Casual Haunter’s Guide

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2014 by bluefall8

Haunted attractions come in all shapes, sizes and styles and it can be difficult to decide which establishment is worthy of your hard-earned dollars and if you’ve procrastinated until the very night of Samhain itself then you are indeed in need of help.

My band of merry haunters and I have traveled to many lands over the last decade in search of fun and fright, and have on this Halloween prepared for you a list of our most favorite locations which we’re sure will delight and excite.

In no particular order…

Erebus, Pontiac, MI. – It may not be the darling of hardcore haunters but let there be no doubt that Erebus has stood the test of time and has never failed to deliver the goods. The army of animatronics and actor-controlled puppets featured at Erebus is unrivaled by anything in the Metro-Detroit area. Anybody who enjoys haunted attractions should tour Erebus at least once.

Terror Town, Maumee, OH. – House of the Dead can rival Erebus for mechanized monstrosities per square foot and features a number of special effects witnessed at precious few locations. The static props found throughout the bowels of House of the Dead are among the most frightening and lifelike on the market.

Exit 13, Mt. Morris, MI. – One of the most in-your-face, physical casts a haunted house can legally spawn. Quality design, near perfect pace and a blend of laughs and scares alike.

Hush, Westland, MI. – A young haunt with a lot of guts highlighted by some seriously killer scenes and top notch acting.

Bloodview, Broadview Heights, OH. – Staffed by the best troupe of actors a haunted house could possibly want; a group known as the Legion of Terror. The show is re-themed each weekend, the main building has one of the best designs we’ve ever witnessed.

Darksyde Acres, Jonesville, MI. – You never quite know what you’re going to encounter at Darksyde Acres. Come for the scares, stay for the vivacious haunt hotties.

Haunted Hydro, Fremont, OH. – Crazy Bob Turner is a class act of the industry and a true artisan of his craft, the old hydro dam is an excellent structure for a haunted attraction and the location exudes the very spirit of Halloween.

Slaughterhouse Adventure, Fowlerville, MI. – Most effective mix of story, illusion and comedy. Slaugherhouse features three attractions including a haunted barn, haunted corn maze and haunted hayride. Do yourself a favor and spring for the combo package.

Haunted Farm of Terror, Lenox Township, MI. – We’ve only visited The Haunted Farm of Terror once (2009) but to this day we have yet to witness a more electrifying and unique haunted hayride.

Other notable Michigan locations include St. Lucifer’s & 13 Feet Under (Grand Blanc), Wiard’s Night Terrors (Ypsilanti) Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles), The Realm of Darkness (Pontiac) and Dark Legacy (Wixom).

I encourage you to poke around Horrorlust for past reviews (use the drop-down window on the right hand side of the homepage) on all of these attractions and furthermore I welcome any feedback you may have regarding your own experiences.

Happy Haunting.

Danced with the Devil & Lived to Tell the Tale

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on October 31, 2014 by bluefall8

Holy bat syllables! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; it’s nights like these that keep us on the road chasing that next great haunt fix. John and I witnessed such an avalanche of wonderful props, gags and actors that my mind is all abuzz with haunted goodies.

First, we zipped our way to Wixom where Dark Legacy lived up to the hype. We had a great time conversing with several members of the team before we ever entered the attraction; owner Austin Denney seemed a veritable treasure trove of industry information.

Dark Legacy was comprised of three continuous attractions beginning with Government Owned Haunt then Kensington Detention Center and finally Fang Cemetery. There was a clear continuity throughout the trio of attractions and this attention to detail was a boon for the story being told here. The rooms and other various areas were elaborately decorated and featured a wide range of props and animatronics from caged monkeys, alien cadavers and eerily glowing jars.

The scares were aplenty and the actors assailed us from all angles. We even witnessed a few gags and costumes that were new to us, and all of this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We departed Wixom and set our sights on Westland where we were pleased to find Dr. Phineas Phun right where we left him last year. Since our Devil’s Night visit last year, Hush has undergone a near total redesign and the result was impressive.

