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Some people seem to have a knack for creeping out complete strangers. Gary Grove, 59, says he has just about seen it all over the past 20 years since starting to scare at what has become his regular haunt at Nightmare on 13th. Most nights now he plays a so-called line ghoul, entertaining those waiting to get past the witchy box office and on to the big-time thrills inside.
The everyday Grove is a married father of five, grandfather to 11 (with another one on the way), who works as a customer-service rep for a dental-supply company.
It’s easy to find a good haunt this Halloween season
Here’s a selected list of Halloween attractions open around the Salt Lake Valley.
Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus
What » Trailers filled with the Big Top Tent of Horrors, and other scares. Also featuring Odyssey Dance Theatre performing works from the company’s “Thriller.
When » Through Oct. 31; Monday-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.
Where » 98 E. 13800 South, Draper
Tickets » $20; $5 extra for a fast pass (discount coupons available at Wendy’s restaurants). For deals and VIP tickets, see www.stranglingbros.com.
Castle of Chaos
What » Three locations advertised as a “Trilogy of Terror,” featuring such attractions as Hands on Horror, and a 3-D Screamatarium.
Where » 1134 W. Riverdale Road, Riverdale
Hours » Monday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.-midnight
Where » 5576 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville
Hours » Sunday-Thursday, 7:30-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.-midnight
Where » 168 E. University Parkway, Orem
Hours » Monday-Thursday, 7:30-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.-midnight
Tickets » $18-$33 (for Trilogy tickets); some attractions require those under 18 to be accompanied by parents or sign a waiver; visit castleofchaos.com for details.
Nightmare on 13th Haunted House
What » Attractions include “NetherBeast,” “Cirque Du Fear” and “Zombie Apocalypse.”
Where » 300 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City
When » Through Nov. 3; Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.-midnight; Monday-Thursday, 7:30-10 p.m.; extended hours until 11 p.m. on Oct. 17-18 and Oct. 31.
Tickets » $20 (with bounce back specials); at www.nightmareon13th.com
In the old Portland Cement Company plant, which its owners claim is haunted.
Where » 666 W. 800 South, Salt Lake City
Hours » Monday-Thursday, 7-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m.-midnight; visit http://fearfactoryslc.com for updated hours and discounts.
Tickets » $$20-25; with $30-35 VIP pass; visit
Info » http://fearfactoryslc.com
Walk through a real forest with scary surprises, as well as view two indoor attractions, “The Haunted Mansion Show” and “Psycho Manor.”
When » Through Oct. 31; Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.-midnight; Monday-Thursday, 7:30-10 p.m.
Where » American Fork City Hall, 31 N. Church St., American Fork
Tickets » $20; kids 6 and under are free. Visit hauntedutah.com
Attractions include a straw maze, Spook-A-Boo Walk Through, Psycho Dave’s Salvage Yard, Fun House of Fear, Deception, Lockdown and Night Walk. No face make-up or costumes are allowed.
When » Through Oct. 28; Friday, opens at 5 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.
Where » Lagoon, 375 Lagoon Drive, Farmington
Tickets » $28.95-$44.95, at 801-451-8000 or lagoonpark.com
When » Through Oct. 31; Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m.-midnight; Monday-Thursday, 7-10 p.m.
Where » XSI Factory, 4425 N. Thanksgiving Point Way, Lehi
Tickets » $20; at zombieutah.com
Five days a week, he and his wife carpool to work, she at a recycling company, he at a spartan cubicle inside a newer building near the Salt Lake International Airport, where he sits on the phone filling orders for "everything you see in a dentist’s office."
Any other time of year at the end of the workday, the Groves go home to the same 1,800-square-foot rambler in a subdivision of West Jordan where they’ve lived for 30 years. At Christmas time, he likes to dress up as Santa Claus.
But in the weeks leading up to Halloween, Grove undergoes a more disquieting metamorphosis. It takes about an hour to transform himself into a zombie. "Surprisingly, it’s fun to scare people," he said. "It’s fascinating for me to watch people’s reactions."
Twenty years ago, the act of scaring people was a family affair at Nightmare on 13th, then called Institute of Terror. Even his youngest, who was 6 at the time, would dress in white, stand on a grave and loudly whisper, "Beware!"
Dad kept up with it and now approaches those quivering in the queue outside the haunted house with politically incorrect jokes (but fit for a haunting, Grove adds) and requests for a kiss on his latex cheek as the character of a zombie trying to get a date. "’I’ve learned not to eat a girl’s brain on the first date,’" he tells his rapt audience outside the haunted house.
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