18
Oct

america-haunted-haunted-house-scam-website-allegedly-selling-tickets-on-groupon-to-haunted-attractions-that-dont-exist
 “America Haunted” haunted house scam? Website allegedly selling tickets on Groupon to haunted attractions that don’t exist

I just received a disturbing tip that a website called America Haunted is selling tickets on Groupon to haunted houses that do not exist.

wtf

“America Is Haunted is a night time experience designed to take you back to the fright-filled state Halloween should be. With more than 42 locations around the country we have built a two-year track record of sold out haunts! Our unique combination of eccentric gory entertainment draws tens of thousands in revellers annually.”

I kind of know a thing or 2 about haunted houses – and I have never heard of them or any of these haunts. I looked on the alleged scammer’s website and tried to verify the haunted attractions where I live in NJ and NY. I also did my second “home” of FL and every other place that I tour. I could not verify any of them to be legitimate. A reader let me know that one of the ones in Miami certainly is the address of a gravel refinery where they is no haunted attraction. Another told me one address was an abandoned building.

Remember to always google the haunted attraction before giving anyone any money. I am disappointed in Groupon for allowing this and hope that if anyone bought these tickets that they can get their money back. I have had a negative opinion of Groupon and this seals the deal on that.

EDIT: Many have written in saying that these are all addresses of building that are currently up for lease. Faaaaaabulous. :/


18
Oct

new-york-city-haunted-attractions-nightmare-new-york-2014-review-urban-legends
 New York City Haunted Attractions: Nightmare New York 2014 review – Urban Legends

Nightmare NYC is one of the most unique haunted attractions that I know of. They do a show that is more theatrical than most. This haunted attraction is not your standard boogity boogity chainsaw chase – and that’s precisely what I like about it. When you go to Nightmare NYC the entire point is to watch, listen, and participate.

nightmare_nyc

Nightmare NYC is the one place that I can count on every year to do something different in a sea of haunted attractions who are doing the same stuff. They are risk-takers. I will always be amused. It takes talent to make a haunted house. It take even more talent to do one that no one else is doing.

Literally no one else is doing this because the entire thing is custom. You will not find animatronics in here bought at the haunt show that I see in everyone’s haunt like a copy paste.

This year the show was based on NYC’s Urban Legends.

You’ll get to navigate the NYC of the 70s. You know, when stuff was batshit loco. You’ll get to meet other urban legends like Typhoid Mary but it’s all within a NYC theme. The alligators in the sewer, the rat king and mole people, a crack house, and a very intense performance on a recreation of a NYC subway. The subway car is truly one of the best pieces of acting I have ever seen in a Halloween seasonal attraction. Ever.

Also this may be the only haunted attraction that I know of with boobs in it. This is NYC in the 70s so there’s swearing, boobs, and butts and everything. It wouldn’t seem right without it.

Most importantly they fixed the sound issues that I had had problems with in past years. You can now hear everything people are saying clearly. This was such an improvement to the show that I felt that this may have been their best year yet as far as theatrical execution. I did feel that the finale lacked some punch this year, especially when compared to the finales they had in the past years where it devolved into a chaotic chase, but it was still fine.

In previous years if you opted in to being touched you could be called upon to perform a task, get put in a box, or something similar. I felt that the interaction level was a bit lower than in previous years. We only saw 1 person in our group get grabbed twice.

This year it felt like Nightmare NYC was pushing toward a more traditional haunt in certain aspects. My fear is that they are listening to their detractors who are pushing for conformity.

I actually think that, much like my own work, Nightmare is best as the odd mofo that does different stuff. I wonder if perhaps it would be creatively freeing to them to go the way of The Steampunk Haunted House (now year-’round and called Then She Fell) and break away from the haunted house concept by elevating it into its own genre. Still be a haunted house structure – even call it that – but release some marketing tag line that indicates that this is an immersive theater haunted house and not “boogity boogity chainsaw chase” Take away the pressure to conform, embrace what they do well that no one else does, still be a haunted house show, but change the conversation so that traditional haunt fans know what they are getting into and are educated on the beauty of it.

