It's post-World War III and there's martial law. What would you expect to be roaming the apocalyptic landscape? Zombies? Bulbous-headed aliens? Ravers? If you're the aorta-choking creators behind Alice Cooper's Brutal Planet, then yes.
Cooper himself may have had little to do with Brutal Planet's design (sadly, there is no "Feed My Frankenstein" room), but the folks who opened the haunted house two years ago in Denver, Colorado, are the shock-rocker's kindred scary spirits. Dimensions Unlimited pushes Halloween horrors well beyond the typical pay-$20-to-get-chased-
mock-chain-saws haunted houses. They, like Cooper, want to mess with your head.
Brutal Planet is occasionally funny (a goofy-looking mental patient has go-go-Gadget arms), mostly scary and always intense, with black lights, strobes and dizzying tunnels. Even the holding area is a Goth rave scene where a body-rattling house beat propels dancers into a hypnotizing, hip, gyrating jig around a guillotine that's about to off some unlucky fool's head. And a diner, serving mostly "finger food," features a wacko gar¸on that isn't quite as shackled to the wall as he appears.
The 37 actors, ahem, zombies working at Brutal Planet attended a two-day Zombie University at AstroWorld, and the training paid off. One particularly sneaky ghoul, who blended into a wall of blood and guts, scared the reporter's notebook out of me when he came out of nowhere with an intimidating roar and an I'm-going-to-tackle-you pantomime. The actors are not allowed to touch you, but they get pretty close.
In fact, Brutal Planet is so scary that the creators count on some people not making it through and have security on staff to escort scaredy-cats out of the house. Not to give away any surprises, but this disclaimer is a civic duty: Be wary of the patient lying on the gurney.
Part of AstroWorld's nearly parkwide Fright Fest, Brutal Planet is open Fridays from 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through October 31. Six Flags AstroWorld, 9001 Kirby, (713)799-1234. Park admission is $35.99 for adults and $18 for children under 48 inches. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent for Brutal Planet.