Russ McKamey is the founder and operator of McKamey Manor, which offers the most terrifying haunted house experience in America. McKamey Manor was featured in the 2017 documentary film Haunters: The Art of the Scare and on Netflix’s Dark Tourist (2018).
McKamey Manor was initially located on McKamey’s property in San Diego, California. The horror house quickly gained notoriety for the extreme haunted house experience it offered.
Many have noted that McKamey Manor didn’t offer just a horror house experience but also a torture house experience, which included various forms of physical, psychological, and emotional torture.
The San Diego manor closed a few years ago, and a new facility established in Summertown, Tennessee. There is another facility in Huntsville, Alabama.
Residents of Summertown have reportedly complained about the disturbing activities at McKamey Manor. Lawrence County authorities reportedly said the staged horror experience was legal because the guests at the manor participate voluntarily and can withdraw at any moment during the experience.
The Summertown experience is claimed to be so extreme that no one has ever completed it. McKamey claims that his latest show, titled Desolation, is even more extreme.
People who have been through the McKamey Manor experience have reported being subjected to physically and emotionally challenging experiences.
Some claimed they were waterboarded, but McKamey denied allegations of waterboarding. He claims to use hypnosis to make guests believe they experienced things that didn’t happen.
“When I use the hypnosis, I can put you in a kiddie pool with a couple inches of water and tell you there’s a great white shark in there, and you’re gonna think there’s a shark in there,” he told WFLA.
He also claims that he exploits people’s fear of water.
According to McKamey, the experience is “a live theatrical performance” that makes people feel they are living a horror movie. He described the experience as a “survival horror boot camp” designed to generate anxiety, fear, and revulsion, through subjecting participants to physical and psychological stress until they break.
The entrance fee for the experience is a bag of dog food, and guests who complete the tour win a $20,000 prize.
To participate in the experience, guests must be at least 21 years old or 18-20 years old with parents’ approval. Guests must show a doctor’s letter stating that they are mentally and physically fit.
They must also pass a background check conducted by staff at the manor, and show proof of medical insurance. They must also pass a drug test and sign a detailed 40-page waiver.
Who is Russ McKamey?
Not much is known about Russ McKamey. According to The Guardian, he majored in theater studies before joining the Navy. He spent 23 years in the Navy. While serving in the Navy, he entertained his colleagues out at sea by organizing haunts on Naval ships.
According to the New York Post, Russ McKamey claims he also works as a DJ and wedding singer.
McKamey says he doesn’t use alcohol, smoke or use illegal drugs. He described himself as a “straight-laced conservative guy” who doesn’t curse.
He also does not allow cursing during his haunted house experience. Guests who curse during the experience get some cash deducted for the $20,000 prize they would get if they complete the experience.
His favorite movies are Alfred Hitchcock horror, psychological, and mystery thrillers, such as Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Birds, Vertigo, and Psycho.
McKamey creates videos of people undergoing his horror experience and posts them to his YouTube page. He claimed that the McKamey Manor experience and videos never include nudity or suggestion of sex.
They only consist of horrifying shots of scared participants screaming, retching, and choking.
You can view the official website for McKamey Manor here.