Hush featured a combination of excellent acting and several unique, striking scenes. The cast was a frenzy of activity and displayed a well-balanced blend of creepy and humorous situations; some with an edge of physicality uncommon to most haunts.

I have so many more thoughts to share on Dark Legacy and Hush, and of course it will all be detailed in upcoming full reviews.

Hush, Dark Legacy Highlight Devil’s Night Delight

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2014 by bluefall8

Devil’s Night has a knack for delivering memorable haunt outings — from the windswept, breakneck adventure in 2009 that saw us hit Hellblock 13 in Wyandotte, The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and The Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township to the 2013 roller coaster which began with Bloodbath on Biddle, soared to new heights at Hush and finally crashed and burned at the Scream Machine in Taylor.

Indeed, the night before the night of nights has historically provided something to write about whether it be trick or treat and tonight, I suspect, should be no different. If all goes according to plan and no uncontrollable intangibles threaten to thwart our night we’ll visit the well-publisized rookie in Wixom known as Dark Legacy and end the trek with a visit to the revamped, expanded 2013 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year, Hush.

Dark Legacy features three haunted attractions including the curiously named Government Owned Haunt, Kensington Detention Center and Fang Cemetery. The Dark Legacy website has a neat story for each of the attractions and it would seem that a shadowy sect of the United States government has been up to all sorts of nasty experiments. Irradiated milk? Genetic engineering?! And what the hell is Codename GACK?!!!

The evening shall end with a visit to the Hush in Westland for a highly anticipated return to the breakout star of the 2013 haunt season and the Horrorlust Haunt of the Year. It would appear as if Dr. Phineas C. Phun has spent the last calendar year creating an army of abominations at the Hush Corporation and tonight we’ll see if John and I can bring down this megalomaniacal institution of arrogance and avarice.

Happy Haunting.

Horrorlust Radio Episode #007

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by bluefall8

In episode #007 of Horrorlust Radio I’m joined by my frequent partner in crime, Mud Puppet Ryan. Ryan and I will discuss comedy in horror and also relive some of our most cherished, and not so cherished, Halloween memories.

Also in this episode of Horrorlust Radio we have new entries for the segments Cauldron Questions and Nightmare Fuel. In the former Ryan and I will answer three burning questions and then during the latter Ryan will recount a personal tale of the macabre, strange and surreal.

We’ll also discuss the results of the garage haunt, The CikNis and then detail my involvement with the Wyandotte Jaycees 2014 haunted house, Fo-be-e.

I’m actively seeking sponsors for Horrorlust Radio, if you own or operate a haunted attraction or are otherwise involved or connected to the haunt industry and are interested in such an opportunity you can contact me at the following email address: horrorlust@bluestarproductions.net

Email any questions or comments to the address above or feel welcome to post any reactions to this podcast in the comments section below.

HORRORLUST RADIO EPISODE: 007

SHOW NOTES

The Great Horrorlust Sharing was mentioned several times during this podcast; this Facebook event is to promote the Horrorlust page on the social network. You can view the event here: The Great Horrorlust Sharing.

You can even share the event itself or invite your own circle of friends which is great, but the end game to all of this is to direct folks to the Horrorlust Facebook page so that they too can like and share it. So, here’s the link, like and share away: Horrorlust on Facebook

Below is the VHS cover art for the 1990 film Troll 2 — nothing I can type here can accurately summarize this film. Stop reading. Go watch Troll 2.

Even the VHS cover art struggled with continuity -- that's a werewolf on the box art of a film called Troll 2 which featured goblins...not trolls.

Even the VHS cover art struggled with continuity — that’s a werewolf on the box art of a film called Troll 2 which featured goblins…not trolls.

One of the most entertaining documentaries ever produced; Best Worst Movie highlights the oddball cast and crew who brought Troll 2 into its now infamous existence and chronicles the cult following this cinematic train wreck has inspired.

A truer title the world does not know.

A truer title the world does not know.

