Friday, October 29, 2010

A Guide to NYC Haunted Houses

Happy early Halloween! As everybody gets ready for Halloween on Sunday, if live in NYC (or are visiting) and you're in the mood to get your scare on this weekend, this is your guide for all the haunted houses in NYC.

I've reviewed 5 haunted houses and there were a couple I didn't get a chance to go to. But this is an all inclusive guide to give you options. Depending on your level of fear, you can pick from the list below. They all have their slight differences on getting you jumpy and frightened, but all, on some level will lead to a fun, good time.

In alphabetical order.....

1.) After Dark at Madame Tussauds (full review here)

Basic Premise: Located in Times Square, this is a tourist friendly haunted house that turns the famous wax museum into a terrifying haunted house attraction.

the jaded viewer says: "After Dark at Madame Tussauds pushes all the right buttons in scare-o-logy. An interactive blend of 4D William Castle Percepto accompanied by your standard walk through haunted house makes it doubley fun for all. Think Blair Witch meets Night at the Museum. It's a high quality production that echoes an attraction found at Universal Studios."

Where: 234 West 42nd St, between 7th & 8th Ave,

2.) Blood Manor (full review here)

Basic Premise: NYC's #1 haunted house attraction. It's got the rooms and the performers to get you jumping out of your socks.

the jaded viewer says: "It's like a freaky world into the macabre and what makes Halloween such a horrificly fun holiday.Before you dress up in your costume, see the professionals dress up in theirs."

Where: 542 West 27th Street

3.) Fear on 21st (no review, official site)

Basic Premise: An interactive guided tour through the bowels of a run down decrepit asylum for the criminally insane, about to be shut down.

the jaded viewer says: Not Reviewed.

Where: 12 West 21st Between 5th and 6th

4.) Hotel Savoy (no review, official site)

Basic Premise: "With its overlapping of Joseph Roth's novel, reality, and contemporary history, HOTEL SAVOY opens up a world between dream and reality in the history-laden and often unseen spaces of 1014 5th Avenue.

Visitors become guests in the empty hotel and encounter past employees: an elevator operator, a young maid, the hotel barber, the concierge, and a barmaid. These gatekeepers lead us into remote corners of the building, into unreal hotel rooms and real salons still haunted by spirits of past occupants.

Against the background of this surreal through-station for German exiles, visitors are faced with questions about their own heritage in these restless and unanchored times. Guests play the lead role in their brief stay at the Hotel Savoy."

the jaded viewer says: Not Reviewed.

Where:1014 5th Avenue

5.) Nightmare: Superstitions (full review here)

Basic Premise: One of the most unique haunted houses the city has to offer. This year's version has participants breaking superstitions while dealing with the consequences in an insane asylum.

the jaded viewer says: "Nightmare: Superstitions is an interactive experience full of pure, unrelenting dementia. You will come away feeling like you have racked up a million years of bad luck, but had fun doing it."

Where: 623 Broadway at Houston (enter on Mercer Street)

6.) Steampunk Haunted House (full review here)

Basic Premise: Performance art meets steampunk in this free roam haunted house where viewers see the inhabitants of a playhouse theater up close and personal.

the jaded viewer says: "Steampunk Haunted House is a walk through mesmerizing steampunk art with a ballet of neo-noir Agatha Christie surrealism. This is not your tweens or teens haunted house. It's up close and personal performance art set to breathtaking steampunk backdrops."

Where: 466 Grand Street, at the corner of Pitt Street, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

7.) Trapped Purgatory (no review, official site)

Basic Premise: Green House Solutions, by the government has been officially quarantined and no admittance is allowed. There has been a chemical spill containing a highly hazardous toxin which caused various diseases and mutations. Some of these mutations have caused paranormal behavior for its victims; so take precaution and do not come close into close contact with this building.

the jaded viewer says: Not Reviewed.

Where: Green Side Up Nursery at 5050 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY'


If you have any questions or comments about these haunted houses, you can tweet me a message @jadedviewer or leave a comment on my Facebook page.

Have fun and stay safe! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Opening Credits and Theme of the Halloween Films

"I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the *devil's* eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... *evil*. "

-Dr. Loomis

The iconic opening theme of Halloween scared the crap out of me as a kid. Every time I listen to it, it gives me goosebumps. If you're a noob and the only version of Halloween you saw were those rubbish Rob Zombie versions, do yourself a favor and see the original and Part 2.

Those are guaranteed to scare the crap out of you.

So as we approach Halloween this week, why don't you check out the various incarnations of the famous theme song through the opening credits of the movie. (I did not include Part 3, 4 or 5 just because and why is H20 and Resurrection included? Its got the theme songs so there.)

Yikes. That theme song and Sandman still gives me chills. ::SHIVERS::

John Carpenter's Halloween

Halloween 2

Halloween: H20

Halloween: Resurrection

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NYC Haunted House - After Dark at Madame Tussaud's (Review)

Wait! Another haunted house review? Really Mr. Jaded Viewer? Jeez, how many has it been?

Yes I know what you're thinking. I've gone to waaaay too many haunted houses. But hell it's October in NYC and the smell of fear and Halloween is in the air. And what better way to get your scare on but to go to a haunted house...and in my case how about 4 of them? To recap, I've been to Nightmare: Superstitions, Blood Manor, Vortex Theater's NYC Halloween Haunted House and Steampunk Haunted House. They don't call me the jaded viewer for nothing.

