By Amelia Kimberling
Forget pumpkin patches and horse-drawn hayrides because Tulsa has a flourishing haunt scene this October that you do not want to miss!
I, an attender of many horror events (including the most praised haunt in the world, Halloween Horror Nights), used my background knowledge of haunts and houses to review attractions around Oklahoma and the Tulsa Area. I attended four haunts: Hex House, The Nightmare, The Castle, and Psychopath.
I have created a handy little acronym to review each element of all the attractions: behold SPOOKS!
- Storytelling: Does the maze tell a consistent story? Or is it just a mesh of random scenes?
- Perception: How many senses does the maze efficiently appeal to
- Originality: Have we seen this concept over and over again?
- Ooze: Gore and grotesque imagery!
- Kill Factor: How much intensity is present? Is it tame or hard core?
- Scares: Quality of scares? Weak or strong actors? How many personal scares?
I am listing them in the order that I attended.
Hex House, which is located at 5610 West Skelly Drive, claims the title as “being the scariest and best haunted house in Tulsa, Oklahoma.” They offer three attractions: Westside Grim, Rise of the Living Dead, and Hex House. Each has its own unique storyline and entrance.
Storytelling: Storytelling is hard to nail, especially for local haunts, but Hex House has this one in the bag. Each separate haunt has its own unique story, and most importantly these haunts stay true to their stories. First Westside Grim is marketed as a family home suffering from a recent accident that has left the residents burned and mangled; however, the family is throwing a carnival to draw in guests… or should I say victims. An actor tells attendees the story before you enter, and it allows for the haunt to stay cohesive.
As for Night of the Living Dead, it’s self explanatory. Zombies.
Then there’s the Hex House, an old manor, that we, the haunt-goers, are guests in. A decrepit old man greets you at the door and warns you of the “welcoming” and “handsy” inhabitants. Throughout the house, the residents keep to the common theme of asking you “to stay” as they need you for certain sinister activities.
Perception: As for the senses, most are utilized. The sounds are loud and jarring, and in order to pass through certain areas, you must use touch to move through dark spaces. Of course, this also adds to sight as guests are sometimes blinded by darkness or disoriented by strobes. However, there was a lack of any discerning smells. While disgusting, smell helps with immersion.
Originality: While amazing in their execution, Hex House’s themes are overdone. Yes, while every version of a Zombie or Evil Family Haunt is different in terms of execution, it does get old after a while. I would love to see diversity.
Ooze: Hex House did not shy away from blood and gore. Plastic body parts and actors doused in faux blood litter the rooms. If you are squeamish, this attraction (and most of these houses, quite frankly) is NOT for you.
Kill Factor: They can touch you. I think that’s enough said? Hex House has an intensity bonus because of this factor. No one is safe, and you will have you ankles grabbed and shoulders brushed while walking through this attraction.
Scares: From loud noises to strategic placement of actors, this house got me multiple times. If you are a beginner, out of all the houses in Oklahoma, this one would not be the best to start with. However, if you are looking for an intense ride, this house will leave you satisfied.
Located at GUTS Church, The Nightmare markets itself as “a graphic walk-through presentation of real-life, modern-day struggles challenging our world today.” It is a single attraction that can take twenty to thirty minutes to fully experience.
Storytelling: While there is no coherent story, there is an overarching theme: a presentation of real life struggles. I carefully paid attention to each room, and as for most of them, I understood the real life struggle portrayed. From human trafficking and suicide to drunk driving, school shootings, and bullying, The Nightmare does not spare the guests from gory details.
Perception: Every possible sense was nailed. For one, it was easily the loudest haunt I’ve been to in Tulsa, which added immensely to the intensity. My eyes were grazed with sights that still stick with me days later, and the Hell scene was plagued with foul-breathed demons who did not stray from getting in guests’ faces.
Originality: The Nightmare utilizes the “real life situation” concept very well, and in all my years of researching and attending various haunts, I have never attended or heard of one with that premise. Not only is it original, but it’s very effective. I feared it would come across as cheesy or some typical warning to teens about rebellious behavior. Surprisingly, it spoke to people of all ages, and told parents and teens the dire effects of bullying, abuse, and reckless behavior.
Ooze: Out of all of Oklahoma’s houses, The Nightmare had the best FX makeup. It was movie level. I understand most places may not have the budget or time to gore up 50 to 100 actors, but Nightmare takes that extra time for its applications. From the girls in the car crash scene to the razor-mouthed demon in the suicide scene, they use Hollywood level effects and gore.
