a jaded viewer reviews the world of horror, splatter, gore, cult, grindhouse, trash, b-movie, indie, asian, exploitation films and haunted houses
Monday, October 31, 2011
Things to Do While You Wait on Line at a Haunted House
Happy Halloween fellow jaded viewers!
I'm guessing your prepping your costume and are getting ready to trick or treat, heading to a party or parade or going to get your scare on at a haunted house. Well about that haunted house....
Haunted houses on Halloween night are the apex of all things Halloween. It's the perfect attraction but the anticipation is met head on with long freakin lines. You're going to wait and wait and move up a little and wait some more. You're probably reading this as you wait on line.
I'll admit, I've never had to wait during haunted houses as my press credentials now have become my VIP pass. But I've done it before and I know how horrible it can sometimes be. I decided to see for myself the pre-Halloween buzz at the now most popular haunted house in NYC, Blackout Haunted House (see review here). And boy the line was insane.
Scanning the line, Blackout has brought in a ton of noobs from different backrounds, ages and gender. Having talked to the Blackout crew, people have traveled as far as Toronto! to check out Blackout. Now that's commitment.
But what do you do while you wait? Well I've compiled a list of things to do before you get your scare on. Enjoy!
1.) Read the jaded viewer 2.) Keep checking Facebook every 2 minutes 3.) Keep checking Twitter every 1 minute 4.) Smoke a joint 5.) Tell the person in front of you their mom is looking for them 6.) Pull out a crucifix and yell out "God hates vampires!" 7.) Check your pockets for hidden money, proceed to hide money in sock 8.) Tell the person behind you that this is your second time walking through. Inform them that you had to remove your pants when you meet the "killer clown" 9.) Text your friend you signed a waiver which allows them to "insert an object into your mouth" 10.) Listen to The Misfits, proceed to yell out the lyrics 11.) See little kids in the crowd, tell them they won't be coming out 12.) Show picture of real life "ghost" (this can be done by installing that fake ghost app) 13.) Recruit people in front of you and tell them you're part of the HH. When you say "Follow me" proceed to exit and head to parking lot. Say Trick or Treat! It was a trick! Give them Twizzlers for their participation. 14.) Take out pocket mirror and keep saying Bloody Mary. Ask if people in line want to try. 15.) Vomit into paper bag. Tell crowd they got real corpses inside and you're the mortician that dressed them up. 16.) Bring a replica Hellraiser cube, ask if anybody knows how to solve it 17.) Tell security if somebody tries to scare you, you're gonna punch em in the face 18.) Prep yourself to walk through in your sunglasses 19.) Ask any hot girl if they need a personal bodyguard 20.) Drink Gatorade, tell people this usually lasts "around 2 hours"
Well I hope I could help as you wait on those crazy freakin lines. Enjoy the night and have a Happy Halloween!
How can a haunted house be under the radar in the heart of Times Square? It's Halloween weekend and you'd think everybody would be aware of all places to get your scare on. But in the case of Times Scare, the newest haunted house on the NYC block, it looks like it needs a spotlight of it's own and I'm here to do just that.
Because it's brand new, production crews have been working around the clock to get it ready. Originally slated to open Oct 13th, delays rescheduled opening night to 10/21 instead. What's unique about Times Scare is the fact it will be a YEAR ROUND haunted house. You read that right. I believe this is the first of it's kind in NYC and it's in a perfect place to get tourists tantalized for a quick scare. What's also kinda cool is that it's themed with John Carpenter's classic movie Halloween and as one of my favorite movies I couldn't be more thrilled to enter Haddonfield mental hospital to meet the loonies and the crazies....and of course Michael, the king of slashers.
In addition to the haunted house, Times Scare has 2 bars: The Kill Room and The Lounge. I didn't get my drink on, but drinking some liquid courage before some scares is always a good way to start off a haunted night. If that wasn't enough, Times Scare also has a live magic show called Shock Illusion starring Dan Sperry. Think Criss Angel meets Tim Burton. I didn't get to see the magic show but it sounds magically delicious. Hopefully I'll get to check it out at some point.
When I said Times Scare was incognito, I wasn't kidding. There was literally no line (though I think this weekend might change all that) and I was accompanied by 2 girls who seem a little nervous about meeting Michael. I explained to them I was a blogger who reviewed HH's and they put me defacto in charge of our 3 person group. "You go first!" exclaimed one of the girls. I'm was fine with that, it's how I roll. Times Scare starts off up some stairs and awaiting you is a large metal door opens where loud clanging and clamoring of unseen asylum patients greets you. You start off checking in with a very dreary nurse for Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. Once you're explained the rules, you run through the halls for the mentally insane. Crazies, weirdos, nutzoids are all jumping for help and in the process, making you jump as well. You'll also get to meet the hospital staff from dazed nurses to mad doctors. As you chug along, you visit the confines of Haddonfield hospital where patients all seem a little off (or should I say they were off-ed). One nurse gave me a shot as she said "I looked ill". And I'll admit the nurses were kinda hotties even though they seemed to not be able to direct you where you should go (just point me in the right direction!) They all had that stoned look on their face and some victims screamed in pain from what seemed to be kitchen knife stab wounds....who could have done such a thing???
What grabbed my eye is the sets in each room. The rooms were very well done. Some stuff seem unfinished but it's probably due to the rush to get this all live. Faux mental hospital doors, caged bars and what seemed to look like a working operating room were very awesome. I was very impressed by some impromptu surgery and the level of gore and splatter. Times Scare is the brainchild of Jason Egan who is the man behind Fright Dome, a haunt central in Las Vegas. So it's no surprise that high tech wizardry and Hollywood worthy productions are top notch here.
