Nov 5th 2017 by Cappuccino_C • 15 Questions • 415 Points
Hi everyone! I work at a retirement home/demantia and due to there being prohibit rules workers aren't allowed to speak about whats going on and people will always ask me a lot of questions about my work so Here I am! I will of course still follow this prohibited to talk rule by not speaking in details about the individuals or places or who I am but I will still answer questions about the work. Atm I work on night shifts and it is pretty quiet so I was thinking I could spend the night answering your questions. So fire away!
(EDIT:) Reading your stories and other caretakers experiences warms really makes me smile! I had no idea that this AMA would get this kind of exposure
(EDIT EDIT:) I think some my comments got deleted or I just forgot to save them so RIP. I wanted to make sure that I read every question thoroughly. So back at it again.
(EDIT 3X:) I will go to bed. Im pretty tired at the moment. I will look through the comments when I wake up and answer some more and then I'm gonna close the AMA. Im really happy that I could help out some of you and give you some clarity. Take care!
(EDIT 4X:) Alright im gonna end it here. I have had so much fun reading your stories and answering your questions. Never thought this would be such a huge AMA. Take care everyone and I wish you guys all the best! <3
Did you ever catch someone shoplift or do any illegal activity?
Is sexual harassment a widespread problem in our society? Or is it just in a few industries? And what is the largest barriers to these crimes being reported and the perpetrators being prosecuted?
What was the scariest thing you heard or saw or experienced being undercover with them?
What was the worst thing you had to endure while filming Idiot Abroad?
In your opinion as a children's advocate, what are some practical, commonsense steps parents can take to help their children avoid abuse? (And I guess I mean abuse in a general way, anything from extreme bullying to abduction.)
- What's the most fucked up thing you saw a haunted house employee do?
- What's the worst emotional breakdown you saw in one of those full contact houses?
- Would you ever participate in one for fun after all of your research? Thanks for your time!
I have 2 questions really that if you could answer would be amazing!
1 - What’s the best way to deal with their confusion?
2 - Is there any other advice you can give to someone trying to support a relative who has it? How to calm them or reassure them?? We’re trying our best but it’s such a unique illness and we just want the best for them
Personally I haven’t seen someone shoplift, but I heard of a story that happened a couple of weeks ago. There apparently was a homeless lady who was just taking items and dropping them off outside for her to take home (edit) wherever she lives later. A couple of clerks notice and inform the store manager. The store manager tells two guys to stand around the entrance to watch her. They see her and grab her, the next part I’m about to say might have been said as a joke. People say she pissed the floor in surprise and slipped out of their grasp. She escaped ( I honestly have no clue how ), and we lost a fair amount of money from that.
Edit: homeless ladies can’t bring food home...
- Make sure your child knows that they are loved unconditionally, and make sure your child knows what unconditionally means.
- Make sure that your child understands that no one has the right to hurt them or scare them in any way. It doesn’t matter what that person may be: family, friend, religious leader, community leader, it doesn’t matter.
- Should anyone hurt your child or threaten them in anyway, they need to tell you.
Great questions. Sorry for my delay, there are so many great questions and debates going on here. 1) Hard to say, but to me it's anything to do with food and puke. That was beyond what I could handle being around. 2) Probably Mandi when she kept repeating "I can't do it" over and over again because she had reached her breaking point and really needed to get out. 3) I've done extreme haunts, but I would never do McKamey Manor. Why? Because Russ wouldn't go through it. I'm willing to try anything knowing 2 things: 1) I can get out when I want 2) The creators know exactly what it feels like to go through it.
Thank you so much for these great questions.
It usually different from each individual. My best way is usually playing along in what they are seeing or telling. Also talking them away from subjects that will anger them or anything like that helps. One of the women living here would always think the employees stole her items and get angry but just asking about her dog or her husband or something like and instead she would tell stories about her life and that would make her in a good mood.
Dementia is one of the worse things to deal with. Not only for the afflicted but also for those around. I don't know how far your relative is because it gets worse. But talking about things they know or memories always helps. Personally my grandma had alzheimers and she thought I were my dad. I totally understand how you must feel.
Hi Patrick, When you were undercover what was the closest you came to being found out? Was there a moment when you thought your life could be in danger?
Hi Warwick, How different did it feel working on the newest Star Wars films to how it was back in the 80s?
What was your expeince at McKamey Manor?
What in your opinion, is off limits in full contact haunted houses?
What has been your most negative experience whilst researching?
My mom’s mom worked in a nursing home for years and when she heard that my dad’s mom had Alzheimer’s, she said it’s a disease worse than cancer; it steals a person’s soul before their life. It never really hit me until I saw my dad’s mom days before she died; she looked just like my grandma lying in her bed but she wasn’t my grandma anymore.
I work weekends for the last (almost) 2 years. It’s more common during the week than the weekend (which I don’t understand since it’s super busy during the weekends). There are also cases where something happens in the afternoon when I work in the morning and vice versa. I’m just “unlucky” when it comes to witnessing this
It's really not that different. I find it just as exciting as I did when I was 11 and many of the techniques used have not changed at all.
My favorite movie is Eddie The Eagle. I can eat Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia by the pint, and my toughest boss is my two year old daughter.
Filming at McKamey Manor was even more intense and shocking than I thought it would be. I saw the videos Russ made and I saw how he always warned people, "you don't wanna do this", but I'm also a HUGE horror fan and I love the entire spectrum of horror, so I know when I see trailers for a horror movie or a haunt that says, "the most terrifying experience ever" - it's just a marketing gimmick to sell tickets and it's never actually horrific, it's just fun for people who like a good scare. But McKamey Manor is different. Here's how...
When you watch the McKamey Manor videos you don't know what it smells like in their. Russ uses a lot of fake bad smells which all combined together smell very bad. Russ and Carol when I was there had about 10 dogs and since the haunt was in their backyard sometimes the dogs would walk to the backyard and poo and pee. Then there was "Mothers room", that was the room I had to run out of. That's where they feed you gross stuff so that you puke. Ok, now combine all of these smells all together....yup, it's really bad.
The first room at the Manor had steel walls, so when you are pushed against a steel wall and you feel that it's real then it clicks in your head."this is real" and it's hard not to freak out and panic.
