Halloween themed “haunted houses” began appearing around the same time as “trick or treat“, during the Great Depression, as a way to distract young people whose Halloween pranks had escalated to vandalism and harassment of passersby.[where?] These first exhibits were low quality, being put together by groups of families in their basements. People would travel from home to home to experience a variety of frightening situations, such as hearing weird moans and howls, cardboard cutouts of black cats, damp sponges and hair nets hanging from the ceiling to touch people’s faces, hanging fur on the walls of darkened hallways, and having to crawl through long dark tunnels.
In 1972 Jerry Falwell and Liberty University introduced one of the first “hell houses” as an anti-Halloween attraction. Some Christian churches run these, which while being haunted houses, also promote their interpretation of the Christian gospel message. According to USA Today, in hell houses, “participants walk through several ‘scenes’ depicting the consequences of things like abortion, homosexuality and drunkenness.