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'Detroit Nightmare' Organizer Scares Up Donations for Haunted House

Berkley resident Charles Brandt has launched an online fundraising campaign and says there will be new thrills this year at the Halloween attraction in the 2300 block of Cummings.

The Detroit Nightmare haunted house in Berkley is no small feat to execute, requiring dozens of volunteers and costing thousands of dollars, which is why organizer Charles Brandt has launched an online fundraising campaign to help pay for the Halloween extravaganza.

Brandt has put on Detroit Nightmare at its current location in the 2300 block of Cummings for the past several years – with the help of friends who portray the attraction's creepy characters – and did so previously at his parents' house in Huntington Woods. He said last year's haunted house cost approximately $1,500 and that he has spent thousands of dollars amassing props over the years.

Supporters who would like to help Brandt keep the tradition going can visit the Detroit Nightmare page on kickstarter.com to make a contribution to the annual attraction. Brandt's goal is to raise $2,000 by 12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.

The haunted house is free to visitors.

"In the past, people have gotten a little excited and tore down walls, ran down hallways, and bumped into props and other people, all of which could cause injury," reads a message on the Detroit Nightmare page on kickstarter.com. "This year, we want to start to slow people down, and control their fear. We would build stronger walls, have more twists, turns and interactive displays to slow people down, and also close off some of the props and people that were originally out in the open. Your donation will help us to make a safer place for people to enjoy their Halloween."

Other changes this year will include the following, Brandt said.

  • Makeup artist Deaette Dwyer, who has worked on several independent Michigan-made films, will create the ghoulish countenances of the Detroit Nightmare actors.
  • The haunted house will be broken into two parts: a circus-style portion with a freak show and ringmaster in the front and an asylum-style section in the back. Brandt said visitors will walk through both areas after they enter Detroit Nightmare.
  • The ringmaster, who will be stationed at the beginning of the haunted house, will give children a code word to shout if they get too scared and want the actors to break character. Brandt said the attraction is intended for those 13 and older, but that some parents opt to bring their younger children.

"I'd prefer not to scare people so much that they don't come back," said the horror film aficionado, who majored in psychology at Western Michigan University. "We want to give you a chance to experience fear in a controlled way."

Last year, approximately twenty costumed ghouls peppered a foggy path winding through the yard and around the back of a home. They depicted scenes of horror and depravity, leaped out unexpectedly or stared with vacant, haunting eyes.

More than 1,000 people visited the haunted house in 2011, according to the Detroit Nightmare page on kickstarter.com.

"I couldn't do any of it without my friends and family," Brandt said. "I really appreciate everything everybody's done for  me."

"Like" the Detroit Nightmare on Facebook for more information.

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