When people scream for help and that they want to get out and their screams are ignored or mocked that adds to the panic attack atmosphere. Made me think of the dinner table scene in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre when the woman is screaming for help and they laugh back at her. Only, this isn't a movie, it's a simulation that blurs the line so much it feels 100% real.
The feeling of the Manor is like a prolonged panic attack. There was one time when I stopped filming because Christina Buster, who flew all the way from Kuwait just to do McKamey Manor, went into shock. She started to not respond to questions, and looked dazed. I put my camera down and told Russ she's in shock. I quickly picked her up and took her out of the haunt and into the living room. 30 minutes later she snapped out of it and said,"Why am I not in the haunt anymore?" I told her that she went into shock and then she yelled at me,"I flew 19 hours for this put me back in!" She then told Russ to put her back in and then the put her back in for 4 more hours! When it was over she thanked Russ and his actors. And then she went back 3 more times! That really blew my mind and made me realize that this experience isn't for everyone, but it was really made for Christina.
What's off limits in my opinion? No safe word. I filmed a scare study, but couldn't include it in the film because it wasn't finished yet, but now it has. one thing they discovered is that if you have a safe word in an extreme haunt and you use it then that makes you feel empowered because you reached your limits and even encourages you to return and see if you can make it further the next time. But when there is no safe word at all, then you aren't accomplishing anything, things are just happening to you. Even with Fear Factor you have an option to stop, so when a contestant continues and wins it is an accomplishment. Think of it this way, if you run a marathon and you eventually cross the finish line that's a HUGE accomplishment and something you completed on your own. But if someone dragged you the entire time and threw you across the finish line then you didn't do it on your own. How would that make you feel? There's a moment in the film where I interview people after they finished the matter and some would never do it again and others wanted to work their after. Their reasons for both were really fascinating.
It's hard to say what my most negative experience inside the Manor was, but it's easy to say that the mist negative experience I had while making this movie was dealing with threats from people who hate McKamey Manor. When people saw my Kickstarter video and saw that the Manor was in my film I got threatening phone calls, emails, Facebook messages from people threatening to come after me to stop me. Others made videos lying about how I am, and that I wasn't making a documentary, but that I worked for Russ, and so on, and so on. In my opinion, if I'm doing a doc about what;s going on in the haunt world then I must talk about the conflict between traditional haunts and extreme haunts and there's nothing more extreme than McKamey. I had to include it and now you can see what it's really like to be inside it without having to actually go through it. People, real people are fascinating and it was fascinating to film people who sacrifice everything to bring your nightmares to life. That being said for months after I filmed at McKamey Manor I had horrific nightmares and not of anything made up and surreal, but actual memories about what really happened and that panic attack feeling. It took a long time for the nightmares to stop. I talk with people who have gone through it and when we do it must be what it's like for Troops tor reunite with people they served with.
So true. Losing a person while them still being around is weird and hard. I hope you coped it well.
Is there anything you noticed in your captor, whether it be a certain look or manner of speech that would serve as a red flag for you if seen/ heard from another person?
Or, rather, can you sense if someone you encounter is capable of such a thing?
Thanks for such a well considered and detailed answer. It makes me wonder why someone would put themselves through something like that unless there is a huge underestimation of how traumatic and realistic it actually is.
What are your opinions of people who work there? I feel like you need a particular set of skills I dont possess or be quite sadistic. At the first sign of panic and real fear I would be pointing people to the nearest exits.
On a side note, do you remember what they fed you!?
My grandfather has dementia and currently lives with me. He has this incredible aversion to showering and just refuses to clean himself, and also refuses help from myself or other outside staff. Have you seen this behavior before, and if so have you found a way to effectively promote self cleaning?
Side note: he’s also completely deaf, so communication is difficult to say the least. Thanks!
I haven’t really seen anything like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people smuggled things out. The worst thing I have witnessed was someone forgetting they had something under the cart and walk out, but then walk on because they realized it’s not paid for yet
There are things that make me wary, one of them being when someone uses religion excessively to justify what they’ve done or are going to do.
Thanks for your questions. When I interviewed people I asked them why they wanted to do the Manor and they usually would say they wanted to learn something about themselves. So many people want to either prove that they're stronger than they think they are, or see what their limits are. Same reason why people jump out of a plane. In society unless you join the Military there are few ways to have a "rites of passage" to test yourself and prove how brave you really are.
To be clear: I filmed it, but refused to have it done to me. I filmed Russ while he filmed people so I could show exactly what it's like inside. I also never joined a frat in college cause I would never want to be hazed or to haze anyone else. I also was bullied as a kid so I knew the Manor would not be for me.
You get to meet the actors and learn about who works there in my film. When I first started filming the people who worked there were really nice kids. Yup, kids, High School kids. These kids were really nice, but they were encouraged to go crazy on people going through the Manor and kids being kids they go too far. It's not their fault because they're kids and they were trying to do what Russ wanted and they would get carried away with the duct tape etc... Eventually he had to replace the kids with adults, but he didn't replace the kids with haunt actors. A great haunt actor has compassion. Legendary haunt actor Shar Mayer is in my film and she talks about the connection between the monster and the human. How the "victim" is scared and excited and the monster is 3 times as scared and excited. When she scares you, it feels dangerous, but you can also feel that the person behind the mask is an entertainer and that's why in mazes with monsters like Shar we scream and we laugh because we know it's all for a thrill and for fun. Who were the adults that replaced the teens in the Manor? Well, Russ had a selection process that was questionable just like it was with the teens.
What did they feed people? Usually tofu, or meat, but mixed with food coloring and sprayed with gross scents to make you gag. They also at one point had coagulated snake eggs, but when the food part in "Mothers Room" would happen I would last a few minutes and then have to run out. It was too much for me.
I could imagine. Seeing it from their point of view. Maybe he is embarrassed about the whole situation? Trying to convince him that it really isn't a problem and it will be over in a second could be a solution. Otherwise try making it as comfortable as possible so when you get him in a shower try to have fun and make him laugh so he won't have a negative view on it.
Did you ever have any contact with Nancy Grace after the garbage she tried to pull with you? BTW, I don't think you could've handled that any better.
