Review: Spookers Terror Dome

Review: Spookers Terror Dome

Spookers Terror Dome
16020 East Freeway (I-10)
Channelview, TX

In Houston, Texas, this year, there is a new haunted attraction that’s stolen the dripping, bloody hearts of the local critics. The Houston Chronicle has billed Spookers Terror Dome as the “Scariest Haunted House in Houston.” In its first year of operation, the Terror Dome serves up thrills and chills intense enough to satisfy the most demanding scaremonger. I was invited to check the place out, and took a tour with the lights on before braving the attraction in the dark, because I’m smart that way.

I arrived at 6:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the 7 o’clock curtain call. Owner and operator Shannon Brinkley offered me a choice of the full effect or the wimp’s tour with the house lights on. As we entered the low-ceilinged building, he gave me the specs on the safety features, an area to which he has paid particular attention. As a chairman of the Texas Fireworks Association, Shannon is in a unique position to understand fire safety, and his attraction conforms to new laws enacted in 2006 that other attractions do not. Attractions built prior to those laws would receive the benefits of a grandfather clause, meaning they would not be required to adhere to laws enacted after they opened.

The Terror Dome boasts a full sprinkler system (I counted four in one room alone) and full alarm system that turn off the haunt and turn on the house lights automatically if an alarm is triggered. Fire extinguishers are placed throughout, and there are two rear emergency exits as well as two double doors exiting the front of the building. Both double doors remain unlocked during business hours. The haunt has flame retardant paint and a fire suppression system. I would be willing to bet this building is safer than any average attraction or night club in the Houston area. This promotes a feeling of security for the patrons.

Now that you’ve been assured of your safety, it’s time to scare the hell out of you. As you enter the attraction, you encounter pitch blackness. There’s a secret scare early on, and then you enter the domain of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s Leatherface (Dylan Cobb). His kills hang from the walls and the ceiling, and his latest victim (Maria Holland) lies on a table, screaming in agony. As you take in the insanity and horror, Leatherface makes his appearance and chases you out of the room.

Dylan Cobb as  Leatherface and Maria Holland as his unfortunate victim.

Dylan Cobb as Leatherface and Maria Holland as his unfortunate victim.

A bit more wandering around brings you to The Bathroom of Carnage. You won’t get out of there without experiencing some special effects at very close range. Eww! Make your way through the Hallway of Heads to the real place of terror for anyone afraid of clowns. I won’t give away the good stuff, but let me say I was very glad to be free of any clown-related phobia. There are several creepy and downright terrifying features hanging from the ceiling, which struck me as a creative application of scare tactics. An encounter with Michael Myers ushers you through to the Alien Room where a pod person seeks to escape – but is it before or after his transition to alien form?

Stumble through a vortex to the room I’ve dubbed “The Ed Gein Room,” where you encounter a seriously spooky surgeon operating on a patient while surrounded by various body parts in glass jars. Would you like to try a taste? Yummy! There are real scares here. Then, at last, you enter a peaceful wooded realm, where you’re offered a chance to catch your breath… only to scream it right back out again! Yikes.

The charming actors working the haunt sweet-talked me into taking the real, lights-off version of the tour. Shannon was kind enough to come with me so I wouldn’t cry or pee on the floor. He abandoned me halfway through, slipping out a side exit and leaving me alone. My lip trembled and I slowly advanced, shrieking whenever someone came at me. I ended up dragging the Crazy Surgeon with me for the second half so I at least had someone to cling to if I got spooked. He let me go on alone as I entered the home stretch – the wooded hallway – but even though I knew where the next actor was positioned, I still had the crap scared out of me when he leapt out. These guys are good!

Outside, an off-duty constable stood guard to save anyone in real need of help, and there’s an officer there every night to keep the peace. The haunt employs 18 actors on any given night, and Shannon prefers to send people through in groups of 4 or less so that every customer gets the full effect of the attraction. I stood in a corner with Leatherface and watched two women and a little girl of maybe nine years old walk through his “workshop.” When he emerged to usher them out, they hunched together and turtled their heads into their shirt collars, managing to walk but still looking completely terrified.

At 668 feet (over 1/8 mile), the haunt takes an estimated 18 to 20 minutes to travel, which is a lot of scare for the $15.00 cover price. You can get $3-off coupons inside the store. The haunt opens mid-September and this year will be open until November 2. I can’t recommend this attraction enough. If you can see it before the season’s over, definitely do so. If you can’t make it or live too far away, you should seriously consider trying to make it down next year. It would be a great complement to the Texas Ren Faire, and in fact employs some of the same actors. Maria, Leatherface Dylan’s victim, had to play Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream the next day. After all that screaming, I can’t imagine how she had any voice left.

More photos behind the cut. Click thumbnails for larger versions.

Sheta Kaey About Sheta Kaey

I teach people to perceive, communicate, and work with spirits. Beyond that, I'm kinda normal.

Sometimes I write things. Sometimes I edit things. Sometimes, people even see them.

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