It's finally October, which means two things: grocery stores will probably start playing Christmas music ... and the Valley will finally be taken over by zombies, candy corn and, you guessed it, Haunted Houses. We're on a mission to scout out the best (and worst) ones and share our experiences. Hope you packed an extra pair of pants ...
Location: The Gauntlet at Golfland, 155 W Hampton Ave ., Mesa.
In Brief: The Gauntlet may be a little short, and probably isn't the best haunted house of the year, but it holds its weight with a few key scares.
Our Experience: We hit the Gauntlet at about 10 p.m. on a Saturday, and the maze was nearly empty save for a family of three ahead of us (Given: It was still September). We made our way to the front door of the maze and were greeted by an old man dressed grim-reaper-style who took our tickets. Inside, the 1300s Black Plague theme was apparent at first, with an appropriately dressed actor meeting up with us and demanding that we run for the hills. But then -- bam. Around the corner? Cheesy zombie-clown. And did they have chainsaws in the 1300s?
Still, the misdirection was top-notch. A few distracting (although somewhat cheap-looking) props caught our attention while a butcher shouting "You're gonna die!" sneaked up on us. The best part's at the end, which we won't spoil for you. All in all, it was about a 25-minute stroll through the maze.
Scariness (1 to 5 Scale): About 3.5. The acting was good, and so was the setting for the most part, but some of the props looked fresh out of the Halloween store.
Worth the Cash?: Maybe. You could probably get less for your money at $11 a pop for the maze, but it definitely could've stood to be a little longer. No line on a Saturday night was one strong selling point for us.
Who should go: Anyone who enjoys haunted houses could probably find something to love about the Gauntlet. Good for a date or a family outing.
Best Scare: Again, probably the end. Though they found the perfect short, stout, sneaky actor to play "the butcher."
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Fail: The lack of adherence to the plague theme was a little disappointing -- we expected some rats at least. Instead we got some bad haunted house cliches.
Overall grade: B