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Monday, October 12, 2009

Vampires Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple

Being a city boy at heart, I truly love Manhattan, and try to get back there any chance I get. Particularly, I always loved hanging out in the Village, which is why it wasn't hard for me to be convinced when I was invited to come down and take a tour of NYC's most heavily hyped haunted attraction, Nightmare: Vampires. And I'm glad I did, as it was one of the best put-together haunted attractions I've experienced.

Some 30 years ago, in the summer 0f 1980, my family took a little vacation on the Jersey Shore that I'll never forget. The main reason I never forgot this trip after all these years was this amazing haunted house at Seaside Heights that my parents went into. Naturally, I was far too young, since this was an attraction geared at grown-ups, but I still got to peek through the bars and catch a glimpse.

I'll never forget one of the actors, a hulking brute, following my mom inside with a noose. He kept trying to put it over her head, but alas, she was wearing one of those gigantic sunhats so popular with women back then. Nevertheless, my parents had an incredible time, and still talk about it to this day.

Anyway, what I'm getting it is that now I finally have an understanding of what they experienced when they went inside those doors and out of my view.

Nightmare: Vampires is a totally immersive experience--a half-hour of mayhem that takes you inside the "MoVa", or "Museum of Vampyric Artifacts", a fictional collection of vampire lore and memorabilia that comes under attack from a bunch of unruly bloodsuckers, leaving the guests to fend for themselves.

I give credit to creator Timothy Haskell and director John Harlacher for creating a very believable and well-crafted setting and scenario. The "exhibits" were very cool to see--well, aside from the Edward Cullen statue. Really, guys?

Believe it or not, a couple members of the group I was with--not all the sharpest fangs in the mouth, I confess--thought it might have been an actual museum of some kind. So kudos to the crew for being so convincing!

Speaking of the teeming masses who were checking out the show on the night I was there, let me just back up for a second and say that this thing was packed, so these folks are doing something right. As Mrs. B-Sol and myself approached the building, we weren't sure where it was, until we spotted the immense line stretching the entire city block, and continuing on the other side of the street.

Of course, the wife and myself completely bypassed said line, just like a horror version of Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco, and were taken aside by a massive bouncer who whisked us straight into an elevator and up to the show. I believe this may have been the first time the wife realized there may be something to this whole blogging thing. Anyway, on the way up, said bouncer informs us what a crazy night it's been, as one person has already passed out, another had an anxiety attack, and a whole bunch of chicks have been breaking down in tears over this thing. Rock on.

But the point is, this show was quite the hot spot, so if you're inclined to check it out, get your tix pronto. It goes till November 7.

Back to the inside. For a temporary event, it was very well put-together. After all, unlike the aforementioned year-round Seaside Heights attraction of yore, this thing was specifically set up for this very brief run, and I was impressed with the amount of detail. Without question, the highlight of the whole show was literally walking directly into a Joshua Hoffine photograph.

How ironic that I had just finished reviewing his work here recently, when lo and behold, I found myself standing inside a stunning real-life recreation of his Countess Bathory photo, complete with blood-filled bathtub and suspended victim! Hoffine is one of the production designers for the attraction, and it shows.

Of course, it takes a lot to scare ol' B-Sol. Will I say I was honestly terrified? Not really, no. The actors did a fine job, and I was quite fascinated, but my years in the wrestling biz have hardened me to the reality of the con and the whole illusory nature of live, immersive entertainment of this kind. I admit it, I'm a tough nut to crack, but this isn't to say I wasn't highly amused and entertained.

This also isn't to say that my wife shared my jaded viewpoint. No sir--in fact, I would say that poor Mrs. B-Sol may have been the most freaked-out member of our entire group of guests. Specifically, there was this claustrophobic series of passageways--which one fellow guest aptly described as a "giant vagina", that you must pass through in total darkness and pressing heat. It's a bit of an ordeal, and the Mrs. almost lost it on me for a minute or two there.

The show boasts some very cool live special effects courtesy of art director Justin Haskell, particularly a bizarre vampire sacrifice scene involving organs removed, spurting blood, and blades appearing to pass through living flesh. Good stuff.

I don't know if anything could quite live up to the impressive hype machine of Nightmare: Vampires, but it is a very unique and ingenious thrill-ride, there's no doubt about that. I've been meaning to do a survey of haunted attractions across America at some point, and this one has a rep for being one of the very best. I can't argue with that, as it's easy to see what a quality production it is. If you're in the New York City area, and you enjoy these sort of live haunted attractions, I encourage you to check it out before the season ends.


Ms Harker said...

So jealous! Wish we had installations like that here. We have a theater restaurant in the city called "Dracula's" but I just can't bring myself to go... cringe city me thinks!
What a nice date night for you and Mrs B_Sol!


senski said...

Your story from 1980 about your Mom has wisdom for us all, B-Sol. Remember, kiddies - Your choice of fashion accessories may one day save your life!

deadlydolls said...

Every year, I debate the merits of going to this. The line and price have always kept me home and this month, I just won't have the time. Still, I may finally take the plunge next year. The whole monster house thing usually amuses me enough, but this one does sound a cut above in terms of style and substance.

I recently went on vacation in Tennessee and hit up an adorably quaint little haunted house. We even bought a recording of our time inside...on black and white VHS!

Unknown said...

Ths sounds like such a blast. We're looking for some fun haunted house attractions in the Boston area, but so far they all seem to cater to the nu-metal crowd as opposed to the horror fan crowd.

KT Grant said...

This is the first time I have ever heard of this. I am so going!

the jaded viewer said...

Yeah I went as well and wrote about the experience as well.

B-Sol is right on the money about this. I mean you may get jumpy at some points, but it's not as scary as it seems. But each room is quite a sight and the story they play out is quite fun.

It's Halloween month, get scared by horror professionals.

B-Sol said...

Jess, yes it was a lovely date night. We always loved hanging out in Greenwich Village!
Emily and Kate, I highly recommend you take the plunge this year and go.

Anthony Hogg said...

Ms Harker,

Did you mean the one in Melbourne?

Ms Harker said...

Yep Anthony, the one in Melbourne, I think its near the Queen Vic Market?

Anthony Hogg said...

Ah, yeah. Definitely know that place. Been past there many-a-time, but never stopped by.

Maybe the vampirates thing put me off a lil'.

A mate of mine says Witches in Britches isn't too crash hot, either, so I'm hoping Dracula's is better. Pity they don't have a little shopping outlet like they do on the Gold Coast. That place was cool.

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