2010 Haunted House Review


NYC Halloween Haunted House 2010

115 W. 27th St, Ground Floor

New York, NY 10001

212-352-3101

866-811-4111

***My experience of

NYC Halloween Haunted House

as best as I can remember it due to the terror and disorientation that was experienced.***

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I took a deep breath in hopes of slowing my pounding heart beat. My eyes closed in the dark waiting area and I silently repeated the promise I made to myself on the subway ride here:

 “I am a bad ass little blonde chick that went to the scariest haunted house in Manhattan all by herself. I will not get scared and I will make it through this haunted house no matter what.”

Suddenly the white plastic drape was shoved aside and a man barked orders at me and the girl behind me. “You and you.” We followed the man as he led us into a dark room with a partly visible strobe light. “Don’t move.” he warned. He approached and while shining a small flashlight in our eyes gave us each a surgical mask to put on. Without moving the tiny blinding light he asked us where we had heard about this, if we had epilepsy, and if we understood the rules. We answered and then both were shoved into a small holding room.

The holding room was a small square space closed off with curtains. The strobe light blared and the space filled with fog. Each minute became more disorienting until my brain started to play tricks on me. The fog swirled in the dim light creating patterns and designs like a hallucinogen. Suddenly the curtain moved and the girl next to me was gone. I waited several more minutes and then the man came for me. He led me to an entry way. He flashed the small light inside, illuminating twine like ropes running horizontally across the wall. The ropes were all I had to lead myself through the dark. “Are you ready?,” he asked. As the affirmative response left my lips I was being shoved toward the ropes. I grabbed on tightly and made my way inch by inch into the pitch black tunnel.

One hand over the other my hands followed the ropes. I reached forward and my next handful of rope was a handful of warm fingers. With remarkable speed there was a body behind me holding me still while the fingers ahead of me became strong arms that wrapped around me and with great force moved me into a larger space. The strong arms sat me down in a chair and told me not to move. I sat in darkness listening to white noise for what felt like 5 min. Every once in a while I felt a hand lightly brush past my cheek or shoulder. Then I realized something was lifting the pant leg of my jeans. Panic froze me to the chair and what felt like a mouth lightly licked and bit my ankle.

The strong arms returned and led me to a place on the floor. I was instructed to kneel and crawl. I tried to follow the path but it became invisible as I weaved back and forth smashing into the sides and people within the claustrophobic tunnel. Something grabbed my ankle and someone poked me in the eye as I crashed off the path. I reminded myself to follow the directions and watch where I was going. There were rules for a reason.

When the tunnel ended there was some light and I was directed to go down a flight of stairs into a dank basement. Waiting at the bottom of the stairs was a slight young woman in a floral dress somewhere between crazed and dead. She walked delicately around me and turned me to face a broken mirror. She brushed my long blonde hair from my face and placed a piece of masking tape on each of my earlobes. She smiled with contentment and then reached her hand under her dress and pulled out a bloody finger that she used to paint bright red cheeks onto my surgical mask. Then she pushed me toward the nearby door.

I wandered into the dimly lit room and found what appeared to be a girl from a mental institution wearing a hospital gown and sound blocking ear muffs. She led me to a chair and then tried to wipe off some of the recently applied blood rouge. Next she turned the chair around and placed the sound blocking ear muffs on my head and then removed my left shoe and sock.

(After this point I can’t be exactly sure of the order of events but I will do my best to guess the order of how things happened.) 

I arrived in the next room deaf from the sound blocking ear muffs that were still on my head. I was pushed into a corner and told to kneel on the cold cement floor. My arms were bound tightly behind my back and a cloth bag was placed over my head. My captor rubbed his hands and face against the outside of the cloth bag and around my very sensitive neck. It was at this moment that I seriously considered calling out the safety word to have it all stop. Instead I repeated my promise.

“I am a bad ass little blonde chick that went to the scariest haunted house in Manhattan all by herself. I will not get scared and I will make it through this haunted house no matter what.”

I centered myself and endured the moment, wondering how I would respond to this treatment if my captor really intended to harm me. I waited, listening to the labored breathing trapped against my face by the surgical mask when my captor ordered me to scream.

When I was released I found myself walking down a long hallway covered in used condoms. I had no choice but to place my bare foot onto the cold, moist slippery prophylactic paved path.

At the end of the path I met a crazed man who grabbed me and pinned my arms behind my back. He lifted my sweatshirt to reveal my stomach and then held a manual staple gun up to my exposed flesh. The terror brought by the brandished weapon dissipated as the gun discharged and delivered no pain or staples. Escaping the man’s crazed grasp I rushed to next room where I stopped dead in my tracks.

