By Anna Swann-Pye
I’m not sure what happened. When I was a kid, haunted houses were held in our youth center and entailed an assortment of parents dressed in half-hearted vampire costumes, cackling apathetically. Now they’re scary. Like really scary. I’m sure many of you have seen the now infamous 45 Best Pictures of Scared Bros at a Haunted House.
This set of pictures was taken at Nightmare’s Fear Factory in Niagra Falls where they brag that over 100,000 people have chickened out midway through the experience. Nightmare’s is the oldest haunted house in North America and sits atop a coffin factory. The factory’s owner, Abraham Mortimer, was allegedly crushed by his own craft when, in the process of chasing off some young hooligans, a number of his coffins came tumbling down. Whether or not the story or the ghosts are real, they are certainly convincing enough to cause some commotion. Nightmare’s Fear Factory has been mentioned on Regis and Kelly, The Tonight Show and Good Morning America and is drawing in thousands of thrill-seekers from all over.
But if you are in the mood for some serious terror and you don’t feel like leaving Manhattan, there appears to be something for you. Gothamist.com made its own list of scariest haunted houses in the city and right at the top (where it appears on many lists) is the Blackout Haunted House. Gothamist suggests that this haunted house may be too sexual and even a little rape-fantasy-esque, but whatever the case may be, it’s got people interested. The website has little information on it, but does lay down a few rules. All patrons must go through alone, they say, and must do everything that they are asked to do. Before entering, everyone is required to sign a contract saying that they have read and agreed to the rules and that they are willing to be, essentially, messed with. Participants sit alone in a room with a security camera and the rest is a secret and mysterious history.
Image courtesy of Blackout Haunted House in NYC.
Another haunted attraction that has appeared on almost all of the Halloween lists for the past 10 years is The Bates Motel in Glen Mills, PA. Breakthru Radio talked to Randy Bates, owner of the haunted house and hayride, to ask him a few questions about his establishment and the greater haunted house business.
Image courtesy of Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride.
“Out in the dark woods,” Randy told us, “all of the scenes are larger than life.” Visitors ride through acres of farm land, to encounter one scare after another – from a dilapidated insane asylum to Randy’s favorite, a constructed 200 ft. mine shaft that gives thrill-seekers the experience of traveling way underground, where they feel trapped and terrified.
With over 75 well trained actors, and more than 25 scenes, The Bates Motel is quite the show. But for Randy, it’s more than just a haunted house. In 1983, he moved back to his family’s farm where he began the hayride.
“It’s truly a family business,” says Randy. “My wife and I started it and now the whole family works for me…even my four-year-old grandson is scaring people.” There has clearly been a lot of love put in to The Bates Motel – from the detailed woodwork to the dedicated staff.
But with a family business that is extraordinarily reliant on about a two week period of time, one could imagine that there would be a lot of pressure for Randy and his family to make those two weeks count.
“It’s extremely stressful,” Randy said, “especially now as the storm is coming through. This is a big weekend for us.”
And so I would advise everyone to not let the rain deter them. Not only would jumping on the hayride help support a dedicated family business, but it would also be well worth getting a little wet for anyone who likes Halloween horror. “If you want to get scared,” Randy tells us, “come to The Bates Motel.”