Archive for the Review Category

Season Concludes with Devil’s Night Frenzy

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Haunted Farm of Terror, Realm of Darkness, Review, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2015 by bluefall8

In this edition of Hallowblog Flashback, we stir the memory of a chilly, rainswept night that would forever raise the bar for Devil’s Night. Originally posted on Monday, November 2, 2009 this entry detailed our journey through Hellblock 13 in Wyandotte, The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and The Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township.

Despite such an action-packed adventure, none of these haunts would win a Horrorlust Award in 2009 although Hellblock 13 did receive an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Dark Horse Award while The Realm of Darkness was an honorable mention in three categories including Eerie Vibrations, Killer Automatons and Haunt of the Year.  

This would be the final Hallowblog entry for the year 2009.

Strange, the way the eerie magic of the season can twist and distort time into a blurred paradox for it seems as if a month has passed in a brilliant flash but concurrently the genesis of this chapter seems ages ago indeed. Last Friday, October 30th would be the final outing of the 2009 haunt season and it was another memorable entry in the history of the Haunt Trinity.

Jason, Disco, and Richard arrived at my apartment just prior to 7 o’clock and after we gorged ourselves on pizza, pop, and snacks we slipped out into the velvety night and drove the short distance to Wyandotte’s Hellblock 13. Hallowblog readers may remember that we attempted to visit this attraction on October 2nd but when we arrived we were told that it would not open for another week. We weren’t sure at the time if we’d have a chance to return but as it turned out fate would see that we did.

I was confident that the Wyandotte Jaycees could bounce back from a lackluster effort in 2008 and I am happy to report that my confidence was not misplaced. The haunt started a bit slow and it was far from perfect but in the end we had the pleasure of surviving the trench warfare that powered this gritty haunt.

As with 2007’s Hell’s Hospital, Hellblock 13 uses classic haunt fundamentals to thrill and scare guests. The attraction is well paced featuring very few dead spots or meandering dark halls. Hellblock 13 doesn’t overload haunters with fog, black lights, or strobes but when they are used it is to great effect. The Jaycees has made good use of the building’s one time purpose transforming a court room, locker room, storage facility, and jail cells into a breeding ground for creatures of the night. Midway through the haunt we came upon a large cell that may have been used as an evidence lock up or weapon storage in the past but on this night it held an old friend, Gimpy Anderson. Two years ago Gimpy delighted us with disgusting guttural noises and crude gesticulations while we waited in line at Hell’s Hospital but he wasn’t in a care free or jovial mood anymore. Ole Gimpy had worked himself into an agitated frenzy; he violently slashed a chainsaw against the fenced walls that contained him. When we passed the cell gates he rammed the blade of the saw through the gap in the posts in an attempt to tear our throats; something awful must have befallen Gimpy Anderson to cause him to attack his old friends in such a brutal manner!

Gimpy wasn’t the only entertaining worker though in fact Hellblock 13 was brimming with a legion of deadites. All the help here is volunteer which means that not all the masked assailants are highly trained in the art of the scare. Most of them put forth a good effort which is all you can really ask for from such a crew although there were a few as there usually is that were quite underwhelming. A lot of the workers here where young teenagers whose diminutive frames and squeaky screams invoke anything but fear but that can’t be helped at an all volunteer effort and as I said most of them seemed to give it their best. The females in particular displayed a capacity for ear splitting shrieks, while crossing a bridge several of these sirens emerged from the murky depths below and shook the bridge with ill intent. Later, near the end of the haunt several girls issued blood curdling screams from inside a pitch black room, those screams gave fuel to a distant chainsaw the owner of which we’d meet just before exiting the haunt.

A couple of workers employed the statue technique which lured us shameless rubes as children to chocolate. The first living mannequin was a gruesome ghoul chained to a board who sprung his trap as we exited the room he occupied. We came across a second statuesque creep just outside the row of holding cells. Visible from down the hall as we approached she displayed no sign of life. She wore a sleazy black dress that hugged her figure nicely, her knees bent awkwardly inward. In her right hand was a glistening knife held aloft as if ready to strike down the impure thoughts many haunters surely possessed as they passed. She bore a resemblance to the female spirit in 13 Ghosts although she wasn’t naked nor did she sport heaping bajumbos but these idle facts did little to stem the perverted juices that had formed a puddle beneath our feet. I know in some dark recess of Jason’s mind he wondered just how far he could get before the blade severed him from his manhood but any nefarious fantasies evaporated when she lunged at us with the knife and we were forced to flee down a row of holding cells. Another dark fantasy inducing vixen glared at us from a cell, I knew it wouldn’t be long before my brother succumbed to a fit of primal lust, we had to hurry.

Turning a corner we entered a dark room and were confronted by yet another female ghoul and this one wanted to know my name so being in a mischievous mood I obliged and gave her the Toadsworth treatment which surprisingly is not tantamount to a squibbing. No, the Toadsworth treatment has no sexual connotations what so ever. In a British accent and foppish manner I informed the lass that my name was Toadsworth Merriweather Yorkshire Reginald the III, Esquire (I suspect only my MSB cohorts will appreciate the reference). She stared at me blankly for what else can one do when disarmed by a name so absurd. As we departed the room I turned to her still in character, bowed low and said, “Pleasure to have met your acquaintance.” The haunt concluded shortly thereafter when we were chased off by the aforementioned freak with chainsaw.

The change of scenery helped the Wyandotte Jaycees regain its footing and the new (old) building was used to the fullest. The haunt was surprisingly long featuring a number of false endings in the form of stairwells that wound haunters onto different floors of the attraction. The Jaycees does a lot with a little; I enjoyed the subtle touches as much as anything else. A few specific examples include the deformed saran wrap dummies which either hung from the ceiling or stood eerily in the corners of one room. I also liked the second bridge which lit up from below to reveal a prop ghoul just beneath our feet. That is actually an idea I thought of several years back and it’s the first time I’ve seen it put to use. Let’s hope next years show doesn’t suffer the same sophomore slump that plagued the last location.

Rating: 3 3/4

It was time to hit one of Michigan’s perennial top haunts and one half of Pontiac’s twin terrors, The Realm of Darkness. Strange, watery disasters have haunted ROD for two years now and several paranormal research groups have investigated the occurrences for more details check out the story at Zioptis. It may all be shtick but then again I have heard of the independent organizations that toured the facility, nevertheless the angle added another layer of intrigue to the most immersive of haunted attractions.

Hallowblog readers will be familiar with the Haunt Trinity’s trials and tribulations at Realm of Darkness since 2006 we have hunted the tyrannical wizard who rules this kingdom with an iron fist. In order to find the wizard haunters participate in several games of chance during these games guests can win gems which eventually will be used to gain entry to the wizard’s secret chamber. In years past these gems were exchanged for a push of a button, the more gems you possessed the greater the chance of confronting the wizard. A source informed us that the games of chance had taken on a different twist this season and we hope the added information would give us the edge in our quest to find and defeat the wizard.