As you move along, you make your way through the different rooms each detailing a part of Michael's childhood. It seems his mom has decided to feed Mike some spaghetti worms which made me kinda hungry (I hadn't had dinner yet when I went) As I trudged along I kept asking the characters "Where's Michael?" They didn't answer me but I got the feeling I was going to meet the man himself.
This is when the fun happens. I enter a dark room and I see a silhouette of "The Shape". It's eerie but I get the feeling I'm being stalked. As I now enter the hospital portion, I check what's behind me and I see the man himself. His trademark jumpsuit, the modified white William Shatner mask and a very large butcher knife. He really was stalking me!
This is where my group decides that they can scream louder than the actors. I can't stress enough that I've been so jaded by HH's that my scare-o-meter hovers around 3 or 4 these days. But these strange girls I was with were freaking out like crazy. At one point, one of the girls yelled "Let me out of here! I gotta go pee!" As we walked along they would grab on to me and push me into the next room. If you're a reader of my other reviews, I usually go through each room at a snail's pace to examine the detailed sets and interact with the characters. It's why haunted houses are my bag. I like admiring and talking within them. But I'm being shoved to go first into each room. I just became their shield.
Tight dark squeezes come into play which I liked and a hospital visit is never complete without a visit to the morgue. Body bags, wiry rooms and a whole lot of dead people on the floor (or are they not dead at all?)
As you go from room to room, The Shape seems to have the uncanny ability to get ahead of you and get in your way. It's not until you get to an ambulance where my final confrontation with Michael happens. Michael comes up to me, does that funny tilt head thing and I shout "I'm not scared of you!!! Danielle Harris beat your ass!" He is not amused and instead searches for the hysterical girls in my group.
I clearly haven't detailed every room in this review but all the rooms were fun in their own right. I did get lost towards the end as there was an exit that was clearly visible but it wasn't made clear to me that that was the way out. A few gripes were the actors didn't help in directing me to where I should go. (though I could have been doing that myself) Some of the Yelp reviews gave negative reviews as the initial run through was a bit messy. After a week of being open, they seemed to have worked out some of the kinks but a few things were a bit unfinished. I'd also say the actors did a decent job but I would have had them act out scenes from either the movie or interact with you and thus distracting you from seeing Michael as he stalked you.
That clearly was the best part. Seeing shadowy figures and seeing Michael stand behind you is phenomenal stuff for a Halloween fan like myself. I'd have kept doing that and milk the shit out of the fact Michael Myers was hot on your tail.
Times Scare is a fitting homage to Halloween that Moustapha Akkad would be proud of. It's like walking through Halloween scene snippets and embodying your own Jamie Lee Curtis. You have to role play a bit in a way where when Michael shows up and I had fun acting as a "scared victim". But if you inner your final guy/girl, you'll make it out of there with some fun memories of being in Haddonfield and surviving the night.
Times Scare New York is located at 669 8th Avenue (on the corner of 42nd and 8th)
Tickets cost $24.95 for a general haunt pass ($39.95 for a VIP Fast Pass)
Your Guide to the best NYC Haunted Houses (Happy Halloween!)
It's Halloween weekend! And I know you all want to get your scare on this weekend so I've compiled all the NYC Haunted Houses you need to check out. Remember, the lines this weekend are going to be long and really long. Crowds are gonna be crazy at each of these places but if you're willing to brave it, each haunted house will give you something to take away from it....be it some quick BOOs! or a demented trip into an interactive horror movie.
But all are fun in their own way. You'll either be tricked or get a damn good treat. Happy Halloween!
Check out my reviews for all the haunted houses I visited this year.
After Dark: The Haunting at Madame Tussads (Review) (NYC Haunted House 2011)
It was inevitable that I would cross paths with The Raven and the Black Cat. As fellow haunted house bloggers, we cover the same territory and it happens we both attended After Dark: The Haunting at Madame Tussauds on the same night. So with a fellow haunted house enthusiast in my group and my friend "S" in tow, I was excited to see the popular Madame Tussauds wax museum transformed into a haunted house.
My biggest fear this year wasn't Taylor Swift coming at me with a bloody knife or President Obama whispering in my ear, it was that I'd be subjected to the same experience I had last year (see 2010 review here). But that fear was quickly eliminated after I was told it was entirely new and different. This would either be good or bad.
Situated in NYC's Times Square, Madame Tussauds during the day is probably a fun place to go to. I have never been to it with bright lights and the ability to see all the wax figures in detail. I saw a few glimpses of some rather cool figures I'd love to snap a picture with and a CGI sized Incredible Hulk that was crazy awesome. I must say, this might be a tourist attraction but I may one day go check it out during the daytime.
The catch is it is a tourist haven and either that appeals to you as a tourist or irks you as a New Yorker. After Dark will have a short run, October 20-23 and 27-30 (it's not open on Halloween?!?) from 9pm-12am. If you can bulldoze through the masses, it may be the most easily accessible haunted house in the city.
My experience happened to be part of press preview night and thus I was the very first group to experience The Haunting.
The Walk Through.....
In a group of 5, which included RBC, "S', myself and 2 other intrepid reporters we were led up stairs to a waiting elevator and then unleashed onto the darkened halls of Madame Tussauds. This is a very different opening from last year's version where the mock "the museum is haunted" ghost hunters video played with William Castle "Percepto" vision. I dug that a lot as the museum was using creativity and a back story to get you into a spooked out mindset.
However, this year you're thrown right in. The walk through the museum seemed longer than before as a long staircase starts you on your way. I set myself up in the middle, then later lagged behind and then summoned the courage to be in front to get the BOO! from different angles. As a jaded attendee from last year, I'm pretty much immune from the sneak up but I'll admit there were a few times I was startled and jumped out of my shoes.