Kill Factor: It is intense in the realism of each scene. Some scenes will hit closer to home than others, but I believe there is a room in there for everyone. That being said, if you are someone triggered easily by portrayals of suicide or school shooting, this attraction is not for you. Not only are you seeing these things happen, but they are happening to you as a participant.
Scares: I only got “jump scared” once or twice. Most of the attraction is done in scenes that you watch and interact in, so only a small fraction is left for free-wandering and cheap scares. However, the imagery WILL stick with you, and I think something that lingers hits much harder than any forgettable startle.
Ever been to the Renaissance fair in Muskogee? Well, if you enjoyed the medieval vibes, then the castle’s Halloween Festival is for you. It offers three scary attractions: The Trail of Blood, Casa Morte, and Domus Horrificus
Storytelling: First, I will begin with the Trail of Blood. The only description marketed is “a walk in the woods,” and well, that’s exactly what it is. Guests trek through uneven terrain as they pass through a Carnival, a Zombie Camp, and a deranged butcher’s smokehouse. It’s a bit scattered in terms of theme, but still fun in terms of variety.
Next, I did Domus Horrificus. Half of this maze followed original monsters and scenes such as a spooky forest, but others threw homage to famous horror movies such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Saw. It was fun to see a smaller haunt do a play on famous horror movies, and while also scattered in an overarching theme, the unique scenes boost it up.
Finally, there’s Casa Morte. Before entering, a man who introduces himself as the sheriff says that the hotel guests are about to enter is plagued by a mass murderer. He shows guests a picture and asks them to keep on the lookout. The whole haunt is based around a hotel, and it keeps straight to its market.
Perception: The Castle loved its loud noises, and so did I! Pops and shrieks are perfect, and keep people on their feet. Strobes disorient guests in multiple rooms, yet there is not much smell or touch to be had.
Originality: Pretty good! Since there’s not much of a theme for the haunts, it’s hard to review this category. It was different in terms of scare tactics and the use of intellectual properties like in the Domus Horrificus house. While the “haunted hotel” house is pretty overdone, they added a serial killer twist that I can really appreciate.
Ooze: Gore was definitely the least of the four attractions I visited. However, that isn’t bad! Especially if you are someone squeamish, this haunt is a bit easier on the eyes in terms of unsettling imagery.
Kill Factor: This is definitely the least intense of the houses I visited. It’s really good for beginners and people who are uneasy about haunts; it’s a great start that won’t leave you swearing off haunts for the rest of your life. I will say that The Trail of Blood can be intense in the sense the ground is uneven and disheveled in some areas, so not only are you fearing for a fake weapon in your face, but you’re trying not to fall in the process.
Scares: As mentioned above, I found this house tamer than the rest. I definitely got a few good scares, but this house is more fun in terms of cool actor interactions and sets that put you right in the Halloween spirit!
Last but not least, I went to Psychopath, which is located in the backwoods of Sperry. Literally. Once exiting the highway, you follow a narrow road to a tiny dirt path that leads guest right into the woods. This haunt has two attractions, and unfortunately, I only had time to attend one: The Shadow Box. However, I have attended the Scareage in past years, and I highly recommend it! I just will not include it in this review as changes have been made, and I don’t have any experience to go on.
Storytelling: The Shadow Box is described as an experience the guest embarks on after supposedly ‘[having not] slept for days.” It blurs reality with fiction, and guests are supposed to wander through and experience a hazy nightmare. They do succeed! Many of the scenes are shadowed in darkness, and especially when attending after dark, it’s very easy to feel as though the whole haunt is some crazed fever dream.
Perception: This house is dark. Very dark. At times, it is even pitch black. While it may lack in other senses like smell, the darkness is enough to make the experience bone-chilling and effective. There’s also a part where guests must push past an array of hanging body bags, which adds a touch element as well.
Originality: The concept is super interesting! While guests run into some pretty typical scenes such as a cannibal butcher and creepy little girl, knowing the “dreamlike” concept behind the house makes it more fun to make your own interpretation and fill in the blanks! Maybe a little variety could make it even better.
Ooze: There is a good amount of gore! It’s not overwhelming like Nightmare, but it’s enough to make the squeamish upset. I would put it at the same level as the Hex House.
Kill factor: Actors that crawl after you on the floor and others that scream right up in your face, this house is intense. While no one can touch you, the noises and darkness are enough to make this house not for the lighthearted.
Scares: Of all the houses, this one got me the most. The actors are very strategically placed, and they deliver their scares with overwhelming passion and intensity. Nearly everyone got me to at least jump if not scream in absolute terror.
Interested in any of these attractions? All the websites are linked in the titles above! However, most end either after Halloween or in early October, so hurry and get your tickets now! If not, then you have something spooky to look forward to next haunt season.