The Frightmare Compound 2014

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Kris | Alex | Jason | Marlena | Kennedy | Regina

Scare FactorActingSets/FXLengthOverall

Kris Kropelnicki

The Frightmare Compound in Westminster has been a mainstay of the haunted house community on the Front Range for 30 years and there is a valid reason for its longevity. Frightmare has always been at the top of their game and this year is no exception. Consistently, year after year they change up the sets and the actors in those sets to keep it fresh and innovative. They also keep the core of the haunt similar to previous years which is an excellent touch. Haunt enthusiasts that have favorite haunts they see every year do so because in a way it’s like coming home. Yes, things have changed, sometimes dramatically, but your old bedroom with the wagon wheel bed and Lone Ranger sheets is still there, right where you left it. Change is necessary, so is nostalgia. We can’t forget where we came from and Frightmare knows this and ensures that coming home is always what we hope it will be.

Frightmare is scary. All by itself, without a soul in sight, Frightmare is fundamentally scary. Eerie shadows are cast by the moonlight onto buildings, through the trees and turn of the century farm machinery. There is something in the air in the still of the night, and when that silence is broken with shrieks of terror and sinister laughter, it becomes far more frightening.

There are scare points in abundance here and I found myself trying to peek ahead around every dark corner, into every pitch black alcove trying to steel myself for what might be lurking there; I kept holding my breath, a feeble attempt to hold in the scream that was inevitably coming.

The night that I went through Frightmare There were only a handful of actors there and this greatly affected my scare score; I came across a couple of areas where I went through several scenes without seeing one actor. Had all actors been there, I know my score would have been considerably higher. That said, I still had some great scares and a couple of them happened because there wasn’t an actor around.

Remember a few lines ago when I said Frightmare itself was scary? I meant that. It really is. I was creeping through the inner area where there are water effects and I kept peeking, sneaking my way around waiting for someone to jump out at me; it didn’t happen when I expected and dread and fear rose up in my throat because I just knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when. I rounded a corner, kicked a rock up that made a ‘clang’ noise hitting something metal and I nearly had a heart attack! I had myself worked up into frenzy because my imagination had had the opportunity to run wild for a minute and the ‘clang’ on the trail in front of me in the darkness was all it took to derail me.

Acting took a hit in scoring as well, again, because there were so few actors there and I encountered a couple of actors that weren’t fully immersed in their character and lacked punch. Letting yourselves go completely and embracing your character will go a long way to improve performance. Dialogue and interaction with guests really ramps up scares as well.

I also ran across other actors and man, did they shine like the sun that night and deliver one fantastic scare after another! It’s difficult to say how I was scared without giving the scares away, but these actors were nothing short of stellar: The swamp guy, (damn you! I’m still scared!), the crazed zombie in the graveyard, the guy in the leather apron chopping/pounding a piece of flesh, (I see your soul piercing stare in my nightmares nightly now) the Exorcist girl and the priest trying to drive the demons out, and the extremely disturbed woman in the tiny living room at the top of the barn. Excellent performances that really made the entire experience incredible!!

More actors, especially in the areas that are wide open would really make those scenes rock!! Major kudos to the few that were there, it wouldn’t have rocked without you all!!

Sets…what can I say? Frightmare has some of the most incredible, realistic sets ever!! Walking through the haunt is always a delight and an adventure. The new renovations at the beginning are TOP NOTCH and look fantastic!!! I was so tickled to have to choose my way into the haunt; neither was promising, because either way I was headed into the dark world of Frightmare and I knew there would be creatures of the night waiting for me no matter which way I chose. LOVED IT!!!

There is a delightfully eerie staircase that is an excellent new addition that compliments the new entrance perfectly! Frightmare has mastered the art of room to room flow and nowhere is it more evident than in the beginning. Outstanding build work throughout!!

