From The Wall Street Journal:
There’s a new generation of haunted houses this year that feature psychological torture, intense sensory deprivation and hands-on assaults by people playing mass murderers. The houses incorporate Hollywood-grade special effects, some designed by the same crews that build the sets for the biggest-grossing horror movies and backed by the directors or producers of major horror franchises.
Halloween has emerged as the second-biggest commercial holiday of the year, with anticipated revenue of $8 billion this year, the result of an aggressive push by retailers to create a reason for big spending between back-to-school and Christmas. Haunted houses in particular have mushroomed, popping up everywhere from blacked-out urban storefronts to cornfields and backyards. The Haunted House Association estimates there are 2,000 haunted houses in America and average ticket prices have risen to $15 from $5 in the 1990s.
Earlier this month, photographer Bryan Derballa, on assignment for The Wall Street Journal, visited the “Blackout Haunted House” in Manhattan, where visitors pay up to $60 to be subjected to a litany of psychological and physical abuse, including extreme disorientation in a room filled with fog where your face is masked, your hands are strapped to a table and ear-piercing death metal music is blaring through headphones while a screaming actor bashes a mallet around your fingers.
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