Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Going Underground with the Cannibals at Terror Town

By Brizblack

Pittsburgh’s newest haunted house, Terror Town, twists and turns around the gigantic basement below Club Zoo, which we older yinzers remember as being the home of Metropol and Rosebud. Prior to visiting, Bratzilla and I read a great article on the space supposedly being haunted and so, with bellies full of veggie Kung Pao and bladders bursting with endless pots of oolong tea, we decided to check it out on opening weekend.

Although I have been around the block as far as haunting is concerned, I must say that I walked toward the Terror Town façade with some of those old, familiar moths in my stomach. The alleged “real” haunting, the industrial locale, the lack of any reviews (because it was only the second night that it had EVER been open), and the fact that we did not see one human being lurking outside led my imagination a little astray. And, of course, Bratzilla’s well-vocalized and -displayed nervousness did not help in deterring visions of me releasing my oolong tea somewhere near the second scene.

But although it took a little bit to find the main entrance to Terror Town, and despite the fact that there weren’t any other patrons to speak of, we finally forced our way inside, quickly paying and walking through the foggy pallet maze to the haunt’s front door. While psyched that we didn’t have to wait in line, we were also more than a little freaked out by the screams and bangs coming from the walls, and the fact that we were alone and about to enter an immense haunt without knowing what was inside.

It was with this apprehension that we were thrown into the first scene, where we learned from a gruesome funeral director that the underground community inhabitants we would soon meet had run out of food and thought of a great way to restock: invite patrons like Bratzilla and me down for dinner. The majority of time that we then spent in the haunt involved us having to avoid being eaten, or turning a deaf ear to captured patrons who begged us to liberate them from a certain culinary fate.

Without giving away the gory details of our journey, I will say that if you choose to spend your hard-earned cash on a visit to this macabre haunt, you will endure a very unique experience, simply because Terror Town has a lot going for it. Although Bratzilla and I were treated to a highly-immersive trip as two of very few “living” entities there the night we went, I believe that even on the busiest late October nights you will find a tour through the rotting bowels of this foul place to be ghoulishly special.

Here are some of the aspects to Terror Town that make it a one-of-a-kind haunt:

Atmosphere – The fact that the haunt takes place in a musty, dusty, foggy, and “haunted” warehouse built in the early 1900s gives it a huge advantage over almost every other haunt I have ever been to. The entrance, which is in a dark alley in the Strip District, is a great set-up for evoking the “I may leave this place with some sort of infection” feel that exists in the subterranean world of Terror Town.

Story Line – I found the storyline about a fully imagined community whose citizens have run out of food and must lure people like me and you into their world so they can eat us to be pretty cool and effective in its ability to tie together the great variety of scenarios that play out. It also worked well to support the interactivity of Terror Town, where you‘re constantly reminded of your role as “dinner.”

Actors – Most of the actors played their parts with intensity and creativity. From those with leading roles to those whose only purpose was to jump out at you, each seemed to bring their own “takes” on their characters. One we found very interesting was a creepy, shy creature who lived in a room full of dismantled mannequins and kept asking us to tell him about what life was like “up there.”

Variety – There is a great variety of scenes, frights and actors inside Terror Town, but all stay within the ghastly cannibalism theme instead of incorporating a mish-mash of unrelated ideas. This is quite a feat for a new haunt and it definitely allowed us to more fully immerse ourselves in the story.

Overall, Terror Town is a very good haunt. It does not have the precision of some of the more venerable local haunts that we’ll soon review but, in some ways, that is what made our experience visiting this first-year fright spot so memorable. I look forward to many more years experiencing Terror Town’s evolution, as I believe that it will continue to take a creative approach to haunting that will allow it to set itself apart in a city that is quickly becoming a Mecca of all things spooky.

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