Nov 252011

I love when I split entries into parts and then wait over a week to finish it. That doesn’t fuck with the flow at all. It has taken me approximately two weeks to bang this out and I don’t care about typos at this point.

I always get a little skeptical when new haunted houses pop up in the city. Oftentimes they end up being huge, overpriced, crowded clusterfucks that become nothing more than a bad memory after one season.

However, the idea of it being located in a basement with known paranormal activity in the Strip District did wonders to sway me. Laura and I got there as soon as it opened, and played it safe by choosing a Sunday night. As I suspected, there were very few people in line, but technical difficulties prevented us from entering the building until well after 7:00.

Once inside, we were immediately ushered downstairs into the basement of a very cold, industrial space which at one time housed a grocery store. We paid our way in and then wended through the rope-lined queue where we wound up standing in anticipation for another 20-30 minutes. The waiting area alone had us creeped out: it was illuminated in corners with red lights and a soundtrack of metal scraping and gears grinding loudly drowned out the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake which was playing on a screen at the front of the line.

Unlike Cheeseman’s, no one wanted to talk to us in this line. In fact, the young couple behind us kept no less than five feet between us at all times. I was kind of offended. But mostly relieved. When we got to the front of the line, however, the lady working the door gave us the 411 on the history of the space, which for real has been proven to be haunted. There used to be a paintball place on one of the upper floors of the building, and employees had reported sightings. The door lady told us that the actors of TerrorTown had been seeing a 10-year-old boy who had died down there years ago.

When it was finally our turn, we were sent inside the doors with the young couple in front of us, where we were then sequestered in a room and berated by a crazy-eyed funeral director. He let the couple go and made Laura and me stay for some more ear-beatings and I thought I was going to have a stroke. We were then given permission to leave, but she and I were on our own after that and it was fucking scary. I kept imagining in my head that I was going to see that 10-year-old boy ghost and wind up spending the rest of my days in a rocking chair, listening to Katy Perry.

I almost don’t want to write about TerrorTown because I know in my heart my words will never do it justice. I go to a lot of haunted houses. The majority of them are hit or miss. But this one was near-perfection. It was literally like taking a schizophrenic tour through the underbelly of Pittsburgh, where the resident bottom feeders were free to antagonize us and scream in our faces. There was a contortionist dressed as a babydoll in a room that was essentially a landfill of flea market toys; there was a clown hanging out in a living room with Christmas lights (the thick bulbs that I love!) strewn haphazardly and stacks of static-screened TVs lighting up one wall.

It was like walking through the inside of my head and Laura often had to pull me out of each room because I couldn’t stop looking around all wide-eyed and whispering, “Whoa.” It was a creepy picture-taker’s wet dream, OK?

Numerous times we were taken off guard, nothing was predictable. The scares were intense, there were lots of moments that even left us laughing, and those actors were fucking legit. This was one of those places that didn’t need to rely on a chainsaw guy to evoke pee dribbles.

$17 and well worth it. They held us hostage in their twisted underworld of degenerates for at least 30 minutes and it was just a real visual feast. Well executed, scary, fun and I hope it returns next year!

Demon House

Regardless of the haunted house, this night was exciting because it was the first time my brother Corey, my sister Amy, and me were all together. Kind of a long story, but my mom had given Amy up for adoption when she was born and then found her again in 1998 I think it was. I never met her back then, but Corey did. Then Amy found me on her own two years ago and I’m glad she did because she’s an awesome sister and not like our mom at all. (Lucky for her!) Anyway, we all brought our respective date-people with us and it was a grand ol’ time. (Henry was a game time decision.)

As we were walking to the ticket booth, I was filling in Amy and her boyfriend Dick about what they could expect from this particular haunt.

“And the best part is, they give your group a number and then you’re free to mill about or sit by a bonfire, so there are no lines to wait in…” I said on my know-it-all tone right before we stopped to STAND IN A LINE to buy our tickets. “…except for this line we’re waiting in.”

Because I’m used to being a sort of conversation conductor, I urged Corey to tell Amy about his latest bout with color blinded. I wasn’t even finished suggesting it when he and his girlfriend Danielle began to laugh and shared knowing smirks.

“We were taking bets on how long it would take you to bring that up,” Danielle laughed, I guess because I’m OBSESSED with this story.

Then we got to hang out by a fire while we waited for our number to be called, and I was harrassed by a man wearing a burlap sack over his head. I kind of had a crush on him. It was his heavy breathing that did it for me.

Demon House was decent this year however I was a little angry at one point during the first leg, which is outside and built to mimic a mine shaft. One of the miners was pretty rude and normally that’s part of the schtick, but this guy I think was just rude in real life. He yelled at me for standing too close but I didn’t know where else to go and then I pouted about that for awhile.

Before we got to the actual house, there was a chainsaw guy. I didn’t actually see him, but I heard him and that was enough to send me sprinting ahead of the pack. I made it to the front door of the house and then had to wait alone while the rest of my group calmly walked up the path like sane people.

When Demon House first started about six years ago, I thought their resemblance to Castle Blood was uncanny. I have since learned that it was no coincidence, that they were literally sending people to Castle Blood with video cameras and more or less doing everything in their power to ruin Castle Blood. They have since abandoned the interactive portion of the experience that they so desperately wanted to do better than Castle Blood, and I did have a decent time within the walls (the decor is really good and there are some creepy moments) but knowing what I know now, I won’t be giving them my money in the future.

But the important thing is that I got to hang with my sibs. And we got ride a short bus to and from the parking lot!


This piece of shit bullshit of a haunt is the biggest waste of money. Last year it was called Hobb’s Manor. So basically they changed the name to trick poor assholes into spending $12 to be completely underwhelmed by a bunch of indifferent teenagers in masks. Also, Laura and I spent longer than it took us to walk through sitting in my car just waiting for the assholes to get their shit together and open the doors.

After that, it took us approximately 10 minutes to walk, not run, through.

And then right outside the exit door, the chainsaw dick made me slip and fall in the muddy lawn.

I was displeased. We should have just went back to TerrorTown. I’m adding these assholes to the Blacklist with Demon House and Scarehouse, which is the haunt that made me start the Blacklist in the first place.

Dormont Dungeon
After getting ripped off at Screams, Laura and I came back to my hood and spent $5 to walk through a tennis court covered with black tarp and garbage bags ad inhabited by a bunch of middle school kids who put more moxie and vigor in their performance than any of those apathetic teens sullying the name of haunted houses.

I was especially enchanted with the little chainsaw boy who chased us through a laundry-line strung tennis court at the end. Laura and I were laughing so hard we were crying.

And THAT is the sign of a fun haunted house.

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