Anxiety often rises the closer you get to the front of the line of a haunted house.
What terrors await you in the shadows?
Whether people are looking for lighter, family-friendly frights or a full-out scare fest, there are plenty of haunted attractions around town to accommodate all ages.
“Just because you’re 40 doesn’t mean haunted houses aren’t for you,” says JT Mollner, whose family owns Freakling Bros. Trilogy of Terror.
Coming back for its 12th season, Fright Dome at Circus Circus pays tribute to the 40th anniversary of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
In past years, Fright Dome founder Jason Egan has worked with film studios to secure the rights to movies such as “Saw,” “Halloween,” “My Bloody Valentine” and “The Collector.”
“But nothing is more scary than Leatherface,” Egan says, referring to the masked chain saw-wielding villain from the movie series who is expected to be lurking throughout the venue.
There will also be other themed houses to go along with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” haunted house.
“We had to bring back the clown-themed house since it’s Circus Circus,” Egan says.
For his other houses, Egan takes inspiration from trends in the horror industry.
“I sound pretty calm, but I have a pretty twisted mind,” Egan says with a slightly maniacal laugh. “It’s fun to come up with stuff. We listen to our customers and try to get lots of feedback each season.”
Egan says along with its six haunted houses, there will be four scare zones — areas in which performers walk around — plus entertainment and access to the other amenities of the Adventuredome theme park.
“It is a night of terror,” Egan says. “This isn’t just some trailer in the parking lot of Smith’s. It’s not like some other attractions where you spend 20 bucks and are done in two minutes. We have so much, you might not make it to all the attractions.”
One of the additions from the feedback is the Isolation Haunted House, in which people go through one at a time.
Last year, the attraction was themed from the movie “The Collector.”
This year, Egan is excited because he feels he has more opportunity to use his twisted imagination.
“I loved the theme last year,” he says. “But I had to stay true to the movie so couldn’t use some ideas I had. You can’t put a giant guy in a diaper holding disgusting things in his hands because it’s not in the movie.”
Egan also is adding an adults-only day.
“We have gotten this feedback for years and years,” he says. “So Nov. 1, we will host an 18-and-over day where people can wear their costumes.”
Costumes are normally prohibited at Fright Dome.
Fright Dome opens Friday at Circus Circus, 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Tickets start at $39.95.
Another returning haunted attraction is the Freakling Bros. Trilogy of Terror.
Mollner’s family has been putting together the attraction since 1992.
“My dad started this in our backyard in 1977,” he says. “But we opened it up commercially in ’92. While we contract out to put together the actual houses now, it is still family owned and operated.”
A few years ago, looking to reinvigorate the haunted house experience, the family added the Gates of Hell attraction as an R-rated house.
“It was a big gamble,” he says.
But people seem to want it. Mollner says last year was one of the best years yet.
“It’s not R-rated because it’s sexually perverse,” he adds. “It’s just because it’s more realistic. You have death by firing squad, suicide or the electric chair.”
Besides the Gates of Hell, there are two other houses that are more fantasy horror.
“Our demographic has since shifted from 12 to 22 to 18 to 40 years old,” he says.
Last year, answering people’s requests for a more chilling experience, Freakling Bros. added “The Victim Experience,” in which participants can be kidnapped, grabbed and tortured.
“It’s not for the faint at heart,” he says. “We have people who can’t make it all the way through. We also have a few of the participants last year who are returning.”
Rules for this experience include being 18 or older, and participants must be prepared for psychological, emotional and sensory tortures and be willing to experience physical and verbal abuse or simulated criminal sexual behavior.
“This is for the thrill seeker looking for a different experience,” he says. “We only have a 30 percent success rate.”
The safe word for a person to opt out during the experience: “purgatory.”
Participants must also accept this is a zero resistance simulation in which participants can’t fight back.
It is limited to only five people per night.
Trilogy of Terror opens Friday at 4245 S. Grand Canyon Drive. The Circus of Horrors and Castle Vampyre are $12 each; the R-rated Gates of Hell is $15. Admission to all three attractions is $30.
Throughout October, Bonnie Springs Ranch will be transformed to Bonnie Screams offering four haunted houses along with nightly performances from magician Dixie Dooley Master Mystifier.
The attraction starts at the dark, creepy train platform and includes a ride through the desert to the ghost town where there may be something hiding in the bushes along the way.
Bonnie Screams opens Oct. 7. The ranch is about 25 miles from downtown Las Vegas via West Charleston Boulevard and state Route 159. Tickets are $25.
There is a new haunted attraction coming this year, too.
Jacob Bailey is trying to use his idea of a haunted house as a fundraiser with The Undead Maze in the parking lot of Southern Hills Hospital, 9300 W. Sunset Road.
Bailey says proceeds from the attraction, which was put on out of pocket and run with volunteers, are expected to go to Shade Tree shelter and The Public Education Foundation.
In addition to the house the attraction features a hay ride and concessions.
Creating a horror experience has been fun, but more complicated than expected, Bailey says.
“It’s been a staggering amount of work that started eight months ago,” he says.
The Undead Maze opens Friday. It costs $9 for adults and $7 for children 9 and younger.
People looking for attractions of a family-friendly nature can find a Halloween experience.
The Haunted Harvest at the Springs Preserve features a haunted hay maze, trick-or-treat stations, carnival games and a petting zoo.
The event runs Oct. 10-12, 17-19 and 24-26 at 333 S. Valley View Blvd. Tickets are $6. (General admission to the Springs Preserve is $9.95 for Nevada residents, $8.95 for seniors, students, teachers and military, and $4.95 for children ages 5 to 17; nonresident admission is $18.95, $17.05 for seniors, students, teachers and military, and $10.95 for children ages 5 to 17.)
Opportunity Village is putting on Halloveen at the Magical Forest, 6300 W. Oakey Blvd.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the month, people can experience many spooky attractions such as the Forest Express Ghost Train and the enchanted carousel.
There are also nightly parades, crafts and movies. General admission is $11 for adults and $9 for children ages 3 to 12. Children 2 and younger are admitted free. Ride tickets are sold separately or as part of a package.
From Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, will bring back its haunted Shark Reef, which features Halloween decorations and music throughout the tour.
On Halloween, children 12 and younger in costume will get in free.
Contact reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201. Follow @mjlyle on Twitter.