister, Brooklyn Blount, 12, both of Holland, and their friend, Liberty Taylor, 15, of Petersburg, run as Mandy Hayes of Huntingburg jumps out of a cabinet to scare them at the Crazy Caretakers Outdoor Haunted House in Holland on Saturday.


HOLLAND — Shirtless and covered in blood, Barry Kline revved his chainsaw and squealed maniacally with laughter. A child dying in a nearby bathtub reached out to 7-year-old Kaydence Lemond and hoarsely pleaded.

“Help me!” the fading soul barked, a strobe light flickering as the gruesome scene unfolded.

Kaydence, who had spent the previous 10 minutes screaming her little lungs out, darted toward the exit and screamed for her mommy, who had wrapped her arms around her daughter for most of their journey through the jump-scare heavy, clown-filled haunted house.

See a gallery of photos here

The sprawling maze of eeriness that Barry and his wife, Jennifer Kline, built from the ground up with friends and family this summer is as terrifying a walk you’ll find in Dubois County this Halloween season.

It’s also a labor of love for a collective that aims to continue in the area for years to come. Because when the sun sets and the air cools, they know that people want to get spooked.

“Watching people come up here and really enjoy it, that’s what’s always brought me back,” said Barry, who has been in the scaring business since he was a boy. “When I was a kid, I always enjoyed watching the parents and the kids coming up and having that glow of, ‘This is really cool. This is fun. I want to do it again.’”

Crazy Caretakers Outdoor Haunted House in Holland on Saturday.

The Klines became famous locally for creating haunting yard attractions in the front yard of their Huntingburg home. Up to 600 people would flock to the meticulously crafted setups on Halloween night.

One year, they invited the public to a dead carnival. Another saw the introduction of a frightening Western Shantytown to their neighborhood. In 2012, they manufactured a scary pirate ship. All were free to attend and were wildly successful.

Five years ago, they moved their operation to a house in Holland. But red tape from new code regulations forced the Klines to close the house in 2017 and 2018.

Following a month-and-a-half of assembly work with family and friends this summer, the Klines launched a new ghastly experience in September — a meandering, open-roof network of 22 rooms that sit loaded with all things creepy.

Ghoulish music whisps guests inside, and the first part of the labyrinth follows a traditional house theme that warps into a spinning tunnel. As the walk continues, attendees venture through a campground and a body freezer before twisting their way through a tight hallway and into Barry’s chainsaw chamber.

The venue is open every Friday and Saturday night until Saturday, Oct. 26, at 305 N. Second St. in Holland. The cost is $10 per ticket.

Cole Kline of Holland applies clown makeup before acting in the Crazy Caretakers Outdoor Haunted House in Holland on Saturday. Kline started participating in haunted houses at 6 years old after watching his older brothers act in them. "You get to be super creepy, start scaring people," Kline said. "You get to act nuts and it looks normal here."

Barry and Jennifer have made so many people yelp out in fear over the years that they now act as coaches and pass on their terrifying abilities to a new generation. Volunteer actors as young as 8 years old and as old as adults in their 60s are part of the spectacle, and they all take pride in freaking out as many house guests as they can.

“They’re really, truly the backbone of us being able to do this,” Jennifer said.

Decked out in bizarre clothes and elaborate makeup, they love lurking in the shadows and popping out to be part of the show.

“I just like to see the reactions of people,” said Kerry Land, Jennifer’s stepdad, who plays a deranged man in a wheelchair. “Last night, I had a guy, he just went weak in the knees. I thought he was gonna pass out there for a second. It was comical.”

Sam Hayes, the tortured child in the bathtub mentioned at the beginning of this story, just likes hearing guests scream. If a child is especially scared by the house, though, attendees do their part in taking off their outfits and showing them that they’re just regular people.

They did this for Kaydence, who left visibly calmer than when she fled the final room.

“We’re not as scary as we seem,” Sam told her with a smile.

It’s all in good fun for the grim cast of characters, who hope to make you jump and holler, and chill your bones for a long time.

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