The fifth one which I think may be the last is After Dark at Madame Tussauds. For the uninitiated, Madame Tussaud's is a world famous wax museum of celebrities. Could a wax museum pull of a scary haunted house?

My overwhelming answer is a most definite yes.

After Dark at Madame Tussauds pushes all the right buttons in scare-o-logy. An interactive blend of 4D William Castle Percepto accompanied by your standard walk through haunted house makes it doubley fun for all. Think Blair Witch meets Night at the Museum. It's a high quality production that echoes an attraction found at Universal Studios.

Who knew a wax museum could give me a serious case of the heebee jeebees?

The Disclaimer.....

As a born and bred New Yorker, I try to avoid Times Square at all costs. It's a haven for tourists and as such is a perfect place for a haunted house attraction. The disclaimer is this is a touristy haunted house that will cater to that crowd. Expect long lines that are seas of humanity.

But it's well worth the wait if you endure. After Dark will only run for 8 nights (it started on October 21st and ran to 10/24. Scheduled times run from 10/28-10/31 from 9pm to 1am). With the limited run and the late start time will come high volumes of people.

I have to say, if you want to see wax figures close up, go during the day. Because at night, you won't want to stare at them as they tend to "come to life" to scare the bejesus out of you. And I gotta admit, it's one of the creepiest haunted houses I've ever been to.

The Percepto.....

After a short elevator ride, your adventure begins in a movie theater. Unfortunately on the day I went, their was a 15 minute delay due to technical difficulties as they could not get the movie to play. A few patrons got angry and I was even adamant that I needed to see the "movie" before I went to the haunted house portion. But after waiting it out, it was worth it.

You watch a quick maybe 5-10 minute short film about the supernatural events that surround the museum. Done in a Blair Witch, shaky cam style, two characters experience Madame Tussauds fictional "Scream" haunted house. As they walk through their house, you get to experience bit of Percepto ala William Castle. Your seat comes to life and events on the screen are felt by you.

I haven't experienced a 4D screening in so long that I forgotten how simple buzz seats and smoke make everything more fun. It's the gimmick that worked in 1959 and hasn't lost it's touch in 2010. These 4D theater experiences are common at your major theme parks such as Disney World or Universal Studios. It perfectly fits in on the found footage video you watch and gets you jacked for the haunted house that awaits you.

You'd think with our high level technological film advances such as Real D 3D and IMAX the common viewer wouldn't get a thrill out of Percepto, but you'd be wrong. I love these gimmicks and it was a nice touch to see it used effectively as part of After Dark.

The Walk Through.....

After finding out from the movie that the museum is haunted, you get to walk through it. I was pleasantly surprised how they transformed Madame Tussauds into a real, breathing haunted house. Even the snack shop seemed scary!

I never actually went to the museum during the day but going through it at night is disturbingly creepy. The brilliance of a haunted house in a wax museum is the potential out in the open "hiding" places the performers can come out of. With the wax figures so lifelike, you really couldn't tell a wax figure from an actor camouflaged to scare the hell out of you. With the added darkness, it's damn near impossible.

Were Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth going to scream at me from behind? I wasn't exactly sure. As I passed through a Presidential exhibit, I was pretty sure Obama was made of wax but upon closer inspection of Nixon, I began to wig out. If one of these Presidents "came to life" it would totally be Nixon.

The random scares came O'plenty as incognito actors standing statuesque Ninja-ed some unsuspecting victims. The staff does a good job of separating the groups so only groups of 6 or so are exploring at the same time.

The one benefit of having a haunted house at a wax museum is the sheer openness of it all. The other houses are rooms that are tight on space. But that's the opposite at Madame Tussaud's. It's sheer museum quality has everybody spread out and there are plenty dark places for somebody to jump out of nowhere.

After Dark also forces you to go down narrow hallways and into rooms that have high quality production sets. Jungle scenes, blood splattered curtains and empty baby cribs were a nice touch of eerie. However, I was completely mesmerized by the wax figures that were designed to be part of the After Dark experience. I have to say lifelike wax figures of creepy kids (see pic to the right) in the dark are a more disconcerting than say a performer dressed as a bloody mental patient holding a bunny.

The entire walk through takes about 20-30 minutes and all the rooms plus the museum are quite a thrill. After Dark uses every inch of its interior to get max scare value. Even the most alpha male dog will be scared to walk through a pitch black corridor first. Though going first doesn't mean you'll be a victim. The performers do a great job of mixing in the scaring by going after the tail end of the group.

Part of the joy of a haunted house is accessing the fear trigger. Halloween is perfect for this. It gets your adrenaline rushing and you laugh about it after you get jolted. The other joy is seeing tweens and teen girls scream but the topping on the cake is seeing a grown man stagger back in fear. Now that's just priceless.

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

After Dark at Madame Tussaud's created a haunted house out of their wax museum that is on par with the best a Six Flags or a Universal Studios production could be. It is 100% a tourist oriented haunted attraction but don't let that deter you if you're in the mood of gimmicky effects and a walk through the corridors of celebrity wax figures.

I can't help but get annoyed from giggling teen girls who jump from the slightest sound but when you're in Times Square, this is bound to happen. But after you endure the wait, the museum at night is bound to give you goosebumps.

Watch out for Richard Nixon.

