Some say if you've been to one haunted house, you've been to them all. Certain hallmarks of horror lurk around every corner: disorienting strobe lights, zombies sniffing around your head, people popping out of dark spaces suddenly and screaming in your ears, chainless-chainsaw-wielders swinging at your knees. But there are a few halloween-themed haunts around the Valley that are a cut above. From zombie shootouts in the dark desert to cursed corn mazes, here's a terrifying trio of Phoenix haunts to visit this halloween season – if you're brave enough.
One of the scariest aspects of this new ghastly attraction is getting in and out of the parking lot – it's located a few miles off the 202 freeway, in an industrial area (rock quarry) with steep slopes and no light, and you have to drive under a (hopefully) dry flood tunnel to get out. Inside, there are two haunted houses – “Slayer's Slaughter House,” a bloody butcher-themed stroll under painfully powerful strobe lights; and “Epic Fear,” a dark and dreary gothic-style haunted house. But the reason Scarizona makes this list is zombies. Specifically, “Operation: Zombie Storm,” an interactive experience in which guests board a humvee with six fully automatic paintball guns on each side and ride through the desert, shooting 200 rounds each of neon green paintball ammunition at the undead as they emerge from sets like plane wreckage and school buses. $20 for both haunted houses; $20 for “Operation: Zombie Storm”; $35 combo pack. scarizona.com
2. Field of Screams
Never plant a cornfield over a cemetery. If you do, you'll end up with a haunted corn maze festering with fiends like Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, and maybe a killer clown or two. What makes this spine-chiller so effective is the silence – one minute you're walking in the dark through some corn stalks with a Chaka Kahn song stuck in your head, the next you're fleeing some blood-flecked freak who flew at you from out of nowhere. $16. azfieldofscreams.com
1. Jack & Jill's Haunted Hill
Legend has it that Jack and Jill went up a hill, looking for water. But in a twisted twist, they stumbled upon an “abandoned” mine along the way and were never heard from again. If you take a walk through this massive attraction, you can find out their fates – but not before witnessing scenes of all manner of murder, mayhem, torture and terror. It's definitely not suitable for children (though family-friendly daytime tours are available for $5, so kids can see the spooky sets sans the serial killers and screaming victims). You can augment your shock and awe with an arcade, a full bar, and a DJ every Friday and Saturday night. $25-$30 ($5 off promo available online). jackandjillshauntedhill.com
Get your daily dose of culture with our curated picks of the best events and experiences in the Valley, from art and music to sports and the outdoors. Culture vultures can sign up for our Things to Do and VIP List newsletters for even more hip happenings.