The House of Shock celebrates 20-year anniversary

Photo by MARK GLAVIANO -- An actress stick spins in a live voodoo doll at The House of Shock in New Orleans.
Photo by MARK GLAVIANO -- An actress stick spins in a live voodoo doll at The House of Shock in New Orleans.

Angela Chustz-Parent

Special to

If you are looking for something exciting to do during the Halloween season for yourself and the kids, The House of Shock definitely has a lot in store for you. With over 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor haunted terror, these guys will entertain you with a festival of events and spectacular shows. After 20 years of operation, The House of Shock is geared to give horror fans from all over the biggest and scariest haunted experience yet.

“We have the reputation for being over the top and intense – that’s what we are known for,” Ross Karpelman, co-owner of The House of Shock, said. “New this year is the Archaride, an eight-legged mechanical spider that people can ride outside. It has a built-in camera on it so that people in the audience can watch their friends or family members on the big screen. Also, new to the Haunted House are the torturous Meat Processing Plant and the creepy outdoor Moss Tunnel. Since it was our anniversary we wanted to add bigger and better attractions this year to keep things on edge and entertaining.”

Twenty years of being in the haunted house industry is a long time. Owners Steve Joseph, Ross Karpelman (aka Lord Belial) and Jay Gracianette have faced challenges from Day One with The House of Shock, including nearly losing everything during Hurricane Katrina in 2005

“It all started 20 years ago in my grandparent’s backyard. My grandmother had a passion for horror movies, and I stepped right in watching “The Exorcist” at six years old, and it changed my life forever,” Gracianette said. “My first haunted house was thrown by my friends and me in my grandmother’s backyard, with the classic black Visqueen® and 2-by-4s holding it up. It was a free event to all the neighborhood families and friends with lines around the block.”

The second year, Gracianette and friends charged $2 per person. Because of the number of people that attended, the group had issues with the fire marshall because they didn’t meet fire code regulations.

“On year four we found a better spot and moved to River Road. The year Katrina hit in 2005, we had moved into the newest location where we are now under the Huey P. Long bridge,” Gracianette said. “Unfortunately for us, what we had was repairable in time for Halloween, but not too many people were in town to enjoy it. In 2006, we had our best year we ever had at The House of Shock.”

Each year, The House of Shock has added to its Halloween Festival and Haunted House to make it bigger and better for its fans and for the families involved in the project. The House of Shock has over 400 volunteers of all ages who work just for the joy of scaring people.

“We have generations of families who have been with us since the beginning who continue to come back,” Karpelman said. “For us, it is about enjoying this experience with our kids and families. The kids have such a good time making their own costumes months in advance.

“The Brosonski kids, 9-year old Caleb and 11-year old Cameron, have re-enacted my main scene on their own YouTube video, similar to the Good vs. Evil act I do every night as Lord Belial at the entrance of the Haunted House. It’s great to see them have passion for this and to continue to see them and many like them, year after year,” he said.

Not only do the owners invest in The House of Shock, but they also invest in helping out in the community for charity events. They continue involving their volunteers, friends and family all year around in fun social gatherings to keep the positive and family like culture growing.

“We have done so many things together as a big family,” Karpelmann said. “We have taken Disney Cruises together, hosted private parties, have our own Mardi Gras float -- so the entertainment and social factors never change with us. We also take a bus each year and go to the Thirteenth Gate Haunted House in Baton Rouge. We support them, and they support us – it’s all about family and growing with each other.”

As they do grow each year, and marking the 20th anniversary this year, you should expect the wow factor in all their entertainment, including their rock star Pyrotechnics for which they are known. Also in store for the outdoor entertainment and free to the public are fire juggling, fire eating/breathing, the Atone Hang Tribe, and live music that will knock your socks off – if the haunted house doesn’t first.

If you are afraid and don’t think you have what it takes to go into the haunted house, stop by the bar on site. Matt’s liquid courage is known to shut down the fear you may have. As Matt says, “After two of Matt’s Monster Punch, you won’t be scared, after three – you won’t remember!”