The Vitals.....
  • Madame Tussauds New York is located at 234 West 42nd St, between 7th & 8th Ave
  • The last 4 showings run from October 28th-October 31st from 9pm to 1am.
  • From 9pm-11pm tickets cost $22, after 11pm they cost $20
  • After the tour, you can check out a few celebrity wax figures, play trivia and get food or souvenirs
  • Check out the official site
  • Check out the Facebook page
  • Follow Madame Tussauds on their Twitter page
  • Photos by Alex Oliveira /Startraks Photo
  • Check out the trailers below!

Have you experienced After Dark at Madame Tussauds? If so share your experience and leave a comment!

Monday, October 25, 2010

NYC Haunted House - Steampunk Haunted House (Review)

You would have thought 3 haunted houses would have been satisfied my scare quota but as Halloween creeps closer, a few more haunted houses in NYC are getting buzz. After Nightmare: Superstitions, then Blood Manor, then Vortex Theater's NYC Halloween Haunted House I figured the trifecta was complete and I could relax, take it easy and rewatch Trick R Treat.

But I realized there were other haunted houses in NYC that I missed. With that hanging over my head I couldn't NOT go...right? Dammit. I've already been to 3, hell let's make it 4.

I read about this Steampunk Haunted House in the NY Times and I knew I had to go. I mean it wasn't your traditional haunted house. Check out their description of the place below.


In this truly immersive experience, audience members are thrust into a beautiful and terrifying dreamscape of neo-Victorian elegance and phantasmagoric clockwork horrors. Once inside, audience members are separated, until one by one, they find themselves alone, lost somewhere within the three sprawling floors of Abrons’ majestic century-old playhouse. From there, they must choose where to go, exploring innumerable twisting hallways, looming balconies, and labyrinthine cellars. All the while, a whirlwind of mechanical apparitions, wraithlike sleepwalkers, and gear-powered beasts hurtle through corridors and lurk behind every corner and within every room.

Created by Bessie Award-winning artists, the Steampunk Haunted House is an integration of contemporary installation and performance art, and is an accessible, fun, utterly breathtaking experience. Unlike traditional haunted houses that rely on gore or graphic violence to horrify their patrons, this event chills, delights, and terrifies its audience without having to show a single drop of blood.

Haunted house tour groups are admitted incrementally into a labyrinthine world that trades conventional devices of blood and gore for the more terrifying nuances of suspense and meticulously engineered surprise. The aesthetic of steampunk offers a fresh, romanticized view on technology and fashion by making it retro, set in an alternate, anachronistic Victorian-era that retains a pre-industrial elegance.

Like most attractions of its kind, this is roughly a twenty-minute experience.

I kinda knew what steampunk was. Its sorta a blender of 1800s Victorian style with modern day tech. Think an iPhone but with transparent gears and gadgets. But how would this be converted into a haunted house? I knew I wasn't going to get my traditional BOO! factor but being a haunted house you'd think the actors would utilize funky gadgets to scare you. I kept also thinking I'd see some kooky outfits like Sherlock Holmes style wear with a jetpack or a woman in a corset wearing a mechanical arm extension.

But none of my imaginative neo-tech was realized as I went to Abrons Art Center's Steampunk Haunted House attraction. So what was the reality check? Simple. Steampunk Haunted House is a walk through mesmerizing steampunk art with a ballet of neo-noir Agatha Christie surrealism. This is not your tweens or teens haunted house. It's a up close and personal performance art set to breathtaking steampunk backdrops.

So what's the experience like?

The Disclaimer.....

Serious warning to all you haunted house enthusiasts. This isn't your traditional catch em off guard and scare em haunted house. It's more of a open house to different scenes in different settings that have a steampunk flavor to it. If Vortex Theater's Haunted House was on the extreme scared shitless end of the haunted house spectrum, Steampunk is on the other end. More relaxed, more eerie and more subtle with their performances.

This is a haunted house for steampunk enthusiasts and also for people who are interested in seeing what steampunk is all about.

The Walk Through.....

The first steampunk gear your given is a vintage lantern flashlight gizmo. It helps guide your way through the theater. As they began, a performer silently guides you to hold on to rope as they lead you to a section of the theater. It's designed to give separation to all the participants so you'll encounter the performers in a wide variety of ways.

You are free to roam the playhouse as the action takes place all around you. Each part of the playhouse is filled with exquisite steampunk sets and the silent performers scene out an orchestrated piece of performance art for you to watch. The tour I went though was for the performers to get a taste of a real audience. It started out a bit clumsy but once it got going it became like a waking dream.

I didn't know what to make of what I was seeing as this was my first ever steampunk anything. Given no direction on what to do or where to go, I started wandering around. Later I was told you have 3 options on how to experience this haunted house.
  • Follow the "main" actress who is in distress in the opening scene
  • Stay in one room to see a scene play out
  • Wander aimlessly and encounter the performers in each room
I wandered, then stayed in one room and then followed the main actress (in that order).

I'll admit I kept shaking my head as I wasn't sure if I had to be aware of clues to a "story". Would I be given cues to "do something"? None of that happened and so I tried to immerse myself in everything I saw. I realized that this experience is 80% style and 20% substance. It's like a steampunk fashion show.There is no inherent story but more of a styilized ballet of steampunk retroness.

In one scene, a few actors dressed as school children tried hiding underneath a large colonial style bed. Other school children hid in a large wooden trunk. A "school teacher" soon caught the boys at play and ordered them to sit in a chair as she waved a large ruler at them. Another school boy was "captured" and put into a large tube like contraption that had a Frankenstein laboratory steampunk look to it.

