Las Vegas may be known for it's bright lights that cover the downtown strip, however when the haunting season begins in the 24 hour town, a dark corner located in the SW area of Vegas eerily shines brighter than the Luxor light itself - well, in terms of badassery anyway.
Freakling Bros Horror Shows has over the years become THE haunt to go to when visiting Sin City during the Halloween season as well as a loyal local following. For the past 25 years, father and son team, Duke and JT Mollner, bring the passion of the haunt straight down to the adventurous and curious. For those looking to get into the Halloween spirit come late September/early October, Freakling Bros has managed to never skip a beat in the past two and a half decades. The family run haunted houses have evolved over the years from a haunted house project in the families garage home, to what is now known as The Trilogy of Terror, to having one of the top extreme haunts and immersive experiences (The Victim Experience) in the nation.
That's one hell of a milestone, wouldn't you agree?
Since the tender age of 15, a visit to Freakling Bros has secured a place as part of an annual Halloween tradition for myself, and every year since then, the team of actors and well-built haunts never once disappoint. However, it isn't surprising at all as the Mollner family oozes pure passion for the Halloween season and continues to do this based on the love for the haunt, not for the profit. And that my friends, is why for the past 25 years Freakling Bros has continued to be the place to get some scary fun in, leading up to the big day on October 31st.
Now, let's talk the actual haunts as a trio of us, Shannon, Melinda, and myself from Nightmarish Conjurings, paid a visit to the long-standing Vegas horror show a few weekends ago.
Definitely the first of the three you want to begin with, Castle Vampyre is home to the legendary Nosferatu and he's eagerly awaiting your meeting with him. Before walking up to the entrance, a creepy fellow by the name of Igor, wearing a geriatric mask that would give even good ole Reverend Henry Kane the heebie jeebies, silently stood by our side and just started at us for what seemed like an eternity. After slipping past Kane Jr. and approaching the gate of entry, we were greeted by a seductive vampiress goddess of the night who proceeded to warn us of what lurks within while instructing us to not touch her shit in her domain of doom. Sure, that's pretty reasonable when you're the houseguest, right? Plus, we weren't going to argue because this broad meant business and could probably kick the shit out of us.
Full of dark corners, pseudo doors and walls, bridges, and plenty of creepy critters, realistic and mythological by the full moon, Castle Vampyre is a fun start to get your blood pumping for the rest of the trilogy, as each haunt raises the stakes from the previous, truly testing your fear factor and mental state. If you're a tad claustrophobic, you may have an issue with one of the brilliantly executed rooms inside the 19th century decorative; however, it's child's play compared to what lies ahead during the rest of your Freakling Bros visit. As a haunt enthusiast and a parent at that, if you have a brave 10 year old, Vampyr would be a great introduction to the world of true Halloween haunts, as it's effectively scary but nothing obscene or traumatizing.
THE COVEN OF 13
Next up, was The Coven of 13, the newest addition to the Mollner Haunt dynasty that first made its debut last year in 2016. A pair of full cloaked black figures watch over the entrance gates of The Coven, one while you're waiting in line, and one who preps you and your crew for entry inside the dark haunt. The premise of Coven is that someone in your group is deemed "rotten" and the chosen one is meant to fulfill the 13th spot required to complete the dark and poisonous Coven.
This haunt steps it up in the form of testing your mental strength with group separation, gloriously demented scenes that will shake you, while also diving further into claustrophobia with haunt traps and extremely dark tiny spaces - also, said smaller areas can get a little "sticky and gooey" so leave the Louis Vuitton bag at home ladies. Also, it's worth noting that if you're a fan of the bastard child of the HALLOWEEN franchise, SEASON OF THE WITCH, I have no shame in saying it's one of my favorites, then you'll want to be on the lookout for a nod to the Tommy Lee Wallace film that may just stop you in your tracks to dance a jig of Halloween glee - Santa Mira Irish style.
GATES OF HELL
Gates of Hell. Oh, Gates of Hell. Now that Patti has given you her experience with Castle Vampyr and The Coven of 13, I'm here to tell you about Gates of Hell, the only R-rated haunt in Nevada. Last year was my first time going through a true blue extreme haunt and I'm so happy it was Gates of Hell. This year, JT and his family have added a new scene, The Suicide Room, to help celebrate the 25th Anniversary, and I must say, it's a hell of a scene. As you can derive from the title, you bear witness to a suicide and though fake, it still packs quite a punch. If you are sensitive to subject matter that includes murder, suicide, death, assault, etc. then Gates of Hell may not be for you. Also, if you don't like being touched, shoved, electrocuted, picked up, thrown around, tight spaces, and more, than you may also want to pass on this.
I don't know what the actual storyline is for Gates of Hell, other than you get to meet the one and only Prince of Darkness, but every step that leads you to that eventual moment is filled with the most horrendous and terrifying experiences meant to push you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Though Gates of Hell isn't as extreme as The Victim Experience (which is a whole lot of nope from me), it still manages to fuck with your psyche in a way that few haunts can. In all honesty, Gates of Hell is a masterpiece and an attraction I will continue to visit every time I visit Freakling Bros, no matter how much they try to electrocute me.
Rated one of the top four haunted houses in North America, Freakling Bros Horror Shows is a must see during Vegas' month long haunting tour. For more information, ticket prices, and hours of operation, visit Freakling's official website for all the demented details.
As Freakling celebrates its 25th anniversary this October, here's to another 11 (hopefully) of scaring the literal crap out of Vegas locals and traveling haunt seekers.
Patti Pauley / Shannon McGrew