Haunts That Touch You


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Nightmare (Before Christmas): The Experiment
Los Kabayitos Laboratorio
107 Suffolk Street
New York, NY

To celebrate the holidays, Nightmare creator Tim Haskell is presenting Nightmare (Before Christmas): The Experiment, an extended and revamped version of the second part of October’s Nightmare Fairy Tales. What was a 15-minute assault on the senses is now a 50-minute interactive theatre performance that manages to involve nearly the entire audience in a series of 10 fear-based experiments. As the performance progresses, a strange sense of community develops in the room full of strangers as each audience member becomes a lab rat.

Is it Scary?

According to their website: ” It will be like being in one room in a very scary haunted house that you get tormented in for 50 minutes.”

The Raven & Black Cat says: Fear is subjective, but you are pretty much guaranteed to cringe, gag, shudder, and/or squirm uncomfortably in your seat.

What I Loved

There is a lot to love. Not only are the experiments delightfully creepy, but the performance is infused with humor. Many of the funniest moments are courtesy of the research team’s “corporate sponsors.” Other highlights include: a brief (but amazing!) video, a unique take on Santa Claus, and watching the reactions of fellow audience members.

What Could Be Better

We noticed some small opening weekend hiccups, but overall this unique interactive theatre piece is holiday horror perfection. We hope that Nightmare (before Christmas) becomes an annual event. We’d love to see a walk-through style haunted house with a Christmas theme.  

Final Thoughts

The Experiment combines humor and fear to create repulsive holiday fun. Don’t miss this special holiday gift.

The Experiment Runs

December 9 – 23rd

Discount Tickets

Full Price Ticket Prices
Admission: $20.00

  • $10 Tickets – Click Here!
  • $12 Admission with Promo Code: FB1 
  • $12 Admission with Promo Code: LABRAT

Additional Info


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  Blackout Haunted House
54 West 39th Street
New York, NY

No two experiences are alike at Blackout Haunted House (formerly NYC Halloween Haunted House), so we have two walk-through accounts for you. The first walk-through is my experience and the second is written by “S.”

 The Rules

  1. YOU MUST WALK THROUGH ALONE.
  2. You must be over 18.
  3. Stay on the marked path at all times.
  4. You will be prompted to do certain actions. Please do exactly as you’re told. This is for your safety.
  5. There is absolutely no speaking allowed inside. You can, however, scream as loud as you’d like.
  6. Do not ever touch the actors.
  7. Do not ever touch the walls.
  8. You must wear a protective mask and carry a flashlight at all times.

 

Walk-Through

***My experience of Blackout Haunted House as best as I can remember, due to the terror and disorientation that was experienced.***

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I was one of the very first people to experience Blackout Haunted House in September. They were still working things out and making changes and I left with mixed feelings. It wasn’t as scary as it has been in the past and unlike past experiences it failed to create a moment terrifying enough to make me contemplate using the safe word. The following day co-creator Josh Randall e-mailed me and asked about my experience. I responded with a detailed e-mail and described what I loved and what could have been a lot scarier.

On my return visit in October I told them to “bring it.” I challenged them to scare me. I assume that what happened to me was a complete accident and that they have made sure it will never happen again, but I can’t help but feel like I kind of asked for it… and it was unlike any Haunted House experience I’ve ever had.

October 27, 2011 : “C” Returns to Blackout Haunted  House

It’s cold, rainy, and miserable. One of those nights when you really don’t want to leave your apartment.

 …but I have to. I have a second date with Blackout Haunted House. I am grumbling about the rain when I have to stop and laugh. You know there’s something wrong with you when you’re on your way to the scariest haunted house in New York and you’re stressed about the weather.

I arrive at the 39th Street location, check-in, and take my place in line. I have 3 black dots marked on my hand to ensure the most traumatic experience possible, but the anxiety hasn’t hit me yet. I just feel excited.

I update my facebook page one last time. In hindsight, it was probably a bad idea to tell Blackout Haunted House to “bring it.” Before I know it the guy ahead of me disappears behind the black plastic covering the entrance.

I’m next.
 
The anxiety begins.
 

I push past the black plastic to reveal a dark hall-way. The walls are covered in more black plastic. I walk to the end of the hallway, turn left, and then walk to the end of another hallway. I stop on the ‘X’ marked at the end of the hall. I am standing in front of a doorway draped in clear plastic. Beyond the door flashes a strobe light. A loud noise makes me jump and the fear sets in.

I am ordered into the room. A flashlight is shined in my face. I put on the face mask that is handed to me. A series of health and safety related questions are shouted at me. I respond appropriately and then I am shoved through a dark passage.

