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:
After I wrote this entry I realize, “gee maybe I should Google this idea before I write it.” Of course, the same showdown appeared over at Geekanerd’s awesome blog in ’07. Luckily, I detailed this year’s Blood Manor in an earlier post and this review focuses mainly on Nightmare NY. Either way, I’m sure you’ll find this review helpful if you’re thinking of going to a haunted house in New York City. If you haven’t done so already, please read my review of BLOOD MANOR before you read this post.
“Nightmare New York” attempts to make you feel as if you’re walking through someone’s bad dream. My major complaint is that each phase of the walk through seemed to fall flat without having a “home run” scare before you went into the next room. I realize not all of the rooms should have a major scare, but I felt myself wanting to be more scared. For instance, in one room there’s a small Asian girl (Asian girls have the monopoly on horror nowadays) getting out of bed while the covers and bedsheets come off of her by themselves. I didn’t find this very unsettling since it looked too mechanical. Then the little girl gets up and walks over to the door to coerce us into the next room. Now don’t think I’m being overly picky here, but as she got out of bed and started walking past the visitors in the room, it was a perfect opportunity for her to scare us or for something to happen to her. This was probably just a transitional room so I assume that the covers coming off the girl was the big scare. It just seems like there were missed opportunities for scares. What if she kept her head down the whole time and then when she was finished walking over to the door she moved her head up and her eyeballs are all white and she has black goo pouring out of her mouth. That’s one of the many possibilities that I’ve come up with. But they can call me if they’d like to discuss.
Please consider that I’m not the type of guy who likes to have constant extreme gore and loud noises battering my senses every second like the younger SAW generation. I love to get creeped out, but I think it’s the authenticity of the actors in Blood Manor that makes it the winner. Since when are gross hillbilly guys scary? It seems like there’s a heck of a lot of horror movies that feature redneck mutants and that’s just not scary at all. One of the rooms in Nightmare NY contains a platform where one of these rednecks resides. He looks like he’s into some kind of torture and he’s knocking back brews and crushing the cans and and dropping them on the platform. Once the full group enters the room he starts blathering on about something and says he’s got a surprise for us. He begins to motion toward his crotch as the the lights go out. Then, Johnny Redneck squirts water across the room at all of us as if he’s pissing on us. Real nice! That’s class. I’m not being stuffy, but when I think of haunted houses I truly want to feel frightened, not grossed out. I think the horror movies of today are to blame. If horror producers weren’t so concerned with cutting limbs and fingers off and torturing people maybe the climate in the horror genre would be different. Why did the “gross out” shift in horror occur anyway? If I was going to “Gross You Out NYC” then I’d probably have given them a good write up. I guess I’m just a purist when it comes to classic horror and psychological thrills.
Nightmare NY is the clear winner in the length of time it takes to go through the attractions. Nightmare NY actually contains 2 separate attractions for the price of one. I would say that it took about a half hour (give or take 5 minutes) to get through both attractions while Blood Manor was no longer than 20 minutes. In this case though, the length of the attraction doesn’t make up for the fact that I didn’t find it scary at all.
I was hoping that the the second part of Nightmare, called Nightmare Legends had some familiar movie characters. There were only a few but you won’t see your favorite characters like Freddy or Jason. Legends starts out with a room that has the corpse of Frankenstein’s monster moving his torso up and down as if he’s going to get up. What I didn’t like about the second part was that there were red buttons that had to be pushed to get the “action” of the room to engage. Naturally there were a bunch of goons in front of me who incessantly pressed the button if nothing happened instantly. Then they would start touching everything in the room thinking they were going to activate the specific room’s display. It was a big mistake giving the people the power to activate the displays because that not only allowed them to act like douchebags but also took away from the spontaneous feeling that these haunted attractions need in order to be scary. When you have to press a button then it seems like any old display in a seasonal Halloween store. “Hey kids! You can buy this life size corpse of Frankenstein’s monster for your front yard for only $800 bucks! Quick, yell for your parents and then press this red button to see me rise from the grave!”
The physical aspect of Nightmare NY turned me off. You’ll see warnings abound before you go into the attraction that there are a few instances where you will need to be “physical” to make it through to the next room. The first obstacle that I had to make it through was a door made up of 2 inflated walls smooshed together. I basically had to muscle my way through it. I’m a pretty claustrophobic guy and I really didn’t enjoy that part especially knowing that it’s been pressed up against a thousand other sweaty people. Keep in mind that it’s pitch dark and at first I didn’t even understand how to get through the contraption in the first place because even with my superior night vision (!) I didn’t see the slit that I had to force myself through. Finally, I realized what I had to do. I guess I was disappointed that I worked for a scare that never happened. Another room had visitors crawl onto and over some little girls bed. The scary part was supposed to be that the girl was actually kneeling on the bed spazzing out from a nightmare.
All I can say is that if you’re planning a “haunted house night” in the metro area, then do some online research first. Let Google help make your decision for you. It’ll help your wallet because admission to these attractions are usually quite a few doubloons. Usually these haunted houses are about $20-30 dollars admission and you may have to shell out more for transportation or gas depending on where you live. If you feel like you were just totally gypped after you come out of the haunted house then you just blew some cash you could’ve spent on a couple of DVD’s! You also may want to make a night of it and get a little tanked before or after the attraction. Both Nightmare and Blood Manor offer alcoholic beverages but Blood Manor features an actual swank lounge where you can sit and drink with your friends in style. In this grudge match of haunted houses, for me it’s no contest, BLOOD MANOR contains more higher quality scares, better actors, and it’s way closer to NY Penn Station than Nightmare NY.