If I read into this scene, it's taking the old brickhouse school world and using a steampunk edge to punish the crime. As much as I tried to decipher what I was seeing, I had to just let it go. Without any knowledge of steampunk culture, I was as clueless as a monkey at NASA. If these were scenes from steampunk novels or film, I can only imagine what else has been reimagined.

Another scene that brought in the eerie took place in the main seated theater as a man in a gas mask "scared" guests while "human spiders" crawled on the seats. This took place while a man on stage pulled a chain over and over again. This is David Lynch-ian live imagery come to life. The best way to describe it is as a noir painting come to life.

The Sets.....

Many of the sets we're very steampunky. There were not alot of tech blending but more of Victorian style rooms with a surrealistic twist. Armours with torn paper, a wall full of violins and a large bed that echoed haunted.

The one design that impressed me was the laboratory I mentioned earlier. This could have been a set straight out of Frankenstein with its futuristic glass tube enclosures and gizmos and gadgets.

My only gripe is I would have wanted more of what I've seen on the interwebs about steampunk and their crazy retro-tech. I've always wanted to see these "inventions" and somehow I felt gypped I didn't get to see more of it.

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

Steampunk Haunted House is not for everyone. But for the art crowd, it's a definite must see. If the movie The Others came to life, it would be Steampunk Haunted House. The performers do a solid job of acting in tight spaces and within the confines of the playhouse. At times, they interacted with me like I was a splinter in their dreamworld.

What you'll get is a taste of the steampunk world mixed in with fantastic elegant scenes and an odd feeling your walking through a nightmare that isn't your own. I can only say that I've never experienced anything like it and it's actually peaked my interest of this sci fi subculture.

This is the future of the past in 2010. Enjoy it while it's here.

The Vitals....
  • Steampunk Haunted House is located at the Abrons Arts Center which is located at 466 Grand Street, at the corner of Pitt Street, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
  • Days and Times are October 23, 29, 30 | 8-11:30 pm and October 24, 27, 28, 31 | 6-9:30 pm
  • Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students
  • The official site
  • The Facebook page
  • Trailer is below!

Steampunk Haunted House 2010 from Third Rail Projects on Vimeo.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Siskel and Ebert Review Good Horror Movies

Before bloggers, before Facebook and Twitter and before the Interwebs, real critics who we the public sort of respected reviewed movies. You know who Siskel and Ebert are. But when you go back into the YouTube time machine and watch clips of their shows, I turn back into a tween and actually want to know what they had to say about my favorite movies.

I think I've been conditioned to respect their opinions because well....they were the only famous movie critics of their time (other than newspaper and local TV news movie critics). I really wanted to know what Siskel and Ebert gave a thumbs up or thumbs down to and that actually affected whether or not I saw a movie (now I just check the Fresh meter on Rotten Tomatoes).

We all still sorta respect what Roger Ebert says via his Twitter but these 2 were so highly respected back in the day, looking back at it now, I can't believe they hated some of my favorite horror movies. They always seemed to put down horror films. So I dug up on YouTube what I consider their reviews of good horror movies.

You'll be surprised by what they gave a thumbs up to.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors



Night of the Living Dead (1990)


Silent Night, Deadly Night

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Do you still respect Ebert or other critics in this blogging day and age? Hell, do you even trust my reviews?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What horror movies do you put on for your non horror loving friends?

October is the usual time my non horror friends and family ask what horror movie should they go see. Paranormal Activity 2? Saw 3D? So it's fitting that Mike over @ All Things Horror posed this same question to the horror blogosphere. What horror movies do you put on for your non horror loving friends?

I of course picked the Lucio Fulci's Zombie and you can read why if you head over to All Things Horror. There you'll see the other opinions from some top notch horror bloggers. All have great recommendations and I agree with a majority of their selections.

If I had to add more to my list, I'd definitely add what's already been mentioned. The Descent, Halloween, The Evil Dead and The Shining. All are solid picks.

What I'd also add are a few mainstream selections from my Top 10 Horror Movie list from last year. Zombieland, Let the Right One In, Trick R Treat and Orphan. Non horror fans scoff at "classic horror movies" so you won't be able to convince them to watch something from the slasher 80s or the supernatural 70s. Subtitled? Fughedaboutitt.

I think the criteria has to be the following for non horror peeps:
  • 90 minutes max
  • One star they recognize
  • If it has a zombie, vampire or werewolf it will probably be tolerated
  • Most non horror people always think they are seeing a "scary movie" which is different than a horror movie. It's your duty to recognize what they like and show them what's appropriate
  • If there are boobs and gore, it will usually fly but this might not be for everyone
  • Non horror fans usually think whispering children is scary
  • Horror comedies are always a solid choice. It's something familiar to them and something that's not. Like and Irish coffee.
  • If you are watching a scary movie make sure it's in the dark. Atmosphere is everything.
  • Your non horror fan will never be completely turned over to the dark side. So sometimes you just gotta give up.
Well that's my 2 cents. Be sure to head over to All Things Horror for some solid recs. Now get ready for the barrage of recommendations because Halloween is a few weeks away!

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.

2010 Rules






(we will provide both of these items for you. please do not bring your own.)


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



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.

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!

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


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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brain Dead (Review)

Brain Dead

Brain Dead (2007)

Directed by Kevin Tenney

No its not that Brain Dead.

If you're like me, that title goes with one film and one film only and that's Peter Jackson's zombie classic. But let's not judge the film based on title alone. Because if you know horror, you know who Kevin Tenney is. The man has quite a directorial horror resume which includes Witchboard and the classic Night of the Demons.

