Cut the Castration Scene

A haunted-house entrepreneur says nuts to the city of Wentzville -- but then thinks better of it

While Kemper calls Mall of the Dead "minimalist" in its design, Kirchner -- who says he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on special effects and sets for his haunted houses -- is more critical. "All it is, is some blood spattered on the wall and some junky furniture in the rooms. There's nothing built; there's nothing there."

At this point Kemper's funds appear to be running on empty. Though he has promised to pay his performers $8 an hour, he warned them last week that if the haunted house doesn't open, they might not ever see a dime. Most of the young staff seemed fine with that arrangement. But Chris Hensen, whom Kemper hired to weld barrels, wasn't in a forgiving mood when a $300 check bounced. "He was using my services for nothing," says Hensen.

Kemper acknowledges the debt and concedes that he has also failed to cover payments for at least $10,000 worth of ads. But despite the problems, he's determined to persevere.

On with the show: Blood-soaked teens are okay with Wentzville authorities, but castration and sadomasochism are out
Jennifer Silverberg
On with the show: Blood-soaked teens are okay with Wentzville authorities, but castration and sadomasochism are out
Dean Kemper: "They're trying to apply a law for live sex shows to a play"
Jennifer Silverberg
Dean Kemper: "They're trying to apply a law for live sex shows to a play"

"He's trying to make as much money as he can," scoffs Kirchner. "He's trying to create a controversy, create a lot of PR, trying to make it more than it is. You could see more on the Cartoon Network, probably. The bottom line is, the guy's in the middle of nowhere, has an awful haunted house and is trying to convince people to come out there."

Says Kemper: "We're not out to send people to the therapy couch. We just want to scare adults and give 'em something fun and different to do."

On Friday Kemper buckled to the pressure and removed both the castration scene and the scene with the tongue-puncturing dominatrix. That was good enough for Chief Noonan. "I'm not trying to censor the man," the chief insists. "I'm just trying to direct him on what kind of license he needs. This guy came into town and told us he was putting a haunted house on. If he'd have been upfront with us and said, 'Here's what I want to do, what do I need to do?' he'd have had all the stuff in the first place."

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