While waiting in the entrance lobby haunters are told a ghostly story about a phone booth inside the room, the number displayed at the top of the booth turns out to be the first clue. After traversing a short path we entered the main castle foyer which featured a series of doors and one looked very familiar. It was the same door we’d saw at Terrortown’s Asylum. When the video started the nurse in the room began pleading for help and pressed us to vacate the room but before we could do so a crazed inmate burst forth from some dark corner and harassed guests. The door is a cool prop and I like the fact that ROD took the idea to the next level but it seems quite disjointed with the rest of the theme. After vacating the room the path wound around a corner to a tilting book shelf and then led into the immaculately decorated waiting room.

A single ghoul occupied the room and he relayed the story of the building’s recent paranormal activity to guests. According to him motion sensors had been placed throughout the attraction by the research teams, several rooms had experienced activity including the one we currently occupied. I like the new ripple whether real or imagined it’s another layer of fun to an excellent haunted attraction.

We decided to split our party in order to double our chances of finding the wizard, Jason and Disco entered through the Realm’s trademark fireplace first, several minutes later Richard and I embarked on our journey. It was Richard’s first trip to Realm of Darkness and I defied him not to be impressed by its intricate details, inventive scenes, and interactive characters; despite his usual cynicism I believe even he enjoyed the experience.

The Realm of Darkness truly is like no other haunted attraction you’re likely to visit. Each room is amazingly detailed many even feature true to life antiques, it’s easy to forget that you’re inside a simple modern building because the dark paths and highly detailed scenes are that engrossing, it’s a darkly beautiful work of art. Haunters won’t grow bored by a series of monotonous scenes as they will at some attractions, ROD features an array of creative settings. The upside down room may seem like a simple idea but it’s quite unique and the visual effect sends a small but enjoying blip of information to the brain; I’d like to see more attractions distort perception in this manner. The cave setting is as impressive as usual featuring humid air, low ceilings, and a functioning pond; a raging dinosaur also jabs haunters into a wall by means of a primal head butt. I’m also a big fan of the hall of mirrors which presents guests with the task of navigating a series of passages inlaid with full length mirrors; you just might grow to fear your own reflection.

Realm of Darkness features several check points woven nearly seamlessly into the attraction. These check points serve two purposes acting first as an area to ensure the separation of various parties and second as a chance to further enhance the story of the wizard. At the first check point your party is engaged by a demented executioner outside his dungeon the torso of a woman bobs lifelessly inside a tank of green water. The executioner beckons haunters into his ghastly chamber and verbally berates the group. He is the wizard’s hatchet man and he’s proud of that fact. Richard and I defiantly insisted that we would find and overthrow the wizard which prompted the twisted bastard to cut the guts out of a nearby victim long deceased.

The second check point occurs as your party emerges from the dank recesses of the oppressive cave, a flight of wooden steps lead to the entrance of a rickety shack. A beastly shotgun toting she-man patrols the premises and holds the group at bay for several moments, the shack quakes with mild tremors.

Other areas of interest include a supremely fogged crypt which is home to a threatening creep who led us to a door at the end of a hall lined with spooky monks. There is also a scene dominated by a massive animatronic werewolf snacking upon a rigid corpse. And there was the doll room, yes Realm of Darkness had ripped another page out of Terrortown’s playbook and I was delighted. All around us was an army of miniature sadists apparently awaiting the instructions of their dear mother. A disheveled, rotting face had been tacked to the wall, the matriarch. No sooner had we entered the room she ordered the children to kill us and I of course anticipated the slaughter with glee for I knew the hilarious spectacle that was set to attack us. A lunatic baby emerged from a shadowed corner and began slashing at our ankles just as one had last year at House of the Dead. Richard and I laughed as we pointed at our pint-sized attacker who swiped at us with adolescent madness. The scene made my night.

As we neared the end of the beleaguered kingdom we came upon the awe inspiring ghost ship. The ship rose high above us our eyes attracted to the lit captain’s quarters, bodies clung helplessly to the ship’s side. We crossed a short bridge and entered the ship where a Davy Joneseque creature made unintelligible sounds. The massive tentacles of a giant squid had broken through the wooden planks in several locations, a nice touch indeed. After leaving the ship we were intercepted by a ghoul who demanded to know the name of the ship’s captain. We were told the name rhymed with rage, we were allowed to pass after answering but were given no gem as we assumed we would’ve procured if we had answered correctly.

We descended a flight of stairs into a treasure trove; a wench greeted us kindly and instructed us to pick a gem from one of the treasure chests. She also told us that we would shortly come upon a Sea Hag to whom we would give our gems. A short while later we encountered the Sea Hag who yelled at us fiercely before demanding our gems. She then insisted that we fall to our knees and beg that our gems were magical, they were not which meant we wouldn’t meet the wizard but that didn’t stop Richard and I from making an outrageous spectacle of ourselves. We begged for all we were worth and profanely professed our desire to defeat the wizard and attempted to flatter the sea hag with increasingly ridiculous remarks. Eventually her serious demeanor was betrayed by a smirk and that I decided was good enough consolation for me. We left the Sea Hag and any thoughts of gaining unwarranted entry to the wizard’s lair were chased away by a chainsaw wielding pirate.

Realm of Darkness is nothing if not consistent, entertaining haunters with a great show year after year. The subtle season by season tweaks keep the theme from growing stagnant and the lure of the wizard ensures that many an aspiring hero will return each October. The only knock we have against ROD is the relative lack of live workers but those that do stalk the various scenes of this hellish dimension play the role well. Realm of Darkness is a perennial favorite of ours and you’re only doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t been there.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

The night was growing late and we desperately wanted to hit one more haunted attraction before the season was done so we made a few calls and decided it was time to visit the Haunted Farm of Terror. The sky was threatening to pour down buckets as we raced an impending storm to Lenox Township. When we arrived we parked in a mud splattered field and proceeded to buy our tickets. Haunted Farm of Terror features a haunted house as well as a haunted hayride. We headed to the entrance of the haunted house first as the Disco Devil did not desire to partake in the hayride owing to the adverse weather.

The front of the attraction was made to resemble an old cabin which I suppose is not out of place on an old fashioned farm. The haunted house consisted of a hodge podge of rooms resembling some horrific hillbilly haven. The house itself is relatively short and not particularly scary but it is a bit of fun. One of the highlights for us during the first leg of the haunt was an apparently lobotomized, wheel chair bound man. He comically pursued us in his chair and babbled nonsense; we always appreciate a good taboo. One interesting room welcomed us with a chorus of clanking pots and pans which also alerted the hungry creeps lurking within the walls to our presence. We left this room behind and exited to a path outside a massive canine protruded from a dog house and aimed it’s enormous teeth at the entire party. We walked through a corn stalk strewn path as the weather started to enhance the atmosphere. Wind howled down the path as the air grew heavy with rain. We entered another structure which featured an interesting checkered room as well as a pair of deranged clowns. The haunt soon wound a path outside once more and again we wound our way through a corn maze with hidden creeps.

