Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

October 22, 2014 at 12:00pm

Halloween in the Dark: Review of Hell's Gateway haunted house in Tacoma

Nicky Martin, Scary Guy and Rev. Adam McKinney stand outside Hell's Gateway haunted house in downtown Tacoma.

Recommend Blog Post
Total Recommendations (0)

I remember when I first actually understood the chicken crossing the road joke. It was maybe a year ago when I realized that that most seemingly innocuous, almost anti-humor joke was actually incredibly profound. Yes, the joke that most people learn just after they've gained the ability to speak, has been secretly about death this entire time. The chicken never intended to reach of other side of the road; being a smart, suicidal chicken, he knew the odds were good that a car would come along and he'd finally get to "the other side."

You're welcome for ruining your childhood.

Last Friday, at 25 years old, I found myself standing in a muddy parking lot outside of a downtown Tacoma warehouse and asking myself, "Why did the chicken go to the haunted house?" I assure you, it's not because I secretly do enjoy the thrill of being scared. As a self-identified wuss, I have no problem admitting to you that not only have I not seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but that even seeing the trailer literally gave me nightmares. Showering in an empty house gives me enough creeps to last me the whole year, thank you very much. I do not like being scared.

And yet, I had agreed to put myself through the ringer and go to Hell's Gateway, a haunted house in its third year of existence. Accompanied by my friend (who warned me that she might accidentally punch one of the ghouls at Hell's Gateway, more out of reflex than anything else), we had come to this haunted house for the explicit purpose of torturing myself for the sake of this damn paper.

I've never been to a proper haunted house, let alone the monstrous attractions that haunted houses have slowly evolved into, as independent effects wizards got into the game. Hell's Gateway has three experiences you can be a part of: the standard haunted house, Dark Nightmare (which thrusts you into pitch blackness with only a glow stick to lead your way) and Real Fear (their most extreme option, complete with a safe word and instructions to wear clothes you wouldn't mind throwing away).

I'd like to preface my experience that of course I wanted to get in the extreme, blood-splattered, hogtied, safe-word-required extreme version for the sake of this story. Of course I did. I would've hated it, but I did try and experience Real Fear. Unfortunately, those require reservations, and I just couldn't get in in time. What I did do was the pitch black Dark Nightmare. Along with this tour of horrors, you are given the option of purchasing one of two special glow sticks: one that will let the haunted house actors know to leave you alone, and one that will tell them to get in your face. I went with the latter.

What Dark Nightmare turns out to be is a timed race through the warehouse, wherein you must find clues and check them off on your card, which occupies your only hand not holding a glow stick, leaving you incapable of swatting away demons and maniacs with chainsaws. Because I let the actors know that fucking with me was on the menu, I was immediately and frequently bombarded with terrifying people blocking my path and even throwing my glow stick away, leaving me to depend on my friend who couldn't help but laugh at my misfortune.

Throughout the byzantine halls of the evocatively disheveled warehouse, I found myself murmuring completely nerdy pleas to the effect of, "Please, sir, pardon me. Sorry, excuse me. You are very scary." Even besides the edict that a customer is not allowed to touch an actor, I think I fairly well represented how I might realistically react to an oncoming horror movie monster.

Once outside in the blessedly open spaces of the parking lot, I was able to regain my composure and reflect on my experience. Was it fun? To my chicken brain, it resembled something in the order getting caught as a minor in possession and escaping the cops: exhilarating, glad to be in the clear, but not eager to revisit the experience. If I had gotten in for Real Fear, I suspect I might be writing this from the cardiac ward of Tacoma General.

For anyone who's been to Hell's Gateway and thinks I'm being a baby, you're right. Congrats. Now let me celebrate Halloween the only way I know how: watching that episode of Boy Meets World where they parody Scream.

HELL'S GATEWAY, starting times at hellsgateway.com, through Nov. 1, 2302 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $15-$50, 206.743.5620

Filed under: Holidays, Tacoma,
comments powered by Disqus

About this blog

News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

Recent Comments

Walkie Talkies said:

Thanks for posting! But I want say that Walkie Talkies are really required while organizing fun...

about COMMENT OF THE DAY: "low brow’s" identity revealed?

Humayun Kabir said:

Really nice album. I have already purchased Vedder's Album. Listening to the song of this album,...

about Eddie Vedder’s "Ukulele Songs" available today - and I don’t hold a candle to that shit

AndrewPehrson said:

Your post contains very beneficial content. Kindly keep sharing such post.

about Vote for Tacoman Larry Huffines on HGTV!

Shimul Kabir said:

Vedder's album is really nice. I have heard attentively

about Eddie Vedder’s "Ukulele Songs" available today - and I don’t hold a candle to that shit

marble exporters in India said:

amazing information for getting the new ideas thanks for sharing a post

about 5 Things To Do Today: Art Chantry, DIY home improvement, "A Shot In The Dark" ...