Behind a red-lit, industrial building on Main Street Manayunk in Northwest Philadelphia, a line of visitors wait to enter the Lincoln Mill Haunted House.
Projected on a wall, a video describes the legend of the haunting: on Sept. 2, 2021, Hurricane Ida flooded the Lincoln Mill to historic water levels. The flood damaged the mill’s interior and revealed a hidden chamber in the basement where countless bodies were found and a dark truth was discovered about the mill’s past.
The visitors talk amongst themselves; some are excited and some are nervous, but none seem to notice the slowly approaching shadow. The dark figure, when close enough, hurls itself to the floor and slides several feet on special gloves and knee pads, sending sparks flying and the screams of scattering visitors echoing on the high, stone walls of the mill.
“Sometimes I laugh so hard there’s just tears running down my face,” said Brandon Head, or “The Slider,” as the staff calls his darkly dressed character.
The scare actors outside are only the beginning for visitors. Throughout their journey in the depths of the building, they are greeted by a horrifying cast of characters, intricately designed props and a full narrative about the history of the building.
Brian Corcodilos and Jared Bilsak, co-founders of Lincoln Mill, are no strangers to running a haunted house.
“Jared and I used to run a haunted house for years in college together at Philadelphia University at the Ravenhill Mansion,” Corcodilos said. “We would call it “Ravenkill Mansion” and used to talk about how it would be great to do this on a professional level later.”
Almost a decade later, they achieved their goal together. Corcodilos purchased the site during the COVID-19 pandemic and was seeking a tenant when Hurricane Ida flooded Manayunk. Corcodilos and Bilsak came together and used the disaster as the founding story for Lincoln Mill.
That legend, along with the design quality of everything within the haunted house, made visitors Kevin Hubbard and Gina Cipriani come out feeling more scared than they could have imagined.
The two have visited many haunted houses in the region, including Halloween Nights at Eastern State, Sleepy Hollow, Valley of Fear and Shady Brook Farms.
“[Lincoln Mill Haunted House] is number one right now for me,” Cipriani said.
Lincoln Mills’ current season is set to go on until Nov. 4. Next year, they plan to expand their Halloween operations past the holiday season to feature “Viktor’s Valentine, A Dark Love Story Show” and “Viktor’s Vengeance, Halfway to Halloween Show.”
That means Lincoln Mill’s reign of terror does not end with Halloween, and some actors enjoy the post-season frights.
Heaven Bowman, whose character wields a jumping head in a box, is one of the actors who reminisces and enjoys out-of-season scaring.
“We have had our Halfway to Halloween as well as our Valentine’s Day Haunt, that was very fun,” Bowman said.