Everything is not as it seems at Haunted Tales on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Its front room looks like a run-of-the-mill spooky gift shop, but it's actually a virtual haunted house, designed to scare the heck out of you.

The centerpiece of this room, a coffin on hydraulics is used in an attraction called Buried Alive. In the back room there's a virtual reality theater that also offers chills.

Haunted Tale's strength is in what it withholds. Inside the Buried Alive coffin there's no video screen, no 3-D glasses and no animatronics. It's just the rider, alone, staring at the inside of a coffin and listening to a story. In a world where entertainment has become impressively intricate, there's something eerie about simplicity and the unknown. The coffin moves in time with the five-minute story.

The virtual reality theater is filled with local Victorian-era objects, bubbling cauldrons, and surprises. There are two stories spanning a total of 15 minutes; one about the Jersey Devil, the other about stolen treasure. While there are some impressive special effects, again, it's about the disorienting darkness and creepy noise that surrounds you.

Dave Simpson

If you go

Location: 1535 Boardwalk (between Kentucky and New York avenues),

Atlantic City. Call 609-340-8818.

Hours: 11 a.m. until around midnight

Cost: $4, Buried Alive; $7.50 for adults and $6.50 for kids, Virtual Reality Theater

What moms want to know: Stroller friendly? Yes. Bathrooms? No. Food on site? No. Pack a lunch? Yes. Play area: No. Scare factor? The coffin can be claustrophobic but there is a button that can be hit at any time to get out. The show is creepy and loud. If the kids are looking for a scare, it's great.