As I said last year, the museum is so spacious that the only way to get jumpy is if the actors are pretending to be wax figures. And that definitely happens but they also come out of places you wouldn't expect. Wall crawlers and a parkour leaping professional scarer will get you screaming. It seems this year, the actors like to run at full speed at you (like a NYC taxi cab speeding and stopping at a red light). They also like to crawl, whisper and sneak before you exit.
Due to the darkness, I couldn't make out what they were dressed as or if their makeup was demony. But a few actors and actresses used celebrity camouflage to blend into their surroundings and unleashed their menacing screams. One actress seemed to speak gibberish. TV monitors aired psychedelic visuals are littered throughout the museum to get you full of "Ring" like moments. But as you wander around, once the initial scare is done, the actors point you to the next room.
I really wanted to have them act out a scene which they did in the first room I entered where a Anne Rice vamp sucked on.....sucked on the neck (get your mind out of the gutter dude!) of a would be damsel in distress. The actors did try to converse and I as always replied back. One scary demoness expressed the fact "she liked me...a lot". Clearly that was my opportunity to ask her out to coffee but I'm sure she would have "acted" like she wasn't interested at all. I believe there was a world of time to act out a quick scene after the scare and I wish they did more of that.
I also noticed the actor per room equation was a little off. It seemed we would get only 1 actor per expansive room. There's tons of opportunity to do a 3 per room quota that would enable you to scare people after the initial BOO! I know it would be a ton to ask these actors to stand still for hours on end, but that really is the big selling point here. Appearing from behind a corner or from a well placed coffin is expected. Standing next to President Nixon in a suit and tie goes a long way for the incognito.
The scariest points are when NO actors are present and you're staring at shadowy wax figures who seem so lifelike that you start to scare yourself. At one point, I stared at a wax figure for a full 30 seconds before I realized it wasn't an actor. The darkness combined with ominous celebrities and historical figures can sure play tricks with your mind.
But a few twists and turns and an encounter with a mother who seemed to have offed her baby get you back on track. The museum is clearly well dressed in the dark and works well for groups. The spacing between groups is nicely done and you sense you and your friends or the strangers with you, are alone locked in after hours. After Dark is well equipped with strobe lights and a variety of sound effects to get those goosebumps active. It's clearly designed with a family friendly atmosphere but even the biggest gangsta might lose some street cred as he squeals like a girl.
Overall, After Dark lost it's gimmicky hook from last year which I loved. It replaced it with a longer than normal walk through and was one of the best haunted houses to space out the participants for maximum creepiness. Sure I cracked a few jokes with "S" and RBC. It's in my nature to joke with the actors and sometimes I'll just wander on my own hoping I'm targeted for a scare. You'll need to summon some courage and head the pack. Remember, you're here to get your scare on.
After Dark: The Haunting is your go to theme park haunted house for Halloween. It's designed for tourists and New Yorkers who want to take a break from the glitzy lights of Times Square. It may not have elaborate sets or a pseudo torture walk alone aspect, but it has Justin Bieber being scary as hell.
And what's more frightening than the Bieber in eerie darkness? Well I guess hearing him sing.
Madame Tussauds New York is located at 234 West 42nd St, between 7th & 8th Ave
The Shortround: Kill Devil Hill (Watch the entire short for FREE!)
[NOTE: I reviewed this short a while back but director, Robert de Almeida III is giving us all a special treat as Kill Devil Hill will stream for free in October. You can watch the entire short below and then read my review after!]
Rarely does a short pack a punch in it's 12 minutes to leave me with my mouth wide open. But there's a first time for everything I guess. Ace Jordan's Kill Devil Hill I thought was a slow burn horror flick with Satanic overtones. But that slow burn fired up and by the end I was completely shocked by the intensity of it all.
Let's get the plot out of the way first. See below.
On a day trip with his family to Kill Devil Hill, Jesse Reed (Taylor Graham) chases after his son Joey (Aiden Miranda) who has mischievously run off into the woods nearby. Joey discovers the remnants of some demonic pagan ritual. The skull of a bull head, made entirely out of gold, hangs from a large oak tree. Joey touches the inverted pentagram on the skull only to find that it has been drawn in blood. Frightened, Joey slowly backs away.
Suddenly, the skull begins to 'come to life' inside an epic orb of light. Joey's eyes glow as it appears that something supernatural is trying to enter his body. He faints and the golden skull vanishes into thin air. Moments later, Jesse finds his son laying on the ground. He picks him up and carries him out of the woods. Late that night, Jesse wakes to use the bathroom. While washing his hands, he looks in the mirror and sees that his eyes are glowing with the same supernatural force that has invaded his son just hours before...
the jaded viewer says: Kill Devil Hill is a slick reenactment of past crime in small town America. Many of these horrific crimes never get told but they should and Kill Devil Hill is a step in the right direction to tell the tale.
As I said before, it's a slow burn for a short but the final 4-6 minutes is a helluva a jolt. The set up is clearly intentional with a relaxed atmosphere of sleepy time as we meet our Americana family. But it seems not all is what it seems and through a flashback we see how the morning's events are going lead to a long night. The Satanic overtones are clearly visible. Devil stars and makeshift sacrifice altar are in the woods Joey visits. We see something is haunting both father and son and when we get to the end, all hell is unleashed.
The performances are solid with some nice funny ha ha's all around. The final minutes are brutally vicious in their rawness. I thought they'd go all PG-13 but nothing is quite impactful than seeing a crime photo slaughter of innocents.
