• The scariest haunted houses in the U.S.


    Aside from getting dressed up in your favorite costume, Halloween is an exciting time of year because of all the haunted attractions that pop up throughout the U.S. Some of them go above and beyond the typical hayrides through the dark. What makes them scarier than others? Special effects, illusions, trained actors and scenes that were carefully thought out to be the most unique in the scare business separate the eeriest from the eerie.

    If you're looking to put your courage to the test, try these four extreme haunted houses this season, all of which have been rated among the most terrifying in the country.

    1. The Pennhurst Asylum, Pennsylvania
    Located in Spring City, the Pennhurst Asylum is frequented by travelers looking to experience a truly frightening ride. While the mummies, ghosts and witches that jump out at people play a large role in a haunted attraction's scream factor, perhaps even more important is the setting. This fear-seeker's haven is located in a 100-year-old mental institute that was abandoned and left to rot in the quiet Pennsylvanian city.

    Known for being haunted, the asylum is often investigated by professional ghost hunters, and was even featured on television shows like "Ghost Adventures" and "Ghost Hunters." Evil spirits have been felt throughout the building several times, but that doesn't stop daredevils from entering every year. A few of the asylum's attractions include the ghost hunt, the tunnel of terror and the dungeon of lost souls, which includes a walk through the actual cells that patients stayed in as well as professional actors performing "human experiments," according to the asylum's website. Combined with special effects and illusions, the Pennhurst Asylum has been called the No. 1 location to get freaked out at this Halloween.

    2. Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride, Pennsylvania
    You may have heard of the legendary Bates Motel where the famous horror film "Psycho" was filmed. But would you ever consider exploring the haunted hotel in person? It's now possible to visit the Bates Motel Haunted House in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, which, over the years, has been ranked as the scariest Halloween attraction by magazines like Haunted World magazine.

    The hayride is one of the attractions that you can take part in during your visit, but be warned, the ride is likely a lot different from similar excursions you may have been on. Guests are taken deep into a 200-year-old forest, which is overgrown, resulting in maximum darkness. The ride also consists of multiple scenes complete with creepy soundtracks, actors that jump out at visitors and pyrotechnics to ensure even the biggest thrill seekers are afraid.

    3. The 13th Gate, Louisiana
    Eonline suggested a trip to the 13th Gate, a 40,000 square-foot haunted house located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One of the aspects of the house that make it so much scarier than the hundreds of other haunted attractions across the country is that fact that the owners were able to recruit more than 200 Hollywood-trained actors, makeup artists and special effects artists from the area, as Louisiana currently features a booming film industry. The talent involved in putting the attraction together has made for a very realistic haunted house. For example, the set for each scene is designed with high-quality props and animations that are comparable to those used in major theater productions.

    With a total of 13 areas featuring various themes, you'll get up close and personal with everything from clowns and live snakes to possessed children on your 30-minute walk through the building. Before you make it through the exit, you'll have to endure a number of frightening activities, such as finding your way through a series of tunnels submerged in complete darkness and crawling through an old crematory oven.

    4. Erebus 4 Story Haunted Attraction, Michigan
    With so many haunted attractions throughout Michigan, - more than 75 near the metro area surrounding Detroit - the Erebus Haunted House has a lot of competition, which explains its truly bizarre scares that you won't find anywhere else. The creators of the attraction have been in the business for more than 30 years, so they're masters at freaking people out.

    According to the Erebus website, you will feel things bite, grab and even land on top of you. One attraction within the house features an empty room in which unknowing guests sit and wait anxiously until more than 10,000 balls begin to fall and fill the room. They have to figure out how to escape before they're buried. A new activity introduced in 2011 consists of a War of the Worlds theme where you have to fight off aliens as well. If you plan on traveling to the Erebus haunted house this year, ready yourself for giant centipedes, mad scientists and even vicious wild monkeys.

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