Nightmares…

Hooded in the Basement

The Scarehouse in Etna PA (near Pittsburgh) is at it again with a one night only showing of the basement. This time the twist is not holiday related but rather sensory, or more accurately lack thereof.

While details are vague, guests can safely assume  from the title that a hood will be worn for at least part of the experience, which is a genius and bold twist because the Scarehouse is so well known for it’s elaborate and beautifully detailed sets, even when minimalist as with past basement events. One can only imagine what may be planned as an assault in the absence of sight upon on the heightened senses of touch, hearing, smell, and perhaps even taste…

To say the least, the Basement is not for everyone. To start, patrons enter alone  or with one other, must be 18 years old, and willing to sign a waiver. As the tagline reads, patrons will be touched, restrained, and scared out of their minds.

With the short but stellar history of The Basement at Scarehouse, it’s very likely this event will sell out so get your tickets now, but don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Blackout: Off Season 2014

Blackout Off Season 2014
Time to let Schroedinger’s cat out of the bag, maybe…

Through a prolonged, complicated, stressful, and sleep loss inducing online application process, I was granted the privilege of being invited to Blackout NYC’s 2014 off season invite only event.

That is basically the extent of what I can tell you…

The location, show content, and so many gritty details are all secrets with dire consequences to anyone who divulges such details.

What I can tell you is that this event may be a game changer for the haunt industry. As we’ve come to expect from Blackout, all the normal “rules” of haunting are left behind the moment you step foot into the surreal experience that is Blackout. The rules are not just bent, but totally redefined as the crew pushes your limits, physically and mentally, leaving you with memories that require days to weeks worth of mental processing.

Execution of the show was flawless, a well oiled machine of impressive efficiency. The content a challenging treat for even the most diehard extreme haunt fan.

Most striking of all, the aftermath. The rose colored glasses through which one sees the world after a Blackout experience are invaluable and irreplaceable. While the experiences in these shows are not always “fun” or “enjoyable”, they are moments that will challenge the audience and develop nerves of steel along with bulletproof resolve.

I’ve said it before and I will re-iterate, I am proud to be a survivor who is a part of Blackout just as much as Blackout is a part of me. This is my all time favorite Horror attraction, but it is NOT for everyone, truthfully not even for most. The full contact top notch acting and adult subject matters are simply a quantum leap forward from typical haunted houses and interactive theatre. Those planning to attend Blackout events need to be prepared for a show that begins before you buy your tickets, and ends weeks, months, possibly a lifetime later, because once you let Blackout into your head, Blackout is there to stay.

 

A very evil easter

Once the eggs are gathered and the questionably edible candy grass is questionably consumed, it’s time for some zombies and evil Easter bunnies eh?

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Brighton Asylum is hosting Rottentail Slaughterhouse. Apparently the asylum has either been invaded with giant evil bunnies, or the inmates found a large box of old worn mall bunny suits… Either way carnage is certain and bunny is the word of the day. This is a hands on haunt with waivers required and actor touch optional if you choose to accept a glow necklace. Take our word for it and be sure to take the necklace for the full experience! Details at http://brightonasylum.com/

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The Philly Zombie Crawl is an annual event on South Street in Philadelphia on Easter Sunday featuring hundreds of participants in zombie costume and makeup (pro makeup available on site for a nominal fee) walking the streets of Philly and roving from bar to bar for zombie themed drink specials, zombie movies, DJ’s, and the all new Zombie Emporium full of goods from local artists and vendors. Admission is just $5 at the TLA for a night of fun, more details at http://phillyzombie.com/ 

 

Kim’s Krypt – Hex’s on Your Ex’s 2014

Kim’s Krypt in Essex Maryland is a high energy actor driven single show attraction. While the show does not have millions of dollars of high tech scares, the huge effort put forth by actors to scare and entertain patrons is more than adequate to send patrons screaming and giggling out the door.

