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Strangling Brothers' circus aims to frighten Utahns

Published September 23, 2011 10:02 am

Entertainment • A spook alley inside tractor-trailers is the newest entry into the competitive scene of Utah's haunted houses.
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Draper • There's a new haunt in town, and it's got a cast full of clowns.

The Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus is unlike any other show in Utah, says co-owner Bob Tillotson, because the spook alley takes place inside more than 20 tractor-trailers.

Drive up to the place and you'll spy a massive big-top tent and those tractor-trailers spanning an acre east of Interstate 15.

"Bottom line is, clowns are scary," he said as crews put the final touches on the show that debuted Sept. 16 and will continue nightly, except Sundays, until Oct. 31.

The show boasts more than 50,000 square feet of scares, including pneumatic-powered robots, clowns, freak shows, dizzying lasers, strobes, mirrors and spinning tunnels. Crews have been working since March to construct the haunted circus.

With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, Tillotson has put on shows including the Haunted Forest in American Fork and the Haunted Hollow in Ogden. But this new traveling circus theme takes on a whole new level of scary.

"We try to have everything that is here as something that is part of a circus," he said, "kind of a circus gone wrong."

The spook alley includes freak-show characters such as Big Bertha, Frankenswine and Goreliath. Fun-house-style rooms are filled with hanging clown heads, and there's even a runaway train.

There are about 40 trained actors — ranging from 40 years old to their early 20s — mingling with visitors. "I just like scaring people," said casting assistant and haunting actor Preston Smith. He embodies Goreliath, a freak-show monster whose head pops off. "I have to sit in a hot, sweaty costume all day, [and I] like sitting in a hot, sweaty costume — it is way fun," Smith said.

Sharla and Matt Arnold, of Draper, have been watching as the haunted circus construction grew over the past few months.

"It is hard to know what to expect when you see all these trailers," Sharla Arnold said after going through the haunt for the first time. She added: "It is insane — it's a mind trip."

Finding the right location and size of building for the haunted circus wasn't easy, Tillotson said, which is why he decided to create a mobile option, with the whole show installed inside trailers. "With this particular type of haunt, all I need is a bare piece of property," he said. "It makes it much easier to put on."

There's something for everyone at the haunted circus, Tillotson said, adding that those who aren't brave enough to go inside the trailers can take their children on the carnival rides outside.

In the future, Tillotson said he hopes to have the haunted circus travel around the state or region. Perhaps the show could expand to "Scream Break" or other times of the year.


Twitter: @CimCity —

Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus

P The new haunted circus attraction is at 98 E. 13800 South, Draper, just off the Bangerter exit of I-15.

Tickets • 7:30 to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7:30 p.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday. Admission $20.

Info • stranglingbrothers.com.






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