Earlier this month, my boyfriend and I took our yearly road trip to Vegas to celebrate our anniversary. One year prior, we had celebrated our anniversary by spending our evening at Eli Roth’s Goretorium, a wicked awesome year-round haunted house right on the Las Vegas strip. Sadly, the Goretorium has since closed—we were devastated to know we would never visit again. It was hard to see the spot next to Planet Hollywood devoid of our beloved Goretorium. So, I decided I should write a little love letter as a goodbye to this amazing establishment to preserve its memory!
When we arrived at the Goretorium, we were greeted by a masked maniac with a menacing machete (say that five times fast!) with whom we posed for pictures. The lobby was a mini-chamber of horrors which included a chandelier decorated with corpses, some cool zombie figures, fake cobwebs, and TONS of creepy Pinhead-esque panels adorning the walls. There was a “fake” electric chair in the middle of the lobby. But it wasn’t fake! And it scared the living hell out of everyone who sat upon it. When you put your hands on the armrests of the chair, you got zapped with a decent shock. Mind you, it wasn’t intense, but it was definitely more than a little jolt!
Isaiah and I had purchased our tickets in advance so we didn’t have to deal with the box office, and we had sprung for the VIP tickets so we got to skip the line. We were given the standard safety spiel (don’t touch the actors, etc.) and warned that if we really couldn’t handle the maze, we could yell “RED RED RED” to stop the experience—smart inclusion in my opinion, if for nothing else than liability. The story behind the Goretorium was centered upon the Delmont Hotel, a casino and resort that was famous not for its great rooms and service but for its inhabitants: a family of cannibalistic serial killers. Then we were led into a room and walked right into the most perfectly executed misdirection ever. Just as we entered a very old-school Vegas hotel lobby, a flash went off. Our bellhop/guide said something along the lines of, “Oh I’m sorry about that, I must have set the camera incorrectly. Just stand there and I’ll take your picture again.” Like idiots, we started to say that it was no problem when a huge gust of wind blew against our backs and we both totally yelled. Loudly. Our picture was taken at that moment, and I can assure you that these faces were not staged AT ALL. Legitimately did not see that coming! (Maybe it was the pre-haunt drinks, but maybe not…)
We had to wait in this creepy dark stairway for the other members of our group to arrive. I think the greatest aspect of the Goretorium was that you could never be in a group larger than seven people. If you have ever been to other haunted house events like Halloween Horror Nights, Knotts Scary Farm, etc. you’ll know why this is so important. In many haunted house attractions, they keep the maze so packed that you can see where the actors are going to jump out and scare you, so you can brace yourself for the scares. But, oh no, not here. Because they only allowed you to go in with small groups, we had a group of only four: me, Isaiah, and a couple from Wisconsin on their honeymoon.
We were ushered into a large elevator by our bellhop guide as he told us the story of the Delmont hotel. He gave us the gory details of the cannibalistic crimes and explained that one of the family members was never caught. As the elevator door swung open, our bellhop was yanked out and “murdered.” We were left in a long passageway with no indication which path we should take. At this point, I’m already scared, because I’m a total wimp, but the newlywed couple were in far worse shape. The wife said, “Can you hold my hand?! We’ll send the men first!” Her husband refused, but Isaiah valiantly led the way.
The maze itself was about twenty minutes long, and the pace was pretty much up to us because the maze was self-guided. It was a Tuesday night when we went, so I’m not sure if the actors were bored and therefore more willing to interact with us, but we felt like we had a very hands-on experience. Plus, I’m only 5 feet tall, I have a babyface, and I scream far too easily, so in general I seem to get targeted at every haunted house I visit. In one particular room of the maze, a crazed butcher who was MUCH taller than me kept getting in my face to repeatedly tell me to push a button on his machine. I was NOT about to push any button and I was clearly losing my shit, so Isaiah finally said “I’ll do it” (my prince!) and stepped up to the machine to which I had been beckoned. Just as he was about to press the button, the butcher batted his hand away and scolded him for touching his machine! It was a well-savored moment of comedic relief before we had to brave the rest of the maze.
In each room, there were some pretty incredible theatrical tricks. In one room, a woman was beheaded and they used this super rad mirror trick to make it genuinely look like this poor soul had her head pulled off. Another room was a zombie buffet (a clever nod to the eternally present Vegas staple) in which actors were eating limbs and various intestines accompanied by a cool light that made everything look like it was crawling with maggots. One of my favorite rooms was a chapel (which they actually used for real weddings!) in which a bride and groom were about to be wed. Just as they were about to be bound til death do they part, the bride had her limb violently torn off and we were sprayed with her “blood.” Very Grand Guignol yet campy. Perfect.
After literally squeezing our way out of the museum (you have to exit through inflated walls!) we were spit out onto the Baby Dolls Lounge, so named because the walls were decked out with hundreds of decapitated baby doll heads. Our tickets included one drink, so we got two cocktails: Eli Roth’s Blood (Stoli Blueberry, Blue curacao, cranberry juice, lime juice, and rock candy syrup) and Death Tea (Maker’s Mark, American Honey liqueur, blackberry tea, Sprite, fresh blackberries, and sour mix.) Eli’s Blood had a slightly viscous quality to it that perfectly befitted its moniker, and Death Tea was smooth and perfect. They were both absolutely delicious and served in these adorable cups (well, adorable to horror weirdos like me) that said Eli Roth’s Goretorium, which we kept. I’m pretty sure that was allowable… There were some TVs that played Eli’s movies and the view of the Strip itself could not be beat. And the bar restrooms were hilarious. There was an audio track running that made various remarks like “Smile for the camera!” followed by a camera shutter noise. The mirrors were covered in blood and the lights flickered—literally every inch of this place was designed, and nothing went unaltered. It was such a cool place.
Unfortunately, the pictures I took were pretty terrible because at the time a) I was in Vegas so I was drinking and b) I didn’t really know how to use my new iPhone’s camera and c) IT WAS VEGAS AND I WAS DRINKING. Sorry y’all, wish I could have captured more photos, but the blurry ones I do have give a pretty solid taste for what the place was like.
There is most definitely a Goretorium-shaped hole in my heart. Luckily I had enough yard-longs to cope. (I will never bring any other cup to Vegas, by the way!)
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