Haunted houses have a large order to fill, namely because it takes talent and careful planning to scare the crap out patrons who are so obviously waiting for exactly that thing. But theres a tried-and-true formula that certifiably screams suspense. The answer: clowns. Also: carnivals. Also: sausage. All very creepy things.
Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds, where all of these hideous elements come together in one massive event, remains atop the haunted pile. Theyve got haunted houses, yes, but in one of them lurk The Smiths. Not the band, you see, but the cabal of deeply misanthropic clowns. Elsewhere, theyve got a butcher shop direct from the bucolic south, Country Bills Meat Market, where you can witness flesh of uncertain derivation turned into food of questionable edibility (including sausages), all by people whose family trees look more like vines. To complete the trifecta, theres a midway with rides and games and cotton candy and screaming children (perhaps the scariest addition of all). And theres a sideshow. No shit. An old-timey sideshow, full of natural oddities (Fat Lady Fannie Bryson, the Half Boy), self-made freaks (William Darke, who jams nails up his schnoz for both money and pleasure; a guy named Zomora, the Torture King who tortures himself for your edification), and total unclassifiables (the Bearded Lady, the Wolf Man). You can witness all of this and more for a mere $15 (or $25, if you wanna have unlimited access to rides). The frightening will persist at 6 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays until November 1 at the fairgrounds (9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach). Buy your tix at frightnights.net.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m. Starts: Oct. 17. Continues through Nov. 1, 2008