Friday, October 02, 2009

NYC Haunted House - Nightmare: Vampires (Super Scary Review)

First, I'd like to thank Tim and Rebeca Haskell for allowing me and my friends Rene from and his wife to experience a hell of a ride yesterday. It may be 30 days before Halloween but I got my scare on early. If you've arrived on the jaded viewer for the first time because of my initial coverage of Nightmare: Vampires from the press area of the official site, this is the post you've been waiting for. This is where I share my thoughts, reactions and whimpers of the whole damn thing.

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

**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


  1. God damn this for being on the east coast.. It sounds friggin fantastic, but I get stuck with The Haunted Trail where nit wits walk up to you and literally say "Im a sad ghost.. No Im NOT!!"... .. .... Lame.. and jealous..

  2. Carl - LOL thats tooo funny. Reminds me of the Haunted House at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jersey. Lame-o-rama.

    Halloween is for adults too and this haunted house works to get tweens and adults scared shitless.

    For all you people curious about going...if you have any questions, let me know. I'll answer as best I can.

    As for the people who did go, what did you think? Leave some comments so others can decide if this is for them.

  3. hey, i am planning on going there with a big group would the whole group be together for the whole event or would we broken up and separated, and is 35 bucks worth it?

  4. i went yesterday. it was awesome! i had a great time. went with a guy friend who walked out saying WOW that was crazy!
    your together most of the time, but you will be broken up eventually. only for a few minutes. if you but the tickets online its $30 - i had a twitter discount code so i paid $25. see if you can find it, it might be on their website.
    pretty long wait to get in the actual "haunted house". but overall good time!

  5. Like the person above says, you will get broken up along the way. But Tim Haskell informed me you still get the whole experience as a whole even when you get "separated". The prices are what they are. NYC prices. But for about 40 minutes or so, its definitely fun. I would suggest trying to go early as possible as the wait is indeed long. But it's the anticipation that makes it really fun.

    Plus when your hearing screams just a few feet away, that just intensifies it.

  6. Hey there, I'm too chicken to go, but I did see a really good deal for tickets if anyone is interested. on travelzoo dot com, under entertainment deals for nyc, they have a code where regular tix are $20 and VIP tix are $45. Enjoy!!

  7. Did I go to the wrong haunted house? The story was incomprehensible, the room weren't interactive - I didn't see "different look and feel of horror bliss." in the room, mostly just black curtains. The actors rushed you through each room so even if there was anything interesting in them you couldn't really interact or look at them. And while the website and this review promise scares and psychological horrors, it more or less amounts to people in face paint popping out and screaming at you. I hate to be a negative nancy but I expected much more than what I got.

  8. Well it looks like this is a case of just a different experiences. I wasn't rushed through each room, i remember staying in each room for about 2-3 minutes and that was more than enough time to enjoy the scenery. As for psychological scares, a narrow dark tunnel and a few paper mache rooms were very twisted.

    There is a another NYC haunted house where they touch you and they claim to be psychologicaly based.

    As for the story, the fact you were in a fictional moVA makes it quite ARG-ish. If you listened to what the actors were saying, they were reciting lines to a very inventive story. Thats what I got.

  9. Very disappointing. Wasn't scary at all. People were climbing on top of us, trying to get out of the rooms, and I thought I was going to be squashed to death. Horrible. Also, if anyone is claustrophobic, DO NOT GO TO NIGHTMARE VAMPIRES! You have been warned.

  10. Are you kidding me! I spent $70 for my husband & I to go to this! Truly 100% overrated! When we got to the end (to the bar) everyone in the group looked at eachother and was like. "This is it? There has to be more." The bartender assured is was done...but come over and buy a drink! I already wasted $70 on 15 minutes of my life I'll never get back... Seriously, that is how long it took to get through it. The only good thing is the balloon thing you have make your way though. Maybe good for kids and teenagers who get frieked out by the littlist things but for adults what a waste.

  11. I'll admit, the price is steep for a 30-40 min walkthrough (if you took your time) but there were moments where you couldn't tell prop from actor. Possibly there could have been more darkness meets scary noise but if thats your bag, maybe head over to the "other" haunted house Blood Manor (review here) It's shorter than Nightmare but it has some high production scares and sets.

    Tweens and teenagers play brave but I saw some get scared shitless. Adults really have to buy into it and try to feel Halloweeny to get the full effect.

  12. Don't believe the hype and marketing. I am a haunted attraction enthusiast with haunts such as Bates Motel and Headless Horseman under my belt. In other words, I have experienced two of the top 13 haunted attractions in the nation; therefore, I have a standard by which to compare Nightmare: Vampires by.

    Nightmare: Vampires is subpar: the actors and sets are mediocre, the scare 'attempts' are awkward and personally intrusive, and add to the mix 'too large of a group with great confusion on where to advance to next.' Overall credit (director/producer/artistic) is irrelevant when dealing with such a badly put together haunt. Then again, direction and production can't really be blamed as that is what amounts when trying to compile a theatrical haunt in such a limited New York City area. A different approach should be taken when working with such a limited, confined space. This haunt has given me a new appreciation for the bigger and better haunts out there. I'll be sticking to rural areas for now, until the ‘Nightmare’ series haunt gets its act together and realize true efficiency of horror/terror in a limited/confined city space. People outside of NYC please make note, driving 30+ minutes to this attraction is not worth it. Nightmare: Vampires is best left to people already living in the city. I live in New Jersey roughly 20 minutes from NYC, so even though the haunt experience was a bad one, our group got to do some shopping afterwards. This is *not* an attraction you drive an hour(s) to, I can't stress that enough.

  13. Horror Enthusiast - Where is Bates Motel and Headless Horeseman? I'll admit, I haven't been to these other haunted houses but I thought Nightmares had a decent "story" and their rooms were quite elaborate.

    I'm sure the houses located outside the city are probably better but here in NYC, we have to take what we can get. Also, prices in the city are over inflated. The attraction should be $15 max, not the gorged $30.

    Let us know if there are any haunted houses in the tri-state area. I would love to go to one that is considered the best.

  14. I am an actor in Nightmare.I have seen a lot of people not always get the best experience, but often you might need to see the house 2 times. Every walkthrough is a little different. I personally almost killed myself crawling and going an extra 10 yards to scare people. Literally bending over backwards. Some of the actors didn't always impress me enough with their performance, but we really tried to make it an in depth theatrical experience. If you really want to enjoy a scare at Nightmare, you must be ready to attempt to take in every room and give the actors a chance to do their thing. It's not only what is in the house but how you walk through it. Some people would rush through the rooms and miss half the show because us actors have a hard time sometimes trying to block your path from the exit as your group barrels through. 99% of the time anyone had a poor experience (which was rare) was when they were obviously not taking in the story and not trying to take in what all the actors are doing because of the confusion of the scenery and the desire to move on to what is next. Haskell's houses have a special rhythm. Nightmares was more about a substance storyline, and less about random pop scares.

    Also, the acting got significantly better as time went on, I feel. The best experiences in the house were probably in the last 2 weeks of it.

    Also,the hefty price was because there is a high production value and staff that must be reimbursed. It's two floors of live performers doing really exhausting tasks for hours, not just robots popping out at you each area.

  15. Below are two great haunts--top in the nation--near the tri-state area:

    Headless Horseman: 778 Broadway, Route 9W
    Ulster Park, NY 12487

    Bates Mote: 1835 Middletown Road (Rt. 352) Glen Mills, PA 19342

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