I take two steps and a large piece of plastic is pulled tightly over the front of my face. Disoriented and gasping for air I stumble into a dimly lit room. Several folding chairs sit before 2 stacked television sets. The first showing the graphic birthing of a calf and the second, a surveillance video camera displaying footage of me walking into the room. A woman in a hospital gown sits next to the TVs eating. She approaches me and motions to sit. I sit in a chair and the woman sits next to me. She begins to touch my face and my hair. On the surveillance video I see another woman slowly enter the room behind me. She sits and the two women touch my hair and face. The first woman takes my hand. After a few minutes the second woman snaps handcuffs around both my wrists and I am directed to the door.

As I walk through the doorway large arms wrap around me in the darkness and I am instructed to stay still. Hands move around my neck and then a hard metal object draws a line all the way around my neck. A chill runs down my spine. I am ordered to lift my arms. “Higher!” shouts an angry male voice.

I am roughly led to the next room where a wet bag is forcefully shoved over my head. I am ordered to kneel. Something firm pats my face and I am ordered to tilt my head back. Water pours over the bag forcing the bag to cling to my face. Unable to breath, I desperately force air out of my mouth. The bag raises and then comes crashing down over my face again and again. Next hands rub over my face and neck and then there is more water. Angry voices shout at me. One calls me a c*nt. I am ordered to scream several times and then told to bark like a dog. Struggling for air I am pulled to my feet. A voice orders me by name to turn to the left. I turn left and then a voice instructs me to walk straight ahead. I take a step and then arms grab me and a voice says “Not yet.” I stand completely still. My upper body is soaked with water. Before I know it the bag is lifting off of my head and I am shoved forward. The bag is no longer over my head, but I am still trapped in darkness and I realize that I’m falling.

There is sharp pain as my knees and hands connect hard with a stone staircase. Arms quickly pull me to my feet. A frantic voice whispers “Are you OK?”  I say “yes.” I realize that when the wet bag was lifted from my head, it caused my face mask to pull up over my eyes like a blindfold. I grab the face mask and shove it into my pocket. Then I begin to climb the stairs.

There is a woman at the top. She shouts at me to climb a second flight of stairs. When I reach the next floor a different woman orders me to lie down on my back. She hands me a small glow stick and points to a tunnel and orders me to crawl through. As I begin to crawl, my aching knees scream for me to stop. Pieces of plastic are draped inside the tunnel to make the space even smaller, but any fear of small spaces is currently overshadowed by how much my knees hurt. When I finally reach the end of the tunnel a strange disturbed woman is waiting for me. She leads me into a dimly lit room with a chair. She tells me to sit and then walks over to stand on my left. She groans and takes my hand. She guides my hand between her legs and tells me to pull the string. I pull and she moans and out pops a bloody tampon. She grabs the hand holding the tampon and tells me to open my mouth. I follow her instruction and she squeezes liquid from the tampon into my open mouth. Then she orders me out of the room.

I find myself standing in the dark. As my eyes adjust I see a short completely naked bearded man approach me. He is grinning, so I smile back at him. He greets me by name which is super creepy. He doesn’t appear to be feeling well and this is confirmed when he grabs my hand and makes a run for the nearby bathroom. He leads me inside and then shuts himself into the stall and vomits profusely. When the stall door opens he is smiling again and asks me to come inside. He explains that he needs me to get a key from inside the toilet. Wasting no time I start to reach in when he grabs my hand and coos “Oh … you’re not scared at all now, are you? Well you know some people get the key with their mouth like bobbing for apples. You wanna try that?” I politely decline the suggestion and he slowly guides my hand into the filthy toilet. “You have to savor it.” he says creepily as he moves my hand back and forth through the water.

Then the epic creeper asks “Isn’t this the best sex you’ve ever had?”

“Yeah, sure,” I reply sarcastically as I grab the key from the chunk-filled water.

The bearded man explodes. “That wasn’t sex!” he shouts over and over before telling me to “leave and never come back!”

I make a quick escape down the stairs where a woman barks, “which hand did you use? and then grabs my arm by the elbow and pushes it into a bucket of water.

I make my way into the final room. A small light illuminates a naked woman chained to the floor. She begs for help. “He will be back soon,” she warns. I rush over and try the toilet key in the lock. It doesn’t fit. She points to a sink. The faucet is running into a bucket. I reach my hand into the bucket and find another key. This key fits the lock and the naked woman and I try to make a break for it. We rush down a hallway and then suddenly she’s gone. A voice shouts “Get Out” as I am thrown from the house.

I shake my head and look myself over. My hair and my sweatshirt are soaked. I have a small cut on my hand and my knees are throbbing. I am anxious to get home for a warm blanket and an Advil. I have a sudden need to curl up in the fetal position.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

There is nothing like Blackout Haunted House. Each time I entrust them with my safety, I have no idea what to expect. I attended both their 2010 Haunted House & May Off-Season Event, yet never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be water boarded. There are strict rules for those who enter, but when it comes to the content inside the house, Blackout obliterates all the rules of the traditional haunted house.

