Fright Night: Enter the asylum … if you dare! Local Halloween attraction enters its fifth year

Published 9:25 am Saturday, October 27, 2018

Many a ghastly treat await those Halloween fanatics visiting the haunted premises of Redrum Asylum. Eric Johnson/


The very word (“murder” backwards) conjures the image of Danny Torrance, the child with the ability to hear other people’s thoughts in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” And while visitors to the Redrum Asylum, located at 604 Ninth St. SW, won’t have to worry about encountering lonely psychic children (or will they?), they are sure to find some new scares at the haunted attraction, now celebrating its fifth year of Halloween night terror in Austin.

According to founders Denise Norris and Jeffrey Neese, the Halloween tradition started in Albert Lea.

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“(Norris) started doing this many years ago in her basement in Albert Lea,” Neese said. “At first it was just the family.”

Many a ghoulish fright lay along the paths into Redrum Asylum. Eric Johnson/

“When (Neese and I) got together, it just kind of grew from there and we decided to put on a haunted house in our basement for our family and friends,” Norris said. “All of their teenager friends came and we got a good reaction. When we moved here, we decided now that we have our space we’d do it for the community.”

The attraction has since grown, with family members and volunteers from the community participating every year.

Since its inception in Austin, Norris and Neese’s haunted attraction has always been called the “Redrum Asylum.” The name is prominently displayed on an arch looming over the menacing entrance in front of the house.

Denise Norris and Jeffrey Neese nail up pieces of Redrum Asylum as they prepare for a fifth year of frights. Eric Johnson/

“I had scrap wood in the garage,”Neese said about the sign. “This was the first year we were doing it in Austin and I was goofing around in the garage. I cut out an arch and I don’t know how the name came into my head, I think maybe because of ‘The Shining,’ and it went on from there.”

“It’s just the name we came up with and we don’t know why,” Norris added.

In the week leading up to Halloween, Norris and Neese spend countless hours getting it ready.

“It’s all done basically in a week,” Norris said. “We work on our props through the month of October and the week of Halloween is when everything gets put up and put together.”

“We call this ‘Hell Week,’” Neese added with a laugh.

Both said that the goal for each year is to create new scares to go along with some of the regular attractions.

Trick or Treaters will get a spooky welcome when visiting Redrum Asylum. Eric Johnson/

“Our rooms are typically the same, but we always add to it or change the theme up a little bit,” Norris said. “You can expect to see a couple of the usual attractions; our doctor room is pretty much a main staple because we have a huge piece of equipment in there that we don’t move. Other than that, everything else changes up and we like to keep them surprised.”

But Norris and Neese did not quite expect was the response from the community, which Norris said was “huge.”

“This is about the community most of all,” Neese said. “That’s why we do this, to get people that normally wouldn’t come to hang out for 20-30 minutes together. When you see the sidewalk on Halloween night, you’ll be blown away. It’s every walk of life, and that’s what I love. It’s awesome to see people have such a good time.”

The “Redrum Asylum” will offer scares for older crowds from 6-9:30 p.m. on Halloween night, but Norris and Neese said younger children are welcome to come for a toned down, less scary time from 4-6 p.m. There is no charge to go through and all attractions will be outdoors and under tents.

So enter the asylum if you dare! And if you see any children croaking “Redrum” over and over again while curling their index finger… just keep moving.