In this podcast Ryan and I discussed at length our sketch comedy troupe the Mud Puppets. Primarily, we produce videos on YouTube but also have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and WordPress. Last spring we began a comedy based podcast as well. The best starting point for all things Mud Puppets is our website: The Mud Puppets

Our channel features over 130 videos including all of the horror and Halloween themed sketches and specials discussed in the podcast such as 2012’s Our Muddy Nightmare and our recent public access episode Cabinet of Curiosities.

The songs and audio clips featured in this episode are listed below in chronological order:

1. “Halloween” by Aqua (Aquarius, 2000)

2. Trick ‘r Treat Theatrical Trailer, 2007

3. “Astro Zombies” by The Misfits (Walk Among Us, 1982)

4. Halloween Bus Massacre from Trick ‘r Treat, 2007

5. “Halloween” by The Misfits (Legacy of Brutality, 1981)

Terror Town, Barn of Blood Highlight Weekend of Haunting

Posted in 2008, Barn of Blood, Hallowblog, Review, Terror Town with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2014 by bluefall8

This review was originally posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2008; it details one memorable weekend from late October 2008. It was that fall that we first visited Terror Town in Maumee, Ohio and experienced House of the Dead.

I have often considered compiling a list of my top five or ten most memorable haunted attractions and without hesitation I can say that our maiden voyage through the dank, rotting depths of Terror Town’s House of the Dead would easily make any such list. House of the Dead went on to become Horrorlust’s Haunt of the Year in 2008.

The following day, my wife and I went to Apple Charlie’s in New Boston which packed a lot of haunt goodness into a very small amount of time and space. I need more weekends like this magical ride now six years past. 

The last weekend prior to Halloween was a big one for the Haunt Trinity. On Saturday, October 25 we were once again joined by Cherette for a trip to TerrorTown in Maumee, Ohio. Then on Sunday Missy and I visited Apple Charlie’s in New Boston where for just $5 I entered the Barn of Blood. It was quite a whirlwind weekend of haunting and that’s just the way I like it.

I’ve longed to visit TerrorTown for several seasons now but until this year we had never made time for this particular haunt. Mayor Wormface had beckoned to me from the pages of the Fear Finder on many occasions and it was time to take him up on his delightfully dreadful offer.

TerrorTown features four attractions: The Freak Show, Slaughter House, The Beast, and House of the Dead. After buying our tickets we made our way to the entrance of a uniquely lit graveyard, to our left atop a structure a massive skull peered down with a single glowing eyeball that shifted from side to side. We shuffled excitedly through the cemetery lit be a series of large, black light bulbs positioned on top of fence posts; a skeletal horse stalked the grounds. The path lead us to the line for the Freak Show where we were entertained by a one of TerrorTown’s resident ghouls, a tall, red creature with a talent for swallowing fire.

After about half an hour wait we entered Freak Show and witnessed an eclectic and interesting array of oddities. Each item was accompanied by newspaper articles or plaques providing insight into the displayed piece. The entire room was bathed in the glow of black lights which provided the usual eerie effect. My personal favorites included a fetus in a jar that sported a curious tail as well as the dried and rotting Fiji Mermaid. Freak Show was very cool but it was incredibly short and this fact was very disappointing. I remarked to Jason that had I known it was so short I would have taken more time with each display. Alas it was too late as we found ourselves in line for Slaughter House. Given the nature of the Freak Show attraction I don’t feel it would be fair to assign a rating, it isn’t a haunted house and is by all intents purely a side show.

