The walls seem to vibrate as I work my way through the narrow corridor, not sure of what horrors await at the next turn. I struggle to keep the 3D glasses on my ears as I enter a neon-splashed room. A trio of crazed soldiers surround me, no doubt gone insane from the terrors of war. Their faces are covered with rotten flesh mixed with green war paint. One of them pokes at his eye with a fork while they herd me into a corner. I scream and squeeze through an opening, pausing for a moment to catch my breath before bursting into a fit of giggles.
Campy, thrilling, fun… this is New York City’s Blood Manor Haunted House.
The opening of Blood Manor signals the start of the Halloween season for many New Yorkers, who line up outside an unassuming building on Varick Street to take a 20-minute, adrenaline-fueled stroll through the rooms of this haunted mansion.
>> SPOILER ALERT! Read on for highlights and photos of the 2012 Blood Manor haunted house. If you do not want any plot or set details, stop reading now!
This is the third year running I’ve attended the Blood Manor press preview, and the dedication of the performers continues to amaze me. The energetic young cast takes to their roles with such gusto that they are literally bouncing off the walls when you enter their habitats. Each cast member has their own room and does not shy away from engaging with visitors. While they can’t touch you (per the Blood Manor rules), their physical presence looms large as they dart around you, tease you with witty jabs and effectively herd you from one set to the next.
We had the good fortune of walking through Blood Manor with a hardcore haunted house enthusiast, Jeff of The Jaded Viewer. A horror blogger who covers NYC’s haunted attractions, Jeff was uniquely primed to experience a feargasm. When a gristly surgeon enticed us to get on his operating table, Jeff volunteered and almost received a heart transplant.
The Blood Manor actors not only know their roles (which they help create, according to co-creator Jim Faro); they must be ready for every scenario. While in the surgery room, it dawned on me that Blood Manor is essentially the horror version of improv. The cast must think on their toes and have an instant response for every type of visitor, whether they are terrified, mocking or simply snapping covert iPhone pics. (Note: During the press preview I was able to take photos but photography is not allowed during the normal run).
Returning by popular demand, the zombie strip club room is always a highlight of Blood Manor.
Open to adults and kids over 14, Blood Manor features set design that skews towards a teen boy sensibility. In fact, the first thing you see upon entering is a series of neon paintings of scantily-clad women (with giant boobs).
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a guy to appreciate the stripper room. It’s hard not to be impressed by women who can navigate a stripper pole, cast menacing glances and engage viewers all while wearing green body paint and fluorescent contact lenses. Perhaps for the performer’s safety, we were herded pretty quickly from this room by a hilarious male MC making sexual gestures and witty remarks.
The stripper room is an example of the campy fun you can expect at Blood Manor. You’ll scream for sure, and there are genuine thrills, but this is the haunted house equivalent of The Evil Dead, not Saw. Unless you have a reaction to strobe lights, you won’t have a panic attack here.
Here piggy piggy
If you’ve seen the TV series American Horror Story, you know how scary little piggies can be. A room filled with bloody pig carcasses is just one example of Blood Manor’s intricate (and innovative) set design.
If this is your first time at Blood Manor you might not notice the attention to detail in the sets. In between screams, I’d advise you to take a look at the walls, which are dotted with bloody cadavers, decapitated heads, chains, torture tools and news clippings about grisly homicides.
You’ll realize how much thought and attention went into details that the average visitor is too distracted to notice. It’s another example of how Blood Manor goes the extra step to create a truly immersive experience for its audience.
Ack! I’m a Zombie!
Ever wondered what you’d look like as a member of the Walking Dead? In an exciting addition to the house this year, Blood Manor has added a mirror that turns you into a ghoul.
It’s a clever little touch that you might miss if you are racing through the house, so make sure to slow down a bit and look at the sets around you!
The bottom line
Once again, Blood Manor delivers high-energy thrills to visitors ages 14 & up. You don’t have to be a diehard horror fan to appreciate the talented cast and clever set design. Grab a friend (or five) and head to Blood Manor to experience the campy fun of Halloween.
What: Blood Manor Haunted House
When: October 5 through November 3, 2012
Location: 163 Varick Street, New York, NY 10019
Cost: $25 for general admission tickets. VIP packages also available, including $60 for the “Demon” package with express entry, t-shirt, poster and shot glass. Get a $5 discount on online tickets by using Blood Manor promo code EN163.
Tickets: Visit bloodmanor.com or call 212-290-2825
Did you enjoy this article?
Sign up for the Downtown Traveler monthly newsletter to get updates on art, culture and adventure attractions in cities around the world. Just visit DowntownTraveler.com and enter your name and email in the box located in the upper right corner of the page. No spam, we promise!