Monday, October 26, 2009

NYC Haunted House: Blood Manor (Review)

[First a disclaimer: I'd like to thank Claire and Joan from Blood Manor's PR staff for the opportunity to visit. Insano Steve and I had a great time and got totally spooked and thrilled by all the actors and awesome designs of each room. Thanks! Also, I have some pics of the crowd and the exterior. None of the interior. With a week to go before Halloween, you'll have to experience it for yourself!]

On a rainy Friday night, I invited Insano Steve to go with me to Blood Manor, New York's premier haunted house. I had already went to Nightmare: Vampires, so a visit to the more high budgeted, very popular and uber famous Blood Manor would complete my pre-Halloween frightfest.

The Friday night crowd was massive. A line had formed prior to the 7:30pm opening and you could tell people were revved up to get their scare on. Tweens, teenagers, Joe and Joanna Moviegoer, tourists, jabronis and horror geeks and core-ists all huddled together for a night of chills and thrills.

Located on 27th St between 10th and 11th Avenue, it was a walk to get to, but well worth it. Oddly enough it's located across the street from the infamous Scores strip club (how ironic that horror and boobies go together).

Blood Manor is the Michael Bay of NY Haunted Houses. It's got high production values, extraordinary sets, rooms that dazzle the eye and horror professionals who know how to get under your skin. To top it all off, they've added a 3D fright vision. Blood Manor is the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie filled with twists and turns, jump scares and film homages to all that is great about horror.

It doesn't lack in imagination. Any nightmare you may have dreamed of is alive at Blood Manor. From your favorite slasher to dysfunctional serial killer families, you'll see them living and breathing and talking right next to you. Walking though Blood Manor is taking a journey into your worst fears come to life. But if the psychological isn't enough the inner gorehound in you will be given a happy. Severed heads, decapitated arms, stomach churning blood soaked rooms are all on display. It's like the best of both worlds.

The inital entrance gets you spooked right off. Joining a group of 4 others (6 people enter at a time) Steve and I entered complete darkness. It really is disconcerting to be in complete darkness actually knowing somebody who is paid to scare you WILL scare you.

The whole experience can take as long as 20 minutes but going nice and slow and pacing yourself pays off in the end. 30-40 minutes should be your average time to get the whole experience. In the first few rooms, Steve quickly disappeared from sight. I quickly called out to him, slightly concerned he'd fallen into hell or was being tortured by some chainsaw wielding psycho.

"Steve! You there?!?" Where the hell are you?", I screamed.
"You lost? How the hell can you get lost in the first room?", I asked.

Still in a room of utter darkness, I was greeted by some rather insidious cackling and a voice whispering in my ear, "Where's Steve?" The voice sarcastically repeated my question over and over again.

"Steve's not here, he's probably dead." added another voice.

I gotta admit, that was a hell of an interactive experience. Knowing Steve, he'd probably taken a wrong turn and got lost. He was probably either fascinated by some cannibal carnage or in the seventh level of hell. (Steve will post his own review, so he can tell you his experience in his own words).

Later, Steve found his way back on the interstate and we continued the journey. Our party soon disappeared being scared shitless and running out of the rooms like they had witnessed a murder. Steve and I however, admired each room to its fullest using the slow burn approach.

The greatest part of Blood Manor is the anticipation of entering each room. Before you enter, you gulp some air and put on your brave face. But it really doesn't help, because the rooms are designed to get you mesmerized and excited. Your admiring a toilet with a decapitated head and looking at a burnt up Chucky doll. It's mega cool. So in this daze of awe, you get caught with your proverbial pants down when some costumed grotesque comes out of nowhere and scares you.

It works every time and in every room. It's a tried and true formula.

Some of the rooms that caught my eye were just spectacular. A zombie strippers roomer was appropriately stimulating. A pig slaughterhouse with pigs hanging on meathooks provided a fun chaotic runaround. A few poor souls were in a torture chamber well being tortured. Another room menaces you with snake fear. In one room, a rather ghoulish she-devil, informed me of her devious plan asking what I should do with the severed head she was a carrying.

I responded, "Toss it, it looks like Lindsay Lohan."

Another room was a sickly recreation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre's infamous dinner table scene that was quite clever. The one thing Blood Manor isn't short of is using the chainsaw to get you cut up with scares.

Kudos to the actors who play ninja all day to get you frightened. I make myself an active participant in these places. I like to talk to the actors and exchange some quick banter, either by trying to be all quirky and funny (making them get out of character) or by replying to their hilarious demands just to see what they would do next. You should do the same. If one escaped asylum patient asks "Where's my medicine?" Respond by pointing to an oblivious stranger in your party. It really works and it's funny to scare the shit out of someone. With the actors are animatronics interspered throughout each room. You never know if a prop may be an actor, a animatronic machine or just a simple prop.

As we approached the tail end of the house, we were given 3D glasses and were greeted by the most terrifying creature of all.

A freakin clown.

I know clowns are not all people's kryptonite, but they do make me feel a little weirded out. The 3D is quite ingenious as everything around you becomes amplified including the actors. It works effectively as your eye is so dazzled by the neon and bright colored lights, you don't see the evil lurking around the corner.

One of the most eclectic people you'll meet during this time is what I have dubbed the "Happy Killer", a very cute but serial killer Alice in Wonderland girl. It made me chuckle to hear her recite her lines. Think Harley Quinn come to life.

Strobe lights will come into play later and chainsaw sickos are quickly on your tail. And thus your journey ends.

Blood Manor is so jampacked with horror goodies, it's like a carnival of wickedness. You really feel like they've made every effort to get you scared and the level of detail in every room is quite magnificent. The team at Blood Manor is very aware of horror culture, referencing all your favorite slasher icons and adding a few of their own. Simply, it's the perfect dessert after eating a bucket full of candy goodness.

I believe the only drawback will be the crowds and the massive line you'll have to endure to get to this live action freak show. But if you do brave the weather and the rooms, there is no other haunted house like Blood Manor. It really lives up to the hype its received and shows why its one of the best haunted houses in the nation.

So if you are brave enough to head over to Blood Manor, put on your courage suit of armor and get some knights and damsels to come with you. Just remember, if you get lost you'll be all alone. Well, you're not really going to be alone. You'll have zombies, psychos, maniacs, demons, ghouls and all the freaks to keep you company. Good luck.

jaded viewer related linkage:

Insano Steve vs Blood Manor (Review)

Blood Manor is open now and will be open all Halloween week (excluding Monday). Check out the schedule at the official site. This week, the hours run to 1am and on Fridays and Saturday run up to 2am.

It's located at 542 West 27th Street (btwn 10th & 11th Ave).

Tickets at the door are $30. Online for $25 and there are special "RIP" passes at $40.

Here are some links for more information.


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