Story by Jeremy Breningstall
Photograph courtesy of Shanghai Nightmare
A 107-year-old building along Suzhou Creek is alive with spirits. For a creepy experience between now and Halloween, stop by the Shanghai Nightmare Haunted House (1295 Nan Suzhou Lu, a few blocks away from the Xinzha Lu metro station).
Gan Quan, Shanghai Nightmare co-creator, said he and his girlfriend Xu Jiali first envisioned the haunted house while working at Intel a year ago.
“She has an art background and I have an engineering background,” Gan said. “We thought why not combine it to use both of our talents?”
The result, open five nights a week, includes a “beheading room,” a long pathway of laser-lit mirrors and a theater full of stiff bodies. Oh, and a monster bar.
One visitor exiting the theater was heard to say, “I would still be scared the second and third and fourth time- bodies popping out everywhere.”
Gan and Xu first began designing the site last winter, beginning an odyssey that culminated in a visit to HauntCon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last spring, where they toured a dozen haunted houses to find what they like and dislike. The next step was to find a suitable location in Shanghai. Gan said they gave some thought to places like the New Factories and 1933, but found the rent at those “frequent event” destinations to be too steep. There are many warehouses on the outskirts of the city, but they held at hope of finding something that would be easily accessible. One day walking along Suzhou Creek, they chanced upon a building with a “For Lease” sign.
With a building now empty and waiting, they set about facilitating the interior for ghosts and vampires. Gan would not disclose the budget for the haunted house but said he would need to draw about 10,000 audience members in order to break even. A local event company (Seeka) helped with the renovations and the haunted house entrepreneurs decorated the maze-like rooms with a variety of creepy artifacts, ranging from eery pictures to jailhouse doors.
Gan said though their parents were initially opposed to the 26-year-olds leaving the security of work at Intel for this venture, in the end they turned around and supported the project with loans. “This is kind of like tuition. It isn’t something you can learn in school,” Gan said, adding that he hopes publicity from the project will lead to future opportunities.
The haunted house will be open from now until Halloween. Open hours are 7 pm-midnight Fri.-Sat. and 7pm-11pm Wed., Thurs. and Sun. Entry is 98RMB for standard entry and 188RMB for VIP tickets. For further information, contact Shanghai Nightmare at 5375 2589 or visit their website.