I was involved in an accident while inside Blackout Haunted House. I admit that I wasn’t thrilled to have black and blue knees, but that split second when I realized that something had gone wrong was terrifying. If a moment like that could be safely simulated, it would be an incredible addition to what is already a sick, twisted abduction experiment. I look forward to what they have in store for us in the future.

 

 

Walk-Through by “S”

Blackout NYC is an extreme haunted experience. I’d read all the reviews, watched the teaser videos and was super psyched to live through the terror first-hand.

The wave of a flashlight told me to enter the plastic-covered doorway. As I walk through the tight hallway, feeling my way through the darkness, I seriously wonder what I am doing there. I’d never gone to a haunted attraction on my own and I certainly wouldn’t be able to live it down if I needed to use the safe word.

I’m instructed to wait at the entrance to a dimly-lit room. As I wait in the dark for what seems like forever, I take in my surroundings. The doorway is made of clear butcher-type plastic. I can’t see through it, but occasionally I can see flashes of a hand-held light and hear the piercing sound of a whistle. Surrounded by plastic, I can’t help but draw upon images of a Dexter-style kill room. Suddenly, a bright light blinds me and I’m instructed to enter the dark room, where we go over the rules. No touching the actors, no speaking once inside. I’m asked if I know the safe word, I nod, fearful that if I answer I’ll be sent to the back of the line. I’m asked to say the safe word

“Safety”

He hands me a surgical mask. I put it on and immediately feel the warmth of my own breath.

Am I really breathing this fast already?

I’m told to stand on an X facing a black plastic curtain and countdown from three when I’m ready

Three.. Two…

I’m grabbed by the shoulders and pulled into a dimly lit room. As I try to adjust to my surroundings, a plastic sheet is pulled taught over my face. I can’t breathe. I’m being pushed along the floor to the opposite corner of the room. My abductor releases the plastic enough for me to take a gulp of air through the sterile mask. “when I say, run down the stairs and take a left….”

“RUN!!”

And I’m off…down the stairs, through a hallway and into a makeshift viewing room.

There’s a row of chairs in front of television projecting gruesome images of some kind of animal surgery. The man that was in line ahead of me is sitting, watching the television with an unkempt-looking girl wearing a hospital johnny. A different crazy-looking girl approaches me and leads me to a chair to view the bloody massacre playing on the television screen. She’s singing, quite eerily, a faint melody to me as she presses my head to her breasts and begins to rock me, stroking my hair. It’s terrifyingly reminiscent of the closet scene in Carrie. Awesome. She removes my hair elastic and runs her fingers through my hair. I open my eyes to see the other crazy girl rubbing my arms with a plastic spoon. At some—I’m guessing—the other guy in the room had been led out. My crazy muse goes behind the television to grab a black strap. She slowly, methodically approaches me and binds my hands. I am pulled off my chair and led to a dark hallway. I’m nudged into the darkness.

I feel my way through the hallway and enter into a pitch black room. Waving my bound hands in front of me, fearful I’ll walk into something—or someone.

Too late.

I’m grabbed by the neck. A forceful man whispers into my ear, “Don’t fucking move!”

So I don’t.

I even hold my breath as he burrows his sweaty face in my neck and proceeds to smell me. I can finally breathe again when he walks away.

And I wait…

In the dark…

…and, of course, my mind is playing tricks on me. I keep thinking I see someone creeping out of the darkness, but if they’re there they never show themselves.

Just as I’m starting to get annoyed, I feel a soft touch on my inner calf. The delicate touch causes me to shudder as the hand makes its way up to my inner thigh. Whoever it was, appears to be gone, but I can’t help but hold my breath and wait for the next assault.

I hear a strange metallic sound, similar to the sound of someone sharpening a knife. Something slides across my throat, raising goose-bumps and forcing me to press my bound arms into my chest.

A man grabs me from behind and begins to push me through the room. “You’re gonna love this…

I’m pushed into a different room.

My assailant forces me into a chair and places goggles over my eyes. A flashlight is placed into my hands, pointing straight ahead of me. The goggles are foggy and I can’t really see anything but the emptiness in the cylindrical glow created by the light. I think it’s my imagination but, no… there’s someone there. I can feel him. I finally see someone appearing in the corner of the room. He moves so slowly It’s hard to notice at first. As he approaches, I can see that he’s wearing a woman’s camisole. He’s so tall and it’s certainly not long enough to hide the fact that he’s naked underneath. He walks up to me, and gently cups my cheek. The softness in his touch and the familiarity with which he gazes at me is unsettling. His hand moves from my face and reaches to the flashlight. He removes it from my hands and slowly forces my legs apart to place the flashlight on the ground between my feet. He lingers far too long for comfort, never moving his gaze from mine. I’m pulled onto my feet to stand. He whispers, “so pretty….so sweet” spins me around and embraces me from behind. Still holding me, he leads me forward.

