Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 Days of Halloween – Haunted Attraction Review: Chambers of Horror

Chambers of Horror just made sense as the first haunt of the year for me.

Because of work and family, me and the missus don’t get to hang out with groups of friends very often. When we do, we want to make an event of it. So for our first (and possibly only depending upon sitters, pet care, and however many other considerations) October outing we wanted to keep things as simple as possible while still having a full evening. Dinner, a haunt, and possible booze afterward was the plan, so that ruled out the far-flung locale of Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse and the potential long lines of Netherworld. I know there are other haunts around town, but I can’t even consider those until I hit the big three. 
Chambers of Horror is located behind the Masquerade on North Avenue and is surrounded by bars and restaurants. With less than five minutes of travel time between any of the destinations it would be a relatively hassle-free evening.

I mean, other than the normal hassles of just being in downtown Atlanta.

Like many venues downtown, the parking at The Masquerade is shit. Once you arrive you have a few options as to where to leave your vehicle to get broken into by the fine residents of Atlanta. First is the street that runs beside the building. It is free to park there, but something like one out of every ten cars get broken into (I am using this figure as an exaggeration, but I might not be exaggerating). 
Then there is the pit of gravel and mud that is the Music Park. It costs five dollars to park there. It is not well-lit, but I’m sure the eighteen year old that’s being paid minimum wage to take your five dollars would gladly lay down his life to protect the iPod your dumb ass left on the dash of your Nissan Leaf.

Finally there is the paved lot towards the back of the street. This also costs five dollars, is poorly lit, and looks like the sort of place where Pennywise the clown eats children’s feet. Once you have parked here – especially if you arrived downtown via DeKalb Avenue or one of Atlanta’s many other charming urban thoroughfares – you really won’t feel the need to go to a haunted house and will likely just turn around and go home; your need for chilling thrills fulfilled.

Just kidding!

If you took DeKalb Avenue you probably didn’t even make it to that terrifying little patch of asphalt!

So we parked in the Pennywise lot and made our way around the building to the Chambers of Horror area. There’s a table set up under a tent where they have you sign a waiver saying you won’t sue them if you poop your pants or fall down or anything. After you sign that, you pay. Admission is seventeen bucks, though there are coupons for five dollars off all over the place. We had coupons, so it was twelve each. They also point out that Chambers of Horror is a strictly adults-only attraction. There’s all kinds of nudity, dismemberment, and other foul stuff that is absolutely not for those with weak constitutions. Past that table there is a full bar, port-a-potties, and creeps wandering around. I mean paid Chambers of Horror creeps in costumes, not the normal sort you encounter downtown.

Our group consisted of eight people. They said that six was ideal, but aside from a couple of rooms where we were a bit cramped I’d say eight was fine. I tell you this because my advice for haunted houses is the same every year:

Bring enough people with you to make a group. Read reviews or call the place and find out how many you need. You don’t want to pay your hard-earned money for a haunted house and then get stuck in a group with some young shitbag who thinks they’re too cool to be scared. It really ruins the good time.

As a secondary recommendation, I say bring somebody with you that’s nervous or jumpy. It makes it so much more fun. Although it is often hard to talk those people into going.

If you like your friends, I recommend you stop before you enter the Chambers and have your group picture taken with the quadriplegic zombie whore in a barrel. It’s fun and you can buy copies for ten bucks after you exit the haunt. I know that’s ten more bucks, but time is fleeting and it’s nice to have a memento of fun times like these.

Obviously I’m not going to tell you anything about the haunt itself, but here’s this year’s story – the old TortureCo facility has been taken over by a government agency looking to build a new breed of soldiers. THINGS GO WRONG!

This year’s Chambers design is very impressive. I was blown away by the use of space and the sheer variety of elements in play. Each section offered a different sort of experience and new ways to create tension and unease. The timing of the elements was fantastic. One thing would be distracting you while another was creeping in to deliver a scare. The mix of maze and action elements was just right.

There are all sorts of gruesome props spread throughout the Chambers of Horror and some of them will squirt, spray, or leak on or at you. Don’t wear fancy clothes. We all got hit with various fluids that I don’t even want to think about. It wasn’t Gwar show bad, but I was glad I wasn’t wearing my new shoes.

