Your Fear: Intimacy
Face It At: Blackout Haunted House
115 West 27th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; Through 11/4; $50
You’ll walk through the darkness alone, wear a protective mask, and do exactly as the actors—who are often naked, sweaty, and violent—tell you. It’ll be difficult to get through this torturous theater if you’re not a fan of being touched, because nothing is off limits: They will grab, fondle, shove, and, possibly, ask you for a dance. And all you can do is scream (or use the safety word, which gets you out immediately). Make it through this one and you may discover a love for S&M you never knew you had.
Your Fear: Hospitals
Face It At: Then She Fell
Arts@Renaissance; 2 Kingsland Ave., at Maspeth Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn; Through 11/18; $45–$85
This immersive theatrical experience inspired by Lewis Carroll and his rumored obsession with Alice Liddell (his muse for Alice in Wonderland), immediately ups the chill factor with its location: an abandoned hospital in Greenpoint. You’ll wander through dreamlike scenarios filled with choreographed actors, but don’t worry: You won’t fall down any rabbit holes. You will be asked to do a little, including drink “elixers” made by sommelier Sarah Sutel. Which means: booze, you guys. Nothing scary about that.
Your Fear: Presidential Ghosts
Face It At: Creep Show at the Freak Show
Coney Island USA; 1208 Surf Ave., at W. 12th St., Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-372-5159; Through 10/31; $10
Part of Coney Island’s charm is that it’s sinister, so it’s already ahead when it comes to rattling nerves. In this ominous house—set in a landmark building for above-average creakiness—you’ll be exposed to history in the form of dead presidents, and not the good kind. Expect a shooting-gallery reenactment of the Kennedy assassination and zombies eating Richard Nixon’s brain. For extra thrills, dare yourself to ride the Cyclone after.
Your Fear: Serial Killers
Face It At: Nightmare: Killers
Clemente Soto Velez; 107 Suffolk St., nr. Rivington St.; 212-352-3101; through 11/3; $35–$60
It’s hard to argue with a fear of serial killers. They kill people! Serially! The most you can do is cross your fingers and hope they aren’t attracted to the cut of your jib. Here, you’ll explore the psyche of a few well-known offenders, including Jeffrey Dahmer, the Zodiac Killer, and John Wayne Gacy. Attendees are led through in groups and can volunteer to “assist” the killers along the way (by pulling levers or climbing through trap doors, for example). Note: Assistants are marked by a painted X on the forehead, so best not to wear makeup if you want to get in on the action.
Your Fear: Goths
Face It At: Times Scare
669 Eighth Ave., nr. 42nd St.; 212-586-7829; year-round; $27
Since opening last year, this year-round three-story mansion of the macabre has flown under the radar for some, but become a favorite haunt of others, i.e. goths. And why wouldn’t it attract a spooky subculture? Not only does this place have a high-end and highly frightening haunted house, but also a morgue-themed restaurant called the Crypt Café, a candelabra-lit bar serving up potent absinthe-laced cocktails, and a theater hosting campy illusionists and a Silence of the Lambs parody musical, among other shows. Also, if you’re lucky, when you grab a bite to eat, tunes will be provided by probably the world’s only vested vampire singing Sinatra, and he’ll be killing it.
Your Fear: Shakespeare
Face It At: Sleep No More: Carnival Des Corbeaux
The McKittrick Hotel, 530 W. 27th St., nr. Tenth Ave.; 212-352-3101; 10/26–10/31; $75–$95
In addition to its usual theatrical shenanigans inspired by a noir-ish Macbeth, Sleep No More is adding a week of masquerade performances. For these, costumes are mandatory and they provide themes like gender-bending, sorcery, and iambic pentameter-offs (just kidding! that would be terrifying). Considering the space is already equipped with a graveyard, creepy hospital room, and insane amounts of blood, the elements for a pretty eerie haunted house are definitely in place.
Your Fear: Machines
Face It At: Gravesend Inn
Voorhees Theater; 186 Jay St., nr. Tillery St., Downtown Brooklyn; 718-260-5588; 10/20–10/22 and 10/27–10/30; $5
Yes, yes, we get it: One day the machines will rise up. We’ve seen Terminator! But for now we’re still the dominant, uh, species, so we might as well enjoy the animatronics while they’re still held captive. Like at this super-high-tech house (built every year since 1999 by New York City College of Technology), where sensor-operated pirate skeletons pop out to interact with visitors. If you get scared, don’t hesitate to pummel them with one-line zingers. They might not be able to appreciate your wit, but your companions will.
Your Fear: Glowing Things
Face It At: Blood Manor
163 Varick St., nr. Charlton St.; 212-290-2825; through 11/3; $25
The second floor of an office building never seemed so scary, with this visual feast going heavy on the UV paint and jam-packed with creepy crawlies and butcher-shop gore (including an actual butcher shop!). The impressively high production value means you’ll encounter everything from animatronics to a 3-D room, with over 40 actors—some resembling the robots, for added disorientation—fawning over you at every corner. But you can walk through with friends, so if it gets to be too much, just use them as a shield.
Your Fear: Inanimate Objects
Face It At: After Dark: The Haunting
Madame Tussauds; 234 W. 42nd St., nr. Seventh Ave., 866-841-3505; 10/20–10/23 and 10/27–10/30; $22
These lifeless wax figures can’t jump out at you from a dark corner, so why would you be scared of them? Sure, they’re more imposing in the dark—which it will be at this nighttime-only, limited event—and their eyes are cold, and uncaring, but those things could also be said about your ex. So shake off the emotional hold and suck it up—this one shouldn’t be scary for anyone but the kids. Although, you will hear screams coming from the darkness, and mannequins can’t scream …
Your Fear: Clowns
Face It At: Luna Park’s Nights of Horror
Luna Park, 1000 Surf Ave., nr. W. 8th St., Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-373-5862; Weekends through 10/28; $30
Repeat after us: Clowns are just people with makeup on. Sometimes they even do balloon tricks. Yay! Now you’ll have no problem hitting up this Coney Island theme park for some nighttime thrill-ride fun, featuring clown and scarecrow-themed mazes and things that bump in the night. Pro tip: Bring your own balloons, and if you encounter a scary clown, hand them one. Free balloon animals for everyone.
Your Fear: Staten Island
Face it at: Trapped in Purgatory
Green Side Up Nursery, 5050 Hylan Blvd., nr. Poillon Ave., Staten Island; through 10/31; $15
If you aren’t already a Staten Islander, why bother taking a boat to get to a haunted house? Well, a location in our most suburban borough means more room to be creative. Case in point: This poetically titled house-of-horrors experience starts out with an enclosed, one-person-at-a-time corn maze, forcing you to stew in your thoughts. It eventually opens up to a funeral, which goes heavy on the special effects, fog, and theatrics. Not bad for just a ferry ride away, but let’s hope you don’t get trapped there.
Real Scary: Touring the City’s Haunted Spots
Looking to chill with some apparitions? The Merchant’s House Museum will once again be offering its Candlelight Ghost Tours, where you can hear spooky first-person encounters in an actual haunted space, while the Cathedral of St. John the Divine gets in on the action with their creepy Crypt Crawls. Meanwhile Green-Wood Cemetary—known as the final resting place for famous NYers like Boss Tweed and Leonard Bernstein—is taking you on tours of the Catacombs. The NYC Adventures Haunted Manhattan Tour does all the work for you, taking you to the spookiest spots in the borough, but you’ll have to put a little effort into Watson Adventures’ Ghosts of Greenwich Village Scavenger Hunt, featuring the spirits of Mark Twain, Aaron Burr, Edgar Allen Poe, some skeletons, and more.