Monday, October 04, 2010

NYC Haunted House - Nightmare: Superstitions (Review)

October is the time everyone gets into the world of horror. With Halloween cementing the end of the month, the orange and black will be draped in every corner store with the goal of making you buy bags of Snicker bars. Before you stuff yourself with chocolate munchies, you should get your scare on. If you live in the city or in the tri-state area or even if you are a tourist visiting, NYC has plenty of scare to get you into the Halloween mood.

One of the best haunted houses in America is Tim Haskell's Nightmare which is located in Greenwich Village. This year's edition: Superstitions. Can you overcome your fear of broken mirrors, sidewalk cracks, opening up umbrella indoors and others? As I wrote in my initial post, I find these all intriguing. I finally got a chance to visit Nightmare: Superstitions and having been to last year's entitled Nightmare: Vampires, I have to say, this year's version is bigger, badder and way more fun.

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.

For me, that's the whole point of Halloween. You're suppose to dress up and NOT be you for the night. With Nightmare: Superstitions, you will be forced to break those ingrained beliefs and myths you've dreaded since childhood. It's not as easy as you think.

With all haunted house reviews, I don't want to give anything away that might take away from the experience. A haunted house scares should be spontaneous and shocking. But if your reading this, I'll try to give you some of the things to expect.

The Disclaimer.....

Even the most hardened alpha male and the gothiest goth chick will have a great time at Nightmare: Superstitions. It's an equal opportunity scare-o-thon. I went with my 2 female cousins and my cousin's husband and what I noticed is we Gen X-ers don't get easily scared these days. Sure, we jump at the unseen actor who sneaks up on you Ninja style but as a jaded viewer we have become desensitized to the scare game.

That's not to say I didn't get scared as my family did. But because I had attended last year's version, I had a Nostradamus psychic ability to know where the scares would come from. But rookies beware, if this is your first haunted house and your first Nightmare, the actors seem to have a 6th sense of who are the noobs and who are the veterans.

Generation Y and Z are prime fodder and the performers know it. They smell the fear and ghost a scream when you least expect it but they will go after the manliest man as they do the tweeniest girl. The scare factor is amped up 10 fold from last year and I saw it in the faces of my cousins and hilariously from the strangers in my tour group. The scares became the least of my concern as my main objective was to see the stellar performances of these actors as well as the stunning sets they had created this year.

The Story.....

The thing that separates Nightmare from other haunted houses is they're not there to just scare you, they want you to actively participate in the story. This year's edition takes full advantage of the superstitions theme. After starting off in a "Funhouse" with the scariest clowns and filled with Gullermo Del Toro inspired creatures, you step into the Bloomingdale Mental Center where according to our head nurse, the mental patients have voluntarily admitted themselves because they broke a superstition.

Your job as a visitor to this insane asylum is to break these superstitions and suffer the consequences so they can be free of their endless torture.

Each room you entered had a crazed maniac and a superstition to be broken. The LOL part is nobody knows who in the group will have the honor of breaking the superstition. Sometimes it's thrusted upon you, other times you could volunteer. Sure, seeing somebody else open an umbrella indoors, you get an uneasy feeling but when you actually do it yourself, it's a little different.

I am a little superstitious but I was willing to break every one I encountered. The two I participated in was the old backward chopsticks folklore and reciting "Bloody Mary" 3 times in a mirror. The latter was quite fun.

You will need to walk under ladders, step on cracks and encounter rabbits. Mind you these are all done in an hyper surreal horror-core sorta way. These aren't your grandma's superstitions. They're introduced to you with vigor and insanity by the performers.

One room we encountered was the most talked about after the tour. I won't give anything away but it gives new meaning to birthday.

The Performers....

The actors are again top notch this year. Playing mental patients has gotta be tons of fun and they really do seem to give it their all. I can empathize they have to do this every 10 minutes but it seems the energy is there. Hell, one day I might give it a try.

From hot Haley Quinn like loonies to some gore-tastic mental dudes, they engage each of the people in the group and make sure to get the most vulnerable their just due. It's these little things that make Nightmare: Superstitions fun. The actors make you feel like you're part of a warped ARG (alternate reality game) and to me, I totally dug this. I felt like I was in a interactive live action video game, one where you had to perform a task in order to get to the next level.

