Haunted Houses for Texans who get a thrill out of being terrified.
By Nicholas Georgandis
Twenty years ago, going to a haunted house on Halloween night usually meant heading for your local recreational center or elementary school cafeteria for a stumble through darkened corridors punctuated intermittently by random shrieks, screams, a zombie or two, and your gym teacher popping out of a coffin dressed like Dracula.
Times have changed in the Halloween business, and haunted houses around the state of Texas now offer the latest in cutting-edge technology, make-up, special effects and convincing actors to give every Halloween-obsessed boy and ghoul what they want when the witching hour comes around—a fright to remember.
Here’s a look at some of the most devilish, diabolical and enter-if-you-dare haunted houses around the Lone Star State.
2225 North Sam Houston Parkway West
Houston, TX 77038
Voted one of America’s Best Haunts every year since 2007 and named the best haunted house in town by both the Houston Press and the Houston Chronicle, ScreamWorld boasts five different attractions all in one location. Two of those take place outdoors, which can make for an even spookier experience on a dark and windy autumn night in Houston. The Zombie Graveyard populates a murky bog that will have you jumping at shadows, while the Maze of Maniacs is definitely not recommended for the faint of heart. Armed with strobe lights, the dead rise again and slowly stalk those who dare enter their labyrinth. When the weather’s bad or you just want to get out of the chilling night air, try to keep calm in Jake’s Slaughterhouse—a meat processing plant with a few unpleasant inhabitants; Skull Cave—a high-tech haunt with impressive animatronics; or Edge of Darkness—a spooky look into some of our worst nightmares, with scenes from Death Row, the Boiler Room and the Morgue.
18777 US Highway 290
Houston, TX 77065
Phobia has one goal in mind for its visitors: find what scares you most and lay it on you until you’re screaming to go home! Chainsaw-wielding maniacs, flesh-eating zombies, mental patients on the verge of a breakdown: all these creepy characters call Phobia home from late September to early November. Phobia isn’t for the faint of heart, so children under 12 should be accompanied by an adult, and particularly young kids should sit this one out. Perhaps the creepiest venue here is Mind Control—an insane asylum overrun by its patients.
Nightmare on the Bayou
1515 Studemont St.
Houston, TX, 77007
You can’t beat the hookline of Houston’s Nightmare on the Bayou,” advertised as “The Only Haunted House in Houston with Real Ghosts.” Located right next door to Houston’s oldest graveyard, Nightmare on the Bayou gives off that spooky vibe before you even enter the property, and boasts more than 15,000 square feet of terror and thrills.
In addition to the frights it offers every autumn, Nightmare on the Bayou also hosts a large number of actor auditions each September to ensure its cast of creeps and freaks is the absolute best it can be after Halloween.
6755 Patillo Road
Beaumont, TX, 77705
It’s been called the scariest attraction of its kind in the entire southeast, and one look at the creepy masks, face paint and attire of the cast of talented actors who inhabit this creepy establishment is enough to tell you why. The Hotel is only open on weekends in order to spend the rest of the time fine- tuning the horror to come. For the 2013 season, this attraction will up the ante with the return of one of the most loved and feared horror icons of all time, Freddy Krueger, who will stalk the hallways of the Hotel each night to see just how far into their own fears patrons are willing to go.
6921 Bennett Lawson
Mansfield, TX 76063
Few haunted attractions go as deep into their back story as Mansfield’s Midnight Manor, former home of insane Dr. Morbid, whose turn-of-the-century family’s mysterious illness led him to attempt wild experiments on them in an attempt to cure them. The urban legends say that Morbid hid the bodies of those he experimented on all over the grounds and throughout the secret passageways of his Victorian-style mansion, and the National Ghost Hunters Association has recorded no fewer than 15 “spiritual encounters” since 2007. If that weren’t creepy enough, the Midnight Manor has recently added the Circus of the Dead, former employer of the Zamora Clowns and family entertainers. When a massive storm blew through Mansfield, many of the circus’ employees were injured and went to Dr. Morbid seeking medical treatment, only to be transformed into unholy versions of their former selves. Midnight Manor is open from September 20 – November 2 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with the addition of Halloween night, which falls on a Thursday.