The haunted house was far from great but it did feature plenty of live workers, the connecting corn maze passages were also enjoyable. There is potential here but the operators need to make a decision on the mood of the haunt. As of now it has the rare distinction of playing second fiddle to a haunted hayride and as you’ll soon find out that is no insult to the wagon bound feature at Haunted Farm of Terror.

Rating: 3 stars

Having now experienced the much heralded hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror I can say that it definitely serves as the main event. The lengthy trip through a cursed forest is punctuated by the narration of an on board host. As the wagon pulls haunters through the various scenes the host recounts the story of Lazarus, a 19th century Undertaker and one time resident who once conducted grisly experiments that have plagued the farm and surrounding woods ever since (for more details visit Haunted Farm of Terror). The narration was a lot of fun although it would have been slightly better had the tour guide appeared in costume.

The hayride also features musical accompaniment, a mix of Halloween favorites and rock music compliment many scenes along the route. For example when a horde of zombies attack the wagon, Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” blares from on board speakers. Later when passing a church haunters learn of Lazarus’ bid for redemption while Gary Jules’ “Mad World” weaves a melancholy thread through this horror rich tapestry.

The beginning of the ride features a pair of mechanized menaces that will dare even the bravest of haunters not to flinch. We sat on the right side of the wagon which meant that we’d have the pleasure of dealing with a soaring phantom. As the wagon passed a small shack the structure’s doors sprung open revealing a huge ghoul attached to a sliding track. The shrouded phantom raced toward our party and did not stop when it reached our position! I was forced to quickly flatten myself or else the streaking skull would have pummeled me square in the face. If I was amused (and I was) then Richard was positively giddy. I believe watching me nearly get clobbered by a runaway ghoul was his favorite moment of the entire haunt season. Just up the path it was time for the other side of the wagon to test their reflexes. A semi-truck was trudging our way with a blaring horn and blazing headlights. It rumbled forward rather slowly giving a false impression of safety; it then violently plowed through several stacks of barrels which lurched toward the wagon before being jerked back just as quickly.

I’m of the opinion that any good slasher flick that takes place in the woods must feature the hot silhouette of a naked chick cast against a tent and apparently the team at Haunted Farm of Terror shares the sentiment. The shapely silhouette of an erotically posed woman drew the gaze of all on board and in this moment no man aboard had a mind for any misfortune that the treacherous woods had to offer. It was an alluring sight highlighted by the shamelessly protruding nipples that could have carved a pumpkin. A single weirdo stumbled forth from somewhere nearby and broke the spell of our collective and wanton lust. The scene wasn’t frightening in the least but it was quite original and did provide a good laugh.

Near the end of the trail our wagon pulled us through an area that used to serve as a drive-in theater, broken down cars littered the landscape. It was while in the middle of the car strewn path that a blinding mass of headlights flooded the wagon and we were temporarily without sight. A mass of ghouls seized the opportunity to attack us helpless fleshies and the result was a wild one indeed. After escaping the old drive-in we were informed by our host that a particularly vicious zombie stalked the area we were entering, his name was Ferby. This demonic being charged at our wagon and terrorized those aboard but when we came across a shanty serving as a barber shop Ferby’s attention shifted to the building. Inside a girl was strapped to a chair and she was screaming for all that she was worth, Eminem’s “Hi…My Name Is” mocked her lament. The host informed us that Ferby had captured her from a previous group of haunters but we could free her with an act of mercy. A vote was held and it seemed that half of the wagon wanted Ferby to free her while the other half wanted blood! The host further informed us that setting her free meant a damsel from our wagon would have to take her place and that information quickly sealed the poor girl’s fate. A strobe effect cast a chaotic light on the barber shop and Ferby roughly grabbed the girl by her hair, threw her onto her back, and began to swing his blade. As we pulled away the girl lay still while Ferby produced a severed head that he proudly held aloft; what a scene!

As we headed back to the muddy parking lot a vast array of creeps and freaks attacked the wagon, one stood atop a pillar nearly ten feet off the ground, he seemed to be acting as some sort of gatekeeper. Drunk on the essence of the season and riled up from a fun-filled night of haunting, I loudly encouraged the mutant to jump and to my great surprise and amusement he did; these fools were out to please.

It had begun to rain in earnest as we came to the end of the ride and the end of the haunt season. Before we departed Richard and I ran about and snapped a few pictures and then navigated the muddy pit of a parking lot over to Disco and Jason who were waiting in the comfort of John’s car.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

“You think if Siamese twins went to a haunted house they’d have to pay twice?”

-Richard, great philosopher of our time.

“Come on asshole! Come on! Rot in Hell!!!

-John, berating a slow-moving motorist, his voice inflection and tone were impeccable.

Hush Evolved

Posted in 2014, Hush, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2015 by bluefall8

hush-corp-logo-whiteblack

On Devil’s Night 2013, we visited a rookie haunted attraction located in Westland, Michigan known simply as Hush. The experience was a memorable one and Hush would go on to be named the 2013 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year. As fate would have it, we would return one year to the day and test our will against Dr. Phineas Phun and his creations at the Hush Corporation.

We approached the front doors and were soon reacquainted with the madman of malpractice, the aforementioned Dr. Phineas Phun. It would seem that the good doctor doesn’t forget a face because he instantly recognize John and I and immediately he launched into suggestive quips and darkly playful banter.

As Dr. Phun toyed with us as a cat does a mouse, I noticed to our left a second man who was dressed in a medical coat. He was tall with long black hair and sported a child-like smile; he waved repeatedly and eyed us stupidly. Dr. Phun noted the exchange and introduced us to his rather special brother, Phileas Phun. Phileas seemed docile and even friendly, but prior experience had taught me not to trust a member of the Phun family — just how many offspring had Momma Phun produced anyway? I wouldn’t have time to ponder the thought further as the Phun Brothers bade us an ominous farewell and ushered us into the Hush Corporation.

HUSH 2.0

John and I found ourselves in a small but sleek reception area, a short secretary approached us from behind a desk and began to explain the cutting edge scientific experimentation performed at the Hush Corporation. There was an alien sheen to her hair and her face was marked with curious, phosphorescent symbols. However, it was her words that were strangest of all — she spoke in a clear and direct manner but her cadence was stilted. Her words and sentences possessed no flow, no soul. It was as if she were merely reading from a script, emotionless. It was almost as if the very words coming out of her mouth had been programmed.

She asked no questions and gave no indication she regarded us with anything other than cold indifference. She had made her way to a door opposite the desk and with cocked, twitching head she began to repeat the same phrase over and over and over. John and I took this as our cue to exit before she turned into an angry android.

We wandered the darkened halls of the Hush Corporation dodging booby traps and lurking critters; we steeled our nerves when made to pass an incinerator complete with glowing embers, heat and steam. Shortly, we had descended into an elaborate sewer system where pipes carried the runoff of all manner of foulness being conducted at the shadowy Hush Corporation.

