Howl at the moon, baby. I went to bed last night with thoughts of Rotten Manor and Abandon swirling in my head and when I woke this morning those same thoughts remained stuck in my mind. What had we experienced? Had our eyes deceived us? Did any of that really happen?! When you find yourself pondering such questions that’s when you know you’ve witnessed an all-time classic and on Halloween no less.
After some trick r’ treating with the little ones, which included one seriously awesome yard display on Kings Highway in Lincoln Park, John and I hightailed it into the night. This has been a haunt season busier and longer than any that has come before it — we were admittedly feeling road-weary as we drove north on I-75 through increasingly poor conditions. The further north we traveled the harder the rain hit the pavement and the lower visibility sunk. But any fear that Halloween would become a washout began to recede the moment we arrived at Rotten Manor.
The facade was far more impressive than it had appeared in pictures; it jutted from the landscape like a mountain in a valley and what lie on the inside was more impressive still. Rotten Manor was a half-hour trek through expertly detailed and creative environments that held inventive scares, glorious eye candy, surreal strangeness and the omnipresence of a Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist dummy. Loaded with live actors, psychological warfare and several unique features — Rotten Manor blasted itself into the rarefied territory of our all-time best haunted house adventures.
As we drove in the direction of home we reveled in the experience and thought it a shame that Rotten Manor hadn’t been our last stop of the night because it seemed impossible that anything could follow that. Indeed, another first year attraction, Abandon had its work cut out. We pulled into Play Atlantis in Melvindale a little more than an hour after we had departed Rotten Manor with that experience fresh in mind. Somehow, Abandon would make an impression all it’s own.
Abandon took old school to the nth degree and in the process redefined minimalism. The cavernous, multi-level haunt supplied atmosphere in spades; an effect that was heightened by the expert use of Midnight Syndicate’s booming medieval music. So much of Abandon was purposely understated which provided the imagination free range to manifest horrors hidden in every shadow. Fueled by ghost stories and a genuine sweep from a team of paranormal research investigators (go on, I dare you to ask about the EVPs), Abandon possessed an eerie vibe that is difficult to find. In terms of pure fear factor it was one of the most foreboding and frightening haunted attractions we’ve toured in all these many seasons.
A heartfelt thank you to Wally, Eric and the rest of the large cast and crew of Rotten Manor and to Jason of Abandon who patiently shared creepy stories including his own personal encounters. All of you made Halloween 2015 a truly unforgettable night of haunting that will live on in Horrorlust lore for many moons to come.