Scene after incredible scene Frightmare used sets, lighting, and effects to pull me deeper and deeper into its realm of darkness and despair and I found myself so immersed, I was powerless. Frightmare had done it again and they had their claws in deep. I experienced full suspension of disbelief and it was incredible!! There is a moment in a haunt, when one fully slides into full suspension, that there is a final lucid moment where you realize, these craftsmen and women have pulled you completely into their madness and they have full control of your world. That moment is rare, and when it happens, for an enthusiast, it is pure bliss, wrapped up tightly with full blown fear and topped off with a pretty bow made with the entrails of the victim before you. Absolutely WONDERFUL!!!

There were twists and turns, places to duck into, old creaky stairs, the old barn, places to squeeze my way through and dark corners everywhere for Lord knows what to hide in. The sets kept me feeling uneasy throughout and little sounds coming from water effects, heard in the distance were very creepy indeed.

Take your time, if you dare, and really allow these incredible sets to wrap themselves around you and pull you in. You’ll thank me later. It’s truly something to behold.

Length is perfect. Not too short, not so long that it becomes mundane and boring. Perfect. What else is there to say?


As of the tour into terror wasn’t enough, after the main haunt, you have about 10 seconds to catch your breath before you enter The House of Darkness, Frightmare’s second attraction at this location.

Completely different from what is experienced in Frightmare, a trip through clown hell, The House of Darkness is a perfect complement to the bigger brother here.

Forcing me to change gears completely while I’m still trying to shake Frightmare off, I found myself in an extremely disorienting world of red and white circus stripes, strobe lights, and the thickest pea soup fog known to man, this smaller haunt packs a punch all its own and knocks any breath you may have left right out of you. The actors in here are masters of the sucker punch when it comes to scares and did a great job of messing with my mind which turned the fear up.

Turn after dizzying turn I discovered obstacles, crazy clowns and some really incredible fluorescent art work on some of the walls. It was a fantastic finish to the night and this haunt is nearly ready for its own review because it’s become so incredibly good over the years. Make it a bit longer, maybe add a slow strobe in one hallway and have an actor run up on guests, (that would look SOOO FREAKY!!) and The House of Darkness is ready for the Big Top! Extremely well done!

I could go on and on, (as I already have) and rave about everything Frightmare is, but don’t take my word for it, go see it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. If you are, it’s because you ran through, eyes half closed. Don’t deny yourself the true horror pleasure that is Frightmare and The House of Darkness. It’s meant to be savored; take your time and fully enjoy one of the areas longest running haunts.

Pros: Sets, new additions, acting

Cons: Not enough actors, some actors not fully engaged in their role

Alex Gallegos

I always love a trip to Frightmare, and this year was no exception. There have been a few changeups this year but they were all interesting changes, and I wasn’t disappointed in any of them. In the past this haunt has always started out slow, letting you wander into your own doom like a lamb wandering into the slaughterhouse but this year they’ve opted to drop you right into the middle of the action… literally. I really approved of this decision, because even though I had always liked the slowly built tension, the opening scene is so perfectly detailed and exciting that it sets the tone for the entire haunt that is to come.

The only trouble I had with Frightmare this year is that it runs a bit like an inverted bell curve. The beginning and the end are superbly intense and interesting, while the middle section runs a bit more towards the timid side. After the initial few rooms and their astounding detail and set work, we found a couple areas that were somewhat sparse on actors and scares. There were a couple of times where I stumbled out of a passageway into a larger area. I trudged through slowly, checking all angles around me for the big scare that I thought sure would be coming my way, only to be greeted by a lone actor dragging some mining tools across the gravel about twenty paces away from me. It’s not that the haunt is obligated to have something popping out at me at all times, no. That doesn’t cause tension if you do that, and some of the best rooms across all the haunts we visit are the ones with no actors at all, the ones that let you fill in the gaps yourself under the assumption that whatever you come up with will be far worse than anything the haunt could throw at you. That’s a sound design decision. It just seems like the haunt has some really great arenas, and it would have been nice to have seen them utilized for a really nice ambush scenario.