So I kinda knew what I'd be in for when I watched Brain Dead. But could Tenney bring back all that was fun about mutant zombie 80s gorefests?

Great cerebral cortexes! Yes he can.

Brain Dead is an assembly line produced throwback 80s splatter flick that hits all on all the cliches that make the genre so great to watch. Gratuitous nudity, gratuitous gore, gratuitous over the top makeup and gratuitous snarky characters spewing curse words a mile a minute. It took a director from the 80s to actually make a good, solid 80s throwback splatterfest.

Sure it's a low budget, been there, done that premise, but sometimes you just gotta go with the ridiculousness and try to shut off your brain like the zombies in this film.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

What do a pair of escaped convicts, a preacher and his assistant, and a pair of pretty hikers have in common? They’re all delicious.

After an extraterrestrial parasite crash-lands in a backwoods American town – landing squarely on the head of a local fisherman – it sparks a fast spreading zombie infestation. As the brain hungry monsters multiply, three pairs of unlucky misfits convene on a fishing lodge for shelter. With zombies pounding at the door, the stranded, mismatched travelers must band together to stop the invasion – or serve themselves up as a main course. The problem is, they may lose their minds to each other before losing their brains to the zombies.

Full of ingenious gore effects, nudity and witty banter, “Brain Dead” is just as much a parody of classic zombie films as it is a clever update to the beloved genre.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

Let's review a movie by breaking it out by cliches. It's got em all and I felt like I time traveled and was watching a movie through my VCR. the only thing that was different was I didn't have to fix the tracking....and I have an awesome TV. So let's start off with the most important shit first.

Gratuitous NUDITY!!!!!!

In the first 30 minutes, we get to see not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4...YES! Count em 4 sets of boobs in this movie. And I'm not talking about icky fat-ish actresses. Nope we got some hotties showing off their assets.

Names are not important but grades are. Without a doubt, Cristina Tiberia gets an A, Sarah Grant Brendecke gets a B+, Michelle Tomlinson gets a B- and some other chick gets a C.

Yes you will see boobs and they're real and they're spectacular.

Gratuitous Cliched Plot!!!!!!

Some space creature that looks like black ooze crash lands and it's actually a parasitic organism that when it takes over a human body, craves for brains so it can reproduce. Enter zombie mutant puppets.

You've seen this in Night of the Demons and the movie takes elements of Evil Dead, Slither, Evil Aliens and countless others.

Gratuitous Stereotypical Characters!!!!!!

So who do we get to watch for an hour and a half?
  • A smart ass Sawyer like guy named Clarence
  • A convicted felon dumb hick named Bob
  • A lesbian, man hating hottuie named Claudia
  • A vegan, commune with nature med student named Sherry
  • A hypocritial lusty preacher named Farnsworth
  • A God fearing, Tea Party belle named Amy
  • A few other locals that make for good death fodder

Gratuitous Gore and Splatter!!!!!!

All these people come together and meet in a cabin in the woods (I did mention were in clicheworld right?) where our zombie aliens are looking for fresh BRAAAAAAAAAAINNNNNS!!

The best part of Brain Dead is the non CGI gore. It's old school here with shotgun head blasts, quick edit watermelon blasts (its suppose to be a human head) and decapitations and arm rippage. It's like they DeLoreaned into the past and made this movie in the 80s.

Tons of blood, tons of gore and tons of black ooze vomiting from our zombies to infect other people. Shit was coming out of every orifice dude. And it was fuckin awesome.

Gratuitous Gripes and Negatives!!!!!!

Brain Dead won't be for everyone. Noobs won't understand why us "old timers" think is a big deal about some boobs and gore. But here's a message to you noobs. Boobs and gore were not as easily accessible back in the day. If you saw boobs in a movie, you couldn't believe your eyes. If you saw somebody's heart gets ripped out, you applauded. So we have a special place in our hearts for these movies. You noobs are lucky with your free porn and YouTube.

Brain Dead kinda gets ZZZZZZZZs with some badly written dialogue and goofy makeup effects. But Clarence's snarky one liners had me laughing a few times. His zingers zinged and I have to admit, I chuckled a few times.

But being low budget, you can smell the cheese and it's extra velveetay. What can ya do right?

Brain Dead ain't the best throwback but it's done with fun and care and Kevin Tenney knows what us gorehounds and breasthounds want. All of this is packaged into Brain Dead and I had fun nostalgia-ing to my VHS days. What more can you ask?

Well more boobs would have been nice.

WTF moment

One of the characters get an untimely demise I didn't see coming. Holey moley.

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

Brain Dead was just released on DVD via Breaking Glass Pictures. You can buy it via

For more info, head over to Breaking Glass Pictures or the Facebook page.


Check out the trailer below!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mute Slashers vs Chatty Slashers: Which do you prefer?

I've been thinking about this for a while but I've never actually seen anybody debate this on a blog. Well, I figure I'd get some opinions. We all love our slashers with all their different personalities but there are 2 distinct characteristics you can group em into.

Silent and deadly or chatty and jokey.

Which do you prefer?

Insano Steve prefers mute slashers. I too prefer the silent types. But that's not too say I don't love some sadistic one liner by one Freddy Kreuger. It says a lot about you if you say you like the mute slasher compared to the chatty one.

So who's in these 2 groups? Let's start off with the mute killers.

