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HAUNTED HOUSE REVIEWS
HAUNTED ATTRACTION
USS NIGHTMARE
Ohio Valley Haunts
RATING:
Category:  Professional Venue
Reviewed 9/18/14
USS Nightmare
click logo above to visit their website
view photos taken aboard USS Nightmare: 2014 media nt, recent pix, older pix
LOCATION & ADMISSION INFO:
101 Riverboat Row
Newport, Kentucky  41071
(behind Aquarium at Newport on the Levee)
(859) 740-2293 - $18 Admission ($15 on Weds)
 $23 RIP pass online ($25 at door) & $5 Re-entry
$3 Thurs/Sun coupon on website expires 10/12
$40 Season Pass/$20 combo w/Laser Rage
Sept. 12 - Nov. 1
Fri/Sat 7 PM-1 AM & 7-11 PM Weds/Thurs/Sun
Extreme Nts: Fri/Sat 10/24 & 25 11 PM-1 AM $25
REVIEW
USS NightmareUSS NIGHTMARE Celebrating its 22nd season, America’s premier Haunted Steamboat formerly known as the William S. Mitchell makes its annual return to Nightmare Landing in Newport, KY!  Prior to boarding, a seasonal photo op captures groups as they make their way from shore, and prepare for one of the most legitimate haunted attractions in existence.  Disastrous news footage of the old ship breaking away and floating out of control to its actual destruction entertains the queue line, then the adventure begins in the Mitchell Museum where a brief pause witnesses an overzealous steward scampering about cleaning windows promising, "Someone is going to die tonight and it's not going to be me!" A brand new CGI surprise follows his ill willed omen, then the excursion gets underway again past a skeleton-faced monster that decides on a space invading altercation by bursting through a portrait on the wall initiating the actual exploration of the ancient, decrepit steamer.  Sandwiched in between a pair of close encounters with a giant Impaler is one of the attraction's  trademark characters - a defenseless girl lying helplessly in the midst of a horde of live rats, one of which is attempting to crawl into her open mouth!  Flickering strobes and eerie lighting accompany the entire journey that departs through air cannon surprises to the sight of a tortured crewman strapped down to a life-size, wildly spinning wheel accompanied by wickedly intimidating sounds.  Captives are chained, caged, and even roasted worse than chestnuts over an over fire as focus switches back to the hideous looking monster that seemed perfectly content on the first go-round, but has now awakened from his slumber, snarling ferociously, and waving about a deadly spear from beyond a cloud of obscuring fog!  What's left of his most recent victim dangles from his deadly clutch, while the bones and remains of his previous "meals" are strewn about the area below!  A bloody, distraught crewman exclaims, "I didn't do it," as a body is projected out of an upright coffin, and a man-eating shark surges up out of a barrel confirming his reputation as loud, spooky music bends the route through the steam spewing wreckage, and across a wooden plank-like bridge to a path-blocking encounter with a huge brute insistently vowing, "I'll devour you!"  Dodging "machine gun" fire mandates ducking beneath an overhead casket while simultaneously crossing a vibrating iron floor that exposes more mechanical surprises, a hanged corpse clad in a life jacket, a schizophrenic deck hand fighting and talking with himself, and a chained locker that shakes and rattles of its own accord!  More sinister sounds fill the air encouraging intrusions from undead sailors as progresses persists through a zone of laid-out, hulk-like cadavers preceding brief exposure to outdoor elements, as see-through steel gratings are utilized for a darkened climb that navigates between levels of the battered old paddlewheeler, and are all that protect you from the muddy waters of the mighty Ohio River down below!  Embarking upon the second deck soon reveals the staff's sleeping quarters highlighted by sheet-covered, bunk bedridden bodies, and overseen by a discontented drunkard chastisising interrupters for disturbing his co-workers' "shut eye!"  Misdirecting clowns rule the next domain characterized by sheet mazes, and an act of trickery that results in a pair of trips through a spinning vortex.  Eventual extrication discloses a lengthy run-in with The Captain's daughter Anna, that kicks off in the presence of her victimized doll collection, then sees her appear and disappear in a nearby mirror!  