Is the new face of theming someone who’s face is missing or worse yet you facing every fear you can imagine? Normally these are the themes and questions we would be dealing with only during the Halloween season.
With Knott’s introducing such new fare as Trapped and Halloween trends of “interactive haunts” in NY and LA, the face of Halloween haunts may have changed permanently. Genre fans are no longer satisfied just walking through a maze and having scarers jump out. They are demanding interactive scares and fully immersive theming.
During the Halloween season we saw an ever-increasing immersion into the horror theme with additions such as Jon Braver’s Delusion – Masque of Mortality in LA. A beautiful, well crafted interactive horror themed play. In addition the Great Horror Campout would have you hanging out with new friends and sleeping in the woods… and then being hunted by monsters and serial killers throughout the night. These events have certainly gone more interactive, but we are now seeing a trend of such events bleeding into the rest of the year.
Eli Roth’s Goratorium, though plagued with long lines, poor decisions and an investment that relied too heavily on the haunted house portion of the location in Las Vegas attempted to set the standard for full-time, year round haunted houses. Though not a new concept by any means, the attempt was admirable in a town like Las Vegas. Sadly it closed it’s doors last year and will, in theory be showing up as a “pop up” haunt or possibly a travelling haunt. We will see what develops there. It is a cautionary tale to those looking to invest in such theming… get a solid business plan that is sustainable.
Blackout in LA, NYC and Chicago has been billed as Full Contact Immersive Horror Theatre that during the Halloween seasons sees guests submitting to physical and emotional violation in an attempt to find your taboo and scare everyone who enters alone with only a flashlight for comfort.
(warning video may not be family friendly)
A recent event that has shown up on our radar is brought to us by the Freakling Brothers out on Las Vegas called The Victim Experience: March of Death. The Freakling Brothers have been operating a year round haunt in Vegas since 1992, though they have been in the business since 1976. In 2011 they opened The Gates of Hell, their first full contact haunted house. In a country where haunts mean the relative safety of the “you don’t touch us we don’t touch you” environments, this was a new step. This attraction, which opened in 2013 sees guests basically signing their life away in an attempt for the ultimate scare. With a safe word in hand, you enter a realm where you will by physically and psychologically assaulted (in a controlled environment of course).
There are many more to mention and we will update this page as the truly highest quality themed ones become more prevalent, however it still remains to be seen if this is a passing trend (like many of the so-called torture-porn films have been) or if this represents the new face of what was once a horror subculture leaking into the mainstream again.
Perhaps the days of haunted hay rides and corn mazes have reached their end as younger generations of horror and haunt fans demand more interaction. Time will tell. In the mean time, tell us what your favourite is and we will add it to the list. We will also be checking out similar installations in the UK and Asia in a future installation.
If you have a desire to be truly scared we would recommend attending one of these attractions either during the year (perhaps on Valentine’s Day with a loved one) or during the Halloween season. Test your resolve, sign a waiver and get your safe word… your concept of what a haunt may be forever changed.