The Krypt has a rather unconventional location, in the basement of a former community college on a main street in small town Essex MD. Surrounded by a under construction 7/11 and two churches, you’d never expect to find a highly interactive haunt lurking just below.

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Unlike the convention unguided “conga line” tour, Kim took the time herself to guide our group from room to room for the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the show before handing us off to the mercy of her denizens. Each room is it’s own scene where the group will stop to interact with an actor, or actors as the case may sometimes surprisingly be. Interaction ranges from boo jumpers to creatures stalking in the dark, audience members being a part of a scene by making a choice or taking a seat in te electric chair, or even chanting along in various ceremonies and experiments.

Overall, even though I was in a larger group towards the end of the night, the Krypt managed to interact with seemingly everyone in the group to their level of comfort. In a very creative effort, at the preshow introduction and safety instruction session, Kim offered anyone who wanted to allow actors to touch and interact with them one blood smear on their face for mild, two for wild.

While this interactive haunt is in no way an extreme interaction in the vein of Blackout or Scarehouse’s Basement, it does still have a way of pulling everyone into the slightly nonlinear but still highly entertaining story line of the Krypt.

A few highlights included a visit to Kim’s own highly impressive collection of Halloween decor, as well as a cleverly executed exorcism, and two hilarious (albeit adult in subject matter) actors interacting towards the end of the attraction. The two male actors, who I won’t spoil the surprise for, are either experts at improv or have one great script which they used to end the show on a really high note.

A few things to know before you go, there is limited street parking right in front of the attraction, the show lasts about half an hour, and the queue line can be a bit long, but a DJ helped move the time. Just be sure to dress warm as it is February…

An added bonus to the Haunt, Kim also offers Hearse Rides in her classic doom mobile. Guests are invited to lay down in the back with a spooky soundtrack and effect lighting for a fun ride around town. Maybe not for everyone, but a neat thing to add to your never have I ever collection, and a fun chance to Chat with Kim about her show.

The Victim Experience – 2014 Preview

The Freakling Brothers Victim Experience haunted attraction in Las Vegas Nevada is about to break all the rules of the haunted attraction industry in a bid to be the most Extreme haunt in the world. This March from 3/15 – 3/22 The Victim Experience will be presented to a limited audience via online ticketing only. Much like other extreme haunts, all attendees must be over 18, sign a waiver and agree to physical contact. Unlike most other shows though, this experience will not be offered at Halloween, and the waiver also includes an agreement that your clothes may be damaged, and that audience members are willing to be subjected to forms of torture and criminal behavior and harassment.

No one can say that they weren’t warned, however I can only begin to imagine what the experience will include.

Nightmares Blog will be onsite opening night to attend, and we will do our best to be one of the estimated 30% of attendees who survive the show without calling a safeword. Would’t be much of a review otherwise would it?

Keep an eye here for a video event followup to be uploaded within 24 hours of the event, and much more lengthy review after the week long run of the show.

A Very Vicious Valentines Weekend

Looking for an anti-valentines day activity, or the perfect romantic getaway for a horror loving couple? In no particular order here are a few haunts that will be open for the holiday. Keep an eye out for Cupid, sounds like his arrows may be a tad fatal this year…

scarehouse valentine

The Basement at Scarehouse will open for one night only to break some hearts in the way that only an extreme haunt can. Only 1-2 customers may enter at a time, the actors will touch you, you will be restrained, and exposed to tight spaces and complete darkness. Tickets will likely sell out so buy these in advance!

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Kym’s Krypt is upping the ante for their Valentines dayshow, strongly recommending poncho’s for their customers, and offering no touch from actors, touch, or extra touch experiences. This highly interactive offering for anyone, couples, singles or other, is also supplemented with available hearse rides and a custom hex for your Ex.

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Brighton Asylum in Passaic NJ put on a great Christmas show named Santa’s Slay.  Their Valentines show promises to be extra intense with the optional physical contact from the actors. This will likely be the most extreme valentines haunt in the area.

