My beloved haunted house tattoo was TINGLING this year. I will be honest here and admit that the last couple of years leading up to 2020, I felt myself falling a bit out of love with haunted houses. It’s a combination of my friends outgrowing it, and then the ones who really do love it moved away (Laura, I miss you so much, but especially in October), so it would usually end up just being me and Chooch, sometimes Henry if the haunt wasn’t too $$$ (Henry is a tight wad, you guys). And then it was just kind of like the same old, same old. You know?
But then 2020 happened and even though some haunts still opened during the pandemic with precautions in place, none of us felt like risking it since vaccinations weren’t happening yet.
So I don’t know if taking that season off was what needed to happen for my heart to grow fond again (lol) or what, but this year reignited that flame and my heart was once again a motherfucking farm bonfire next to a queue for a haunted hayride.
That being said: shit son, this past weekend was rough because I knew deep in my heart that it was time to accept the fact that Halloween/haunted house season is officially over. I mean, it’s always Halloween in my heart and of course it doesn’t have to be with the TikTok kids and influencers call “spooky season” to be able to enjoy horror movies but we all know that majority of haunted houses call it quits on the last weekend of October.
However! There are a handful that extend the creepy fun to the first weekend of November so we took advantage of that!
One of those was Scarehouse. I have a HUGE CHIP ON MY SHOULDER with this one and have actually removed it from my “must visit” list about 10 years ago or so. Long enough ago that Chooch has never been there, let’s put it that way. I started going to this haunt in its inaugural season and followed them through two? three? location changes. And in the beginning years, it was decent! But like Hundred Acres Manor, it grew too big and then they started paying for the “best in Pittsburgh” title and it turned into a shit show. For a while there, they were even the most expensive haunt in the land and it pissed me off because we would wait in line for upwards of 2 hours just to be herded through like cattle in way too large groups so it just wasn’t scary or fun.
But they moved to ANOTHER new location this season and I figured, “OK FINE I WILL GIVE IT A CHANCE BECAUSE I AM A FUCKING SUCKER.” Plus, you can buy tickets in blocks of time so you’re guaranteed to go in within that 30 minute block – allegedly, anyway. I was correct in assuming that it wouldn’t be crowded on a Friday night post-season so there were only about 5 groups ahead of us and it moved speedily.
I *almost* ate crow that night because they sent everyone in with just their own group, no cattle-herding, and the first part of the haunt was actually pretty cool. I was like, “OK SCAREHOUSE, I SEE YOU.” But then after the first 5 or 10 minutes, about 10 groups had caught up with each other and it was a major traffic jam. Everyone was just slowly shuffling through and next to nothing was happening. Also, I get that their new location is inside a half-desolate mall and I think that part of the theming was like 1990s post-apocalyptic shopping mall rave? I literally have no idea and that actually sounds really cool written down but in reality it was a fucking snooze.
If they could expand upon the beginning section, fucking figure out the pacing issue AFTER 20 YEARS OF THIS BULLSHIT, and I dunno, make it actually scary, then I will go back. But this ain’t it, Scarehouse.
“And that’s exactly why I waited out here,” Henry said when we rejoined him in the empty food court, bloated with complaints that needed to be filed. Oh and also I fell inside one of those stupid inflatable things and have a huge bruise on my knee, so double-fuck you, Scarehouse. The best part of that night was going to a nearby Target afterward and buying a Christmas train cat scratch pad thingie for Drew and Penelope, to add their gigantic collection of cardboard Target cat houses.
However!! The next night while Chooch was at work, Henry and I went to Wells Township Haunted House in Brilliant, Ohio. I always see this one in the listings but I guess the fact that it says “Ohio” always deterred me because in my mind everything in Ohio is at least 2 hours away. This is less than an hour from Pittsburgh though!! It’s actually kind of near Dark View, which we LOVE but sadly didn’t make it to this year.
So, we almost didn’t come to this one because it was a lights out tour and, having never been there before, I worried that it would be a bad “first time” experience. However, our other WE’RE STILL OPEN THIS WEEKEND! option was Haunted Hills Estate in Uniontown and they too were doing a lights out tour. And the big draw for that one is their challenge trail so I thought it would be kind of dumb to go there and miss out on that portion because it seemed like that wasn’t happening. Finally, I was like, “OK, I’m calling it. We’re going to the one in Ohio. At least it’s something to do.”
Because honestly, I have been having so much this season with Henry! It gives me hope that even once Chooch is out of the house, we still have a chance of having fun together! Maybe! Lol!
We got there a bit before 7 and it was really nice because you get assigned a group # once you pay, so just like Rich’s Fright Farm and Demon House, you can mingle about and not have to stand in line for an hour+. They had some hobo fires going and I was practically climbing inside one, I was so cold. (If this was an “out loud” story in real time, Henry would interrupt this part to mumble, “It wasn’t that cold.”) They had super loud hard rock playing on giant speakers with the corresponding music videos projected onto the side of the building, which kept us entertained. Plus there were some monsters milling around too, and at one point the chainsaw brigade was unleashed so waiting for our #16 to display on the LED sign was not a boring activity.
Um, you guys? I get it now. I know why they’re #1. This was the best one I went to all fucking season, and even the last several seasons if we’re being honest. Possibly the best one since my BELOVED VICTORY HAUNTED SCHOOL SHUTTERED ITS DOORS. I’m not sure if this was just because of the “lights out” liabilities or if it’s always like this, but we had to sign a waiver before entering, and then Henry was given a glow stick to help illuminate the way.
And from the moment that door shut behind us, it was a TOUCHING FREE-FOR-ALL. I don’t think I have ever been touched so intimately in public by so many strangers before, honestly, and I know it should seem like this would be something that me, of all people, would be highly opposed to, but there is something about being groped in the dark in a haunted house by “monsters” that is EROTICALLY THRILLING TO ME AND CLEARLY I HAVE SOME NICHE FETISHES, most of which revolve around Halloween / haunted houses, I guess.
Henry said they barely touched him at all, but sometimes his beard would get stroked, and I was like, “Oh shit, Mary, they were all over me!” He just laughed and said he noticed. I fucking loved it though. Like, I am giving you my money to scare me (safely though, I won’t do any of that hardcore shit where they give you a safe word and make you do disgusting things – I know my limits) so fucking scare me, bitches. And they did, from start to finish! I screamed my face off and laughed hysterically through the entire building and I couldn’t stop talking about it the next day.
The pacing was *CHEF’S KISS* too. Those actors knew how to run that shit and made sure we either chased through or stalled at various points so we never caught up to any groups until the very end, which (no spoilers in case you feel like going next year!!) was understandable because of the way it ended.
According to their website, being touched there is not just a “lights out” thing but something that they do on regular nights, but the guy who gave us the run-down of the ruled that night did say that with the lights-out tour, the groups are smaller to make it more intimate and it sounds like the regular haunted house tours are guided? So I will definitely be returning next year on a regular night (Henry said we can probably do that one and Dark View on the same night – double-haunt nights are a 1990s throwback dream!) to see if I still think it’s the best one but in any case, I think I will be adding their lights out event to my regular rotation!
OMG I was so pumped after we left this one. What a fucking way to end the 2021 season! And hilariously, I almost made an Instagram post last week giving a shout out to my top haunts of the season, thinking that the ones I went to this past weekend likely wouldn’t change my rankings. Wow. WOWOWOWOWOWOW. I was wrong on both ends, because I added a new top #1 AND and a new “worst” to the list, even though let’s be real, I expected that shit from Scarehouse, lol.
What a season of exceptional scares, high-throttle giggle fits, and acting like a brand new high school couple with Henry!