The Mansion of Terror: Casting call for zombie, psycho clown, and serial killer hopefuls

Every so often, someone contacts Austin Eavesdropper with an offer she simply cannot refuse. Like free tickets to Fun Fun Fun Fest. (Just kidding, that hasn’t happened yet. Would DIE if that happened).

But when David Neff, a friend of my buddy Chris Trew, wrote to say he was holding open auditions for The Mansion of Terror, not only could I not resist the information – I had to pump him for more. Here’s what he wrote:

“The Mansion of Terror Haunted House is looking for actors of all types to perform on weekends this Halloween season. Pay is from $7-$12 an hour and our season runs from Sept-Oct. Come be a part of the #1 Haunted House in the nation, as voted by Lionsgate Films, right here in Central Texas.

Auditions are 2pm or 7pm on Saturday, August 29th.”

OH REALLY. Just how scary is this haunted house, I wondered? David sent me a clip:

Well, I believe we have our answer.

To be perfectly frank with you guys, most haunted houses are well beyond my personal fear threshold. This includes both professionally-produced outfits like The Mansion of Terror, all the way down to a 20-foot garbage bag tunnel set up in my elementary school gym, where we were prompted to “touch a caldron of eyeballs” (i.e. a plastic pumpkin filled with peeled grapes), crawl our way through “mists” (smoke machine) and fight off “monsters” (our teachers). I made it halfway through and started crying.

What’s ironic is I can take any physical thrills out there – loopy roller coasters, bungee jumping, rusty roadside carnival rides, you name it – but when it comes to psychological thrills, I am pitiful and worthless. I hate horror movies. I hate haunted houses. I find Goosebumps mildly disturbing. But I’m intrigued by the whole haunted house business, and somewhat delighted that one can ease the pain of a recession by temporarily becoming a zombie. David Neff was kind enough to hang out on Austin Eavesdropper and answer my oddball questions about The Mansion of Terror.

1. Introduce yourself, David. How did you get involved with the Mansion of Terror?

My name is David J. Neff and I have been acting/running Haunted Attractions since I was 8 and dressing up as Dracula to run my friend’s “Haunted House” in his farm house. :) Right now I am the “Director of Hype” for the The Mansion of Terror Haunted House.

2. What is the Mansion of Terror, exactly? Meaning what makes it special – award-winning, even! – as a haunted house?

The Mansion is central Texas’ best and scariest haunted house. It’s been rated #1 in the country by Lionsgate Films (Saw, Gamer, A Haunting), and Top 8 in America by The Travel Channel. The Mansion is among the “who’s who” of scary destinations in the US.

3. How does one “audition” for a Haunted House?

One shows up and does their best! Actors will be asked for their best scream, their past acting experiences, put into a costume and makeup and then asked to improv a scary scene in our Haunted House. We are even looking for a manager or two if you really impress us!

4. What should ghost / mummy / chainsaw-wielding Mike Meyers hopefuls do to really stand out from the crowd, so to speak? Should they bring props?

No props needed. But that might be fun? I will leave that up to our Actor Manager Alexandria Parrish. I would say just get into your role. Your whole job is the psychology of fear, so don’t just stand there – crawl on the ground, jump out at people, climb a wall and jump down behind someone. We are an interactive Haunted House and expect you to live up to that if you work for us.

5. Do you seriously get splattered with blood inside the Mansion of Terror?

Oh yeah Blood Frenzy is where that all happens, which is one of our two Haunted Houses for this year. You get to enter the twisted world of Jon Eric Springwood, Austin’s own Serial Killer. You make choices along the way and those choices affect real people inside his world. People live or die based on your choices.

6. How would you ever convince a haunted house BABY like me (who hasn’t entered one since 4th grade and ran out screaming from that one, mind you) to visit The Mansion of Terror?

Well I would/will personally invite you out and go through with you the whole time. Plus I would let you take photos as you go through.

Or better yet why don’t you come out and act for a night this year? We can get you in a Hollywood style makeup and costume and get you a quick class on acting. Then you can do the scaring yourself for about 30 minutes? Deal?

(EDITOR’S NOTE: That, Reader, may very well be another offer I can’t refuse.)

The Mansion of Terror is located on I-35 at exit 251 behind Walgreens in Sky Ridge Plaza. More at or by calling 512-670-8452.