Suddenly , I’m grabbed by a forceful man, pushed up against a wall and told to stare at the bricks in front of me. The room is filled with the sound of blood-curdling screams. The man grabs my head, cocking my head to the side so he can whisper directly into my ear.

“Do you hear that?”

The screaming has turned into begging. HELP!! PLEASE, HELP!!!

“You’re next.”

I thought the slight yelp that escaped from my mouth wouldn’t be heard over the victim’s screaming but my assailant didn’t miss a beat.

“DID YOU JUST LAUGH?!?”

I shook my head NO!!

“DON’T.  FUCKING.  LAUGH.

“Now, what you’re gonna do is back up from the wall real slow…”

I start to move away from the wall.

“I SAID, SLOW!!” He screams.

I’m turned around and told to get on the ground. My captor pulls me to stand on my knees and a wet bag is placed on my head. Before I know it, I’m hit in the face with a wall of water. It drips down my face and chest all the way down into my pants.

I’m drowning.

The fabric from the bag has made its way into my mouth and nostrils. Every breath I take is labored and filled with water. My assailant shoves his fingers into my nostrils, pushing the fabric deeper into my nose, forcing me to breathe through my mouth.

I can’t breathe.

“I wanna hear you scream”

I scream so loud I can’t even believe the scream could be coming from my mouth. They tell me to cry for help.

I’m begging, “SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME!!”

I am one second away from calling the safe word when he shoves his hand in my mouth, grabbing onto my upper teeth, tilting my head backward. His hands are covered in some kind of chemical. They reek of rubbing alcohol and the smell makes me feel dizzy and disoriented. I’m pulled onto my feet and pushed forward. The bag is lifted off my head to reveal a staircase. I’m told to run up both flights of stairs.

I run as fast as I can, still feeling the effects of the torture.

Somewhere along the way I’ve lost my hair elastic and my hair is soaking wet and sticking to my neck. My surgical mask is damp, but I don’t dare remove it. When I reach the top of the stairs, I’m handed a glow stick and told to get on my knees.

“Crawl!”

I’m pointed towards a dark tunnel. As I crawl through the misty tunnel a man grabs my foot. I shrug him off and crawl faster, hoping to out-run any other assailants. The plastic above my head begins to shake—someone is trying to get me, but I’m fast and I make it out of the tunnel unscathed.

When I emerge, there’s a crazy-looking girl, wearing child-like pajamas. She takes my light and throws it into a dark hallway, pulling me into a room lit by a single floor lamp. I’m led to a chair. She keeps saying “Don’t look” and pushes my face away from her.

I feel something in my hand—it’s a string. When she tells me to pull, I’m left with a tampon in my hand. She pushes it into my mouth and tells me to suck it. I’m immediately taken out of the scare, the scenario is dumb and the acting is terrible. I’ll say it once, I’ll say it again: menstrual blood is not scary.

She yells at me to get out.

I’m glad to escape.

As I enter the hallway, I encounter a short, naked man. He corners me and begins to heave. He grabs me by the hand and pulls me into a bathroom. He locks himself in the stall as he retches into the toilet. He opens the door and pulls me into the stall…. “the key,” he motions to the toilet.

I hesitate. I know what I need to do, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I shove my hand into the toilet—to my surprisingly sick enjoyment, it’s filled with a chunky vomit-like substance. Gross.

“it’s just a little vomit,” my naked friend encourages me. He then proceeds to grab my arm and shove my hand all the way into the pipe of the toilet bowl!! (I’m glad I chose my right hand and not the hand with my engagement ring!)

I grab the key and pull my arm out of the filthy water.

He tells me to go—and I’m running again.

A stage manager makes me wash the arm I’ve used—which is kind of weird.

I enter a room where a naked woman lies in shackles on a mattress. She instructs me to use the key for the lock on her ankle. It doesn’t work and I’m told to check a bucket in the sink. As I go to reach into the water, she screams—and I’m genuinely startled, thinking I might be electrocuted or something of the like.

I grab the key and this time it works. I set her free and she tells me we have to get out. As we enter a dark hallway, we’re spotted by a man who yells,

“what the fuck are you doing with her?!? GET THE FUCK OUT!!!”

I run down a dark hallway and emerge through a plastic curtain into the safety of the waiting area.

Now, I feel like a survivor.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

“C” and I always feel that anticipation is key to an effective scare and Blackout certainly got it right this time. There’s something terribly unsettling about the subtle white noise in the expansive warehouse setting of the haunt. Being left alone in the dark allows your mind to play tricks on you—you have the time to let yourself be scared.

The surgical masks really draw attention to the warmth and speed of your breathing. They’re totally effective and creepy—until they’re soaked with water and you have a wet mask on your face , which is gross and effective in a completely different way.

The roughness with which the actors treat you is exhilarating and frightening. As a small girl (under 5’2”), no one usually dares to push me around. It was scary when the actors grabbed me, but I never felt like they were out of control.