Notable Mute Slashers
  • Jason Voorhees
  • Michael Myers
  • Leatherface
  • Ghostface (well until the end anyway)
  • Victor Crowley

Notable Chatty Slashers
  • Freddy Kreuger
  • Pinhead
  • Chucky
  • Candyman
OK enough of my yapping. I'll be quiet now. Pick a side and explain why you went in that direction.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Death of the Dead (Trailer)

Sometimes I can be a little mean when it comes to low budget horror. I know filmmakers have to make lemonade without even lemons but sometimes it comes out a little laughable and it's an easy target to make fun of. Why do I bring this up?

It's because when I reviewed Gary King's Dismal: Eat or be Eaten, I kinda made a few zingers at the movie's expense. I didn't mean to be harsh but I was just being honest. But at the conclusion of my review, I actually gave the movie 2 out of 4 spinkicks. So bad its good horror I wrote. Shockingly, I got an e-mail from writer Bo Buckley and he appreciated that I reviewed the film even though it wasn't overly positive.

So Mr. Buckley has dropped me another line that he's teamed up with Gary King again for a new feature called Death of the Dead and after watching the trailer, it looks uber funny. It's literally "ball bustin" -gly funny. I'm gonna have to check out this one as it may be not be "bad its funny" but its "funny because its funny".

Here be the plot.

It's Karate Kid meets 28 Days Later in this over-the-top horror / action / comedy from Strange Stuff Productions. Wanda is an uber nerd with the coordination of a seizure victim. Her karate trainer is an aging pervert with a penchant for ball gags and various sex toys. When a bus from a rival karate school accidentally runs over a couple scientists dumping a toxic chemical down the sewer, the entire class is turned into high flying, flesh eating baddies!

As they wreak havoc on the town turning others into zombie ninjas, Wanda and her instructor must save the planet with the help of a magic karate belt. That's right, I said MAGIC KARATE BELT. An epic feature full of brains, boobs and bad ass bitches, Death of the Dead is fun for the whole family!

Check out the trailer below. Let me know what you think!

Monday, October 11, 2010

NYC Haunted House: Blood Manor 2010 (Review)

Blood Manor is the James Cameron of haunted houses.

Big production values, absolute detailed rooms and actors who really get into their roles. That's Blood Manor in a nutshell. You're not going to get story or themes here like other haunted houses. It's pure frightening eye candy and like a summer movie, you kinda know what to expect but it still scares the shit out of you.

So my 2010 trek to Blood Manor is actually a sequel as I went last year. As opposed to a rainy night in late October, this year I attended NY's premiere haunted house on a beautiful night that had a modest crowd in early October. The masterminds of Blood Manor: Jimmy Lorenzo, Jim Faro and Mike Rodriguez have always tried to outdo their previous years work and without question they definitely top what they did last year. New rooms and some celebrity attendees were the talk of the conversation. Danielle Harris (from Hatchet 2) and Ice T and his wife Coco had already attended and a few other celebs were stopped by. Blood Manor attracts Hollywood and it's easy to see why. Both J's know horror and Mike's behind the scenes work know how to get you goosebumped.

Blood Manor packs a punch in its 30-40 minute walk through. From noobs to vets, everybody gets their scare on no matter what age you are. It's a horror funhouse filled with your worst nightmares. With Halloween around the corner, you'll be sure to have many options to get your fright on. But an old fashioned haunted house is still an adrenaline rush...and Blood Manor knows how to push your buttons.

The Disclaimer.....

Insano Steve and I trekked down to Blood Manor sorta knowing what to expect. We were now the hardened veterans as opposed to last year. But still it's kinda exciting to see what's new and revisit the rooms we remembered. The line in early October seemed tolerable with costumed ghouls and monsters bustling in the crowd. I love my Harley Quinn escaped mental patient hottie. Yum.

Mind you the line will get longer as we get closer to Halloween. Keep this in mind if you decide to attend. Early is better but past midnight, the lines will be tolerable and the cost a little cheaper. To keep you entertained while you wait, DisGraceLand a fire blower, piercing freak show will make you cringe. And cringe you will.

But enough of the lines, let's talk about the haunted house.

The Sets....

The rooms at Blood Manor are as high quality as you can get in any Universal Studios tour. When you actually stop and not run from room to room, you actually appreciate the level of detail that the team at Blood Manor has created. From your standard slaughterhouse to a straight out scene from Saw or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, their is so much creepiness in each room I would imagine in the daytime it would be just as wickedly scary.

New rooms I noticed were a Universal Studios like Frankenstein homage complete with mad scientist, Franken-monster and the operating table with gizmos and gadgets that seem to dazzle the room. Others included gated torture rooms, Hostel like rooms complete with torturers and torturees.

There were a couple I remembered from last time and they were still disorienting as they were last year. Pig slaughterhouses and dark strobe lightly passageways keep the eerie going. Within some sets were animatronics that seem to go off when you least expected it. That just added to the ILM if it all.

The sets are so extravagant, clever and detailed it's kinda mesmerizing to go through. The only problem is that it's a haunted house and the performers force you to shuttle your way out in 2-3 min so they can get ready for the next boat load of potential scaredy cats.

In jokes, gags and pure horror homages are simply slick and fun. I wish I could have stayed to admire the artistry of it all.

The Performers....

The actors do a great job in their performances. They all get into character and play their roles like they were starring in their own horror movies. You gotta give them credit for doing this night in and night out and the stamina it takes to scare the crap out of people every 3 minutes has gotta be intense.

