Las Vegas is known for many things – gambling, world-class resorts, incredible bars, unequaled night life and extreme haunted attractions. Wait; say what? Yes, extreme haunted attractions have really made a name for themselves in Vegas, especially Freakling Bros., which celebrated 20 years of haunting this year with The Trilogy of Terror!
The Trilogy of Terror, located approximately 15 minutes off the Las Vegas Strip, featured three separate mazes this year: Circus of Horrors, Gates of Hell, and Castle Vampyre. In the middle of the haunt, a large ring was set up for an on-going wrestling exposition of sorts to entertain the crowds while waiting in queue for the mazes, or for those folks simply hanging out at the haunt.
It should be said up front that despite repeated requests and appeals, Theme Park Adventure was not permitted to shoot any of the mazes at Freakling Bros., which is why there is no substantial image gallery for this review, nor are there videos. It’s unfortunate, considering how much we really loved this event and how badly we wanted to shoot it as one of our three pre-determined haunted attraction visits in Nevada. However, we have found that some haunts (or the PR firms representing them – a trend I am really not a fan of for multiple reasons) simply don’t want to deal with sites like TPA shooting exclusive content, or “spoiling the surprise” by sharing content online. We don’t agree at all, but always respect the wishes of our hosts. As one of our favorite haunts that we visited in 2012, TPA honestly wishes we could have given Freakling Bros. the “royal treatment”; alas, that was not wanted, and so we have only so much to work with.
Each of the three mazes at Freakling Bros. had its own unique theme. The common thread they all shared was that they were all built to be stored in large trucks, and thus, each maze was very compact and the use of available space was mind-boggling. Had I known that these mazes were built into large truck trailers, I’d have been very skeptical. However, once we entered the first maze and experienced how creative and good it was, I was more impressed than anything by the situation!
Circus of Horrors was the “clown maze” of the trio, yet, it went far beyond typical clown monster scares. In fact, while there were clowns present, the maze itself actually veered away from the obvious and get really creative and focused on the ghoulish, bizarre side show/freak show aspect of their circus theme. It was fantastic. As with all of the mazes at Freakling Bros., the talent was spot-on and absolutely professional. There was an interactive element in play at the end of the maze which was brilliant fun and included guests having to place food inside of a cage containing a monstrous beast; I don’t want to give it away because I am not sure how much these guys recycle gags – but it was really well done and left people screaming! Truly a fantastic spin on what could have been a very tired and used theme – these guys nailed it and made it their own!
Castle Vampyre was my personal favorite at Freakling Bros., and was, as you might have guessed, a vampire maze. The rooms in the maze were well appointed and again, there were numerous very creative gags in place, including an entire collapsing/spike room a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Again, the talent was spot-on in this maze and the ending featured a really fun chase-out scare that left people running from the exit! Castle Vampyre featured many very dark twists and turns that left guests terrified, feeling along the walls, praying for a glimpse of light! Good stuff!
Gates of Hell was the signature maze at Freakling Bros. This “rated “R”” maze was an adults-only attraction that guests had to sign a waiver prior to entering. This was the second “waiver maze” that we experienced of the season, the first being Trapped at Knott’s Halloween Haunt. However, Gates of Hell was much more intense than Trapped and offered up situations and rooms that were pretty harrowing and unnerving. Even guests that had been through Gates of Hell already were visibly nervous and anxious while waiting in line for another go. Like other adult mazes, Gates of Hell featured talent that used foul language, made full physical contact with guests and had several moments where the line between acting and real aggression seemed almost blurred. Johanna encountered a “bride of Satan” type of character that C-bombed her and then ran her claws down her arm, which emitted arcs of electricity! The woman then raked her claw down my back and I was literally shocked the entire time – it was not painful really, but it was definitely not comfortable; I’d never encountered something like that in a haunt in all my years of visiting dark attractions. The maze featured a chase-out gag similar to the one we found in Castle Vampyre, but it was still very effective and totally worked. We were very impressed by Gates of Hell and recommend it to any of our adult TPAers!
In experiencing all three mazes at Freakling Bros., I noticed very quickly that they all used the same formula and in that respect, were fairly predictable as far as flow/what to expect such as the chase out gags. However, most haunts that we experience are formula, including Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood; so that’s not a bad thing – it’s just something I did notice.
The entertainment in the wrestling ring wasn’t great; plus, I’m not at all the biggest fan of “live entertainment” like that anyway to begin with. I rarely stop and watch shows at Halloween events. I’m easily bored by glass walking, sword swallowing and hypnotists; so the horror wrestling was just not my thing. There were a lot of people watching and laughing, so if it worked for Freaking, then that’s great! There were also food and beverage options at the haunt, which made for a really great evening-long event for people to hang out at and enjoy. It was very apparent that these guys know exactly what they’re doing.
Something that I’d never seen before that really impressed me, was the event’s approach to its own Fast Pass system. For $10 more, guests purchased a Freakling Bros. shirt, and that was their Fast Pass! Brilliant! Not only did guests get a great Fast Pass value with rapid front of line access, they walked away with a really nice shirt as well – fantastic marketing! While we didn’t buy tickets as invited guests, you can bet I grabbed a shirt to show our support and appreciation for this haunt!
Freakling Bros. is rock-solid and should be experienced by all Halloween fans that live in Vegas or are visiting during October. I’m sure they’ll return bigger and better than ever in 2013, and I encourage everyone to check this haunt out! It was Johanna’s favorite haunt of our entire 2012 season, so that says a lot!
Kudos and congrats to the men and women of Freakling Bros! The creativity, excellence and downright terrifying fun we found there was a highlight of our Halloween in Vegas trip!
– Rick West