It's getting cold out, the Cleveland Browns are in disarray, and your girlfriend just bought a "Sexy Justin Bieber" costume: Halloween must be on its way. But how to celebrate? You could roll up to a party in your sexy Han Solo costume and hit on sexy nurses and sexy mine survivors, but those kind of sexy girls are usually sexy skanky and, unfortunately, sexy herpes is sexy forever. So instead, we've got two words for you: Haunted House.
Okay, we've got a few more words. Haunted houses are awesome: they bring together our love of animatronic demons, splattered blood, and girlish screaming. And they make for an awesome date. Bring that special lady friend of yours to one and she will be hanging on your arm all night — psychologists even think that a strong fear response can be a catalyst for sexual attraction.
While even bad haunted houses — like pizza, sex, and Dolph Lundgren movies — are still pretty sweet, Clutch has gone the extra step of selecting some of the best from around the country. For the next few days, we will be presenting them to you. Vote for your favorite from each region and next week we will crown a King of the Haunted Houses. Now if only we could do something about the Browns…
The Dent Haunted Schoolhouse (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Set in an old brick schoolhouse — where, the story goes, a janitor was caught killing kids during the 1940's — The Dent Haunted Schoolhouse makes the most of its ambiance. Cob-webby classrooms full of animatronic students, a creepy janitor guide, and hall upon hall of lockers (Wonder if anything will pop out of them?)(SPOILER ALERT: Things will pop out of them), combine to recreate the horror of being in school, plus a murdery undercurrent. Boasting more than 40 rooms — including, of course, grizzly science labs and a detention hall packed with caged children — the Schoolhouse was voted one of Haunted Attraction Magazine's Must-See Haunts. But you already knew that, since you're a subscriber.
13th Floor (Denver, Colorado)
A Denver institution, the 13th Floor attempts to answer the question: Why do so many buildings skip straight from the 12th floor to the 14th. With 75 actors, a platoon of live snakes, Hollywood caliber stage make-up, and a new "larger, more terrifying location" beside Coors Field, The 13th Floor would be pretty freaky even if it were well lit. But it's not. Visitors are given only a glowstick to light their way through the maze of gory displays and scares. Great, now we're flashing back to our rave phase. Yikes.
Erebus Haunted House (Pontiac, Michigan)
Named for the original Greek God of the underworld (but you knew that, right?), Erebus distinguishes itself in two ways. First, it's Guiness World Record's biggest haunted house in the world. Second, while most haunted houses assure guests that all those demented doctors and festering zombies won't actually touch them, Erebus makes no such claim. A trip through its halls will involve more than a few very close encounters with grabbing skeletons and handsy clowns. And any physical contact with a clown is, by our standards, far too much.
Edge of Hell (Kansas City, Missouri)
First opened in 1975, Edge of Hell is the oldest commercial haunted house in the country. After taking in robotic monsters and some memorable performers — the Rat Man entertains people in line by sticking a live rodent in his mouth — people ride a five story slide into Hell. Wait, that's how you get to Hell? We always assumed it would involve law school.
The Darkness (St. Louis, Missouri)
With plenty of competition in St. Louis alone (including the awesomely-located Lemp Brewery, in the catacombs beneath an abandoned 1920s beer brewer), The Darkness really has to kick things up a notch to stay on top. What sets this haunted house apart is attention to detail, from the bodies entombed in cotton candy in the freaky carnival section to the realistic blood splattered on the bodies hanging from meat hooks. Combine that with top notch acting and Hollywood caliber robotics, and you've got the Chrysler Building of cheap thrills.