My only gripes would be the special effects. There are quick shots of a bullhead acting a little supernaturally floaty as well as a quick scare bullhead attack. Somehow I felt this wasn't necessary. It bordered on cheesy and little over the top. Having it grounded in some sort of "what we don't see is a little more scarier" would have made this film perfect.
But that doesn't diminish a real world crime translated into a fictional what if scenario. The short clearly screams "Why? Why? Why?!" but all is left unanswered. Kill Devil Hill is a fantastic slice of pseudo True Crime cinema. Here's hoping it can be extended to a full length film one day.
The Shortround: The Night Caller (Review) (Watch the full short!)
Halloween is just around the corner and with only a few horror movies to get your BOO! on, there have been a few shorts I've seen that may replace that empty shivering feeling you so want to enjoy. Dropping me a line is Peter Podgursky, who sent me and all of you, a little 7 minute short called "The Night Caller" that had me hearing old time ringtones that gave me the chills. It premiered at Screamfest yesterday.
Peter gives a bit of info on his latest project which he co-directed/wrote with Donna Thorland.
Peter’s other short, Cheerbleeders (see review here), screened at festivals around the world and is currently available on iTunes. He is also the producer of Night of the Little Dead, and Dracula’s Daughters versus the Spacebrains.
Donna is a former ABC/Disney Television Writing Fellow, worked as a staff writer on the primetime drama, Cupid, and most recently penned several episodes for Disney’s new animated series, Tron: Uprising.
The Night Caller is adapted from a short story by horror writer Gary Raisor who was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel for Less Than Human in 1992.
Synopsis: A father's promise to read his daughter a bedtime story begins a night time descent into terror and madness for his young wife.
Check out the short and then read my review!
the jaded viewer says: Remaking that "old spooky phone call in the house" genre (is that a genre?) The Night Caller introduces us to a typical American family from a time where landlines, tacky wallpaper and family dinners were all the rage. At 7 minutes, the short gets us acquainted with our mom and "princess" and gets the cute and fuzzies just as dad arrives. Acting here by all (Laurel Vail, Angela Ryan, and Mike Horton) are all solid. But as dad is called away, the mysterious phone calls start up and Mom gets the willies.
I keep thinking I already know this genre (maybe it's somebody in the house!) or maybe it's a prank caller or the daughter play a mean old trick. But it does keep you guessing and the mild twist is predictable but still effective.
Podgursky and Thorland play a bit of nostalgia and if you can remember those old timey landline phones and that echoing deafening ring, you'll get a kick out of The Night Caller. It has a bit of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits creepiness and takes you into Drew Daywalt like spookiness.
It's a nice Halloween short while you're eating your suspiciously opened candy.
The Shortround: Making Friends and Downloading and You
I just wanted to drop these two Halloween shorts as they are both excellently awesome. It just gets you in the mood for cute and cuddly slaughter. First up, Michael Dougherty brings back Sam from Trick R Treat for his short "Making Friends".
Also, here is ArieScope's Adam Green's annual Halloween short entry "Downloading and You". Commence the gore, slaughter and hilarity.
Know of anymore Halloween shorts? Drop me the link in the comments!
Remember when throwing somebody over the top rope was illegal? How about jumping off the top rope? How about illegal wrestling moves?
If you can remember a time before John Cena and CM Punk, then this wrestling documentary maybe your Fuji dust in the face. Memphis Heat tells the story of Memphis style wrestling. The history, the stars and the outrageousness that made it one of the most popular sports and programs in the 60s, 70s and 80s in the Memphis territory. It's an outstanding documentary that delivers a piledrivers of info of what it was like to experience this brand of wrestling. The documentary includes colorful characters of the past and present interviewed and gives you stories you won't believe.
Just like Memphis wrestling's glory days, the main attraction in this documentary is Jerry "The King" Lawler, who younglings now only think was a former wrestler turned announcer that talked smack. But Lawler was one of the most popular wrestlers back in the day, and this doc shows it. History is covered as well as stories of promoters from hell, territory wars and in depth interviews with stars like Jackie Fargo, Jimmy Hart, Bill Dundee, Rocky Johnson, Jimmy Valiant, Jerry Jarrett, Billy Wicks and a man I had never hears of Sputnick Monroe. Sputnick's story is fascinating.
He was a main eventer and one of the most popular stars in the 60s. He wrestled in classic matches but more importantly demanded black fans be allowed to see him wrestle. The promoters were forced to expand the "colored" section and integrate the city. It's an interesting and important and somebody should honor this damn man.
Footage from Saturday Morning Wrestling is interspliced with interviews and you get a nice overview of all the storylines, gimmicks, tragedy and eventual downfall of the promotion. Lawler's feud with Andy Kaufman is covered in detail and it's clearly one I remember hearing about even though I was a youngling.
Memphis Heat rivals any WWE documentary in that it knows it's subject matter inside and out. It treats wrestling with the respect it deserves and most importantly honors all these living legends who took great pride in their sport. If you call yourself a wrestling fan, you need to see this documentary.
Like a blockbuster summer movie, there are certain haunted houses you need to go to. As one of the most famous haunted houses in NYC, Blood Manor has gotten its reputation as the ultimate BOO! haunted house and it's well earned (see my past reviews from 2009 and 2010). It's full of elaborate, breathtaking sets, actors full of mischief and high tech wizardry. Year after year, Jimmy Lorenzo, Jim Faro and Mike Rodriguez amplify the experience of Blood Manor by tweaking the scare-o-meter and hiring a next generation of actors (half of them are new this year) who can appear stealthy but also get in your face.