As we crept and ducked our way through the labrythine pipes, a writhing, hunched creature hunted us from the dank shadows. As the repellant monstrosity slunk through shafts of light I caught a momentarily glimpse of its grotesque face. It put me strongly in mind of the sewer-dwelling Flukeman that Agents Mulder and Scully once confronted in an episode of The X-Files.

Moments later we encountered a bald, middle-aged doctor who had been confined to a steel cage that appeared to be suspended above a dark waterway. Our sudden presence seemed to excite him; he flapped his hands and attempted to reach out to us all while he cooed and made other silly sounds. Why had this doctor been locked inside of a cage in the sewer system? Was he a would be whistleblower who attempted to expose the Hush Corporation? Was this another member of the Phun family? Would he and his steel prison plummet to a watery grave?

John and I had no time to ponder such questions, pursued by a mutant toilet monster as we were. We soon emerged from the musty atmosphere of the sewer system and found ourselves once again surrounded by the inner workings of the Hush Corporation. We turned a corner and spotted what appeared to be the kind of large display case one would expect to see at a zoo. A pair of male patients, or more accurately specimens, were going absolutely bonkers inside the enclosure.

The duo pulled at their hair, pounded the glass with their fists and issued primal screams as if under persistent psychological torture. Rage and lunacy danced wildly in their eyes and quite suddenly one of the pair attempted to escape the cage by climbing through a narrow opening in the ceiling. When he failed in his bid to escape he utilized his new perch to violently grab hold of and strangle his cellmate.

Next, we entered a brightly-lit medical laboratory and immediately heard the opening notes of a familiar nursery rhyme. A petite, attractive blonde dressed in a lab coat moved jerkily toward an operating table and in her hand was a large needle. Upon the slab was a slumped cadaver and as we processed the scene, the sinister songstress theatrically thrust the needle into the stiff. The injection revitalized the corpse and in an instant, John and I found ourselves being stalked by both the reanimate and Dr. Blondie.

We didn’t fancy ourselves as just another victim of the Hush Corporation and therefore took our leave of the two. In fact, as we fled the scene we transitioned into an outdoor area filled with crates and shipping containers. We hadn’t made it far before we’d attracted the attention of several pint-sized monsters who were briskly intercepted by armed guards. The guards vocally rushed us forward and as John and I plowed onward the tail of Hush orphans seemed to swell in our wake.

Through undoubtedly unpleasant means the team of mercenaries kept the Hushies at bay which afforded John and I one last demonstration from a staff member of the Hush Corporation. We happened upon a large containment chamber, through a window was visible the ugly mug of a beastly specimen in suspended animation.

A tall, lean female scientist stood beside the cryogenic apparatus and instantly began to recite a litany of facts and figures about the technology employed by the Hush Corporation. She bore many of the physical hallmarks displayed by the cyborg receptionist we’d encountered at the beginning of our journey but she did seem knowledgeable and confident about her work on this particular project.

My eyes darted from her to the frosty fellow inside the chamber. Had I just saw it blink? Was the equipment about to malfunction?! Just as she reassured us of the stability of the machinery, the cryogenic freak lurched forward and secured a meaty paw around the throat of our loquacious host. Once again, armed guards descended upon the area shouting orders and brandishing weapons. And with that John and I were swept from the Hush Corporation, fortunate to have survived unscathed.

FULL DISCLOSURE

Too often, upstart haunted attractions suffer from a sophomore slump but such was not the case at Hush in 2014. The team manufactured an eye-catching new facade, implemented a series of expertly detailed and highly immersive scenes and skillfully executed several special effects which all served to engineer a complete overhaul of the show.

Hush was well-paced, stuck to a theme, told an enjoyable story and the most talented actors were smartly saved for key sequences. The team behind Hush is young, ambitious and has accomplished a lot on the Michigan haunt scene in just two years. I look forward to the future evolution of Hush Haunted House.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Jason’s Curse, Ohio Haunts Highlight Night

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Haunted Hydro, Review, Terror Town with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2015 by bluefall8

In this edition of Hallowblog Flashback, we relive a notable night of haunting in the Buckeye State. Originally posted on Sunday, October 25, 2009 this entry documented a rather interesting and amusing excursion to Terror Town in Maumee and The Haunted Hydro in Fremont.

Terror Town’s House of the Dead would go on to win the 2009 Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award, an award the vaunted haunt would claim four consecutive seasons from 2009-2012. 

To this day my brother, Jason, is still ridiculed for the events of this night and I suspect it ‘ll be some years yet before the rest of us let him live it down.  

Our haunt excursion on Friday the 16th was a memorable experience but perhaps just as memorable as the haunts was the dilemma in which we found ourselves that jeopardized the entire night. Jason, in keeping with his rich tradition of procrastination and tardiness, once again delayed the start of our night. However that would turn out to be the least of his infractions on this night. While driving La Pleasance Road en route to southbound I-75, Jason debated aloud the pros and cons of stopping for gas at the present or putting off the menial task for some time later in the night. Prone as he is to laziness and indifference Jason nonchalantly proclaimed that later suited him just fine.

Twenty minutes later the car began to decelerate and within a minute we were at a crawl and out of gas. I am convinced that the man is cursed. Richard and I decided to jump out and began to push the vehicle while we still had some momentum. So there we were, a couple of jackasses pushing a car down US-25 in Toledo several miles from the nearest gas station. Jason relieved Richard of pushing duties after a quarter mile at which time Richard thought it pertinent to document the proceedings by snapping a few pictures. We’d gone about a half mile when a car pulled up behind us, a bearded man asked if we needed gas; somewhere in the distance I swear I heard a banjo. Thankfully he had a gas can and even more than that nobody was raped or maimed; many thanks to Beardo the Kind. We proceeded to the nearest gas station which likely would have taken well over an hour to reach had it not been for the kind stranger. The night was back on track and Terrortown was in our sights.

Last year Terrortown’s House of the Dead earned the Haunt Trinity’s top honor as Haunt of the Year and so it was with great excitement that we returned to this location. This year the offerings at Terrortown include Toxic Terror in 3D, The Asylum, and of course the incomparable House of the Dead. After purchasing our tickets we headed to the entrance for the 3D attraction. It was evident upon entering the haunt that something was amiss as nothing about it appeared in 3D, in fact the structure was completely dark. We wandered about the maze like interior for a couple of minutes amusing ourselves before making our exit. Given the situation I don’t feel that it would be fair or accurate to rate this particular attraction.

We jumped in line for The Asylum next, held in the same building that housed Slaughterhouse in 2008. Asylum offers haunters a very unique feature at the beginning of the attraction. We entered the lobby and stood before a steel door, in the middle of the door was a window which flickered and revealed its true face as a video screen. A short video began; a woman in a white dress with long, greasy black hair stalked a row of abandoned prison cells. She dragged an ax at her side and her intentions became clear. She battered the window with the ax and the door began to dent as if something would shortly break down the door. We’ve never witnessed an effect quite like this anywhere else. I could only guess at the cost of such a prop. The only downside was the fact that the door was apparently not functional because no actor erupted from the door which would have set the tone nicely.

