Monday, October 18, 2010

NYC Haunted House - Vortex Theater's NYC Halloween Haunted House (Review)

I'm kind of proud of myself this year. I set a goal for myself to go to all 3 major NYC Haunted Houses. First was Nightmare: Superstitions which was cleverly fun, next up was Blood Manor which always thrilled me with their highly detailed sets and finally I had to go to the one haunted house that I didn't go to last year. Josh Randall and Kris Thor's Vortex Theater's Halloween Haunted House was the most intimidating of the 3 and I was actually kind of nervous about going to this one. It's reputation has been growing as the ultimate experience in psychological horror.

The fact that this haunted house has a safety word says volumes.

But I have to say, I saved the best for last. There are no gimmicks or fancy sets here. This is you alone having to go through a series of rather intense actions and reactions. To call Vortex Theater's Haunted House a haunted house is kind of misleading. It's more of a psychological horror experiment. Do Josh Randall and Kris Thor have PHd's in fear? Because it's like your worst ever nightmare scenario come to life.

NYC Halloween Haunted House is an experiment that tests your emotional and mental limits with audio and visual stimuli that you swear you've just checked yourself into a crazy psychologist's fun house. I've been creeped and slightly scared by other haunted houses but in this experience I've never been mentally exhausted and felt so dirty after going to one. But I gotta admit, it's the good kind of dirty.

The Disclaimer.....

The fact you have to sign a waiver had me little WTF-ed. With the waiver is an acknowledgement of the rules which are below.

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2010 Rules

1. STAY ON THE MARKED PATH AT ALL TIMES.

2. YOU WILL BE PROMPTED TO DO CERTAIN ACTIONS, (i.e. "sit down", "stop", "move forward") PLEASE DO EXACTLY AS YOU'RE TOLD. THIS IS FOR YOUR SAFETY.
IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS - YOU WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE.

3. DO NOT EVER TOUCH THE ACTORS.

4. DO NOT EVER TOUCH THE WALLS.

5. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SPEAKING ALLOWED INSIDE. YOU CAN, HOWEVER, SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU'D LIKE.

6. YOU MUST WEAR A PROTECTIVE MASK AND CARRY A FLASHLIGHT AT ALL TIMES.
(we will provide both of these items for you. please do not bring your own.)

**NOTE**

They've totally removed the flashlight from your inventory this year. To me this was a good thing.

7. YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO REMOVE YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS. PLEASE BE PREPARED TO DO SO.

8. YOU MUST WALK THROUGH ALONE.

If you have an emergency while walking through the house and need to be escorted out, please yell the word “SAFETY” as loud as you can. Stay where you are, remain calm, and someone will come to get you and bring you out. Once you call "SAFETY", there are no refunds and there are no options but to leave.

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Interesting rules no? But once you take part it all kind of makes sense. The most anxious part of the experience was the actual waiting to go in. While I was waiting a few participants ran out and afterwards called the experience "intense". This was not bolding well for our hero, the jaded viewer. Other's ran out screaming, seems it was rather too much for them to handle. I had read on their Twitter feed the night before they had just had a few "Safeties". Suffice it to say, I didn't have just butterflies in my stomach, they're were pterodactyls.

While waiting with another fellow noob, we tried to break this nervousness with humor, but more participants exited looking rather flustered. Never has a buildup been so grueling. Insane thoughts entered my head. Would I yell out the safety word? Would I start to hyperventilate? Scream? Umm cry?

That's when I was called in to enter behind the black partition.

Obviously, I'm not going to tell you a detail by detail account of what happened to me as it would ruin the experience for anyone wanting to partake. But here's a glimpse of what my reactions were.

The Stimuli.....

If I told you what happened, you wouldn't go. Where is the fun in in that? But what I will say that complete darkness is 50% of the experience and though terrifying, I have to admit the scenes where you meet the performers are as chilling as the blackness.

There is no doubt that you will be touched and you will be pushed and held and a couple of things I can't really name. It's an odd sensation to be physically touched by total strangers, some you see and some you can't see. At times, I felt as if I was in a movie where I didn't know my lines. Hell I tried to improvise and it came out as "ARGHHHHHH...Jesus H. Christ!". You are made to follow actions in pitch darkness, kneeling and walking and crawling. It really messes with your mind to see a few glimpses of light get snuffed out and all you hear is machinery and approaching footsteps.

Mind you are equipped with only a safety mask (which only amplifies the trapped in feeling you get). I can see why they do this as it only adds to the out of breath stimuli that tricks you into thinking you're in some quarantine zone.

