“We do not just scare you, we make your skin crawl right off the bone.”
Since 2007, Hatch and Kraven's Slaughterhouse in Sherman has been working to scare the skin off Texoma.
The old Anderson Slaughterhouse in the 1400 block of Taylor Street was transformed into the butcher shop of Hatch and Kravens Modair in 2007 after co-owner Barry Travis visited a Dallas haunted house.
“I have always been an actor, entertainer,” Travis said. “I was in community theater, church plays. I have always been into having fun and playing different roles.”
Travis is from southern Louisiana but moved to Texas many years ago. Shortly after moving to Sherman, Travis visited Dark Hours Haunted House in Dallas. That is where he learned about the art of scaring.
“I got into the haunted houses with my oldest son on 2003,” Travis said. “We met Allen Hopps, the director of the Dark Hour Haunted House in Dallas. We were trained on how to make a haunted house and how to do the storyline and all of that kind of thing. We learned scare tactics and (how to) make up for the characters.”
Looking to put his knowledge of horror into action, Travis began looking for places in Grayson County that could house a haunted house.
“I met the grandson of the owner of the slaughterhouse that used to be on Taylor Street,” he said. “He was friends with my youngest son and his friends. They told us the history of the slaughterhouse. They gave us a tour.”
The original slaughterhouse had been closed in 1980s, and the family turned the place into a storage unit for themselves. Travis said he knew within the week that he wanted the slaughterhouse.
“Later, my oldest son was bashing out ideas and we were working out what we wanted to make the theme of the place,” he said. “One day he calls me really excited. He was like, 'We got it! We know what it's going to be!'”
The family friend said in what Travis said was the most terrifying voice, “Hatch and Kravens Slaughterhouse where we do not just scare you, we make your skin crawl right off the bone.”
“It was great, and we ran with it,” Travis said. “We wanted to make the theme a story about two brothers named Hatch and Kravens Modair that came to Texas from southern Louisiana. They had lost their parents before they got here.”
The Modair parents died from the plague, and the orphaned boys found shelter in the Sherman slaughterhouse.
“Well one day, Kravens accidentally kills someone who was trying to blackmail them,” Travis said. “Hatch chops the body up and they cook the person and eat them. After the killing, Kravens begins craving blood more and more. Kravens keeps killing and Hatch keeps cutting people up.”
Travis said, as people walk through the slaughterhouse, they will see the butchers and feel the sense of cannibalism out of desperation.
“We try to change the haunted house up a little bit every year so it is never the same for the people that are coming through,” he said. “We also have a lot of different characters and a lot of different bits. After the storm that we had in the spring, there was a lot of debris on the property. We changed up the show a bit so that we could use that to our advantage.”
For those that have been to the no-touch haunted house, about 80 percent of the slaughterhouse show was changed this year.
“We added a 25-foot vortex tunnel this year,” Travis said. “It has a catwalk with an optical illusion. People have really been enjoying that this year.”
In the last two years, there was a two-year period when the slaughterhouse was not open, but since then, they have given jobs to 45 to 60 area actors, special affects artists, technicians, security and helpers. This year's staff has 68 people and which includes a medical technician.
“Halloween is all about the fun,” Travis said. “We love the scare factor, make up and the fake blood. It's our favorite holiday. It's about facing fears. I have done that in the business a lot.”
Everyone from 6- to 70-year-olds has come through the slaughterhouse, but the majority of people are in the 13-30 age range, Travis said.
“What people say they like the most really depends,” he said. “People like the clowns with the chain saws. They also like the stilt walkers.”
The slaughterhouse has had a lot of memorable guests and local celebrities come through including the children of the area city council members and members of the police and fire departments.
“In the last election, I went to vote,” Travis said. “I had on a Hatch and Kravens T-shirt. There was a lady in there that saw my shirt and asked me if I worked there. I said yes. She said, 'I went there the other day and that place is so awesome.'”
He said that experience was cool because she had no idea that he was an owner.
“Then once we had a lot of football players from Southeastern Oklahoma State University come,” Travis said. “There were a lot of cheerleaders with them. But, these were big hulking guys. They got so scared that they ran back out and got in the car and would not come back in. That was really funny to see.”
The slaughterhouse has become a family event for the families of co-owners Barry Travis and Creig LeBlanc.
“My oldest son has gotten away from being a part of the day to day scaring at the slaughterhouse, but my wife works at the ticket booth,” Travis said. “She is really the boss. She also does the photography here. You can see it on our website. My sons do the special effects. They also make the masks. My younger son and daughter are characters in the show. My six-year-old even tries to get involved as much as she can.”
Hatch and Kraven's stilt walkers participated in Trick or Treat on Travis and Walls streets on Thursday.
“We are the best-kept secret in Texas,” Travis said. “If you love Halloween and horror, you will love spending an evening with us. We really have a lot of fun with the scare tactics and the horror. We are odd. We are some passionate actors. We have an attraction to fear. We just want people to enjoy it and come have some fun with some of your friends.”