Another minor issue with some of the actors was the lack of dialogue. We had a lot of actors just stumbling at us out of the distance making growling, clicking, and whistling noises, and while we always appreciate the weird, creepy sounds that haunt actors are able to create, they are usually so memorable because they stand out as the exception, rather than the rule. Dialogue from an actor tells so much more story than an actor who’s playing for the creepy angle, and it was also that middle section I described earlier that was light on dialogue. I want to be sure I’m clear – no part of this haunt is bad, it’s just that it needs a dash more action in the second act to spice things up a little bit.

The haunt finishes strong, though, and once you make your way out of the woods and into one of the buildings there, you’re in for a shockingly spectacular finish with the last few of your hosts before you’re fed to the clowns. Frightmare’s ending leads directly into the sideshow event, House of Darkness, and as you exit one you’re deposited right into the line for the second show.

House of Darkness, the sideshow attraction, is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with, and each and every year it improves. What was once a four minute underwhelming experience has become a properly disorienting and engaging haunt in its own right. The key to their success is the addition of unsettling and disorienting elements to reach everybody in some way, and it harkens back to my first review of them four seasons ago. Clowns may freak out a portion of the population, perhaps even a large portion, but they don’t do it for everyone. “Here are some clowns” is not the guaranteed hit that some haunters seem to think that it will be, so it’s been a real treat to see the way this experience has become broader and subsequently better every time we’ve been through it.

Pros: Fantastically intense start, love the use of existing natural sets

Cons: Lighter on actors than I would have liked, some locations feel under-utilized

Jason Peterson

Another amazing Haunted house atmosphere! I can hear the screams.from the car! All new beginning to this year’s attraction was fun and very original. Lots of set changes and costumes this season. Some of the sets in this haunt are very tight and dark with various creatures waiting in the weeds! There is a good amount of gore and the props and lighting are fantastic throughout this attraction. I love the indoor outdoor elements of this haunt. The mine shafts and caves are amazing! Not to mention filled with snarling snorting beasts!  The props throughout the outdoor side of this haunt are very cool and fit very well with the theme.

The Exorcist scene was acted very well this year. The young women thrashing about on the bed was very intense.The preacher did an exceptional job selling this scene with clever dialog!

After our trip through the air ducts and attic we begin our next fun filled journey into the House of Darkness! An over the top clown infused terror tour! This was so disorienting and fun this season. Lots of fog and the clowns within these walls are completely insane! Fun obstacles throughout.Wish this was longer! I don’t typically like clowns. This is done very well and delivers the scares.

Pros- Cool new beginning.

Cons- Not open all year

Marlena Baker

In years past I’ve really enjoyed Frightmare, but this year I found it lacking in the good atmosphere that I’m used to. The very beginning was one of my favorite parts. They had us go down a slide, and it was longer than I expected. It was really fun! Then we walked through what seemed to be a crypt, which was really well done. The half rotten corpses were absolutely disgusting.

Frightmare itself is broken up into two sections really, and they were rather different in terms of tone and quality. The first part, more open spaces and some mining tunnels, was very sparse. There wasn’t much to see as we walked between tunnel sections. Mostly it was just fence. The wood was very new looking and was just a barrier, not a set. It did nothing for the atmosphere. If anything, the new wood looked odd against the aging mining equipment. It would help dramatically to paint or stain the fence for an aged effect. The actors in this section weren’t very engaging and there weren’t that many of them. There were a few swamp monsters in the cave and a miner here and there. I think they need better lines, or some more direction because once they’d made their noise or said their one line then just walked off, not really all that threatening. The best part of this section was a shed with an exorcism going on. The possessed girl was really good, and the way she just stared at us intently was super creepy.