Have you interviewed or know what happened to any of the kids that this guy used to employ? Did they grow up to be regular adults or what are the questionable parts of the selection process?
1.Do you tell them the same jokes they love over and over?
2. Are there any therapies that they do to promote brain health?
3. Do they just deteriorate to the point of staring off into the distance?
4. If you were in their shoes would you want to end it?
5. Do you ever mess with them, like calling them Mom/Dad?
Probably should of worded that better
“For her to take to wherever she lives later”
This is Amanda Farahany. A company is responsible for ensuring that its employees are not harassed - both from other employees and also from customers. Your coworker should think about filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or talking with an attorney. She also can get unemployment - even if she quit - because she quit for a good reason under the law.
This is a really complex question and probably too hard to answer here quickly. The real question is what makes white men, many of whom are middle class and/or relatively well educated, decide that they - not ethnic minorities - are in fact the real victims in society. The whole movement is consumed with a sense of victimhood. They genuinely believe that white men are the most oppressed people in society. Understanding why this is is the key. The answer is very complicated. Often it is about a sense of relative decline. In other words they are not doing as well in life as they expected to. Many are from white middle class families, went and got a degree and yet are now in their mid-twenties but still don’t have a job and live at home. They then resent being told how ‘lucky’ and ‘privileged’ they are. In short, while they are privileged, they don’t feel it and this makes them angry and causes them to search for answers. The alt-right offers easy answers to these very difficult question: “Your life isn’t going as you planned, well here is someone to blame!” Of course, on top of this there is plain old racism, sexism, and hatred.
Why did your group feel the need for you to go undercover?
Hello Mr. Davis, out of all the prosthetics and makeup you’ve had to wear, which was your favorite and which was the most difficult to have applied?
What was it like trying to re-join society? Do/did people always want to ask details or have they generally been respectful?
I'm pretty sure that sexual assault should be off-limits.
And you do have a risk that the participant will say "fuck this, I'm done here" - and they will leave very, very violently under their own terms.
I do not have any expertise in that area unfortunately. Sorry
The Griphook make-up in Harry Potter was the most challenging. It was very heavy and restrictive but I think it looked incredible. I have so much respect for Nick Dudman and his team of artists.
People have almost always been very respectful. The hardest part about rejoining society was realizing that I would never go back to being the old me.
Hard to tell :D But there are usually moments that I will remember. I took one of them to the graveyard so they could visit her husband. She started crying and gave me a hug. We went for a long walk around a lake where she told stories about her husband and kids.
"I hope your day is as pleasant as you are."
Source: 10 years as a front end/service manager
This question is for Amanda. What has been your most interesting case?
Did you suffer from PTSD? How was the treatment, how long was that road?
You say some people wanted to work there after going through it? Sounds to me like some people see that they can get away with torturing people for the fun of it. I think that this place is fucked up in eve st which way. It's not a haunted house. It's a horror movie sinulator
Thanks for doing a Q&A, I hope I'm not too late and this comment doesn't get buried as this is something quiet close to my heart and it would mean a great deal if you could offer a little advice and guidance.
A little back ground information. My Nanna was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around about 4 years ago, she is 91 years old and still lives in her bungalow, alone. My Grandma, my Nannas daughter, is her primary carer. She is adamant not to have to put my Nanna in a care home. Over the past few month my Gran has started paying for some carers to come in at certain intervals during the day just to ensure that my Nanna is OK as it had gotten to a point where my Gran was basically living with my Nanna after a recent event of her taking a weeks worth of medication in a matter of hours.
The week before last it was my Nannas birthday, my grandparents took her an hour out of town for afternoon tea. They stayed for about 3 hours then drove home, when they got home my Gran did my Nannas hair and her nails for her for the family coming round to my Grans for food that evening. Family arrived, stayed 4-5 hours, we all had something to eat, then my Gran took my Nanna home.
The following day my Gran went to my Nannas, as she does every morning, and asked her if she enjoyed her day yesterday to which my Nanna replied 'what happened yesterday?'. It's truly heartbreaking to see.
I have a few questions below, some seeking advice, some wondering the normality of what my Nanna and we all are going through:
1) Repetitive conversations are something which stands out the most with my Nanna, she can ask how work is and you'll tell her it's going good and by the time she has processed the fact you've said it's good she has asked you about it again. Is there any tips on reoccurring conversations? It feel rude just to ignore her. 2) Whenever we try to start conversation with my Nanna it is unsuccessful, she just smiles and nods whenever you ask her a question, as if she is not really listening, again, is there any advice you have for this? 3) This is a bit of a strange one which I'd love to know the answer to; my Nanna constantly folds up pieces of tissue paper and stuffs them down the side of the sofa, in her handbag and hangs pieces on door handles, is there any reason for this? 4) Crisps. All she eats is crisps. If we walk into the supermarket the first thing she asks is where are the crisps? Is there a reason for a certain craving of food?
Again, thank you for doing this.
Damn, I need to memorize that, holy crap that’s good
Lep 3. I think it would be fun to do a Leprechaun / Pirates hybrid movie.
I feel extremely blessed in that I have not suffered from PTSD. I have had flashbacks, I now have aversions to things that didn’t bother me before, but that’s it.
So I'm planning on taking another job that is a grocery store,any advice?Also how often do you get a migraine?
Or more violent than they are
What misconceptions about your abduction would you like to make people more aware of?
My question is how does nobody react with violence? You'd think some of these participants would fight back at some point...
I care for an elder with stage 4 Alzheimer's. Any advice on how to convince her to shower? I always make sure the bathroom is warm, same with the water and I still outside the door while she bathes (she won't let me help, sometimes she will let me help dry her off but she's pretty shy) and sometimes let's me help her into her clean nightgown.
But often she doesn't want to bathe and gets a full shower maybe once every 2 weeks. I'd try for weekly but that just isn't happening. I also gave shower wash caps and bathing wipes if necessary.
I've read that bathing is a common issue and done everything I can to make it more comfortable, but are there any tricks or I guess trade secrets you've come across in your time working with multiple people? Thanks!
