Haunts That Touch You


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The Bates Motel
1835 Middletown Road
Glen Mills, PA

Hauntsmith Randy Bates has been scaring area residents for over 20 years
with his top ranking haunted attraction, The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride. Located
just outside of Philadelphia, the Bates Motel, has drawn national attention
with several features on the Travel Channel and in USA Today. So, when I arrived
at Arasapha Farm in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, I had some understandably large
expectations, but I learned very quickly that Mr. Bates does not disappoint.

Visiting the
Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride is like experiencing the pivotal scene from
every horror movie on your Netflix queue back to back. Not only do they have a
haunted house inside a full size replica of Hitchcock’s famous “Psycho” mansion,
but Arasapha Farm is also home to an equally elaborate haunted corn maze, and
one of the most incredible haunted hayrides in the country.     

What makes the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride unique isn’t the incredible
Hollywood-quality sets and special effects, but a solid understanding of how sensory
details complete an environment and create tension and distraction for an
audience. For example, no horror movie is complete (or scary!) without a
soundtrack and Bates Motel incorporates detailed customized music and realistic
sound effects to set the tone for each section of every attraction. 

Is It Scary?

According to their Official Website :  “America’s Most Horrifying Motel.”

The Raven & Black Cat says:  Imagine
being surrounded by a series of horror movie sets and special effects in the
middle of the woods. Then add monsters that can touch you.  

What We Loved

A common problem with hayrides is that once the zombies and crazed
killers reach the side of the wagon, they have nowhere to go. This is not the
case at the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride! When these monsters reach the wagon they launch themselves into it! Realizing
that the usual rules don’t apply creates the ultimate feeling of unease and adrenaline. We
also loved the hayride’s mine shaft section. The sound effects and downward
movement created a chilling claustrophobic feeling of being trapped. Other
highlights include the man-eating crows and gators in the corn maze and the Bates
Motel’s greenhouse and room of taxidermy.   

What Could Be Better

The set design and special effects are so complex and detailed.
It would be incredible to see the same time and attention applied to the acting.
A complex character (with a back story) that reacts to their environment and
moves with intention is more real and infinitely scarier. 

Final Thoughts

The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride is perfect Halloween entertainment that will scare most and captivate all. Even the most fearless will enjoy visiting the dark and imaginative
world of Randy Bates.

The Bates Motel 2012 Season

September 28 – November 4

Ticket Information

  • Haunted Hayride: $12 – $20
  • Bates Motel:  $12 – $15
  • Corn Maze: $12 – $15
  • Combo Special (All 3):  $25 – $40
  • VIP Pass (No Waiting):  $60 – $75

Discount Tickets

  • 13Haunts Coupon: $5 Off Combo Tickets (Sunday Thru Thursday) – Click Here!
  • Wed., October 17th is Military Appreciation Night: 50% Off w/ Military ID. (All Vets get group rate any night w/ ID.)
  • Wed., October 24th is Family Night: $10 Off the Combo Ticket when you Buy 4 or More.
  • Sign up to have Discount Coupons Emailed to you.

Age Requirements

 Children ages 2 and under are free with a paid adult. 

Additional Information

The Bates Motel

The Bates Motel

The Haunted Hayride

The Haunted Hayride

The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride

The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride


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Freakling Bros.’ Trilogy of Terror
2321 North Rainbow Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV

A pedophile priest has asked me to sign a waiver and a
fire-breathing clown has bitten my ear. ‘S’ & I are waiting to enter “Gates
of Hell,” the R-rated Freakling Bros. attraction and we can already tell that
this is going to be one hell of a good time.  

Freakling Bros.’ Trilogy of Terror looks like a small carnival
in a shopping center parking lot. You’d never guess that a semi-circle of
trailer haunts would house such brilliant and horrifying immersive theatre. “Circus
of Horrors” and “Castle Vampyre” are thematically detailed, interactive and full
of creative startle scares. They are excellent one-of-a kind haunted houses,
but the R-rated “Gates of Hell” is where Freakling Bros. really shows off. The
excess and shock value of Vegas is channeled into an extreme haunt that can not
only touch you, but lift you right off your feet. “Gates of Hell” utilizes
intense physical contact, professional wrestlers and the legal amount of
electricity that can be used for entertainment purposes. It is deliciously
intense and well worth a trip across the country.

Is It Scary?

According to their Official Facebook Page: “We have the most
intense haunts in town!”

