City of the Dead is a haunted house located at the Mile High Marketplace in Henderson, CO. Rex and I have enjoyed getting to know the owners and operators of the haunt over the last couple of years and worked closely with them last year to film and produce a documentary highlighting the behind the scenes tips and tricks of a successful haunted house. You can find all their information at www.cityofthedeadhaunt.com.
City of the Dead is a haunted attraction that thrives on intensity. From the time you step foot out of your car in the Mile High Marketplace parking lot, City of the Dead is assaulting your senses. The music from the haunt can easily be heard from the parking lot and chances are good you will encounter a 10 foot mallet-wielding monster while trying to buy tickets. Once inside the tent where the haunt is housed, you will have to work your way through an eerie atmosphere of fog just to get to the queue line. Add to this mix a wonderful addition for 2011 of "scare cams." City of the Dead has placed flat screen monitors around the queue line that highlights 3 or 4 scenes from inside the haunt. Guests waiting in line are able to watch live-action scares in real time and get a sense of what they are about to experience. We have not seen a local haunted house incorporate this kind of extra bonus at their haunt.
But it is inside the house where the true intensity begins. City of the Dead has a coherent, well developed storyline that is maintained throughout the duration of the haunt experience. This isn't just a bunch of rooms pieced together. You are convicted by "Judge Graves" at the beginning of the haunt and then must work your way through a city where the dead are running wild. Even the rooms are positioned to make sense – for example, the police station is housed next to a donut shop. Brilliant. Speaking of the rooms, there is more detail here than you can possibly take in with one walk-through. The attention to small details is overwhelming and if you ask a staff member about the story line at any given room, you will receive an incredibly in-depth back story that most guests would never pick up on, but the fact they have created it for their own satisfaction is super cool. For example, one scene in the "outside" of the city shows a vehicle having crashed. If you look carefully, you can see the chain reaction of the crash carried throughout half of the haunt – complete with telephone poles being knocked over, etc.
The actors are also intense. One of the first zombies we encountered, portrayed by a guy named John, was simply terrifying. He was depicting a spazzed out zombie and was kind of doing his own thing, not really noticing us. Then, when he made eye contact with us, he jumped over a car (literally) and came after us. There are also slow moving zombies, two girl zombies that play well off each other, and a terrific addition to the asylum where a patient with a split personality argues with himself. Look closely at the asylum walls, you will see pictures of real life lobotomy patients from years ago. This adds a touch of realism and makes the room incredibly spooky.
One of the changes this year to City of the Dead provides both a positive and somewhat challenging modification. The lighting has definitely dimmed in many of the rooms. This is in part due to some very nice and effective LED lighting, creating a unique method of getting light in the room without having bulbs or obvious sources of light hanging around. Rex and I felt like some of the rooms were not lit quite well enough; an issue that normally would not be a big deal, but since these rooms are so incredibly designed and detailed, you want to be able to see all that hard work.
Finally, COTD has an interesting approach to the entrance of the haunt this year. When you walk into the tent in order to get in line, you walk directly along the path of the haunt's exit – complete with mr. chainsaw slider man. I'm not sure I like the idea of seeing the end of the haunt when you walk through the doors, but it seems to be working just fine.
City of the Dead remains a "must see" for anyone interested in visiting a haunted house this year in the Denver area. Be warned: This haunt is gore invested. This isn't a mall haunt or home haunt. Parents with smaller children should be forewarned that some of the rooms are blood-filled and controversial. That, of course, is one reason why this house gets an enthusiastic recommendation from Rex and the Beast. You will be amazed at the detail. You will be scared out of your wits. You will have fun. What more do you want?