When you’re not navigating some diabolical hallway or cramped corridor, you’re likely in a room with some variety of lunatics. These people were outstanding. From the first weirdo we encountered that welcomed us to the facility to the last maniac (whose location I won’t reveal), the actors were way into their roles and clearly having fun. There was very little of the stereotypical drama geek here. I know this sounds dickish, but when you’re going through something like that and all of a sudden somebody busts out a stupid British accent – you know the one; all of the drama kids used it at some point – it really spoils the tone. Chambers of Horror kept things consistent and scary.

I’m not jaded, but I’m also not one to be startled. I feel that to a certain extent I know what to expect from haunts. Chambers got me good a couple of times. Really good one time, as a matter of fact. It was one of those clever distraction moments and I fell for it HUGE. I might have even made an involuntary noise.

Everybody in the group had a great time. The ladies were all hanging onto each other and the fellas, everybody was yelling and laughing. It was fantastic.

The length of the experience was also great. Several times I found myself feeling that we were near the end, only to come across a new section or hallway. The final stretch was really awesome. Days later I’m still blown away by the planning and design work that went into the final portion of the haunt. I’m not sure exactly how long we spent inside, but we definitely got our money’s worth. 
Go to Chambers of Horror. Whether you can find a coupon or not, it’s worth your time and money. You’ll get tons of scares and I’ll be surprised if I find a better haunt value this season. Here’s how good it was – we’re planning on going back.

5 out of 5 Plasma Spewing Vaginas

Needless Things V. 31 Days of Halloween

Every October for the last few years Needless Things has provided commentary on SyFy’s – the television channel devoted to science fiction (sort of) – schedule. Not because the channel provides the best Halloween content, but because they provide the most. Aside from some paid programming in the wee hours of the morning (because somebody has to pay for Sharknado 3: Again With This?), SyFy makes an effort to program content that is at least Halloween-ish every hour of the month.

It is for this that we thank them and devote far more effort than we should into dissecting what they have to offer.

Oct 9 11:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Leprechaun's Revenge (In progress)

Oct 9 12:00 PM Syfy Original Movie Heebie Jeebies

I don’t know what this one is about. As you may have noticed I usually take that opportunity to make some shit up. So I’d like this to be a spin-off of the Jeepers Creepers franchise, but starring the Apple guy. He’d be a sort of undead monster wandering around with no eyes, which was how he was left at the end of the first movie. The no eyes part, I mean. He was pretty much regular dead, but this is horror so that could change.

Oct 9 02:00 PM Syfy Original Movie Tasmanian Devils

I watched some of this the other night and it wasn’t bad. I mean, the monsters looked like shit, but the story was okay and the actors were solid. If you’re just sitting around with no particular TV agenda you could do worse.

Oct 9 04:00 PM Syfy Original Movie Mothman

@Indrid Cold

Oh, wait – that’s not gonna work here.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Mothman, as it’s part of the alien branch of cryptozoology and I fucking hate aliens. 
Oct 9 06:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Uninvited, The

This movie doesn’t even need to be supernatural to be horrifying. Just imagine you’re having a nice night with friends and some annoying acquaintance whose presence you hadn’t desired or counted on shows up. Give me a xenomorph or a Crite or a zombie over that any day. At least you can just set those things on fire. And not get in trouble, I mean.

Oct 9 08:00 PM Haven The Old Switcheroo - Part 1

I caught a little bit of an episode the other morning and it featured Edge doing some pretty good acting with some crazy blonde lady who was also very good (and creepy). Then somebody busted out a notebook with “CROATOAN” written in it. I’m a sucker for the lost colony story, so I’m going to have to check this out now. Also, it looks like that skeezy guy with the bad goatee got a haircut, so that’s good.

Oct 9 09:00 PM Spartacus: Vengeance The Greater Good

Oct 9 10:05 PM Spartacus: Vengeance Empty Hands

Oct 9 11:10 PM Haven The Old Switcheroo - Part 1

Oct 9 12:10 AM Syfy Original Movie Mothman

Oct 9 02:10 AM Syfy Original Movie Boogeyman

Shockingly, this Boogeyman is much better than the 2005 theatrical movie of the same name. Well, a little better. More fun to watch, anyway.

Oct 9 04:10 AM Syfy Original Movie Heebie Jeebies

Oct 10 06:00 AM Paid Programming 

Oct 10 08:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Haunted High

Part of me wants to see this because horror stuff set in high school tends to be fun. But part of me can’t get the Disney Channel vibe of the name out of my head. And don’t get me wrong – there have been some great Disney Channel Halloween movies. One of the things you have to give Disney credit for is still embracing holidays.

Oct 10 10:00 AM Syfy Original Movie American Horror House

I watched this last year and it was terrible.

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