From where I am sitting it’s phenomenally refreshing to go to a haunted attraction that takes so much work and care to creating literally everything from the ground up. If you appreciate immersive theater and people who make stuff that is unique and remarkable you should definitely do this one. Every year Nightmare NYC never fails to impress me with their ingenuity and conceptual execution.

Nightmare NYC is $30 online, $35 at the door. VIP tickets are $50 online, $60 at door. Student Rush tickets are $20, valid 1 hour prior to listed start times only. Details are here.


17
Oct

horror-web-game-is-a-framework-to-think-about-misogyny-emotional-abuse-and-manipulation
 Horror web game is a framework to think about misogyny, emotional abuse and manipulation

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“My game uses a horror framework to think about misogyny and emotional abuse and manipulation, as it was (is) fostered particularly among children in the broader culture of videogames.”

I have not played this game yet but I am interested in finding time to check it out. I quickly looked at it and it is almost in an old text adventure style – which I love. Give me old style games. I like old style games. :)

Check out The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo


17
Oct

liv-kristine-love-decay-feat-michelle-darkness-napalm-records
 LIV KRISTINE – Love Decay (feat. Michelle Darkness) | Napalm Records

Ooo! Liv Kristine’s new album sounds like her old band, Theatre of Tragedy! YES:

Pre order her new album, Vervain, here.


15
Oct

tampa-florida-haunted-attractions-busch-gardens-howl-o-scream-the-experiment-review
 Tampa, Florida Haunted Attractions: Busch Gardens Howl O Scream The Experiment review

Regardless of my initial opinion I went through Busch Gardens Tampa’s The Experiment on Friday Oct, 2, 2014. I am almost always willing to explore things that I do not think that I would like as long as it’s not 100% clear that I won’t like it.

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Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl O Scream “The Experiment” is an upcharge “Extreme Haunted House” where you face your fears. It is not included with regular Howl O Scream admission. It replaces Alone, the prior upcharge house.

I was a big fan of Alone and thought it was the most innovative haunted house in the country when it was running. You can read about it and why I think so here.

The Experiment costs $50.00 for 1 person and an additional $10 for each person you bring in with you for up to 4 people total. The maximum price is $80 for 4 people. In this house you have to do something in each room to pass a test. If you fail that room you are ejected from the house. It includes possible contact with roaches. I don’t just hate roaches, I am legitimately allergic to them. When my allergist tested me I reacted severely to it.

That’s the main reason why I was so angry last year. There was no way that I could pass that room. I believe that a scoring system where you got points for each room that you passed would work better. In that case I could have gone and still understood that I would see the entire house that I had paid for. BGT doesn’t provide media passes to their upcharge houses so paying to walk in and get promptly eliminated was not gonna happen.

So why did I go this year?

I chose to go in this year because some friends who worked at Busch wanted me to go with them and I was told that if I got the roach room I’d be able to opt for an allergy glove. One of my friends actually works in this house. A combination of journalistic curiosity, knowing that this is a theme park and likely not going to be legitimately “X-TREEEEEME”, and wanting to see my friend’s work convinced me to go in.

Harknell did not enter since he has a well known dislike for the concept of “extreme haunted houses”, and doesn’t really want to contribute to their continued marketing and existence as such.

What happens in The Experiment?

I will not be posting spoilers of what happens down to the minutia out of respect for BGT but I will be giving you an excellent idea of what to expect as well as illustrate how I felt about it.

The Experiment begins when you check in at your assigned time. You will be given a plastic roach and asked to wait your turn as they queue groups up to enter. When you enter you give the roaches back and are greeted by the first actor who assigns you a unique number and gives you a lanyard.

the expiriment busch gardens tampa

The number on this lanyard is truly unique. If you post your number the actors can legitimately figure out who you are even if you don’t have a blog. You also get a band aid to place on your neck that is supposed to be a heart monitor. They have sound effects in the house for this.

In each room you will be talked to aggressively and told to do things and reply in certain ways. If you do not comply you will be ejected from the house.

