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Home / Articles / Entertainment / Arts /  Fear and Laughing
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Tuesday, October 25,2011

Fear and Laughing

Primitive Fear and 13th St Manor pack a one-two punch of haunted goodness

By Francie Swidler
Next up on my Halloween Haunted House Fest: Primitive Fear and 13th Street Manor (just north of the dog track at 5155 E. 64th Avenue, Commerce City, CO 80022).  Same building, different haunted houses.  Well, more like one absolutely horrifying house, and one hilariously awesome manor.  

First Impressions: It looks like I’m walking into the middle of two very different movie sets, both filming inside a haunted gymnasium — where the production crew is made up of a bunch of gruesome looking ladies in white night gowns with fantastic face-paint, creeping all over the entry way.  

Final Verdict:  Ok — so I wasn’t on a movie set — but between the characters the actors played, the costumes they wore, and the very well-designed environments they performed in, I was completely hooked. And by hooked, I mean I was totally petrified in Primitive Fear, and giggly and giddy 13th St. Manor.  

Fear Factor: B (Primitive Fear)

Fun Factor: A (13th St. Manor)

The actual adventure of driving to the building that Primitive Fear and 13th St. Manor are in, is just as scary of an experience as actually walking through the haunted houses themselves. This, while perhaps unintentional, had of course helped to get me in touch with my very own primal and primitive fears of being a young lady, and having to walk alone from a dark parking lot.

Once I did the quick-walk inside, I got my pick of the litter between two haunted houses. On the right, what l thought the be a rickety and abandoned old building, inside a suspicious-looking construction zone, was Primitive Fear. And on the left, a dark and dainty old manor house, full of character and personality, and surrounded by the remains of a bleak plantation, was 13th Street Manor.

I hit up Primitive Fear first, so I could really get into feeling the raw spookiness of what I think a solid haunted house should be. And it was just that — unedited, raw, and primal, your basic human fears, all slapped together into different rooms that forced you to take chances you didn’t feel comfortable with, in order to escape — all while your mind plays endless tricks on you. I remember feeling surprised when I walked out of Primitive Fear with my leggings still actually on my legs — I could have sworn that place had scared the pants right off of me.  

When you first stroll into Primitive Fear, a warm and blinding strobe light welcomes you, with flashes that pound so strong, it almost seems like you’re slow motion stepping through the inside of a migraine headache. You see nothing, you hear nothing, you feel nothing — I had no idea where to go or how to get there. After a good three minutes of cabin fever stuck in the strobe light room, I found an opening and snuck through to the next area, and so on.  But the frightening theme never changed. My ultimate fears of being lost in the dark, having to feel my way through strange spaces without being able to see, and wandering alone in an unknown environment, where unidentifiable and intimidating noises are constantly slapping me in the face was absolutely terrifying. While scary strangers like bloody brides often popped out of what seemed like alleyways and dark corners, the scariest part of Primitive Fear weren’t the spooky actors with the artistic makeup — it was the way the very subtle and anonymous environment produced an extremely controlling, and real sense of fear.  Fear at it’s best, and most basic level — where you’re lost, you can’t find your way out, you don’t know how to get home, you can’t see what’s in front of you, and you don’t know how to escape — or even worse, what you’re escaping from.  

I was hoping to be chased out of Primitive Fear by a chainsaw — but to be honest — I probably would have started crying, since I’d have no idea where the chainsaw sound would even be coming from.  But I easily got over this disappointment as I walked towards 13th Street Manor. I could not wait to get my scared little leggings into what I totally believed to be an old and morbid abandoned estate, that looked totally bitchin’ from the outside.  Cracked wooden gates protected mourning and deceased plants, and a very jolly Master of Ceremonies gave a grand little spiel before leading me into the foyer of this once marvelous manor house.  

I was greeted by a Lydia-from-Beetlejuice look-a-like, pinging chilling notes on severed piano. With her head tilted uncomfortably to the side, and she revealed that she had been waiting for us to not only come to the house, but to join her family.  I was thrilled. This Addams-like family and house seemed like a freaking awesome one to join. As I walked through their property, and met the cast of the kin, I noticed that every detail, in every single wing of the house had been accounted for. From the dusty old books and oil lamps library, to the ratty quilts and old picture frames in the orphanage style bedroom upstairs, to the dirty pots and pans that had piled up all over the creepy kitchen counters. There was even a slanted living room with tilted and topsy furniture, and a cold and blood-spattered slaughterhouse clad hanging carcasses of epic proportions.

In each room, a strange (and dead) family member had a scary little bit to tell us as we walked through — my favorite by far, being the crazy uncle hiding in the bathroom, who was frantically digging through the toilet, looking for the most perfect piece of doo-doo to proudly show off to his house-guests. “Hey big balls!” He’d obnoxiously boast to my tattooed friend on the tour, “Look what I found!  Touch it!  Hold it!”  

The last stop on the tour of 13th St. Manor was in the garage, where a hickish little Bobby Sue told me she’d been playing hide-and-go-seek with her brother, but he got lost. She suggested I help look for him and I complied. He of course ended up finding me, and (hooray!) chased me out with a chainsaw. Nothing like a good old-fashioned chainsaw chasing to really drop that cherry on top for me.  

Both Primitive Fear and 13th St. Manor are an absolute do not miss this Halloween season — unless of course, you hate visiting dead, dysfunctional families, or the idea that you might actually wet your pants with fear.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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