Raven’s Cross Haunted Village serves to scare

Griffin Fletcher

The year is 1349 in Black Plague-stricken Medieval Europe. With more and more infected every day, villagers in a small town have turned on one another, leaving no one safe.

This is the story of Raven’s Cross Haunted Village, located in Cave City near Mammoth Cave National Park.

Husband and wife Brian and Debbie Thorpe gave life to this haunted village two years ago after buying the three and a half acre property on which Raven’s Cross resides in May of 2016. Brian and Debbie had the idea for a Plague-themed attraction upon seeing the property’s Bavarian-like architecture, figuring it was best to “use the property for what it gave [them] and wanting to “give it an aura of authenticity.”

While most haunted house attractions take a modern approach to scaring, Raven’s Cross capitalizes on its Middle Ages setting. Visitors won’t find any animatronics or electric lights within Raven’s Cross, but should instead expect an authentically Medieval experience.

“There is the story you know in history books,” Brian said, remarking upon the Black Plague’s deathly course through Eurasia in the mid-14th century. “The story of Raven’s Cross is the story you don’t know.”

From the brick street that leads up to and winds throughout Raven’s Cross, the period-appropriate exterior and interior of every building located within, to the nearby village cemetery, the scene is set from the moment visitors exit their cars.

Aside from its architectural realism, Raven’s Cross’s 37 actors on staff are instrumental to the story’s success, performing as a bevy of wild and terrifying characters, such as plague-infected and coughing villagers, a butcher who’s no longer butchering livestock and a soul-saving priest. All actors are dressed in period-consistent clothing as well, which adds to the effect.

“We try to stay constant with the period,” Brian said, discussing Raven’s Cross’ aim to best and most legitimately integrate its visitors into the madness.

Raven’s Cross also achieves this integration by way of interactivity. Visitors might be held prisoner by deranged villagers or made to engage with the scene in any number of ways. It’s all part of the adventure.

“You’re in there,” Thorpe said. “You’re really part of it.”

Unlike the actors involved at many other haunted attractions, who are primarily volunteers, the actors of Raven’s Cross are paid for their involvement. These actors, including WKU students and interested locals, undergo an initial audition and subsequent training for their roles within the production.

Thorpe added that Raven’s Cross’s actors are provided refreshments on a nightly basis, which he believes makes for a fun and friendly atmosphere, perhaps responsible for Raven’s Cross’s near 70 percent actor retention rate from last year’s performances.

“We really kind of try and be like a family,” Brian said. “It keeps people there.”

Though Brian and Debbie orchestrated home-haunt productions for 13 years in Bowling Green, as well as Alabama and Nashville, in which the couple would decorate their house according to a decided-upon theme and open it to the public, Raven’s Cross is their largest project to date.

Despite its mere two years of business, Raven’s Cross is already making a name for itself within the haunted attraction community, achieving an overall review of 9.7 from Alabama’s official haunt review website, ScurryFace, which lauded Raven’s Cross for its thematic originality and tremendous crew.

In speaking about his and his wife’s reasons for starting Raven’s Cross, Thorpe made note of their interest in all things Halloween, especially haunted attractions, and the corresponding season.

“When we’re not running one, we like to go to as many as we can,” Brian said. “Halloween and the season . . . The atmosphere really drives us.”

Though Raven’s Cross is closed for the season, it will return from 7-11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday from the last weekend of next September to the last weekend of next October.

Brian and Debbie believe a haunted attraction ultimately “serves to bring people together” and are very proud of Raven’s Cross for making that possible.

“We bring the community together. It brings our family together,” Thorpe said. “We’re very fortunate to get to do all of that and to scare people.”

Reporter Griffin Fletcher can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].