The room was littered with missing left shoes. In the corner of the room was a makeshift bed and climbing off of the bed was an athletic black man who was completely naked. Frozen in shock I had to force myself to follow the man’s instructions which went against my every instinct. As I laid down on the stained mattress I realized I was lying down next to a pasty white corpse-like naked woman. The naked man ran around the room and came back with my left shoe and wiped a clear substance on it. He kneeled next to the bed and the naked dead woman came to life with a guttural noise. She rolled on top of me for a few seconds before rolling back to her original position. Horrified and confused I stumbled to my feet as the naked man thrust my shoe at me and yelled, “Take your shoe and get out!”

I left the room and found myself being ordered into a bathroom to wash my hands. The door slammed behind me as I searched for soap. With no soap to be found I coated my hands in the faucet’s cold water until the bathroom door was thrown back open. I felt a hand on my back and the pressure shot me forward as a voice yelled for me to get out of his house.

I ran into the lobby and the nightmare was over. Surrounded by survivors, new victims, and those hoping for cancellation tickets, I removed my surgical mask and found my coat and tried to make sense of what I had just experienced.

On the walk to meet my fiance at a nearby restaurant, I felt a surge of adrenaline. I had triumphed over the most terrifying haunted house in Manhattan. I thought about my promise and smiled.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I attended 5 of NYC’s  Haunted Houses this season and this was the only one that was truly terrifying. I left feeling like I had just survived an abduction. I felt a little dirty and some of the things I encountered seemed to cross a line, but crossing that line is how the Vortex Theater’s Halloween Haunted House achieves the skin crawling result that so many other haunted houses fail to inspire. NYC Halloween Haunted House is certainly not for everyone, but those looking for a concentrated Halloween adrenaline rush will find this more than fits the bill.

Keep an eye on their website for information about their ‘invitation only’ Midsummer Nightmare in June 2011 and for next October’s 

NYC Halloween Haunted House

.

Read My Reviews of Other Blackout Haunted House Events:

 


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Fear on 21st Street
12 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
646.912.9546
http://www.fear21.com/

KGB Deals is currently selling Tickets for 50% off.
 Click Here for General Admission ($15) or Click Here for VIP Tickets ($25) and skip the line. (Trust me you REALLY want to skip the line.)
**SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details of this year’s performance***
After I left the Steampunk Haunted House I headed to Fear on 21st Street. I purchased my VIP Ticket through KGB Deals for $25 and I strongly suggest that you do, too. I’ll explain why in a moment.
Fear on 21st Street takes place in a run down asylum for the criminally insane that is about to be closed by the State. The angry Warden has decided to allow guided tours through the asylum and it is on your guided tour that things go terribly awry.
My tour group had 10 people in it. I normally hate being in large groups for walk through haunted houses but this only added to the effectiveness of Fear on 21st Street. The group was led by a tour guide named Lauren. Lauren, stutters and fidgets her way through an opening speech and then leads your group to meet the Warden and Head of Security. Once inside the room Lauren backs herself into a corner and looks down at her feet while her tongue falls in and out of her mouth. The Warden informs us that Lauren is a rehabilitated former patient and the tour guide job is part of their program to help rehabilitated patients rejoin society. She apparently “starts at the Gap next week” which is hilarious considering that she looks as though she’s had a partial lobotomy. Lauren leads you into the asylum and after the asylum safe room is compromised and the Head of Security is murdered it’s a wild journey through the mental institution in search of escape. 
This haunted house is fantastic on several levels. It has some of the best acting I’ve ever seen in a haunted house. The adorable childlike dirty blonde that played the tour guide Lauren was fantastic. It was also a great twist that she was experiencing the entire house with us and trying to get us out safely. Each room was covered in props and you never knew what was going to spring up from underneath, above, or behind you. There were lots of mechanical effects from moving walls to electric chairs and they never failed to make everyone in the room jump. This haunted house is scary, funny, clever, and entertaining with surprises around every corner. 
The only area that Fear on 21st Street fails in is ticketing. They sell general admission tickets that are good for any time on any day that they are open. This leads to chaos and outrageously long lines. Do yourself a favor and get VIP tickets for a MUCH shorter wait. My friend and I got there around 9:30pm (on a Thursday), with VIP tickets we waited outside for about 10min and then once we entered the Haunted House there was ANOTHER line inside! We waited 25 min in this inside line and we talked to a few people with general admission tickets who had waited for 2 hours outside! Hopefully, next year they will sell tickets for specific time slots and the wait will be much shorter, but if you visit Fear on 21st Street this weekend make sure you have a VIP ticket.

Steampunk Haunted House
Abrons Arts Center
466 Grand St.
New York, NY 10002

Tickets: $20-$25
Click Here to buy tickets.
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**SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details of this year’s performance***
Last night I experienced Steampunk Haunted House. I LOVE the Victorian era. I LOVE the idea of a haunted house with no gore and no blood. And I LOVE old theatres. My interests made a trip to Steampunk Haunted House an obvious addition to my Halloween festivities.
Steampunk Haunted House at Abrons Arts Center takes place within a historic theatre that was built in 1915. The space is gorgeous. An unbelievably unique and creepy setting with tunnel like hallways, winding staircases and 3 floors to wander through.

