Review: Inside Houston's scariest haunted houses

Review: Inside Houston's scariest haunted houses

Nightmare on the Bayou


by Taylor Wiley /

Posted on October 25, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Updated Sunday, Oct 31 at 1:12 PM

HOUSTON – The Bayou City is a scary place – and we’re not just talking about the giant cockroaches and bat-sized mosquitoes.  And that’s where we come in.  In the name of journalism, we put on our big girl pants and braved – OK shrieked and ran – our way through some of H-town’s scariest haunted houses.

Though we lived to tell about it, we have to admit: We’re still sleeping with the light on.

The first stop on our trail of terror?


Located in the shadow of downtown in the Party Boy complex at I-10 and Studemont, Nightmare on the Bayou bills itself as the only haunted house in Houston with real ghosts.  You see, the haunt is located directly next to the city’s oldest boneyard—no joke.  It’s like “Poltergeist” in there, without the tiny, weird old lady and talking TV. 

And if that isn’t scary enough, then you’ve got the man-made ghouls.  At Nightmare, they have over 15,000 square feet of fear, featuring a more traditional indoor haunted house and an outdoor attraction, too.

They’re both really intense.  In the outdoor part, you’re maneuvering through a dark, damp wooded area littered with all manner of body parts and gore. 

The indoor haunt runs the gamut of scares.  They have guts, clowns, dolls, animatronics, claustrophobic hallways – you name it.  If it’s appeared in your nightmares, they have it here. 

As far as inflicting pain on your wallet, Nightmare isn’t cheap.  Regular tickets will run you $30, and VIP no-line passes will set you back $40.  They do have group discounts and special pricing for policemen, firemen and active military, but even without a deal, we think it’s well worth the money.

The verdict? This is not a beginner’s haunted house – it’s intense, disturbing and gory.  In fact, these guys were featured on the Travel Channel as one of America’s Scariest Haunts.  But if you’re a big kid looking for a serious fright, Nightmare might be right for you.  Click here for more info.

Next up?


The guys and ghouls at Houston Haunted Houses have been in the biz for 12 years, and it shows. There’s something for everybody here – not to mention Houston’s only free professional haunted house, the Texas Chainsaw Maze. The Houston Haunted Houses park has three attractions at their main location just off I-45 on Elton, and a fourth – the Haunted Woods—a ways down the road on S. Sam Houston Parkway near 288.

You can really make an evening of it here.  In the Castle of Doom, they use loud noises, pitch-black hallways and well-placed actors to stir up scares.  It’s a classic haunted house – dark, suspenseful and a whole lot of fun.

Crowds lined up at the Sanitarium get to watch horror flicks projected onto a giant wall while they await their fate.  Once inside, it devolves into chaos.  The white walls are spattered with bloody handprints, and the place is festooned with weapon-wielding lunatics. 

In the Texas Chainsaw Maze, scare-seekers are met with Leatherface himself – and a few of his chainsaw-toting buddies.  And when they say it’s a maze, they’re dead serious.  While we were there, a pair of lost souls got stuck for 30 minutes. 

And since every party has a pooper, the folks at Houston Haunted Houses even have entertainment for the yellow-bellied.  They have an area in the center of the haunts with games, food and adult beverages. 

Tickets run $20 for entry into both the Castle of Doom and the Sanitarium.  It’s just $15 if you only want to do one, and the Texas Chainsaw Maze won’t set you back a penny.  They also have speed passes available, for an additional $10.  Click here for more info.

The verdict?  This place is perfect for those looking for a good, classic thrill at a reasonable price. It’s not as gory as some of the other haunts, and you won’t run into a lot of high-tech, animatronic scares here.  But they’ve got great actors, a sweet set-up and plenty of boo for your buck.

Our final destination?


Heading to the Terror Dome, located on I-10 in Channelview, right behind Spookers Halloween Super Store, we weren’t sure what to expect.  They are, after all, the new kids on the Houston haunted house block.

But man, were we glad we came. 

This place is legitimately scary. 

They had it all – gore, impeccably timed surprises, creative sets, great actors, parlor tricks … Plus, they had effects in use that we haven’t seen anywhere else, and a top-notch fire safety system, in case of a real emergency.  

The makeup on the actors was some of the best we’ve ever seen, from the go-go dancing zombies, to the ghoulish greeter, to the monsters inside the haunt.  It was seriously sick, in a good way.

While there’s only one haunted attraction here, it packs a petrifying punch.  Plus, it won’t punish your wallet, either – tickets are just $15. Click here for more info.

The verdict? Terror Dome is well worth the trip.  It may be too intense and edgy for haunted house novices.  But for those who’ve made their way around Houston’s haunted circuit and think they may have seen it all, Terror Dome could be the (last) breath of fresh air they’ll need this Halloween.

Of course, there are tons of other Halloween attractions in the Houston area, if these three don't make your hair stand on end. You just need some guts and a few bucks.  Happy haunting!