The roach room is actually pretty early in the house and of course I got tagged for it. I asked for the allergy glove and so they tagged someone else in my group. I still had to do the non-roach part of the room which was totally fine. I felt it was a great bit of improv on the actor’s part not to totally excuse me.

In my opinion the most extreme challenge in the house was having to put your hand in with roaches. The rest of it was psychological games that are meant to disturb you but not truly upset you. I liken it to a more extreme version of the classic Chamber of Horrors concept where you may have to touch grapes that you are told are eyes. (That doesn’t happen in this house. Just an example.) Each of the rooms had a challenge that was not terribly hard to pass in my opinion.

The actors inside this house were second to none. Everyone did a phenomenal job, especially my lady in the sink room. :) This is clearly where they put their A-List actors. If you’ve read my review of the main Howl O Scream event. BGT Howl O Scream does have one of the best actor training programs in the country. I don’t know what they do but the results are clear.

We did have some trouble at the end. It could be because my vision isn’t the best but I felt the fog was too high in the finale scene. I accidentally led my group out through the fire exit that was behind a mini blind.

You might ask, “Why would you think a door was behind a mini blind?”

I was thinking that since this was the upcharge house that there might have been a secret passage or some type of design within the room like Alone had.

They should turn that fog down or place an actor there to deter people exiting. Or maybe I was the only one to make that mistake. I do occasionally have talent like that. Herp derp.

The actors let us in and stayed in character which was funny, though! A+

Conclusion:

Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl O Scream The Experiment is a hybrid “extreme haunted house” and traditional haunted house in a controlled theme park setting. They are not out to truly upset you which I feel is a good thing.

The actors are amazing. Every single person in there gave 100% and are phenomenal examples of where one should aspire to be in scare acting. Everyone in my group loved it.

That said I did have some mixed feelings on certain aspects of the overall design and staging. It was both better than I expected and not what I was expecting simultaneously. I feel that the staging of each room and the puzzles within were too simple. I understand that in a theme park things like capacity and throughput are a huge factor. Also you have to make sure that it’s not so extreme as to not work with your demographic. This event is for teens and above. These factors likely informed these choices.

Still, the design of the house was very simple when compared with the design of Alone where they would literally move the hallways and such to create disorienting effects around you. I kept looking for bits of the room to move and change with us but they did not take that route. Sometimes you would run into other (non-scientist) people in the rooms but they didn’t do much other than lunge and scream.

I understand that they were likely trying to accomplish something different than Alone in this attraction but the end result did feel less “big” and less immersive than Alone – and I think I know why.

Inside The Experiment you are mostly doing things but you aren’t seeing things happen. In alone, you saw a lot of stuff happen ranging from an extending hallway to an elevator and a man with no eyes. This was revealed to you only when the lighting changed and he stepped forward after your conversation with him.

I think that a great way to up the scare factor on this that would work with a theme park’s capacity would be to introduce some theatrical elements beyond what they currently have. This way you could do those things that you “can’t do in a theme park” – just not to the guests coming through.

Suggesting things can be more powerful than getting someone to do something. For example, many of the actors at Field of Screams in PA often present themselves to you fully at the end of a hallway so that you know they are there. There’s no surprise when they come at you. But it’s actually scarier than if they were a surprise. Actor #1 sets the tone and then Actor #2 or even 3 are the ones who jump out or says something to you. Anticipation is often far worse than surprise or action.

In many ways this is the most theatrical haunted house BGT has ever done in terms of the amazing scientists, but with everyone who was not a scientist I saw minimal theatrical engagement.

This does not mean that this is a bad attraction by any means. I realize that I personally have a certain set of expectations which is why I am explaining my thoughts thoroughly to you so that you can understand my personal preferences as opposed to your own.

I would recommend The Experiment to anyone wanting something different in their haunted house experience. This is likened to an “Extreme Haunted House” but this is not out to hurt you so I believe it’s all good fun. There are some phenomenal actors doing great work. That said, I do hope they revamp this concept to bring more world-building, interactivity and theatrical horror back into the upcharge haunted house next year.

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