The best advice I can give you is to get to know people from day one. Having someone to talk to through the day really helps make the day go by faster and less stressful. Depending on which store you work at, you will see one of two things. Either a madhouse every day, or dead silence. A busy day means it goes faster, but usually results in a headache. A dead day is stress free, but it usually goes slower. And a huge thing to keep in mind, is that the customers WILL make or break your day! A customer can bring you down on your happiest day by being a piece of sh*t, or a customer will make you happy on your worst day.
Helena here: I'm not aware of any set policy we may have as regards to that terminology. I basically follow law enforcement's cues on this -- if they refer to it as a rape, I'll do the same. But typically they use the umbrella term "sexual assault."
Hi there – it would be great to follow up this discussion over email. Could you please drop us a line at [email protected] ? Thanks!
I couldn’t just runaway. I couldn’t just scream out. Everything I did, I did to survive. I never suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. I never identified with my captors or cared about them. Every decision was made with survival in mind.
It happens, but it's very rare. The people who seek this out really want to see what they can take and how far they can make it. When Christina did 6 hours she bragged about it online for months. Them went back 3 more times. Different for everyone.
We have one who is hard to make her take a shower but promising her to wash her back always seems to help lol. But some of the aggressive ones or who is really confused it's easier to just to start the shower and say ''alright take of your clothes'' in a friendly manner. Offering to give coffee afterwards will always help!
Hi, did you uncover any connections to current or former politicians?
Warwick, if you could cast any spell only once each day, what would it be?
Were there moments when you thought "this is it"? Conversely, were there moments when you thought "this will all be over soon"?
It wasn't so bad back in 2005-2007 it was a typical chase people around with fake stuff... I have always wondered if the attraction is family owned. Its just a small house in the suburbs
Has any of your patients suddenly become lucid, and knew what was happening to them?
What techniques do you find help to prolong their lucidity?
The best thing you could is to be considerate and kind. Customers need to remember that we are not machines. We get tired and make mistakes, especially new employees. We also stand in the same spot for hours on end, usually with minimal interaction with other people (besides greeting, payment, goodbye). Having a conversation with someone can cheer them up and make their day better.
Yes, there were lots of times I thought, this is it I’m going to die wether if it was directly at the hands of my captors or through consequences of their actions. It was hard to believe it was over until I was in my dad’s arms being hugged at the police station.
Yup over the years it got more and more extreme. I had some great interviews with the neighbors about that.
One of the men living here always say some strange things. When he is in his bed he will tell me to remember to pad the dog when I leave and turn off the car aswell. Stuff like that. One day I had him out for a walk and we walked by a graveyard. He then tells me ''there is a german soldier graveyard in the back of it'' And I have lived here my whole life so I wasn't sure about this but he convinces me to go in and have a look. There actually was a german soldier graveyard hidden behind some trees. I was kinda shocked. But we left the graveyard and walked in a little neighborhood. He then yells into a garden where a guy was cutting grass ''Hey you ugly bastard''. The man comes over to us and im prepared to explain that he has dementia etc. Turns out the man he yelled at was an old work employee from like 40 years ago. He invited us to a cup of coffee and they talked about old times.
Just basic things like going for walks, ask them about their life or look at old photographs. Asking into details like ''what was your address'' or ''what did you do after school'' will always push them a little.
What are your favorite TV shows right now?
What's your opinion of journalists after your personal experience? Was there any good for you that came from them and their reports, did you see some/many as exploitative?
What do the neighbors have to say about it?
which patient had the biggest impact on your way of thinking and seeing the world?
Really anything comfortable. Push the dress code around a little bit. I bought Skechers that had memory foam on them and I’m pretty sure they were against dress code, but no one seemed to care. Things like boat shoes or dress shoes are good looking but are not good for your back or feet for several hours
I am absolutely loving Stranger Things 2. I have resisted watching the whole series in one sitting, instead savouring one episode each evening. If they do make a season 3, I will personally travel to and camp outside The Duffer Bros. house to get a part.
I think the media is like a double edge sword it has huge power for good but at the same time it can come at a cost. For me the majority of my experiences have always added to the greater good there are a few exceptions, however.
I am a survivor of human trafficking, which actually started around the time you had went missing. When you were found I remember it giving me hope and something to keep working toward because it reminded me that there are people out there who care. What was the hardest thing you faced in terms of speaking out and becoming an advocate? I still have so much guilt tied to my experience and I'm 30 now and while I've worked through so much of that, I can't seem to fully accept that it was something that happened to me, not something that I did. If there was one main thing that you wanted to tell a survivor about speaking out, what would it be?
Russ McKamey seems to be pretty particular about the photos and videos that are put out there and doesn’t tend to do a lot of interviews, how did you go about getting permission to film and were there any restrictions on what you could or couldn’t show?
You have to approach each character differently. it starts with the way they think, then add body language and posture. They become distinct and different automatically, it wasn't a conscious effort.
The hardest thing about speaking out and becoming an advocate was the fear of having everyone know what happened to me. The one thing I would tell a survivor about speaking out is no matter what people’s reactions are, you deserve happiness, you deserve love, you deserve support and you deserve to know that you are worthwhile.
You're right. At first he wouldn't let me film anything and then wanted me to have restrictions. I told him I need to be able to film everything so I can show the Manor and him as they really are. I spent a weekend interviewing him and when he heard my questions and saw how I was filming in a cinematic way (not just point and shoot) he trusted me to tell the story.
By having all access and being able to show Russ building, filming, editing, etc... it really provides a ton of insight.
No worries! Feel free :D My experience in musical treatment is very small. I will definitely try to implement it way more!
Mr. Davis, what's it like being part of two of the biggest franchises (Star Wars and Harry Potter) of all time?
How did you meet your husband? How has he been involved with your advocacy work?
We were both serving missions in France for our church and that’s where we met. He supports me so that I can do my advocacy work because it can be emotionally taxing.
Hi Elizabeth, thank you for opening yourself up to us in this manner. I've held you in my thoughts and heart for years, just wishing you the best.
I'm just wondering, in general, how did your friends treat you after your return home? Have you stayed in contact with any of your friends from before your abduction, and were you able to find support in your friends upon return?
What do you think has caused the interest in these horror experiences in recent years?
