Under the light of the harvest moon, thousands of individuals gathered at the South Florida Fairgrounds in search of fear, fun, and even some yummy food. Friday, October 6 marked the opening night of the Sweet 16 celebration of Fright Nights, which transforms the Agriplex and surrounding area into four haunted mazes, three scarezones, and a manic midway that provides a glimpse of what the South Florida Fair will bring in January.
Palm Beach Happening was once again honored to be able to attend this celebration of the macabre, and we are pleased to bring you our thoughts on this years event.
With the ever-expanding haunt universe in South Florida, and the Palm Beaches in particular, the bar continues to rise in terms of scare quality and technological advancements. With smaller haunts, such as Enigma Haunt in Boca Raton, nipping at their heels, Fright Nights continues to up their game. The quality remains high, and the reintroduction of the scarezones helped to up the fear factor once more.
Below, each haunt is rated based on its level of theming, and general scare factor. The ranking is based on a scale of 1-10.
Haunts (descriptions courtesy of MyFrightNights.com)
- Occultus- Concerned whispers rapidly transform to fervent screams of accusation as hysteria engulfs a town crumbling under the threat of witchcraft. Friends, neighbors, family members – no one is safe from persecution. Each night brings a new trial followed immediately by an execution, a death which fails to quell the insatiable lust for answers among the townsfolk. Leaving your hundredth trial, you trudge the dimly lit cobblestone streets when you are suddenly flanked by members of the occult and presented with a proposition: protection for defection.
Theming: 9We went into this haunt with high hopes, as our interview with the attraction’s icon, Massara, gave us the impression we’d be terrified. However, this haunt seemed to have something missing. Many of the halls were void of actors, which made for a disjointed experience. The set design is amazing, and make-up fantastic. However, the staffing needs to be upped a bit. It could be just a first night issue, and we hope it improves tonight and throughout the run.
Scare Factor: 7.5
- Metamorphisis- During the late 19th century while the industrial revolution was in full swing, many electrical and medical advances were taking place. At the forefront of this new alchemy was Dr. Victor Frankenstein. As Victor thought of himself as the modern Prometheus he would stop at nothing to achieve the forbidden dark art of raising the dead. The paradox of life and death consumed the doctor and his works reflected this, as he scoured the local cemeteries for fresh cadavers. While his impatience grew to find the perfect specimen, the Dr. became more bold and would scout the local taverns and social events hoping to find the perfect individual or… part of one to further his dark obsession. The end result of the good doctors ambitions turned out to be more sinister than anyone could have imagined.
Theming: 9Who doesn’t love Frankenstein? This is story of the ages, and the interpretation for Fright Nights does not disappoint. The scares are not as intense in here as in other houses, especially if you are a fan of the genre, but the scenery and makeup make the house. Victor and his monster await you!
Scare Factor: 8
- Shutter- Many people fantasize of making it big: like being a big star in a glitzy motion picture or a model in a glamour magazine… it is, after all, the stuff dreams are made of. But when a sadistic serial killer lures people into his gruesome lair with promises of wealth and fame – those dreams become a horrific nightmare.Are you ready for your close up?
Theming: 9.5Every amateur photographer will fall in love with this house, and the idea behind it. The lure of the camera and the idea that it brings out the beauty from within is a story that is nearly two centuries old, and when you realize that this house also tries to bring the inner beauty out by exposing flesh and entrails to the lens, you’ll find yourself either sickened, intrigued, or both. Just remember to keep smiling!
Scare Factor: 8.5
- The Cuckoo’s Nest – Waking up in a daze being dragged down a dimly lit hallway. ‘What’s going on?’ Head pounding with no relief. My ankles released by fiercely strong hands. A loud metal door slams shut behind my disheveled body. I open my swollen eyes to look around, all I see is darkness with no glimmer of hope. My arms are strapped around my beaten torso, unable to be freed. Suddenly, I am propped up by a strange man onto a flimsy wooden chair. I struggle to release my arms to no avail. A spotlight blasts my face. A stern woman stares down at some scattered documents in front of her, she hisses “Misfit?” I lift my head. “Welcome to Scharnhorst Mental Asylum,” she smirks. “You will be admitted within the hour for the murder of 3 people. Do you have anything to say for yourself?” A grin widened across my face. I let out a half laugh as I answered, “Nah!” I took a breath and happily replied, “by the time I’m running this joint,” I paused, looked around the room, widened my smile and continued “it’ll be the Cuckoo’s Nest!”
Theming: 9.5 Scare Factor: 9This was, by far, our favorite house of the night. The actors inside were intense, the storyline cohesive, and the sets were over the top. Be warned, however. If you go through this house too many times, you might just become a permanent resident!
After spending time getting scared, you’re bound to be hungry and thirsty. Thankfully, Fright Nights has you covered. There are several bars set up to take care of your need for adult refreshment, for they say the best way to see the spirits is to imbibe them! You’ll also find amazing desserts, such as the shaved ice from Bahama Bucks, as well as the fresh made nitrogen frozen ice cream. If you’re feeling more savory, you might like some yummy Mexican specialties, an Italian sausage, French fries, or any one of a number of tasty treats.
For those of you who’d like to try to gain admittance to the event without having to empty your pocketbook, you’re in luck! Click here to find out how to win a family four pack of tickets to take in the haunt yourself!
For more information on Fright Nights Sweet 16, the event, which opens Fri., Oct. 6, and continues every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Oct. 28., visit the event’s website, www.myfrightnights.com, or follow the event on Facebook, www.facebook.com/
Palm Beach Happening looks forward to bringing you highlights from many of the spookiest spots in South Florida. On the eighth, we voyage across the state to attend Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa. On October 14, we will be checking out X-Scream Halloween at G-Star. We might also be heading up to the Orlando area to experience the Shallow Grave! If we survive, we’ll let you know all the gory details!
Remember that Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity. It is a time to come out of your shell, and to acknowledge the mischievous spirit that resides within all of us. Be sure to keep following this column for news on other spooky events and more. If you know of another local event that needs additional undead light shone upon it, please let us know!