What's also new is their location. Previously on 29th St, they are now in a new home on 163 Varick Street (in Soho). The new place has more space for the large crowds and lines as well as more space to unveil their colorful and creepy rooms. You cannot gauge what it takes to make Blood Manor happen. I attended on the 2nd night after they opened and the lines were extremely long already. But Blood Manor makes sure you won't get bored on line. A few lunatics that have escaped from the asylum keep the crowd entertained. Their costumes ranged from a cute girl from a Tim Burton film, a deranged carnie and a tall creature stalking on stilts. They also have a various acts of the freaky variety in a makeshift stage near the entrance. It helps pass the time as you wait. I got to go backstage and behind the scenes and the level of makeup and costumes is overwhelming. Every actor is dressed in sleek outfits and their makeup is the equivalent of big budget movies. The level of organization to get this show up and running is carefully crafted and one can imagine the timing needed for it all.
With my friend "S" in tow and having met a fellow writer also covering haunted houses, the experience of Blood Manor is clearly one you have to create yourself. By that I mean here are some suggestions of the things you can do to get the best out of it.
Take your time in each room. The sets are there to be admired and if you rush, you are going to miss the level of detail that Blood Manor has put into it. Each room is carefully crafted for maximum creepy. There are even some in-jokes and if you carefully explore your surroundings the scares will be amplified.
Interact with the actors. Sure they're going to come out of nowhere to scare you but when they talk to you, you can talk to them. I usually answer their questions, insert a joke of my own and have a few comebacks as well. They will respond in kind and it makes each room more fun.
You don't necessarily have to be in front to be the one that gets the BOO! Sometimes being in the back of the pack will pack a punch with the scary. By being in the back you'll get to admire the rooms more and not be rushed to go to the next room.
Talk to the strangers in line with you and in your group. You're all here for the same thing and the more you know about who you're going with, the more fun it will be.
A new twist starts off your journey as darkness plays a role as you enter Blood Manor. The rooms seem to be more claustrophobic this time around and the sets seem closer than ever before. You'll be greeted by such ghostly characters as a bride and groom and demons from the netherworld. What struck me this time around were the animatronics. They popped out at just the perfect times and telling the difference between what was a living breathing actor from a high tech contraption was part of the surprise.
Your favorites are back as Freddy Kreuger and Leatherface make appearances. At times it seemed Freddy was stalking me from room to room. The most memorable rooms were clearly the "Boiler Room" with a poor victim caged by a malevolent psycho and the "Cabaret of Death". Scantily clad dancers from hell used stripper poles and they were targeting the men. I was asked by a demon pimp if I wanted to take these she-devils home. I asked how much and was told "my soul" (that's way to much for me).
The new gimmicks involved a Wall Crawler who makes full use of his access to scare you and I believe a wolf jungle room as well as a zombie apocalypse that mashes into the mix. I've always liked the Frankenstein room as the bride always puts on a deathly good show. But the highlight as it was last year is the 3D. It's back again but this time it's longer and has a new ending. It's one of the more visually stimulating things one can do and never gets old.
Because Blood Manor is the most popular of the NYC Haunted Houses, the lines are painfully long. The investment of a R.I.P. (VIP) ticket will speed up the process. I've always said, the pacing of Blood Manor has to be addressed. Sometimes if you're too fast, you don't get to enjoy the perks of interacting with the actors and admiring the rooms. You'll sometimes (depending on how scared you are) bump into the group that went ahead of you. If you're to slow, the group behind you catches up. A balance has to be found so that each visitor can get the most out of BM. With that, you want to actually get scared and with groups of 6, it might be too much humanity as the rooms are that much tighter. I would recommend groups of 4. The problem is they have to get everybody into the haunted house as fast as possible with crowds this large which is understandable. Hopefully they can work the logistics better as Halloween approaches.
Blood Manor is probably the perfect haunt for that group scare. I even saw a maybe 10-13 year old kid so even the whole family can get its chills on. Lots of discounts can be found online and if your a tween, teenager or full grown adult, there is something for everyone at Blood Manor. Remember my suggestions and you'll have a Halloween-tastic time.
Savage is my 2nd movie I've watched from Fearmaker Studios. The first being Dismal which was to say the least, dismally bad. So when they threw in a creature feature into their lineup, I couldn't resist. I had to check out this SyFy knockoff. But then I realized who was in it!
The evil sensei from Karate Kid! Alice from Nightmare on Elm Street 5! A hot girl! A Bigfoot with superpowers!
How could I resist watching this doozy of a film?
Savage makes a SyFy original movie look like a Hollywood blockbuster. It's not only that the characters are boring, the plot is laughable or Bigfoot is clearly taking HGH. It's that the movie is filled with scenes of people talking about a plot and subplots I didn't care about. I believe it was something about some forest fire, shady real estate deals, an armed robbery and a pregnant woman.
All I cared about was seeing a vicious Bigfoot killing and eating campers. And even that sucked.
Boring Plot-O-Matic A blazing fire rips its way through Bear Valley National Park. As the firefighters try to contain it, the animals are being forced out of their habitat including a beast that was better left undiscovered.
You're getting a 5 question Q&A review. Deal with it.
1.) I heard Bigfoot knows muy thai and uses a revolver in this film. Is that true?
That would have made an interesting movie but he doesn't. He does seem to kill a lot of people, from firefighters, cops, criminals, scientists and a rogue hunter. He's the serial killer of missing link creatures.
2.) So does Bigfoot fly and have X-ray vision?
I wouldn't be surprised if he did. He's got super strength, can climb trees like a goddamn squirrel, be stealthy like a goddamn ninja and can get on a roof of a house in less than 5 seconds. He also likes tossing corpses through windows (something I enjoy as well)
3.) I heard this movie is about deforestation and how man has raped the natural world by building more highways and displacing animals from their habitats. So are there boobies in this?