Sliding your hand (or whatever it was) across my throat was terrifying. I hate it when people touch my neck or throat and it was extremely effective.  I had chills immediately.

The creepy, gentle demeanor of the man in the camisole was such a great contrast to all the roughness at the beginning of the haunt. I like that the actor really took his time. His slow and methodical movements made my heart race.

Umm, you water boarded me? Really?!?  That was awesome and terrible. Nice work.

The stairs were annoying.

Menstrual blood isn’t scary.

I don’t understand why that man swallowed a key and why I had to get it—and I definitely don’t understand the connection between the naked man and woman and why he didn’t just save her himself, not that she really seemed to be in any trouble – there were no signs of struggle, abuse or  blood. She looked well fed. I guess I just didn’t understand the second half of the house.

Blackout is not a haunted house for the faint of heart (or stomach, or knees, for that matter!) Its audience is a brave bunch—there are many who are terrified at the idea of entering alone –and trusting the actors to touch you! There is a genuine need for a safety word here; it’s not just a gimmick to sell more tickets. The fact that you enter alone should tell you that ticket sales aren’t Vortex Theater’s main concern. The character development and story line within each room is top notch in comparison with the other haunts out there, but I would love to see the connection between each room next time.

 

Additional Info

Read My Reviews of Other Blackout Haunted House Events:

 


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Steampunk Haunted House: Through the Looking Glass
466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street)
New York, NY

I love Alice in Wonderland about as much as I love Halloween, so I was ecstatic to take in this year’s Wonderland-inspired Steampunk Haunted House. The journey begins in groups of six, which are then reduced to groups of two as you wander through halls and corridors containing different pieces of the Wonderland puzzle. The familiar characters are there, dressed in Karen Young’s beautifully detailed costumes. The environmental design by Christopher Cummings, with Zach Morris, is inventive and does well to set the scene of what lurks beyond the looking glass. If you are an Alice in Wonderland fan or looking to celebrate Halloween without the traditional witches, ghosts, and gore, you cannot miss this.  

Is it Scary?

According to their website: “Back by popular demand for a third season, the visually stunning, lushly designed Steampunk Haunted House returns in October 2011 and takes audiences into the darker, more terrifying aspects of Lewis Carroll’s classic stories. In this immersive experience, audience members are admitted in small groups, suddenly separated, and thrust into a beautiful and terrifying dreamscape of neo-Victorian elegance and phantasmagoric clockwork horrors. The experience sprawls throughout the three floors of Abrons’ majestic century-old playhouse, its innumerable twisting hallways, looming balconies, and labyrinthine cellars.”

The Raven & Black Cat says: Steampunk Haunted House: Through the Looking Glass is a beautiful and mysterious maze through Wonderland. While you may be startled or confused at times, this creepy performance art piece does not contain traditional haunted house scares.

What I Loved

Elizabeth Carena steals the show with her electrifying portrayal of the Mad Hatter. She was compelling to watch and very effectively delivered a dose of that well known Wonderland madness. Other highlights are a choreographed mirroring sequence by two of the young Alices and a hallway with a delightful looking glass trick.    

What Could Be Better

There are several young Alice’s in the beginning that read portions of the story and set the scene for the journey you are about to take. Unfortunately, their diction and enunciation is very poor and makes it impossible to understand what they’re saying. Also, given the name of the haunted house, it seemed like a missed opportunity not to come up with a creepy Steampunk take on the large black headsets worn by many inside the house.

Final Thoughts

Steampunk Haunted House once again provides the Halloween season with beautifully creepy performance art for those looking for an alternative to traditional Haunted house fare.

Streampunk Haunted House Runs

October 22-31st

Discount Tickets

Full Price Ticket Prices
Oct 23,26,27 : $20
Oct 22,28,29,30,31: $25
Oct 26 Halloween Party: $50

  • $10 Student Tickets Available – Student tickets will only be sold at the door as walk-up sales. 

Age requirements

No children under 8 admitted.

Additional Info

Production Photographs by Adam Jason Photography


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Nyctophobia Haunted House
1508 Main Road
Jamesport, NY
(Long Island)

Triple Feature Friday continued with a drive to Long Island for Nyctophobia Haunted House. Nyctophobia requires that you enter alone or in pairs. It is almost entirely dark and the people inside will touch you. It also has a safe word.

Twenty-year-old creator Eric Striffler is a member of Blackout Haunted House’s exclusive survivor’s club, but he is quick to point out that his inspiration for Nyctophobia didn’t come from the Vortex theatre’s haunt. In fact, he came up with the concept for Nyctophobia three years ago as part of a high school project, but at 17 he was unable to really put his plan into action. Until now.