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Details are sparse, however Blood Manor in NYC will be open for their own Valentines show. Blood Manor’s style is high action with beautiful sets and plenty of blood to go around. Don’t be surprised if you or your valentine leave with a little more blood than you went in the door with.

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Castle Blood in Monessen PA is a very theatrical show with high production values as seen on TV’s Midnight Monster Hop. As a special treat, on Saturday the 15th everyone that buys tickets in advance as well as the first 50 who buy tickets on site will be invited to join a byob masquerade ball and spaghetti dinner. After the castle closes the cast will join and award costume prizes for the night.

Brighton Asylum: Santa’s Slay 2013

The Brighton Asylum in Passaic NJ is an indoor professional walk through haunt located in a decrepit industrial complex. 2013 is the second year that the Asylum has hosted their Christmas event known as “Santa’s Slay”, a full on scary haunt with a strong holiday theme tied together with twisted Christmas characters, seasonal decor, and festively dressed asylum inhabitants. Unfortunately I’ve never attended the attraction before, so I am not able to compare Santa’s Slay with their Halloween haunt, but the integration of the two themes was seamless.

The creepy atmosphere  begins to build well before you even arrive at the attraction. The drive brings your car down Brighton Ave into a run down industrial area which looks to still be functioning in the daytime. Signage was sparse, so a creeping feeling that we had taken a wrong turn and were driving into private property crept up just prior to spotting the very first sign directing us to the entrance. After parking in a free supervised lot we walked towards a light over the very nondescript entrance  indicated only by a handwritten sign taped to the door. Right before entering I thought to myself ironically that “this looks totally legit”, thankfully it certainly was.

Brighton Asylum Exterior

Brighton Asylum Exterior

The queue line moved quickly, according to event staff they had a couple hundred attendees on opening night and a much busier night on Saturday. Not the thousands of customers they have at Halloween, but still descent for a second year Xmas haunt. In a very clever way to keep the queue line entertained, guests are invited to visit Santa’s brother from the South Pole and sit on his lap to ask for gifts, as well as optional reasonably priced souvenir photos. I asked the evil Kringle for a few zombies for target practice, he generously promised me my own horde under the tree on Christmas morning. Here’s hoping…

Santa's brother from the South Pole

Santa’s brother from the South Pole

Much like the Fear Factory’s Tinsel Town Terror, the entrance to the haunt was adorned with Christmas lights and decor, placed with care as if the inhabitants of the asylum were truly happy to be celebrating the season, in their own twisted way. The door attendant allowed myself and a guest to enter alone, always a treat for a busy commercial haunt. The haunt itself is a long and winding corridor all built within the dilapidated warehouse. The show flowed seamlessly from room to room exploring different themes such as a decorated home with scary secrets hidden all about, the asylum with some rather spirited inmates ready for the holiday, as well as a barren tundra area with suspiciously empty reindeer stables.

A few highlights of the show included a Christmas tree with a surprise, scare actors  attacking from above, a shocking holiday dinner table, some fantastic professional makeup and prosthetics (specifically a frozen zombie that was absolutely Hollywood quality) and a grand finale monster who I will not name to preserve the surprise for others. While there was definitely a dark sense of humor present, it was secondary to the scares, creating a brilliant soundscape of screams melding into laughter.

Brighton made use of inflatable claustrophobia zones in two different locations in the haunt. I must compliment their presentation as one of these was masked with the facade of a comfortable bed with a rip down the center, as if a falling nightmare had come true and the patron was falling (although actually walking) through the bed and then down a pressingly black dark hole into further nightmares, This is really a brilliant transition for this common effect which I have never seen before.

The attraction did weaken just a little towards the end with fewer actor and scare zones than in the first three quarters of the show, however this was understandable as the entire walk through was somewhere in the area of 20-30 minutes. The haunt did redeem the last bit though with the spectacular grand finale actor-matronic (actor operated animated monster) which seemed to be custom modified, I’ve not seen another like it at any other haunt or trade show.

