Walking Deadhouse brings haunts downtown

Downtown Warren had been without a haunted house for nearly 20 years, when the Haunted Armory on High Street N.E. closed down.

But, just like those pesky zombies, a new haunted attraction has risen downtown.

The Walking Deadhouse opens Friday above Price Less Furniture Warehouse, 523 E. Market Street, Warren. Sunrise Entertainment is operating the attraction, and cofounder Ken Haidaris said they originally considered doing something last year at the Warren Community Amphitheater, where the promoters stage the River Rock at the Amp concert series.

“We were originally going to do it at the amphitheater, call it Haunted Walk at River Rock, but that would mean putting stuff up every day and taking it down,” he said.

There also was the unpredictability of the weather in the Mahoning Valley in October, and they didn’t want to do anything that would conflict or compete with the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County’s Ghost Walk.

Instead, they decided to create the attraction even closer to his Sunrise Inn.

“The building across the street is perfect for it,” he said.

Bill Van Steenberg, who owns Purgatory Props, transformed the second floor of the building into a haunted house, and a mix of models and live actors will try to jolt guests as they wind through – and in one case, squeeze through – the dark corridors.

“I get to scare people,” Van Steenberg said. “There is nothing more fun than that.”

He started out creating things to scare his family and it grew into a business, creating haunted houses for parties and other events and acquiring decapitated heads, full body models, scary lighting and other effects he can use.

“I just love haunted houses,” said Van Steenberg, who works as a finish carpenter. “I figured this is what I would retire doing.”

The haunted house will feature demented children, a possessed girl, clowns that pop out of trapped doors, werewolves and other creatures of the night. Van Steenberg said he’s already impressed his toughest critic – himself.

“If it gives me the willies going through it, I know it will be all right.”