MALDEN, MA—A group of outraged community members gathered at city hall Monday to protest a Malden Jaycees' House Of Horror they called "utterly un-spooktacular."
"This so-called 'spooktacular' haunted house claims to offer both thrills and chills," said Barb Weyner, official spokesperson for the coalition of angry citizens. "Yet visitors to this sham of a devilish diversion reported that not only did their blood fail to run cold, but that no fiendish fun is to be had throughout the entire non-hair-raising experience."
"This house is not a scream," Weyner added. "And, as far as I can tell, people are not dying to get in."
After 20 minutes of chanting, "Hey-hey! Ho-host! The House Of Horror has got to ghost!" the demonstrators were led into Mayor Sidney Trent's office, demanding that the supposedly frightastic haunted house be closed. Trent promised to "immediately look into these serious allegations of substandard spookery."
Located in Jaycee member Will Banghart's unfinished basement, the embattled haunted house opened its doors to the public Oct. 15. Since then, its opponents claim, it has failed to induce fearful fun in any of the roughly 250 people who have paid $4.75 to enter.
With the house's highly publicized Creepy Costume Contest and pumpkin-carving party just days away, the group felt that now was the time to act, before too many others were drawn to the less-than-eerie abode.
"This sort of second-rate, un-creeptastic dungeon of doom may be acceptable in other neighborhoods, but not in mine," said concerned parent Erin Willis. "My own children were lured to this Halloween happening with promises of a ghoulishly good time. But once inside, they discovered a very un-nightmarish netherworld of fake cobwebs, colored light bulbs and muffled sound effects."
A number of other non-spine-chilling shenanigans were cited by the house's critics, including unpainted tombstones obviously constructed of styrofoam, eyeless bed-sheet ghosts, and construction-paper bats that were lazily taped to the ceiling rather than being suspended from fishing line.
In addition, contrary to promises made in an ad in last Sunday's Malden Bugle-Tribune, there has been little to no "frolicking with Frankenstein," as the five-foot-six monster is almost always busy tending to the house's dry-ice buckets.
"They call that a Trick Or Treat Terror Trail?" Willis said. "I've seen scarier axe murderers on the Luther League Haunted Hayride."
Of all the people who have passed through the House Of Horror to date, only a handful reported being even mildly tormented.
"Do they think I'm stupid or something?" 14-year-old Jeff Engers asked. "Those were obviously peeled grapes in that bowl."
"Yeah," agreed Engers' 11-year-old sister Tara. "And those rats were so totally plastic."
As of press time, the Jaycees have declined to respond to charges that the House Of Horror is sub-ghastly.
"We're open Friday through Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. Come on in for a frightfully good time... if you dare," said Jaycees vice-president/mummy Marilyn Schulte, bending to wrap lengths of toilet paper around her legs. "And please, no children under eight."