I hate haunted houses.
Erica loves haunted houses.
I love Erica more than I hate haunted houses, so when I received an invitation to media night for The Darkness — “One of America’s top rated haunted attractions” — I forwarded it along to Erica.
You see, I don’t see Erica much these days — between work and school and homework and family and her dog and her 500 other, better friends, she’s a busy person. But I figured if anything would get her to spend some time with me it would be the chance to walk through a large, dark warehouse full of life-size mannikins with their fake entrails hanging out.
“I’m in! Gotta see what I can do about getting off work early!”
I know my friends.
And so it was that Thursday night I crawled into the Jeep and we headed east to Soulard. I was a bit nervous. My first haunted house experience was at a haunted farmhouse or missile silo or somesuch — Erica had corralled a bunch of us to go — and all was OK up until I got lost in some pitch-black maze and couldn’t get out. Carrie eventually came back and rescued me. You’ll note I didn’t say Erica came back and rescued me.
We arrived a half-hour before the event ended and apparently all the other media had already come and gone so we had the place to ourselves. Having been to these things and stood in line for hours (it’s unbelievable to me the number of people who love haunted houses) it was nice to be able to walk through at our own pace.
The Darkness boasts all your haunted attraction staples: lots of bloody mannikins in various states of distress; a hallway of severed heads; an operating room; a funeral parlor; lots of fog; various monsters; a mirror maze that I thankfully didn’t get lost in; and costumed actors trying to scare you (most of whom were not there for the preview, also thankfully).
There’s also a number of animatronic creatures to jump out at you — my favorite of course was the T-Rex head, although Cerberus was also cool. There’s also an Egyptian theme going on for part of it — I guess they’re recreating a haunted pyramid.
It’s a large venue, and just when your normal haunted house would be over — there’s a Second Floor. We made it up the stairs and through a few more spooky scenes and then encountered a bright, day-glo attraction.
“Oh boy! Terror Visions! We get to go through Terror Visions too? This is awesome!”
Needless to say, I had no idea what Terror Visions was, but it is indeed included as part of The Darkness and it is, indeed, awesome. Turns out TV is this large section with a kind of Evil Circus theme that is unique in that it is decked out entirely in bright flourescent paint which gives a 3D effect when you put on special glasses.
It’s like walking through a black-light poster or a Joel Schumacher “Batman” movie. It’s like what haunted houses must be like on Pandora. I enjoyed it muchly. When you get to the end you go through a tunnel that spins around and gives you 3D flourescent vertigo. Groovy.
Like all good attractions, it lets you exit through the gift shop, which also doubles as a Monster Museum. This was pretty cool and I could have spent more time looking around — they even had a life-size HULK — but Erica didn’t seem interested staying anywhere with so much light.
It took us a half-hour to go through the attraction, which is pretty impressive. I hate to think how long it would take to get through it if there was a crowd. I must admit, it’s the most impressive haunted house I’ve ever been in.
Once outside we were quizzed on how we enjoyed it. It turned out we had missed out on one of their new bits — the falling ceiling — so we were invited to go through again to experience it. It didn’t take much arm twisting on Erica’s part. We were joined by a bloody groom and his axe-wielding bride as tour guides.
So, The Darkness Haunted House and Terror Visions earns the RROY REPORT Seal of Approval for all your holiday horror needs. Erica loved it, and she’s far more the expert than I.
The Darkness Haunted House is now open at 1525 South 8th Street, St. Louis. For more information visit: