Monday, October 5, 2009

NIghtmare: Vampires NYC - Review

I'm old. 30 may not seem like the new 80, but haunted houses, horror movies, and unemployment haven't terrified me since I was able to wipe my own ass. Still, I love horror movies, horror imagery, and just about anything that reminds us to live life to its fullest, as our expiration date may be a terribly grizzly day away. Upon being invited by my buddy, The Jaded Viewer, to attend the Nightmare: Vampires Halloween attraction, I most definitely had to accept.

I went to the Nightmare attraction last year, and while it was fun, it was most definitely not scary. Still, it was a decent way to celebrate my favorite holiday. I expected pretty much the same experience, but was intrigued by the new location and the fact that they were covering one of my least favorite horror subjects. Vampires have become almost as tired as my fat asthmatic ass, after walking up 3 flights of stairs. What could they do to make them fun and interesting again? More importantly, how could they make a bunch of Goth kids with fake fangs scary? I've been used to laughing at them at nightclubs for years.

To begin with, one thing you notice about Nightmare: Vampires is the detail and organization they have implemented, thanks to six years of experience. New York City is not the most conducive environment for a haunted house or hay ride, so the fact that they have managed to find spaces to hold the event in darkness is damn near a miracle unto itself. The experience begins with a rundown of instructions on what you can or cannot do. Part if it is meant to inform you and keep you from doing something really stupid. The rest of it is trying to intimidate you and hype you up for the thrill. The Jaded Viewer, myself and my wife were all ready and excited to get in there.

Once we were in we were a bit shocked. The first room was very brightly lit, super-sterile, white walls and floors adorned with vampire history. Apparently we had entered MoVa, the Museum of Vampyric Artifacts and were about to be taken on a tour of their historical pieces and displays. Okay, so this wasn't the dark and spooky vibe I was expecting. Still, some of the things we saw in here were interesting and funny as well as cleverly designed. I knew that something had to give, and I was right. Things go crazy and now the real fun starts. As vampires attack and start tearing the place and people apart, you're lead from room to room with strange themes and scenes to try to unnerve you. Shockingly enough, you'll find that it works. Watching a grown man scream "Whoaaa, oh shit!" after being scared at a haunted house doesn't happen often in one's lifetime. That managed to happen to my buddy at least two times.

Hell, even my my wife got jolted here and there, and this woman married ME. I didn't think there was any scare left in her. There were a couple of low points, one of which was just because it was too damn weird and too damn long. Still, even that strange exchange of unearthly language and fake foreign dialog had a bit of creepiness to it. One room stood out to us, not just because of the design implemented, but by an actor in there. We walked in totally expecting the type of scare we got. We knew it was coming, and even then we were still shocked by it. They telegraphed the setup and still managed to execute beyond expectations. Bravo on that one.

I don't want to give away any of the payoffs, scares, or heavy details of the room designs because you should experience this for yourself. If you enjoy any of these kinds of attractions and events, you'll definitely find something to love at this one. I had more fun with this Nightmare than last year's, by far. It also was damn good compared to just about any other haunted house I've been to, with the only competition being the huge Headless Horseman haunted hayride. Really, that place is as big as most theme parks, so that says a lot for Nightmare: Vampires. Even being 30 days from Halloween and filled with the monster that comes dead last in my favorites, thanks to stuff like Twilight, Nightmare: Vampires makes the whole thing worth your while. VIP passes are available so you can skip the line and get a nice goody bag. There are also theme nights where you might walk out with a damn good freebie. We wound up getting copies of The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. That book is worth 30 bucks alone, so be sure to pick your night wisely.

Horror and gore should be more fun than they have been in the past few years. Thankfully, Nightmare: Vampires brings all the freakish fun and jolts you used to experience as a kid, no matter how old you are. If you even think this might be for you, it most definitely is.

Check out Nightmare: Vampires at the NOHO Event Center on 623 Broadway at Houston (enter on Mercer Street). You can get tickets and more information on their website: .
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