Asylum wasn’t a lengthy attraction but it accomplished quite well what it set out to do. The haunt was comprised almost entirely of dark, maze like passages which were periodically streaked with the flash of a strobe light. A series of highly creepy full size props ward haunters away from various dead ends and I do mean highly creepy. The props looked identical to the girl from the video, each of them armed with an ax. Due to the realism of the dummies we initially mistook them for live actors but even after concluding that they were props nobody wanted to get too close to these fierce bitches. It turned out that The Asylum was actually light on genuine fleshies which definitely would have helped push this attraction to the next level. Those that were present weren’t bad but they certainly weren’t great either. However, this attraction will without a doubt raise some goose bumps on every visitor, if the props and ghouls don’t do it the cold air certainly will. The building is very cold which is no doubt done on purpose as the operators at Terrortown are known for their penchant to assail the senses in nontraditional ways. It was an effective maneuver, by the time we exited the haunt our hands were like ice; an interesting ripple to a solid dark maze. The haunt concludes with the largest vortex tunnel you’re likely to see anywhere. Last season it stood as a solo attraction titled The Beast but it works much better in a complimentary fashion paired with The Asylum.

Rating: 3 1/4 stars

After staggering out of the vortex we headed to the entrance of the main event, House of the Dead. We must have caught Terrortown on a slow night because there was absolutely no wait for the feature presentation in contrast we waited well over an hour last year to gain entry. We stood in the lobby and were shortly greeted by the same middle aged creep that welcomed us to Dead House last year. He received us warmly and seemed to be genuinely thrilled that we’d come to “play with his children” as he put it. I like this character and I enjoy the demented patriarch shtick he runs, it’s a fun way to start the haunt. We packed into an elevator and descended into the bowels of the rotting estate. I will not mince words, House of the Dead just wasn’t quite the acid trip induced wet dream that we experienced last year, it’s still a fine haunt that much should not be questioned but the wicked juices that fueled last year’s mind fuck have abated a bit. The attraction is notably shorter and the infamous room of killer babies has been omitted which left us particularly disappointed.

Last year one of our few criticisms of this attraction was the lack of live actors, there are many more live actors this year but unfortunately most of them have less personality than most of the animatronics. But oh, how awesome these animatronics are! The first room of the haunt held about five animatronics alone, one man had a stream of blood issuing from his stomach while another struggled futilely against the restraints that held him aloft. We were attacked by an alligator and witnessed the aftermath of a gruesome slaughter of a unicorn by a pack of burly wolves.

One of my favorite scenes involved a prop I’ve come to call the Goliath Man, a massive crucified ghoul who lunges at haunters from his post. We came upon a hallway which had a long mirror on the wall to the left, a mixture of eeriness and vanity drew our gaze and then Goliath Man struck from the other side when a partition dropped out of the wall. Pay attention folks because this is a great blend of an old school technique (misdirection) and modern technology. Another great scene involving a member of Terrortown’s automated army came in the form of a feasting alien devouring the half eaten carcass of a young girl, classy.

Another aspect of House of the Dead that scores well with the Haunt Trinity is the attraction’s attention to detail. The operators play up the House angle well sending guests through a series of narrow passages and rooms designed to look just like somebody’s home, a deranged nutter’s home yes, but a home nonetheless. The hallways are decorated with freakish family portraits and the various rooms nearly all feature still props that could just as well be the stuffed remains of family members, I especially enjoyed the sinister looking children.

House of the Dead also commands recognition for its implementation of innovative techniques such as the use of holographic projections. Also of note are unique set pieces like the stairs that break under the weight of an unseen presence. And of course any mention of all things strange and bizarre at House of the Dead would not be complete without calling attention to the odorous decay that seems to permeate the walls within the manor. The foul smell nearly overwhelmed us when we entered a room full of dead animals. Thankfully this was a small room and before we could contribute to the overall stench of the place by unleashing the contents of our stomachs we entered an adjacent meat cooler. Inside the cooler hung the bodies of many a victim but we had no time for sorrow because the keeper of the shop had arrived with a chainsaw. During the ensuing melee I heard squealing and I thought that was an odd thing to hear in a room full of dead humans. It was then that I looked about and realized that the bodies hanging from the ceiling weren’t exactly human…they were some sort of pig people hybrid! The monstrosity nearest me was squealing incessantly and arching his freakish head toward my calf. We fled the meat cooler content in the knowledge that those pig people would soon be bacon on some lucky fellow’s plate.

House of the Dead is indeed an interesting and rare piece of work. Last year the attraction was an absolute hit with hardly any live actors at all and this year Dead House seemed to gain success in spite of the lackluster performance of said actors. I don’t believe we’ve ever come across any place or situation quite like this. I would obviously like to see the haunt return to its 2008 length but I dare say it seems counter intuitive to suggest that the operators scale back the number of live performers, but perhaps House of the Dead would be at its best with a few well placed warm bodies. The animatronics are simply the best we’ve witnessed; some really seem to take on a life of their own. The unique oddities inherent to this attraction add a layer to the experience and atmosphere that a lot of haunts just can’t touch. I hope the brain trust at Terrortown continue to evolve the idea of homestead gone bad because it has a lot of fun possibilities I’d love to see brought to life.

Rating: 3 3/4

We departed the Lucas County Fairgrounds and nearly forty minutes later arrived just in time to purchase our tickets at the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Ohio. The adventure marked our first visit to this attraction and as with all first time trips we were eager to sample the offerings. There are two primary attractions here the crown jewel and namesake, Haunted Hydro and Industrial Mayhem; an outdoor attraction that truly exceeded all expectations.

Industrial Mayhem forces haunters through a long series of narrow paths bordered on both sides by chain linked fence. The attraction features a differently themed creature of the night each weekend; thus far it had been home to demons and nightmarish clowns but as fortune would have it our visit coincided with an outbreak of the living dead. Zombies littered the grounds and their jaws were a’ gnashing. The workers featured elaborately gruesome make up and some even donned those twisted contacts that warp the eyes. The actors were hard working and refused to be content with a single scare, several hungry ghouls stalked us through the gritty path and attacked us three or four times each. Much of the cast added to the genuine zombie appeal by refusing to break character responding to our usual hijinx with garbled grows and menacing snarls; these flesh eaters meant business.

The haunt featured two set pieces in particular which ensured that the repetitious setting did not become monotonous. The first was a boat and as we passed a starving zombie crawled from beneath the watercraft and began thrashing at our legs. Later the path led directly into the back of a hearse through which we were made to crawl. Midway through the dreary mobile a portion of the floor lights up, a ghoul trapped beneath a pane of glass pounds frantically in an attempt to procure the just out of reach delicacies.

