Phoenix-Area Haunted House Round Up

One of the nice things about opening our new office in Arizona is getting to experience many new regional events. With the first fall season for Skewed and Reviewed’s Southwest office upon us, we decided to have a look at some of the local haunted houses.

We started with Chambers of Fearin the city of Surprise. Chambers of Fear has won many Top Haunts awards and was voted the best in Arizona for 2010 by the Arizona Republic. Housed in a vacant retail space, at first it was deceptively tame as we made our way through the black plywood mazes, causing me to wonder what made this attraction stand out from the others. But as we came to the middle of the maze, it was clear why, as elaborate lighting and monsters appeared out of nowhere getting in your face and bumping you along the paths.

I liked one section where we turned into a darkened corridor and a blast of gunfire and light erupt from overhead before we were plunged into total darkness. As we went along, the intensity grew as we were sprayed with water and harassed by a series of deranged characters and immersed in elaborate sets. The event concluded with a finale that unhinged one guest so much that she ran across the parking lot in a full sprint to get away.

Our next stop for the evening was Jack and Jill’s Haunted Hill in Phoenix. Located in a residential area, the attraction opens with a news report about two missing individuals named Jack and Jill who were last seen in the area. The setting resembles a dark mine shaft. As we navigated the dark and narrow halls, we were menaced by some creepy individuals who occupied the locale. At one stop, we encountered Jack who was confined to an elaborate machine which was pulling him apart. The mix of live action and effects was very impressive as were the rooms that followed. As we made our way along we discovered more about what happened to the missing people and this culminated in a cold meatlocker-like room full of hanging body bags some of which felt like there were living individuals within them. I was really impressed with their use of the dark, unpredictable and narrow setting of a mine as well as the great effects and creepy cold room.

The final stop for us was The Nest at Rawhide. The attraction has been featured on MSN, Good Morning America, and has been rated one of the best haunts in the country. The Nest is on the grounds of Rawhide, a popular Wild West town,that transforms into Doomtown for Halloween. The streets of Doomtown have everything from a Headless Horsemen to other spooks and attractions ranging from stunt shows, zombie paintball, psychic readings, petting zoo, stagecoach and train rides, as well as all manner of shops and places to eat.

Upon entering The Nest we made our way through what at first seemed to be a normal haunted house. I was impressed with the sets and the makeup of the characters and was surprised when I was handed a pair of 3D glasses soon after entering. The 3D section was great as the paint on the walls and actors truly came out at us, and squares on the floor appeared to hover before us.

An early highlight was a spinning tunnel which truly came alive in 3D. When we emerged and returned our glasses, we were ushered into a new section which as a very narrow and pitch black maze. The setting was so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face and only screams, a heartbeat, gunfire, and random noise erupting at random times guided you in the right direction. It was a very long maze and took a while to navigate which we had to do by touching walls and feeling our way along. At random times a creature would emerge out of a hidden area and we had to squeeze through one section in a very unnerving fashion. When we finally made our way through the maze, we entered the third house which consisted of redneck cannibals. The sets, costumes, and makeup looked like they were straight out of Hollywood and the random events truly had people on edge. From homes to a trailer park as well as a very impressive butcher shop this was the most elaborate and detailed house I have ever experienced. The actors would come right up to your face and do their worst in order to truly get you into the setting.

When we emerged my wife and I agreed that that was one of the best haunted houses we had ever experienced, comparable to ones set up at higher-priced venues like Knotts in Anaheim, California. It truly had the best mix of everything with actors and sets that really allowed you to become immersed in the scary settings.