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Houston Matters

What Does It Take To Start A Haunted House?

Michael Hagerty visits a local haunted house and talks with a married couple about how they took their frightening creation from the family garage to their local mall.

Cast members from Hellusions Haunted House. (Image Courtesy: Hellusions Haunted House)
Cast members from Hellusions Haunted House.

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Maybe you're one of the many Houstonians who will go to a commercial haunted house this Halloween. You'll shuffle through some dark, crowded space where things and people will jump out at you, making your heart nearly jump out of your chest — and you'll pay for the privilege. That's because haunted houses are a business. But it's easy to forget that when the business involves fake blood and a plastic meat clever.

So, what does it take to start a professional haunted house? Back in 2015, Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty found out by visiting the Vanished Into the Darkness haunted house at Houston’s West Oaks Mall.

The attraction was run by married couple Chris and Rachelle Banuelos. Their company is called Hellusions Haunted House. The 2017 incarnation of the attraction runs through tonight (Oct. 31) at the same location.

  • Images of past Hellusions Haunted Houses. (Image Courtesy: Darlena Banuelos)
    Images of past Hellusions Haunted Houses. (Image Courtesy: Darlena Banuelos)
  • Artwork for the 2015 Hellusions Haunted House.
    Artwork for the 2015 Hellusions Haunted House.
  • A cast member from Hellusions Haunted House. (Image Courtesy: Hellusions Haunted House)
    A cast member from Hellusions Haunted House. (Image Courtesy: Hellusions Haunted House)
  • Cast members from Hellusions Haunted House. (Image Courtesy: Hellusions Haunted House)
    Cast members from Hellusions Haunted House. (Image Courtesy: Hellusions Haunted House)
  • A body bag hangs in a graffiti-filled room of doors at the "Vanished Into the Darkness" haunted house at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
    A body bag hangs in a graffiti-filled room of doors at the "Vanished Into the Darkness" haunted house at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
  • A body bag hangs in a graffiti-filled room of doors at the "Vanished Into the Darkness" haunted house at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
    A body bag hangs in a graffiti-filled room of doors at the "Vanished Into the Darkness" haunted house at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
  • The entrance to Hellusions Haunted House, whose latest creation is called "Vanished Into the Darkness," at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
    The entrance to Hellusions Haunted House, whose latest creation is called "Vanished Into the Darkness," at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
  • Backpacks and gear visitors to "Vanished Into the Darkness" haunted house wear during the experience. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
    Backpacks and gear visitors to "Vanished Into the Darkness" haunted house wear during the experience. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
  • Husband and wife Chris and Rachelle Banuelos are the owners of Hellusions Haunted House. Their latest creation is called "Vanished Into the Darkness" at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
    Husband and wife Chris and Rachelle Banuelos are the owners of Hellusions Haunted House. Their latest creation is called "Vanished Into the Darkness" at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
  • The entrance to Hellusions Haunted House, whose latest creation is called "Vanished Into the Darkness," at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)
    The entrance to Hellusions Haunted House, whose latest creation is called "Vanished Into the Darkness," at Houston's West Oaks Mall. (Photo: Michael Hagerty)