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CUTTING EDGE Haunted House

CUTTING EDGE – Deep in the Horrors of Texas
By FAITH SPARKS

In 2009, FANGORIA voted Cutting Edge seventh on its list of the top 20 haunted houses, and with good reason: It’s the scariest thing in Fort Worth, Texas, full stop. Located in the historic Hell’s Half Acre district, Cutting Edge inhabits a former meat-packing plant that was built in 1908 and is the largest haunt in America, with 235,000 square feet of thrills and chills. The horror starts as soon as you enter the parking lot, and doesn’t quit until you’re home, safe and sound. And even then, the nightmares endure…

In our bid to spotlight the most upsetting haunts out there, Fango spent some time with Cutting Edge mastermind Todd James.

FANGORIA: Cutting Edge keeps winning awards; what do you think gives it the, um, edge?

TODD JAMES: Well, we just love Halloween and haunted houses. It’s that simple. We begin working on our show in January, and continue all year till we open in September. We’re just a bunch of big kids having a blast, and I guess it shows.

FANG: Did you have any past experience with haunted attractions or the horror film world?

JAMES: I’ve always loved Halloween and horror, from a very early age. When I was in grade school, I would drag my costumes out in the middle of the summer so I could hide in the bushes around the neighborhood and scare the other kids. I guess I never got over it. I’ve been acting in or producing haunted houses since I was 8, so that’s 40 years of scaring folks. That’s all the experience I need!

FANG: You’ve been recognized by the Guinness people…

JAMES: We sure have! We set the Guinness World Record for Largest Haunted House in 2009 and 2011. Our event takes about an hour to complete, and is three to five times larger than most other attractions. It’s massive and still evolving.

FANG: Can you tell us a little history of Hell ‘s Half Acre? Why did you choose this area for the haunt?

JAMES: Well, Hell’s Half Acre was named back in the days of cowboys and gunslingers; it was so called because of the nature of what went on in the saloons and in the streets: lots of gambling, gunfights, mayhem and debauchery. So when we found the abandoned meatpacking plant in that part of town, we knew it would make the perfect haunted house. We even got the old equipment back up and running to help us, well, transport meat!

FANG: Who handles all the elaborate makeup and prosthetic FX?

JAMES: We have some of the best artists out there. Our makeup and costume staff is comprised of very talented individuals from the film industry. We have also started the Cutting Edge Makeup School, specializing in horror and special effects work for the haunted house industry. It’s all part of the illusion, and we don’t treat that lightly.

FANG: In your opinion, as the owner of Cutting Edge, what is the scariest aspect of the attraction?

JAMES: It’s an old meatpacking plant in Hell’s Half Acre! That’s just supercool in itself, right?

FANG: Do you introduce new scares to Cutting Edge every year?

JAMES: Yes. We intend to lead the industry by trying out new things; that’s why we named ourselves “Cutting Edge.” We always want to be different. We do, however, remember that haunted houses are meant to be scary, and that the number-one fear people have is fear of the dark. We believe our entire event is pretty cool from start to finish, and if something isn’t working, we change it. We have an undead cemetery, a Jurassic-style swamp, the working meatpacking plant and some real hillbilly shit This is Texas!

Check out the Hell’s Half Acre horrors at www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com.

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