HALLOWEEN YOU GUYS!!!! October is the best time of the year. It is not up for debate. Halloween stores open, people decorate their houses with ghouls and guts, cable channels run horror marathons, and I can finally eat Boo Berry for breakfast. If you live in Austin there is something even cooler to celebrate, it’s time for House of Torment! We at Blood Over Texas had the privilege of getting to attend a press night at House of Torment at their brand spanking new location and were blown away. House of Torment is one of the premiere haunts in the world, and was just ranked number one by Haunt World Magazine, Haunted and featured on Discovery/Travel, HuffPro and Buzzfeed. Not bad for a haunted house that started in a garage. Creators and Austinites, Jon Austin Love and Daniel McCullough, have come a long way (since 2003) to arrive at this new 40,000 sq. ft. location — that’s double the indoor space of the previous spot. Not far from the original Highland Mall location, the new House of Torment is located at 2632 Ridgepoint Drive in Austin (near the intersection of 183 and 290). HOT is officially bigger and better than ever.

Everything is under control in the control room

Everything is under control in the control room

While we were attending press night, we got a behind-the-scenes tour by HOT General Manager, Glenn Lenard. The glimpse behind the scenes was one of the coolest things I have ever done. The work that the crew has put in on this new location is incredible, and it really shows in the quality of the experience. House of Torment is three separate haunts, each with it’s own theme and feel. There is Dawn of Evil, wherein you must navigate a zombie infested derelict hospital. It makes you feel like you’re in an episode of The Walking Dead. Frenzy is a nightmarish experience, featuring huge creatures, evil clowns and my favorite gag, the Laser Swamp. It really is an amazing effect, and getting to see how they pull it off was one of my favorite parts of the tour. Finally there is Graveside Manor, which is kind of like if Disney’s Haunted Mansion were smashed together with Evil Dead 2 and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I kind of just wanted to move in.

Us posing with Taylor.. and a random psycho nurse

Us posing with Taylor.. and a very nice psycho nurse

The painstaking detail of each set is truly incredible, from the distressed wallpaper in Graveside Manor to the flickering light effects on X-Ray trays in Dawn of Evil. Each room in each set is beautifully rendered, but what really brings everything to terrifying life are the actors. Blood Over Texas long time friend and accomplice Taylor Haggard is one of the make-up artists at House of Torment, and she let us have a peak into the costume rooms and the make-up process. While walking through we also had a rare spotting of our other fiendish friend, Michael Faust, haunting around in the costume room and wranglin’ creatures. You know Michael Faust — he’s one of the bad-asses that competed on SyFy’s FaceOff. Yeah. That’s how HOT roles. Great talent is key. Seeing just a small sample of what goes into creating just one of the creatures that inhabit these worlds gave me a whole new level of respect for the time and dedication that at House of Torment puts in to create a truly fantastic experience.

Shelly makin' friends

Shelly makin’ friends

In addition to the haunts themselves, House of Torment does their best to make even the experience of waiting in line fun and terrifying. There are zombie nurse dancers, elaborate horror “icons” prowling the lines, and even a food truck in case you’d like to fill your belly with something other than anxiety and horror. From the moment you enter the grounds to the moment you leave, House of Torment envelopes you in their world.

House of Torment’s new location also contains a separate attraction: Mindspark Adventure Games (a.k.a. Great Room Escape). Mindspark is an extension of House of Torment, featuring four different “escape the room” challenges. Mindspark’s general manager Alex Burgraff was on hand to give us the details. If you — like a few of us were — unfamiliar with an escape the room game, it is ostensibly a series of complicated puzzles and challenges that your group must complete in order to eventually unlock the door to escape the room, naturally. Mindspark has, as I mentioned, four separate games for your team to tackle. There is Zombie, wherein you are trapped in a room with a chained Zombie and a mysterious butler, and you are given one hour to solve the puzzles and escape, but every 10 minutes the Zombie’s chain gets longer, and if you are tagged, you become temporarily dead and have to take a time out. Bad player! Terminal is another game which takes place in a “moving” subway car, where you and your team have an hour to solve a series of puzzles to uncover the conspiracy and escape with your lives. The third game is Houdini, wherein you are trying to assist Houdini’s widow in making contact with her husband’s spirit. Finally there is a virtual reality experience, which you have to solve alone. You are trapped in the most haunted room of Geist Manor, and you must solve puzzles and find clues to escape, but you only have 10 minutes to do so. A complete virtual experience and one of the few of its kind in the entire world that uses this burgeoning technology.

Where the zombie lives

Where the zombie lives

The Blood Over Texas team took on the Zombie escape room, and with only a scant 4 players, we managed to escape with 6 minutes to spare! I may have gamed the game, though, because evidently my ingenuity broke one of the puzzles. I didn’t smash anything, so get that out of your head. I am just entirely too clever to be trapped by mere mortals. Or eaten by Zombies, I guess. We all had such a great time with the game, and I can say without hyperbole that this was the most exciting and amazing experience that has ever or will occur in the history of the entire universe from Big Bang to the eventual fade out of all physical existence.

Mindspark does require a bit of planning, as you have to get your team together and book the room in advance, but trust me, it is worth it in every sense of the term. And even better news is that Mindspark is available year round. It isn’t just a Halloween season attraction, you can book whenever you like. And I invite you to try, JUST TRY and beat the Blood Over Texas team and break out of the Zombie room with 6 minutes to spare. You won’t. And if you think you can COME AT ME IN THE COMMENTS!

This guy

This guy

We all had an incredible time with House of Torment, and we really hope you all get your horror loving butts to one of the many things that makes everyone want to live in our town. What’s the point of living here if you don’t take advantage? Do yourself a favor and book a game at Mindspark as well, you will not be disappointed.

The current HOT haunts, as described, are open through the rest of October and the 1st weekend of November. After that, HOT is putting on their special Black Out event and an upcoming TBA xmas holiday event. HOT is open though out the year with various special events so check their SITE for more info and LIKE ’em on FB. Sign up for an escape room at Mindspark on their SITE and LIKE ’em too.

JUST ANNOUNCED! We are giving away HOT tickets at our upcoming events! You can win tix to HOT in our Walking Dead Premiere Party‘s Zombie Costume Contest and at Helloween: Dance Of The Dead‘s Costume Contest. TWD is this Sunday the 23rd at North Door and Helloween is next Friday the 28th at Elysium. Get more info on these events, right here on OUR EVENTS page and our FB EVENTS page. Keep Things Bloody, Austin!

— Eric Harrelson 


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