NIGHTMARE: SUPERSTITIONS – Off Broadway Haunted House Review

by Cindy Pierre on October 9, 2010

in Theater-New York

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No, the spooky kid from Nightmare: Superstitions‘ print ad campaign isn’t part of the installation, but almost every out-of-respectable-work actor is. The latest creation from the demented mind of Timothy Haskell, the 7th in a series of haunted houses, may be AOL Cityguide’s No. 1 rated haunted attraction in New York City, but it’s likely to only get a thrill out of tourists. 

In roughly 25 minutes (apart from the 45 minutes that you wait in an uncomfortably muggy line to get in), you encounter a bunch of self-admitted patients imprisoned by their superstitious beliefs in an asylum.  However, they’re not nearly as unsettling as some of NYC’s subway commuters and pedestrians.  As you pile into the curtained entrance in a group of 10-12, like a strip club, you’re forewarned not to touch the actors even though they do quite a bit of touching themselves, but the costumes—ranging from goofy creatures to hacked up hospital gowns—inspire nothing but chuckles, especially up close.  They make you want to pat the nearest actor on the back and relieve them of their unfortunate duties.

Prefacing the main walkthrough is a Fun House that does offer some fun with a moving, kaleidoscopic section, but punctuates it with a disgusting carnival spectacle that I won’t divulge here.  But, the hurl-fest doesn’t stop there. 

A nurse, the most intelligible and interesting character of the journey, signs you in to a nuthouse that dramatizes folklore like “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” among many others with either feces, severed limbs, gore, silliness, or a combination of the above.  The only time you may scream or jump is if an actor pops out of nowhere and surprises you, but that’s more of a natural reaction not attributed to the concept.  Emergency exits, located in virtually every room that you enter in case you can’t handle the scariness, won’t be required.

The most successful parts of this installation are things that either make you giddy or that are creepy but don’t fit the asylum format.  The former is a cool, giveaway wall composed of inflated material and the latter is a room full of monks where the live ones are hard to distinguish from the statues. 

From time to time, actors either break character and laugh or scream at you to chant something where you won’t be able to leave the room until you comply. You’ll want to.  No effort is made to get into the cerebral part of these beliefs where the true fright lies, only superficial representations that deal with bad luck.  As a result, Nightmare: Superstitions is a collection of old wives tales that, inadvertently,  send you off with great luck upon your exit.

cindypierre @

scheduled to close November 6 at time of publication
for tickets, visit


Denise Simard October 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Are you serious? I walked through last night, as I have for the past couple years with my friends. Everyone had a great time! It’s the perfect thing to during the Halloween Season. Lighten up!

Max October 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

If you’re into haunted houses you HAVE to check off Nightmare: superstitions!! It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen! I was scared out of my mind, but loved it! Definitely got me into the Halloween mood. buywithmeNYC has some great deals right now for VIP packages and general admission tickets. Check out the deal here: If you’re looking for a truly scary haunted house, nightmare is it!

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