Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Best Damn Haunted Attractions In New England (at least we think so!)

The Halloween season is that special time where we set aside the horrors of the real world (the Tea Party, Miley Cyrus, government shutdowns) and immerse ourselves in the make-believe world of spooks and scares.

Not all horror is Halloween-based
My wife Carol and I are horror aficionados, and this year, rather than working at a haunted attraction, we made it a special point to allocate a butt-load (an actual unit of measurement) of cash for the express purpose of visiting as many haunts as we could.

To give you an idea of how committed we were to this fun project, we decided to try and see as many haunts as possible on their opening night. Granted, logistics dictated that we couldn't accomplish this for every one of them, but we did okay, which resulted in us starting our haunt tour on Saturday, September 21! Yes! Finally, Christmas isn't the only holiday that people can start putting stuff up for and observing unusually early!

Although every haunt we went to this year was well worth it, these five stood out as the best. If you get the time and inclination, visit all of them. Each of them is an outstanding example of your classic New England style Halloween haunted attraction, and you can't go wrong with any of them. Here they are, presented in no particular order.

Ghoulie Manor: Mwahahaha!
Ghoulie Manor (Taunton MA)
Ever visit an attraction and have a great time but, for balance's sake, you try and come up with at least one drawback or negative, but you just can't find one? Welcome to Ghoulie Manor; a perfect haunt. The props have a level of scary detail that show that the builders made this a labor of love. This place is delightfully creepy, and it's filled with great performers with good backstories and convincing makeup. There's one or two spots here that caused this jaded haunt fan to actually jump, so yeah. This is Ghoulie's second year in operation, and new haunts needs all the bodies (warm or in states of decomposition) that they can get. If you like supporting the new local business and cheering on the plucky newcomer, then Ghoulie deserves your support. If you like going somewhere to get the Hell scared out of you, then Ghoulie works there too!

Dark Walk. This lady's makeup was...disturbing.

Dark Walk (Andover, CT)
Speaking of "try to find at least one negative and coming up short", there's Dark Walk. As the name implies, it's a walk through the dark woods, and let me tell you, talk about a walk to remember! The intricate backstories, the very convincing acting job, the entire theme and story of the haunt, the realistic sets, all combine to create a haunt experience that you won't soon forget. Unfortunately, the weekend of October 18-19 is the last one for the year (they only run two weekends), but anyway, keep it in mind for next year.

There's nothing like a menacing clown staring down at you while
you're waiting in line...
Barrett's Haunted Mansion (Abington, MA)
If Ghoulie is one of the newer kids on the block, Barrett's is an absolute old guy on the porch, telling those damn kids to get off his lawn. Yet its longevity has done little to diminish its impact as a haunted attraction. Now, I'll admit, I didn't find this year's attraction "scary" per se, but the entertainment value, particularly the set pieces (with some uncomfortably realistic props) make this a must-see. They've also expanded their haunt to include a creepy, fog-filled maze set in a make-believe cell block. And after the haunt, there's the ever awesome Abington Ale House, just a short walk across the parking lot, to retire to for beer and food. Om nom nom...

Fright Kingdom (Nashua, NH)
Yeah, this one's in our backyard. Not our actual backyard, but sort of down the street from us. And in the interests of full disclosure and integrity, I should point out that we have worked there in the past. But that doesn't take away from the fact that this one is a can't-miss. Like Barrett's, Fright Kingdom is another haunt veteran. But if you want to go somewhere that has the complete haunted attraction experience, you must go here. Creepy manor? They got it. Freaky-ass clowns? Check. Vampires that don't sparkle? Oh yeah. Zombies? A whole barracks full of them. Blackout Maze? Yeah they have one. Fright Kingdom has something for every horror phobia that you or that really jumpy friend of yours could possibly have. Add to this an awesome Monster Midway with food, games, special guest celebrities, and zombie dancers, and the experience is complete! Add the fact that it's right off the highway (Route 3), and the entire thing is indoors (no worries about  cold and/or rain), and you get a haunted attraction that gives you more boo for your buck!

AAAAAA! It's coming right for us!

Haunted Overload (Lee, NH)
Overload is right. Holy crap. Take a stretch of woods belonging to a farm. Decorate it with HUGE props of skulls, pumpkins, hideous tree-things. Add some extremely effective actors. Put up some dark shacks and tunnels to walk through along the long, dark, twisted path. The resulting concoction is a horror overload to your senses, and a screaming good time for all. You must check this one out, but only if you want some highly effective scares. The scenes were definitely more actor-driven than prop-driven, but the props did have a more "organic" feel to them, conveying a very convincing "creepy nature" vibe. If the only negative you can come up with for a haunt is that they sold out of your t-shirt size, well, that's saying something!

 So there you have it. Our favorite five. Go to any or all of them, and your Halloween season experience will be enriched and unforgettable. You'll also end up going back year after year, so beware: these five are habit-forming.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. The last one reminds me of one of the Haunted Houses we have here in NJ. I think its called Night of Terror, have never been more scared in my life!