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“Bloodshed” and “13th Floor,” two haunted houses located in Denver’s industrial district (which is terrifying enough after dark), offer two very different haunted house experiences for the price of one. Although this isn’t the most convenient location for Boulderites, the trip is well worth it for adventures into the paranormal.
Before entering the double feature, guests are greeted by the brand new character Mr. Hallows. He can be seen lurking through the lines, sneaking up behind people and banging the barricades out of the way with a metallic screech. Although his presence is eerie at first, his act gets old quickly and even borders on annoying.
Other pre-haunting acts included a blood-spattered aerial dancer, who was good at maneuvering mid-air but looked unenthused to be there. There also was a very sad and lonely Goth kid. Though his character was unrelated to either the paranormal or the hill people themes of the house, his pre-show behavior was the most entertaining.
He silently skulked up to the waiting crowd and stared straight ahead. Without warning, he pulled out a foot-long needle and proceeded to pierce his (hopefully fake) tongue. In an act of Goth-like self-loathing, he sliced off his tongue, smiled creepily at the crowd as blood dripped from his mouth, and lurked back to his blood-covered post. Ten minutes later, he could be seen jumping on a pile of glass shortly after shoving a sword down his throat. Clearly somebody needed some attention.
The first haunting experience is “Bloodshed,” where the inbred people of the hills follow you through their dilapidated farmhouse. It was unclear what kind of farm it was, but they obviously didn’t raise food, because they all seemed pretty hungry. They asked guests to “stay for dinner” at least five times. One doesn’t need to be picked up on the side of an abandoned highway in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains to know what that means.
Aside from their urgings of, “You sure are pretty, I bet you’d look real nice on my dinner table”, the disgruntled family continually shouted things like, “Don’t touch my mama’s things!” and “Get outta my room!” They never seemed to want guests to stay. These three stereotypical topics of conversation were overused and made the entire “Bloodshed” experience redundant. Because of this, it was more of a comedic experience rather than a terrifying one. The plot could have used more development, or at least a little variety.
Once through the family’s bloodshed out back, two military men escorted you to the 13th Floor, and this is where the real terror begins. With rooms based on pushing real fears like heights, spiders and claustrophobia, “13th Floor” scares you by forcing you to confront your psychological fears rather than just being surprised.
“13th Floor” plays on traditional fun house elements, like a mirror maze that truly confounds you and tilted floors that you have to climb up to get through. It also adds innovative ideas that take you out of the traditional haunted house experience. A walkway with a 15-foot drop forces acrophobics to tackle their fear of heights, while a path surrounded by two large inflated barriers pushes claustrophobia to a new extreme.
Animatronics are also used to bring monsters, like giant spiders and dinosaurs, into reality. The effects weren’t very impressive, but that just might be because robotics often seems tacky. Regardless, they were much more advanced and realistic than Disney World’s “It’s a Small World.”
The most jarring experience happens halfway through “13th Floor.” You enter a large, rotating tube as patterns swirl around you and the most intense vertigo sets in. Once you try to exit, the walkway begins to rotate up around the tube. Or so it seems. It is difficult to walk straight for the rest of the experience, making “13th Floor” all the more horrifying. The combined elements of “13th Floor” kept guests on their toes and almost blurred the line between fantasy and reality.
Though a strange pairing, the combination of “Bloodshed” and “13th Floor” work well. “Bloodshed” is good for a terrifying laugh, while “13th Floor” is great for a chilling scream.
“Bloodshed” and “13th Floor” are open seven nights a week until October 31. Tickets cost $20 (Sunday through Thursday) and $22 (Friday and Saturday) and can be bought at the door or at www.getscared.com.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment writer Avalon Jacka at Avalon.firstname.lastname@example.org.