The actors will make sure you get to the next level, but make you overcome these taboo superstitions in order to do so.

The Sets.....

As always, I was impressed by the sets with the funhouse intro being as bizarre as advertised. The attention to detail is very impressive as well. If you go, make sure you look around each room and just appreciate the level of design and effort that was involved. Little in-jokes and ha ha's are everywhere if you look hard enough.

Pay attention to signs and pictures and even the floor for the little things that make you feel like your at the most f*cked up crazy house you've ever been in. One of the rooms was so disorienting I walked right into a mirror! The design is almost integral as the actors are. And you never know, that motionless set piece might not be motionless as you think.

The Scares......

Scary is an almost relative term. Hardcore vets can sense where the scare will come from but you still are put on edge when you go through each room. That's the most exhilarating part of any haunted house...who goes into the room first. Standing in the center sucks. In order to get the full effect of a have to set yourself up for it.

Witnessing other people jump out of their socks is funny. But if you get scared, it's that feeling of "BOO!" that gets the heart pumping and the adrenaline jacked. It's not everyday you get the fear emotion on overdrive.

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

My cousins all agreed as did I. They had fun in the 30-40 minutes experience of Nightmare: Superstitions. I brought them this year because I realized everybody should experience this once. Old or young, Halloween is nostalgia for all of us and the haunted house is a staple to all that is uber fun about the holiday.

Tim Haskell has proved again that digging deep into our common mythos and fears is what will scare us the most. Now I gotta flip a coin. I hope it comes up heads.


NIGHTMARE: SUPERSTITIONS is located at NOHO Event Center, 623 Broadway at Houston (enter on Mercer Street). Tickets cost $30 in advance and $35 at the door. VIP tickets are $60 and a Super VIP is $100.

Be sure to follow @NightmareNYC on Twitter and check out the official Facebook page for inside deals and discounts.

Also check out Tim Haskell's blog @

If you've been to Nightmare: Superstitions, share your experience, good or bad by leaving a comment.


  1. Looks like a winner! You gotta love the gory stuff!

  2. I'm a huge fan of haunted houses/scary movies/anything that makes most people cringe. It's hard to find a lot of things to do in regards to this in NYC since most small towns put on a lot of festivities. That being said, one thing I do go to is Blood Manor. It can be expensive, but I did see a deal on BuyWithMe NYC that you can get entrance for only $29 instead of the normal $53.50 price. Here's the link if you want to get spooked with me!

  3. Can someone please give me a spoiler description of the entire event (or at least the Bloody Mary room)? I live in Iowa and can't make it to this. You can e-mail it to me at

  4. Hey Bostonnoc - What do you wanna know? My review has most of the good stuff. Let me know.

  5. I'm so glad fall finally rolled around... I LOVE Halloween and haunted houses. I'm definitely going to try and get a group of friends together for nightmare:superstitions. It sounds awesome!! buywithmeNYC is selling general admission and VIP passes at some really great prices right now too!! The deal only lasts for a week, so you should buy your pass now if you're interested! Check it out here:

  6. Hey anonymous. Can you you send me your entire review to Can't wait to read it!

  7. sucks worse ever and the workers there touch 3 of the girl that were in our group better off rented a scary movie and save urself time and $$$$$$

  8. Boston OC - I'll post a short spoiler after Halloween for all that's interested.

    The last Anonymous - Sounds like you were molested at a haunted house? Are you sure you went to a haunted house and not a strip club?

  9. it suckedd dont go it was horrible. The line was 2 hours and 29 minutes.
    How i know that is i timed it on my phone. I did not like it at all. It went really fast and was very very expensive. Thier were alot of people who had VIP passes and were going in before everyone so it made me feel like crap, Waiting thier like a fool for 2 hours and 29 minutes. I live in Ringwood NJ and i am very upset because i did not have a good time at all. THE TRUTH

  10. So how about that short spoiler you promised for us not able to go?

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