Category: Horror

2017, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, Horror, Oni Haunts, Pennsylvania, Reviews

GUEST POST: Haunted Attraction Review: Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Field of Screams

Disclosure: Oni and I were invited out to the media day event at Field of Screams and were provided VIP passes to tour their houses and events this year–Oni was in LA at the time, so I brought with me some newbies to the event to see their reaction to what has historically been one of my favorite haunted attraction locations. They had some great set ups showing the history of the event:


When you enter Field of Screams, you immediately realize it isn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill haunted attraction location.

2015, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, Horror, New Jersey, Reviews

Passaic, New Jersey Haunted Attractions: Brighton Asylum 2015 Review


Oni and I visited Brighton Asylum on October 18th, we went through both of it’s attractions and also did it’s brand new “Escape Rooms”. We were amazed at the wide range of changes that had occurred since last year, and dramatically since we first went to Brighton Asylum in 2012–we’ve always found it to be an excellent attraction to visit.

This year was no exception. If you’ve been to Brighton Asylum before, you might as well consider this a new first time–practically the entire set up and design has been reworked, except for the nice facade of the Asylum itself when you enter the second attraction.

A new beginning area has been added called “The Tunnel”. This starts your journey into the depths of the building, with a very creepy hospital theme set in a forgotten sub basement–which allows for all of the scares associated with being in underground tunnels and steamworks style set pieces. It was a great beginning and was very original in it’s set up and scares (and beyond it’s regular array of good scares, had one stand out really great scare that we’d never seen before that was very effective).

Moving on you then enter the asylum itself. Again, this area has basically been entirely redone–to great effect. There were plenty of exceptionally great visuals added, with plenty of over the top set pieces (and one set piece trying to break in….). We had a great time the entire way through. Everything worked well together and it had some nice uses of above and below scares–something we all say is a hallmark of a well thought out haunted attraction design.

After doing the haunted attractions we went in to their 2 Escape Rooms “Dead Escape” and “Lab Lockdown”. These are a brand new addition to their line up, and are part of a new trend to adding extra events to haunted attractions. In these cases you are given 4 minutes to scavenge a room to discover clues and work out a puzzle (either language style puzzle, or a combo math/visual puzzle). I’m pretty crap and those sort of things, so Oni took the lead, and we got very close in both of them to working things out before we ran out of time. If you like these types of things you’ll have fun trying it out, and they are only $5 each, so they’re a pretty inexpensive add on.

Brighton Asylum was absolutely worth the trip, and I’d suggest it to anyone in the New Jersey area as one of the better attractions to visit. The Haunts and Escape rooms are indoors, so you’ll be safe from the weather–they have covered waiting areas, so that’s a bonus as well. They were packed the night we went, so it’s a very popular attraction–so you might want to consider adding on their inexpensive VIP upgrade if you’re pressed for time.

2015, Attractions, Haunted Attractions, Horror, UK

Guest Post: UK Adventure 2015: The London Dungeon

On my way to Cardiff, my friend Mason and I passed the London Dungeon just near the London Eye, self-billed as ‘the ultimate thrill-filled journey through London’s murky past.’ I was instructed by Oni Hartstein to return to it once I was back in London, and when breakfast plans went awry Sunday, I opted to give it a go.




There are multiple dungeons in various locations, including Blackpool, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, and San Francisco. The London one advertised 1,000 years of British history fit into 90 minutes split up into 18 shows and two rides, and promised to be a mix of both funny and scary.

Personally, I’m forever iffy about anything where you have no actual clue what you’re getting yourself into. It could be fun, but an hour and a half inside this one building? How much of a ‘ride’ could one have inside this building? What constitutes a ‘show’? And how scary is ‘scary,’ given the doors open out onto a popular tourist area in broad daylight? There were a few dozen imponderables.

Standing in line to get in helped answer my final question: a mix of pre-recorded video and animatronics made it look as though a madman was trying to axe his way into the line. Already a promising start.

When you first enter, your group is taken into a room with blank backgrounds and places to stick your head through and make terrified faces with no context. Once you’re done there (and trust me, the results at the end are rather interesting), you’re sped along into the first show — within the Dungeon, a ‘show’ is essentially a one- to two-person scene performed in front of or amidst your group, bringing to life one of the more gruesome bits of London’s history. This could be in a torture chamber, under the Houses of Parliament on the 5th of November, in a plague doctor’s house, or in a pub in Whitechapel. There’s light audience participation, most of it comical and only playfully insulting, and the gore (such as it is) is left primarily to the imagination or only described.

In fact, a lot of things are left to the imagination, and that’s where this dungeon was at its best. There is one entire room — the Sweeney Todd scene — that takes place completely in the dark, with no live actors to speak of once things get rolling. Everything is sensory, using sounds, tactile effects, and sense of motion. It was legitimately the most terrifying span of time I spent in there, with a close second being one piece of the Jack the Ripper arc of scenes. (Strobes were used in that bit, which are bad for me in excess, but they were used sparingly twice for effect and it was an impressive effect.)

The actors overall are extremely entertaining and able to carry their scenes quite well. In reference to the promise of ‘funny,’ yes, there was a lot of humour present — especially with the judges toward the end, who were extremely quick on their feet and whose entire scene is built around audience participation. Many of the actors have also mastered moving silently in the dark, which is both impressive and terrifying. And the way they execute any jump-scares is far more fun to me than just sticking them behind a curtain with a can of pennies. Any jump-scares either lead into a joke or a continuation of the scene, rather than just being there to fill in any dull stretches.

As to immersiveness… when they promise the ‘sights, sounds, and smells of London,’ they aren’t kidding. They actually do pay attention to everything. Even and especially the smells.They’re not enough to make you gag or feel ill, but they are very honest indeed about replicating the smells of rivers or plague-ridden villages. And the ambient noise is well-handled, too. It’s where it needs to be.

The aforementioned rides? There’s one at the beginning and one at the end. One is a water ride where you’re surrounded by execution imagery (including a projection-faced animatronic of Henry VIII played by Brian Blessed); the other is … well, it’s a bit of a drop. While neither is screamingly high-tech or innovative, they’re matched to their respective parts of the attraction quite well.

Honestly, I’m not a big haunted house fan these days because it’s always a matter of them wondering how many times they can make you jump and shriek. This was much more chiller theatre than haunted attraction. It was scary when being scary was convenient or useful and didn’t distract you from the story. Best of all, many of the scares were psychological, and you’re definitely conditioned over time to expect certain things to happen when the lights go out. I personally prefer that far more than six dozen sitty-up corpses (there are some sitty-up corpses, but still).

End result: it certainly did not feel like the dragged-out 90 minutes I feared, and even as a definite not-fan of being jumped at by costumed strangers, I enjoyed the experience including the scares rather than in spite of them. A few skewed projections on some of the animatronics (something that could be fixed with the occasional nudge) did not ruin the experience, and I fully intend to go back next year and drag people with me.

Visit the London Dungeon website for ticket prices and package deals, videos, photos, and more.

Originally published on The Dennison Collective. Visit her blog to see more.