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.