Your 25 minute journey begins in a group. Everyone is given a lantern to see their way and then led inside the dimly lit space . One by one performers offer each member of the group a rope and then lead them away to a location somewhere in the house’s 3 floors.

I found myself on the second floor of the house. After the performer leads you to a location they leave you alone and you are free to explore. I wandered from room to room watching the different performers in Victorian garb milling about all absorbed in their own dream like state. You are encouraged to follow one character and experience their journey through the house, a “choose your own adventure,” as they called it.
This is not a traditional haunted attraction by any means. I did not find the Victorian characters, the loud mechanical noises, or the incessant singing of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” scary at all. The whole production was more like performance art meets art installation than a haunted house.  Choosing your own path through the house was an interesting spin on traditional walk through houses, but after 10 minutes it began to feel repetitive.

 

I appreciate the experience that Steampunk Haunted House provides, but I couldn’t help but imagine how that incredible space could have been used better. All that dimly lit Victorian architecture would be the perfect setting for a truly interactive Victorian haunted house with inhabitants that burst out from hidden spaces and improvise conversations with their guests and let them in on their fear or insanity. I can only hope that next year Steampunk Haunted House will let their audience play an active role in their living nightmare.


BLOOD MANOR

542 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

For Tickets Click Here

**SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details of this year’s performance***

The gore, chainsaws, and murderous maniacs I was missing from Nightmare: Superstitions were delivered in a major way at Blood Manor early Sunday Morning. I arrived with a friend around 1am and bypassed the long line thanks to goldstar.com’s discounted RIP Express Entry Tickets.

Upon entering the house, you are surrounded by kitschy haunted mansion decor and animatronics. This gives you a false sense of security. You think you know what to expect, but you definitely do not. The animatronics distract you from the actors lurking in the other direction. While Blood Manor was not nearly as long or as large a production as Nightmare: Superstitions, there was one major difference that, for me, gave Blood Manor the edge.

At Nightmare: Superstitions the actors kept telling you that “they’re going to get you” or “you’re going to burn in hell” it was almost always a warning that something was after you, but it hadn’t arrived yet. At Blood Manor, there was no question of who was after you when the pitch back room was suddenly brightened by a strobe light and you saw a maniac with a chainsaw running towards you. The actors at Blood Manor were great at startling visitors and their improvisational skills provided terrifying and relevant banter. It was clear that each one was after you and many of them explained in detail what they wanted to do to you. They also very smartly split up large groups inside the house so it would be easier to scare the guests. Overall, Nightmare: Superstitions targets more cerebral fears and during my journey through their epic production I only jumped once and nearly gagged twice. At Blood Manor, I screamed several times. The Pig Butcher and the Cannibals were intensely frightening, and despite the not so great 3-D section, I have to say that Blood Manor was scarier because of one room. Clowns with Chainsaws.  I look forward to what they have in store for next year.

NOHO Event Center
623 Broadway @ Houston
(Enter on Mercer Street)
A Haunted House not for the faint of heart.
For Tickets Click Here
**SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details of this year’s performance***
Nightmare: Superstitions is a 37 minute long theatrical experience. Upon arriving at the NOHO Event Center, you climb several flights of stairs, have your picture taken with a statue of the virgin mary shedding tears of blood, and then take your place in line.

The first attraction to test your bravery is a ‘Fun House’ themed opener haunted house filled with creatures from the ‘big top’ gone wrong. There is nothing more terrifying than witnessing a clown birth/gynecological exam.

After surviving the ‘Fun House,’ you meet with a nurse who gives you advice on how to get through the asylum alive. Having the nurse jot down everyone’s name before they enter the Superstitions Asylum is a nice touch.

After speaking with the nurse, your group enters the asylum  and the door closes behind you.

Each room of the house is based on a different superstition. Some of the most successful and terrifying rooms are:

“See A Penny, Pick It Up”
“A Broken Mirror Brings Seven Years of Bad Luck”
“When Your Ears Burn, Someone is Talking About You”
“Step On A Crack, Break Your Mother’s Back”

The different rooms within the asylum were hit and miss. To get the full experience make sure that you are at the front of your group. Anyone near the back can miss some of the performance. My only advice to the creators of ‘Nightmare’ Haunted House would be to focus less on the length of the house and try to make the groups going through it smaller. It makes it so much scarier when there are only 3 other people experiencing the house with you than when there is a group of 8.  Overall, I really enjoyed Nightmare Superstitions. I typically find crazy mass murderers with chainsaws scarier than superstitions, but Nightmare: Superstitions is definitely an improvement over last year’s Vampire themed house. I look forward to what they will come up with next year…