Cities Journal

Nightmare: New York, If You Dare

“Nightmare: New York,” located and staged in a Lower East Side building, presents the ugliest, scariest vision of 1970s and ’80s-era Gotham.

Subways are covered with graffiti, spooky people and crime. Menacing creatures wander the streets, and they do not look anything like your favorite cartoon character, we warn you.

Visitors wander through a 13-section maze of New York’s dark side, starting with a blackout, followed by scenes with flashing lights or a fire. Characters include a psychotic serial killer, a urine-stained homeless man, a deranged woman and tunnel-dwelling “mole people” whose grotesque faces can suddenly pop up from anywhere, and they do. Timothy Haskell, the off-Broadway director who created the scary show, said the haunting is forever.

“When someone screams, that’s our applause. But I also want them to appreciate the real-life stories that seep into your bones. Startles are ephemeral, haunting is forever.”

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