Near the end of the attraction we came across a small junk yard that housed a hungry female zombie who was currently gorging herself on the neck of a once proud but now dead, stallion. She glared at us greedily as if the hardy meal she had already won wasn’t enough. The glint in her glossy eyes told us she had a zest for man flesh. Jason appeared a little too eager to oblige so we quickly pushed forward before he made a fatally embarrassing mistake. We wound our way into a burnt out dump, a revolting mutant wandered amidst the rubble. He wore construction gear and had a face that looked as if it had been washed in an acid bath. His skin was raw and tinged red, it looked like a lump of bloody hamburger. He entered a shack with shelves lined with grim trinkets; on one shelf a jar filled with orange slime contained a multitude of eye balls. He began pouring muddy, waste water from one barrel to the next offering us a drink as he did so. He also engaged us in a bit of tasteless humor involving one of our mothers.

We rounded the shack and attempted to exit Industrial Mayhem but we were chased away from the double doors by a deranged man who was very concerned about the damage we may cause his doors. Jason managed to escape on the first attempt barreling through the flimsy doors with wanton disregard. We had to retreat several times behind the mutant’s shack before making a run for it and escaping one by one. I was the last to breach the threshold; the little, angry man was still shouting about his doors.

Rating: 4 1/4 stars

We crossed the court yard and made our way to the entrance of the Haunted Hydro where the eccentric owner, Crazy Bob was entertaining some female patrons. Ole Bob rambled on for a bit about never forgetting a face and tried rather futilely to rattle Disco. Crazy Bob shortly relented and allowed us to enter the old hydro dam now home to a soggy army of ghouls and weirdoes. The building is an impressive sight to behold featuring a ceiling that towers far above the heads of its guests. We enjoyed Haunted Hydro but the haunt lacked a cohesive theme and that was disappointing because the structure would be quite believable as a medieval castle.

The first two scenes were highly detailed and would have felt at home at The Realm of Darkness. The first was a bedroom scene and the second a dining room, the latter scene offered up a hilarious worker who really pushed the envelope. After leaping out of a chair the portly ghoul offered us what he referred to as eyeball soup and then suggested that he add a special ingredient. He squatted slightly and began rubbing his hand on his ass; he then brought his hand to the bowl and proclaimed that the secret ingredient was “brown sugar.” We of course responded with bales of laughter and our sides nearly split when this repugnant wretch gyrated his hips and rubbed the personal concoction on his nipple. He responded promptly to our ribbing by wiping his fingers on my nipple which was actually quite surprising because haunt workers are not supposed to touch guests but I found the whole scene to be ludicrous and took no offense. Brown Sugar Man, I salute you!

We were lead shortly through a narrow hall filled with various clown props; the passage was lit by black lights and concluded when a simpering French clown provided a mild scare. The path took several more turns and we ended up in a security room, the walls lined with monitors, a woman occupied the chair behind the desk and our presence clearly disturbed her. She rose from the chair with great jerky movements and stalked our party to the end of the room.

Near the conclusion of the attraction haunters are treated to display both rare and bizarre in nature. A brightly colored, old fashioned puppet booth stood before us standing in surreal contrast to the dimly lit and grimy surroundings. A scrawny, high pitched male appears from behind the curtains holding a dirty teddy bear in his left hand. The bear would like to sing us a song and of course we agree to witness this odd side show. The puppeteer disappears behind the curtains and shakes the teddy bear about as he sings a dark rhyme about death. At one point the bear disappears behind the curtains and a large, clawed hand shoots quickly toward the guests functioning as a dovetail for the lyrics. When the song concludes the slimy puppet master cheers his own depraved lyrics and encourages us to do the same, we happily offer a round of applause and exit the scene.

We headed up an inclined path; a large shadow could be seen high upon a wall in the distance, another neat feature. The path turned and took us into a room with a deep pit, several nutters patrolled the room including a manic judge but to my disappointment the pit of despair held no captives. The path briefly led outside which afforded us the opportunity to appreciate the exterior of the Hydro. When we reentered we soon came to the conclusion of the haunt, a large graveyard setting that featured either a hopelessly drunk or helplessly insane pirate who blathered nonsense and begged us not to leave him.

The haunt concluded on a some what lackluster note but it did feature a lot of live actors most of which were quite good at what they set out to do. The unique features mentioned above were all welcome surprises and something I’d like to see the haunt build on. We had a lot of fun at the Haunted Hydro and I’d like to plan a return trip in a future season.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

“Oh, I hope they’re not too old.”

-Richard responding to the House of the Dead patriarch’s enthusiasm when he expressed delight that we had come to play with his children

“(Strangled laughter) Your mother…(more strangled laughter)…douche.”

-The reaction of the construction mutant when I suggested that his filthy, barrel water had been used as a douche by Richard’s mom

Chaos at Deadly, Serendipitous Rain

Posted in 2009, Deadly Intentions, Hallowblog, Haunted Hollows, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2015 by bluefall8

This edition of Hallowblog Flashback was originally posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 and chronicled a most memorable night of haunting at two Michigan attractions. Deadly Intentions would go on to win the 2009 Horrorlust Monster Award and also received an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award.

It was Bowbee’s Nightmare at Haunted Hollows, the other attraction we visited on the night in question, that actually snagged the 2009 Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award along with the Horrorlust Eerie Vibrations Award and Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. The cast at Bowbee’s Nightmare also received an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Monster Award that season.

Sadly, the barn that housed Bowbee’s Nightmare burned to the ground one December morning in 2009. Haunted Hollows continued to produce various haunted attractions through 2012 but has been dark since that time. In 2011, much of the diehard cast followed Larry Black to Pontiac when Sinister haunted house ran alongside The Realm of Darkness. In 2012 and 2013 Sinister was stationed in Utica and then last year with Sinister closed Larry led the core of his crazies back to The Realm of Darkness where their storied history continued.

Like Haunted Hollows, Deadly Intentions is also no longer in operation having last run a show in 2012. On the plus side, the building that used to house Deadly Intentions is still active each October as it is now the home of The Deadland.

Try as the weather did last Friday to spoil our night of haunting the effort was as some would say, all for naught. Due to Jason’s usual lazy man shenanigans we didn’t depart from my apartment until 8:45 but we made good time and arrived at Deadly Intentions roughly half an hour later. A slight drizzle misted the air but for the chance to experience City of the Living Dead I would have braved an Indian monsoon. We did have a bit of a wait but that did nothing to diminish our spirits, our admission was paid; we had a one way ticket to a zombie infested Necropolis…I was happy.

The haunt on the whole was very well done but that was to be expected, what really impressed me was the cohesion and flow from one room to the next; the effect of a desolate city was pulled off very nicely. The trip begins in tavern complete with tables, stools, and a fully stocked bar. A visibly shaken bartender intercepted us and began rambling about dead people and infected bites, his breath smells of liquor. He was at a loss as to what he should do and when I attempted to reassure him that we could handle the situation by hurling Molotov cocktails at the zombies he grew agitated, pulled a gun on us, and demanded that we exit his bar. The whole episode put me in mind of that scene at the beginning of Resident Evil 2 when Leon seeks shelter in a gun shop only to stare down the barrel of a shot gun. It was a great scene to watch then and it was a lot of fun to experience first hand as well.

