A quiet, unassuming young woman, Rosz looks just like someone you might see working at Starbucks. As a matter of fact, she does, along with various other side jobs and an on-again, off-again career as a professional artist. Few would guess she is really the mastermind behind the grotesque faces of evil lurking about the Thrillvania Haunted House Park every fall, when closet werewolves, vampires and ghouls come out of the woodwork to scare the wits out of the citizens of Terrell, Texas and beyond.

Drawn inexplicably to the world renowned Texas haunt, Rosz applied for and was awarded a position nearly a dozen years ago, joining the ranks of the late Lance Pope’s “wolfpack,” seemingly normal people who thrill in exploring the darker side of their personalities between mid-September through the end of October. After half a dozen years of skulking in the shadows and terrifying hapless innocents, Rosz’ artistic talents prevailed, and she took over Thrillvania’s makeup department.

Starting around 4:30 in the afternoon on show nights, Rosz helps some two dozen cast members morph from their daytime personas into creatures of the night, bringing out their secret ghouls and inner demons. While there are upwards of 100 total cast members working the haunt, others wear masks or work behind the scenes and do not have need of Rosz’s remarkable talents. Once the gates open, Rosz quickly heads to Haunted Verdun Manor, where she helps out in the role of assistant manager for the rest of the evening.

Once in a while, Rosz still likes to play with the guests. During her days as a cast member, she frequently appeared in a combination werewolf-banana costume.

“It started out as a gag,” she explains. “We had this funky banana costume we got from somewhere, and sometimes I would wear it out on the midway for fun, because people weren’t expecting it. Then one day I combined it with a werewolf costume, and people really got a kick out of it.” And the Were-Nanner was born.

The costume was so bizarre, so twisted and surreal that it quickly became a crowd favorite, and the Were-Nanner was soon a regular fixture on the midway. Sometimes the Were-Nanner even makes a guest appearance, by invitation, at other haunts in the area.

So when you visit Thrillvania this year, keep a sharp eye out for the rare and elusive Were-Nanner; you just never know when or where she might turn up!

The Pernicious Mortimer Thorn
By Zane Grubaugh

Verdun Manor’s sinister caretaker, Mortimer Thorn made a point of being familiar with every square foot of his beloved plantation, and could often be seen hiking about the property with a gnarled old walking stick fashioned from a twisted tree branch. On one of his many outings, he happened upon a colony of oddly mutated vampire bats, which explained the odd cattle carcasses that were found now and again, covered with puncture wounds and drained of every ounce of blood.

Concerned for the bats’ welfare, Mortimer carefully disguised the opening to their underground cave, and made mention of them to no one.

The night the manor burned, Mortimer alone escaped the inferno, running blindly through the property with the shrieks and wails of the baron, his lady and all of their mutated creatures ringing in his ears as the fire seared their bodies and the greedy flames came licking through the roof, sending sparks and cinders out over the countryside.

Taking shelter in an old abandoned church, Mortimer spent many years studying the bats, following them on their night time raids and learning their darkest secrets. During a series of experiments, he learned to extract two highly toxic fluids from his bloodsucking charges; the first was a powerful anesthetic and the second an enzyme known as desmoteplase, which acts as an anticoagulant, to allow the bats to extract their bloody meals more easily.

What he does with these dangerous substances is anybody’s guess.

Mortimer Thorn continues his sinister experiments to this day in that old stone church, protected by overgrown thorny shrubs and surrounded by dangerous swampland feeding into Voodoo Bayou. Only lost stragglers occasionally find their way through a cleverly camouflaged maze of thorny hedges leading up to the old church. The darkness begins here, in Thorn Hall…

It was the dawn of a new century in 1901, the year Queen Victoria was buried in England, a showing of 71 Vincent Van Gogh paintings created a sensation in Paris, the White Sox beat the Cleveland Blues 15 to 1, Anna Taylor became the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and the Texas oil boom officially began with a strike at Spindletop near Beaumont, Texas. Meanwhile, in another corner of the Lone Star State, something much more sinister was brewing.

Adjacent to an old plantation cemetery in a dark and weed-choked swamp known to the locals as “Voodoo Bayou,” a strange, twisted structure began to emerge, eventually assuming the shape of an Antebellum style manor. Commissioned by a psychopathic scientist-turned-werewolf by the name of Baron Michael Verdun, the manor quickly became the subject of much gossip and speculation among the local townspeople.

