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Scream House in Pembroke Pines traumatizes kids, angry parents say
By Joe Kollin
Posted October 28 2003
Oct 27, 2003
PEMBROKE PINES -- They expected ghosts, goblins and Dr. Frankenstein.
They got murder, drugs and Jesus Christ.
Diane Biggs of Weston and Lourdes Hoffmann of Coral Springs saw the small homemade signs advertising the Scream House, off Sheridan Street, just east of Interstate 75. So they checked out its Web site, www.screamhouse.org
, and saw it was a typical Halloween haunted house, which even had a bounce house and a rock-climbing wall. The sponsor wasn't mentioned.
Biggs took her son, Matthew Redmin, 7, and Hoffmann took her daughter, Nicole, 8.
As it turns out, they missed the sign that included the phrase, "It'll scare the hell out of you."
Because that's the purpose of the Scream House. Literally.
Abundant Living Ministries does what it thinks will keep children out of hell, even if it means shocking them and offending their parents with videos of teens overdosing on drugs and a woman shooting herself in the head after her husband tells her she is worthless.
"It's in your face," admitted the Rev. Kenneth Albin, pastor of the church at 14331 SW 72nd St. "It's very dramatic."
Too dramatic for Biggs and Hoffmann, who paid the $5 per person admission on a recent Friday night.
"She was very upset, very confused," Hoffmann said of her daughter. "There was no warning, whatsoever. It was not age-appropriate. I wouldn't go to see something like that even with a teenager."
"It completely traumatized my son," Biggs said. "They mask themselves as a haunted house, and it clearly is not a haunted house. Ghosts and goblins you expect in a haunted house. Graphic portrayals of suicide and spouse abuse you don't. There should be a warning."
Hoffmann said she took her daughter out before the 20-minute presentation ended.
"We left at the part where the husband was choking the wife and calling her worthless," she said. "As we were leaving, I heard a gun go off."
Biggs said she wanted to take her son out but stayed at the insistence of an older nephew. It was a mistake, she said, because the worst was yet to come.
"They threw a liquid at you so you'd think it's the woman's blood after she shoots herself," Biggs said. "They portray it to be real blood, not like a haunted house where you know it's all pretend."
The pastor doesn't apologize for springing fire and brimstone on his guests.
"We don't hide that it's a church, and there is definitely a religious connotation to a church, but there is a religious connotation to Halloween, also," he said. "Halloween is more than trick-or-treat. It is the high holy day for Satanism."
So he presents an anti-Satan message, a "different side of Halloween," he said.
This is the second consecutive year the church has presented the Scream House. Last year, he said, it attracted 1,700 visitors, and this year he expects 3,000.
This week it will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Albin said to operate the Scream House requires 50 volunteers from the church, which attracts about 800 worshipers on the average Sunday.
Although Scream House charges admission, "it still costs us," he said.
But the cost is worth it, he said, because it "brings a lot of people to church who have never been to church."
He knows some people aren't happy with what his ministry is doing.
"It is very controversial," he said. "Someone sabotaged our power last week, shutting us down early. People are taking down our signs. Religious people think we're trying to scare people into heaven. What we're showing is reality, that if people make the wrong decisions in life there are consequences, consequences now and consequences for eternity."
But that didn't satisfy Biggs, who is Jewish, and Hoffmann, who isn't.
"I never expected in my wildest dreams what we walked into," Hoffmann said. "It's horrible that you walk into something that you think is a haunted house with an 8-year-old, and instead of seeing Frankenstein, it's something like that."
Joe Kollin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org