As a fellow member of the survivor’s club, I can attest to the fact that while there are some similarities between Nyctophobia and Blackout they each provide completely different experiences. Nyctophobia avoids the sexual and violent themes used in Blackout and instead relies on a physical structure that creates a dark sensory fun house. The actors touch you, but they use an intentionally light touch as you make your way through the dark obstacle filled labyrinth.

Is it Scary?

The official answer on their website: “Yes. Very. This is an intense and unique experience unlike any other haunted house on Long Island.”

The Raven & Black Cat says: Fear is subjective. Some may find this terrifying. (They have had many people scream out the safe word.) If being touched in the dark while navigating a maze of tunnels, hallways, and sets makes you squirm then you will definitely enjoy this. 

The Rules

  • You are entering at your own risk.
  • You must enter the haunted house alone or in groups of two.
  • Actors will touch you, but you may not touch them.
  • You will be required to walk, sit, and crawl multiple times.
  • You will be required to remove your shoes at one point.
  • You will be required to interact with your surroundings, so please follow instructions.
  • Use of a light source (phone, flashlight, etc) other than what we provide is prohibited.
  • You may be recorded and photographed for promotional purposes.
  •  

    What I Loved

    The opening was fantastic. Each group of 1 (or 2 ) is forced to wait in a dimly lit holding cell. A fluorescent light with poor wiring sputters and struggles to stay lit occasionally going out completely for a second or two. In the distance you can hear retro children’s music so creepy it will make your skin crawl. When an actor finally brings you into the house they explain the premise and then use a simple sensory tactic that made me want to jump out of my skin. The opening set the scene perfectly and was great for building tension, but the highlight of the haunt is only experienced by those who walk through alone. There is an amazingly chilling simulation burial that scared-y cats walking through in pairs will miss.  

    What Could Be Better

    Eric Striffler’s Nyctophobia is brimming with potential, but there are a few things that keep it from being truly terrifying. The first is that there are a lot of missed opportunities where they could take things further and intentionally don’t out of concern that their Long Island audience won’t attend if it is too scary. I believe very strongly that a haunted house can never be too scary. Instead of catering to the fearful they should offer 2 completely different versions. From 7-9 p.m., allow people to go through in pairs for a toned-down version and then from 9-11 p.m., don’t hold back and only allow people to walk through alone. If you are doing something different and really scary people will come.

    Final Thoughts

    Nyctophobia is a haunted fun house with moments guaranteed to give you goose bumps. It is shocking that it was produced by someone so young. I look forward to future incarnations of Nyctophobia and wonder how the haunt will change and grow as its young creator matures. 

    Nyctophobia Runs

    October 6th – 22nd

    Ticket Discounts

    Full Price Ticket Prices
    General Admission: $18
    VIP Premium: $23

    • All tickets must be purchased online. No tickets will be sold at the door. Click Here to buy yours now! (They are nearly sold out for their last weekend.)
    • General admission ticket holders will get $3 back if they go through alone and make it all the way to the end.

    Age requirements

    No one under the age of 14 will be admitted.

    Additional Info


    The Spring Off-Season Event

    ***My experience of the Spring Off-Season Event as best as I can remember it due to the terror and disorientation that was experienced.***
    ———————————————————————————————————-
    I am a block away from the meeting place for the off-season event and I’m beginning to think that maybe this was a bad idea. I nervously glance down at the clock on my cell phone.

    4:26pm. Four more minutes. I type out a message to my fiancé and press send.

    4:28pm. I go over the rules in my head:

    #1 : Follow instructions.

    #2 : Do exactly what you’re told.

    #3 : Don’t touch the actors.

    #4 : No speaking or screaming.

    I can feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins. I look down again. 4:29pm. I wait 15 seconds and start walking down the street to the meeting point.  I see the man who was barking orders at the beginning of the last Haunted House. He’s wearing a headset and walking straight to me.

    He nods and says my name. He leads me to the other side of the street to sign the waiver. “You’re the Raven & Black Cat, right?”

    I nod, unsure of when the no talking rule is supposed to start.  I sign the waiver and then I have to repeat the last paragraph of the waiver on video.

    (A video waiver?  What have I gotten myself into…)

    Then he tosses me a set of keys and says, “Get in the van.”

    I turn and for the first time notice a large white cargo van parked on the near side of the street. “Wow….cars this time,” I think to myself, “the expanded waiver makes sense now.”  I approach the back of the van, unlock the door, open it, and climb inside.

    There are two men dressed in black sitting along the left side of the van and trying very hard to look very serious. The brown haired man to the left orders me to sit against the opposite side of the van. I sit in the wrong place. He yells, so I move.

    Then they both stare at me.

    After about a minute of looking around uncomfortably I decide to glare back. At the brown haired guy. The one who yelled at me.

    The blond man next to him startles me when he shouts for the keys clenched in my right hand. I toss them over. The driver gets in. The ignition starts and the hum of AM radio static fills the van. A traffic report. The van lurches forward and makes a right. The blond guy tosses me a blindfold and tells me to put it on. I carefully place the black fabric over my eyes and tie it over my long blonde hair.

