We three Deseret News reporters divided up the terror territory Friday night and went to all the haunted houses that were open. For those in search of a good boo for the bucks, we present our conclusions:
1. "Today's kids aren't satisfied with touching cold spaghetti." - Jean Watkins.2. "It's orchestrated terror. Except for the true terror of wondering if you will be trampled to death like the pilgrims in Mecca, the fright never seems real to me." - Elaine Jarvik.
3. "It seems too real. Even when I can see the duct tape holding the scenery together, I still get so scared my stomach hurts." - Susan Lyman-Whitney.
4. The scenes and special effects get more elaborate every year, probably because haunted houses can make big money. (The March of Dimes hopes to raise $150,000 at this year's event.)
5. Local haunted houses cost as much as a movie and, in general, they are worth the price. Strolling through horror is even more fun than watching it on the screen.
6. Parents: If you've seen one you've seen them all.
7. Young people: You haven't seen anything until you've seen them all.
Of the haunted houses that opened last weekend, we especially liked the March of Dimes Haunted House and Alien Encounters.
The March of Dimes Haunted House is a very professional operation, with Tesla coil sound effects and plenty of gore. It's huge - 40,000 square feet - and takes at least a half hour to go through. The down side is that it's crowded. Cutomers can wait for a half hour - or more - to get in.
Young teens were thrilled. Even an 8-year-old wasn't too scared. We wouldn't recommend it for younger children.
Alien Encounters has sophisticated special effects, like moving spiders and mutant dragons. A table full of heads greets you when you walk in the door.
The designers could have staged a few more scares outside. That space is a bit sparse. The overall effect of Alien Encounters is more slow-paced than other houses, which we didn't mind.
This year's Haunted Old Mill is typical of past years, which doesn't mean it's not fun. Horrors pop up at predictable intervals. There's nothing much to give anyone over 8 any nightmares, unless you tend to panic in dark, stuffy spaces. Because of the Old Mill's authenticity - it's not a converted supermarket - at one point you actually descend several flights of steps into what feels like a dungeon.
Twin Terrors is new this year. It's a very basic haunt, with few special effects. It involves lots of twisting and turning through a dark maze of walls while people in black robes and scary masks jump out at you.
It wasn't crowded at all on opening night.
The Institute of Terror wasn't crowded either. It had more scenes - your basic bloody operating room and strobe-lighted dungeon - than did Twin Terrors, but far fewer than the March of Dimes or Haunted Old Mill.
For some reason, though, the lack of crowds made these two haunts quite scary and satisfying. We were alone with the monsters.
Twin Terrors, the Old Mill and the Institute of Terror all have dark mazes. People who lean toward claustrophobia will not like being packed in a dark, cramped room. Even those of us who don't mind crowds and the dark confess to wondering where the fire exits were.
The March of Dimes house, on the other hand, is very well lighted. Almost too well lighted for horror.
We look forward to the opening of more haunts this week and next. The Haunted Woods at Wheeler Farm is always good - its natural setting is our favorite.
Those who like black humor ought to love Nightmare Theatre. We hear the headmistress is indeed headless. With slick special effects, the disembodied head tells visitors, "Get out of my face."
ALIEN ENCOUNTERS, 6000 S. Redwood Road. Through Oct. 31, daily except Sunday; from 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Cost $6 per person; $2 off with a coupon from Smith's or with donation of one can of food. The food will be given to Help the Homeless.
Walk-through for children 9 and under (accompanied by a parent) Oct. 13 from 1 to 5:30 p.m.
THE MARCH OF DIMES HAUNTED HOUSE, 5600 S. Van Winkle Expressway. Through Oct. 31, nightly except Sunday; from 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Price is $4. Groups are $2.50 per person, in advance; call 363-5500. Proceeds go to the March of Dimes.
FRIGHT AND FOOD FEST BY US WEST, 2670 S. Highland Drive. Carnival includes a haunted house. Runs Oct. 25, 7 to 10 p.m.; Oct. 26, 7 p.m. until midnight; and Oct. 27, 2 p.m. until midnight.
Prepurchase of $4 tickets for $3 through US WEST at 237-7205 or Hogle Zoo, 582-1632. Proceeds go to Hogle Zoo.
THE HAUNTED CASTLE, at the Utah State Hospital in Provo. Runs Oct. 24 to 31, except Sunday; 7:30 to 10 p.m. on weeknights, and until 11 on weekends and Halloween. Tickets are $4; $3.50 for groups (call 373-4400).Proceeds go to the patient recreation fund.
THE HAUNTED MANSION in American Fork is held in a Victorian home built in 1853. Opens Oct. 10 at 280 S. Center Street, American Fork. Hours are 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Proceeds will go to buy an ambulance for the city. A featured guest, out of the slammer, will be Julius Squeezer, the newsmaking escaping python.
THE HAUNTED OLD MILL, 6900 S. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. Open from 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, through Oct. 31. Admission is $5; $1-off coupons are available at 7-Elevens for weeknights. Proceeds go to the American Heart Association.
HAUNTED WOODS AT WHEELER FARM, 6351 S. 900 East. Opens Oct. 10 and runs through Oct. 31, except Sundays, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on weeknights and until 10:30 p.m. on weekends. Admission is $5 for those 12 and older; children 3-11 pay $3. $1-dollar off on weekdays with proof of purchase from Sunny Delight, Jif or Pringles.
Tot Walk for 3- to 8-year-olds during the week from 2 until 5 p.m. and on Saturdays, and Oct. 11 and 12 from noon until 5 p.m. Cost is $1.50 for children 3 to 8 years old and for up to two adults accompanying a child. Children 9 to 11 are $3. Those 12 and over, $5.
Net proceeds will be used to furnish the farm's activity barn.
HORRORS AT THE HAUNTED MUSEUM, at the Children's Museum of Utah, 840 N. 300 West. Oct. 25 and 28 through 31, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. weekdays, until 10 p.m.
INSTITUTE OF TERROR, 400 S. 600 East. Through Nov. 3, nightly except Sundays. Times are 7 to 10 p.m., until 11 p.m. on weekends. The cost is $5.50, children under 12 are $3.50. Everyone gets $1 off with a can of food.
The canned goods will be donated to the Salt Lake Food Bank.
MANIAC MANOR at 2605 Wall, Ogden. Runs now until Halloween. Open weekdays from sundown until 10 p.m.; and on Fridays and Saturdays from sundown until midnight.
Tickets are are $4.50 for adults; children under 12, $3.50. It is Utah's only wheelchair-accessible haunted house. Proceeds benefit "Utah Outlaws Wheelchair Athletic Association."
NIGHTMARE THEATER at the Utah State Fairpark. Runs Oct. 11 through 31, from 7:30 until 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Adults are $4.50; children 10 and under, $2.50; group rate for 20 or more adults, $3.75 each.
ROCKY POINT HAUNTED HOUSE, just north of Ogden on U.S. 89, on the way to Brigham City. The house runs through Oct. 31, Monday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. weeknights, and until midnight on weekends. Closed Sundays. Tickets are $3 for those 6 to 12; $4 for adults; $4.50 for adults on the weekends. Discount tickets at Burger King. Group rates available, call 944-1661.
Rocky Point had several horror stories of its own to contend with this year. Among them, it was found that although the house had been paying taxes to Box Elder County and meeting Box Elder building codes, surveys showed Rocky Point is really in Weber County, where the codes were different. All that's been cleared up now.
Proceeds to go the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
TWIN TERRORS two haunted houses at one location, 14301 S. State Street. Through Oct. 30, 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $4.50; $1-discount tickets are available at all Rainbo stations.
Proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish foundation.