Boobies are like vodka. I could get drunk on em. But the movie did introduce me to Anna Enger, a stunning beauty whose performance in this was quite good. She played the most lovable murderer I've seen in a while.
4.) You described the special effects in Dismal as: "The CGI fire and explosion look so fake, it's like they put a lighter in front of the camera." Are the CGI effects as bad in Savage?
The gore effects are pretty standard. Nothing a 3rd grader couldn't do with a couple of ketchup packets. There is an explosion in the end. They have to stop putting explosions in their films.
5.) Is there a wildly, ambiguous ending that foreshadows a sequel that will never see the light of day?
Yuppers. It seems we haven't seen the last of this ninja, steroid abusing Bigfoot.
Savage is just another horror cash in on the Sasquatch films. The thing about SyFy original movies is they've accepted the fact their creature features are cheesy and B-movie. One has to understand what they get into when they make a "When Animals Attack" type horror flick. If only they pitted muy thai Bigfoot vs a Shark with telekinesis powers. That would have been awesome.
Your standard bloody blood Animal trauma
Bigfoot's face closeup look like a mask from a 99 cents store
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
Savage is being distributed via MTI Home Video. Watch at our own risk.
Blackout Haunted House 2011 (Review) (NYC Haunted House 2011)
. . .
**Hello fellow Redditors, it seems you are all curious of this
haunted house that other haunted houses are afraid of. I'll be posting
my review of 2012 edition in the next few weeks. In the meantime, be
sure to ask your burning questions in this AMA which The Raven and Black Cat
has created. TRBC and myself have been to at least 4 Blackout haunts
including the infamous invite only Spring event. We're part of the
Survivors Club and we know what we're talking about. Also, head over to
the Jaded Viewer Facebook page and check me out on Twitter. Also check out TRBC on Twitter as well.**
There was once a boxer from Brooklyn who started making waves in the sport. At first, people would hear whispers and first hand accounts of a kid with a serious punch who was knocking the shit out of his opponents. Nobody knew if this kid actually existed but then he got some exposure and the knockouts kept coming. He soon became the world heavyweight champion.
He didn't come out to any fancy ring music. He didn't wear a robe but instead wore plain black trunks and plain black socks and sneakers. You knew what you were going to see when he stepped into the ring. You were going to see the most intimidating man on the fuckin planet and a scared shitless opponent. When the fight started, there were hits you didn't see coming, punches that came out of nowhere and a knockout that brought you to your feet. This poor opponent didn't stand a chance and was left beatened, downtrodden and utterly stunned by what had happened.
That's the best way to metaphorically describe Blackout Haunted House, bar none the best haunted house in NYC. It's like stepping into the ring with an in his prime Iron Mike Tyson and though you know you're gonna get the crap kicked out of you, you'll live to tell about it. What's more awesome than that?
Having attended last year (see review here and walkthrough here) and the Spring edition (see review here) I am truly proud to be part of "The Survivors Club", a group of 20 or so strong men and women who have become hardened veterans of Vortex Theater's Haunted House. These select few who went through the May "invite only" have experienced the most extreme trauma they've ever paid for. I think some have not spoken about it since that day (well except for me). But even as a survivor, I was still a little nervous of what was to come. I had a gut feeling Josh Randall and Kris Thor, the minds behind this fringe experiment in terror, would up the ante and go over and I mean way over the edge of their previous installments. And they totally freakin do.
Blackout is their best version yet. It's like being a star in a living, breathing torture porn horror movie. You're the final girl (or guy). You meet the characters of Blackout, interact with them and even push the story to its final conclusion. But make no mistake, it's not going to be an easy journey.
YOU WILL SUFFER.
YOU WILL BE TORTURED.
YOU WILL BE FORCED TO DO THINGS THAT WILL MAKE YOU SICK.
YOU WILL SEE THINGS YOU WISH YOU NEVER SAW.
But as all final girls/guys do, you're going to survive. It's the most gratifying feeling you will ever get. Being a survivor of Blackout Haunted House is a graduation from your most dreaded fears be it sexual depravity, germ warfare, Abu Gharab torture, claustrophobia and the eerie quiet of pitch black darkness. Blackout has conjured up a class in each of these and the only way you actually FAIL is by screaming the word: SAFETY. And as far as I know, they've gotten a ton of failing students.
I however got an A+ and never uttered the word. But the experience was still as frightening as ever. It seems, unknown to me, Josh had personalized my walkthrough. Characters were uttering MY NAME as they leveled me with trauma. That really hit hard for me and made it 10 times more intimidating. As much as it was a treat for me, it's not standard treatment so don't expect you'll be hearing your name in the darkness.
I'm not going to give a walkthrough and spoilers until after Halloween. So if you came here to read a step by step guide, move along this isn't the review you're looking for. But I will tell you that Blackout is 100 times better than it was last year and more terrifying than the Spring version. You will have to go through it alone and you are equipped with a protective mask and a flashlight and all the rules will come into play. You will be touched, pushed and shoved like a protester at Occupy Wall Street (but without the baton beatings and pepper spray attacks). It's this level of physicality that separates itself from all other haunted houses. Expect it...it's gonna happen and it's gonna freak you out.
Blackout is NYC Halloween Haunted House on Grade A steroids. The performances by the actors are stellar and frightening. The crew is more volatile and unyielding. The sets and rooms and backdrops are beautifully crafted and convey a filth and deterioration of utter despair and hopelessness. As you go from room to room, you slowly fall apart. I started very aware and was mentally preparing myself for what was to come. Rooms with high tech jeepers creepers bring the creepy. As you move on to total darkness, your eyes shut down and your other senses get heightened. I even began to get some sort of Spider Sense. As I sat in a room, possibly all alone? shining a pathetic flashlight on any thing I sensed was getting too close...my spider sense started tingling.
