Let me say straight out, I'm not going to reveal "the scares" or the twists and turns of Nightmare because, well it would just ruin the entire damn thing for you. What I'll try to explain is the feel, the look and the wonder of why this is the best haunted house experience you'll get this year.
Nightmare: Vampires is a live action, ARG of horror nightmares come to life. It's an uber sensory overload that heightens your hearing, vision, smell, touch and taste. You will scream, shout, laugh and be utterly mesmerized by the brilliance of each and every room. This isn't your Twilight vamps looking for misguided love folks. This is your legendary bloodsuckers and mythos vampires, living and breathing right in front of your face. Believe me, it's not for the faint of heart.
You know the old saying from Dawn of the Dead: "When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth". Well, that just describes this awesome haunted house in a nutshell.
Let's get the facts out of the way first.
(From the official site)
Now in its sixth year and at a new location, NIGHTMARE’S fully immersive haunted house takes haunting to a whole new level. Get ready to play your part in NIGHTMARE: VAMPIRES, a unique haunted attraction that unfolds as an original horror story! Set in the Museum of Vampyric Artifacts (MoVa), the world's first vampire museum features antiquities related to vampires from the headlines, in the media and from around the world. However, when MoVa and everyone in it are attacked by blood-lusting maniacs, you won’t just be viewing the exhibits on display…you’ll be running from them! Witness the birth of a new vampire legend!
As the description above says, you enter the fictional MoVA, where you learn more about the legend of the vampyres. From then on, it's on. If you have a cross, it's time to put it on.
Each room is a sight to behold. I decided to go and walk slowly and admire each carefully crafted set. If you decide to go, I suggest you do the same. The props, scenery and displays of horrific memorabilia are works of art. You will have never seen anything like it before. Think Saw sets, Dario Argento backdrops and churches on LSD. You can tell that the Haskell and his entire crew detailed everything to the minutia so that each room had a different look and feel of horror bliss.
OK, I know you've been waiting for me to write what the scares are like. Well you're not going to get anything from me. Let me just say, part of the brilliance of Nightmare is that it doesn't matter if you decide to be the first one to enter the room or the last. You're going to get so frightened you'll bump into the stranger next to you as you stagger back into the arms of your significant other.
After the tour had ended, I got to talk to Tim Haskell and he feels like this is one of his best years for the haunted house. But he also added they have a motto for the actors and that's "Don't just scare the girls". And these professionals are equal opportunity scarers. I guarantee even the alpha male manliest man will get the shit scared out of him at least once. I'll admit I did. You never know when its coming and as I examined each and every part of the room, I once almost #2-ed into my pants.
That's not to say there isn't something funny about it all. I was making snarky remarks to my friends and to the group of strangers who were with us in our "tour group". I was even addressing my remarks to the maniacs, crazies, vamped up ravers and insane asylum prisoners hoping I'd get a reaction. (BTW, one of the rules is the actors can't touch you and vice versa). Note to self. Don't do that. You'll get more than you bargained for.
To get the whole experience, you have to cowboy up and be brave. Standing in the middle of the pack is going to be a letdown if you don't interact with what's in each room. The actors are very effective in their ninja skills, their sideshow carnival shows and their yelling and screaming. Only once did I get some dialogue from the show. In addition, darkness is your ultimate mortal enemy in Nightmares. In comes into play in some interesting ways from room to room.
But what separates this mature rated haunted house experience from the others is the story. Sure, other haunted houses may touch you or jump out in a hockey mask or even gross you out with live pig intestines but at the end of the day, a perfectly crafted story gets you wrapped up with whats going on. And its 1 billion times more effective when you're a participant in the story!
That's the genius of Nightmares: Vampires. It really is like a live action alternate reality game where you play your part acting as pseudo"unfortunate teenagers" who must escape from the now chaotic museum.
I had never been to Tim Haskell's Nightmare haunted house before. I did hear about it but it's one of those things that if you're a New Yorker, you think you'll eventually go to sooner or later. I'm glad it was sooner. It can break the monotony of the week and is just as effective as watching a horror movie in Real 3D. The only difference is this 3D is living and breathing and getting your heart racing a million beats per second.
You are missing out if you don't partake in Nightmare: Vampires. If you're too scared too go, I'm sure if you dress up as Buffy or Van Helsing or Blade you'll be fine. Start carving your stakes, shining your silver and get your holy water ready. But please, leave the garlic at home.
The house opens on September 25th and runs to November 7th. It's located at the NOHO Event Center on 623 Broadway at Houston (enter on Mercer Street). Tickets are $30 (advance) or $35 at the door. More info here.
For more info head over to the official site. For some behind the scenes stuff, check out Tim Haskell's blog at iscareyou.com.
**If you decide to go...**
Getting the VIP tickets saves on time and the long line that's to be expected as we get closer to Halloween. Plus you get an awesome gift bag.
I went yesterday and got Guillermo Del Toro's vampire novel, The Strain!
Check out the promo page for the best time to go!
For the brave people who did go? What did you think? Comment away!
Here are some trailers to get you revved up. Boo!
the jaded viewer related linkage:
NYC Haunted House: Blood Manor (Super Scary Review)
Insano Steve vs Blood Manor (Review)
Thicker than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 Review