The Raven & Black Cat says: Freakling Bros. Trilogy of
Terror is the most intense and terrifying haunt in Las Vegas. 

What We Loved

Freakling Bros. has mastered the art of theatrical illusion
and they pair it with over the top interactive concepts that are terrifying and
fun all at once. We loved struggling to escape the room filled with large
rubber balls, surviving the firing squad, and swinging on a rope over a very convincing
bottomless pit. The detail is impeccable. Each room contains an unsuspecting
surprise and they take great care to make you feel very safe right before they
pull the rug out from under you. Inside “Gates of Hell,” I watched a
camouflaged attacker appear out of nowhere, grab ‘S’ by the foot, then knock
her down and drag her away down a long hallway. Easily one of the most frightening
visuals I have ever experienced inside a haunted house.  

What Could be Better

When we visited there was a flirty (ear biting)
fire-breathing clown entertaining guests waiting in line. (Scorch The Clown) The spacing in between
groups is near perfection, but it means that lines can be a bit lengthy. A
timed ticketing system would cut wait time significantly and open up potential for
additional entertainment like creepy games and performances. 

Final Thoughts

Freakling Bros. has been terrifying Las Vegas for more than
30 years. The ‘Trilogy of Terror’ is a must-see for horror enthusiasts, adrenaline
junkies, and anyone who’s never before been scared by a haunted house. 

Freakling Bros. 2012 Season

September 28 – October 31

Ticket Information

Circus of Horrors:  $12.00  |  Castle Vampyre:  $12.00  |  Gates of Hell :  $15.00

Freak Pass (All 3):  $30.00  |  All Night Pass (Unlimited Trips Through All 3): $40.00

Add On:   T-Shirt VIP Line Pass (Good All Season):  $10.00

Age Requirements

Circus of Horrors & Castle Vampyre: No one under 7 years old admitted.

Gates of Hell :  Must be at least 17 years of age unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Additional Information

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOT-xhwvQ8I?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&w=854&h=480]

Circus of Horrors

Circus of Horrors

Circus of Horrors

Circus of Horrors

Scorch The Clown

Scorch The Clown

Cardinal Sin & Gates of Hell

Cardinal Sin & Gates of Hell

Scorch The Clown 

Scorch The Clown 


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5b484-touchyou

Few things divide haunted house fans like whether or not they want to be touched by the horrifying characters lurking within. Here is our list of haunts that push the limit by invading your personal space and literally wrap their icy fingers around you.    

Note: This feature is updated frequently. Please email contact@ravenblackcat.com regarding any information that is no longer accurate or to add a haunted attraction.

HAUNTED HOUSES THAT TOUCH YOU

Our list ranges in intensity from the most extreme (haunts that grab you violently, lift you off your feet, grab you by the throat, have sexual undertones or touch you with electricity, ect.) to a subtle and spookier use of an unexpected soft touch or touch with an object. 

BLACKOUT HAUNTED HOUSE
New York, New York

18+, Extreme, Violent, Sexual Undertones, Must Enter Alone, Must Sign a Waiver. There is a safe word.


 

FREAKLING BROS. TRILOGY OF TERROR
Las Vegas, Nevada

Gates of Hell Attraction: 17+, Extreme, Violent, Sexual Undertones, Uses Electricity, Must Sign a Waiver, Rated-R. There is a safe word.


 

HAUNTED HOOCHIE AT DEAD ACRES
Pataskala, Ohio

Extreme, Violent, Sexual Undertones, Parental Advisory Explicit Content


 

THE CULT AT CRANMORE MOUNTAIN
North Conway, New Hampshire

18+, Extreme, Violent, Must Enter Alone, Encounter Live Animals, Must Sign a Waiver. There is a safe word. NOTE: The Cult will not return for 2013. **Fingers Crossed For 2014**


 

NYCTOPHOBIA HAUNTED HOUSE
Suffolk County, New York

Completely New Every Year, 16+, Violent, Must Sign a Waiver. There is a safe word.


 

NIGHTMARE HAUNTED HOUSE
New York, New York

Violent, Being Touched is Optional, Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No children under 10 will be admitted.


 

PENNHURST ASYLUM
Spring City, Pennsylvania

No age requirements are specified.


 

BATES MOTEL AND HAUNTED HAYRIDE
Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

No age requirements are specified.


 

FIELD OF SCREAMS
Mountville, Pennsylvania

Not recommended for children under 10 years old.


 

FEAR ITSELF AT LEGEND SKREAM PARK
Mishawaka, Indiana

Use of light touch. No age requirements are specified.


