Things were simpler when we were kids. Responsibilities consisted mainly of remembering to feed the dog, not touching the rat poison under the sink, and leaving dad alone when he's drinking his "grown-up" apple juice in the front yard.
But the absolute best part about being a kid no competition was Halloween. Free candy, horror movie marathons, going to school dressed up like Batman; was anything better than that? Nope.
Yet as we grew older, more and more people decided that a 20-year-old Power Ranger probably didn't need a handful of fun-sized Snickers.
But fear not, fellow travelers of the night, we can still have fun during this most ghoulish of holidays. We can buy our own candy dammit. And beer! In fact, now that I think about it, being a kid kinda sucked.
This Halloween leave the past in the past and celebrate like an adult, by getting the shit scared out of you at one of DFW's spooktacular haunted houses.
Cutting Edge (1701 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth) If meatpacking isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Halloween, you are sorely missing out. Cutting Edge Haunted House is two stories of terror set against the backdrop of, what else, a 100-year-old meat packing plant. You won't be seeing any pork chops in this place, however. The meat these guys are packing is strictly human. Cutting Edge also holds the distinction of being the 2009 Guinness World Record Holder for being the largest walk-through haunted house in the world. Tickets will set you back about $30 per person, plus parking, but it's more than worth it for close to an hour of lunch-losing grotesqueness.
Zombie Manor (7501 U.S. Highway 287, Arlington) I'm not sure if you noticed, but we're living through the zombie renaissance. Mark my words; soon enough we'll all enjoy a healthy scoff at pseudo-intellectuals waxing philosophical on the ethical dilemmas present in The Walking Dead. Until then we can enjoy gems like Arlington's original night of the living dead, Zombie Manor. The scares take place in a 19th century manor house once owned by wealthy landowner, and Cajun of note, Branson Delacroix. Now all that's left are the shambling corpses of Delacroix and his servants, forever doomed to suffer a major case of the brain-munchies. For a paltry $17 admission you can step into a world of voodoo, unrequited love and probably some dude eating intestines.
Dark Hour (701 Taylor Drive, Plano) When it comes to haunted houses, production value is king, and the guys at Dark Hour Haunted House understand this better than anyone. They combine motion-triggered jump scares, elaborate lighting and set design as well as veteran "professional haunt actors," decked out in top of the line prosthetics and costumes. A $26 ticket will grant you access to three separate experiences following the followers of Simone Noir'e, the leader of the Dark Hour Coven. It covers well tread ground for haunted houses, but their attention to detail and finesse makes the whole experience one of the best in Texas.
Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus (3880 Irving Mall, Irving) Marketed as the twisted step-brother of the original Ringling Brothers and P.T. Barnum productions, the Strangling Brothers Texas is the closest thing you'll get to stepping on the set of a big budget Hollywood horror flick. These brothers have spent decades gathering freaks and lunatics from every corner of the world to fill out their dastardly decadent den of dangers. The production is one big maze littered with animatronic creepers, live music and bloodthirsty clowns stalking you through the mist. The price of admission starts at $32 and the Brothers warn you, expect a "overall physically demanding environment."
Reindeer Manor (410 Houston School Road, Red Oak) Living in a manor does not seem to be as cool as one would initially think. Take Reindeer Manor, for example. The largest estate in a tiny Texas town just south of Dallas, Reindeer Manor was home to the Sharp family. After a wave of plague strikes the rural area, the town's folk notice that the Sharps are seem to be immune to the devastating affliction. In a strikingly Shakespearean turn of events, the citizens poison the Sharp family, thinking that they were the cause of the disease, only to continue dying. And for a mere $15 you can explore the remnants of this haunted hellhole. The venue has three different haunted houses to experience, and to see all three you'll have to shell out a hefty $35.
Moxley Manor Haunted House (510 Harwood Road, Bedford) To celebrate its fifth year in business, Moxley Manor Haunted house is featuring a brand new attraction for this year's All Hallows Eve. The scares are based in fact this time, following the tale of Charles Moxley, who after contracting a case of pneumonia, was left in the care of toothsome housemaid Lillian. Long story short, everyone dies! The entire haunted house has been remodeled this year and includes several new rooms revolving around specific phobias. Let's just hope that for the $17 is costs to get in you don't end up having to speak in public. If you do though, just imagine the murderous spirits in their underwear.
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Hangman's House of Horrors (4400 Blue Mound Road, Fort Worth) Maybe you're looking for a hunted house that's a little more socially aware. Someplace a little more mellow, that lets you feel better about ogling every sexy witch/cat/hamburger/Ghostbuster you'll inevitably run into this year. Well if that's the case, look no further than Hangman's House of Horrors, the premiere charity benefiting haunted house in, as they claim, the world. Although described as a "low-gore" attraction, you'll still be plenty scared walking through McDagenville, a hillbilly themed freak show, or Outbreak, where visitors must enter a zombie-infested security shack. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds go to five charities selected by Hangman's core volunteers.
The Boneyard Haunted House (2921 E. Division St., Arlington) Dallas isn't home to just one Guinness record holding haunted house. In 2006 The Bonyard Haunted House measured over 2,800 feet of bone chilling terror. The house is not only noted for it's size, but also for it's off-the-charts scare factor. This is the haunted house you go to if you feel somewhat comfortable soiling yourself in public. (If you do no worries; The Boneyard has a pretty convenient gift shop for visitors.) The estimated time it takes to get through the whole thing is roughly an hour and a half, so be sure to show up hydrated and ready to go. You can get tickets at the door or online, starting at $28, and no, that does not include spare pants.
The Parker House (8550 W. University Drive, Denton) While all the flash and flourish of bigger haunted houses is nice, sometimes it's nice to ride the fringe of things. The Parker House Haunted Attraction may not be as big or as bold as other haunted houses, but it paints a compelling story that sounds a lot more interesting that the standard "Everyone died here, look!" trope that haunted houses tend to rehash. This skin-crawling experience follows the story The Parker Funeral Home. After her parent's died in a plane crash, it's up to Mary to run the family business amid the proliferation of more commercial burial alternatives. What Mary does to keep the business afloat is truly terrifying and definitely worth the $23 ticket.
Thrillvania Haunted House Park (2330 County Road 138,Terrell) Lauded as one of the Top 13 haunted houses of 2013 by hauntworld.com, Thrillvania Haunted House Park has scares for everyone. Featuring four separate haunted houses including Sam Hain's Trial of Torment and the World Famous Verdun Manor, Thrillvainia is a veritable smorgasbord of blood and guts. Stretched over 50-acres of land, this is the kind of haunted house you can lose your self in and become fully immersed in the terror of the season. Experience every inch of Thrillvaina's ghastly grounds for about $30 for adults, and be sure to remember, it's all just for fun... right?