Recently, The Sexy Armpit took a trip to the lower east side of Manhattan (CSV Cultural Center 107 Suffolk Street at Rivington) for Nightmare:Bad Dreams Come True. This haunted walk through bills itself as “New York’s Most Horrifying Haunted House,” and from my experience I can tell you that it definitely isn’t. This is one of the more hyped haunted attractions in New York City, and even though I commend it’s effort, it didn’t make me feel nearly as scared as Blood Manor did. Here’s why:
Zombie Girl: Come see me later and I’ll give you a Brazilian on your head.
Jay: No, I’m gonna give you a Brazilian!
Zombie Girl: Too late!
This was an exchange I had with just one of the many wickedly costumed dwellers of Blood Manor whom I encountered as they lurked about at Home the swank club/lounge underneath the haunted attraction. I’ve heard of New York City’s Blood Manor before but I never experienced it. While at the Monster Mania Con I noticed a bunch of postcards ads for it on a vendor table. The Sexy Armpit was lucky enough to enjoy the special press preview of Blood Manor. The building is closer to Penn Station than I realized and it only took about 10-15 minutes to walk there from MSG. (542 W. 27th Street) I have to hand it to the organizers of this attraction since they truly built up my anticipation and curiosity as to what kind of terror I’d find within the walls of Blood Manor. If you’re saying to yourself “But Jay, it’s a haunted house, if you’ve been in one, you’ve been in them all.” Then you simply have not experienced the better ones. Blood Manor is one of the best I’ve been through.
For a Thursday night this was a formidable graveyard smash. Filing in were the super cool hip and trendy group of TV, radio, and print folks with their ultra fashionable messenger bags. (I packed light a cell phone and ice breakers) We all assembled in the sleek Home lounge while enjoying drinks from the bar and watching scenes from horror films on the large drop down screen. It was like a Disney character breakfast except for it being evil, twisted, in the evening, lacking breakfast food, and no shortage of Vodka. That’s smart, give your visitors a bunch of cocktails and then let them loose in a haunted house where they’ll no doubt be so scared and disoriented that they’ll piss themselves. I love it when a plan comes together! The bartender thought he was Ashton Kutcher and he even had one of those plastic hair bands holding his long hair back. You need to remember, this is New York we’re talking about…everyone wishes they lived in L.A but they’re all really from Jersey.
My friend Steve and I were about to sit down on a leather bench until the moment we realized we wouldn’t be doing much relaxing. All of a sudden a freaky fellow welcomed the crew to Blood Manor and began rapping “The Blood Manor Theme Song” which was actually an awesome song with a hip hop vibe to it. It definitely begs to be a part of the Halloween playlist on my iPod. Just as the song started blaring, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Samara, and a host of other characters made their presence known by greeting each and every person in the lounge by scaring the bejesus out of them. Freddy Krueger kept clinking the blades of his gloves together by my ears and telling me in that slithery voice of his that I was an easy target, which was a correct assumption since he successfully startled me numerous times throughout the night. Later, a little gothic girl who reminded me of one of those living dead dolls came over and stared at us with her huge innocent eyes as if she was confused as to why we just murdered her entire family. We actually didn’t murder her fam but she sure as hell made it seem like we did! The actors did not break character once and their costumes and makeup were exceptional. The oddities continued haunting us until the first group was let into the elevator and finally brought into Blood Manor.
Going into too much detail about the specific rooms inside of Blood Manor would spoil your experience. But I’m feeling generous so I’ll give you a few teasers: The Electrocution is sickeningly realistic, you also may want to reconsider your appointment for that makeover at the beauty parlor, you’ll feel like you’re in another world in the 3-D room with surreal blacklight murals all over the walls, then there’s the Saw room, and of course the boiler room. There are some genuinely unsettling parts of the walk through. The actors do a helluva job of freaking you out without touching you or doing anything crazy. If you’re like me, you’ll probably be more taken aback by some of the unexpected scares rather than the blatant ones. Some of the most fun moments come when you’re unsure of where you’re going in complete darkness. I must say that the finale is the best part. If you make it that far…
Once you’re out of Blood Manor alive, it feels like it didn’t take very long to get through. This might be the “I had so much fun effect” where you’re having such a good time that you had no concept of time or it’s just over too quickly (insert sex joke here). Infusing some good old fashioned carnival simplicity might do the trick. One way the attraction could improve is by possibly adding in a few different transitional areas without actors in between the main rooms. Doing that would make the ride longer as well as calm your senses a bit before you get the shit scared out of you by some of the actors again. These rooms could be just for viewing only and they don’t need to be elaborate. Another aspect that Blood Manor and other haunted houses lack is the presence of ghosts. With all the concentration on such iconic and recognizable horror movie characters, a simple eerie light show projecting some apparitions might work perfectly. Not everything has to be so “in your face.” Ghosts are spooky, just think back to the first time you saw one sitting in your cart the first time you went on the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney.