Slightly disappointed, as I think we all were, we soldiered on to Slaughter House which I was quite curious about. I had read on TerrorTown’s website that guests are given a flashlight upon entering this particular haunt but there was a catch, the operators controlled the flashlight. I thought that this unique twist could provide for an interesting and exciting haunt experience. Slaughter House had the look and feel of an old school haunt but failed to utilize those elements that make this genre so effective, instead the haunt featured a number of amusing and gory animatronics. Animatronics are great but I’m of the belief that an inanimate object can only invoke so much fear, they work best in conjunction with live actors and Slaughter House was terribly short on the latter. The flashlight idea was great in concept but in practice turned out to be ill timed seemingly going off at random. I had thought that perhaps the flashlights would abruptly cut off after patrons were allowed a brief glimpse of a stampeding, chainsaw-wielding maniac but it seemed that perhaps every group’s flashlight simply went out at the same time. One wonderful feature of Slaughter House was an enormous pig head that attacks guests and squeals incessantly, you can imagine the jokes this particular scene invoked. Overall Slaugher House wasn’t bad but it did leave a lot to be desired, what was most disappointing to me was that it had potential to be so much more and really with a few minor tweaks it could have been very good.

Rating: 3 stars

Next we followed the path through a colossal pair of jaws that led to The Beast. We entered the structure and began down a path of three or four spinning vortex tunnels also commonly referred to as black holes. These structures are fun because not only are they typically lit by black light; but also feature spinning circular walls which cause a sensation that one is falling sideways. Guests make their way across a narrow path and watch in amusement as members of their party struggle to maintain balance. I feel that these particular devices work best when beginning or ending a haunt or when switching from one theme to another.

After walking the length of the massive tunnel we returned outside. Once again I was shocked and disappointed by the length of an attraction. The Freak Show had also been incredibly short, Slaughter House was slightly better than mediocre, and The Beast, which I had thought was a haunted house, was merely a monstrous vortex tunnel. It wasn’t that any of the attractions had been individually bad but collectively I couldn’t help but to be disappointed. I had been expecting so much more from TerrorTown after reading a number of glowing reviews. As with The Freak Show I find it equally unfair and misleading to give The Beast a traditional rating.

We entered the line for House of the Dead where multiple television sets played a horror movie from the 70’s or 80’s, this at least provided some seasonal ambience. As we advanced through the line I thought about how disappointing TerrorTown had been so far and without a monumental effort by the main attraction the whole night was going to go down as perhaps the seasons’ most dismal. We discussed this fact as we neared the entrance and each of us seemed resigned to the fact that barring an October miracle there was little chance that House of the Dead could save TerrorTown from haunting infamy. I suppose there was a sense that we had nothing left to lose and so we entered House of the Dead.

Guests first wait in a foyer, ahead an ominous set of large double doors rest. After a few minutes a slightly crazed, middle-aged man appears (he looks some what like Mayor Wormface) and invites us inside to, “Play with his children”. We enter another waiting area before being loaded onto elevators that will transport us to the bowels of the house. So far House of the Dead is doing things right, building plenty of tension in the foyer and then jolting guests with a wild ride to the basement of dead house. Once out of the elevator hauntgoers wind their way through a plethora of eerie rooms. The haunt appears to be an abandoned house, old fashion pictures adorn the walls, and common household objects such as furniture and childrens toys layer the landscape. I notice that the haunt smells foul and I mean bizarrely foul; I’ve never smelled something like this. Later on I would take a blast of the rotten air straight in the face and I gagged profusely, nearly throwing up. I know what you’re thinking faithful readers, you’re thinking that House of the Dead did indeed cap off a disappointing night…well…not even close!

House of the Dead was just getting started with the Haunt Trinity and before we exited this unique haunt we would come to know precisely why it had been described as, “an assault on the senses”. House of the Dead is part Erebus, part Extreme Scream and blends the two schools of thought into a rare haunting endeavor. The animatronics are over the top and impressive, a number of mutant aliens scurry about the walls assailing guests from all angles. One such alien ventured to get too close to the Haunt Trinity and found out just how amused I was when I gleefully squibbed that ugly face! The haunt also featured painfully detailed, life-sized statues. I exaggerate not one iota when I say that these props were some of the most frightening I’ve ever witnessed.

