by: JK Clarke
Traditionally, haunted houses have been the stuff of the macabre and overly fantastic: ghosts, witches with giant cauldrons full of slimy things, skeletons and things that jump out at you. But now in a world with daily, detailed reports of serial killers and psychopaths who commit unspeakable and unbelievable acts on people, it seems that the real has superseded the supernatural. So instead of ghosts and goblins, why not stock a haunted house with plausible horrors instead? That seems to be the thinking of Timothy Haskell, creator of Nightmare: Killers2 (the “2” representing the second year of the production) now featured at the Clement Soto Velez Cultural Center on the Lower East Side.
Nightmare: Killers2 is a tour through horrific murder scenes that are standouts in contemporary culture: clown-costumed John Wayne Gacy’s living room where he seduced and murdered young boys; Richard Ramirez climbing through a suburban window to terrorize a young woman in bed; H. H. Holmes committing surgical atrocities on a moaning young woman strapped to a gurney. These are all unimaginable scenes that we get to walk through and are threatened with becoming part of.
Justin Haskell’s art design and Sarah Swafford’s costume design are as authentic feeling as we need or want them to be. The only question that really remains is whether we really want to be involved at all. We tend to think of haunted houses as intended for teens or young adults, and Nightmare:Killers2 follows suit. The younger folks in attendance were excited as they were shepherded through (groups of four or five are led into a darkened room to begin the experience; those wishing a more hands-on experience ask for a painted “X” on their foreheads) and screams of excited terror and peals of shrieking laughter can be heard throughout the set. But one has to wonder whether something this reality-based would not cause the younger ones (some as young as twelve years old, or perhaps younger) actual nights of debilitating nightmares (they should).
Nightmares: Killers2 is a great hour of fun for those intrigued and thrilled by horror. If one isn’t so inclined, it’s definitely one to skip.
Nightmare: Killers2. Through November 2 at at the Clement Soto Velez Cultural Center (107 Suffolk Street, NYC).www.hauntedhousenyc.com
Photos: Jeff Eason