The adjacent room is adorned in the usual trappings of a bar as well: sports memorabilia and beer signs lined the wall while old school video games occupied a corner of the room to the left a bubble hockey table dared me to strike up a game. And I would have challenged one of my mates too if it weren’t for a particularly agile zombie that thrashed about the room lusting for our flesh. He pursued us out of the bar and into a room best described as the area behind the bar. Dumpsters lined the walls and again I was impressed with the creativity of the scenes. We had no time to admire such things though as the bar ghoul still hungered for our warm flesh. A female zombie emerged from the dumpsters and swiped at us viciously. The pair of undead assailants romped about the scene, rapidly dodging around our feet as we attempted to navigate the tight passageway. I must say that I very much admired their commitment to the act; they certainly were not deterred by the threat of bodily harm.

The dumpster area gave way to an alley where a zombie hobo, a dirty zombie hobo had taken up residence. He lovingly gnawed at a severed leg which must have sated his appetite for the time being because he seemed only mildly interested in the ready meal that had so freely wandered into his undead fiefdom. Much to our amusement the scene included a burning barrel and a large cardboard box which contained the half eaten remains of a grisly corpse. Behind us a zombie tussle had begun, the female ghoul from the dumpster area had followed us into the alley and she wrestled Zobo (zombie hobo) for the rights to his meaty snack. We left them to settle their differences and entered into Master Baiter’s Tackle Shop. The store front sign of course elicited a cheap laugh and the decor inside the room was well done but the disfigured heathen behind the counter did his cohorts a disservice by allowing us to traverse the store unharassed.

After exiting the store we entered a short series of alleys, home to a psychotic, bone wielding clown. He circled our party several times, violently swinging his crude weapon, smashing it against the walls. He was murderous but displayed no overt cannibalistic desires and so we passed without further incident.

The chaos continued as we did our best to navigate the ravaged cityscape, ahead we spotted a house, the light of a television flickered behind a curtained window but no refuge would be had as we were chased off by an angry homeowner. Up ahead we came across a deranged girl who seemed to have locked herself in a large cage as a means to protect herself from the undead horde. She shouted at us shrilly and demanded that we leave her alone. We noticed a TV inside the makeshift prison which was currently showing a pornographic film. Try as he might Jason could not contain the gleam of curiosity in his eyes but with a mass of flesh munchers on our trail even he could not justify lingering any longer.

We found ourselves at the front doors of a church, a bloodied nun fled from the building, her arms flailing above her head as she wailed a lament of primal terror. It was apparent from her screams that someone had done something terrible. Inside the church we found the source of all the calamity, a zombified priest stood chained to the wall. His eyes had been artfully gouged from his head and he had indeed slaughtered himself a feast, caked in blood as he was. As we passed I gave him a sporting chance at my hand and to his credit he did not disappoint, I reacted just in time and avoided the deadly chomp.

It would be Disco who would next be put to the test in this city teeming with the living dead. We had come to a choke point, the perfect place for an ambush, when an excitable butcher appeared and blocked our path. He began sniffing the air and muttered under his breath. He approached Disco, pinned him to the wall, and began sniffing him. Disco did his best to show no fear but it was clear that this creep had unnerved him. “Ohhh, I like this one,” said the butcher with a hint of thinly veiled sexual zest; Richard, Jason, and I could only laugh. The Disco however refused to squeal like a piggy and braved his way past this depraved maniac. The butcher would not be easily deterred and pursued us for some time. He was soon joined by a stocky zombie with a mangled face. The pair lumbered after us as we fled to the outskirts of the infected city. Another zombie joined their ranks and then a lunatic with chainsaw sought to sever anything that so happened to come his way. It was a frenzied atmosphere as we fled our pursuers past the city limits but just when we thought we’d escaped a zombie leaped from a ladder and made sure to hasten our exit.

For the second consecutive year Deadly Intentions delivered a fun and exciting show. I like the fact that City of the Living Dead included survivors who in the spirit of Dead Rising, had broke with reality and become hostile. The theme was awesome and lent itself nicely to some truly creative scenes, especially those at the beginning of the haunt. The actors were once more impressive in every regard displaying a level of intensity and enthusiasm unmatched anywhere else. The show was not without flaw though, for instance a heavy saturation of gore would have been appropriate with this theme. A greater commitment to continuity would have also helped to enhance the theme of the haunt. There were a few scenes that didn’t exactly play to the City of the Living Dead angle as well as others might have, for example, the girl in the cage could have been replaced by a car accident scene where hungry ghouls sucked the marrow from bones.

With that said, Deadly does deserve special recognition for it’s ability to squeeze the most out of its resources. There are no animatronics here nor are there expensive props but there are also no lengthy stretches of pitch black hallways. Deadly Intentions does employ modern lighting and sound techniques which when coupled with a nuts and bolts approach to haunting creates a hybrid between new and old, a neo old school if you will. The bottom line is that Deadly Intentions is a great haunt; it’ll be interesting to see how the brain trust continues to reinvent this rock solid attraction.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Our next stop was the Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township but when we arrived we discovered to our great disappointment that the haunt had closed early do to rain. Perturbed, Richard and I got out of the vehicle with mischief on our minds. Richard decided that he would be justly amused if we were to make some modifications to the haunt’s sign. So it was that as we departed the phrase “open anus” blazed merrily from the signage at the Haunted Farm of Terror.

It was just past 10:30 at this time and we scrambled to find another attraction that would accept our haunt dollars. Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown are both located in nearby Armada but Blake’s too had closed early because of inclement weather and Slaughtered at Sundown was set to cut off ticket sales at 11:00. That left us with just one option, Haunted Hollows also in Armada. Haunted Hollows just opened last year but I’d heard some good things about it so with no other options we embarked on a short journey to the rural barn.

I was not impressed with the scene before us as we pulled into a nearly deserted and muddy parking lot. We exited the vehicle and proceeded to the ticket booth where I reluctantly handed over $15. We walked up a hill lined with cornstalks to the entrance of the barn. We were welcomed by a less than enthused Bride of Frankenstein and a guy dressed up like an old lady. After some corny dialogue from Granny Drag any hope I had for this haunt was quickly evaporating. The attraction only allowed two guests at a time so Jason and Disco entered first followed by Richard and I several minutes later. The haunt started a bit slow and I was convinced that this was going to be a short and pathetic money grab but that was the last negative thought I would have.

Bowbee’s Nightmare, as the attraction was titled, turned out to be an excellent haunt featuring innovative workers, effective props, and a truly creepy atmosphere. The attraction used no sound system which generally spells doom for a haunt because not only can music set the mood it also conveniently covers any noise hidden actors may unintentionally make. However this did not mean certain doom for Bowbee’s Nightmare quite the opposite was true, the eerie silence seemed to put us on edge and complimented the natural ambiance of the barn in a most frighteningly potent fashion.