Add all these things together and I was a little weirded out by it all. I was scared a little and at times jumped out my socks but somehow the most anxiety came from what the hell would happen next. Which leads us to our actors.......

The Performers.....

Other haunted houses will have you interact with the actors for a few minutes before they usher you to another room. But in this one, you become the center of attention for more than that. I met a variety of insane hot vixen "mental patients" as well as some thuggity thugs. If ever there was a mix of Rated X sex and violence in a live action haunted house, this be it.

I have so much admiration for these actors as they have to perform the same scene in a span of a few frantic minutes. You encounter them and they in turn encounter you. Whose to say who gets scared more? But the dimly lit sets and their sickly dialogue was more mesmerizing to me than the darkness itself. If ever there was a haunted house that took advantage of their setting it's this one. A Hollywood set designer couldn't make it creepier.

Sure, creepy makeup and monster masks are scary for tweens but for the jaded viewer, the subtle touches of psychological torture and all out weirdness are a little more frightening. Who knows what the hell these characters have up their sleeves? You really play the victim in this living horror movie and for me it was one of the most thrilling experiences I've ever had. My snarky misfit character I was creating in my head was enduring an ecletic group of characters which all climaxed in the ultimate final room which made my jaw drop as I entered. So what was in this room?

Oh golly gee Beav, just some serious uber depravity.

This wasn't just images on a screen. This was touchy feely depravity in high def 4D.

The Jaded Viewer's Final Thoughts.....

So what's the best haunted house in NYC? Well that's a tough one to answer. All of them have their perks and little things that make them standout. But I have to say Vortex Theater's NYC Halloween Haunted House left me with the creepiest feeling I've ever had. The visual mental scars are now embedded in my mind.

I oddly now know what it feels like to be Abu Gharaib-ed. I was molested (in a scary way) but not so much I'll be running to my local priest (errrr well that maybe even a worst idea). It's an interactive experience that makes you the main character in a live action horror movie.

Think of this as your 15 minutes. You're the star and all eyes are on you. You're going to have to improvise your lines and you also haven't read the script. You're the victim and also the the final girl (or guy).

That's how I felt as I went through it. Like the tagline says:

"You don't just walk through it -you live it."

I couldn't agree more.

The Vitals.....

Vortex Theater's NYC Halloween Haunted House is located at 115 West 27th Street in Chelsea. Tickets range between $15-$30. For more information head to any of the links below.


NYC Halloween Haunted House - 2009 from HauntedNYC on Vimeo.

Have you been to Vortex Theater's NYC Haunted House? Share your experience and leave a comment!

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Want to read a spoiler and walkthrough review of Vortex Theater's NYC Halloween Haunted House??

CLICK HERE!!!!


Click here to read a review of Blackout Haunted House 2011!


18 comments:

  1. Hey Man,

    You're review is spot on! I was "the noob" waiting to go in with you. Our veiled attempts at humor and fun awkwardly tried to ease the tension, but I was certainly still scared shitless! I had a great time in it though. You're 100% right when you describe it as being more of a psychological thrill than a traditional haunted house. There aren't men with chainsaws and clown masks, it more of a frightening, re-wireing of the brain, mess with your dreams, type scare! I have been obsessively reading reviews of this place since I went through it and just stumbled across your blog. Excellent review! I agree with everything that you said. It was intense, but for the thrill seeker, very fun! My girlfriend said that I got out before you! Looks like you got the grand tour. Lucky you!! I admittedly ran out, but I was running out laughing!

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  2. PUMPED for Halloween this year!!! My favorite time of year actually!!! I hope to check out all the houses in the next two weeks, but I am definitely going to NIGHTMARE: Superstitions - I heard it's superb and SPOOKY. I got my ticket for only $19.25 (regularly $30) on BuyWithMe NYC. See you there! http://bit.ly/9pJMRP

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  3. spoilers. give me them.
    ilikeshellfish@gmail.com

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  4. Hey Scott - What was the fuss all about? Except for the part about the blood bunny I wasn't freak (I'm kidding folks, there was no bloody bunny..or was there? hmmmm)

    Glad you dug the review...I think I'm still strobing.

    Anonymous - Are you gonna go to this haunted house or are you in a far far away land from NYC? I don't wanna spoil it for ya.

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  5. That sounds terrifying!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I live too far away so please shoot me some spoilers: steinjam81@gmail

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  7. I live too far away as well. Spoilers pleasee! email here: skirts7@aol.com

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  8. For everybody who is looking for spoilers for this haunted house, I promise I'll write up a post after Halloween with a detailed account of what happens. I know that kinda sucks but I want to make sure people who go go in not knowing anything.

