Dungeon of Doom Thursday night, 10/28/04

Last year's favorite re-visited is Arlington's Dungeon of Doom. One of the longest running haunts in the area the aptly named Dungeon has been located in the basement of the Arlington Museum of Art since 1989 and proceeds go to support the museum and its programs. Being down there in the basement all these years has left it landlocked and therefore at a disadvantage compared to the evolution to mega warehouse sized haunted houses that we see more of today. Being the smallest, it has had to make up in other areas like atmosphere and good actors.

The Dungeon was not as consistent this year as it had been in years past as we came upon some unprepared spooks, but it did feature my overall favorite moment from any haunt, but I will get to that later.

Outside you are greeted by blaring heavy metal music which sets the tone right off the bat. Inside, the anticipation mounts as you descend the stairs to the darkness below. There you are greeted by the always intimidating "ticket" man (pictured left) and then once the stage is set you are allowed to proceed.

There were familiar sites like the Bates Motel room and the phantom of the opera. There also were some new scenes like the disturbing Wizard of Oz area with one wicked and cackling Dorothy. Evil scarecrows may be the new staple like the evil clown. Personally, I think scarecrows are much more frightening.

It's a brief trip and you wish it would be longer, and wait, it is longer than you think. As you emerge into the light, a staircase awaits to return you to ground level. Here, however, is where you encounter what I never would have expected. "The Grudge" had only been in theaters for about a week, but lookie here, if there isn't an Asian-styled, long haired ghost slithering face first down the stairs at you. The actor did a great job portraying a sort of hybrid of the evil ghosts from Ringu and Ju-On, and was the highlight moment of my haunted house visits this year.

Overall I cannot call it my best experience ever at the Dungeon of Doom, but I really admire the spirit of the place and it's run by great folks. Now if they could just figure out how to expand.

- Shrub

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