Blood Manor capped off an amusing night filled with scares, adult beverages, and me almost breaking my nose. In addition to it’s proximity to Penn Station, Blood Manor will not take a big chunk out of your night. Go ahead, plan a night out in New York but if I were you, I’d make Blood Manor you’re first destination rather than you’re last mwahahahaha!!!
If you’re into the whole brevity thing and you simply can’t stand my never-ending tangents, then here’s the short version: I’ve had more exciting rides on a compact John Deere Gator. Better yet…I’ve taken my life in my hands on numerous occasions reaching speeds 30 to 40 times faster than the Dark Knight Coaster on my Mongoose BMX bike. And yes, you CAN ride on my pegs.
A new ride at a local amusement park is usually pretty damn exciting. It gives us even more motivation to flock to the park and shell out zillions on season passes, parking passes, hopper passes, etc. This season, Six Flags Great Adventure in N.J capitalized on the popularity of the Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight, and threw up a dark ride in it’s honor. Naturally, like any die hard insane Bat-Fan, I needed to ride it.
I got there before the park opened because I knew I wasn’t going to want to stay in line for an hour and a half to ride it. Even though it was the Dark Knight, I don’t have the patience that I used to. Waiting for Kingda Ka was the biggest letdown because we must’ve waited 2 hours for a ride that seemed to last 7 seconds. The anticipation was high judging by how fast everyone sprinted to the Dark Knight as soon as the security guards let down the rope to get into the rest of the park. Don’t you hate it when you’re in a holding pattern in an amusement park waiting for it to open and you realize people actually work there and it isn’t just a fantasy world? There’s guys filling cold cases with soda and iced tea, opening up the doors to the various memorabilia and candy stores, and others are sweeping up. I always thought that stuff was done by the amusement park fairies that live in the old Victorian house at the front gate.
For young park visitors, the Dark Knight is a fun attraction but for the majority of people expecting a thrill ride similar to the Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster, they’ll surely be disappointed. It’s the most boring, lame, and uneventful ride in the park. I didn’t have to wait on line, but if you do you’ll wait in what they are trying to make us believe is the Gotham City transit system. The lights are dim and the big screen is showing a press conference with Harvey Dent (actually played by Aaron Eckhart) answering questions about crime in Gotham. Then the lights get even dimmer and the Joker’s catchphrase WHY SO SERIOUS comes on the screen while random Jokeresque quotes scrawled on the walls illuminate. There was a short montage with jolts of James Cagney and melting celluloid that for some reason got me so pumped. We boarded the ride, and not soon after I was deflated. I realized that we rode the majority of the ride and I kept saying “I’m sure it hasn’t even kicked in yet.” Was I wrong! The ride was over and nothing happened.
The Dark Knight “coaster” as it’s called is far from a coaster. It felt like it went about 5 mph!! There’s nothing even going on inside while you’re in you’re little 4 person train. You see some blacklit/florescent markings on the walls to make you think Joker is around, and you hear someone who sounds like Heath Ledger trying to spook you out, but other than that there’s really nothing to the ride.
Leave it to Six Flags to make a shitty ride. They can work wonders with their roller coasters but when it comes to other rides and attractions they suck. They rarely show any creativity and it usually seems like they don’t want to offer a variety of attractions. If they wanted to create a throwback dark ride, why didn’t they make a haunted house? At one time Great Adventure had a haunted house but it burned down in ’84. Check out this great article at Dark in the Park about the old Six Flags haunted castle. I haven’t been to a good haunted house since Castle Dracula.
