Our seasoned Halloween maze fan rates the haunts
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I don’t scare easily — at least when it comes to horror. Few movies in the genre have ever given me a genuine fright, and at 8 years old, I was reading Stephen King like it was Judy Blume.
But being a huge fan of amusement parks, especially Knott’s Scary Farm in Southern California, I do enjoy a good Halloween-themed maze. This holiday, Las Vegas boasts too many to count. So I’ve evaluated some of the higher-profile attractions to see if any could make me tremble — or at least entertain me.
Circus Circus, www.frightdome.com, $38-$90
The gist: Five themed mazes make this annual tradition a big draw.
The layout: The entire Adventuredome is made macabre.
The value: A good time for a good price. Long queues make the Fast Pass or VIP upcharge a no-brainer. Rides are included in the cost.
The talent: A little disappointing. The actors inside — whether being sliced or doing the slicing — don’t do much more than yell and/or lunge out from the shadows (though one floor-crawler made me jump).
The gore: Cartoonish. Your mom could handle it.
The horror: Maybe I’ve gone too many years, but it’s pretty easy to predict the “scares” in these rather conventional mazes.
Harmon Center (on the northeast corner of Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard), www.goretorium.com, $25-$60
The gist: Cannibals take over a Vegas casino, designed by Eli Roth, director of Hostel.
The layout: A superbly designed walk-through of an old hotel-casino, complete with a simulated elevator ride — and a birth canal-like ending for laughs.
The value: Too expensive for a 15-minute attraction that will have much less appeal after Halloween, though there’s already a $25 locals discount.
The talent: More hammy delivery, less boo! factor. A slumped-over elderly woman near the elevator and a “barfing” wedding attendee (leave your fancy duds at home!) were my favorites.
The gore: Lives up to the title. A buffet included maggots crawling over bloody, decomposing body organs. Winner winner, innard dinner!
The horror: In the details. You’re more likely to get the heebie-jeebies — the cobwebbed hallway employs a shuddering creepy-crawly trick — than jump out of your skin.
Freakling Bros. Horror Shows
AMC Rainbow Promenade 10, www.freaklingbros.com, $12-$35
The gist: They don’t have the budgets of the aforementioned Halloween attractions, but The Freakling Bros. do have the knack for separating you from your skin.
The layout: Three 10-minute mazes, with actors entertaining those in line.
The value: Various ticket tiers. It’s a deal at $35 for all three, and you can pay an additional $10 for a fast pass. (Discounts available; see website.)
The talent: Convincing. One possessed, grotesque actress cornered me against the wall and threatened to “rape my dickhole.” (A horny priest was more subtle in his advances.) And then there’s Scorch the Clown, whom I saw chase hysterically screaming teenage girls all the way to their cars.
The gore: Just like a good classic horror movie, it’s more about creeping you out than grossing you out.
The horror: Unrelenting. I was goose-stepping through each of the three mostly unpredictable mazes, each one with a gotcha! finale that usually chases each patron (usually young girls) out of the attraction. The Castle Vampyre walkthrough was the scariest of the three, though the most overall intense was Gates of Hell: an R-rated, full-contact screamfest that requires you to sign a waiver, endure claustrophobic conditions and vulgar beratement (see above), and hazard through live-wired fences. The night we visited, a group of bros pussied out halfway through their tour.
The SCREAMont Experiment
Las Vegas Club, www.thescreamont.com, $20-$30.
The gist: A hotel turns into an insane asylum.
The layout: The largest maze of the bunch, spanning two floors.
The value: Though it’s a longer attraction, I wouldn’t pay more than $15.
The talent: There’s a pair of actors checking you into the hotel who deserve acting awards of some sort. The rest of the cast is entirely forgettable.
The gore: Beyond having some wet prop designed to be guts thrown at me, there wasn’t much of a gross-out effect.
The horror: Aside from some disorienting elements early on — and a human dog that actually started gnawing on my leg — this maze doesn’t create much dread.