Thrills, Frights and Clowns: Your 2010 Haunted House Guide 

The Asylum House

German Park, 8604 S. Meridian

5 stars

The Asylum House has been billed for many years as "fear and fetish in the dark." This time around it's more fearful, somewhat less fetishy, and a whole metric crapload darker — but as intense as ever. My favorite bit starts the whole thing out – a lengthy, unnerving, maze of absolute blackness. Yes, dark mazes have been done before, but I haven't been in one that goes on so very long, nor have I been to a house that opens on one. After blundering your way through pitch-black terror for that long, your nerves are pretty well set for the rest of the mayhem to come. Asylum House has traditionally been a very long haunt, and this year it's longer than ever, so you get plenty of boo for your buck. Its strongest aspect is still the same: a dizzying blend of genres, from good old-fashioned gothic crypts to redneck-in-the-woods horror and everything in between. And as always, they have an extremely enthusiastic gang of actors who aren't afraid to go full-contact, so don't be too surprised when Jack the Ripper has his knife to your throat. Well worth your money. $18; Thursdays through Sundays in October, 7:00 p.m.; 919-9347, -- Paul Pogue

Haunted Hayride and Stables
8308 S. Rockport Rd., Bloomington
4 stars

This charming countryside haunt is a near-perfect October outing, particularly for families and couples. It's also a beautiful drive to the farmhouse, which is about twenty minutes southeast of Bloomington, and on a clear October night the view alone is worth the price of admission. Very little has changed from last year's event, but its appeal lies largely in the homemade charm, not the bells and whistles. The "staff"—which is presumably the owner/operator and his wife or a small handful of local friends, is warm, gracious and genuinely appreciative of your visit. It's the kind of community event that you can easily turn into an extremely affordable October tradition. $10; Fridays and Saturdays in October, 7:00 p.m.; 812-824-3648, -- Andrew Roberts

Trails of Terror

2742 E. 1100 S., Markleville

4 stars

A creepily quaint drive through the country northeast of Fishers brings scare enthusiasts to Trails of Terror. This haunted mom-and-pop operation is motivated by a real love of all things Halloween. Their passion is clearly reflected in the creativity and inventiveness of design in this outdoor haunted jaunt. A truly terrifying experience, the thirty-minute trail contains realistic and well-placed animatronics, committed chainsaw wielding actors and several spooky scenes. Whether walking through a field of luminescent pumpkins or searching for an escape from a padlocked room, Trails of Terror utilizes original ideas, making it a wildly festive success for patrons in search of a thrill. Don't let the long drive to this haunted attraction deter your journey north; it is well worth the trip. $13; Thursdays through Saturdays in October, including Halloween, 8:00 p.m.; 765-533-2016, -- Katelyn Coyne

Fright Manor

2909 S. Meridian

4 stars

Downsizing from three themed houses to two has done little to diminish the fear factor at this southside attraction. The first, Abandonment, begins with a forced crawl into an apparently condemned warehouse, where thrill-seekers come face to face with a particularly aggressive breed of homeless folk. Visitors can then relive horror film-induced nightmares in Psychomanthium, which features a host of classic fictional boogiemen alongside ripped-from-the-headlines serial killers. The dimly lit maze preys primarily upon claustrophobics and the easily startled. Don't take too much comfort in the "no-touching" policy; you'll likely find the panting in your ear just as disquieting. $20; Fridays and Saturdays in October, and every night Oct. 20-31, 7:00 p.m.; 767-7540, -- Catherine Green

Unforgiven Souls

1001 Ransdell Rd., Lebanon

3.5 stars

Unforgiven Souls crams some serious set detail and in-your-face acting into its many rooms (roughly 30 total). It's relatively small compared to some local venues, but packs a mighty suspenseful punch for its size. About a 45-minute drive from Indy in a converted warehouse, Unforgiven Souls has a decidedly old-school feel to it. No animatronics, pyrotechnics or chainsaws here – just good old-fashioned 'boo!' All the noises, banging, heavy breathing, and screams (mostly your own) echo throughout the whole place and might send you into sensory overload. With so many rooms to get through, Unforgiven Souls could easily bill itself as the haunted house for those with short attentions spans. Admission price is a little steep, but you won't battle long lines here. You'll probably make it through in 15 minutes – shorter if you're running like hell for the exit – but it's worth making the trip. $13; Fridays and Saturdays in October and every night Oct. 25-31, 8:00 p.m.; 765-891-0646, -- Kate Franzman


2525 N. Shadeland Ave.

3 Stars

One of the most well known haunted attractions in Indianapolis fails to live up to the hype it creates for itself. An over-rated, over-priced experience sends patrons through a basement chock-full of dusty props. Animatronics that sputter before they pop eliminate shock value. While Necropolis does house a few interesting attractions, like a dizzying neon tunnel, these experiences are few and far between. With more of the same in room after room, the journey through this eastside warehouse loses its fear factor in predictability. Uninventive, uninspired and unimaginative, the famed Indianapolis haunted house doesn't seem to deserve their 2009 rating as one of the top 25 haunted attractions in Haunted Attraction Magazine. $26; every night through Oct. 31, 7:00 p.m.; 353-1987; -- Katelyn Coyne

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