Do you think this is something that will go away anytime soon?
- What lead you to do the type of work you do?
- What do you enjoy about your work?
- What do you dislike about your work?
- Do you feel that people with dementia are treated with respect and dignity?
- What type of training do you have?
Thank you so much for doing this AMA!
Seeing al the fantastic places we visited and having experiences I wouldn't have had on a normal holiday.
Yes, I still have many friends from before I was abducted, and it was awkward maybe the first two seconds I was home and then things just picked up where we had left off.
I asked this exact question while doing research for my doc. So I looked up when horror films, haunts and Halloween made the most amount of money and I noticed some really fascinating correlations.
All the classic monster movies for Universal Studios came out during the depression and were major box office hits, Halloween made it's most amount of money during 2001, right after September 11th and was beat out by 2008, the financial meltdown, but this year Halloween is on track to make more money than ever before, $9.1 BILLION. Why? Because people use Halloween, horror and haunts as a safe way to face their worst fears and scream their heads off. I learned a lot about people and how horror is a mirror that reflects society's worst fears.
And your second question. Do I think this is something that will go away anytime soon? No. Turn on the news, there's a lot to be nervous, fearful and scared about and as long as real life is really scary, people will need horror experiences as a way to both confront their fears and escape the horrors of reality.
- My mom has always worked with healthcare. So I kinda always knew I wanted to help others.
- I love that it really isn't stressful. My colleagues are also so helpful and sweet.
- Hard to tell. I dont really feel like I have anything that I dislike about it. Even changing diapers or changing sheets cause someone peed in their bed doesn't bother me at all.
- I truly do! After starting this kinda work I have the biggest respect for others who do the same. You kinda get a relationship with everyone who lives here so you are like family or good friends.
- You might have to elaborate that. But I was following one of my colleagues for weeks and just helping giving baths and stuff like that. If that is what you mean :D
Also, were you offended by the way he talks about you (little fella, etc) or did you find it part of his charm?
Do you think social media is a net good for the world?
I am not easily offended. I just took that as part of Karl's charm.
I’m still debating that. It could be, but I’m not convinced yet.
How often did these guys use racial, religious it homophobic slurs?
How is it being a reporter for Crime Watch Daily? Do you like that type of work considering your past?
I think that we used to get scared more - less stimulation, more unexplained things - but thanks to science and the internet and our phones, we live a very soft life.
No big ghost stories or unexplained natural phenomenon-we know hurricanes are coming and that sacrificing virgins won't prevent earthquakes.
But that innate need for adrenaline, that need to be scared, remains a primal desire.
Not only that, but consumers are getting more savvy and demanding intricate, full products. They want better than what they can get by themselves, and with unlimited access to EVERYTHING, that's a hard product to deliver.
Look at Disneyland and the vintage rides - they're charming in their innocence and delicacy. But modern culture supports this genre of full-on terror inducing, immersive experience.
My dad has FTD. Do you have any experience working with people with FTD? This shit sucks and any tips would be great.
He's at the stage where instead of opening the front door, he locks the door handle and deadbolts the lock then wonders why he can't open it. Speech is also fucked. Lack of nouns and verbs when he tries to talk.
Essentially I am responsible for making sure people are doing their jobs, dealing with unruly clients, telling people where to go, bagging and ringing when necessary, cleaning, and a whole bunch of other things
All the time. To be honest, it was extremely hard to be in the same room as these people at times, having to sit there and stay quiet as they came out with torrents of abuse.
I like doing Crime Watch Daily, because it feels like I’m able to help someone share their story without re-victimizing them because I’ve been in their same shoes.
Yes and no. This was a HUGE year for Disneyland's Halloween Time, Knott's Scary Farm and Universal Studios sold out so many times they have to extend into November. There's a huge spectrum of sub-genres of horror from horror comedy, supernatural and monsters to slasher and torture porn and everything in-between. And now there's a live horror attraction that represents each kind of sub-genre of horror. I see it as something for everyone. But the question remains: How far is too far?
Im so sorry to hear that and I hope that you and your family is okay! Frontotemporal dementia is so hard to deal with. I know there a some medications which can help a little but there really isn't a cure and it will only get worse. When having conversation try just talk about things he surely remembers and ask about details. Like when talking about him - ask him about his birthday, address, first pet etc. But that is probably the best I can do. I really hope you can cope with it. It is hard to deal with.
Mr Davis, if you could choose your last meal on Earth, what would it be?
The most obvious question is "how are you doing?" and also what type of therapy has helped the most?
Were there ever any moments of compassion or second guessing from the employees, or did they stay totally "in character" the whole time? Did you ever find yourself wanting to stop the most extreme moments of the experience as you witnessed guests going through it?
What's the strangest thing that one of your patient's did?
You have to find what’s right for you in therapy. There’s no formula for everyone. For me, my family was huge. I found my music extremely therapeutic. I have always found horseback riding and being in nature therapeutic.
There were some actors at McKamey Manor who were very compassionate and would "check in" with people that they felt had reached a breaking point, but even when they did that it was in character. Sometimes Carol would come out and would talk to them and make them feel safe and then Russ would go back to unleashing hell on them.
Yes, I wanted to stop it and take people out, but I only did that once. I'm gonna copy and paste where I shared that story from earlier:
There was one time when I stopped filming because Christina Buster, who flew all the way from Kuwait just to do McKamey Manor, went into shock. She started to not respond to questions, and looked dazed. I put my camera down and told Russ she's in shock. I quickly picked her up and took her out of the haunt and into the living room. 30 minutes later she snapped out of it and said,"Why am I not in the haunt anymore?" I told her that she went into shock and then she yelled at me,"I flew 19 hours for this put me back in!" She then told Russ to put her back in and then the put her back in for 4 more hours! When it was over she thanked Russ and his actors. And then she went back 3 more times! That really blew my mind and made me realize that this experience isn't for everyone, but it was really made for Christina.
Strangest thing. Thats a tough question cause there is A LOT. I experience people shaving in the middle of the night, taking of their dirty diapers and hide them, picking up poop from the toilet and putting it in the bin and proceeds to wash hands in the toilet.
What's your favorite song?
Thanks for doing this, and for all of your work!