    “Can you see?”

    I shake my head no. (I figure it’s a safe assumption that the no talking rule now applies.)
    “I don’t believe you,” the man barks. He crawls over and puts a second blindfold on my head. Then the van stops. Doors open and close.  There is shuffling about and then the van starts up again, backs up and drives away.

    I clutch the side of the van to avoid sliding across the empty vehicle. As I imagine the consequences of getting sideswiped by a cab, the van screeches to a halt. The driver gets out, walks around to the back, and opens the doors.

    “Get Out.”

    I climb out of the back of the van and wait for further instruction.

    “Follow the sound of my voice.”

    I stumble along trying to feel the uneven surface in front of me. There is a step up and a step to the right. Another step to the right. And as I walk straight ahead I feel a door frame brush by my shoulder.

    “Stop. <pause>  Now take off your blindfold and turn around.”

    I spin around just in time to see a metal security gate close over the bottom of the glass doorway sealing the abandoned building in darkness. A chill runs down my spine.

    I look around the dim candlelit room. It’s Gross, Dark, and Creepy.  “Come in,” a sinister voice calls out from the shadows.

    I walk around a partition and see another set of men standing side by side in similar black clothing. A circle of candles illuminates the room. In the corner is a long robe on a dress form, dark shoes, and a round white laundry basket.

    “Do you see the robe, shoes, and bin?” The man on the left asks.

    I nod.

    “Now take off all your clothes, put on the robe and shoes, put your clothes in the bin, and then sit in the chair.”

    I can feel my eyes widen in horror. Instantly, I am ANGRY. I weigh the pros and cons of walking out punches flying. Safety word be damned. Then I think about how long I waited to get this ticket and how I can’t write about something that I didn’t experience. I justify it by thinking about all the people that have seen me do quick changes in the wings during countless musical theatre performances.

    “Now repeat what I just said back to me.”

    Now I’m angry again. I thought there was no talking? Do I ignore Rules #1 & 2 or Rule #4?

    “Now repeat what I said back to me,” he says with added force.

    I repeat the words and the two men turn to face the wall and I perform the fastest quick change of my life.

    I lay my purse on top of my clothes and decide the expanded waiver really makes a lot of sense now. As I walk over to the chair, I wonder if everyone is wearing the same robe and if there is a fungus living in the dingy shoes. I sit down and the men return with a bucket. They bathe my arms, shins, neck, and hair in cold dirty water. The men bind my arms together and extinguish the candles. Darkness envelops the room and a bag comes down over my head. Someone leads me away from the chair to another room. My arms lift over my head and attach to a wire above my head. My mystery captor rubs his hands and face against the outside of the cloth bag and then vanishes.

    I stand alone in the darkness for a moment. My nose catches the distinctive odor of a permanent marker. Within seconds the felt tip is scribbling on the upper half of my back. I endure it and silently obsess over how to get the marker off. My thoughts are interrupted when a voice orders me to open my mouth.

    I open my mouth and latex covered fingers crawl inside my head. They probe the inside of my cheeks while I stand paralyzed in terror.

    I am still recovering from the oral cavity search when the bag pulls over my head again and I am ordered to scream. I hold on to tight to Rule #4 and keep my mouth clamped shut.

    I am moving again…nearly carried to another room. My arms pull out in front of me. The bonds are gone and a candle is now in my hands. They light the candle, pull the bag from my head, and instruct me to sit in a chair.

    The scene before me is lit only by my candlelight. I squint to see the back of a naked woman crouching in front of the wall. She is moaning and completely covered in blood. There is a pile of matter between her legs and a baby cries mechanically in the distance.

    I am trying to make sense of what stands before me when the woman turns and looks at me. She is chewing on something and mumbles. She slowly saunters over to wear I sit and punches me in the hand.

    The candle extinguishes on impact. My eyes adjust to the darkness and I see she is standing just inches away from me moaning, chewing on a tampon, and clutching her crotch. Her bloody hand reaches to my head and she runs it down my face and neck, stopping occasionally to gurgle and coo.

    Then she screams in my face.

    The loud outburst is followed by a high pitched request. “Eat,” she squeaks out. Her other hand is now holding a white rubbery substance to my mouth. I shudder and take a bite.

    I hold the rubbery bite in my mouth. I refuse to swallow this ‘vagina pasta’ or whatever the hell it is, when suddenly I am lifted from the chair and the disgusting snack falls from my mouth. 

    I am placed down in another room where a woman stands in an opening between two walls. She wears jeans and nothing else. The candle she holds illuminates a message written on her stomach. I see my fiancé’s full name. Above it are the words: “I F*cked.”

    “Put on your clothes.” She says.