It seemed like they whipped up the Dark Knight coaster in 6 weeks so I’m sure Six Flags has the means to make the most kickass, scariest haunted house on the east coast. You’ll always hear them bragging on TV with their annoying ads about how much bigger Great Adventure is than Disneyland, and how they feature a safari. Who cares how much land they own? How about concentrating on making Great Adventure an awesome amusement park with awe inspiring rides? Isn’t that the point? Their coasters are kickass but they are seriously lacking when it comes to creating atmosphere. I want to escape when I go to a theme park. I want to be pulled into Metropolis when I wait for the Superman ride, I DON’T want to feel like I’m waiting an hour in the sweltering Jackson, N.J sun by the greasy haired kid dressed all in black, yellow converse, who’s blasting some metal song from his ruby red Razr phone.
With Six Flags association with the WB and DC characters, it’s a shame that they can’t get a grasp on the rides in their parks. How about a Marvin the Martian Space Mission? A Gossamer Funhouse? A Wonder Woman Invisible Jet ride? C’mon people…this is off the cuff here! Imagine what I could do if I really put my mind to it!
I love going on rides like Nitro (my favorite), El Toro, Superman, and The Scream Machine, but they don’t offer much personality. The rides themselves are awesome but what I value is the atmosphere. Six Flags chinces out and they don’t take the opportunity to sweep you into a different world as you’re waiting to go on the ride. That long wait is sometimes excruciating and could be made a lot more interesting. You know what I mean if you’ve been on any ride in Disney World and Universal like Spider Man, and Star Tours in MGM. I want to be transported and be so distracted that the greasy haired kid won’t even make it into my brain because I‘m seriously convincing myself into thinking that I‘m about to rocket into space. Maybe the people who run Great Adventure could go take a ride on Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, or even one of the awesome rides in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. They could learn a thing or two.
Have you gone on any terrible rides? If so, tell us about it!
Last week my girlfriend told me that I had to check out this house that was all done up for Halloween. My first reaction was, “How cool can a house be?” I figured it was done by some run of the mill obsessive decorator, like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation. You know how neighbors are always trying to one up each other. Well, I’ll be damned, because I was dead wrong about this one!
Mike Spade, a local magician, has the most kickass Halloween setup and he told me he’s been doing it for about 19 years. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard about this and I lived in the area my entire life! It’s obvious that Mike genuinely loves putting his Haunted front yard up year after year. The amount of work that goes into his display and the details that you can pick out are spectacular. After checking it out on a cold October night, it was outrageous.
I’ve been to a ton of haunted houses. I’ve visited independent walk throughs, Disneyland, big sponsored haunted ordeals, and I can tell you that nothing can compare to one man’s quest to scare the shit out of people. Mike basically put a dark ride in his front yard sans the boats. What’s most surprising is that he does this all because he loves it and he doesn’t charge people, he only puts out a donation box.
Mike’s Halloween setup has been featured in Weird NJ. For those who aren’t aware, Weird NJ is a magazine that began as a small fanzine type newsletter featuring oddities around the state and now it’s gotten so popular that the publishers Mark and Mark have hosted their own show on History Channel and now also publish books about oddities in other states.
There’s only one day left but you should definitely check out “Mike’s Haunted House.”
Pictured above are some of my favorite moments from the display. You’ll see Samara from The Ring crawled out of a television set and is climbing up a tree. There were some glowing ghosts that moved so gracefully, exactly how I picture a real ghost. Mike also built an old fashioned hearse with a coffin inside that won’t stay closed because of that damned skeleton in there! Coming out of the ground are some ghouls that clearly want to come and join you while your taking your spooky stroll through Mike’s haunted house. For more info about Mike and video of the display click here.
With Halloween approaching I realized that I’ve never been on a haunted hayride before and that needed to change. On Friday night we headed down to Marlboro N.J to check out the “Haunted Hayride of Terror” and the Haunted barn. It was a cool autumn night and there were a lot of people showing up to get scared which reminded me of how Halloween should be!