I hope no one misreads this and thinks it is a negative comment, but I was curious in the age of social media with your specific situation how do you deal with chuckleheads trying to get noticed at your expense either by harassing you or just posting flat out lies about you or your situation that thrust you into the media spotlight? Also, how do you handle (mentally and emotionally) any fake news stories written about you?
The experience is free with a donation of small dog food. How does Russ afford to keep it open?
Are the employees volunteers?
Were there any employees that you think are too unstable to be working there?
What is the quickest you saw someone want out?
And the one thing that confuses me is that there is no safe word but apparently no one has ever made it through. Do the actors just stop? How does it end? Is there even an actual ending, or does it gone on as long as it takes for someone to quit?
There really hasn’t been a worst mess except for a jar of tomato sauce and grape jelly crashed simultaneously. The most expensive and timely mess was something that didn’t even need cleaning. Some guy outside had a large pack of coke cans underneath his cart. He decided to go fast and get on top of it to entertain his daughter but the the case flew out in front somehow and he ran over it. He ended up destroying a bunch of the cans and I had to empty any of the contents that were left. Took me 20-30 minutes to do so.
The answer to both those questions is the same. I used to read every article and every comment posted about those articles and it made me feel terrible. My older brother one day said, “Elizabeth who cares what these people think? Who cares what these people say? Stop reading them.” So, I stopped reading them.
At the time Russ worked 2 jobs and Carol worked two jobs and all of their money went into the haunt. Everyone who works their is a volunteer and most have gone through it before...everyone except for Russ!
Some people wanted out the second it began.
How does it end? Russ doesn't stop until he believes he has captured your true terror reactions on camera. He wants to film you having a total breakdown. When Russ thinks that has happened it's over. Sometimes that's 10 minutes sometimes 6 hours. Another reason why people should have a safe word.
First want to say I'm so impressed by all your incredible advocacy work, and how you've given other survivors of sexual assault such strength.
My question is, how have your experiences and your abduction influenced how you raise your own children? Would you say you're overly safety conscious or cautious?
Thank you for doing this AMA, you're such an inspiration!
having no safe word and even waterboarding people
You're going to have to explain that one.
Anyone who's seen Hitchens get waterboarded knows that isn't a joke.
People who've been waterboarded say that if they had to choose, next time they'd rather have their toes chopped off.
It’s a constant struggle between being overprotected vs. wanting to let my children experience life so they’re prepared for the future. Fortunately, both of my children are young so I control most of their activities but as they get older I think that it will be a constant battle between letting them experience life on their own terms and wanting to protect.
Ya... I didn't believe it until I saw it. It's not pouring water slowly the way we've seen it done on the news, but it's submerging people under water while they have a cage over them and a hood over their head. Still way too much for me and I was more surprised when people who went through it then went back for it again and again. Not everyone. Most do it once and then either never go back or go on to work there.
I learned a lot about people filming this doc.
Is there anything "in the moment" that you did that you specifically think saved your life until the police came?
I'm currently in charge of doing the videography for a haunted maze in So. Cal. Based on your experience, what would you say is the most effective format for capturing footage and creating an enticing video? Which shots do you think work best and have the best effect?
There were a lot of things. Every decision I made was with survival being the end goal. Specifically, learning their tactics and eventually using those tactics against them.
Premiere Pro CC is my fav way to edit. What we all want in a haunt promo video is something that captures the feeling of the haunt. A mix of flow through and awesome SCARE REACTIONS!! I think we all love watching scare reactions when people scream and then laugh.
And focus on getting great music and adding sound effects. And you want to show soem of the haunt, but sometimes it's what we don't see, what we only hear that really scares us the most. Keep the mystery alive and sell it with the reactions.
Every see the reaction photos from Nightmares Fear Factory? Those pics sell that haunt better than anything else every could.
Good luck, I know how challenging it is to film in a haunt. Happy Halloween!
In 2003 you were known as the girl who was kidnapped, today I think your advocacy work is defining you - in 40 years, when the public hears 'Elizabeth Smart' what do you want them to think of first? Or do desire a life outside the spotlight, where people don't recognize your name?
I wonder if the reason you so rarely get people fighting back is because the scenarios are so extreme that the only people who would sign up are submissives and masochists. Like, it self-selects for the most dedicatedly passive participants by its very reputation, maybe?
I'd be screaming and windmilling my fists like no tomorrow 😂
I’d be lying if I said anonymity wasn’t tempting, but I want to continue advocating until change happens. It would also be nice to be known as a wife, a mother, a friend.
Yes, but you wouldn't go. There are so many people who look for experiences like this. It's fascinating.
Will we ever see any more of Porridge on Dr. Who?
When did you realise how big your story had become in the media? What was it like dealing with that in addition to the traumatic experience?
I recently went to Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride in PA and it was my first haunt experience, I enjoyed it, was sometimes scary sometimes funny mostly entertaining. Touching was allowed but it was very light. The way you describe Mckamey is like nothing else I could imagine. My question is: Are there others like it?
In my store they haven’t really been that mean. One of them is pretty kind, the other one is more in he middle, but they aren’t complete assholes
I'd love to do more Porridge. I think he's a very interesting character with so much more to offer, after all, he is the emperor of the known universe!
I’m still amazed at how big my story was and the interest people still have in it. Having everyone know who I was was probably the hardest part about coming back.
There is nothing like McKamey Manor. There are more extreme haunts that touch you like Blackout, Freakling Bros, and interactive theatrical extreme like Alone, The 17th Door etc... There's a very exciting world of haunts out there to explore and now the ones in Japan are even doing amazing work!
Has your abduction created any challenges for you as a wife and a mother?
Did you see anyone not get scared? I don't mean dudes trying to be tough but anyone who genuinely didn't really seem scared or freaked out by the whole thing.
Well, my husband doesn’t like being called Mr. Smart, but other than that no, or that I’ve yet to experience.
Yes! That's my wife. Nothing in a haunt scares her, but i scream my head off.
I did film 1 guy who wasn't bothered by anything at McKamey Manor. It turned out he's into S&M and he had a wonderful time.
