CLARKSVILLE — This Halloween season is bound to be a good one for local fans of the macabre.
That's because Southern Indiana now has a new haunted attraction — Malice Manor. With its grand opening last weekend, the spooky space joins a small group of other haunted houses operating on this side of the Ohio River, which is why owners Amanda and Sean Durkin decided to open up shop here.
Their horror roots run deep in the area, with the Durkins having decades of haunt experience between them. In fact, the pair met as employees of the former Industrial Nightmare in Jeffersonville.
"We fell in love, and decided we wanted to open our own haunt," Amanda said. "We've been saving and putting money and ideas back ever since then."
Roughly three years ago, the process picked up steam, when the idea for Malice Manor was first conceived. The Durkins then partnered with Kevin Stich, owner of Louisville's Haunted Hotel, before finding their 12,000-square-foot building in Clarksville.
The creepiness of the project actually began before any fake blood or body parts entered the facility. This was owed to the building's previous use as an auction house.
"Upon getting the building, we discovered that the landlord used to buy storage units," Sean said. "Within the storage units, one had the remains of an inmate from Tennessee who was a murderer. He was executed in Tennessee."
Alongside the ashes of the deceased criminal were his boots, prison uniform and — perhaps most unsettling of all — his teeth. Needless to say, the stage was set for a good haunting.
From there, the real work began. Unlike existing haunted attractions that only need a few fresh ideas each year, the Durkins were starting from the ground up.
"All of the ideas that we've come up with were ideas that other people told us would be impossible, didn't make sense, or were just too difficult to try," Sean said. "We pushed the limits as far as creativity of a haunt goes."
Sean and Amanda worked six days a week for four months straight bringing their ideas to fruition, doing a majority of the work on their own.
Each haunted attraction, they said, has its own uniqueness — something that sets it apart from others. For Malice Manor, that hallmark is chaos.
"It is absolute chaos," Sean said. "There is no theme. It's a building that makes you build off of your own fears. It makes you think about what is scaring you at the moment. It makes you want to look back and figure out what you just saw. There's a story, but it has to be paid attention to."
When the house of horrors held its grand opening last Friday, Amanda said she was happy to see customers show up. After all, she said, she had put her "heart and soul" into it.
"I love the behind the scenes of being in the background, hearing the screams and seeing the reactions of the customers," she said. "I love watching the actors come in the door and go to costume and makeup, consuming their character and bringing it to life."
For Sean, it's the showmanship of it all.
"I love entertaining people," he said. "I love the spotlight. To do this on this level, it's all about that. I get to watch people leave with a great, big smile on their face, hopefully, and know that they had a good time on something that we put together."
Malice Manor, located at 640 Providence Way, will be open every Friday and Saturday in October from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. On Halloween and the first weekend of November, the attraction will operate from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
A portion of the haunted house's earnings will be donated to a local charity yet to be determined.