The COVID-19 friendly City of the Dead Drive-In Haunted House, produced by 13th Floor Entertainment Group, is marketed as scary, but it's a poor substitute for a haunted house — funny at best, but mostly boring.
Someone between the ages of eight and twelve might find something to enjoy here, but the scariest thing I saw was the price tag: Tickets are $39.99 a car, which admits a driver and a passenger. Additional passengers can be added for $9.99. For VIP tickets, a spot right in the front, is $59.99 per car.
Those are first-rate haunted house prices, but this is no haunted house.
Spectators arrive and pull up to a forty-foot screen. On car radios, before the show, the audience listens to spooky music and horror-movie trivia. Then, after a narrator opens the night with a silly song that maybe children would find funny, short films start playing, mostly B-movie-like shlock from the 1950s, like Creature From the Black Lagoon or The Blob.
No one's allowed to leave their car, and if viewers want to roll down the windows, they must wear masks. Maskless audience members screaming during a pandemic, after all, are more frightening than anything that happens during the event.
A few of the movies are graphic, but outside of a few hokey decapitations, there is nothing too realistic or too gory — nothing the average child couldn't stomach.
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Those in the VIP section have a front-row view of actors on a stage. They dance to the music in the films and sometimes act out a short story the narrator is telling. The most exciting thing they do is chuck a mannequin off the stage.
Throughout the night, masked and costumed actors, who might as well be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters they're so un-unnerving, hold fake heads and the like. The actors appear and disappear so quickly and without interacting much that the taste of fright never lasts long. The actors don't jump out, startle the crowd or bang on car windows or doors. In short: They're tame. The sound effects and lighting, largely coming from the movie screen, are as underwhelming as the performers, but would be perfect for those who don't like a full-sensory experience.
Even the handful of children at the event didn't scream, though they had a good time laughing at the jokes. Kids and large families with younger children are the perfect audience for the Drive-In, but for people wanting a real fright, save your money.
City of the Dead Drive-In Haunted House is open every Wednesday through Sunday in October. For more information, go to the City of the Dead website.