I understand that you came from a religious background, and your captors justified their actions with a very sick and twisted version of religious belief. Do you feel a lot of echos of that or have trouble moving back to and reconciling your own faith?
he's into S&M and he had a wonderful time.
Lol. How did that make the actors feel like knowing this afterwards?
No, my faith helped me survive what I did, but when people justify everything they do through religion it makes me wary.
Hahahah. They were very confused.
These days my hobbies are my kids, but I like to listen to audible when I have a chance and the Great British Bake Off.
It's out now! You can watch this right now. Go to our website and click the buy button and see a ton of ways to watch it today! And thank you so much!! Happy Halloween.
Hi Mr Davis, I have been a fan of yours since I was very young, I spent many days pretending to be Wicket playing in the forrest near my home. But without a doubt Willow holds the closest place to my heart - do you have any stories about Val Kilmer from your time on the film and do you do any magic tricks yourself? Thanks and never stop being awesome!
Did your Mormon faith have an effect on how you were able to make it through your experience? Is your faith any different now having gone through what you did?
This is actually a very true thing. Most people who have the "fight" reaction don't go to haunts.
Psychologically either you're okay giving up control, or you're not okay with it. As a haunter you really need to be aware of 3 primary groups of people.
1.) People who willingly cede control, they will likely remain docile and posses a 'flight' instinct.
2.) People who willingly cede control for the express purpose of fighting back. These people likely get tossed from most haunts quickly as they'll be very aggressive in their reactions. Pushing back at the slightest touch.. etc... They're looking for a fight, but they're unlikely to be truly dangerous.
3.) People who are adverse to ceding control. These people don't like 'haunts' probably don't go to them, and if they do it's likely they were coerced by someone else. These people can be very unpredictable, they may have a 'flight' instinct. But they might have that pure adrenaline 'fight' instinct. The one that makes them go from cowering in fear to beating people to death with their bare hands in a literal moment.
The truth is that third group of people, they probably aren't going to sign up for any kind of extreme haunt, and the vetting process especially the interviews will likely expose them.
I don’t work in the grocery department so I can’t get way with eating damaged food, but I know that some other people do.
Val Kilmer once broke my pair of fake Ray-Ban sunglasses on purpose. Waited for me to get annoyed, then gave me 2 pairs of real Ray-Bans.
I learnt magic for Willow but don't practice any of the tricks now.
Yes. My faith period played a big part on how I survived. Yes, my faith has changed. I’ve gotten older it’s widen, it’s expanded. it’s grown since I was a 14 year old girl.
Yup, and every once in a while you get a drunk jerk who wants to hurt people. But mostly people who go to haunts are looking for a scream and a laugh and a great story to tell.
So from the YouTube videos and your description, it seems like McKamey Manor is more just a torture experience rather than a scary experience. If you don’t fear actors in masks, pain or eating disgusting things there isn’t really anything to be afraid of. It’s really just how much torture you want to endure. Obviously everyone has a limit to how much torture they could endure which is a different experience in my mind than being frightened. The only fear I would have would be contracting some sort of disease from some of their practices. Is this place subject to any health dept inspection or regulation? Also, they claim no one has made it thru to the end. Is this true?
Practice screaming, encourage your kids to fight back, there is a place and a time when it’s not only acceptable it’s encouraged. An organization that I work closely with is Rad Kids it’s all about prevention education and you can learn more about them at www.radkids.org
No one makes it to the end, but one guy would've but they had to stop because their was a 10pm cut off from being in a sub division in San Diego. Nothing phased Rudy because he was into S&M. After seeing so many other people freak out, watching Rudy was like watching Superman. It was crazy.
No, there are no regulations on extreme home haunts. Mostly because the world is just discovering them. There are more regulations on lemonade stands.
Ha I'm just remembering how I once met you when you were in Woolacombe, it always stuck out to me that you took the time to meet and greet people who wanted to speak to you even though you had a bunch of people telling you that you had to get going. So thanks for being cool!
What's you're favourite moment from the Harry Potter series?
How do we change the mentality and social norms that make survivors of sexual abuse feel worthless?
I've always seen a connection between haunted houses and horror games as interactive ways to experience horror. Nowadays a lot of popular horror games really are just basically virtual haunted houses (PT, RE7, etc.)
Do you play horror games/video games in general? What are some of your favorites?
It's hard to choose 1 moment from 11 years of memories. I had a wonderful experience during that time. My fondest memories are of the people involved in the making of the films.
Sexual abuse is so prevalent today chances are it’s not just one person you know that’s experienced sexual abuse, but many people that you know that have experienced it. We need to be able to address these issues openly, talk about them regularly, and be supportive when survivors do come forward.
YES! Actually I just created & directed a VR project called FLATLINE EXPERIENCE where you go through someones actual near death experience. I had this idea for over 16 years, but wanted to wait for VR to be.... well the way it is today.
VR is so exciting because when it's done well it takes you out of your daily life, prevents you from looking at your phone and makes you be an active participant in an experience. That's the same thing I love about haunts!
One of my fav haunts this year is The 17th Door and they started their attraction with a VR experience that made me SCREAM out loud! I was freaking out because they strapped me into a metal chair and then when the VR began everything I saw touch me in the VR experience I would also feel in real life. Even some shocks here and there.
That was such a rush!!! I'm excited to do more VR especially with horror VR where people can face their worst fears in the safest way possible.
Did you see the Dave Chappelle bit on you during one of his specials? How did you feel about it, if so?
I'm a casual haunt goer! I go to universal every year and get the scary farm pass every year. I typically go with a friend or two and mostly hang out to interact with the actors. What type of things did you learn or discuss with the representatives you met from Knott's scary farm?
A bit grumpy... as a GOBLIN!
If it’s the one I think it is, when I watched I felt bad. But now I could care less.
I LOVE Universal and Knott's. I go every year too and this is my fav year for both Scary Farm and Universal. Knott's and Universal are mostly in my film for historical context. My focus is traditional haunts vs extreme haunts, how haunts got to be so popular, when extreme haunts began and how far is too far. But I filmed over 250 hours of footage so I have a TON of bonus features. In the bonus features you get to see some of Scare School at Knott's Scary Farm. I filmed when Brooke Walters was running Scare School and it;s really cool to watch her direct the Scare Actors and teach them how to become a monster. And you get the John Murdy story. John Murdy is the creative director for Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights and when he was a kid in the 1970's he made his first haunted house a Star Wars haunted house! We show the pics and everything. There are so many emotional moments from traditional haunters in the bonus features.
