A haunted house has gone viral for its hair-raising requirements for entry: participants must clear a background check, pass a doctor’s physical and mental exams, and sign a 40-page waiver. 

And with virality comes controversy: plenty of speculation and outrage has arisen online over how safe the extreme haunted experience really is. 

The premise of McKamey Manor: “contestants,” as they’re dubbed, are pushed through a series of terrifying, seemingly dangerous tasks while blindfolded as they’re transported to various locations between Summertown, Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama. Owner and creator Russ McKamey offers a $20,000 prize to anyone who can complete the course, though nobody ever has. 

NSFW videos of past contestants’ experiences are required viewing before signing up for the tour. The images are harrowing: they show grown adults sobbing, shaking, often soaking wet and covered in what looks like blood. McKamey maintains the danger is all an illusion. Critics say participants are signing themselves up to be tortured.

But people continue to sign up anyway.

‘There’s a chance of death’: Inside the chilling 40-page waiver

The contents of the usually 40-page waiver (sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the “activities” that day, McKamey tells USA TODAY) visitors need to sign beforehand are more than frightening enough for anyone looking for a Halloween spook. 

Kris Smith, a remote volunteer for McKamey Manor, has been through the tour twice.

But before both attempts, he was initially scared off by the waiver, which details all the physically painful, mentally scarring and grotesque things that could happen along the way: it says you could be be buried alive in a coffin, for example, or swim through a tunnel system with minimal air pockets and caimans trying to bite you. 

“I read it and I quit,” Smith says in an interview with USA TODAY. “I got to the last page and turned around and went home. … There’s so much. You have to pull out your own teeth, there’s a chance of getting a tattoo, a chance of your fingernails getting pulled out. It’s really overwhelming. There’s a chance of death. Accidents do happen.” 

When a participant finally gets the courage to hand over their John Hancock, there’s still the actual tour experience go through. 

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