Then we transitioned into a big old farm house. This part was better. The sets, as always, were great, fitting very well in a dilapidated old house. There are some cool sections where we had to follow an unusual path through the house. We cautiously made our way through an air vent at one point. I liked the holes in the wall, with insulation sticking out, so we had to push our way through. The actors here were better, too. I think it helped that in the house they have more defined characters to work with. That gives them something to work off of. I didn’t really get a chance to engage them. By that time a group had caught up behind us and we had to move through the house rather quickly. I would suggest that actors could be used to space out the groups better.

Frightmare and House of Darkness are technically two haunted houses, but House of Darkness is a mini haunt that follows straight after Frightmare. Usually House of Darkness doesn’t do much for me as I don’t really find clowns scary, but this year it was just fantastic. The whole experience was disorienting. They used darkness and fog really well. The clowns would just come out of nowhere, taunting us as we stumbled our way through the haunt. The circus walls, painted at odd angles didn’t help at all. It was a crazy experience, with a lot of good scares. I enjoyed it more than the main haunt.

Frightmare has a lot going on. In the chaos, I think the main haunt has suffered. It needs a little love and attention, especially in the first half of the haunt. More actors and better directions for them would go a long way. I am super excited at how far House of Darkness has come. Considering clowns aren’t normally in my creep zone, I think it’s amazing how unnerving I found it. I hope some of that good vibe will make its way back to Frightmare.

Pros: House of Darkness, farm house sets

Cons: sparse sets in mines section, new construction clashes with haunt props, acting needs to be ramped up

Kennedy Horstmeyer

Frightmare compound is very different and includes House of Darkness which is a small haunt in and of itself. There is a lot to be offered in this haunt, personal favorite was House of Darkness. Even waiting in line there are props, pictures to be taken and a movie to entertain.

I was scared a few times in Frightmare, but House of Darkness is what truly got me. From start to finish there are changes in lighting, types of flooring and scenery. I would love to see some more scares in a few areas that are more wide open. There is so much potential. I think the atmosphere of House of Darkness really helped with the scares being provided. I love the different way I was scared by the theme because it was the psychotic, neon, foggy mess (in a good way).

I felt acting was pretty good but could definitely be better. Intensity and interaction are big for actors and I didn’t experience this much from the Frightmare side. I do love how some actors were very interactive, talking, following. House of Darkness actors were definitely more in your face, scary, intense. I think all the actors did a pretty good job and impressed with several that truly stuck in my mind. I love the acting that sits and is creepy without being up in my face.

The sets and effects were pretty amazing. I only wish that in some large areas that there was something more to look at, more actor interaction, anything to fill the space. I was impressed though with the realistic detail, the walls to confuse direction, the entrance into the Frightmare Haunt itself. I truly felt I was in a mine and in a crazy house of darkness just by looking at props. Some of my favorite scenes are first entering the haunt, and all the way through House of Darkness. Walls were never literally bare, but were made to look simpler to fill the space of the mine theme.

I think the haunt could have been a little longer. I did like the length but came out of Frightmare surprised it was over until I saw House of Darkness which made length a lot better. I think the illusion of length could be made by adding actors and scares. Still impressed with length once going through both parts of the compound.

House of Darkness is the second part to the compound. It is a different theme that is more about disorientation and chaos. I absolutely loved this haunt and how you had to use more than just sight to find your way around.

