Location: 11 E Poplar St, Nanticoke, PA 18634
Web Site: http://www.horrorhall.com
Horror Hall is a tradition, an attraction that has been operating for over twenty years serving a local fire department in the small town of West Nanticoke, PA. Small town haunts have a unique atmosphere to them, one that Horror Hall embraces. Despite its unassuming appearance, Horror Hall boasts incredible set and scene designs. Horror Hall is a throwback to haunted attractions of years past. The “funhouse” style attraction boasts some of the most robust scene and artistic design in any haunted attraction and a fantastic backdrop which can serve as a foundation for future improvements. Horror Hall has endless potential to once again reign at the top of the haunted attraction list in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Horror Hall’s set and scene designs are beyond what many may expect in a local charity haunt. Artistically this is designed to be a dark funhouse, with long passageways and corridors that are lit efficiently to induce a variety of jump/startle scares. Artistically, scenes are on the level of primary haunted attractions and cover a wide array of horror genres. Favorite themes featured in the various scenes include a rather violent prison break, hall of movie monsters, grotesque swamp, the room of “saws,” haunting graveyard, and morgue feature impressive special effects and architectural design which rival any haunted attraction. While many of these scenes have not changed over the past several years, they retain their entertainment value. The classical funhouse style haunt does not have one specific storyline but does not need one to be effective.There is no rhyme or reason Horror Hall’s gravest problems stem from operational mishaps and a lack of modernization which holds the show back from reaching its highest potential.
Professionalism in haunt operation should not be taken lightly, and customers deserve a quality show and pay their hard-earned money to be “entertained.” Larger haunts spend countless hours working with actors and staff to ensure each show is run in an efficient manner, which results in greater value for the customer. Nothing is more than a turnoff when an industry does not respect its product, and Horror Hall can easily achieve excellence if it took steps to improve operations.
Horror Hall can greatly enhance its show if it modernizes its queue-line system. Every single season Horror Hall lines up guests in rows of six or more, regardless of crowd size and forces groups to watch Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” followed by a reading of the “rules.” While this experience has some level of entertainment value, it is an outdated system which hurts the flow of each show. Horror Hall would be best served if it implemented a timed entry system, in which guests enter the attraction in small groups in defined time periods based on the crowd each night. The traditional movies and “Thriller” add to the experience but allowing guests to line up and regularly enter the attraction reduces wait time. Furthermore, improved guest flow through the haunt enhances the performance of each scare actor. Scare actors seemed bored during our visit and lacked the intensity or focus displayed by those who work in nearby haunts.
Scare actor performance is an essential aspect to show quality that needs to stop being ignored. Both larger and smaller attractions are focusing their efforts on the performance side of haunt operations. We understand this is a charity haunt, but it is no excuse for actors taking masks off and laughing, or talking to each other before each scene. Not taking the show seriously, hurts the enjoyment factor, and there are far more refined shows that are operated on smaller scales that take pride in their work. It should not matter who the guests are, or size of the group, each person deserves the best show possible. Haunts should not hide behind the fallacy of being staffed by volunteers or serving charity, as this is a professionally designed attraction that just needs a new direction. Scare acting is an art, and knowing when to go beyond the traditional yelling, and simple three or four lines character lines adds a great deal to the experience. At Horror Hall, the typical scare actor screams “get out,” or “you’re going to die” and generic statements such as these. Enhanced actor training and understanding of how to use their amazing scene and set designs to create genuine scares and improve show quality.
Actor placement and knowledge of how to act out in each scene can turn a lackluster set into performance art. For example; Horror Hall features a unique scene in which guests must navigate a “movie” theater filled with dead bodies. In previous seasons, scare actors were dressed like the props, making it impossible to differentiate between the “living” and the “dead.” On our visit this season, we easily spotted the “actors” as they had simple skull-faced masks and it took away from the sense of surprise associated with this iconic scene. While this may seem trivial, it hurts the show and takes away from any sense of surprise.
Improved line management, stronger scare acting and a reminder that this is a professional entertainment show can reinvigorate Horror Hall for generations to come. Horror Hall despite its missteps is still an enjoyable show, catering to Halloween fans of all ages. We will continue to visit each season and hope that Horror Hall reaches its potential for and continues to be a must visit attraction for seasons to come.