More credit goes to the haunt for offering surveys to everyone at the exit, a great way to continually improve the show, and show  the audience that they do care about what they think. Another first, in the lobby in front of us was a group that worked themselves into a terror before even entering the haunt. impressively the staff offered to send an employee through with them so that they could enjoy the show without being too afraid. It really goes to show that this attraction cares about their customers.

Overall I definitely recommend Brighton Asylum, Santa’s Slay or Halloween editions, as a well decorated haunt with awesome actors, creative scares, great costumes and make-up all housed inside one creepy industrial wasteland area,

The haunt also opens for other holidays, 13 annual shows total including Valentines Day, Easter, and St. Patrick’s day. I’m planning to attend as many of these as I can and update here with changes the staff said are in the works for 2014.

Year Round Shows

Year Round Shows

WMGM Holiday Bizarre Listeners Party

On Thursday 12/12/13 103.7WMGM Rocks will be hosting the Holiday Bizarre Listeners Party at the Fear Factory behind the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing NJ. The Radio station hosting the event is calling it the unofficial Bizarre AC pre-party, and has tons of great prizes for those who attend. Tickets must be bought in advance and the event is 21+ with BYOB.

The Fear Factory puts on a good show, so this will likely be a very fun event. I will be there wearing my Nightmares jacket, please feel free to join in and introduce yourself!

For tickets and further details go to the event facebook page here

Fear Factory: Tinsel Town Terror 2013

Tinsel Town Terror at the Fear Factory in Mays Landing NJ is as far as I am aware, the first and only professional Christmas themed haunt in Southern New Jersey. This show is more than just Santa hats on existing props, the Fear Factory has really been transformed into a winter wonderland of holiday horrors. The attraction only includes the Mays Manor for the holiday season. This is only one of the two attractions in the facility, however the ticket price has been adjusted accordingly. As an added perk, a portion of each ticket sold is being donated to charity.

Tinsel Town Terror

Tinsel Town Terror

I hesitate to call the attraction scary, although keep in mind that I am a little jaded when it comes to haunts. The show is however extremely entertaining with it’s twisted sense of humor, curious and macabre visuals, and downright creepy actors all lit by the glow of colorful Christmas lights hung with care. The overall impression was very organic, not tacky as one might expect, rather a genuine feeling that the inhabitants of the haunt were indeed just celebrating the holidays in their own unique ways.

For those who visited the Fear Factory during the Halloween season, most sets will be recognizable however the actors and set dressings have been completely overhauled for the new theme and story. This was achieved to great effect via the usage of Christmas decor, wrapping paper, additional set pieces, and perhaps most impressively the application of colored lighting to change an underground cave scene into a convincingly barren and frozen ice tunnel.

With the exception of a few key adult characters, actors were younger, almost childlike. This normally detracts from an attraction, but in Tinsel Town it only makes sense for the elves to be small and child like. I have to compliment the elves, their presence was simultaneously cute and creepy, especially one actress who is a skilled contortionist. Interaction types varied from scene to scene, some were close up, some direct conversation with actors, and others were walk by scenes with actors interacting among themselves. For an off season event I partially expected the attraction to have a sparse acting crew, however the rooms in the haunt were all well attended, most with more than one actor.

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Lobby Decorations

My only complaint about the show was that the last room was a little slow, I suspect something went wrong with the timing of an animatronic scare, however as this was opening night and we were one of the first groups to go through, I can only imagine this issue will be fixed for the remainder of the season.

Overall Tinsel Town Terror  is a very entertaining and “family” friendly show appropriate for those old enough to be nonbelievers. The attraction wisely remains secular and excels in presenting an alternative brand of holiday fun with a decidedly twisted sense of humor.

An added perk for Nightmares Blog Readers, Click here for a $2.00 coupon!

