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Inside NYC's top haunted houses

The best haunted houses in New York City, reviewed by Metro columnist, Scary Bradshaw

Fall in New York City — that perfect time of the year when Pumpkin Spice Lattes are sipped, our favorite coats come out of their long summer hibernation and people spend way too much money to have the living sh--t scared out of them in New York City’s haunted attractions.

Metro made me, "Scary Bradshaw," attend and review the city’s featured frights, a task that I later realized, terrified me. So I recruited some of my best gal pals to go with me — what better way to bond with your girlfriends than to be absolutely terrified and possibly wet yourselves together?

Below you’ll find a short review of each haunted attraction in New York City along with a rating based on how much I did or did not pee my pants: Dry pants, damp crotch, soaked to the thigh and thoroughly drenched.

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Haunted Hayride - Randall's Island

Randall's island Haunted Hayride, one of the city’s hottest haunted attractions, is terrifyingly difficult to find.

After being dumped off on a deserted section of the island by the MTA and wandering around aimlessly under two bridges for 20 minutes or so, my gal pal Leland and I, found the haunted hayride neatly tucked like a circus in a corner on the island. We picked up our VIP tickets, and headed to the VIP line which circumvented the non-vip queue.

This is where the terror began.

As I walked past the zig-zagging maze of human cattle and saw their tired faces, and heard the looped halloween music blaring around them I couldn’t help but wonder, was this the fright they had paid for? To wait in line for who knows how long, enduring the same “scary” music playing over and over again with no end to their wait in sight?

But as I cut the line with my VIP status and boarded the cart of hay I realized that the line was mere foreplay for the terror that was yet to come.

But it never came.

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Much of what scaring people depends upon is the element of surprise, and it was utter the lack of surprise that was the Haunted Hayride’s chief failing.The hayride lacked the vulnerability of a traditional haunted house that one walks through. While seated in the cart I could scope out the costumed scarers before they could get me and would yell “No! Don’t do that. No thanks” at anyone I saw hiding behind a hedgestone.

What surprised me was the amount of dance that had been choreographed for the hayride’s performances. At some points it felt as though I was watching a “spooky” recital at Barnard, or was at the opening of a gallery in Chelsea. Two things that I imagine might be terrifying for anyone from someplace like upstate.

The scariest moments from the hayride were ones that were probably not intended to be. For instance, the tractor pulled us through a creepy orphanage where a little burned up looking child shoved a note into my hand whispering, “TAKE IT! READ IT!”

I opened the note and found nothing but scribbles.

“Childhood illiteracy,” I thought aloud “Now that’s scary.”

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All in all — the haunted hayride is a lot like Disney’s “It’s a Small World” in that it’s mostly terrifying if you're a child, and just somewhat disappointing if you’re an adult.

Much like “It’s a Small World” though, the Haunted Hayride, with its mix of scares, dance and drama might be perfect for families who want to be scared/entertained but don’t want to put in the effort of walking through a haunted house.

Rating: Damp Crotch
Where:20 Randall’s Island Park, New York, NY 10035
How much: GA - $35, VIP - $50

Times Scare
There are three things New York City has taught me:
One: a Long Island Iced Tea will fix everything.
Two: a second Long Island Iced Tea will fix anything that’s left over.
Three: I need at least three Long Island Iced Teas to face Times Square’s hottest haunted attraction, the year-roundTimes Scare.
Located on the fiery rim of Times Square, and perched right beside Port Authority, Times Scare faces some tough competition.
One could save the $27 it costs to buy a ticket for the haunted house and just wander around Port Authority for 15 minutes and probably be just as terrified.
Despite all this Times Scare draws customers, few of whom are from Manhattan, and most of whom are far-east Brooklyn and Queens residents, Canadians, and tourists from other strange and exotic lands.
Maybe it was the Long Islands, or maybe it was the vulnerability of walking through a dark maze, but Times Scare was at many points genuinely scary.
Most of the haunted house with its darkness, occasional thunderous hammering against metal walls, black lit graffiti, and struggling actors jumping out at you from dark corners: felt like what I imagine a night in Bushwick is like.
Although most of my screams would trail off into laughter, I was death-gripping my gal pal Samantha’s hand the entire time we were in the haunted house —which turned out to be quite short.

Much like anything else I’ve done in a dark room with a group of people, just when the going was getting good we were ushered out by a crazy woman down a flight of stairs.
That was my biggest problem with Times Scare — the fact that it takes about 15 minutes to go through. I realize, depending on how much it does or does not scare you, that could be a good or bad thing.
I can't help but wonder, if you’re paying around $30 for a haunted house experience shouldn't you get more scares for your fare?

Rating: Soaked to the thigh
Where:669 8th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Cost: $27


Blood Manor

On a brisk Thursday evening two gals found themselves in the south West Village getting ready emotionally for New York City’s hottest haunted attraction,Blood Manor.

Compared to the city’s other attractions, Blood Manor (with its location in a sleepy neighborhood building that also features a storage center) is pretty unintimidating from the outside.

“Have I become numb to terror?” I thought to myself. I had just reviewed two other haunted attractions, and by this point kind of knew what to expect.

I couldn't help but wonder, would Blood Manor be able to shock me?

It wasn’t until a statue in the lobby leaped at me and pulled a shriek from my throat and the depths of my soul that I realized — Yes. Yes, in fact it can.

“I’m going to be gripping your hand the entire time,” I warned my gal pal and roommate, Nadya.

“Why did you make me do this?” she winced as I cut off the circulation from her fingers and we stepped into the maze.

I can say with some certainty that Nadya has lost all feeling in her hand, because Blood Manor was absolutely terrifying. It was non-stop screaming, whining, finger crushing and crying out “Why!? Why!? Why!? Why!? Why!?” during the entire length of the house’s maze.

What made it so terrifying? Well, for one thing the house, which seemed to take inspiration from the horror video game drama Silent Hill and BioShock, featured every horrific scenario imaginable.

Gory surgical room? Got it. Corpse locker? Got it. Creepy zombie strippers who hit on me. Yup — got it.

Blood Manor certainly pushed the limits of how close its actors were allowed to get to visitors, and definitely took advantage of cornering and yelling at you. All of this helped up the terror to a level that made me realize all my nightmares are real and I should just give up.

All in all I have no qualms with Blood Manor, except for the sudden release of my emotional bladder that would have ruined my Manolo Blahniks if I were wearing Manolo Blahniks.

The terror was the best I’ve come across so far in my journey through the haunted houses of New York City, and because of that I’ve decided to create a ranking just for it: “Shoe full of pee.”

Congrats, Blood Manor.

Rating: Shoe full of pee
Where: 163 Varick St., New York, NY 10013
Cost: $35

Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely@mattlee2669.

 
 
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