November 20, 2012

Review of Eli Roth's GORETORIUM Experience (a Las Vegas Horror Honeymoon Report)

Right on the Las Vegas strip, sandwiched between the world's largest LCD screen and a Walgreens, lurks one of Vegas's newest and best horror attractions: Eli Roth's GORETORIUM.


Props or the remains of previous ticket-holders?
At the beginning of November, the wife and I decided to Honeymoon in Las Vegas. As horror fans, we didn't go for the gambling. We went for the blood and the guts offered by several horror-themed attractions located in Sin City. Chief among them, and our primary reason for making the trip to Nevada, was to experience for ourselves the slaughter on the strip promised by The Goretorium.


And we were not disappointed! If you are a horror fan, the Goretorium should be your first stop in Sin City! The Goretorium is an incredibly fun and immersive terror experience that's fun, freaky, frightening and perfectly geared toward horror fans. There's really nothing else like in on the strip. The Goretorium is well worth the $29.95 price of admission (but keep in mind this is Vegas, so the cost of everything's going to be a little inflated); however, the wife and I left feeling a little concerned that The Goretorium may not last on the strip if changes aren't made to make the experience more compelling and to gain repeated business from horror fans and general audiences.

Tina's no slouch when it comes to gory photo opportunities
 Read on for a detailed review of THE GORETORIUM with more pictures and suggestions about what to do, what to avoid, and what the Goretorium could do better.


THE LOBBY

What is essentially a haunted house attraction with Hollywood-style production values, The Goretorium invites participants to experience a real-life horror movie with a back story of murder, perversion, and cannibalism. When you enter into the lobby of the Goretorium to buy your tickets, there are plenty of macabre props to interact with and costumed freaks to entice you. You can get a drink at Bloody Mary's, take in the looming artwork that combines the aesthetics of the SAW films with the bio-mechanic sensibilities of H.R. Giger or muck around with some severed limbs and an old electric chair.

Here I am having a *shocking* good time in Vegas
The Goretorium presents itself as a tour of the old Delmont Hotel. In reality, the Delmont is a work of fiction, but as you are escorted into the attraction by a bellhop (ours seemed very impressed with my Demons 2 t-shirt, so clearly horror fans are on the payroll), you wait to enter the attraction in a smaller lobby and are invited to participate in a photo op. I hear, however, that if you buy the VIP ticket, you bypass this entire portion of the attraction and do not get a photo op. Why pay more for less just to skip to the head of the line?

Cozy and Inviting!
THE HORROR

After the photo op, you learn from some displays and videos that the mythical Delmont was the site of grisly cannibalistic murders 50 years ago perpetrated by a family of psychopaths who used the hotel to live out their twisted fantasies. To cater to fans of the macabre, we are told that horror director Eli Roth has turned the Delmont into a macabre historical tour called "The Goretorium" with the aim of presenting recreations of the Delmont murders within the restored hotel despite the fact that tourists (like you) have been known to go missing in and around the old Delmont site. Once you begin the murder tour of the Delmont, things go horribly wrong and you soon find yourself on a fun, freaky, and frightening race for your life to escape the hungry horrors that still dwell within the old condemned basement of the historic horror hotel

Let's give Eli Roth a hand!

He should stop huffing
Photos are strictly forbidden in the attraction, and I'm not one to spoil the fun either, so let's just say that the Goretorium offers what you expect of a haunted attraction - live actors that jump out and scare you, grisly sets, disorienting tricks with mirrors and animatronic devices, dead ends, blind turns, and a dark, claustrophobic atmosphere. The Goretorium is a little like experiencing Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses with a hint of SAW in person. What sets Eli Roth's foray into horror attractions apart from the rest is the level of production value. Each environment and set piece is dripping with detail and gore. It's really a shame that the nature of the attraction compels you to keep moving forward so you don't get to see more of the set design. This is actually a quibble I have with the Goretorium; I think they're shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to getting repeat business from horror fans. As the prices stand, most people who loved the Goretorium might not be looking to drop another $29.95 to do the attraction again. My wife and I, for example, loved the experience, but we couldn't justify paying another $60.00 to do it again. On the other hand, we would have gladly gone back in for a discounted price because we really wanted to soak up more detail. Maybe the Goretorium, which only operates in the evening, should open up in the afternoon for ticket-holders who have already completed the attraction so they can walk through without actors and really get a good look at all the gore. At the very least, it's another chance to get us to pass through the lounge and the gift shop again

H.R. Giger Gets Medical
 Now the real question: is the Goretorium scary? Fear is a subjective thing, but I think I can answer this by explaining the three general categories of people who come to horror attractions.

1.) The Fresh Meat: these are the people who are not exceptionally versed in horror media and don't normally attend horror attractions but still love to be scared. Unlike more veteran horror fans, they are more receptive to being scared by haunts and horror movies. These people will likely leave the Goretorium either very disturbed, shaking in the knees, or both but completely satisfied and exhilarated.

