Screams and Schemes: A Look Inside The Retribution

Courtesy of Retribution FacebookFor some people the Halloween season is a chance to leave the real world behind and enter a place of fun horror, and adrenaline-fueled delight. This is what Cliff Talley was seeking eight years ago when he attended local haunted attractions, only to leave disappointed, dissuaded by the poor quality of the haunt. As with all things that don’t go the way you want, sometimes you have to do it yourself. And so The Retribution was born.


The Retribution started out as Butcher’s Hollow on Talley’s family farm eight years ago, run by himself, his wife, and children. Over four years it started to grow, and when it got too big for the family to handle on their own Talley partnered up with Aaron Andrews and moved the attraction to Cape Girardeau, renaming it ‘The Retribution.’

Eager to stay in tune with their proclamation as Cape’s scariest professional haunted attraction Talley goes to great lengths for a quality scare, “We don’t use movie characters, we make our own masks and makeup. We spend an entire year on the haunt. When it closes in November that’s when we get to work.”

The Retribution is different each year, scenes are changed, doorways are rearranged, and new characters are added so that the experience is new and exciting each time. Talley says they go to great lengths to properly train their actors in safe and engaging interaction with the patrons, “There’s mostly verbal contact, with some mild physical contact,” Talley explained.

This may sound like a place to avoid bringing your children, but Talley has a special way of including Halloween-lovers of all ages, “We give the kids masks to ease the experience. Our actors know to interact with them in a different way so they don’t have to be scared. They get to be a monster too.”

A large staff is required to bring such a detailed haunt to life. Talley has partnered with George Stew, Will Rogers, and his daughter Courtesy of The Retribution Facebook 2014Savannah Talley to make it happen. They recruit 35 to 55 actors each year. All actors, artists, and makeup/costume designers are locals who donate their time and passion to the show, “Every room is a piece of art,” Talley says, “we make it aesthetically pleasing as well as scary.”

And there’s no boring waits in line either. While anticipating entry The Retribution provides palm readers, magicians, and zombie dancers to entertain the crowd while they await their doom.

As The Retribution continues to grow (this year marks their longest haunt yet) Talley has big plans in store. They are expanding with a second location in Southern Illinois, and next year will be adding zombie paintball to the Cape location. Down the road Talley’s dream is to purchase a large property and construct an actual haunted carnival with space for concerts. Something like that is still a few  years down the road, so until then The Retribution provides plenty of scare this Halloween season.

Face your fears and click away, visit their Facebook and website for more information. The Retribution is located at 211 North Spring Street behind Sunny Hill Nursery, look for the hearse on Kingshighway. They are open each weekend (Friday and Saturday) through October from 7 p.m. to midnight. The haunt lasts about 30-35 minutes. Cost is $15.


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