Nightmare on Kino‘ole Street: Haunted House Hilo offers scary good time
October 21, 2023, 1:00 AM HST
* Updated October 22, 1:43 PM
Blood-curdling screams echoed eerily throughout the former Penn Training and Fitness Center in Hilo.
Was it coming from people making their way through the creepy corridors? Or was it the building’s nightmarish new occupants, bent on keeping guests on their toes — and eating a few of the unlucky who got caught?
There was no way to tell.
But the 30-plus brave souls who came on the first night of terror at the new Big Island haunted Halloween attraction were warned: “Enter if you dare.”
With gnarly noises coming from inside, a winged demon and a few of his fearsome friends lurked outside the entrance, setting the shocking stage for the scary good time.
Haunted House Hilo opened its doors Thursday night and promises a horrifyingly fun experience just in time for Halloween, immersing those who enter in a dark and horrendous world full of things that go bump — and worse — in the night.
It’s a nightmare at 639 Kino‘ole St. that keeps you looking over your shoulder for the entire 10 minutes you’re wandering through the creepy corridors.
This portal to the paranormal is filled with demonic denizens, ghastly ghosts and ghouls, monstrous jungle creatures, sinister cannibal clowns, unnerving undead and a host of other terrifying treats sure to send chills shooting down your spine but keep you sweating with fear.
“It’s fully packed with scares,” said Erik Allard, who was commissioned by the Penn Hawai‘i Youth Foundation to put on the haunted house through his new brand Exposed Roots Industrial Designs.
Allard was approached after foundation president Lorraine Shin heard about his success with a haunted attraction last Halloween at the former Hilo Axe Lounge.
The concept behind the bone-chilling attraction is the brainchild of Allard and Aspen Dewey, an artist and owner of Morbid Impressions, who are both Halloween fanatics. Dewey makes her own latex masks and Halloween decorations and props, many of which can be found inside the haunted house.
She even has creepy art hanging in the corridors and rooms you can admire if you dare to stop while making your way through.
“She’s amazing,” Allard said. “She’s really the kind of Halloween spirit you want around.”
They are joined by a team of about 60 volunteer actors who don crazy costumes and macabre masks, wanting nothing more than to scare the bejeezus out of those they encounter.
“It’s been great. Fantastic even,” said actor Reagan McGhee, who plays a sinister cannibal clown. “Multiple people have been scared. Plenty of screams. Great screams.”
Fellow actor Steve Trimboli, a winged demon greeter, agreed: “Oh, it’s scary.”
There’s always something just at the edge of your vision or watching from around a wall: a horrific hag munching on a spider directing you to the pit of hell, a giant wolf and its werewolf handler, clowns inviting you to a gruesome meal of human flesh and chainsaw maniacs and other ghouls, live and animatronic.
Sometime you donʻt see them until it’s too late.
Halloween by far is Allard’s favorite holiday and he always goes all out to put as much spirit as possible into celebrating it. The haunted house is no different. He said the creatures and animatronics transport him to a completely different world; one which he’s OK with despite its eerie intent.
Allard said: “I would sleep here if I could amongst all this horror, ghosts and everything.”
Haunted House Hilo will be scaring guests again on Oct. 21, 22, 26 and 29 from 6 to 10 p.m. and on Halloween Night, Oct. 31, from 5 to 11 p.m.
The attraction also will be open 5 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 27 and 28, with a punk rock show the night of Oct. 27 and HoʻAikāne of Kailua-Kona in concert on Oct. 28. Both shows are being produced by Lōʻihi Studios.
Tickets are $15. Keiki 5 years old and younger are free and the first hour of each night is child friendly, with more light and less aggressive scare tactics.
Tickets for the concerts, being called the Halloween Bash, are $35 and include access to the haunted house. For more information about the concerts or to get your tickets, click here.
Proceeds will go to help families of Lāhainā on Maui affected by the devastating Aug. 8 wildfire.
On a level of 1 to 10, with 10 being the scariest, Allard gives the haunted house an 8.5 or 9.
“We made it scary, but it can also be enjoyed; enjoying being scared,” he said. “That’s how we’re trying to create that atmosphere. We want to scare you, but we also want to make you feel like you’re having this cool experience.”
Costumes also are allowed for those going through the attraction.
Allard said his main goal is to have this Halloween be the best the Hilo community has ever had: “I want them to remember this, like, ‘Oh, remember that time we went to the haunted house at BJ Penn’s gym? Remember that?”