With the end of summer comes a season of plaid shirts, pumpkin spice lattés, and cozy bonfires with friends and family. We all have cute memories of autumn—taking a hayride, jumping into a pile of leaves, or picking our seasonal jack-o-lantern from the local pumpkin patch (or Kroger, if we’re honest). However, the season of autumn also brings a much scarier side as well. From movies such as the dark remake of IT to the more campy Happy Death Day and television shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, we find that many of us crave the adrenaline that horror allows us to experience. While these forms of media are fun, you’ll get the best rush by seeing these things in person at a haunted house. Whether you’re going because you’re a horror fan, you crave the thrill, or give into peer pressure, I have survived three West Tennessee haunted houses and lived to tell you all about them here.
The 13th Realm
Atwood | 10486 Route 220 | 731.662.4433
Spooky factor: ★★★★★
Creative haunts: ★★★★✩
Perfect for: Adults and older teens; horror addicts
The 13th Realm takes you through a twisting journey of haunted trail and house, all with differing ways of scaring you (and getting you to scare yourself). It’s important to wear good shoes at this location, since you will be walking through the woods and through several uneven paths. There are many areas throughout the trail where you will expect someone to jump out at you. However, once the paranoia sets in, you begin to question what will be a scare and what will not. There are many creative elements, including a vortex tunnel and large, walk-through inflatable sacks that will spark the claustrophobia in you. The scare actors here are very believable; you will have a hard time knowing what is a mannequin and what is a real person.
Do be aware that the queue shows movies for those waiting, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, The Evil Dead remake, and Cabin Fever, which include scenes of nudity and extreme gore. However, this does make a great house for adults and older teenagers who enjoy the thrill of a truly terrifying scare. Be aware that lines can get long and that this is an all-night-event haunted house compared to other sites.
House of Horror
Bells | 769 Highway 88 East
Spooky factor: ★★★★✩
Creative haunts: ★★★★★
Perfect for: Teens; those seeking something unconventional; youth groups
House of Horror is in its second year in their new location in Bells, and you can see how much work has gone into it with it doubling in size. While The 13th Realm focuses mainly on suspense, this haunted house concentrates on constant scares. Every single inch of the house (and what lies beyond it) does everything it can to scare you. This haunted house is extremely dark and tight, and if you do not hold onto the person in front of you, you will have no idea where you’re going. Halfway through the haunt, you will go into what is called the Corpse Shute, a forty-foot slide going from the second story of the house to the next part of the haunt.
House of Horror has been a family-run business in the Jackson area for many years, with workers who first worked at the Medina Haunted Farm before creating their own business. They work on the house throughout the year and open this haunt during September and October. It can be a bit difficult to find if you’re not familiar with the Bells area, so do try to find good directions. This house ends up being the perfect foil to The 13th Realm since it is more compact in both size and scares. While it is intense, you shouldn’t rush through it or you will miss out on some of the best scares they have to offer. On top of that, there’s a fun surprise for you waiting at the very end of your experience.
Medina Haunted Farm
Medina | Cumberland Street | 731.562.7508
Spooky factor: ★★★✩✩
Creative haunts: ★★★★✩
Perfect for: Families with older children; first-time haunted house visitors
The Medina Haunted Farm is the oldest running in this group, having operated for over thirty years in the woods of Medina. My wife, Courtney, remembered going here in middle school with friends, which is why we knew it would be a favorite for locals. This haunt is put on by the Lions Club with proceeds going to charity. It is also volunteer-worked, so expect scare actors of all ages. In this haunt, you will also go through a mixture of house and trail, however it is not as odd or as rigorous as The 13th Realm. This house also includes famous movie characters, including Pennywise from IT and Jason from Friday the 13th. Compared to the other houses, this the most family-friendly. Gore and extreme violence are left to a minimum.
Even though this farm is not as gory as the other sites, that doesn’t mean that it won’t scare you. One unique thing about this haunt is that it has a tour guide who takes you through (until the very last house, where they go to the back). There are also interesting features like tubes that make you feel as if someone is touching your ankle and a room where you must find the exit on your own. This is a great haunted house for someone going through their first haunt since it is not as intense or long as the other houses.
Learn more about the Medina Haunted Farm on their Facebook page.
No matter what you’re looking for in a haunted house, you can be sure to find it here in West Tennessee. Do remember to always wear good shoes and know that you will get pretty close to the people who go through the house with you; you’ll likely be holding on to them for dear life, and they’re sure to see they crazy ways you react. So if you get a chance this season, be sure to get out there and take your gang to enjoy one of these great haunted houses. Hopefully you’ll make it out alive. . . .
Web designer Luke Pennington is a friendly, crazy cat guy with a soft spot for Farmers' Market donuts and a laugh that shakes the windows. He’s your go-to man for a great restaurant recommendation or a recap of the latest American Horror Story episode. Luke lives in Midtown with his wife, Courtney, and their three spoiled cats, Link, Zelda, and Weasley.
Photography by Luke Pennington.