ACC entrepreneur transforms backyard haunted house into a national icon

In an unassuming building nestled in the parking lot at ACC Highland sits Jon Austin Love. He’s tucked away inside a small room with his eyes fixed on a wall of computer screens. The images flashing before him are grainy, but he’s mesmerized.

IMG_6626He watches as crowds snake through the labyrinth just beyond the walls. They’re shrouded in darkness and surrounded by the sorts of creatures that haunt you in your sleep. Love listens as terrified screams reverberate off the walls. He cracks a smile.

Love frightens people for a living.

“It’s humbling. I never thought 13 years ago I would be producing haunted houses for a living,” says Love.

Love helped launch what’s become the nationally recognized and treasured House of Torment.

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“It started off as just this small, fun project in my business partner’s backyard in South Austin,” explains Love. “Neither one of us could have anticipated how it would evolve.”

Together, they figured out how to merge art and business.

“An economics class I was taking at ACC really set the foundation. It empowered me to look at production from a business perspective as well as a creative perspective,” says Love. “We turned that small backyard haunted house into something more.”


House of Torment is now a national operation with haunted houses in San Antonio, Phoenix, Chicago, Denver, and Austin. There are 30 full-time employees and more than 1,000 seasonal workers.

“We have a lot of fun, but it’s been a very strategic process,” explains Love. “It’s almost like running a sports team, but instead of running plays we’re creating immersive, cinematic experiences.”

Love works with local artists to design and build sets. He networks and partners with haunted house production companies throughout the nation to develop big, horrifying events.

It’s a model that Love hopes will continue to thrive.

“We’ve seen that it works. We want to get the right people in place to make it grow.”

Terrifying the nation one city at a time.

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