For 10 months out of the year, Pataskala, Ohio, is a quiet town located 30 minutes east of downtown Columbus. Not a lot goes on around there, but when September rolls around, Pataskala’s demons begin to come out.
During the months of September and October, Pataskala becomes home to one of the highest-rated haunted houses in not only Ohio, but also the entire United States. This haunted house is officially named Dead Acres, but is much more affectionately referred to as the “Haunted Hoochie.”
It all began as a simple haunted hayride over 50 years ago. As the business was passed down within the same family from generation to generation, it began to evolve. First, it was transformed into a haunted trail, but ultimately Frank Dixon, owner and operator of Dead Acres, turned this site into the Halloween hotspot that it is today.
This isn’t your average haunted house, and Dead Acres lives by this. On their website, they describe their haunted house experience as “a full sensory assault. Taking you by the throat and dragging you down the rabbit hole and into the realm of a heart pounding in your face horror show.”
That might be a bit of an understatement. With demon births, chainsaw beheadings, shotgun suicides, caged exotic dancers, and clowns Pennywise could have trained himself, there is more than enough fright to spread around and cater to any individual who dares to come.
Haunted Hoochie is an experience that is well worth the price of admission. The long lines will deter some, but it is almost strategic for Dead Acres; as the closer and closer you get to entering the house, the more your hair begins to stand on end.
It’s comparable to waiting three hours in line to ride a new roller coaster. The only differences are the screams of excitement are replaced by screams of terror, and you exit the roller coaster calmly, whereas you leave the house sprinting away from a chainsaw-swinging lunatic.
Their slogan is “working hard to make you sick,” and they manage to do just that. From the first moment you step into the house, your senses are on high alert. You have the knowledge going in that they are allowed to touch you, grab you, or do whatever it takes to make your experience the worst fright of your life, but that doesn’t remove or relieve the fear that happens in the moment.
“The very first time I went, I was more creeped out than scared. The things that popped out were completely disturbing,” Shawn Facione, senior exercise science major, said while reflecting back on his experiences at Haunted Hoochie. “Having gone back three times now, I am more rattled by what could happen just based off of the people in attendance, not even the workers themselves.”
Haunted Hoochie isn’t a family-friendly place. It isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s raunchy, it’s disturbing, and it will make you question what you just witnessed.
But at the same time, it is a thrill that can’t be replaced, and maybe this is why they have remained in business for over 20 years. People continue to come back and bring others along with them, hoping that the second time around won’t be as bad as the first.