Tuesday, October 30


I finally made it out to some haunted houses this weekend, starting with Nightshade Manor Sunday night and the two Nightmarez Haunts in Cordova last night.

Nightshade Manor was decent last year, but it seems like it improved this year. They added a hallway lit by strobes where heads and chains and (plastic) barbed wire hang from the ceiling so that you bump into nasty stuff as you make your way through. There was no dude who chased us out with a chainsaw, though. But I guess seeing my friend Shane walk through the entire house in a French maid outfit (complete with ghost-deflecting duster!) made the lack of chainsaw-wielding maniacs worth it.

(Also, as Shane and his girlfriend are vegetarians, I had to wonder how they felt about the room featuring the writhing, headless pig hung from the ceiling, and the fat man walking past us with that pig's head on his dinner plate. I mean, human gore is one thing, but animals?)

Patrick, who runs the Nightmarez Haunt, was awesome and kind enough to invite me to go through the haunts (there are two of them: a creepy 3-D clown haunt and an insane asylum) and then come backstage to see how everything works behind the scenes. I have to tell you, being behind the heavy black curtain for half an hour seriously made me reconsider my career trajectory. Because those people have so much fun. I know it takes a lot of money and a lot of time, but I imagine it's got to be worth it when you can scare the crap out of suburban teenagers who think they're invincible.

The clown haunt is exceedingly weird. It's blacklit, and there's neon paint splattered everywhere, including the floor, so that everything you look at looks three-dimensional. I saw some seriously demented clown artwork and masks. And I lumbered my way through one of those revolving mirrored funhouse tunnels without falling down. Score!

The asylum haunt was my favorite of the two (I wouldn't say I'm afraid of clowns, but I have a low tolerance for them). You walk in and a crazy doctor is operating on a patient, and the doctor starts talking to the group about the patient's problem (dagger through the skull) and how he's going to fix it. The patient, of course, is the fellow in the wheelchair in this photo, and he doesn't have too much to say about his ordeal. So the doctor tells you you're about to take a tour of his facility or whatever (I don't remember the exact speech, but you get the idea) and that YOU'LL NEVER MAKE IT OUT ALIVE, BWAHAHAHA! He ushers you into some kind of elevator/transporter, and he closes the door, and it's pitch black. I was in there with two girls I didn't know and Patrick, who was hamming it up to make it even scarier. People start beating on the box, and it starts moving all around and it's quite creepy.

I won't give away everything, but I will give serious, serious props for two rooms in the haunt: The meatlocker room (elbow your way through bodies hanging in plastic, some of which are twitching) and the open, barely lit room leading to the kitchen.

That was the absolute scariest moment of the whole thing for me. Most of the haunted houses keep people moving along through narrow corridors with occasional wider rooms that display scary things. This held to that convention mostly, but suddenly you're exiting a hallway into a very dark, very large room with low-hanging moss and vines above you, and absolutely no idea where in the room to go. You can see shadowy movements in the distance, in the corner. And light coming from somewhere. But it's up to you how you make your way across that room.

Me? I ran. Okay, fast-walked.

It was awesome.

From what I can tell, the big difference between Nightshade and Nightmarez is the acting of the volunteers. Nightshade seems to have more actors (they're paid), but for the most part, they follow you around, staring at you menacingly from beneath their makeup or masks. It's creepy. Very much so. But it's not scary in a jump-out-and-make-you-scream way. Nightmarez relies on actors (volunteers) who will ham it up based on the story. There was the doctor, of course, who was kind of silly and not too threatening, but then there are other demented doctors and nurses running around, interacting with people and asking if they're next for their appointments. Then you've got patients who are up and running and scaring the bejesus out of you when possible.

All the haunts put their proceeds to good causes, which is excellent, but even if they didn't, I'd recommend everyone go and check them out.

Nightshade Manor: 1301 Heistan Place
Nightmarez Haunt: North Germantown Parkway at Trinity Lane

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Blogger Squeaky Wheel said...

I'll probably not go, because your descriptions were enough to give me the heebie-jeebies. Heh.

Wed Oct 31, 12:31:00 AM  
Anonymous grandefille said...


You are most brave, madam. MOST brave. I can't do it, even though I know they can't touch you because of the liability issues. Still. (That photo skeered me, even.)

I went through a haunted house on a dare in Tampa (Ibor City! Woot!) that was really REALLY getting to me -- until the Grim Reaper walked up to me, eeerily stroking his scythe and murmuring and reaching for my shoulder, and then said, clearly, "Shit." when one of his long fingers fell off.

The guy whisperingly begged me to stifle my laughter and told me he'd refund my entrance fee if I didn't bust him. I told him it was worth the money, waited until the coast was clear, then gave him a hug.

So yes, I have danced with Death. Or at least hugged its neck.

Wed Oct 31, 09:26:00 AM  

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