The Captain himself awaits arrival in his less than inviting dining room, which quickly diverts to a final and near fatal encounter with the deadly, man-eating Impaler that finds the dejected behemoth angrier than ever before, and climaxes with a startling, surprise!  Escape through The Captain's living quarters witnesses the abuse and choking of his new wife, then evacuates into a catacomb-like tomb area and crypt dominated by a bloodthirsty, nocturnal Vampires to the accompaniment of an intimidating soundtrack that makes your skin crawl!  Mist freely flows from standing sarcophaguses as migration discovers an elaborate bathroom scene inhabited by a frenzied cleaning lady "swabbing the deck," and where "murder" and "turn back now" are mysteriously written on the walls in blood!  An obligatory disgusting surprise sprays the route into a disgusting kitchen that houses an irate staff eagerly preparing a steaming, nauseating meal of severed human appendages, etc!  Continuance through their pantry stocked with a variety of distasteful ingredients leads into a morgue, where toe-tagged cadavers are stacked, and body bags complicate navigation.  From there it's onto a wretched dentistry where an unfortunate patient's entire mouth has been bludgeoned and bloodied by vicious extractions, then into a deadly infirmary that finds a crazed medical malpractitioner foaming at the mouth, denying accusers with the words "You've got nothing on me," attempting to intravenously inject some sort of treacherous substance via an elongated syringe, and reaching into one of his newly dissected subjects and yanking out their gory intestines!  As he turns his wicked intentions to others, a schizophrenic girl scurries away with her arms bound by a restricting straightjacket in advance of the trek descending back to the main level, and dumping into a hazardous area immersed in visionless fog, where a hanged body convulses in agony, piercing sirens blare, a tank showcases a floating head, the tentacle of an octopus bursts through a porthole, and sparks erupt in the midst of a treacherous laboratory amid boasts from an evil-minded technician proclaiming "First experiment free of charge!"  Elusion sets the stage for the assault of a rabid guard dog, followed by a brief fenced entanglement, then a jungle like surprise or two, and a maintenance room wrap up compromised by more tormented cadavers, a short-circuiting fuse box, and an elevate chainsaw chase-out of the dilapidated old ship renownedly know as The USS Nightmare

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9½,  26 minutes 
ACTORS - 9½, Excellent costuming and make-up continues to be exhibited throughout, along with plenty of interaction and some of the best dialogue ever seen at Nightmare from the crew. Their demeanor is darker, and delivery is more aggressive than ever.  Characters appear quite realistic, and many look as though the flesh has been scorched off their faces!  Some are armed with various noise making weapons adding to the intensity of the performers' scares. Revised portrayal of Rat Girl that witnesses her being victimized by the rodents greatly strengthens the effectiveness of her scene, as does seeing The Captain get physical with his wife.  Doctor's antics are most memorable, and seeing him foam at the mouth is a really great effect.  Opening scene has been strengtthened via more threatening dialogue ("someone's going to die tonight"), but it could still stand a bit more in the way of added aggression, and clowns remain a pinch too playful and giggly.
Total Characters = 34 (down 5 from a season ago).
SCARINESS - 9½, Soundtrack seems louder and more complimentary than ever before, and combines with dimmer lighting techniques to create the most ominous atmosphere seen at the haunt outside of Extreme Nights.  The condemned craft provides arguably the most legitimate environment in the business, and capitalizes on common phobias with its cramped passageways, catwalks, balcony, authentic steamboat equipment (valves, pipes, boilers, etc.), and ghastly crew.  A more threatening cast is on board this season serving to reinforce scares.  Shifting the mood of the clowns from playful to threatening, and a few more acts of violence, along the lines of The Captain and his wife could perfect the score.
