For a city with famously expensive — and scarce — real estate, there sure are a lot of haunted houses that spring up across the boroughs this time of year. One of the most intriguing and popular pop-ups of the season is KILLERS: A Nightmare Haunted House, which is hosted by the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center on the Lower East Side. Instead of focusing on the usual (and fake)?spooky suspects, this year KILLERS focuses on real-life serial killers like Ted Bundy and Jack the Ripper. We spoke to co-director John Harlacher for a behind-the-scenes look at how this Nightmare came about:
How long does it take to set up each night?
Four hours before each show, we begin by testing each trick and effect. The makeup and costume crew arrives two hours before showtime, and actors come in up to 90 minutes before, depending on how complex their effects are.
How big is the cast?
We have a cast of 50, but 35 are performing each night. Many parts are too physically demanding to do every night, so we have a rotating cast.
What's the approximate cost to put it all together?
We are the only haunted house on Earth that does a completely different show each year, so we spend a lot. It's not the smartest model, but it would be boring for us otherwise. Most people build their haunt once and tweak it enough to trick people into coming back. We spend over a half million dollars creating our show.
669 Eighth Ave.
Times Scare is more of the classic haunted house experience. But you don't have to cram it into your schedule before Oct. 31 — it's open year-round right in Midtown. For a limited time, you can choose a package deal and combine your fright tour with a three-course dinner and a viewing of "SILENCE! The Musical" in the adjoining Elektra Theatre.
Bronx Haunted House
Through Oct. 31
974 Home St., Bronx
Big fan of "The Walking Dead"? Then you're possibly prepared to survive the Bronx Haunted House, which features throngs of foot-draggers clamoring for your braaaains.
"Gowanus '73: Warehouse of Horrors"
Through Nov. 1
227 Fourth Ave.
This immersive theater experience takes place in the 1970s and imagines the shady history of the Brooklyn Lyceum, the real converted bathhouse where this show takes place. Dealers, whores and mobsters come together in a political scam involving a new drug that turns its takers into zombie-like drones. You get three free cocktails with your ticket.