(Co-Written with Kirk Mattu)
Low = Frightening
Medium = Terrifying
High = Petrifying
With the fall season come pumpkin spice flavors and cable-knit sweaters, and a time when October reigns as the month of ghosts and ghouls. This year, the Express staff toured and ranked four of Sacramento’s biggest haunted house attractions.
Fright Planet (Terrifying)
Fright Planet packs plenty of screams for your buck with six haunted mazes, a movie theater, and a motion-simulator ride. This location offers some of the typical staples of fear-inducing haunts with an all-dark maze in “Blackout Extreme,” a quarantined zone overrun with zombies in “Outbreak,” and tales from a fictional psychiatric hospital in “Pennville Lunatic Asylum.”
“Expedition Jatinga” takes visitors through the remains of a British hunting party after an attack by cannibalistic headhunters — think Disney’s Jungle Cruise gone wrong. This scare’s variety of exotic scenery lends a blast of energy to the experience. Visitors should watch out for cast members who creep and crawl on the ground.
“The Little House of Carnage” is the second unique scare at Fright Planet. Set in a diner during the 1950s, this scare looks like the cast of “Grease” was attacked by a tag team of Jason Vorhees and Norman Bates. The era is still too cute for it to cause any real fright, but, like “Jatinga,” it’s a breath of fresh scare.
Cost: $19.95–$49.95 Location: 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento http://www.FrightPlanet.com
Corbett’s House of Horror (Terrifying)
Corbett’s House of Horror offers not only a more traditional haunted house experience but also a game of zombie laser tag. Visitors, armed to the teeth with laser guns, are led through an obstacle course in which they must battle their way through the undead wastelands. The haunted house allows visitors to walk through various phobia-driven rooms that include deranged dolls, pig-faced swamp people and a carnival of carnage — the “Carn-Evil.” For those who suffer from regular nausea and headaches, skipping the haunted house is recommended as the 3D glasses can be unsettling.
Cost: $20–$50 Location: 905 Leidesdorff St., Folsom http://www.CorbettsHouseofHorror.net
Slipknot’s Scream Park (Petrifying)
Slipknot heavy-handedly packs on the gore and titillates visitors’ fears as they venture through three haunted mazes. Visitors enter through “Clown’s Playhouse,” where they don 3D glasses for exploring each scene. Slipknot, however, takes this novelty to another level, intertwining childhood fears of caked-faced clowns with the imagery of a bad LSD trip.
“Skin Ticket” and “Prepare for Hell” both feature an excess of haunted bathrooms, as well as a semi-interactive experience in which guests must open doors as they move from room to room. Coupled with background music that heightens the senses within each haunt, the anxiety-riddled mazes are effective in causing blood to curdle with each door that opens and slams.
Cost: $25–$40 Location: 4909 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento http://www.ScreamParkCalifornia.com
Heartstoppers Haunted (Frightening)
House Heartstoppers is a menagerie of things that go bump in the night. Located in the old Mine Shaft building in Rancho Cordova, this venue is composed of four haunts that are more fun than scary.
“Malice in Underland,” inspired by the classic Lewis Carroll tale, begins with a shot of claustrophobia as visitors venture through an inflatable tunnel to enter. Once visitors are “through the looking glass,” they are bombarded by twisted imagery of “Donnie Darko”-inspired rabbit demons and of the bloody palace of the Queen of Hearts. Unfortunately, the nightmare rendition of “Alice in Wonderland” has grown stale over time, but this still makes “Malice” a good starter before venturing to the other scares.
“Deadlands” is located in the Mine Shaft’s vast basement. The high-volume sound effects of cap guns and the potentially seizure-triggering strobe lights complement the nearly funny Western images of grimy saloons and, of course, a slaughterhouse.
“Tomb of Shadows,” which is pitch black all the way through, is by far the most unsettling haunt at Heartstoppers. Textures change on the ground and ceiling. The walls seem to undulate throughout the maze as visitors feel their way through the darkness. A sense of relief may wash over them once they see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Steamghast Asylum” is located on the top floor of the building. Like “Malice,” this style of haunt has been done many times, and this holds it back from being truly scary. Of course, an asylum is horrifying. Of course, people clawing at bloody windows is unsettling. Of course, there is at least one patient who will crucify a young girl. These images are the standard fare of asylum horrors.
Cost: $20–$30 Location: 2300 Mine Shaft Lane, Rancho Cordova http://www.facebook.com/Heartstoppers