House of the Dead also features a number of sprayers that blast guests with both air and water. In fact just after the aforementioned squibbing took place I was blasted in the face by a cartoonishly filthy toilet. The haunt also held a number of bizarre scenes and props such as holographic projections and a giant, floating eyeball. After making our way through a macabre forest in which multiple leapers attacked simultaneously we struck forth to the frantic finish. While on an ascending pathway an unseen creature swooped just above our heads causing all of us to duck. We then made our way through a series of rooms that resembled those at the beginning of the haunt.

I was the first to enter a room filled with the remains of dozens of baby dolls and was immediately reminded of Dolls and Puppet Master. Some of the dolls were moving robotically, heads and limbs moving methodically from side to side or up and down, it was wonderfully creepy. Some of them were missing eyeballs and a select few even brandished glowing knives. The rest of the group trailed behind me and upon entering I witnessed something truly bizarre. One of the babies was running at Jason! The little son of a bitch scurried across the floor slashing the air with his miniature knife! It was indeed a strange scene at first but my eyes quickly recognized a black mass materialize behind the doll. A black clad worker was puppeting the doll and as this came into greater focus the whole scene grew even more ludicrous in a sense. The little guy slashed furiously at Jason as I doubled over in laughter and then turned his fury to a shrieking girl in the group behind us. The gag may have been a simple one but it was pulled off to great effect and will surely stand out as one of the highlights of the season.

We escaped the blood thirsty infant only to be enveloped in fog and green lasers. It was very difficult to determine a path so I took the initiative and began wandering directly into the thickest part of the fog. Just then a massive wolf head lurched forth from the fog; hands outstretched searching for a tasty morsel. Next we turned into a room and ahead I could see a man holding a chainsaw, he was just staring at us. Hauntgoers cross a platform only to have this lunatic charge from behind (a mirror made it appear as if he were in front of the party) and chase them to the exit of House of the Dead.

House of the Dead did indeed save the night for TerrorTown proving to be a wild, haunt riot. A bold combination of old school techniques and flat out, in your face craziness proved to be an unlikely alchemy for success. My only suggestion for the House of the Dead is the inclusion of a few more well placed live actors. We left the now nearly deserted Lucas County fair grounds with riveting moments flitting through our heads, House of the Dead had just saved the night and launched itself into Haunt of the Year contention.

Rating: 5 stars

I did mention that a bit of haunting was also done on Sunday and so let me tell you the tale of the Barn of Blood. Missy opted not to join me inside the Barn and thus I was left to brave the horrors alone. Two things immediately stand out as one enters the barn, the first — it’s extremely quiet, and the second — it’s extremely dark. This is old school haunting reduced to the barest of elements and it reeks havoc on the psyche. A loud blast of fog issues from the left breaking the complete silence and that seems to act as a cue for a sword wielding deadie. The deadie follows me down a dark hallway, slamming the sword against a wall and then onto a metal slab. The ensuing clang is deafening and the sword looks a bit too real for my liking, I don’t like this creep. He departs and I find myself groping about the pitch black hall, shortly sparks fly from the left as some deranged freak thrashes behind wire fencing. Later a ghoulie comes form beneath a wall and desperately claws at my legs. Shortly a gravely voice informs me to, “Enjoy the show,” and as I turn the corner I watch a darkly ironic scene. A man is strapped to an electric chair, basked in red light, as My Chemical Romance’s “Blood” is pumped through speakers. It was a unique infusion of pop culture weaved neatly into a haunted attraction and as a chainsaw wielding Leatherface ushered me from the premises I reflected on what a solid job this small haunt had just completed.

Rating: 4 stars

Fatal CikNis

Posted in News with tags , , , , on October 26, 2014 by bluefall8

The CikNis proved to be a dizzying adrenaline rush of shrieks and laughs. Many of our guests expressed positive thoughts regarding their experience and as a member of the cast I can say that we had just as much fun as our hapless victims.

While I would’ve liked to have had the time to make several tweaks or added a few well-placed props, the rooms were highly detailed and from what I could gather the various design features of the structure produced the desired effect. We did manage to squeeze in one last minute addition that was a boon for the overall experience — a small hatched door leading from the second room of the haunt into the low-ceilinged dead end at the end of The CikNis. It turned out to be a great suggestion by Richard and, in my opinion, increased the interaction factor of the overall adventure.