It takes a different level of human to get within 2 inches of your face and whisper or scream to scare the bejesus out of you. I tried to interact with some of them this time around, answering their questions but they all stayed in character making it known my sarcastic answers were not appreciated.

The spookiest thing that happened was when Insano Steve and I were about to enter the house, 2 creepy kids who were around 9 or 10 yrs old who had full bloody makeup on followed us as we went in. I kept demanding why they were following us but they remained mute.

OMG. One of my worst nightmares was coming true.

Creepy kids were stalking me.

Why creepy kids are you following me and not saying a word??!?!

I gotta admit I kept turning around to see if they had a knife to my back. Screw the hidden actors under a table. These kids were looking zombie and my neck looked like dinner. I'm not sure what the deal was. Insano Steve says these kids were just part of our group. I on the other hand believed they were kiddie performers adding another level of WTF to Blood Manor. Or they were figments of my imagination. Who knows which?

The Scares.....

A little older and now a veteran of the haunted house, I wasn't as scared as I was last year. Sure I jumped out of my shoes at times from an unexpected scream but I was able to notice the noobs running out of rooms at lightning quick speeds. House moms and girls shrieked, men shivered and tweens closed their eyes. The performers are Michael Myers smart and they wait until your mesmerized by some hanging hooks or 3D masks to come of the shadows and get ya.

If your a haunted house virgin, you will get scared. But adults can tolerate the yikes. Being frightened is a natural emotion we often don't utilize. Blood Manor gets your scare maxed up.

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

New York City has so many things to do but if your a tourist visiting this month, a haunted house is the thing to do and Blood Manor is probably a good option. It's like a freaky world into the macabre and what makes Halloween such a horrificly fun holiday.

Before you dress up in your costume, see the professionals dress up in theirs.

The Vitals.........

Blood Manor is open now and runs until November 6th. Check out the schedule at the official site. It's located at 542 West 27th Street (btwn 10th & 11th Ave).

Tickets at the door are $30-$35. There are special "RIP" passes at $45.

Here are some links for more information.

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Awesome Gimmicks of William Castle

With the resurgence of overly expensive 3-D, I thought it'd be fun to talk about the pre-3D gimmicks of one William Castle. Castle directed many notable horror films with circus-y gimmicks that amplified the experiences for certain audiences.

For you vets, there is no need to explain the brilliance of Castle's gimmicks, but on. All of gimmicks listed are from Wikipedia.

1.) "Insured by Death by Fright"

Macabre (1958): A certificate for a $1,000 life insurance policy from Lloyd's of London was given to each customer in case he/she should die of fright during the film

2.) "Emergo"

House on Haunted Hill (1959): Filmed in "Emergo". An inflatable glow in the dark skeleton attached to a wire floated over the audience during the final moments of some showings of the film to parallel the action on the screen when a skeleton arose from a vat of acid and pursued the villainous wife of Vincent Price.[4] The gimmick did not always instill fright; sometimes the skeleton became a target for some audience members who hurled candy boxes, soda cups or any other objects at hand at the skeleton

3.) "Percepto"

The Tingler (1959): Filmed in "Percepto". In the film a docile creature that lives in the spinal cord is activated by fright, and can only be destroyed by screaming. In the film's finale one of the creatures removed from the spine of a mute woman killed by it when she was unable to scream is let loose in a movie theatre. Some seats in theatres showing the Tingler were equipped with larger versions of the hand-held joy buzzers attached to the underside of the seats. When the Tingler in the film attacked the audience the buzzers were activated as a voice encouraged the real audience to "Scream - scream for your lives."

4.) "Illusion-O"

13 Ghosts (1960): Filmed in "Illusion-O". A hand held ghost viewer/remover with strips of red and blue cellophane was given out to use during certain segments of the film. By looking through either the red or blue cellophane the audience was able to either see or remove the ghosts if they were too frightening

5.) "Fright Break"

Homicidal (1961): This film contained a "Fright break" with a 45 second timer overlaid over the film's climax as the heroine approached a house harboring a sadistic killer. A voiceover advised the audience of the time remaining in which they could leave the theatre and receive a full refund if they were too frightened to see the remainder of the film. To ensure the more wily patrons did not simply stay for a second showing and leave during the finale Castle had different color tickets printed for each show.[8] In a trailer for the film, Castle explained the use of the Coward's Certificate and admonished the viewer to not reveal the ending of the film to friends, "or they will kill you. If they don't, I will."

6.) "The Punishment Poll"

Mr. Sardonicus (1961): In this gothic tale set in 1880 London a baron's face is frozen into a permanent grotesque hideous smile after digging up his father's grave to retrieve a lottery ticket left in the pocket of his father's jacket. The audiences were allowed to vote in a "punishment poll" during the climax of the film - Castle himself appears on screen to explain to the audience their options. Each member of the audience was given a card with a glow in the dark thumb they could hold either up or down to decide if Mr. Sardonicus would be cured or die during the end of the film. Supposedly, no audience ever offered mercy so the alternate ending was never screened.

Castle had other gimmicks but these seemed to be the best of the bunch. Castle's filmography is filled with a variety of films ranging from horror to drama. But he is ever known as the PT Barnum of movies.

3-D may be the gimmick of today but the past was indeed the golden age of gimmicky cinema.

Which William Castle gimmick is your favorite?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives (Review)

Ticked-off Trannies with Knives

Ticked-off Trannies with Knives (2010)

Directed by Israel Luna

Well ain't that a title huh?