 

SHOCKTOBERFEST
Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania

Use of light touch, No age requirements are specified.


 

THE HOUSE OF SHOCK
Jefferson, Louisiana

No age requirements are specified.


 

CASTLE OF CHAOS
Taylorsville, Utah

Optional 18+ Hands-On-Horror and X-Scream Upgrades, Must Sign a Waiver.


 

13 STORIES HAUNTED HOUSE
Newnan, Georgia

Optional 13 XTREME Attraction, 18+ and Must Sign a Waiver.


 

BARRETT’S HM: DARKNESS UNLEASHED
Abington, Massachusetts

For 2 Nights Only, Barrett’s Haunted Mansion turns off the lights and allows their ghouls to touch you. There is a safe word. Not recommended for children under 7.


 

LOCKDOWN HAUNTED HOUSE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

On Specific Nights: 18+, Must Enter Alone, Must Sign a Waiver.


 

TERROR BEHIND THE WALLS
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For The First Time Ever: Being Touched is an Option, Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No children under 7 will be admitted.


 

MCKAMEY MANOR
San Diego, California

18+, Extreme, 2-3 Hour Experience, Must Sign a Waiver.


 

SCAREHOUSE: THE BASEMENT
Etna, Pennsylvania

18+, Enter 1 or 2 at a time, Sexual and Violent Situations, Must Sign a Waiver.


 

DELUSION
Los Angeles, California

17+, Interactive Horror Theatre, Must Sign a Waiver.


 

ALONE: AN EXISTENTIAL HAUNTING
Los Angeles, California

18+, Secret Location, Psychologically Spine-tingling Experience, Must Go Through Alone, Must Sign a Waiver.


HAUNTED HOUSES THAT TOUCH YOU – ADDITIONAL INFORMATION


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BLACKOUT: elements
164 11th Avenue
New York, NY

I attended a preview of BLACKOUT: elements on Saturday, September 7. Blackout Haunted House has developed a cult following for its extreme brand of immersive horror theater. Creators Josh Randall and Kristjan Thorgeirsson are infamous for obliterating the traditional rules and limitations of haunted attractions and bending the genre to encompass darker, more extreme, scare tactics.

This was the seventh Blackout event that I have attended. Having previously been faux-water-boarded and abducted in a van, I had no idea what to expect. Blackout Haunted House is many things, but it is never predictable.   

BLACKOUT: elements takes its inspiration from the four basic elements (earth, water, air, fire) and includes indoor exterior environments, unusual tasks and encounters with both odd and incredibly frightening, characters. The scares are still physical and psychological, but the experience feels less like an abduction and more like a journey through a ‘Narnia’ or ‘Wonderland’-like fantasy world gone terribly, terribly wrong. 

The interactive set requires climbing, crawling and feeling your way through paths obscured by fog or darkness. Forked paths require a choice be made and create the illusion of being in control of your fate. With multiple courses and tormentors, no two experiences are the same. The experience is a barrage of horror and phobia scenarios capable of triggering a wide range of emotions. The illusion of having control over how you explore the haunt makes the experience intensely personal and absolutely exhilarating.

It’s safe to say that you will experience nothing else like BLACKOUT: elements this Halloween season. You will want to buy tickets now, while you still can.

 

BLACKOUT: elements Runs

NEW YORK CITY | September 7 – Nov 10

LOS ANGELES |  October 4 – November 10

CHICAGO | December 2013

Ticket Information

Preview Performances:  $45.00  |  General Admission: $65.00 

Age Requirements

“No one under 18 permitted and you must walk through alone.”

Additional Information

Blackout Haunted House Reviews & Walk-Throughs

  • Blackout Haunted House Review (2012)
  • Blackout Haunted House Walk-Through & Review (2011)
  • Blackout Haunted House Walk-Through & Review (2010) 
  •  

    Blackout Haunted House Exclusive Invite-Only Off-Season Event Reviews & Walk-Throughs


    More Blackout Haunted House

    Blackout Haunted House will be featured on the Travel Channel:

    Halloween Craziest Premieres: Sunday, Oct. 13th, 2013, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdNpZ2sPL9M?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&w=854&h=480]


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    Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House
    107 Suffolk Street
    New York,NY

    For 2012, Timothy Haskell has teamed up with Steve Kopelman to create what they describe as “a horrifying, immersive, haunted house experience.”

    Is It Scary?

    According to their Official Website:  “The most haunting experiences are those that are real. There is nothing more frightening than the monsters that walk among us.”

