echo ''."\n";

City of the Dead and the I Scream Factory: Our haunted house reporter gains liquid courage

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

I'm not going to lie; I am kind of over this whole haunted house thing. Enough of these cackling teenagers asking me to play games and telling me that I smell good.

"Do ya wanna play?" Play what? It's way too dark in here for Dungeons and Dragons. Oh wait, you want to play doctor and let me guess, you'll be the doctor and I'll be the patient?

And you also want to sniff me real hard and whisper sweet nothings about how I smell "real purdy"? Yeah right. This isn't to say that I've mastered the walk-through without screaming and jumping around like a gazelle, but it's definitely becoming a little predictable.

So in order to make things interesting, I decided to introduce a new element to the experience -- liquid courage. Also, I thought it would be fun to bring along some virgins.

We embarked on Operation: Shit Your Trousers with a bottle of whiskey and a trusted designated driver. Coincidentally, this mission to City of the Dead (the haunted house with a bar in it) was directly following five mandatory wine tastings. In other words, I'd been drinking since two in the afternoon and was in no state to be running around in a dark maze of teenagers -- that is, until we slurped down enough whiskey to the point where everything was hilarious and exciting. And I really mean everything. Suddenly we became invulnerable to even the lowest visceral standards of humor. Even the line of port-o-potties seemed significant in some frighteningly hilarious way. It made sense that this haunted house was not scary, but a wonderful opportunity for our friend Brian to hit on thespian-goth chicks in need of attention, as well as a great place to have a fantastic caricature done while drinking a $5 beer from the "Fresh Kill Kafe." I kid you not. This was a pretty huge haunted house with a cluster of abandoned cars in the middle, a perfect instrument for the dead zombies of the underworld to drum their weapons upon; the clanking gets everybody's attention. Cops loitered outside joking that their presence was only to "dispose of all the bodies." On to the next amusement park! Lubricated with beer, it's especially easy to be skeptical about the concept of Denver's newest attraction, the I Scream Factory. Zombie clowns making ice cream? We loitered around an empty parking lot with the downtown lights glimmering in the distance, signaling both banal safety and the overabundance of common sense to which we've grown accustomed. To my surprise, my friend Norman secretly recorded this fifteen-minute field trip so we can hear ourselves screaming at the ten foot-tall monsters on stilts and laughing at ourselves whenever we feel like. I've never scooted between an evil clown's stilted legs like a hamster, so that was pretty cool. Later, we listened to the audio tape while sipping beers at The Filling Station off Brighton Boulevard. What I gathered from this audio evidence was that I really scream like a girl and the incessant soundtrack of Rob Zombie and industrial noises is truly quite disturbing. Actually, scratch that. What we found most disturbing was the elderly couple freak-dancing in the corner of The Filling Station. In the end, fantasy horror versus real life horror is hardly a competition.

And as far as visual evidence, all I found on my camera were nine blurry photos of a large spotlight device commonly used to advertise their location (middle of nowhere), and a few photos of straight-up fog. And that's what is really scary. It's like we time traveled or something.

I wish I could say there was some direct correlation between number of drinks and number of shrieks, but there are simply too many psychological variables to make this assertion. There are those people who are easily impressed by a regular television tuned to static while others can shrug off a giant clown on five-foot stilts like it's no big deal. There's really no telling. Not to mention, there's a whole lot of room for inconsistency when it comes to getting the formula just right: maybe the chainsaw guy is feeling a little tired tonight, the juggalos had another gathering to attend, or your everyday life makes ravaged clowns seem like child's play. I don't think it has anything to do with the suspension of disbelief or your inability to have an imagination. Sometimes, a trip to the suburbs is all it takes to get a little nervous and the bars are where you really get your money's worth.

More haunted house reviews by Maggie Moody: - Field of Corpses: Our (more or less) fearless reporter develops coping mechanisms

- The 13th Door: Our (more or less) fearless reporter makes it all the way through

- A trip to The Asylum: Our (more or less) fearless reporter chickens out

- Real horror-show: One (more or less) fearless writer's quest to conquer the haunted house

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.