The Haunted Basement

Behind the Soap Factory’s annual underground terror

Shawnna Stennes

Shawnna Stennes

On the bottom floor of the historical Soap Factory, below the modern art installations, local artist exhibits, and silent drifting visitors lies something truly unusual. A basement where artists devote hours perfecting fake blood concoctions and crafting molds of disfigured fetuses. A place where actors get lessons on how to refine their screams and chant in a fictitious language. A place that is brilliantly devastating, all to make you have the most horrific 25 minutes you could ever purchase.

The business of halloween horror attracts a medley of peculiar individuals.

Started eight years ago, The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement has earned a well­-respected place in the Twin Cities Halloween scene. With past delights that include putting suits on participants and shooting them with paintball guns, the Haunted Basement team is unafraid of suffocating comfort bubbles.

From my minor role on the makeup crew, I find myself painting the teeth of actors with shades of zombie green and attaching fake slugs to various body parts. Next to me, a small­ statured man tests out his fake breasts and looks up beaming because they fit just right. In another chair, a teenage girl giggles at her hands that have now been transformed into bloody stumps. The business of Halloween horror attracts a medley of peculiar individuals.

The place where the marvel can truly be found, however, is in the absurdly detailed sets that make up the Haunted Basement. Although it is virtually always in darkness or very near darkness, the artistry can still be appreciated if you take a deep breath and notice it. Without disclosing too much, I believe the sets may perturb you even more than the varmints prowling around you, as long as you keep your eyes open.

Prior to entering the Basement, each participant must sign a waiver and must show that they are at least 18 years old. Each is also given an identical white mask to wear which makes it terribly easy to become separated from your mates and terribly difficult to hide. With no guide, everyone carves their own path and experiences the Basement differently. Maybe you’ll come out covered in an unknown substance, maybe you’ll avoid it. Maybe you won’t even make it through and have to cry out the safe word, maybe you’ll pull through. You have now until Nov. 2 to find out.

Shows are on Wednesday through Sunday nights at multiple times between 6:30 p.m. and 10:20 p.m. Weeknights are $25 and weekends are $27, for more information head over to the Soap Factory’s website.