    The Raven & Black Cat says:  Damn straight.  Last year, when Nightmare asked us to write down what we find most terrifying, we gave them a tip: serial killers. The contrast of brutal, methodical, carefully crafted murders perpetrated by someone who could be the clean-cut boy-next-door, is enough to send us to bed clutching a security blanket and kitchen knife. The intense creepiness of these real-life monsters, portrayed by top-notch actors in detailed, realistic settings combined with some very effective startle scares, is a state-of-the-art design for nightmares.

    What We Loved

    When you visit haunted houses night after night, you tend to see a lot of similar rooms and themes.  “Killers” is unlike any other attraction. It provides a starkly real glimpse into the life and mind of a cold-blooded killer and invites you to play the victim. You don’t have to imagine the terror of  Jack the Ripper grabbing your throat, pushing you up against the walls of dark alley. Here, the actual sensation is available. It’s always a touchy subject in the haunt world, but giving individuals a choice of whether or not they will be touched ensures the right combination of safe and edgy for everyone. And those who choose to allow touching will appreciate how sparingly it is applied. The haunt designers know well that the anticipation is as important to the experience as the actual moment you are physically drawn into the action.

    The costumes, sets and makeup are unnervingly realistic, especially John Wayne Gacy’s house. Nothing is exaggerated for dramatic effect. From the outside it could have been any house in Middle America…until you’re behind closed doors.  When you’re dealing with real-life horror you have to walk a fine line and Nightmare is careful not to sensationalize or glorify these tragic events. In one room, a victim’s mother asks “Why did you come here? These are real people. Why are you here?” and for a moment, your heart really does break. Despite the theatrical focus, Nightmare still includes some shocking special effects and fun startle scares. Our favorite moments include a trash bag full of body parts hitting the floor, the Jeffrey Dahmer trial, and a, shall we say “whacky” grand finale that will send you running for the exit.

    What Could Be Better

    In the Andrew Fish section, the audio recording is nearly impossible to hear over the noise in the other rooms. Our group huddled in the corner and missed the video while trying to figure out what was going on. This could be avoided by having an actor tell the story or using additional speakers. I would love to briefly smell something foul when Pogo opens the trap door. If you’re hiding 26 bodies beneath the floor, it’s certainly going to provide some sensory evidence. For any audience members not familiar with the killer, this would provide a clue as to what’s really going on down there. 

    Final Thoughts

    We love and respect that Nightmare is willing to take risks. Last year, Fairy Tales was incredibly fun but more performance art, than haunted house. This year, Nightmare has combined a top-notch theatrical experience with the scream-inducing horror their audiences have come to expect. It’s intelligent, artistic, terrifying and hopefully, a blueprint for the haunted house of the future. 

    Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House Runs

    September 28th – November 3rd

    Ticket Information

    • Timed Ticketing: $30 (online) or $35 (at the door)
    • VIP (Front of the Line Access): $50 (online) or $60 (at the door)

    Discount Tickets

    • 50% Off Timed Ticketing & VIP Tickets – Click Here!
    • $15 – $20 Student Rush Tickets Available 1 Hour Prior to Listed Start Times.
    • Military Personnel Night: Sun., Oct. 14th – Buy One Get One Free w/ Military ID.
    • Public Servant Night (Policeman, Firefighter, EMT, ect.): Wed., October 10th – Flash your Badge to Buy One Get One Free.

    Age Requirements

    Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No children under 10 will be admitted.

    Additional Information

    Jack the Ripper/ Photographer: Joshua Hoffine

    Jack the Ripper/ Photographer: Joshua Hoffine

    Elizabeth Bathory/Photographer: Joshua Hoffine

    Elizabeth Bathory/Photographer: Joshua Hoffine

    John Wayne Gacy/Photographer: Christopher Brielmaier

    John Wayne Gacy/Photographer: Christopher Brielmaier

    H. H. Holmes/Photographer: Christopher Brielmaier

    H. H. Holmes/Photographer: Christopher Brielmaier


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    Field of Screams
    191 College Avenue
    Mountville, PA

    I took one look at Field of Screams in Mountville, Pennsylvania, and was bowled-over by what has to be the scariest looking cornfield I have ever seen…and I grew up in Pennsylvania. It’s with good reason that this ghastly overgrown cornfield and the haunted attractions it surrounds have been scaring area residents for the last 20 years. Field of Screams resembles a County Fair from Hell, complete with an entertainment area with food vendors, horror-themed games, and a stage. This midway of the macabre sits between an elaborate Haunted Hayride and two creepy old barns that house the walk-through attractions Frightmare Asylum and Den of Darkness.