For mysterious reasons, Baron Verdun had imported a number of foreign workers to build the manor, and after it was finished they began to dig a multitude of deep cellars beneath the property. Rumors ran wild that the Baron and his workers were exhuming the corpses on the property for some dark, evil purpose. When the foreign workers disappeared quite suddenly and without a trace, the townspeople whispered to each other that they must have been murdered, and that their spirits now haunted the Voodoo Bayou.

With the arrival of Verdun’s wife, Lady Cassandra D’Arque, the townsfolk had much to whisper about. Despite her pale, nearly translucent skin, the raven-haired beauty had an eerie darkness about her, probably due to the fact that she was actually a bloodthirsty vampire.

It was Baron Verdun’s lifelong quest to release the inner beast that beats in the hearts of all men, and he began to conduct cruel and inhumane experiments on unfortunate victims who failed to lock their doors at night. Lady Cassandra scoured the countryside every full moon and brought him a fresh batch of hapless peasants, whom he proceeded to turn into hideous, half-human mutants in his laboratory deep within the bowels of the manor. Considered failed experiments, the pathetic creatures were turned loose on grounds to fend for themselves, which they did by devouring unwitting visitors.

The Baron and his Lady were also fond of hosting ghoulish masquerade balls, where they served human flesh to macabre, undead guests and held raucous nocturnal hunts using human prey. As stories of these nightmarish events spread throughout the countryside and the toll of missing peasants began to rise, the Verdun’s neighbors finally formed an angry mob and descended upon Verdun Manor one evening just after sundown. They locked the Baron in his laboratory, where he burned in a raging chemical fire, then caught Cassandra still sleeping in her crypt and brutally decapitated her.

The burned, mutilated and bludgeoned bodies of the Baron and his wife were buried in a deep grave in front of the hideous manor, and the vigilante townsfolk returned to their homes to nurse their wounds and forget the horrors of the night. For creatures like Baron Verdun and Lady Cassandra, however, death is more of an inconvenience than an ending…

A year after the night of terror, the manor and grounds were sold to a wealthy landowner by the name of Vincent Carruthers, without revealing the evil goings on that had occurred within its dark recesses. That Halloween, under the light of a full moon, the Carruthers family naively hosted a masquerade ball in their new home. As the full moon rose above the horizon, the Baron and his vampire bride clawed their way out of their graves and burst into the manor, accompanied by all of the baron’s hideous man-beasts that had returned from the countryside.

Carruthers, his family and guests were slaughtered in a most horrific manner, and their bodies posed about the manor in a gruesome tableau. With Carruthers out of the way, Baron Verdun and Lady Cassandra resumed their ghastly experiments and grotesque parties, and Verdun Manor and the Voodoo Bayou once again became infested with the undead, along with the many twisted, tortured beings that cannot be qualified as man nor beast. To get to the manor, intrepid visitors must first brave the horrors of the Voodoo Bayou and the haunted cemetery, only to face the wrath of Baron Verdun and Lady Cassandra!

Thrillvania has added even more thrills, chills and mind-boggling spooktacular dioramas this year, making it Hauntworld Magazine’s number one pick for Scariest Haunted House in America.

A veritable smorgasbord of creatively themed indoor and outdoor haunts, Thrillvania combines elaborate, movie quality sets, pyrotechnics, giant spiders, complex animatronics and live monsters that come at you from all sides in six amazing attractions on nearly 50 haunted acres. From their flagship World Famous Verdun Manor to Cassandra’s three-dimensional psychedelic Labyrinth of Terror, the haunt literally has something for everyone from 2 to 92.

The labor of love of haunted industry icon Lance Pope, Thrillvania started out in 1996 with just Verdun Manor, 8000 square feet of decaying mansion whose living room is a “dying room,” where skeletons play a ragtime waltz on the piano and ominous, macabre décor is the order of the day.

Carpenters, set designers, creative artists and evil geniuses have all been working the graveyard shift, adding more footage, more carnage, more dark humor and things that go bump in the night to get Thrillvania ready for the 2013 season. From the thick foggy swamps of the Voodoo Bayou to Sam Hain’s chilling Trail of Torment, the eerie darkness of Thorn Hall and the rabid clowns of Cassandra’s Labyrinth of Terror (something you might want to avoid if you have a fear of clowns), the illusions, special effects and animatronics are hairier, scarier and more electrifying than ever before.

For younger guests and fraidy cats, Granny Lupus’ Séance Theatre supplies a tamer set of thrills, and a midway with games and refreshments is always a safe place to hide out. But for the bravest of the foolhardy, Verdun Manor is still the haunt to die for, and people literally run out the back door screaming – that is, if they manage to make it out at all. Enter at your peril!
Thrillvania waits, just 33 miles east of Dallas on a dark country road.