DESIGN - 9½, Theme holds for most of the journey with the exception of clowns which are questionable at best (although the reasoning behind their presence is that The Captain invited them on board to play with his daughter, Anna).  Seeing them acquire a more mischievous demeanor would prove beneficial, however their misdirection is applauded for sending customers back to revisit the vortex on a second occasion.  Fog density within the attraction is second to none, and revision of the Rat Girl scene makes for a much better scare, as mentioned above. Actually witnessing The Captain committing an act of violence continues to legitimizes his reputation, and a solid performance from the Doctor further strengthens the shows performance.  A far more sinister atmosphere exists mostly due to darkened lighting, and continued improvement in the acting department practically across the board.  Attention to detail is appreciated right down to the minutest details exemplified by steam emission from the "hot" food being served in the kitchen.  Initial illusion of The Captain has been exchanged in favor of a far more impressive CGI.  Similar high-impact changes incorporated into the course would elevate the already near perfect score, as well as serve to offset the fact we often hear from our readers that the attraction doesn't change a great deal from year to year.  The lengthy exploration encompasses 3-levels and 40 scenes including the engine room, pump well, cargo hold, boiler room, mortuary, galley, crypt, torture chamber, Captain's quarters, infirmary, etc., and darkening ascent and descent to and from various levels of the ship makes those transformations even more frightening than they already were.  Path cleverly delivers three separate encounters with the massive Impaler, and exits into the Fun Center discussed below. 
PROPS - 9½, Unsurpassed legitimate décor exist throughout.  Numerous, well-timed animatronics provide unexpected startles that are always accompanied with just the right sound or alarm to improve upon each individual startle.  Impaler and balcony surprises remain notable, as does bathroom ghost writing, and water dripping in the paddlewheel sectors.  They're now joined by the debut of a high-impact opening CGI.  Continued supplement with memorably impressive, high-tech scares along the lines of this new computer generated image, and the aforementioned balcony surprise that debuted 7 years ago would take this category to the next level as well.
VALUE - 9½, No general admission price increase this season during peak hours, however Wednesday nights now cost a few dollars more, and online RIP admission has gone up a dollar as well.  Special rates such as family 4-packs and Wednesday 6-packs have likewise been eliminated.  Season passes continue to be offered for $40, and the $5 re-entry option returns presenting what can only be classified as an unheard of bargain!
RATING:  9½ (9.5), Annually ranked among the best haunted attractions in the country, this annual OVH Kentucky Haunt of the Year contender and former champ continues to improve upon their show year after year!  A dimmer environment combined with more threatening dialogue and aggressively intense acting on the part of the cast makes this year's presentation is their strongest to date!  Hanging onto that and making just a few tweaks here and there, along with some additional "eye-popping" scares are all that's needed to push them to the top of the rankings!  We visited on a Thursday night, and the attraction was operating with a FULL STAFF of actors, unlike many other haunted houses that only employ a "skeleton crew" on weekdays, but still charge full price for admission!  This FIRST CLASS operation prides itself on opening at the scheduled time in order to properly accommodate their valuable customers!  Join Captain Mitchell aboard the renowned Nightmare and be prepared to have the ship scared out of you!  Why not purchase their season's pass, and enjoy UNLIMITED visits to The Nightmare during the entire season?
SPECIAL STATEMENT:  Extreme Events have been expanded to TWO nights for 2014, and are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 24th & 25th from 11 PM - 1 AM.  These far more explicit shows are un-rated, and intended for more mature audiences.  Ohio Valley Haunts has attended this event the last three seasons, and it's certainly one you don't want to miss!

NIGHTMARE LANDING FUN CENTER: Returning to the sight for 2014 is an extra enclosed barge offering concessions, video arcade games and a laser tag arena called Laser Rage.  Check it out before leaving USS NIGHTMARE!
USS Nightmare
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