The Haunted House That's Actually a (Totally Legal) Torture Chamber

You may have heard of McKamey Manor. The extreme haunted house was originally featured in Netflix’s show Dark Tourist in 2018.

But now it’s back in the news for promising guests $20,000 if they are capable of completing the terrifying 10-hour tour. But according to participants, McKamey Manor is actually a torture chamber in disguise.

The tour’s website states that “each guest will be mentally and physically challenged until you reach your personal breaking point.” 

Russ McKamey, the owner and operator of McKamey Manor, screens potential participants through Facebook. There, he contacts participants’ friends and family to find out the guest’s worst fears to be used against the participants in the tour.

If they make it through the screening, guests are required to obtain a doctor’s note stating that they are psychologically and physically fit to handle the tour, show proof of medical insurance, supply Russ and his actors with a safe word, and sign a detailed 40-page waiver. 

It’s this waiver that has been making the rounds on Twitter and making waves.

The waiver warns participants that they may be fish-hooked, have plastic bags wrapped around their faces which can lead to suffocation, have their teeth extracted without Novocain, and have their fingernails removed. Some participants may come in contact with carbon monoxide. If a participant cries or has a panic attack during the tour, Russ and his actors will continue to taunt and torture guests.

It’s reiterated throughout the waiver that McKamey Manor is not responsible for anything that happens to participants during the tour, including death. 

“Participant fully understands that injuries may occur during their tour of MM, which may include, but not limited to, head, neck, and back injuries, death, stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain aneurysms, cerebral or retinal hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, loss of consciousness, whiplash, harmful heart reactions, nausea, headache, dizziness, lacerations, broken or sprained bones, torn ligaments, bleeding wounds, scrapes and/or cuts, heatstroke, or drowning and does not hold MM responsible.”

The only thing that can save them from the ordeal is the safe word they selected prior to the tour. To make things even creepier, Russ live-streams every tour he does to a private Facebook page, while the edited versions (which are still incredibly unsettling and graphic) are uploaded to his website and to YouTube. You can also view incredibly graphic and disturbing images on the tour’s website.

Laura Hertz Brotherton, who participated at McKamey Manor in 2016, stated,

“[I was] waterboarded, I was tased, I was whipped, I still have scars of everything they did to me. I was repeatedly hit in my face, over and over and over again. Like, open-handed, as hard as a man could hit a woman in her face. [The dirt] started to go into my throat, and I started to swallow it, I’m coughing and I keep saying, ‘I need water,’ and they would just splash water in my face. They wouldn’t actually give me water. That went on for, I want to say, 20 to 30 minutes.”

Before she left, she said that Russ made her take a video saying how great her experience was and that she was basically silenced by the waiver she had signed earlier.

Given the dangerous nature of this “haunted house”, the question needs to be asked: how has this place not been closed down?

It all boils down to the fact that, because Russ has a waiver that consenting adults have signed, McKamey Manor is 100% legal.

Speaking to the Nashville Scene in 2018, Tennessee District Attorney General Brent A. Cooper said,

“It’s legal because basically the people that are subjecting themselves to the McKamey program, or whatever you want to call it — they’re doing so voluntarily.”

If history has taught us anything, it’s that just because something is legal, doesn’t make it okay. This guy is literally torturing people, and while, yes, these are consensual adults signing these waivers, it’s clear that they’re getting more than they’re bargaining for.

But, there might be a loophole through Russ’ madness.

Cooper told the Nashville Scene that if a guest rescinds their consent at any point in time, and Russ doesn’t listen, he could be in big trouble.

“Tennessee is a state where you can withdraw your consent at any time. Even though someone may sign a really long consent form if they ever indicate that they’re withdrawing consent, [McKamey] should take that seriously. Because if the person really has withdrawn consent, and [you] continue to confine the person against their will, then you’re actually committing a crime.”

Recently a petition on called “Shut down McKamey Manor” has launched, asking Alabama and Tennessee state officials to close down McKamey Manor for good. The petition, which was created by Frankie Towery, has nearly 60,000 signatures. Towery’s goal is to reach 75,000 signatures.

Haunted houses are meant to be fun and exciting, not places where you would have to seek medical or psychiatric help after visiting them. If you do decide to go to an interactive haunted house, please do your research, and make sure the actors respect your personal space and boundaries.


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Feature photo by Nathan Wright

Alysia Stevenson
Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she's not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.