Horror Hall, (West Nanticoke, PA) in many ways, has not changed in close to a century; it’s familiar, it’s old-school in its design, and a welcome throwback to the funhouse style haunts of yesteryear! A gem of a haunted attraction, Horror Hall has established a legacy of terror that we hope lasts for generations to come! Despite facing the challenges of COVID-19, which has resulted in fewer actors, expanded sanitation, and slightly longer wait time, Horror Hall has distinct energy, is always fun, and features a surprisingly impressive level of creativity/detail in scene design, use of sound/music, and moments that still leave us breathless after all these years. Horror Hall features a host of genuinely detailed set designs, a lengthy attraction, and some minor changes/modernizations (new scenes, acting changes) that can be one of the scariest and fun in the area for generations to come. It cannot be understated that the “design” of this funhouse of fear style attraction is a welcome throwback to the “boardwalk” style haunts of yesteryear and any haunt fan would appreciate the experience.
From a structural standpoint, the attraction is more potent than many mainstream haunted attractions. It has rather impressive scenes, including an expansion of a “Choose your Fate” concept that leads to a funhouse straight out of “Stephen King’s IT!” a potential dark maze, and even a mini “escape room”. The lengthy maze-like corridors, build anticipation in between scenes, and iconic soundtracks sometimes featuring metal music and other times chilling horror background sounds spur constant paranoia and action! Periods of darkness, loud sound effects, and tight spaces are the perfect setting to create scares. Character actors are also well hidden along these paths, and while they don’t go beyond the general scream or yell, some do-follow and chase after guests. As mentioned previously, there is a reduction in actors due to the pandemic. However, this actually makes the show more engaging as the scenes, sounds, and vintage funhouse tricks allow for exploration and more appreciation for the design of this longstanding attraction.
When one visits a haunted house, positive energy can be felt. While the actors themselves are not entirely theatrical and, most resort to baseline startle scares, they did their best to interact with each guest, and ensure that groups were separated, avoiding backed-up lines and enjoying the entire show maintaining “social distancing.” From a structural and design viewpoint, Horror Hall is perhaps best described as a classical boardwalk funhouse with long halls of dark periods where guests feel like they’re in dungeons and effective use of lighting to augment jump scares. Lasting over twenty minutes, most of the scenes featured are unique, some very familiar, but tradition sometimes enhances entertainment value. Some of the scenes could use some repairs and modern upgrades, but by and large, the classic designs effectively embrace the diverse themes associated with the season.
Those who visit yearly may know the attraction by heart, which does not hinder its quality and vintage feel. The set designs and scenes are some of the best you will see in mainstream or non-mainstream haunts, feature impressive details and creativity that adds to the “fun” atmosphere generated by this haunt. Scenes such as the iconic “Hall of Fame” of horror icons, a creepy “swamp thing scene,” disturbingly real morgue, a jail break-out scene, an eerie graveyard featuring an impressive animatronic busting out of a tomb, and a psychedelic carnival, werewolf/sacrifice scene at the finale are unique, unlike anything you will see in larger haunted attractions.
Horror Hall is a legendary attraction in Northeast Pennsylvania, and wait times can be lengthy due to popularity and changes associated with the pandemic. While waiting, we watched the familiar pre-show entertainment featuring Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and provide the rules separated in a large lobby area. The attraction escorts guests into the attraction in small groups as guests are guided by flashlight upstairs into the main haunt, a staircase featuring psychedelic artwork augmented by “black light effects” building anticipation for one’s entry into the actual attraction.
Horror Hall is designed in a maze-like manner, featuring dark corridors filled with various scare actors who engage in various startle/drop scares. Each passage is unclear, utilizes lighting effects and fog to distract guests. Auditory and visual distractions allow actors to generate “jump” scares, and a few more monsters would make the experience even more fulfilling. The set designs found at Horror Hall are classic; we love several of the classic scenes such as “Swamp Thing,” “Choose Your Fate( which features multiple interactive rooms and surprises),” “Prison Breakout,” and a realistic morgue scene.
In many respects, the attraction was ahead of its time, as many haunts are beginning to incorporate interactive scenes. Horror Hall was one of the first to do so, with collapsing rooms, bridges, and the infamous room of “saws” (which sadly was not totally functioning on our visit, but we could hear the sound of cutting). Horror Hall’s use of theatrical fog, shockingly incredible soundtrack, and blinding lights effectively disorientate guests as they make their way through a complicated, lengthy maze allowing for jump and startle scares. So many scenes are unique to this attraction (not found in larger haunts); they have become iconic, the “hall of saws,” heavy metal-inspired “hit by a truck,” scene and the already mentioned visit to a “Hall of Fame” for classic horror villains are yearly favorites. We applaud Horror Hall to construct and maintain an old-school funhouse style haunt that can continue to buck industry trends and present an enjoyable show that is one of the last of its kind.
An iconic, old-school funhouse of fun and horror, Horror Hall is a legendary regional attraction that haunt and horror fans across the country would appreciate. A throwback to an era of haunting that focuses on surprise, fun, and fear the commitment to quality and entertainment provided by the volunteer staff of this attraction is evident and we hope Horror Hall continues its legacy of terror for generations to come!