2.) The Hardcore Warrior: these are the hardcore horror fans (or people with an intense desire to appear emotionally impenetrable) who consider claims that something is "scary" as a personal challenge to prove otherwise. These people watch the scariest and most horrifying material to prove they are above it. Sometimes, they are desensitized to what most people consider scary because they are so entrenched in the most hardcore of horror media. They are also, unfortunately, major joy-killers because they are unwilling to suspend disbelief. Instead, they feel compelled to point out all the tricks, emphasize all the flaws, and challenge the live actors in order to dispel the illusion of a haunted attraction, thereby ruining things for everyone else. They're the same kind of people who need to tell everyone how a magic trick is done rather than appreciating the execution. If you are one of those people who will shit on the Goretorium because it didn't reduce you to a quivering mess since you watch Faces of Death and Martyrs every day before bed, just stay home. Nothing save a real near-death experience will ever make you happy.

3.) The Young-At-Heart: these are the people who know that haunted attractions, like all horror media, are illusions. There is no real danger. There is no real threat. They are completely safe. At the same time, they love horror because they love being scared, and they are able to let horror media take them back to that child-like sensation of being scared in the dark but deriving fun from that fear. I would put my wife and I in this category. We watch a lot of horror movies, and we're not easily scared, but we love letting down our guards to embrace that fear. I spent most of my time going through the Goretorium laughing - not because I thought it was laughable. Instead, I was having such a great, thrilling time, that I had to laugh. We had a blast.

The Goretorium isn't meant to traumatize you, despite it's advertising campaign -- it's meant to be fun. It's trying to be an R rated version of Disney's The Haunted Mansion. Yeah, it can be a little silly and cheesy at times, but you're supposed to take that silliness and let it into your heart. If you don't find any joy in the Goretorium, you probably have absolutely no interest in being scared for fun or you're too hardcore to buy into the illusion and have fun.

Just hanging out

BABY DOLLS LOUNGE

Baby Dolls Lounge
Immediately exiting the attraction, you'll find yourself outside the Baby Dolls Lounge. Despite offering a spectacular view of the CityCenter strip from its open-air balcony, the Baby Dolls Lounge is the most disappointing part of the Goretorium experience. Offering a limited selection of overpriced (albeit delicious) horror-themed cocktails and regular bottled drinks, there's not much else to do at the lounge. When we were there, the place was (no pun-intended) dead. The decor is amazing, and two TV screens were playing a looped montage of gory moments from horror movies, but the lounge's selection almost compels you to leave in search of less spectacular venues for cheaper drinks on the strip. And it's a damn shame because I know horror fans would love to spend more time there. My wife Tina told me she'd come back to the Baby Doll lounge to drink every night of our honeymoon if the selection weren't so limited. I suspect this is what keeps out a lot of the non-horror fans as well. If you're already put off by a bar with baby doll heads mounted to bloody saws on the walls, why would you stay for over-priced drinks?

My lovely wife enjoying a toxic cocktail
 Something else to note: no one tells you this, but gratuity is included in all the prices, so tipping is discouraged.

Sharp decor
Cleanup, table two!


GIFT SHOP

I loved the gift shop! Vegas is full of tourist traps, but if you're a gorehound like me then you're going to spend a lot a lot of time in this shop decorated with enough rusted medical hardware, anatomical anomalies, and mutilated body parts to make Ed Gein blush.

As with all places in Vegas, prices are inflated, but I did pick up a great Goretorium hoodie with a mutilated design on the back similar to the one on this t-shirt. I absolutely love it to death and I wear it everywhere I can.


Cabinet of Curiosities

I bet some Eli Roth fangirl would love to get some of this head

Goretorium Shot Glasses

Macbre Merch

Medical Madness

Hang up your coats!

Keeping them fresh!

Say "Crispy" !

Fucking awesome

A fine selection of zombie literature

DO NOT TOUCH THE GNARLY TITS!
OVERALL

As a year-round horror attraction, Eli Roth's GORETORIUM should be the "e ticket" stop for any horror fans passing through Las Vegas. Not only is it incredibly fun and well-produced, but there is no other horror-centric experience like it in Las Vegas that so uniquely caters to the interests of horror fans. Eli Roth and his creative partners are clearly devoted to bringing horror fans a great experience, but to make the experience even more inviting, changes need to be made to the pricing menu at the Baby Dolls lounge if they want to make the Goretorium a nightly hot-spot rather than an oddity.

Does Eli Roth's GORETORIUM have legs to last as a permanent institution on the Las Vegas strip? I hope so. I'm worried that its pricing structure and lack of incentive for repeat business may drive away horror fans once they've passed through for the first time while general audiences might stay away except for on Halloween because of the Goretorium's violent content.

But that aside, I give the Goretorium high-marks for being the highlight of our honeymoon. Goretorium, you made two horror-loving newly weds very happy, and we'll be back again. I just hope you're still around when we get there.

Goodbye!