‘Terror’ takes shape for one night only
A lot of people claim that Halloween is their favorite holiday, but they’ve never met Jason Fields.
For most of the year he’s the neighborhood weirdo, the guy that drives a hearse with a coffin in the back, that’s obsessed with macabre imagery and artifacts; But for one day, as people line up in droves outside his house he gets to channel that obsession into a singular event, a haunted house so popular and frightening that it’s scared grown women nearly out of their skin.
Fields’ brainchild, the so-called “Terror on 20th”, has been around for so long that its branded Fields the King of Halloween, or, as he says he’s often recognized around town, as the “Halloween Guy”.
Terror on 20th allows Fields to do what he does best, which is scare people. Surprisingly, Fields isn’t a big fan of being scared.
“I don’t like to be scared, I like to have the control, the control to scare other people,” Fields said. “People ask me if I like going to haunted houses. I don’t. The control is the whole thing for me.”
Fields takes weeks to convert his Cape home into a cauldron of death and dismemberment, sometimes working 12 hour a days by himself.
He schedules his vacation around the event, crafting hundreds of pieces and complex effects.
Each year the haunted house grows little by little — an extra severed head here, an extra gravestone there — but the overall mission remains the same: scare the bejeezus out of anyone who dares to enter.
“I had this little plan to set up a haunted house but it just grew and grew … now I’m the Halloween guy,” he said. “It definitely got a little stupid on me.”
For 13 years Fields has been refining his craft near to the point of perfection.
There are no cheap scares at Field’s house — he described his own budget as “frightening” — nor are there many easy scares either.
Fields employs pneumatic tubing, remote control ghouls, fountains of blood, fog machines, actors, elaborate costumes, chainsaws, screaming banshees, special lighting, animation, zombies, an execution, even an autopsy; most of it hand-crafted, and set up, by Fields himself.
He said people, mostly parents, often underestimate the Terror on 20th, and end up more scared than their own children.
“I’ve seen grown men trip over their wives to get out of the way,” Fields added.
Smaller kids tend to show up right around dusk, Fields said, and he’ll often take it a little bit easier on them.
But when night fully arrives, and so do the thousands of people, that’s when Fields is really in his element, playing the role of a British gravedigger who escorts a group of “guests” through his devilish delights.
“After dark … I don’t do hokey Halloween,” he said.
Fields also promises each guest a bag of candy, which he said he doesn’t skimp on. Candy corn is nearly a bad word at the Terror on 20th, as each bag contains “good” candy like Reese’s, Almond Joys and Snickers. Last year Fields said he handed out 50 pounds of candy to over 2,000 people.
Yet, if free candy and scares weren’t enough, Fields also tries to give back to the community by asking for canned food donations at the “cemetery gate.” All donations go to the Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Donations are not required, but Fields said the gravedigger tour guide might make an example out of those who don’t bring along a few cans of food.
As popular as the event has become over the years, Fields said many have asked him to hold the haunted house for more than just one night. Doing so, Fields added, would take away from the excitement and freshness of the Terror on 20th.
Those concerns are irrelevant once inside the Terror on 20th, Fields said, because the “guests” will have other things on their mind.
“They’ll be too busy running from the chainsaw,” he said.
“Terror on 20th” is at 2312 S.W. 20th Ave.
Hours are from dusk until 10 pm, Halloween night only.