Then BOOM! here comes the torturous depravity and by the time that's ended I'm completely disoriented and in the midst of my panic I don't hear an order to walk down some stairs and I'm stumbling into rooms I've already been in and being pointed towards the way out. But it continues and continues and you have to keep trudging along knowing in the back of your mind there is an end to this madness.
My one gripe I always had with previous installments is that there was limited interaction with the characters. But that has all changed this year. I played the part of final hero guy and I played it well. You'll have to do actions when told to and some of these will make you gag and squirm. I even hesitated at times but I knew that in order to keep going I HAD TO DO IT. These new little quirks in the experience amplified the overall experience. You really do feel like your playing a part in a sadistic horror story that you've accidentally stumbled upon. And you don't even have to wait to get to the good parts. You're thrown right into the ending.
And it's an ending you won't forget.
Blackout Haunted House is the haunted house other haunted houses are afraid of. It may lack the glitzy blockbuster sets, tech and visuals of it's competition. It may not be artistic or thematic or have a catchy premise. But it is the best haunted house in NYC. It's pure blacked out storefront oozes of intimidation. Once you walk through the doors, you enter their ring.
Occupy Wall Street echoes Romero's Land of the Dead
George A. Romero's Land of the Dead was released in 2005, 3 years before the shit hit the fan as the US economy turned into crap. Of course, while the gap between the rich and the poor was growing during the last decade, many were looking at "sky flowers" and ignored what was to come. If you actually rewatch LotD, it eerily echoes many of the concerns that many of the poor, working and middle class talk about now. Occupy Wall Street looks like a "uprising" where we, zombies have decided to storm Fiddler's Green.
It's always been the case that the rich have created ways to preoccupy the masses to deter them from their situation. Whereas the zombies are mesmerized by the sky flowers, the living in LotD are given gambling, booze, drugs and mindless entertainment to ease the pain of their lives. Clearly Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) represents the status quo, the rich who will do anything to stay rich. Their best method of keeping their lives the way it is is by tricking the masses to believe they have a chance to join them. This is best illustrated as Cholo (John Leguizamo) does all of Kaufman's dirty work so he can live the "Fiddler's Green Dream".
And so comes Occupy Wall Street and the 99%ers. Their manifesto is short and to the point.
We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.
If you somehow missed the allusion of Romero's zombies are actually us, well I'm here to say ahem, they are all of us. Many of the elite think of the American public has mindless, dumb zombies. They think all we want to do is breed, consume and destroy things. WE are the majority yet we have no real power. But as the zombies in LotD taught as anything, we can evolve. We can think and we can damn well organize. It's the power in numbers that ultimately will be the way we can take over once more. We always look at maps as a way to see how a zombie virus can spread, well take a look at the Occupy Wall St protests that have popped up. It was inevitable.
Mike: "They're trying to be us." Riley:"No, they used to be us. Learning how to be us again." Mike: "It's like they're pretending to be alive." Riley: "Isn't that what we're doing, pretending to be alive?"
We have to wake up. We have to think. We have to evolve. We have to clear our mind. We have to realize the corporations greatly influence our political leaders. We have to realize that even though you are doing well and gotten the slice of the American Dream pie, the system is still unfair. We have to realize that the poor and middle class CANNOT take anymore of the burden to fix our economic woes. The rich and wealthy must contribute a greater portion to fix the financial burden we all face. The crooks who created this mess must pay for their crimes. We have to find a system that works.
As much as we'd like violence to get our point across, the violence is not by us but by the police who are supposed to protect us. Sure I'd like to see THIS HAPPEN to our Fiddler's Green friends. The system won't collapse because of a few thousand protesters but if they get agitated, a little scared and a little concerned they may make concessions. They may change because they're scared by what we represent.
That's what OWS is trying to do. Create change. And change in any form is good change.
Kaufman repeated the line "You have no right!" as the zombies poured in and destroyed his status quo paradise. Well Mr. Kaufman and to all the other Kaufmans of the world, we have every right.
Nightmare: Fairy Tales (Review) (NYC Haunted House 2011)
Fairy Tales come in all forms. Throughout history, we are told elaborate stories of wolves, children and monsters all designed to teach us a moral and ethical lesson. But they all have an underbelly that when you actual read between the lines, is actually terrifying for kids. Why would parents tell these horrible tales to kids?
But Tim Haskell is more than happy to tell his kid (see the video below) and is excited to introduce these terrifying tales to us in this version of Nightmare, the latest incarnation of his world famous haunted house. Having attended the previous 2 years haunts (Nightmare: Superstitions and Nightmare: Vampires) I love how Haskell and his team change it up year to year. Now back at their original location in the Lower East Side (NYC), this latest version is an experience back to our macabre childhood, where the monsters are allowed to terrify us once more and unfortunately there is no bed we can hide under.
Nightmare: Fairy Tales use of storytelling, gimmicks and elaborate sets are what separates it from the rest. Clearly, the BOO! factor is in play but you're reminded of each of these fairy tales and how wonderful the stories are. My journey into Nightmare: FT was on press/Twitter night, where a few select group of people got to go to the experience before it opened. Usually this is to get the kinks out of the haunt and I was more than happy to be a Guinea pig in this experiment (we'll get to a few examples later on). Accompanied by my friend "K" and a stranger from a foreign land "F", we were the final group to experience the haunt.
