Last night, my boyfriend and boyfriend-in-law (I’m one half of a polyamorous couple, that’s another post unto itself), went to the Phobia Haunted House chain out in Northwest Houston. This is a chain I’ve patronized before, back in the ’90s when they were just starting up. They’ve always advertised themselves as somewhat more hardcore and edgy than the rest of the competition in Houston (and there’s a lot; it seems Houston is some kind of Haunted House Haven). And, while not being extremely scary, at least not to me, I have found them to be pretty gory and different. And they’ve got a good thing going. When I visited them in the mid-’90s, they were in a small building, and you could choose from two Haunts. Last night, in their newer digs out in northwest Houston, they are a veritable Haunted House Theme Park, with EIGHT different attractions you can drop your green on. We opted for the “four Haunted Houses” package, which gets you a discount, sort of. Basically, the price scales down the more attractions you partake. For three of us to go through four Haunted Houses, it cost $120. I know, it sounds like a lot, ’cause, well, it is. Still, while not mindblowing, there was some fun to be had. My second-favorite attraction was called Dawn of the Machines, which was a futuristic haunt which relied more on gross imagery, mind****s and things canted at odd angles, rather than anything of the traditional nature. The sound and light design were quite intense and seemed to produce a nice disorienting and creepifying effect, and the actors did a good job staying hidden and scaring at the appropriate times. In short, their timing was good. The best Haunt was probably the “original” Darke Institute. This is the house Phobia founded itself on in the beginning. The basic premise is one that has become a bit careworn, that of the “lunatics taking over the asylum”, and preying on their guests worst phobias… hence the… yeah, you get it. Anyway, it was the longest Haunt, the Haunt with the most creative actors, including a very odd tranny nurse offering me sexual favors… that was a bit odd and unsettling, but that’s what these guys do best. It also featured a section where you went outside onto a metal-grated balcony, and thought the attraction had ended, but it turns out you were only halfway through being traumatized.
All in all, to coin a really annoying phrase, it was a good cardio workout, lots of good blood-pumping, gasp and yelp inspiring scares, and some very creepy imagery.
I hope that however you choose to celebrate Samhain / Halloween this year, you wind up getting yourself a little bit scared, for I feel it is, in small doses, healthy for the body and the mind, and, many would argue, it is only through the imagination inspired by the dark, that we may find the light.
Have a Swell Samhain!