There was a time when haunted houses were simple; slap some fake blood on a freaky looking guy, paint a few spooky cardboard dioramas and throw it all inside a scary old home. But these days haunted houses have morphed into massive super attractions that fill every niche of the ever-widening horror genre.
They use real actors, lots of fire and have complex narratives that go far beyond the theme of Halloween. With that holiday just around the corner, Digital Dying decided to take a peek into the ever more frightening world of the haunted house. Below are some of the country’s most horrific..
House of Shock, New Orleans – This place isn’t so much a haunted house as a nightmarish Halloween extravaganza. Or, as a travel show recently labeled it, “a haunted house on steroids”. The experience starts with a brief death metal concert complete with complicated pyrotechnics on a creepy stage that looks like a castle. After five minutes a hideous looking man stumbles on stage and declares that evil is now in a war against good. Visitors are ushered through a graveyard to a funeral parlor where a Frankenstein-looking pastor presides over an empty casket. Suddenly, a pasty faced woman pops out of the coffin screaming. Next is a morgue where doctors covered in blood are hacking apart still living people and vomiting blood. In the butcher shop victims strung up by chains are being attacked by deranged men with chainsaws.
The final room is a demonic church where children in communion dresses are being dragged across the floor by their necks. A mostly nude man is lashed to a wooden contraption decorated with devilish insignias while flames roar in the background. Apparently, the attraction was so real that authorities and local church groups tried to shut it down, claiming the haunted house was trying to recruit kids to join the Church of Satan. And, in at least one instance, a visitor nearly died of fright. “She just fell to the floor, clutching her chest and her heart stopped beating,” explains an employee in a video on the House of Shock website. Luckily, he continues, she was rushed to the hospital and survived.
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Bates Motel, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania – The operation is lodged at a true working farm with sheep and chickens, only come Halloween the grounds are revamped for horror. The main show is a haunted house themed on Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho but also inspired by just about every horror movie ever made. There are levitating spirits, floor boards that come alive, pictures that trail you down the hall and actors that actually interact with you, then run off screaming bloody murder. After the haunted house make sure you get on the haunted hayride, which has been featured by the Travel Channel, USA Today and Haunteworld Magazine. The ride enters a dark forest then goes through an insane asylum, a full scale mock-up of a New England church and a 200 foot long cave. Recently, a new section was added, the slaughterhouse. If you still need more fright there is the haunted corn maze, kind of like a nature trail gone berserk. You’ll begin in a field of tall corn then pass an abandoned gold mine and a swamp filled with alligators and dead fishermen. At one point you may or may not be attacked by a pack of hungry werewolves.
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The Dent Haunted Schoolhouse, Cincinnati, Ohio – In 1894, a K-12 public school was opened in Dent, Ohio. It featured “the finest teachers, cafeteria workers, and janitorial staff for miles.” Then, in 1942, several students known to be trouble-makers vanished mysteriously. Local police investigated and concluded they had run away. But in 1945, four more students went missing. Police were baffled, and rumors began spreading that the kids’ disappearances had something to do with the school. Throughout the 1950s at least ten more students went missing, and people started complaining of strange smells coming from the basement. A mob of community members stormed the school. In the basement, they found the rotting remains of the missing students. Some bodies had been sealed in barrels, others were wedged behind a brick wall or left decaying in old bathtubs. A janitor named Charlie was suspected, but ran away and was never found. The school was closed down.
Fast forward to the present. The school is filled with the spirits of the nearly two dozen children butchered by the twisted janitor. Visitors get to peek into his blood-splattered janitorial workshop and wander through the boiler room, where he kept the student’s tied up before murdering them. Just last year the site added a new attraction; Detention Hall, filled with, you guessed it, zombies!