    So check back after Halloween!

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  9. Awesome Awesome place worth every dollar i never had an experience like this before... This place left me with the creepiest feeling... A total Mind F*CK

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  10. I'd like to write my experience concerning therules.

    1. STAY ON THE MARKED PATH AT ALL TIMES.

    Kinda couldn't see path in complete darkness.

    2. YOU WILL BE PROMPTED TO DO CERTAIN ACTIONS, (i.e. "sit down", "stop", "move forward") PLEASE DO EXACTLY AS YOU'RE TOLD. THIS IS FOR YOUR SAFETY.
    IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS - YOU WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE.

    Seriously, do as they say or you're fucked.

    3. DO NOT EVER TOUCH THE ACTORS.

    Nope, I didn't touch em though there were a few hotties in there that I totally would have touched. *wink* *wink*

    4. DO NOT EVER TOUCH THE WALLS.

    I touched the walls. Nothing bad happened.

    5. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SPEAKING ALLOWED INSIDE. YOU CAN, HOWEVER, SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU'D LIKE.

    I spoke a few words. Mostly "OK". "RUFF!!!!" "Hrphrphhmpfgkjnfdjdn"

    6. YOU MUST WEAR A PROTECTIVE MASK AND CARRY A FLASHLIGHT AT ALL TIMES.
    (we will provide both of these items for you. please do not bring your own.)

    **NOTE**

    The mask really makes it hard to breathe. Felt like I was being waterboarded.

    7. YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO REMOVE YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS. PLEASE BE PREPARED TO DO SO.

    Oh yeah...this shit happens and you'll find out why.

    8. YOU MUST WALK THROUGH ALONE.

    Yup. It's a killer haunted house when you have to walk through it alone.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just got out of it alittle after 11pm. 4 hr wait but worth it. Best thrill I've had in years! Very transgressive. During my wait two people yelled, "safety!" and were escorted out. Its like you go to a haunted Guantonemo Bay and experience the Blair Witch Project and get groped all at the same time. You basicly sign a waiver that allows them to legally molest and abuse you. What happens to you in those dark halls flirts wt sexual assault but doesn't quite cross that line (not that I mind). THIS is why I live in New York! For some reason they never gave us any flashlights. I can't wait for the next thing they do. I wish they had stuff like this all year `round.

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  12. what kind of "sexual" and "molesting" goes on? I understand we'd have to sign a waiver permitting it, but i'm kinda nervous about what i'm permitting them to actually do...

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  13. Can i have spoilers also...too far in Florida to attend. sorry to have moved out of NYC and miss this:-) ricmic1212@verizon.net thanks.

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  14. Can someone just post spoilers here! Its after halloween!

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  15. Spoilers Here: http://fb.me/Lj0viazy

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  16. Facinating to read other people's spoilers about this. I suspect everyone's experience in this had subtle variations. For me:

    -At the end of the long dark string hall there were human hands waiting to grab me. At first I though they were rubber.

    -They never touched my ear or popped the balloon but instead rubbed some ointment on my lower back whilst I assumed "the position".

    -The body at the end of the tunnel asked me some questions and said, "I think you'd be better off going to the left", then sent me to crawl under some layered garbage bags. To the left I found a hunky guy who proceeded to give me a lovely massage. I suspect if you go to the right you get massaged by a female.

    -I never got to bark like a dog

    -I never saw the black dude F'ing the white chick. Instead I walk into that room and noones there. I'm ordered to stand on this X, then naked black dude enters, stage left. He then appears to fornicate into my shoe. Then he walks over and starts touching me, then orders me to lay on the bed. On the bed I find myself laying next to a catatonic naked woman. Suddenly she springs to life and starts attacking me, black dude then pushes her off and yells, "STAY AWAY from him, he's MINE!"

    -Crazy doosh nurse ordered me to put on my shoe

    -In that bathroom I'm ordered to wash my hands but as soon as they're wet they yell, "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!?" and chase me down the hall yelling, "GET THE FUCK OUTA MY HOUSE!".

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  17. Hi,

    That,s a great psychologists Platform and every new habit begins with mental shifts and thank you very much for your instruction it,s very helpful or If you want to know more here is (Dr. Mike Abrams) Dr. Mike Abrams' approaches life problems by continually listening for client beliefs that lead to emotional distress. This humanistic technique is applicable to social, interpersonal, family, and sexual problems. He is among the few psychologists in New York City Board who is Certified in these methods. Below are some of the core beliefs that cause emotional disturbance, Visit us on..
    http://psychny.com

    ReplyDelete