It's quite odd that I review a movie that coincides with certain coincidental current events. Recently at Rutgers University a man committed suicide after he was webcamed by his roommate having relations with another man.

Because of this there has been quite a news buzz on the plight of gay men and women who've been victimized by society at large. GLAAD and other groups have gotten more exposure because of these horrific events.

So its timely that Israel Luna's movie comes out during this climate. It's a pure revenge throwback circa the 70s and 80s that's quite literally over the top. The top of what? Who the hell knows?

During its run at the Tribeca Film Festival, it made waves with GLAAD protesting its portrayal of its transgender vixens. I'll be the first to admit, I have no idea why they thought so after watching the movie. Of course I'm not gonna think every "tranny" is a knife wielding, man hating diva. But you'd think from the backlash, that's what GLAAD thinks will happen.

Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives is glamorized exploitation trash with a "Hey Girl" attitude. It's a little catty at times (probably had jokes I didn't get) and its only until the last 20 minutes do we get the title being accurately portrayed. But exploitation comes in all forms and this one is as odd as it comes.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

Revenge takes balls, and no one knows it better than the ladies of "Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives", Israel Luna's over-the-top tale of sisterhood and cold-blooded, high-heeled vengeance. When the innocent and likable Bubbles Cliquot shows up for her nightly stage performance with a black eye, her transgender sisters suspect foul play from her latest boy toy.

In an attempt to get Bubbles back to her bubbly self, the girls take her out for a relaxed night of cocktails at a local gay bar. After a few drinks, the ladies' troubles seem far away, and Bubble's friends Emma Grashun and Rachel Slurr convince her to join them for a triple date with a pair of charming boys. Sadly, not even three tough-as-nails vixens could be prepared for the ambush that comes next. It turns out the blind date is set up by Boner, the baseball-bat-wielding, tranny-hating rapist who gave Bubbles her shiner.

After luring them into an abandoned warehouse, Boner and his two beefy minions unleash all their hatred on the unsuspecting ladies, leaving them bashed and bruised, but not broken. After waking from her coma, Bubbles enlists the aid of her friends- the sharp-tongued Rachel and the fiercely protective Pinky La'Trimm - to bring her attackers to bloody justice. The ladies get in touch with their inner Zen before arming up with an assortment of bladed weapons and dressing in their finest dominatrix gear (if their knives don't kill, their looks surely will). Not even a man as psychotic as Boner could imagine the well crafted and ingeniously planned bloodbath that ensues.

The moral of the story: Hell hath no fury like a tranny scorned.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

Holy trannies that's a hellalong synopsis. Obviously the flick follows the same formula as the rape revenge flicks you've all seen before. Girl meet guy, guy hurts girl, girl recruits her crew equipped with knives to kill guy. Nothing new here.

But let me say this. Most of America is not familiar with transgender people and I am part of this group. I've never seen "trannies" on the big screen before and oddly it was a little mesmerizing. Was this common in the 70s during the Times Square days?

With all due respect, I am totally ignorant of the transgender world. Men dressed as women? I wasn't sure if I was getting the jokes as I watched. Nutshelling the flick it went like this:
  • First 30....Getting to know your trannies
  • Next 30....Homophobic, racist alpha males fuck up the trannies
  • Final 30....Trannies fuck up Homophobic, racist alpha males
The blending of the movie had some grindhousey moments. The movie had missing reels, staticky static and a few disclaimers. It makes the movie feel grimey Times Square-ish and Israel Luna definitely did his homework to give it that feel.

The torture and the revenge are amped up with low budget gore and splatter. Full knife arsenals are on display as are the most diva like outfits worn by our revenge bent heroines.The ending is clever, oozing of irony and mucho sexual innuendo.

I can't say I uber dug the film but it did keep me slightly entertained. The cast is a little amateurish at times with Krystal Summers as Bubbles having the bulk of the one-liners and screen time. The movie drags at times filled with quirky one liners which I found un-funny and the montagy Mr. Miyagi interlude seemed out of place. Sometime the movie would play as straightforward revenge and then go straight into camp. It was a pure tone pacing weirdness.

But Kelexis Davenport as Pinky La Trimm a hulky black mama has gotta be the standout. How far these characters are from real life transgender Americans, I do not know. But stereotypical characters steroided up are always fun to watch no matter what orientation, race or gender you are.

So should you slice and dice your way to seeing Ticked-Off Trannies? It's got a few WTF moments in that anti-political correctness sorta way. Back in the 70s, nobody fuckin cared out what the hell was on the screen. Africans were portrayed as savages, Asians as tribal and cannibals and rednecks were portrayed as well.... rednecks.

What Trannies does is fuel the exploitation fire of making you view a world you'd never thought you'd ever see. Throw in some cleavage and gore and a few WTF moments it'll have you smiling at the end. I mean this isn't Boys Don't Cry or Brokeback Mountain here. Jeez.

I mean honestly who can really get a message out of a movie with a title like that?


Knife trauma
Slice and Dice



WTF moment

Umm trannies with knives?

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

The film was shot entirely in Dallas/FT Worth and Austin, Texas.

The movie will be in theaters in both NYC (starting 10/15) and LA (starting 10/22. It comes out on DVD 11/9. Here's the info on the LA screening.

OPENS OCT. 22, 2010
8000 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90046
(323) 848-3500
TRT: 90 minutes

Purchase tickets at:


Check out the trailer below!