There was a certain elegance to the simplicity of the sound system which provided an excellent atmosphere for The CikNis — it’s tough to beat a continuous stream of Nox Arcana’s mournful melodies.

The myriad lighting fixtures — from black lights, strobe lights and glow sticks to string lights, colored bulbs, and a police beacon — effectively cast an eerie, foreboding or even whimsical ambience. Once we had powered everything up for show conditions we didn’t experience a single issue with any electrical components and that in and of itself is a small victory for which I was thankful.

By and large, I thought our cast was brimming with energy and held nothing back in terms of vocalization and improvisation. In particular, from my vantage point in the doll room, I was impressed and highly amused by what I could hear coming from the opposite corner of the haunt where my brother, Jason, forcefully portrayed the wayward scientist responsible for the CikNis. I felt Richard, who was in the second room of the attraction, played the very special part of Gerald with equal zest. His bit with George, the hand puppet monkey, was particularly fun to play off of and reference when several groups entered my area with the monkey in tow.

I admit I was especially flattered by the reactions of guests as they entered my room which was filled with an eclectic mix of dolls and plush toys. Some people were tickled by the hanging babies with glowing heads while others seemed to appreciate the totality of the decor and then there were those stopped dead upon entering the room and professed a desire to turn back; the latter were my personal favorites.

It was intoxicating to unleash Gerkins with all of his exaggerated mannerisms, wild stories and creepy demeanor. He engaged guests with stream-of-consciousness dialogue, offered to add men and women alike to his collection of dolls and introduced some folks to Little Gerkins; among other memorable routines.

Another personal highlight for me was the ability of Cikalo and I to surprise guests with an ambush by floating back and forth to our respective areas when the need arose. In one instance a pair of male guests attempted to backtrack into the harvest room when they failed to find the hidden door inside the dead end hallway, but this was something Scarecrow and Gerkins would simply not permit.

There were some hiccups of course — we had to scramble to find a doorman, pace and communication was a work in progress and a few minor details were lost in the shuffle but the driving vibe was one of fun and fright and folks left with smiles on their faces.

Thanks are due to Stefani who whipped up some seriously spooky heads, my sister-in-law Madison (not to be confused with my other sister-in-law of the same name who’s previously been mentioned in Horrorlust) who dutifully controlled traffic flow. Thanks also to The Disco Devil, John, for all of his help during the construction of The CikNis. Many thanks to our cast Jason and Richard and Brian too, who not only acted in the haunt but also contributed several key props. And of course, thanks to Cikalo and Ashley who hosted the party and finally a token of gratitude to everyone who entered and survived The CikNis.

The Strange Case of Gerkins & The CikNis

Posted in News with tags , on October 25, 2014 by bluefall8

Gerkins, horrible Gerkins.

There is a certain nervous excitement that ensnares me whenever I am set to perform and slowly but surely, like an inevitable battle I am all too aware that it is coming. The board is set, the pieces are moving and tonight The CikNis will infect all who enter its cursed walls.

There are liars and mad men, creeps and savages who dwell therein and among them is Gerkins, horrible Gerkins. He is a beast unleashed, a one man lunatic asylum; hellbent on horror, mayhem and whimsy. His mind is a tattered tapestry of arcane nostalgia, carnivalesque urges and violent outbursts. He is as enigmatic as he is eccentric but not without a sense of humor. He is as deadly as he is merciful and will turn from friend to foe and back again in the blink of an eye. There is no rhyme or reason; there is only his twisted amusement.

Gerkins is a part of me — a fracture of my mind, a sliver of my personality — the Mr. Hyde to my Dr. Jekyll. His appetite is insatiable, his force inexhaustible and lest he scorch my soul from the inside I must release him for a time, and tonight he will be unbottled.

Gerkins, horrible Gerkins.

Witness the CikNis.

Witness the CikNis.

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