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Blood Manor (Review) (NYC Haunted House 2011)

Like a blockbuster summer movie, there are certain haunted houses you need to go to. As one of the most famous haunted houses in NYC, Blood Manor has gotten its reputation as the ultimate BOO! haunted house and it's well earned (see my past reviews from 2009 and 2010). It's full of elaborate, breathtaking sets, actors full of mischief and high tech wizardry. Year after year, Jimmy Lorenzo, Jim Faro and Mike Rodriguez amplify the experience of Blood Manor by tweaking the scare-o-meter and hiring a next generation of actors (half of them are new this year) who can appear stealthy but also get in your face.

What's also new is their location. Previously on 29th St, they are now in a new home on 163 Varick Street (in Soho). The new place has more space for the large crowds and lines as well as more space to unveil their colorful and creepy rooms. You cannot gauge what it takes to make Blood Manor happen. I attended on the 2nd night after they opened and the lines were extremely long already. But Blood Manor makes sure you won't get bored on line. A few lunatics that have escaped from the asylum keep the crowd entertained. Their costumes ranged from a cute girl from a Tim Burton film, a deranged carnie and a tall creature stalking on stilts. They also have a various acts of the freaky variety in a makeshift stage near the entrance. It helps pass the time as you wait.

I got to go backstage and behind the scenes
and the level of makeup and costumes is overwhelming. Every actor is dressed in sleek outfits and their makeup is the equivalent of big budget movies. The level of organization to get this show up and running is carefully crafted and one can imagine the timing needed for it all.

With my friend "S" in tow and having met a fellow writer also covering haunted houses, the experience of Blood Manor is clearly one you have to create yourself. By that I mean here are some suggestions of the things you can do to get the best out of it.

  • Take your time in each room. The sets are there to be admired and if you rush, you are going to miss the level of detail that Blood Manor has put into it. Each room is carefully crafted for maximum creepy. There are even some in-jokes and if you carefully explore your surroundings the scares will be amplified.
  • Interact with the actors. Sure they're going to come out of nowhere to scare you but when they talk to you, you can talk to them. I usually answer their questions, insert a joke of my own and have a few comebacks as well. They will respond in kind and it makes each room more fun.
  • You don't necessarily have to be in front to be the one that gets the BOO! Sometimes being in the back of the pack will pack a punch with the scary. By being in the back you'll get to admire the rooms more and not be rushed to go to the next room.
  • Talk to the strangers in line with you and in your group. You're all here for the same thing and the more you know about who you're going with, the more fun it will be.
The Rooms

A new twist starts off your journey as darkness plays a role as you enter Blood Manor. The rooms seem to be more claustrophobic this time around and the sets seem closer than ever before. You'll be greeted by such ghostly characters as a bride and groom and demons from the netherworld. What struck me this time around were the animatronics. They popped out at just the perfect times and telling the difference between what was a living breathing actor from a high tech contraption was part of the surprise.

Your favorites are back as Freddy Kreuger and Leatherface make appearances. At times it seemed Freddy was stalking me from room to room. The most memorable rooms were clearly the "Boiler Room" with a poor victim caged by a malevolent psycho and the "Cabaret of Death". Scantily clad dancers from hell used stripper poles and they were targeting the men. I was asked by a demon pimp if I wanted to take these she-devils home. I asked how much and was told "my soul" (that's way to much for me).

The new gimmicks involved a Wall Crawler who makes full use of his access to scare you and I believe a wolf jungle room as well as a zombie apocalypse that mashes into the mix. I've always liked the Frankenstein room as the bride always puts on a deathly good show. But the highlight as it was last year is the 3D. It's back again but this time it's longer and has a new ending. It's one of the more visually stimulating things one can do and never gets old.

Because Blood Manor is the most popular of the NYC Haunted Houses, the lines are painfully long. The investment of a R.I.P. (VIP) ticket will speed up the process. I've always said, the pacing of Blood Manor has to be addressed. Sometimes if you're too fast, you don't get to enjoy the perks of interacting with the actors and admiring the rooms. You'll sometimes (depending on how scared you are) bump into the group that went ahead of you. If you're to slow, the group behind you catches up. A balance has to be found so that each visitor can get the most out of BM.
With that, you want to actually get scared and with groups of 6, it might be too much humanity as the rooms are that much tighter. I would recommend groups of 4. The problem is they have to get everybody into the haunted house as fast as possible with crowds this large which is understandable. Hopefully they can work the logistics better as Halloween approaches.

Blood Manor is probably the perfect haunt for that group scare. I even saw a maybe 10-13 year old kid so even the whole family can get its chills on. Lots of discounts can be found online and if your a tween, teenager or full grown adult, there is something for everyone at Blood Manor. Remember my suggestions and you'll have a Halloween-tastic time.

The Vitals
Did you go to Blood Manor? Leave your thoughts and comments here!