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Are you scared yet?
Gainesville haunted house will get you into that Halloween spirit
Chris Sproat, left, Tyler Farist, center, and Anthony Guyton get into character at the Dungeon of Fear Haunted House in Gainesville. - photo by Tom Reed

Dungeon of Fear

Hours: 7 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturdays and 7-11 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 23, then open every day through Nov. 1. On Oct. 31, the haunted house is open 7 p.m.-1 a.m.

Address: 528 Bradford St., Gainesville; entrance on Main Street

How much: $15 general admission; today is military night and anyone with a military ID gets $5 off admission. On Oct. 23, $5 of every ticket goes to benefit Hall County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Groover.

More info: 770-533-0227

Some people have a fear of the dark. Others have a fear of things that go bump in the dark.

Then there's things that crash, rattle, scream and lunge at you in the dark. Yeah, just about everyone is scared of those things.

And that's just what you'll find at Dungeon of Fear, Gainesville's first permanent haunted house.

Now in its first permanent location since organizer Keith Peek started opening haunted houses more than 20 years ago, Dungeon of Fear has all sorts of Halloween tricks and scary treats for visitors who want to add a little fright to their October. There are guts on the walls, a few buckets of blood and lots of strange, demented characters who lunge at you despite the chains, fog and strobe lights.

It's all just part of the fun, Peek said. Dungeon of Fear officially opened one week ago, and has seen plenty of bus loads of groups in for a good fright since then.

"We've had a good response this year. This year is probably the best response we've had," he said. "We've had nobody coming out of here that wasn't running or hollering."

Because the haunted house is in a permanent location - Peek plans on expanding to the second floor next year - it's allowed him and his construction team to build real walls and install more effects.

"The structure just allows you to do more," Peek said, adding that in pervious years' haunted houses, they've had to use plastic sheets to create the maze effect, which resulted in a "cheap" look overall. "Plus, it gives us a more stable atmosphere. ... The location here is awesome. We're right downtown, so it makes it a lot more feasible to get to, especially with gas the way it is."

But one thing that stays the same year after year is the characters. While the ghouls, bloody men and screaming, ghostly women change from year to year, they are all real - no robots or animatronic ghosts popping out at you, Peek said. Which means every time you visit, it's a little different, depending on from where the characters decide to jump out.

"It's unexpected, and it's always changing. So that's a good aspect of it - the fact that it evolves," said Kate Perry, a Gainesville State College student who plays one of the characters at Dungeon of Fear. "People who come in the first week may not see the same thing the next week."

Perry and Chris Sproat said it's sometimes hard to not laugh when you successfully scare someone.

"It's hard not to chuckle," Perry said. "But you can't break character for anything. If you do laugh, it'd better be a WA-HA-HA!"

"I usually laugh," Sproat added. "I get them out of my room and all that. And then, that's when it's like, you can tell when you did a good job and really scared them and all."

Such is the attitude in a warehouse inhabited after hours by ghosts and goblins.

"It's definitely been a dream and it takes a special person to do it," said Peek, 37, who has been setting up haunted houses since he was 12. "It's not only fun to scare people, but it's an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends because of it."

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