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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

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