    Frightmare Asylum is a twisting walking tour through insanity, chock full of detailed environments, clever special effects, and disturbing themes. Look out for a seriously creepy homage to clowns.

    The Den of Darkness received a massive redesign for 2012. From the outside it looks like your run of the mill Haunted Mansion, but inside there is a tantalizing variety of horror and special effects ranging from a dark dungeon full of spark throwing angle grinders to a small passage in the wall that requires crawling on all fours into total darkness. A surprise photo-op captures your screams for posterity on their Facebook page.

     The Haunted Hayride loads you onto a wagon for a journey into that dreaded corn. Each stop is a grand display of impressive sets and dazzling special effects.

    Is It Scary?

    According to their Official Website“We terrify all who visit, so come prepared to scream.”

    The Raven & Black Cat says:   They have taken great care to zero-in on many common phobias. If dolls, darkness, cornfields, tight spaces, and clowns (with chainsaws!) are your idea of a frightful good time, then the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

    Here’s A Tip

    Visit Field of Screams on a Sunday, or spring for the VIP Upgrade to skip the lines. Without timed admission, you could be waiting in line for a while. 

    What We Loved

    We love the sensory details used at Field of Screams. Creative lighting techniques, the light touch of an actor’s hand, the strong smells of the old barn, and an interactive set fully engage you in the experience. We also loved the use of unusual and detailed movement in the asylum. One girl looked like she was straight out of ‘Silent Hill.’  

    Other highlights are the room full of menacing faceless nurse mannequins, a ‘shockingly’ dark hallway, and the hayride’s horrifying porcine slaughter scene.

    What Could Be Better

    We wish that Field of Screams would apply the same exquisite attention to detail that is so apparent in their sets and special effects to all of their actors. Detailed characterizations and compelling acting would give the haunt an eerie element of realism.

    That said, some rooms can be scarier without any actors at all. Dolls make me really uncomfortable. The doll room would be so much scarier if it were just lots of dolls. I found the girl dressed in the doll costume oddly comforting because she was a person and not a doll. Fear isn’t rational. If you want to scare people that have a fear of dolls, all you need is dolls. Underscore the scene with a creepy music box melody and then have one doll move.  

    Final Thoughts

    Field of Screams delivers a perfect evening of entertainment that will drag you into its  dark underworld of horror and then spit you out to console yourself with a funnel cake.

    Field of Screams Runs

    September 22nd – November 4th

    Ticket Information

    • Scream Pass (All 3 Attractions):   $28
    • Combo Pass (Any 2 Attractions): $25
    • Haunted Hayride Only:  $15
    • Den of Darkness Only:  $13
    • Frightmare Asylum Only:  $13
    • VIP Upgrade (Skip to the front of the line): Add $10 – $20

    Discount Tickets

    • 13Haunts Coupon: $8 Off VIP Scream Pass/ $5 Off Regular Scream Pass – Click Here!
    • Join the Field of Screams Mailing List for Additional Coupons and Discounts.

    Age Requirements

    Not recommended for children under 10 years old.  (They have a non scary daytime event for children and adults who are young at heart at Corn Cob Acres.)

     

    Additional Information

    Frightmare Asylum

    Frightmare Asylum

    Frightmare Asylum

    Frightmare Asylum

    Frightmare Asylum

    Frightmare Asylum

    Den of Darkness

    Den of Darkness

    Haunted Hayride

    Haunted Hayride

    Haunted Hayride

    Haunted Hayride


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    Then She Fell
    2 Kingsland Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY

    History

    Then She Fell is an extended version of last year’s Steampunk Haunted House, Through The Looking Glass.  

    Our Visit

    Last Friday, I traveled to what was once the outpatient wing of Greenpoint Hospital in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a sneak-preview of Third Rail Projects’ Then She Fell presented by Arts@Renaissance. Entering through a small courtyard garden, I found myself in a room with 14 other people. Separated in small groups and sometimes completely alone, we were led through a labyrinth of detailed rooms. Sterile medical facilities provide stark contrast to the pockets of whimsical madness that wait just around the corner. You discover you are a guest at a spectacular portrayal of the mad tea party alongside the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, White Queen, and Red Queen.  A moment later, you are observing the Red Queen in a medical setting. The movement-based storytelling that was so magical a moment before, now seems like a compulsive outburst of the mentally deranged.

