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KILLERS: A Nightmare Haunted House 2012 (Review)

"It's just a nightmare, let's put it that way. It's been a nightmare for a long time, even before I was caught … for years now, obviously my mind has been filled with gruesome, horrible thoughts and ideas … a nightmare."

-Jeffrey Dahmer, serial killer

You aren't going to NOT get a controversy when you open up a haunted house based upon history's most notorious serial killers. That's what Tim Haskell has been thinking about since it was announced. He has put his thoughts on his blog as why this year's edition has killers as a focus. In a nutshell he writes:

"The events inside the haunted house are fast and visceral and do not reenact any of the crimes. We treat these killers for what they are – killers. We should be afraid of them. They are terrifying, and will be presented that way."

So once you get over the fact that, we Americans, as a whole have fascination with the psyche of these men and women you start to realize that they become more real as monsters than any vampire or zombie ever could. They are true boogeyman in every sense of the word. Nightmare: Killers is a culmination of the fear that these depraved, sick individuals actually walked the streets we walked and their crimes were more horrific then anybody dream up. The fact we can role play on that fear through a 20-30 minute haunted house is indeed what Halloween is all about.

So let's get into the fact that even though this is a bit heavy on the subject manner, haunted houses are designed to get your heart pounding and to have fun.

Nightmare Killers is, from room to room one of the best designed and acted haunted houses I've been to. Within each room you get a sense of the terrifying tales of woe behind each killer, a set design matching a "hot" Hollywood set and scares that are seamless in their execution. Even when I went during a preview first run, the actors seemed to be on top of their game.

You'll walk through a collection of the worst of the worst evil humanity has ever spawned, confront them and get the chills you paid for.

Forehead Blood, the Killers and Audience Participation
(LIMITED SPOILERS AHEAD!)

There is a serial killer gallery and bar before you enter so you can calm your nerves down by looking at historical art and memorabilia. Look at the faces of these killers to get an idea of who you may encounter.  The "FBI" will document your activities and you should interact with them and let them know you don't have any Dexter like tendencies.

The big change that Nightmare implements this year is they are giving you a choice in whether or not you wish to be touched by the actors (though in a limited fashion). Before going in, patrons who wished to participate have fake blood dabbled onto their forehead. This indicates to the "Killers" you are a willing participant. I of course said yes and it was well worth it. If you decide to go, definitely take this opportunity to fully get the immersive experience.

Patrons will go in within groups of 6. Once in, it's a medium burn of thrills. You'll start off slow but the the rooms do get more edgy as you go along. Here you will encounter the lives of the most infamous serial killers; Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, Ted Bundy and some other modern day killers. Each room has a story to tell, like a live action vignette where you get to hear the thoughts of what made these men infamous. Once you hear their tales, it's time to be put into their world and live a few moments of terror from that victim POV.

The room are methodically designed and I urge you to take your time and not scamper from room to room. Let me repeat that. WALK FUCKING SLOW. Look at the props, the sets and the walls. It's all part of the show aside from the actors. Spread out across the room and take it all in. You know the scares are coming but it won't have the same effect if you don't listen to the dialogue and interact.  The best elements of doing this come into play as you meet Ed Gein, go to death row and meet a most perverse clown. I also urge you to take it slow towards the end when a certain screaming girl named Lizzy shows up. You'll miss one of the best special effects I've seen in a HH in a while.

Also what was very surprising is that you'll end up outside where you'll encounter a very well known albeit fictional serial killer. I have to say this was the best room of the haunt aside from the last one.

 


There were a few rooms that I thought could have been worked out better. These include the Zodiac, Jack's bloody alleyway and a bathory. I guess these were designed for some lull before the storm moments but I'd have preferred to get the scare-o-meter into the red when you're knee deep within the house. Also, as I mentioned before it is indeed short in terms of time. It could take you 30 minutes if you do as I say and go slow but 20-25 minutes or less if you're speed walking through it. But we'll go with quality of time rather than quantity here.

Nightmare Killers is by far their best version yet. Creator and director Tim Haskell, Producer Steve Kopelman and Director Joe Haralacher have assembled a crew and actors who have taken Nightmare to the next level.  If last year's version had you second guessing Nightmare, this is the edition you need to go to to see if they've gotten their mojo back.

In a sense, this is a traditional haunted house with all scares locked in a box waiting for you to open it up. However, it's nontraditional in that you're spending time with the most wretched and depraved real life human monsters to have ever walked our country. Nightmare reproduces a way to spend some time with these sickos. The fact that we want to says a lot about ourselves. Right?

The Vitals
 Check out the trailer.






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Great review! I agree there were some lulls, when we weren't sure whether to stay or just move on to the next room since not much was happening. I'm hoping that was because it was press preview night and they've worked out the kinks. Overall, agree it was a strong haunted house and on par with 2010's stellar edition!

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