From left: Bliss FMWR Special Events Coordinators Edward Arriola and Tasha Gross; and Community Activities Coordinator Lora Diem at the Trading Post on West Fort Bliss, Oct. 16. The trio is just a few of the many civilians and Soldiers who are behind the scenes for The Massacre on Marshall Road, FMWR’s annual haunted house at Fort Bliss, this October. (Photos by David Poe / USAG Fort Bliss)

Fear Factory: FMWR’s ‘The Massacre on Marshall Road’ brings Hollywood horror to West Fort Bliss

10/24/19, 12:00 AM

By David Poe, USAG Fort Bliss

More than a dozen Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment were found dead at the Trading Post on Marshall Rd. at Fort Bliss recently – and then they came back from the dead with a mission to scareeeeee. 

For its seventh year, Fort Bliss Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation is hosting “The Massacre on Marshall Road,” a creepy, clown-heavy take on the classic haunted house for Soldiers, civilians and their families, as well as the general public. 

Once again, FMWR has transformed the Trading Post, located at 1717 Marshall Rd., into a tight-aisled walk through a series of horrific scenes to keep visitors on their toes and give them their shock dollars’ worth at $5 per person for an approximately 13 minute trip into the heart of darkness. 

For everything that The Massacre on Marshall Road offers, Lora Diem, the FMWR Community Activities Coordinator, said the $5 admission was a price point for FMWR.

“We will always keep it five dollars, no matter how much work we do on the haunted house,” she said. “It’s not about the money – it’s about making the experience for Soldiers and their families that they can afford. That’s the reason we started this in the first place – we didn’t like the $15, $18 and $20 dollar haunted house experience for Soldiers out there. We chose the $5 price, knowing that we were going to spend thousands and thousands of dollars” 

In addition to admission, FMWR is offering t-shirts and photos of guests in mid-scare along the route. Diem said there is no age minimums; they leave that decision to the adults to know what the kids they are going through the house with can handle. 

Scaring Soldiers and their families since 2012, Diem said her special events team takes pride in not only putting on the show for visitors every year, but making sure it’s a top-notch scarefest with a reputation that brings people back year-after-year.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised that not only are the Soldiers showing up, but the general public – the El Paso community – has been showing up in large numbers,” Diem said. “Whether it’s civilians who have been here for a while, or Soldiers and their families who have spent some time at Bliss, or have come back, it’s great to hear ‘I’ve been looking forward to this,’ or ‘I’m glad this is on again this year.’ That’s a testament to how we want to make it as big as we can every year.”   

 Equipped with safety wrinkles such as several “chicken exits” and clear rules of the road for guests and players alike, for all of its madness, the only thing that The Massacre on Marshall Road crew puts ahead of scaring guests is making sure they stay safe while in their nightmarish space.

“Everyone is briefed on safety,” Diem said, which includes the actors inside the house. “No cell phones, no running. Safety is always a focus.”

For all the square feet of frightening floor space, staff and volunteers have also converted bathroom space into dressing rooms suitable for Hollywood with piles of costumes and ghastly prop weapons and tools, as well as makeup of every color and shade.

Diem said Soldiers from 1-43 ADA are the official “fright detail” as they volunteer to fill many of the actors’ roles alongside FMWR employees. She added that while she appreciates their help as Halloween nears, she also hopes they’re enjoying the work.

“While they’re a big help to us, I also hope they’re enjoying themselves,” she said. “I think it’s good that they’re out here being a part of this community, rather than just hanging out in the barracks.”

As the Trading Post continues its conversion to a Soldier Readiness Processing Center, Diem said this will be their last year at the 1717 Marshall Rd. facility. She said she’s unsure what next year will bring for the Halloween horror staple, but guarantees this season will not disappoint fright fans.

The Massacre at Marshall Road has been rolling Fridays and Saturdays all month long and marked their biggest opening night in its history with more than 250 guests Oct. 4. 

The army of the undead returns this Friday and will stay open nightly 6-10 p.m. through Oct. 31, excluding Sunday. The doors will be open for extended hours, 6 p.m.-12 a.m., Halloween night. 

For more information, find them on Facebook at @themassacreonmarshallrd.