    This trip to Wonderland explores the dark psychological elements of Lewis Carroll’s famous tale in an immersive non-linear multi-sensory theatrical adventure. 

     

    Is It Scary?

    Then She Fell is a haunting whimsical journey through the lore of Alice.  Sheer perfection for those looking for an elegant blood-free way to celebrate Halloween. 

    Here’s A Tip

    Take the opportunity to talk with other audience members after the performance. Everyone has a different experience and not everyone visits the same rooms.  

    What We Loved

    The Mad Tea Party and the Mad Hatter herself are both stand outs in this intricate and detailed masterpiece. Other highlights are an eerie bedtime story told by the White Queen, exploring the detailed sets, and sampling the fine elixirs and tasty morsels that rounded out this complete sensory experience. 

    What Could Be Better

    I found myself wanting the characters to be a bit more forceful with their instruction. I was sometimes unsure of what they wanted me to do and would have loved the use of verbal direction with a playful or funny tone rather than relying so heavily on delicate gestures. 

    Final Thoughts

    Then She Fell is a truly unique Wonderland experience that will have Steampunk Haunted House fans swooning.  

    Then She Fell Runs

    October 3rd – November 18th 

    Ticket Information

    $65 – $85

    *  All Performances are currently sold out. Join their Mailing List to be notified if additional tickets become available.

    Age Requirements

    No one under 18 will be admitted. 

    Additional Information

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ0FKKfxygM?fs=1&feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&w=640&h=360]


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    Pennhurst Asylum
    Church Street & Bridge Road
    Spring City, PA

    History

    Nestled in the woods beside Spring City, Pennsylvania lies the remains of the Pennhurst State School and Hospital (originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic.) The massive compound for the mentally and physically disabled was built in 1908. It was completely self-sufficient with its own power supply, dairy, green houses, fire department, movie theatre, and underground tunnel system. At the turn of the last century, it was thought best to segregate disabled individuals from the rest of society, but a 1968 exposé uncovered that over-crowding and under-funding had led to conditions that were unsanitary, inhumane, and dangerous. Ultimately, the Supreme Court found institutionalisation to be unconstitutional (Halderman vs Pennhurst State School) and Pennhurst was abandoned in 1987.

    The buildings and everything within them were left to rot for the next 23 years. Pennhurst became popular with trespassers (particularly those with an interest in “urban” exploring and vandalism) until it was reopened as the haunted attraction Pennhurst Asylum in 2010 by hauntsmith Randy Bates (The Bates Motel.)

    Our Visit

    We arrived in Spring City, PA late on Saturday night. The Victorian architecture of the town is lovely, but under the mask of darkness it takes on a very different aesthetic. 

    We arrived at the address listed on the Pennhurst Asylum website and were directed to park in a field. Reaching Pennhurst requires a 10 min walk through the woods. Go ahead and read that last sentence again and really let it sink in.

    The buildings rise out of the woods and you are instantly transported to the early 1900s. Pennhurst Asylum  is straight out of your worst nightmare. The haunt is made up of 4 separate attractions: ‘Pennhurst Asylum’ in the old Administration Building, ‘The Dungeon of Lost Souls’ explores the basement of the Administration building, ‘Ghost Hunt’ is a self-guided flashlight tour through two floors of the abandoned untouched remains of the Mayflower Dormitory, and ‘The Tunnel Terror’ a walk-through haunt located in a 900-foot section of Pennhurst’s underground tunnel system. There is  a centrally located ‘picnic’ area with food and refreshments if you need to take a break.  

    Is It Scary?

    According to their Facebook Page: It was “Voted the Scariest Real Haunt in America for 2012!”

    The Raven & Black Cat says:  We agree! Fear is subjective, but the remains of the Pennhurst State School would be terrifying on its own. Pennhurst Asylum is a top-notch haunted attraction that can be placed in two very exclusive categories:  A Real Haunted Location & The Actors Can Touch You. 

    Here’s A Tip

    Visit Pennhurst on a Thursday or Sunday, or spring for the VIP Pass to cut the lines. Without timed admission, you could be looking at some outrageously long lines. 

