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An Extreme Haunt Primer

Extreme Haunts are growing at an exponential rate with many new players on the stage in 2014, as well as long time contenders who never fail to produce unforgettable shows. These shows are often scheduled around the Halloween season, but often extend to holidays or even year round. The classification however is a topic that the media has latched onto and in the fury of uninformed news stories, confusion is abound.

Types of extreme haunt

Adult Content – Usually includes more/excessive gore, foul language, sexual content, and/or intense actors.

Solo entry – Group size varies, but many extreme shows only allow one or two patrons entry at a time. Often times you will be paired with someone, perhaps a stranger, for an experience of a lifetime.

Touching – Some shows allow their actors to touch patrons gently, others allow patrons to choose if they would like to be touched by wearing a glow necklace or fake blood on their faces. Others even allow for more violent or sexual touching.

Nudity – Actors and/or patrons may be partially, mostly, or completely nude for a portion or even the duration of the show.

Full Contact – These are the most rare, patrons will likely leave sore and possibly even with scrapes and bruises, clothing may be destroyed and you will likely be wet and or blood soaked at some point.

Mindf**k – Smaller more theatrical shows with highly skilled actors who focus on getting into your head, and staying there for days/weeks. This is likely to extend into an online community.

Since extreme haunts tend to start with a waiver and have significantly fewer rules to follow other than staying within the confines of the law, these categories often mix with each other. In more gentle extreme haunts the patrons have a general sense of what they are in for, but in the craziest shows, the audience is usually totally in the dark as far as the content of the show and simply along for the ride.


The point of any haunt is always to entertain, but what works for some patrons may not be acceptable by others. To ensure that the audience remains consensual participants in the show, a safety word or action is usually established. A somewhat new concept to the haunted attraction industry, safety actions can cause a variety of changes, as set forth by each show prior to entry, ranging from actors no longer touching a patron, a scene changing, or even the show totally stopping so the patron can be escorted out.

Aside from simply stating a safety word, other options may include taking off a glow necklace issued at entry, pressing a panic or exit button, or simply asking an actor to stop the show and be escorted out. Again this will vary from show to show, however haunt attendees should take caution as most safeties will interrupt/end the show, and are not able to be retracted. This penalty of no retraction and no refund is often a necessary evil to prevent safety abuse that would ruin the intensity of a scene, as well as to help push patrons to truly face their fears, or else go home with the dreaded “what if” curiosity in mind.


Some extreme haunts sell tickets just like any other show, online or at the door. Most do sell out, have designated time slots and/or have few spots believable, so it is generally advisable to keep an eye on your favorite haunts webpage and social media outlets to purchase tickets as soon as possible.

A few of the more extreme shows however are much harder to gain entry to due to the demand for their tickets far exceeding supply because of the nature of the show severely limiting their maximum throughput. These shows often reward their diehard fans with invite only passes, and/or tips just prior to tickets going on sale. The best bet here is to pay attention, sign up for email lists, and take the time to do a little research on how the haunt has operated in the past.

Pro tip: Don’t badger a haunt for on sale dates or details easily found on their website and/or social media pages. Annoying a busy haunt owner is a sure way not to end up receiving an invite.

What to Wear

Simply put, be ready for anything. It’s pretty likely a bad idea to wear any clothing you don’t want stained/damaged/ruined/lost including shoes, accessories, hats, watches, etc.

Pro tip: DO NOT bring your cell phone into an extreme haunt. The odds of the phone being lost, damaged, water damaged, dropped, or ringing at a very wrong time are simply too high.

Simply be prepared for a bit of water, dirt, fake blood, paint, cutting, ripping, and possibly even removing one or more layers. In general, it’s a good idea to have a full change of clothes in the car as well as some wet wipes and a towel or two.

Some haunts will allow you to check your items like keys and wallets at the door, it’s best though to enter empty handed if possible.

*Do bring your ID and ticket, often ID is required when you sign your waiver so the haunt can verify your age

What Will Happen?

In short, an extreme experience that will run the gamut from a fun experience your friends might not believe and/or laugh at, to a possibly perspective and/or life changing experience that will at least temporarily change the way you look at the world. You may just be walking through a show, but often a patron will find themselves as a lead role in their very own horror movie type experience.

Rumors are abound of patrons at extreme haunts being punched in the face, water boarded, f*cked, stalked, shocked, beaten up, bound, penetrated, force fed, etc… While Nightmares Blog can neither confirm nor deny any of these allegations, one must keep in mind that these shows are businesses, artistic creations, and labors of love by their creators who have a vested interest in staying in business by giving patrons the show of their lives. Providing a non-consensual negative experience would not at all be conducive continuing their operations as lawsuits would surely follow.

Who Should Go? 

This varies wildly from haunt to haunt, some Touch optional shows that have been deemed extreme by the media are still as fully family friendly as any non extreme haunted attraction out there. Others however are only allow those 18+ or even 21 years of age and older. Many extreme haunts are not handicap access able as they may require crawling, climbing, tight spaces, and awkward positions, and some even request their patrons be in excellent physical condition as otherwise completing the multiple hour session would be exceedingly difficult.

The ideal extreme haunt goer is a person who has been to normal haunts and has become just a tad jaded to their scares. This is the patron who enjoys haunted attractions but has simply wanted a little more from them. Someone who is definitely adventurous, open minded, and enjoys testing their limits.

Just a Few Extreme Haunts Include: 

(This is a very incomplete list in no certain order, no guarantees, just a guideline)

Full Contact

McKamey Manor (1)

McKamey Manor – San Diego CA: Year round by advanced reservation only, 18+ entry with one other, multiple hour show. Expect water, blood, destroyed clothing, and be prepared for rough handling.


Heretic – Los Angeles CA: A new player on the scene with various underground experiments and evolutions, Invite only 21+ and be prepared for ANYTHING. (no website)

hooded copy

Scarehouse: The Basement – Etna PA – The Basement is a highly interactive, stylized, Halloween season18+ show with occasional year round one night only openings. You Enter alone or with 1 other, and will be bound, touched, and experience highly interactive theater within.


blackout logo

Blackout –  NYC, LA, Chicago: Seasonal and off season shows, 18+ solo entry, be prepared for ANYTHING. These guys basically invented Extreme Haunting.


Alone – Los Angeles CA: An immersive 18+ solo experience that involves actor touching, physical activity, and an exploration of fear.

Adult Content


The Haunted Hoochie – Pataskala OH: Haunt with adult content,reputation for brutal full sensory assault.


Freakling Brothers: The Gates of Hell – Las Vegas Nevada: An R rated sensory overload experience.



Kim’s Krypt – Essex MD: Accepting a bloodyK on your face to allow actors to touch and include patrons in interactive scenes. Be prepared for a bit of blood splatter.

terror behind the walls

Terror Behind The Walls – Philadelphia PA: Located inside Eastern State Penitentiary, accepting a glow necklace allows actors to touch patrons and include them in interactive scenes.


Pennhurst Asylum – Spring City PA: Located inside an abandoned state school, the inmates here are allowed to touch patrons and are top qualgity scare actors.


Brighton Asylum – Passaic NJ: A traditional indoor walk through haunt that offers “contact nights” where actors may touch the patrons.


shocktoberfest n

Shocktoberfest – Reading PA: A scream park offering the Naked and Scared challenge. At the end of the night a limited number of patrons are able to go through the Unknown haunted attraction wearing just their underwear. Secure changing areas are provided at the beginning and end of the haunt.

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