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A Good Scare

Boo! Your guide to the scariest haunted houses in Houston

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If you're like me, even minutely scary movies give you nightmares for weeks. But there's something about a haunted house that I find sort of appealing.

Maybe because they make you confront your fears first-hand. Maybe because they're so scary that it borders on hilarious.

There are more than a half dozen big-time haunted houses up and running in Houston. Each claims to be the "best" and the "scariest," and most of their websites are labyrinths to navigate, so it's hard to choose where to go. We did the dirty work for you, and compiled all of the details here.

Whether you publicly urinate in fear, get hacked with a chainsaw or break your nose running away straight into a wall is your prerogative.

Nightmare on the Bayou
This haunted house is in its 12th year, and has often made it to the list of Hauntworld Magazine's Scariest Attractions (this year it placed 13th on the list). The Nightmare boasts more than 15,000 square feet of "hauntedness."

Where: 1515 Studemont Street, directly next to Houston's oldest cemetery 
When: Daily, 7:30 p.m.
Price: $30 (general admission), $40 (VIP, which gets you to front of the line), $25 every Sunday. Buy online here.

Phobia
This "30-acre scary zone" has eight attractions to combat your every phobia — even the ones you didn't know you harbored. The "houses" are Darke Institute Psychiatrics, Mind Control Asylum, 3D Clown Phobia, ClaustroPhobia and Dawn of the Machine. The "Exile Attractions," sold separately, include Fowler Woods, DarkeWorld and MANIA.

Where: 18777 Highway 290
When: Every Friday thru Sunday in October, times vary; nightly Oct. 27 - 31
Price: Prices range from $13 (one house) to $50 (all five houses), or $30 for the "Exile Attractions." Coupons online. Group pricing available. No credit cards. ATM on-site.

Carnage
Thought that those horror film characters only appeared to you in nightmares? This one brings 'em into an interactive realm. And they're realistic, too — the effects are created by the same companies who supply Disney and Universal Studios. Carnage brags that most visitors leave, crying and hyperventilating, after just 15 minutes.

Where: 1-10 and Silber, in the Marquee Entertainment Center
When: Thursday and Sunday, 7 to 10 p.m.; Friday, Saturday and Halloween night, 7 p.m. to 12 a.m., throughout October
Price: $15 (general admission), $20 (VIP). Group pricing available.

ScreamWorld
A terrifying camp made up of Jake's Slaughterhouse, the Haunted Hotel, the Edge of Darkness, a Maze of Maniacs and a Zombie Graveyard make ScreamWorld one of the most highly-lauded scare destinations in Houston. Haunted Attraction Magazine named it one of top 20 haunts in American, and MSNBC named it one of the top 13.

Where: 2225 N Sam Houston Parkway W
When: Every Thursday through Sunday in October, adding days and hours as Halloween approaches
Price: $25 (Scream Pass, online), $29 (Fast Pass, online), $17 (Thursday and Sunday night discounted rate).

Houston Haunted Houses
Multiple attractions — chainsaw maze, sanitarium, haunted woods and castle of doom — plus free live music, clean bathrooms and a chance to win a car.

Where: 1500 Elton Street; haunted woods at 2955 S Sam Houston Parkway E
When: Every Friday and Saturday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Oct. 31, 8 to 11 p.m.
Price: Range from $15 to $25 per attraction, with combo tickets and speed passes available. Discount coupon here.

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