We rate three of NYC's haunted houses, from the pants-wettingly terrifying (clowns!) to the Twilight-level fluffy.
Mon Oct 12 2009
(542 W 27th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves; 212-290-2825, bloodmanor.com; $25--$45, through Nov 7)
The meat: This massive Chelsea haunted house celebrates its fifth birthday this year. There's lots of yelling and gross innuendo involving unpleasant implements—including cleavers and drills—as you walk through reenactments of classic horror movie scenes.
The gristle: Clowns. And Blood Manor is full of them. We constantly reminded ourselves that it was not, in fact, clown clobbering time, even as the variously Afroed extras from It made us remember that they all float, Georgie.
The lame fake rubber hand covered in ketchup: As returning Blood Manor victims, we were slightly disappointed that it was missing a few of its best actors from 2008, like the creepy guy in a Michael Myers mask. And one of the characters was hitting on our girlfriend, which is definitely lame.
Fright factor: Clowns are scary, but zombie strippers are hot. We're confused!
Vortex Haunted House
(Sanford Meisner Theater, 164 Eleventh Ave between 22nd and 23rd Sts; nychalloweenhauntedhouse.com; $12--$20, through Oct 31)
The meat: The psychos behind A Midsummer's Nightmare debut their latest creation, an ultraviolent haunted house. The rules stipulate that every patron wear a paranoia-inducing surgical mask and enter the labyrinth alone. Get some liquid courage with a $1 shot of whiskey before entering.
The gristle: Not having a group around to nervously laugh off the faux horror is a pretty effective scare tactic. The tunnel of death at the end, which you traverse on your hands and knees, helps heighten a truly terrifying finish.
The lame fake rubber hand covered in ketchup: It's a pretty quick romp (15 minutes or so) through this terrordome, which is a bit of a letdown; the scary energy is still building when the traverse abruptly ends.
Fright factor: Better bring a change of pants.
(Noho Event Center, 623 Broadway at Houston St; 212-929-2963, nightmarenewyork.com; $30--$60, through Nov 7)
The meat: The latest version of this annual haunted house puts you in a tour group at a vampire museum. After Vlad Tepes's dagger goes missing, you delve in (past the impotent-looking Twilight dummy), to a world of freaky vampires that are straight out of 30 Days of Night.
The gristle: One room in particular, full of dry-ice smoke and lit by a blacklight, is rife with confusing, darting shadows. A birth-canal-type thing, filled with continuously flowing air, is claustrophobia-inducing; you may have to draw straws to see who goes through first.
The lame fake rubber hand covered in ketchup: In high school, we found the class production of West Side Story pretty terrifying. Nightmare has that level of acting.
Fright factor: Scarier than a horde of screaming, Edward Cullen--obsessed teenagers.