As many of you have already heard by now, Marilyn Burns, the woman who made us feel real terror in Tobe Hopper’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as passed away. She was found yesterday morning by a relative in her Houston, Texas home. This of course comes at a great shock, and a terrible tragedy. Mrs. Burns was more than an icon, she was one of the original Scream Queens of horror. Mrs. Burns also acted in other iconic horror films, such as: Eaten Alive, Helter Skelter, Texas Chain Saw Massacre the New Generation, and Texas 3D.
But I for one will always remember her as Sally Hardesty. Her portrayal as the lone survivor of the Texas sized massacre has always struck a dark root in the back of my mind. Her performance was chilling and real and some of the best and most fondest moments in horror fiction. The way she played her character made me want to create better, realer, characters in my own stories. She survived. But did she? Sally really makes you wonder about the cost of terrible things, the things that stay with us and can never fully heal or go away. They become a part of you, for better or worse.
Marilyn Burns will be missed. I’m sure more than one fan will be watching her debut role in Texas Chain Saw Massacre this week as tribute to a most beloved actress.
Finally, the Halloween season is upon us! And what better way to celebrate the month of freight then to visit one of Houston’s (and her surrounding area locations) many haunted house attractions. But which one? Houston does have plenty of options. Before moving to Houston, growing up in the small town of Vinton, Virginia, haunted attractions were slim pickens; however, often times the lesser known beatnik locations can be some of the best in causing youngsters fleeing out the doors. To this day, though I cannot remember the name of the haunted house my responsible loving mother took me to during 1994-95 Halloween season, what I do recall being scared out of my wits thanks in part to a chain saw welding maniac. With this in mind, i’ve generated a list, in no particular order, of some of what Houston has to offer for popular haunted attractions. I’ve even included a few Hell Houses for the religiously inclined reader. Enjoy!
Though this list isn’t generated from best to worst, we’re not making that kind of list; however, i’m listing ScreamWorld at the top because of its obviously prestigious notoriety. Not that ScreamWorld is better than the rest; they’re just more accredited. From 2007-2012, ScreamWorld has been listed as one of America’s Best Haunts, not just Texas (voted #1 in Houston by the Houston Chronicle), but America folks! Opening back on September 20th, ScreamWorld will welcome brave souls through November 2nd, charging upwards of $40 for the VIP Pass and $32 for general admission. There will be a $5 parking fee as well. 32 bucks may seem a little steep for admission, but you’re not paying for just one attraction; you’re paying for 5 separate haunts, which includes: The Skull Cave, Edge of Darkness, Jake’s Slaughterhouse, Maze of Maniacs, and Zombie Graveyard. Not yet convinced? Check out their YouTube video below, if you dare!
Phobia is another “scream-park” with 5 separate attractions, including: Mind Control, Simon Fowler Woods, ClaustroPhobia, Darke Institute, Dawn of the Machine. The difference here is that you can purchase tickets for each separate attraction for $13 and upwards of $50 for all five haunts. I’ve never personally been to Phobia, so I cannot attest to its quality as a haunt, but the 50 buck admission for all 5 attractions seems a bit steep, especially considering the $32 cover for ScreamWorld. However, it is nice that you can purchase single tickets for just one house, if you wanted to be in and out without having to attend an entire festival. Phobia is located between Beltway 8 & 1960 on 290 Feeder, RR track side Jersey Village: 18777 HWY 290 – EXIT WEST RD, HOUSTON, TX 77065. If you need a little more convincing for paying up 50 buck-a-roos for this particular haunt, check out the following video.
Claiming to be Houston’s scariest haunt, Terror Dome sets themselves apart from the nightmare pack by focusing on one single attraction. VIP tickets cost $30 with no wait and unlimited access on day of purchase. Regular admission is $20, which doesn’t seem to bad, if they can deliver on all the hipe, claiming to have spent “most of [their] budget into building the most elaborate haunted house legally possible.” Terror Dome is located next to Spookers Halloween Super Warehouse Store on East I-10 exit #784 Cedar Lane. If you want to get a little peak at what you’re visit will be like, check out the following video.
Catering to the more artistic and historical tastes for macabre, Kingwood Asylum offers two haunted attractions with a unique twist: the fictional back story of Dr. Phillip Blackman and his mental asylum of terror! Another interesting tidbit is Kingwood Asylum’s humble beginnings as a private residence haunt over in Hunters Ridge. Now, obviously, the operation has grown from its merger beginnings into a full fledged business located over @ 1965 Northpark Drive, Kingwood Texas 77339. General admission fees are $20, with unlimited access on the day of purchase. Kingwood Asylum is one of the more interesting sites because the haunt has been built around a fictitious legend, giving the audience something more imaginative, instead of just walking through and having things jump out at you. Check out the following hilarious video of a group of teenage girls walking through the haunt!
Boasting as Houston’s most terrifying outdoor haunt, Haunted Trails is definitely something different then the traditional haunted house, here, as “night falls and the monsters of these woods begin to howl, you’ll enter a realm of terror you could not have imagined. Acres of mortifying scenes and unnatural creatures await eagerly to quench their undying thirst for your screams.” Haunted Trails seems to be, from what i’ve gathered from the pictures on their site, a basic maze with various jump and chase scares. With a $17 admission fee, it may not seem worth it; however, on October 11th & 12th, scream queen Marilyn Burns, who played Sally in the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, will be at Nature’s Nightmare (the second attraction) to meet and greet with fans. I couldn’t find a video for Haunted Trails, but here is the poster for the celebrity guest promotional.
Houston most definitely has plenty of haunted houses to choose from, and these are only five of the most popular. There are still plenty of others out there not listed above, including: Scream Fest, Fearshire Farms, Redrum, Creepy Hallow Haunted House, Heart Stopper, and many more. And, as promised, for the more religious reader, you can visit fun filled houses of judgement, such as: Hell in a Cell & Judgment House. Another alternative are localized fire-stations who also host mom & pop haunted houses; proceeds normally go to various children s organizations. So, if you’re in the mood for a scare or two, Houston (and her surrounding area) has plenty to pick from, all i’m sure will be fun and entertaining for you and you’re friends.