    In front of her is the laundry basket filled with my belongings. In a flash, I toss off the robe and start pulling on my clothes. In a panic, I stop. I look in the basket, again. I have no pants. Suddenly, I realize that the girl standing in front of me is wearing my jeans!

    She stands frozen in place staring at me smugly. It becomes very clear that if I want my pants back I am going to have to take them back. I lean forward and unbutton my size 2 jeans. As I pry them from the curvy girl’s hips, I pull them down, exposing the lower half of her naked body. Then she screams.

    I quickly finish dressing and a blinding light appears.  Through a doorway I see the van. A voice orders me to get in the van. I run over and quickly climb inside. The brown haired man hands me a card and says:

    “It’s over. This is your last task. Take this card. Give it to the man in the green truck. Take what he gives you. Make a left on **** street and start eating it.”

    I follow the instructions perfectly. I turn onto the street and take the first bite of my red, white, and blue popsicle. I try to wrap my head around what just happened, but I am so pleased that it ended with a frozen treat that I don’t hear someone run up behind me.

    Without warning, I am in darkness and a voice screams, “IT’S NEVER OVER!!”

    I pull the bag off my head. The patriotic treat is gone.

    “What was that about!?” exclaims a man standing nearby.

    I shrug my shoulders and keep walking.

    ———————————————————————————————————-

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    I attended the NYC Halloween Haunted House Spring Off-Season Event on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 4:30pm. This was easily the most disturbing theatrical experience I have ever had. Even calling it a “haunted house” feels wrong because it defies all categories of horror themed entertainment.  A Horror Movie Abduction Simulation is the best way that I can describe what the Vortex Theater provides.  I was unprepared for how different this event would be from the haunted house in October.

    What I Loved: There were several brilliant moments and details that took my breath away.  Here are a few of my favorites.

    • The van was genius. Just the sight of it instantly gave me goose bumps.
    • The visual of the security gate closing over the glass doorway was both horrifying and cinematic.
    • The location and the candles created the perfect ambiance.
    • The sensory deprivation is always used well and it is truly terrifying.
    • Violating our emergency contact person was both disturbing and hilarious.

    Victim Feedback:  I have to admit that I was surprised by how rough the cast was. I assume I was accidentally punched in the hand, but I’m not entirely sure. Also, I’m on the small side and whoever carted me around in the dark used so much unnecessary force that my back was sore for a week.

    This haunt was very over the top. All the shock value made me miss the simplicity of the early moments of the October haunted house. Reaching for a handful of rope and getting a handful of warm fingers or being alone in the dark with just white noise and your thoughts were both so effective for building tension. It forced your imagination into overdrive.

    Taking my clothes off angered me more than anything else. It didn’t make me feel vulnerable. Instead, it pulled me out of the experience. I was no longer a frightened victim. I was a haunted house patron concerned about cleanliness and safety.

    I always think that the scariest moments are when I’m caught off guard and I forget where I am. A brilliant meeting of surprise and imagination. It’s the moment when I think that horrible woman is going to put something disgusting in my mouth, but once she actually does it’s not scary anymore. It loses the power it had just a second ago because what you conjure up in your head is always worse than the reality.

    Overall, I enjoyed being a part of such a crazy horror experiment. The formula is still being perfected, but NYC Halloween Haunted House gets a lot right with their new form of horror entertainment.  I look forward to what they’ll have in store this summer and in October.

    Read My Reviews of Other Blackout Haunted House Events:

     


    My mission to attend the Vortex Theatre’s exclusive off-season haunt officially began when I received three e-mails yesterday at 10:29am-10:30am from NYC Halloween Haunted House. Each e-mail contained one dot (.) creating an ellipsis or ‘suspension point.’

    These masters of suspense have me checking my e-mail obsessively.

    How long will the suspense last? How long will they toy with us? There are 62 invitations going out and only 20 tickets available. Once the invitations go out it will be a cutthroat battle to see who can secure their visit to this exclusive and unconventional off-season haunt.


    NYC Halloween Haunted HouseClick Here

    NYC’s scariest haunted house will strike fear into its invited guests at a secret location this April. To receive an invitation you must have attended one of their previous haunts. The Raven & Black Cat is keeping their fingers crossed that they receive an invitation to this bone-chilling exclusive event.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRfcmDTwNZo]


    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.***

    ———————————————————————————————–

    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.

    ————————————————————————————————

    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:

     


    Tonight, I am attending the epic experience that is, NYC Halloween Haunted House. I had considered not going, but my curiosity got the better of me and I have to know what the fuss is all about.

    Tickets are currently sold out, but you can check their Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates on extra tickets or go to the theatre about 2 hours early to wait in the cancellation line.

    115 W. 27th St, Ground Floor

    New York, NY 10001

    212-352-3101

    866-811-4111

    Follow me on twitter @RavenBlackCat  while I wait to enter the house and for my reaction after I (hopefully) make it out alive.



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