Apparently This Matters: Scared s***less at a haunted house

Editor’s Note: Each week in “Apparently This Matters,” CNN’s Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.

Story highlights

The end of September marks the beginning of haunted house season

Nightmares Fear Factory at Niagara Falls is a year-round haunted facility

Pictures of scared visitors from Nightmares go up on the Web

CNN  — 

It’s been quite a while since I last soiled my pants. Easily a week or two. Maybe three.

But temptation is everywhere, and the other day, as I was driving down the highway, I noticed a big sign for a haunted house. And I thought, “Welp, better stay away from that.”

You know. To keep the streak going.

But as I passed this haunted house, I also sort of did a double take, for it occurred to me that it was still only September.

"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

Granted, it’s the end of September, but seeing this caused a slight shock to my system, reminding me that, yes, fall is officially upon us and October is stealthily hiding right around the corner, chain-smoking clove cigarettes.

October’s such a hipster.

When I finally got home later in the afternoon, I sat down, like I often do, at my computer to scour the Web for things people are talking about online. And that’s when I surfed upon several mentions of some other haunted house – a rather famous year-round facility at Niagara Falls called Nightmares Fear Factory.

For all you nature lovers, it’s just down the street from Planet Hollywood.

Seriously, if you’ve never been to Niagara Falls, understand that the town, which rests right along the Canadian side of the river, is one of the tackiest places you’ll ever visit, and the entire area exists solely to vacuum-suck money out of your wallet as soon as you’re done taking romantic selfies in front of Big Splashy.

“I love you, Megan. Let’s get an overpriced cheeseburger.”

“And a commemorative paperweight?”

“Anything for you, babe.”

So there’s this big haunted house right on Victoria Avenue, and, according to their website, the location was once the Cataract Coffin Factory where, many years ago, they claim the proprietor, Abraham Mortimer, was killed when a stack of solid oak coffins collapsed and crushed him to death.

Naturally, his ghost still wanders the halls and haunts anyone who passes through his “beloved and now abandoned factory.”

As opposed to just chilling out in heaven with Jimi Hendrix.

I’m not saying the legend isn’t true. But it seems like a rather poor use of time in the afterlife.

“Naw, Jimi, you go on without me. I’m just gonna float around my old factory and be bitter.”

But what really makes this haunted house famous, especially this time of year, isn’t the legend. It’s the photos. As visitors wander the haunted halls in pitch darkness, huddled together following a trail of red lights, they reach a point where they are confronted by a car full of ghosts. Lights suddenly shine and secret cameras snap their terrified reactions.

Nightmares Fear Factory is just blocks away from the big splashy of Niagara Falls.

The images are amazing. Picture your grandparents watching Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. With their pastor.

Those are the faces.

As a bonus, some of the images are then fed to a photo stream on flickr so the rest of us can laugh at people clinging to each other in sheer terror.

And if that wasn’t hilarious enough, Nightmares Fear Factory has another way of humiliating patrons. If someone happens to get too scared during the 10-15 minute walk through of the house, all they have to do is scream “Nightmares” and something will take them out.


That’s their word. Not mine. So, it might be a zombie. Or it might be a ghost. But it could also be, I suppose, a taco shell.

Just something.

Once you’re removed, you are unceremoniously added to what they call the Chicken Count, which, at the time of this being published, stands at 124,212 people.

So, as we say goodbye to September, it’s time to say hello to Nightmares Fear Factory and all the other seasonal haunted houses that come to us in October. None of which I’ll be visiting.

You know. To keep the streak going.

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