Pros- detail, house of darkness, waiting in line

Cons- few actors, some spaces empty, not very scary

Regina Kropelnicki

When first entering Frightmare, I was so excited to see that we had the option to enter the actual haunt via slide or stairs. I of course decided to take the slide! So much fun! You then have to go up a beautiful spiraled staircase decorated with skulls. I did like the set and the props, but there are some areas that are very wide open with not much going on in it and it kind of threw me off. I felt as if that was space that they could definitely use in the future for scenes and scares rather than leaving it wide open. I have heard that they use it for paintballing as well now, so this may be why I came across the open spaces outside. I really liked the caves that you have to go through in one part, I thought that was different and fun. I have always enjoyed the outdoor scenes where you are in the woods/cemetary, but it just seemed too open and bare unfortunately. Some of the props were amazing though. I stood outside of a room very hesitant to enter because I thought the dead racoon hanging upside down was truly a real dead racoon until I found the courage to step inside and get a closer look. The detail in some of these sets were great and authentic feeling.  I did get a few jumps and startles throughout the haunt, but I felt like some of the actors just didn’t have the energy needed to be creepy or scary and some weren’t very into their characters. I did like the zombies in the graveyard though and was glad to see zombies used since they are such a big thing now. Unfortunately, groups started getting too close together a lot throughout the haunt and when I encountered the zombie area, they were just getting done with the group ahead of me. Not their fault of course, but tricky for them when trying to scare people. They kept it going though and headed toward my group. They did very good. They got very close to me, invading my space making me a bit nervous and scared as they were making crazy zombie noises. Even the way they walked was perfect. Great job! I think my favorite part was the girl being excercised. Her movement with the strobelight was so perfect, almost mesmerizing in a way. She really did look crazy and she didn’t say a single thing, making it even scarier to me. I found the ending to be a bit abrupt and the haunt seemed to lack the scares near the end. I was really hoping for the clown room ending from years prior! After exiting Frightmare, you then head over to The House of Darkness, the second part of the haunt. This second part will mess you up pretty bad to say the least. I originally was the first one in my group to enter. Once I entered, I found myself in a place so foggy I could barely see. I kept thinking this would end soon and I’d be able to see, but it continued throughout the entire thing. It works perfect for the actors though because they can easily pop in front of you and scare you and only have to go 3 feet ahead of you to get another scare because you can’t see far at all. I had a clown popping in front of me multiple times through the fog and it became so creepy how this clown was so close to me the entire time and I could not see it. Made me wonder what else may be near me that I could not see. Pairing this very heavy fog with stobe lights is sure to disorient you pretty bad adding to the scare factor. Throw in some floor changes and you’re sure to be really messed up. I actually had to have someone in my group go ahead of me because I was having such a hard time trying to figure out where to go and needed to be lead through. Overall, Frightmare did a pretty good job! I’m not sure if the set can be corrected a bit somehow to make it less open, but I think a few set fixes and some more energetic actors and this haunt will be excellent! I can’t wait to see it next year!

Pros-Zombies, exorcism scene, entrance of haunt

Cons-Open set, lack of energy in some actors, groups kept getting combined

108th Ave & Old Wadsworth (Southwest corner)
Westminster, CO.
  • $25
  • $35 VIP Fast Pass
  • $45 Immediate Access
September 26th – November 1stFriday & Saturday  7pm – MidnightSunday – Thursday  7pm – 10pmZombie Paintball – November 7th & 8th   7pm-Midnight
The Frightmare Compound was founded in 1983 by master mind Brad Holder, who obsessively constructed and created the compound for over 16 years before he fell fatally ill. Brad is said to be buried somewhere in the deepest caverns of the haunted house. The property has become a legend in the haunt industry because of its authentic roots. Guests come from around the globe to experience what others can only dream about. Over the past 30 years, The Frightmare Compound has invested millions to keep its legend alive – raising the bar for haunted houses across the U.S. by creating new and exciting ways to squeeze your senses and intensify your fears.At first glance, it appeared that the swamps of the compound were home to nothing more than a forest full of trees and an old dilapidated barn. However, once excavation began unspeakable events began to take place. Both human and animal remains were dug from the depths of the mud and trenches. It was later revealed that the old barn was built on unholy grounds in the late 1800s, and the abandoned land was home too much more than originally met the eye. The condemned swamplands have held a secret for hundreds of years only to be revealed to those brave enough to enter its gates.As you begin your journey into the depths of Frightmare, be prepared to slide into the heart of the compound through catacombs and caverns as you encounter flesh-starved Zombies and blood sucking creatures. Only to crawl out into the wet swamplands where true horror awaits. If you are lucky enough to have made it this far you will then travel through the original 2-story barn where words cannot express the complete and utter fear you will experience.