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'Horrors' of 1980s New York on Display at Haunted House

By Lisha Arino | September 23, 2014 3:48pm
 Nightmare: New York, a haunted house opening in the Lower East Side this week, will include a walk through a graffiti-covered subway car during from the 1980s.
Nightmare: New York, a haunted house opening in the Lower East Side this week, will include a walk through a graffiti-covered subway car during from the 1980s.
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LOWER EAST SIDE — A new haunted house aims to take visitors on a walk through the city's bad old days.

Nightmare: New York, a haunted house opening Friday in the Lower East Side, will explore the darker side of the city’s history and mythology — including a walk through the crime-ridden subway of the 1980s.

The spooky trip back in time includes a ride on a graffiti-covered subway car with "criminals rambling around” and an encounter with the “mole people” who live underground.

"They can experience the horrors of that era in a sick way," said co-director John Harlacher.

The attraction’s horrors also include a “demented rat section” that includes a “rat king” — a ball of rodents stuck together by blood and bodily fluids — as well as the paranormal ghosts of the Dakota, a co-op located on 72nd Street and Central Park West, said Harlacher. 

“[New York City] has some of the richest and most bizarre and terrifying mythology of anywhere in the world and that’s what we’re trying to bring out and show,” he said.

The haunted house on Suffolk Street will feature 13 different areas, each covering a specific NYC horror story or urban legend, said Harlacher, who grew up in Brooklyn but now lives in Harlem.

Other scares include a visit to Melrose Hall in Brooklyn, which was built in the 1730s and sold to a British colonel who allegedly tortured colonists in his basement and imprisoned an Iroquois girl in a secret room.

"Nightmare," now in its 11th season, takes a theatrical approach to its scares and aims to create scenes that stick with visitors long after they leave the house, Harlacher said.

“It’s this chilling sort of imagery as opposed to someone jumping out at you from the corner,” he said.

"Nightmare: New York" will admit groups of six to 10 people at a time, according to its website. Going through the entire attraction should take about 20 to 25 minutes, Harlacher said.

Those looking for an especially frightening time can also mark their forehead with the letter X. The mark lets the house’s 38 actors know that person is up for slightly scarier experience.

“I always recommend the ‘X,’” Harlacher said. “You can be touched, you can be moved, you can be separated from the group. You might be chosen to do things.”

Either way, he said, "Nightmare" will offer a fun and frightening time for participants.

“I think the house this year is going be very aggressive, very shocking and will also make you see the city in a different way,” Harlacher said.

"Nightmare: New York" opens Sept. 26 and will run through Nov. 1 at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St. Tickets range from $20 to $60 and are on sale now.