A ghoul's delight

Jacob Aughier's job is scaring people to death, at least during the Halloween season.

It's the third year for the 25-year-old Glendale resident to play a maze monster at Knott's Scary Farm's Haunt attraction that offers 13 dark and deadly mazes, seven sinister stage shows, including the Psycho Circus, and three scare zones.

He plays a zombie trapped in the maze called Virus Z. The storyline is that a virus has escaped and it's turning the people of Pleasanton into zombies — including waitresses at the local diner and the faculty and administrators at the high school.

Aughier starts out his ghoulish nights at 5 p.m. in the make-up chair going through a metamorphosis.

His face gets a layer of grayish-brownish base makeup mixed with some green and yellow, to make it look sickly, he said.

"Then they apply a prosthetic around my eyes to make my eyes bulge out," he said.

Next he's plastered with corn syrup and red food coloring.

He plays a high school administrator, so his costume is a business suit — white shirt, tie, jacket and slacks — that are already plastered with fake blood. His character is in the office of the high school and he lies in wait behind a cubicle.

"Everyone has a designated area they can play in and wander," Aughier said. "As you get comfortable, you move around. Some of us hide, some don't. Some sneak up behind a guest. Everyone's got their own tactics."

Aughier is one of the Haunt's better monsters, said Ian Barnette, onstage entertainment supervisor for Virus Z.

"He's always on fire — he's always got a lot of energy and there are endless screams coming from his area, if he's not on breaks or lunches," Barnette said.

Aughier is assigned to the first cubicle as the guests leave the classroom area and enter the school offices.

"As they come around the corner, there is a cubicle divider and he reaches over and smacks the divider with his hand, which makes a loud noise," Barnette said. "Jacob has longer hair so when he comes up and over the divider, he appears larger than he is."

Barnette has seen people jump back, then turn and run through the employee access curtain.

His first year as a maze monster, Aughier wore a costume that covered up his legs. He'd hop around so it looked like he didn't have legs, which disturbs some people, Aughier said.

Some of the other monsters whisper things in the guests' ears, or jump out at them, but the best scare a monster can conjure up is to chase someone out of the maze completely, he said.

"People throw up, pee, and some monsters are good at scaring them enough to make them faint," Aughier said. "It's a very fun job. I can't think of any time of year you can get made up in costume and get paid to scare people. It's a very unique job."

This is the 38th year of the Scary Farm attraction, said Jennifer Blazey, senior publicist for Knott's Berry Farm. It started when employees came to founder Walter Knott in 1973 and asked him if they could wear costumes and decorate the park during Halloween season. They decorated Ghost Town and a few dozen employs lurked around the grounds.

Knott liked the results and told them they could do it again the following year, Blazey said. This year they hired close to 1,000 monsters to roam the park for 27 nights starting Sept. 24 through Oct. 31.

"It's grown and grown," she said. "We were the first to do something like this and got to be known for it. It's been an interesting evolution. So many people are talking about it on their blogs and websites."

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