Oct 132004
 
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

Halloween is a great holiday, but it is sadly limited in scope. It is but a single marvelous night of costumes and candy and scares. If you’re more interested in the scares and costumes than the candy, and you want more Halloween quality time than a single night can provide, a haunted house may quench your thirst.

The haunted houses I visited were all done very professionally – there was no blindfolded groping of peeled grapes, and there was visible security measures at all times. Here’s the skinny:

Scream Theme Studios – “Destination Terror” and “The Zombified Experience”

5661 McWhinney Blvd., Loveland

www.screamtheme.com/

Price – $11, ($9 with coupon).

The closest of the haunted houses is Scream Theme Studios whose main attraction is “Destination Terror,” which sports an impressive interior castle decor, with authentic-looking secret doors used regularly by the staff. The attention to detail was striking, with horror staples such as graveyards and laboratories, but my attention was mostly on whatever monster was currently jumping at me.

I did spot the monsters a couple of times before they jumped, which defanged their scare. Conversely, there were a few scary “Gotcha!” ones that were hidden cleverly in plain sight. The second part of the house, entitled “The Zombified Experience,” sported 3-D effects that made the walls seem to pop out, which distracted the vision to allow for creepier surprises.

Bring in this article for $2 off your ticket.

Scare Rating: Two and a half out of four soiled undergarments

Fritzler Farm Corn Maize and “Scream Acres”

20861 Highway 85, LaSalle

www.fritzlermaze.com

Price – $11 for the maze and “Scream Acres,” $13 for both plus extra carnival-style attractions.

If you’ve ever walked through a corn maze at night, you know it’s creepy – the faint rustles as if something is moving through the corn beside you, the shifting shadows, the occasional chainsaw-wielding maniac. But you won’t be seeing any of these until you reach “Scream Acres,” which is inside the mostly scare-free corn maze. I saw perhaps two monsters in the maze itself, before reaching the scary part.

“Scream Acres” is where the actual scaring occurs. These were some of the most innovative scare techniques I’d seen on my tour. There’s always something clever to distract you so you don’t see the real horror until it’s on you. This provides plenty of opportunities to laugh at the first person to freak and run. Tip – watch “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” just before you go.

Scare Rating: Three and a half out of four soiled undergarments

“Frightmare 2004”

108th Avenue and Old Wadsworth Boulevard, Westminster

www.denverhauntedhouses.com/

Price – $13 (Get the $1-off coupon from the Web site)

“Frightmare 2004” is a mostly-outdoor series of connected scary scenes. There is one main scare style – people will jump out at you. They will be wearing scary masks, and you will scream. It’s simple, it’s efficient and it’s scary. With the variety of settings, if you find any one thing scary, eventually it will jump at you.

I will always cherish the memory of our group’s leader leaping backwards from a chainsaw attack and bowling over his girlfriend. It was hilarious in an “I’m glad I was safe at the back” kind of way. “Frightmare” avoids perfection only by not having much variety in its scare tactics.

Scare Rating: Three and a half out of four soiled undergarments

“The Dig”

224 Commerce St., Broomfield

www.denverdig.com/TheDig/ParkSpoof

Price – $15, $4 for “Tomb of Souls”

“The Dig” attempts to create an amusingly spooky-from-the-moment-you-walk-in atmosphere. The line for the attraction has moving books, wriggling statue heads and a quirky “news broadcast” of fictional vanishings around the dig. It features the so-called “Hellevator,” which rattles and quakes and glows eerily during your descent. Inside, electronic monsters writhe and costumed monsters leap, all of which is conducted in an unsettling borderline blackout. As of opening night, some of the features were non-operational, which may explain why “The Dig” gave most of its scares during the Hellevator sequence.

The “Tomb of Souls” costs $4 extra and doesn’t offer much. Faces press at the walls, the subwoofers pulse and a projection of an old woman screams that you’re going to hell. Unless old people scare you, this one can be skipped.

Scare Rating: Two and a half out of four soiled undergarments

While they’re all worthwhile, Fritzler’s Farm is probably your best buy. It’s local (near Greeley) and provides upwards of two hours of entertainment, whereas most other haunted houses take about 15 minutes to get through. So take some friends and spend an evening terrified, together.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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