    What We Loved

    Wow. There is a LOT to love here. The attraction entitled ‘Pennhurst Asylum’ is housed in the old Administration Building. You walk through the actual rooms of the historic building and greet deliriously dark staff and human experiments of the mad Dr. Chakajian. (A fictional legend, in which a mad Austrian Doctor houses his human experiments in abandoned Pennhurst buildings, was created in order to be sensitive to the history of Pennhurst.)  Many of the rooms contain equipment and artifacts that were abandoned in the buildings in 1986.  Animatronics and clever special effects are employed to  distract you while actors grab at your ankles. The element of soft touching is very effective. It is quite unsettling to have your personal space invaded in a traditional walk-through style haunt. One girl even tried to stick her fingers in my ears!

    The ‘Ghost Hunt’ Attraction is what we wanted to do from the moment we set foot on the Pennhurst campus. The Mayflower Building was featured on ‘Ghost Hunters‘ and ‘Ghost Adventures‘ and was found to be a hot spot for paranormal activity. It is outrageously creepy. The walls are covered in graffiti from the vandalism years. The odd messages commingle with remnants of dormitory life in a state institution like an abandoned metal walker still labeled with a patient’s name and ward number. The energy of the building is heavy with human suffering and I honestly believe I would be in tears if I had to sit in there for an hour by myself. It is that scary.  

    What Could Be Better

    ‘The Tunnel Terror’ is another fabulously inventive attraction with gorgeous elaborate sets. The lagoon section, in particular, is amazing, but I couldn’t help but wish that I could see the walls of the historic underground tunnel system. Perhaps by accident, we caught a glimpse of the original tunnel through an open door that was propped open by a chair. The tunnel is something I could not dream up. It is real life horror complete with secret passageways. A fifth attraction walking through a portion of the original tunnel would be an incredibly scary experience.

    The attractions of Pennhurst Asylum are so detailed and effective that we were surprised that they didn’t capitalize on the opportunity for a large and definitive ending for any of them. Instead of building towards a memorable last scene, all of the attractions end very abruptly. Creating a unique and memorable way to exit each attraction would be the perfect finishing touch to what is otherwise a flawless, fun, and frightening experience. 

    Final Thoughts

    Pennhurst Asylum is a must-see. It is a chilling and effective haunted attraction masterfully combined with the horror of human history.  

    Pennhurst Asylum Runs

    September 21st – November 4th

    Ticket Information

    • Pennhurst Asylum: $15.00  
    • Dungeon of Lost Souls: $15.00
    • Ghost Hunt: $15.00
    • Tunnel of Terror: $15.00
    • Combo Pass (All 4 Events): $40.00  
    • VIP (very important patient) PASS: $75.00

    Discounts

    •  $5 OFF All Tickets (Promo Code: ghost ) – CLICK HERE!
    • 13Haunts Coupon: $5 Off Combo Ticket (Thurs. + Sun.)  – CLICK HERE! 

    Age Requirements

    No age requirements are specified.

    Additional Information

    Then (1922)

    Then (1922)

    Now (Google Maps)

    Now (Google Maps)

    Pennhurst Haunted House


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    Blackout Haunted House Off-Season Event (2012)
    Secret Location
    New York, NY

    Manhattan’s Blackout Haunted House is infamous for its unconventional scare tactics. It has reached cult status among its fans and given birth to crazy urban legend hoax theories. Their exclusive off-season events are always the most extreme.

    This will be my second off-season event and I’m feeling anxious, but focusing all of my energy on arriving exactly on time. Tardiness is not tolerated.

    I’m dressed in old clothes that I don’t care about. A lesson I learned last year the hard way.

    I arrive at the secret location exactly on time and a peaceful feeling comes over me as I relinquish control to Blackout Haunted House. I am in their hands now.

    I have no idea that in 40 minutes I’ll be lying naked on a hotel floor wrapped in industrial plastic.

    A man wearing a Blackout Elipsis t-shirt walks over to me. I am instructed to read and sign a waiver. I must read the last paragraph out loud for a video waiver.

    I am instructed to walk down the street. I walk cautiously, afraid I will miss something, when Blackout co-creator Josh Randall appears at my side and in his intense way gives instructions and hands me a cell phone and an envelope. I follow the instructions and when I reach the specified intersection the phone rings. I answer. I open the envelope as instructed. Inside are directions and a key card. The voice tells me to look to my left. Then I see my destination. It’s a hotel.

    I focus on following the directions printed on the small sheet of paper I found in the envelope. Enter the hotel. Take the right elevator. Find the right room. I take a deep breath and enter the warm balmy room the hotel AC is working tirelessly to counteract.