This year my Fav at Knotts was Infected Special Opps (the awesome Zombie laser tag game), The Dark Ride, Pumpkin Eater, The Lights Out version of Trick or Treat and the new opening to the Shadowlands which is a really cool Japanese inspired haunt. Universal I LOVED every maze, but I especially lost my mind during Ash vs Evil Dead, Saw, AHS, The Shinning, The Blumhouse triple feature maze (The Purge, Happy Death Day and Sinister) and the Titans of Terror with Freddy, Jason and Leatherface. This was such a great year for HAUNT!
What does "full contact" mean? Like, are visitors allowed to fight back?
Your own, of course.
I think it’s fine if it’s your belief to teach to wait to have sex until marriage; however I think it is imperative that no analogy like ‘chewed up gum’ be used, because no matter what your sexual orientation, preference, or when to have it is, it will not detract from your worth as a human being. So, yes, change needs to happen in the way it is taught.
It means they're allowed to touch you, even in a rough way and you're not allowed to touch back or fight back.
Do you often get recognized when you're out and about? How do people react?
Thanks for hosting the AMA!!
Yes, I get recognized all the time. Especially when I have no makeup on and greasy hair. But people are always very kind and just want to express well wishes and gratitude, but it should be expressing my gratitude to them.
I actually never saw anyone fight back at the Manor, but I did see people fight back at boo scare mazes. I was really surprised.
What advice would you give to recently returned American hostage Caitlan Coleman for moving forwards in her life now?
That makes no sense. Is this just a masochist house then? Sounds like it has nothing to do with horror and everything to do with getting off on getting tortured. Plus from a legal standpoint, if you make someone fear for their life and don't respond to their calls for you to stop then they have every right to touch back and ultimately that could lead to something ubfortunate.
I have the same advice for all survivors no matter what their story is. That is the same advice that my mom gave to me: What has happened is terrible, there are no words to describe how wicked and evil they are, they have stolen 9 months of your life that you will never get back. But the best punishment you could give them is to be happy. By feeing sorry for yourself and reliving it is only allowing them to steal more of your life away from you. Obviously, the advice is tailored to your own specific circumstance. I don’t think this means you’ll never have a bad day again, or never struggle or feel frustration or anger. I think it just means have your end goal always be happiness.
The set design looks incredible and he has robots and massive props some are original some cost $20,000 and are a real spectacle you usually don't see out of a theme park. I was there and it scared the hell outta me, but I know what you mean. The controversy is about the safe word. To me, any extreme haunt must have a safe word.
Elizabeth, having read your book I first have to say how inspirational you are. To overcome what happened to you and to not look back is just amazing to me. I think you're an amazing role model for women everywhere.
I struggle with depression & anxiety and haven't been able to find the right career for myself yet despite being well-educated. I know one of the things you say is not to let the past define you, but I seem to have so much trouble letting go of my past experiences and dwell on what people must think of me. What is the key to moving forward from the past and letting it not burden you?
Why do you think Russ Mckamey moved Mckamey Manor to Tennessee/Alabama?
I think it’s building a relationship with yourself, being comfortable with who you are and liking who you are.
A lot of reasons, but #1 he was forced to tear it down due to complaints. Not complaints about what he was doing, but about the un-permitted structures.
How does local law enforcement react to some of the more extreme places like McKamey Manor? Do they ever try to shut these places down? Or deal with complaints from "customers"?
Great question. Russ almost got shot once when the cops kicked the door down and came running inside to save the people screaming for help. When they meet Russ he puts them at ease, they leave and he goes back to it. I think most other people would've been shut down by now.
Stupid question from a wuss: do you have any jump scares in your movie? I am fascinated by movies like yours primarily because I HATE horror movies and haunted houses and such, and am always interested in the people who DO find them fun, and are able to create them. After the AVGN's Halloween video this year though, I'd rather not be caught off guard by more screamers at the end of a video trying to be 'scary/funny.' I'd at least like to be prepared. Thanks!
What was the most fun you had making the movie?
No jump scares. Movies use jump scares as fun gags, but my film proves that real life is way more intense than a horror film. It's a roller coaster of emotions, you'll laugh a lot, but when it gets intense it builds to it.
Most fun was getting to hang out with people who sacrifice everything for what they create. That's why I called it "The Art Of The Scare" because anyone who knows what it's like to create art knows it's all about sacrifice. What are you willing to sacrifice to bring your art to life? Being around people like that is really inspiring and pushed me to sacrifice more for my film. You'll either love it or hate it, but you won't be able to doubt my passion and dedication and I feel the same way about the Haunters themselves.
Do you like hamburgers? In your opinion, which chain burger is best?
Im sure youve been asked this before but what scares you that is not IRL? The dark with my own imagination are mine.
Love hamburgers. I’m going to say In-and-Out is the best.
That's a tough question because I LOVE to get scared. Whenever I'm not feeling well I put on A Nightmare On Elm St and it always cheers me up. My favorite kind of scare is something supernatural that feels real. That always gets the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. The idea of Freddy killing you in your dreams is still the greatest idea in horror to me because we ll have to sleep. BTW - Have you ever seen the documentary THE NIGHTMARE by Rodney Ascher? That is the scariest movie ever and it's REAL! It's people sharing their stories about their worst sleep paralysis nightmares. the movie even convinces you that now because you're watching this movie that you're gonna have sleep paralysis too! When I saw that at SXSW it kept me up all night. I've seen it 4 times since and each time it scares me. When you watch it turn the VOLUME up really loud and get ready to be freaked out.
You can take 4 trips. Money and time don't really matter--but you have to go only to do the following: 1. Adventure 2. Culture 3. Relaxation 4. Adventure + Culture + Relaxation
Where do you go and why?
My husband just asked me the same question. 1. Alaska for adventure, 2. India for culture 3. Toss up between Bali and Tahiti for relaxation, 4. You tell me where I can get Adventure + Culture + Relaxation.