I was expecting a lot from The House of Shock. According to their website they are one of the top nationally ranked haunted houses in the nation. Considering that there are over 10,000 haunted houses in this scare-obsessed country of ours, that’s saying something. So yeah, I was expecting a lot. And I got a lot. I got to see a heavy metal band perform on stage, I got to see a fire dancer twirling sticks aflame, and I got to see a pyrotechnic show that involved the devil and a rebellion in hell. And all this was before I even entered the haunted house.
But never once was I scared, or even spooked. Not once.
Well, that’s actually not entirely true. There was one part that actually spooked me a bit. It wasn’t in the haunted house, and it wasn’t during the entertaining pre-show. It was before all that, right after I bought my ticket, where I had to walk down a long dark road to reach the haunted house. During that walk you could see dark shadowy figures coming towards you. Some of them were just normal people leaving the haunt. Others were actors dressed as blood soaked ghouls. But because of the darkness, you couldn’t really tell who was who until you got close to them. And by that time, the ghoul, if it was a ghoul, would lunge at you suddenly with zero warning. That was what I was hoping the haunt house would be. Long moments of suspense spliced together with well-placed “shocks” and “attacks”.
But sadly, that was not the case.
Instead, I walked into the “house of shock” and was flooded with blood splattered scarers yelling “boo!” at me with every six steps I took. I mean don’t get me wrong, the people looked great. The amount of detail on their’ “wounds” and deformed body parts were staggering. But the fact remains that when you don’t give your victims the time to breathe from one scare to the next, are you really scaring anyone? I felt like they could have put me in a revolving door, and had a new person scare me each time I came full circle, and I would have had the same experience.
Here’s an example: At a certain point inside the House of Shock you come to a church of Satan. And this Satanic church had been dressed from head to toe with gore-filled detail. Skulls, Satanic rituals, disturbing crosses, you name it. But I had little time to examine any of this because there were 10-12 devil worshippers grabbing me and telling me they loved to worship the devil. Yeah, I get it. That’s cool and all, but it kinda ruins the creepy effect that you were going for.
I got so bored with the whole thing, that I started imagining what they could’ve done to make it spookier. What if instead of a Satanic Church full of Satan worshippers, it was just empty of people. I was the only one in there, with no choice but to walk through this Demigod Church alone, contracting a major case of the heebee-jeebies. And the whole time I’m in there, I’m waiting for someone or something to come out and scare me. But it never happens. And then, as I leave this Church of Satan, I’m so distraught that no one had tried to scare me, yet still creeped-out by what I just saw, that I don’t even notice that this next room I’m walking into has no lights on. And the temperature in the room has suddenly gone way up. Am I being cooked alive? I wonder as I stumble down the darkness…
OK, I’m back. Sorry about that. Anyway, my point is this: obviously at a certain age you’re not going to be scared by haunted houses because you know there is no way any harm will come to you. The more scarers (yes, that is a word) you add to the mix only reminds you of this fact. Even the most rational of us can get spooked if all the right ingredients are there. Walking down a long dark road, not knowing who was a "normal" and who was out to get you was a recipe for spooky, and I enjoyed it immensely.
In the end, less is more. At least when it comes to haunted houses.
What was your scariest experience in a haunted house?