    I follow instructions. Take my shoes off and place them by the bed. The “gift” I can accept or refuse sits on the desk in front of the bed. It is a shot of whiskey. I figure I can use all the help I can get and toss it back quickly before I follow the final instructions. “Get into bed, turn off the light, and go to sleep.”

    I try to relax. I listen to the hum of the AC. Then I realize I can hear movement coming from the far side of the room. It continues and I can feel it growing nearer.

    I am surprised when I suddenly feel weight on the bed in two different places. The weight moves until I am sandwiched between two bodies audibly breathing at the same pace. The warmth and deep breathing feels sensual at first but quickly grows hostile and claustrophobic as the breathing gets increasingly faster and closer until there is simultaneous hyperventilating on each side of my face. The breathers quickly rush in closer to my face and then out. The breather on my right accidentally clocks me in the head.

    Disoriented, I am lifted up and held in a seated position. Then a pillow presses over my face.

    I inhale deeply as the pillow moves from my face. Arms pull me from the bed and I am standing on the floor moving toward the other side of the room. A bag goes over my head and my hands are bound. I am led into what I assume is a corner of the bathroom and a voice tells me not to move.

    I stand perfectly still for a few moments and then I hear a sickly voice. “Take off the hood.”

    I remove the hood and turn. “Pull back the curtain,” the voice says. I follow the instructions and pull back the shower curtain revealing a dirty and naked young woman lying in the tub. She mumbles additional instructions to give her a pill (Tic Tac) from a pill bottle and a swig of water. The (Tic Tac) pill brings her back to life. She climbs out of the tub and corners me. Then she begins removing all of my clothes.

    I’m standing naked in the bathroom with the dirty naked girl and notice the infrared camera on the ceiling.

    Great… Video footage of me naked.

    I’m starting to feel really creeped out and then the naked girl starts touching herself and it’s ruined.

    Watching another girl masturbate isn’t scary. It just makes the bathroom smell like vagina.

    I’m feeling underwhelmed by the bathroom/naked girl section when the bathroom door opens and I am led back into the bedroom. I am completely naked except for a pair of night vision goggles that have been placed on my head.

    Still completely naked, I am ordered to sit in the hotel desk chair (and the germaphobe in me dies a little thinking of all the germs.) They mention something about a phone, but nothing happens and I can’t find it. (I learned that other victims received a phone call and had to write their home address on a piece of paper.)

    I am pulled up from the chair and the night vision goggles are removed. My captor demands that I lie face down on the ‘X’ on a sheet of plastic that now covers the floor beside the bed.

    Instantly visions of Showtime’s Dexter and a million horror movie scenarios run through my head. My brain calculates: Naked Body + Industrial Plastic = Dead.

    I follow instructions and lay down on the sheet of plastic. Then I’m being rolled in the plastic like a big naked burrito. I have plastic over my head and I can’t breathe. My head is lifted up and I am instructed to open my mouth and two fingers press through the plastic allowing me to breathe. Then there is a face very close to mine and it says in a hurried and intense way, “It’s Never Over! You have exactly 60 seconds to get dressed and get the f*ck out of here.”

    I am released from the plastic and frantically grab my clothes, which are laid out on the bed. I dress as quickly as my arms will allow and stumble out the door clutching my socks in my hand. Then I make my way back onto the warm NYC street and try to wrap my head around what just happened.

    Final Thoughts

    I have really mixed feelings about this event. I really liked the interactive opening, but I could have done without the entire naked girl/bathroom section. I understand how that could be effective for male participants who are afraid of becoming aroused in front of a camera, but from a female perspective it was a bit boring. “Scary Vaginas” seem to be a recurring theme for Blackout and it’s one that I would like to see them retire.

    My favorite moments were lying on the bed in the dark and trying to determine whether there was someone else in the room (or if it was just my imagination) and then the claustrophobic dispay that answered the question. 

    I am not a fan of being completely nude during my haunted house experiences, but I have to admit that there is something quite chilling about being naked and wrapped in plastic. Blackout Haunted House delivers another shocking 45 minutes that would make my mother cry. 

    Additional Information


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     This weekend I will visit Blackout Haunted House for the 4th time. I can’t reveal anything about the event. There are strict instructions to remain silent. All I can say is that I feel really nervous. The anxiety is overwhelming and fear creeps through me. I am not someone who is easily scared, but there’s no knowing what will happen after the lights go out . . .

    Walk-through the first three haunts with me below. It may be a long time before I can share what I am about to experience this weekend. Let’s hope I survive . . . 

    Blackout Haunted House
    Spring/Summer 2012
    Location Unknown 

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