Those seeking a Halloween fright should look to 'Where Madness Dwells'

Those looking for a scare in the Willmar area are in luck because "Where Madness Dwells" is running every weekend until Oct. 31 and the frights will be sure to give you something to think about.

Steve Peppin welcoming all those who dare to come through "Where Madness Dwells" Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Willmar, open every weekened until October 31.

WILLMAR — Those looking for a scare in the Willmar area are in luck because "Where Madness Dwells" is running every weekend until Oct. 31 and the frights will be sure to give you something to think about.

Nestled next to the railroad tracks on the corner of Campbell Avenue Northwest and Eighth Street Northwest, the 1500-square-foot building, decorated with skulls and warnings to turn back, offers a terrifying presence to lookie-loos and those seeking something a bit different than Willmar’s typical activities.

"Where Madness Dwells" offers all sorts of spooks and scares Friday Sept. 24, 2021 in Willmar

Now in its third year, the crew behind the haunted house decided on a World War II theme and invested more into realism, according to Tyler Powell, one of the brains behind the madness.

“The most horrific thing in our history is WWII,” Powell said. “That’s scarier than Michael Myers to me.”


The 18 actors working the house this year are seasoned, with many returning from previous years.

“These guys are passionate about acting and scaring people,” said Steve Peppin, who came up with the idea for the haunted house.

Peppin, who also owns Pep’s Barber Shop in Willmar, said he wanted to provide something for the community to do while also giving something back.

Bodies hanging in one of the many rooms in "Where Madness Dwells" Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 in Willmar

This year, if you show up with essential home items such as shampoo, soap or toilet paper, you’ll get $2 knocked off the $10 ticket because United Community Action Partnership has partnered with the house in the fight against homelessness.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Peppin said. “I know what it’s like to not have anything.”


'Completely personalized' for the perfect scare

On opening night Sept. 24, Molly Powell, Tyler’s wife, worked as a makeup artist to get some of the actors ready while electronic/trance music mixed with Halloween theme played outside.

It’s the third year and everyone is working in tandem with what needs to be done to prepare.

Molly said she enjoys coming out every year, particularly this year.

“It’s interesting and it’s completely personalized,” she said as she applied makeup.

Molly Powell puts makeup on an actor Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 at "Where Madness Dwells" in Willmar

This year, they gutted the inside of the building and moved from an open space concept to separate rooms that include scares ranging from dangling bodies to a screaming doctor with a chainsaw.

On a walkthrough, this reporter got spooked even before fully stepping inside thanks to a well-timed holler by one of the actors.


This reporter also got spooked by a screaming child who can, as any parent knows, be their own little terrors even outside of a haunted house.

You’ll also be confronted with two separate paths midway through your adventure: “More torment” or “less torment.”

Keep in mind, there is no option for no torment. This was borne out by the first child to go through the house who left screaming and crying.

Don’t worry though, her father said she wanted to go.

For those that choose to head out for a night of frights, it would be wise to remember that when you exit the building, you should keep going.

There might be something following you.

Creepy dolls at "Where Madness Dwells" Sept. 24, 2021 in Willmar

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at
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