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Sleepy Hollow Hayride 2013

Sleepy Hollow Hayride is a farm based haunt formally known as Active Acres Farm located in Newtown PA just north of Philadelphia. The attraction features three shows including the Field of Fright walk through corn field, the Sleepy Hollow Hayride, and the House in the Hollow haunted house presented by Midnight Productions. Sleepy Hollow is very minimal in their marketing with no Youtube channel, a rather retro webpage, and a small social media presence. Don’t be fooled however, the House in the Hollow has more than kept up with the times.

The Field of Fright, although huge, is the weakest attraction at Sleepy Hollow. Not to say it is a bad attraction, but I do recommend you tour the field first as it pales in comparison to the spectacles of the hayride and house. Surprisingly for a cornfield walk through, this show begins with a moderately lengthy indoor haunt that is a mash up of decorated rooms, dark hallways, and traditional random boo jumpers. The real meat though is the very lengthy walk along a path cut through the corn field. Actors and scenes were spread pretty far apart, however there was no lack of scares, just a lot of walking between them. Notable actors included a sweet little girl who wanted to borrow my skin so she could play dress up teatime with her dollies, and a crazed farmer who just wanted to give you some corn corn corn… corn… corn……
The actors in this attraction did a solid job. The real star however was the huge expanse of cornstalks, and the unknown that rests just out of sight a few rows deep to your left and right. While a large group distracted by each others presence may consider the walk through boring, a small group such as mine allowed for each of us to hear the subtle sounds of wind and farm critters moving about and through the surrounding corn, with no exit in sight.

The Sleepy Hollow Hayride is different than any other I’ve seen in that the riders on each of the two connected hay wagons are caged in by steel bars that are probably 7-8′ high. These bars were solid enough that the actors, who are allowed to touch patrons, were able to climb on the cage behind and over the audience. This allowed for scares from all directions. Another slight difference were a row of hay bale seats in the center of each wagon. A few scaredy cats through these seats would mean safety, however the actors that boarded the wagons always went right for those sitting in the center to make sure they received a fair share of the scares. Actor driven scare zones mostly involved the ride stopping for a rather long period of time at each scene to let the actors climb allover the wagons and work over everyone in the crowd. This was a welcome break from some other high throughput haunts where the tractor zooms right by scenes before you really have time to take in the scenery.

Sleepy Hollow Hayride

Sleepy Hollow Hayride

The ride incorporates a fair share of humor with the scares, best of all was the greeter who announced the rules, being sure to let us know time and again that violating any rules would surely result in someone falling off of the wagon, being run over by the wagon, and dying. Again much like the farmer and his corn, a great joke you have to be there to truly understand.
While not high tech like the Bates Motel or Night of Terror, this hayride had a fair share of spectacle including live horse mounted ghouls, a huge fire breathing beast, and attacks on the wagon by farm vehicles and equipment.

House in the Hollow

House in the Hollow

The House in the Hollow is amazing. The set dressing and lighting are superb, inside and out, special effects are Disney level, and the actors are very talented and theatrical taking the time to stop and interact with groups in each room. This is less of a walk through haunted house than it is a interactive theater experience that roams from room to room within the rather large haunted house.

Prior to entry in queue line each person is asked to fill out a card to check into the haunt. In a clever twist the staff collects your cards as you enter and members of your group will be called by name during the show to participate in actor interactions, perform certain tasks, or even participate in a magic trick. Most impressive of all was the extensive use of quality video projection effects to create the illusion of ghosts floating around, as well as expertly timed interactive animatronic and pneumatic/motorized effects that interacted with the actors. Something as simple as a file cabinet opening and presenting a document on queue was extremely creepy due to the perfect timing of a projected ghost looking at it and mentioning the aforementioned document.

Not to spoil it, but the grand finale of the show was phenomenally well done combining an actor, high quality audio, and a special costume accessory that in combination created a high quality scare that shocked yours truly.

For a medium size farm haunt, The Sleepy Hollow Hayride puts on a surprisingly good show. I would like to thank Bones Attain from SEPHH (South Eastern PA Home Haunters) for recommending this haunt. I definitely plan to return here in future years due to the great combinations of theatrical well trained actors and large scale spectacle scares.