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October 18, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
I’ll admit I was a little afraid to take on this assignment to tour two commercial haunted houses and help you decide where to drop your hard-earned cash. Fear Fest and NecroPlanet offer a chance to face your demons. Believe it or not, I made it through both unscathed and with dry pants. Like Dante or Gloria Gaynor, I survived, and with this handy guide, you can, too.
NecroPlanet is located in an old meatpacking plant. I imagine that the spirits of long-gone hot dogs haunt the halls and that weenies and squealing beef parts have turned the tables on their human counterparts while transmuting themselves into the undead — ready to eat your flesh.
Things started off in The Pit. Pitch-black darkness and floors that drop out from below had my legs shaking. I led the pack, and with hands outstretched, we found our way through this dark-as-night maze as demented-looking actors popped out of holes in the walls around every other corner to surprise and terrify us.
Then we donned 3D glasses and took a psychedelic, clown-filled trip through Chaos in 3D. The walls were splattered with bright paint, and clowns chased us to our narrowly avoided doom.
The last destination, Necropolis, was where most of the production dollars were spent. Containing a disorienting spiral walkway, a mock mental ward, a Texas Chain Saw Massacre-style slaughterhouse and a swamp creature in a haze of fog and lasers, this haunted house has a spooky finish.
Fear Fest, on the outskirts of Columbia, was next. Near the concession stand, a little girl with a butcher knife and a clown with a huge mouth danced overzealously to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”
As frightening as that sounds, serious scares were to be had inside Sarah’s Legend, which tells the tale of a little girl murdered by a mortician and thrown out into the snow to seem as if she had simply frozen to death. Does she haunt the Fear Fest grounds? Undoubtedly. We crawled through tunnels, got attacked by a giant gargoyle and were chased through the cemetery by a man with a chainsaw.
In the next house, SlashMaster’s Asylum, blood stained the walls. One man rambled to himself amidst the chaos and numerous gray-haired women twitched in the corners.
Last up was Zombie Safari Paintball. Riding on the back of a trailer, we took the role of zombie killers and fired paintball guns at the undead creeping toward us from buildings in a fake city. Although this was novel, shooting the lumbering zombies from a distance lacked the claustrophobic feeling and jumps of the other two attractions.
So after enduring the terrors of two haunted houses, what was the difference? At $20, NecroPlanet gives similar frights at a cheaper price, and Fear Fest, at $27, is a more entertaining evening production. At either place, you’re guaranteed tons of shrieks before you can breathe a sigh