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Horrifying House of Shock not for the faint of heart

For those into chainsaw terror, torture the most terrible, and unparalleled interactive horror, there’s a special place for you. But only for a few more nights.

The House of Shock, 319 Butterworth Street at the foot of the Huey P. Long Bridge, now in its 21st year of bloodcurdling psychic pain, is where you want to be. It’s where Ross Karpelman and his buddies, Steve Joseph and Jay Gracianette, have celebrated Halloween for more than two decades.

“It’s the longest commitment to anything I’ve ever done in my life,” Karpelman says. “Longer than my 19-year marriage.”

But he’s not alone in his dark and devilish devotion. Helping him and his co-founders pimp out their 25,000 square-foot warehouse into one of the South’s scariest spots is the Pain Tribe, a group of more than 400 volunteers who show up every year to design costumes, work on make-up and create terrifying sets. This is not a work crew that Karpelman has to seek out.

“They find us,” he says. “And a lot of the same ones come back each year. One guy, he’s an actor; he drives in every year from Omaha, Nebraska.”

Now, don’t think you can just show up and become part of the Pain Tribe. The only way any wannabe sado-masochist can join this fearful family is to be nominated by a current member who has at least two years of good standing. And, even then, newbies have to be willing to help certain long-standing cliques who have claimed some very definite areas of this Halloween hell as their own.

“The West Bank crew only works on the swamp,” Karpelman explains, “and the Houma crew, they just do the graveyard.”

For those not into being scared out of their wits, but willing to hang out until their freaked-out friends return to reality, there is a fee outdoor festival. It comes complete with old-fashioned “carney” type entertainment: strange old-school circus-style freak acts, fire breathers and, says, Karpelman, “the most amazing pyrotechnics you’ll ever see.”

There’s also a different live band every night. A Halloween-night-only benefit concert will feature what Karpelman says is the legendary “sludge-metal” punk rock group Eyehategod, honoring their recently deceased drummer, Joey LaCaze.

While the outdoor festival is free, general admission tickets for the indoor House of Shock on Halloween night at 8 p.m. and again on Friday, November 1 are $25 each. Tickets go on sale at 7:30. VIP tickets that allow patrons to bypass the line are $50 each and can be pre-purchased here.

 

Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]