The waiting is much of the buildup as the actual experience. Surely by the time you read this, you'll be waiting on a long line and having butterflies in your stomach. The atmosphere in the building, the dimly lit bar next to the haunt and the characters mulling around the line will have you on your toes. A "Woodsman" and an "Executioner" were fun conversations as "K" and me waited in anticipation. Knowing we would be the last of the parties to enter also built up a level of dread. Would the cast go a bit extra serial killer on us?
[WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!! DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT THE EXPERIENCE SPOILED FOR YOU!!! THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING!!!]
We are given a business card where our name and greatest fears were asked to be written down is how it starts. Greeted by Rapunzel, we are quickly blindfolded and led by her hair into the haunted house. It's a great and awesome way to start the haunt, total darkness and disorientation to get you scared shitless. Each room is ingeniously designed. I have always taken my time to admire the work that's been done to each set piece. The actors are all full of energy as we encounter fairy tales from Hansel and Gretel, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White and Red Riding Hood. Given a map of the haunt at the beginning of the tour (it's a little useless unless you find "the secret room"), you'll need to step carefully as the scares are well hidden from your view.
I've always said that the person who enters the room first isn't necessarily the one that will get jolted by a BOO! It can come from anywhere, at anytime and from anyone. The best thing of all the Nightmares is the ability to interact with the characters. One of our devilishly dressed characters asks "K" what her greatest fear was and responding she said roaches. "F" and I looked on as she was taunted by this fear monger. And like WHOOSH! she was gone.
Characters come to life, they experience pain and the well lit signs tell you from what fairy tale it's from. Passing over a rickety bridge and then down a Pinocchio gauntlet are one of the many obstacles to over come. But one of the most fascinating events from Fairy Tales comes in the form of a shadow play that tells the tale of a young child and an executioner. I haven't seen a shadow play in a quite a while and it was mesmerizing to watch. Watch out for the surprise.
Remember to check in via Facebook to get a map so you can experience the secret room. You'll have to figure out who you've been talking to, to *GASP* save your soul. The whole fairy tale part lasts around 20 or so minutes but that's not the end of your journey, it's the beginning.
As described in the press release:
Another component to this year’s NIGHTMARE will be a sensory assaulting 5-D theatre experience called THE EXPERIMENT created and directed by John Harlacher and Timothy Haskell. Unlike year's past where the second event was a much smaller prelude to the main event, THE EXPERIMENT is actually Full-on, every bit as satisfying and experiential as the haunted house. Experienced from your chair in a small lab, you are a subject in a case study for research on the threshold of fear. Will YOUR limits be hit?
It's a clear 360 degree switch to go from fairy tales and a traditional haunted house to this psychological experiment turned awry. Each experiment is designed to get you out of your comfort zone. Due to the fact I was in a group of only 3 people, The Experiment is full of ways to embarrass you and even make you laugh.
After you've made your way upstairs, you enter a bizarre theater where a well dressed "professor" proceeds to get your name and where your from. From here it turns out to be a Q&A from hell. The one thing its designed to do is to grab on to your fears. And for many of us fear of public speaking is one of the worst things one can go through. Even with "K" and "F" the only audience, I was hesitant to participate. The professor does say if you are "uncomfortable" with the questions, you can say so and nothing is asked further. I can imagine on a packed night, the audience can be full of people from 10-20 people and if selected it could be horrifying.
Questions about bathroom activities, arousal and what you fear the most are one of many questions where you have to stand in front of the crowd and reveal. Others included the use of illegals and legal substance abuses as well as acting out the worst fears in your life. It's a unique spin on the supposed haunted house and I'll admit it was kinda awesome. My partners in crime were equally confused and bewildered and "F", a tourist from Germany who stumbled upon press night had a grand ole time experiencing this most American of Halloween endeavors. Where we PAY to be scared by strangers. I highly doubt this happens in Germany.
Once the bizarro Q&A is over, you trudge through claustrophobic darkness and emerge in a well lit lab, complete with a poncho and see headsets on the chairs. The lab is full of HD monitors, various lab equipment and a two scientists (one male and one female) who begin a series of experiments that may get your squirming (as it did me) and jumping out of your seat.
You'll be exposed to a few animals that you detest, listen and watch a video that will spook the hell out of you and be "blessed" with some substances that the inner germaphobe in you will freak out. The finale is one that is an exploding mess!
Nightmare: Fairy Tales has done a great job of reinventing themselves this year. These 2 parts of the haunted house are completely different and oddly enough compliment each other. Haskell has in a fact, taken the traditional, mixed in the experimental and created a new haunted house that will scare you both internally as it does externally. Rarely can one personalize a haunted house to the masses but Nightmare: Fairy Tales does just this.
It's truly a revolution of the haunted house, one that is tailored to the fears you've overcome and with the fears that still linger in you. My friends and I eagerly discussed right after the experience what had happened. You will to. The fear you have to overcome first....is the one where you have to build up the courage to actually VISIT Nightmare: Fairy Tales.
It's the first step towards an experience you won't soon forget.
Nightmare: Fairy Tales is located at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center (CSV) located at 107 Suffolk Street (between Rivington and Delancey)
To buy tickets to NIGHTMARE: FAIRY TALES visit www.nightmarenewyork.com or call 212.352.3101. Tickets are $30 in advance/$35 at the door. VIP tickets are $60 and gets you to the front of the line with no wait as well as a goodie bag. A Super VIP ticket is available for $100 and gets you to the front of the line. It also includes a goodie bag, a t-shirt, two drinks and a backstage tour with the director after you walk through.
Check out the video below!
If you check it out, come back here and leave a comment about your experience!