By Taylor Gibbons
Its October, and that means its haunted
house season. The first weekend of the month saw the
opening of several haunts across the Dallas/Fort Worth
areasome more family-oriented and others geared
towards hard-core thrill seekers.
Armed with a notepad and half a tank of gas, I checked
out five of the most promising spook houses in the area,
determined to review them all. Each house has been given
a rating of one to five Jack-o-lanterns, one being
the worst and five being the best.
Hangmans House of Horrors
Times: 7 p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday
through Nov. 2; and 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 27-30 and 7 p.m.
to midnight on Halloween.
Location: I-30 at Forest Park Blvd. in Fort Worth.
Contact: (817) 336-HANG or visit (www.hangmans.com).
Hangmans House of Horrors proudly advertises its
status as the worlds top charity haunted house.
Now in its 14th year, Hangmans has become something
of a Dallas/Fort Worth area institution.
This year, general admission lets visitors tour the
main haunted house, a 3-D maze and a smaller haunted
house (a haunted mobile home, actually) known as Victor
Gwydions Estate of Terror. With the main
haunted house, the promoters sought to create a fun
house atmosphere without too much gore. I dont
know about the gore (I can distinctly remember being
offered a plateful of human parts by a burly man in
a blood-splattered apron), but the fun house aspect
is very apparent. Hangmans utilizes spinning tunnels,
strobe lights, forced perspective and all other manners
of optical trickery to create a truly immersing experience.
The other attractions are fun, if rather short, but
easily make up for the price of a ticket. Hangmans
benefits victims of multiple sclerosis.
Rating: Four Jack-o-lanterns
The Cutting Edge
7 p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday; 7 to 10
p.m. every Sunday through Thursday.
Price: $13.87 plus tax for children 10 and younger
and $16.64 plus tax for adults.
Location: 1701 E. Lancaster Ave. (at the intersection
of I-30, I-35 and Hwy. 287) in Fort Worth.
Contact: (817) 792-FEAR or visit (www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com).
I wouldn't say the Cutting Edge was a bad haunted house.
It's not. It's good. However, it's also overrated. The
Cutting Edge is basically this- a haunted house, followed
by a maze, followed by being submerged up to your neck
in bubbles for some reason. The maze isn't really haunted,
it's just dark, and the purpose of the bubbles beyond
justifying the ticket price still escapes me. So I'll
focus on the house itself. It was long, which is always
a plus, and dark, which when used properly, as it was
here, can really add to the effect of a haunted house.
Beyond that, there wasn't anything too special about
Cutting Edge. Most of the rooms were too dark to really
see very well, and I can't recall any themes in the
house beyond 'Guy in black robe jumps out at you."
Cutting Edge is cool, but one would expect something
this high profile to be cooler.
Rating: 2.5 Jack-o'-lanterns
Times: 7 p.m. to midnight
Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Oct. 25-26, 31; 7
to 11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday Oct. 24, 29-30.
Price: $13 for single ending, $20 for double
Location: 3000 Race St. in Fort Worth.
Contact: (866) -DARKNESS or visit (www.866darkness.com).
If you have any siblings younger than 13, you might
want to think twice before taking them to the Darkside.
Of the haunted houses I toured, this was probably one
of the most frightening. The Darkside uses several unique
elements, such as live arachnids, 3-D effects inside
the haunted house and two possible endings to freak
out visitors. It has an overall nightmarish feel somewhat
reminiscent of the movie Jacobs Ladder,
which frayed my nerves for a while even after I had
left. The Darkside benefits the Boys and Girls Club,
as well as a victim of a neck injury.
Rating: 4.5 Jack-o-lanterns
p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday; 7 to 10
p.m. every Sunday and 7 p.m. to midnight Halloween night.
Location: 7500 Baker Blvd.; Exit No. 24 off E.
Loop 820 in Richland Hills.
Contact: (817) 926-BONE or visit (www.theboneyard.org).
The Boneyard, though by no means strictly a children's
affair, offers a slightly more family-oriented haunting
Situated in an empty building that used to house a Sam's
Club, the Boneyard offers a concession stand, video
arcade and live music in addition to the haunted house.
The house itself is composed of several distinct scenarios
including a mock up of 18th century London featuring
Jack the Ripper, a mummy-infested pyramid, a circus
inhabited by insane clowns and, of course, classics
such as a graveyard scene. It's all very cool, and some
of it is pretty creepy, but I found myself not as frightened
as I was at other houses. In some places, a lack of
foof allows one to see the ceiling of the actual structure,
which diminishes the effect of the house. For a first-year
effort, however, the Boneyard does relatively well for
itself. The Boneyard benefits the Special Olympics.
Rating: Three Jack-o'-lanterns
Texas Chainsaw Nightmare
Times: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Friday and Saturday;
7 p.m. every Sunday and 7 to 10 p.m. Halloween week.
Price: $8 plus $2 for parking.
Location: From Interstate 35W, take exit 917 in
Johnson County, between Alvarado and Burleson. Head
south on service road for approximately one mile and
follow the signs.
Contact: (817) 822-1401. (www.dfwhaunts.com)
The promoters of this haunted house billed it as The
Most Scare for the Money, and I would have to
agree. Located about 15 minutes down I-35, the Texas
Chainsaw Nightmare can be easy to miss. Constructed
over six harrowing weeks as a way to raise funds for
a local basketball team, this house doesn't look like
much on the outside, but looks can be deceiving. Constructed
from interconnected mobile homes, Texas Chainsaw Nightmare
uses its size constraints to its advantage, creating
a claustrophobic, nightmarish environment that incites
a fear visitors feel in their gut as opposed to the
more psychological thrills offered by other haunted
houses. The only major flaw here is the length of the
house - it only lasts about 10 minutes, and that's if
you're slow. Then again, it only costs about half as
much as a major haunted house. This is a good alternative
to some of the more established haunted houses.
Rating: 4 Jack-o'-lanterns