The actors are the engine that drives Haunted Hollows and what a terrifyingly strange cast they were. The actors scored high marks on timing, make-up, and intensity but it was an unusual trait that jettisoned this brigade of creepy crawlers into haunt super stardom, the ghouls did not speak English. Many of the actors made guttural noises or menacing growls but those that did speak did so in what sounded like some sort of tribal dialect, the effect was disconcerting; the cast was very well trained. A noteworthy few included a skinny clown who displayed his improvisational skills by mimicking the circus tune that Richard began to sing when the wicked harlequin first assailed us; he bobbed his head from side to side and bounded about with gleeful madness. On the next floor a meaty female built like a bull dog burst from a refrigerator and growled menacingly. Her face was a mass of decay, a large boil protruded from her left cheek; she was a monstrosity to behold.

Richard and I caught up to Jason and Disco at the back end of the haunt and with juvenile delight I did my utmost to make Disco sully his draws. We had a hearty laugh but all the bustle alerted a hunchbacked ghoul to our presence. He was similar in stock to the Bull Dog Woman; I wondered what hideous spawns the pair might produce. The creature possessed surprising agility, leaping from a crouched position he gnashed at our faces. We escaped into the darkness but our reprieve was brief as a pair of nightmarish dames appeared as if born from shadow. One of them had long, blond hair and an appealing figure but even Jason’s perversion was swayed by the blood dripping from her mouth, a mouth lined with razor sharp teeth. She would reappear several times as we navigated the labyrinthine structure. Sometimes she would dart ahead of us and peek around corners and at others here presence was only made known to us by the haunting lament she seemed to enjoy singing, a bizarre combination that sounded like a cross between hiccups and strangled nursery rhymes. She appeared atop a staircase once we’d exited the haunt where she serenely hummed that strange dirge. She even pursued us to the parking lot and when goaded she approached our vehicle and snapped her teeth at my camera; now that’s dedication.

Bowbee’s Nightmare puts to great use an army of props, dummies, and mannequins; the likes of which were among the creepiest we’ve ever witnessed. This barrage of bodies kept our heads on a constant swivel, forever guessing where the next attack would come from. And all of this paid off wonderfully with one well placed actor. At the end of a small passageway a large doll sat atop a dresser limp and lifeless. Her white, expressionless face was in contrast to the black pig tails that fell on either side of her head. Suddenly, just as we were about to turn the corner she rocked forward and simpered darkly. When the gag was run on Jason and Disco, Richard and I could hear their shocked surprise several rooms away.

The haunt also featured a couple of false endings, one in the form of a very tight “Womb of Doom” and the other a fun vortex tunnel in which we snapped a memorable picture. Haunted Hollows also featured one very effective animatronic, an enormous Frankenstein that sprung to life with violent spasms caused by jolts of ear splitting electricity. A lot of haunts have animatronics in spades nowadays but the use of just one went a long way at the deathly quiet Bowbee’s Nightmare. The ending of the haunt was also memorable, after being led by some sort of garbling ghoul Bowbee himself was roused and chased us into a narrow, wooden choke point with the aid of a trusty chainsaw. Before we could race to the end of the passage a second abomination, Bowbee’s apprentice I presumed, forced us backward with a chainsaw of his own. It was a fun, wild end as the two disgruntled freaks pushed the four of us closer together with every swipe of the buzzing chainsaws.

Haunted Hollows’ Bowbee’s Nightmare succeeds by focuses on the fundamentals of haunting and in doing so delivered a unique and ultra creepy experience. The barn itself becomes a character and left us feeling as Disco quipped, feeling as if we’d just had a spell with the mutants from The People Under the Stairs. The barn has the feel of a B-rate slasher flick and that’s a compliment; this place will creep you out.

Rating: 5 stars

Haunted Hexad Fuels Wiard’s Night Terrors

Posted in 2014, Review, Wiard's Night Terrors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2015 by bluefall8

Map-of-Night-Terrors-2014

The air was dry, the sky was clear and the revelers were out in throngs to experience the haunted happenings that Wiard’s Night Terrors had to offer. Less than 24 hours ago I had been in the Cleveland, Ohio area to tour both The Fear Experience and Bloodview and now I stood in Ypsilanti, Michigan on the threshold of six additional haunted attractions.

The flurry of activity near the entrance of the thrill park was matched by the dizzying buzz inside my mind. I had attempted some ambitious haunt endeavors in the past but this schedule was a whole other beast. When combined, The Fear Experience, Bloodview and Wiard’s Night Terrors featured roughly a dozen haunted attractions and I was on pace to tour them all in little more than a 24-hour period! Was I mad?!! Had I lost my mind?!!! Was it even possible to enjoy the hallowed pastime of haunting at such a breakneck pace??!!! Would I be able to commit enough details to memory in order to draft a review???!!!

This blog isn’t called Horrorlust for nothing.

It was time to switch off the mental machine and simply soak in the energy that surrounded me. I had brought my teenaged sister-in-law, Madison, along for the night of frights as she had never before experienced a thrill park of this magnitude. I thought it would be fun to gauge her reactions in contrast to those of the more grizzled veterans who are usually by my side for these nocturnal horror shows.

We were shortly joined by Brandon Wiard, one of the operators here and the man who had extended us an invite. He had been making the rounds, snapping photos and when he arrived he had with him a camera which led us into a conversation about photography and another passion of mine, videography. When able, Brandon served as a tour guide throughout the night and the first attraction he recommended we visit was the Hayride of the Lost.

PROTECT IT WITH FIRE

Hayride of the Lost pulled us through the backwoods of Wiard’s Orchard where a gang of unruly moonshiners had set up shop. There was a frail old man who popped out of a window and issued a comical warning near the beginning of the woodland jaunt; I can only assume it was his kinfolk we encountered deeper into the woods.

The hayride was highlighted by several impressive fire balls, detailed facades and one flying, chainsaw wielding maniac who assailed us from above inside of a barn. The tour did suffer from a couple of lulls in the action and I would’ve welcomed a little more interaction — especially from the creepy but relatively stoic firemen who guarded the aforementioned barn — but on the whole the Hayride of the Lost was a fun experience capable of being enjoyed by all ages. Did I mention we were given cider and donuts at the conclusion of the ride?

Rating: 3.5 stars

Once we had disembarked and wolfed down our treats, we gleefully watched a fire juggler perform for the crowd. I always appreciate quality side shows with my haunted attractions, and this chap delighted us with his skillful fire play and timely wit.

When his act had concluded we reconnected with Brandon who led us to the entrance of Splattertown, a zombie paintball shoot. This was actually the first time I’d participated in such an attraction and I was looking forward to unleashing multi-colored mayhem all over some rotting enemies.

However, before we could fight the undead menace, we had to place headphones onto our ears and listen to some rules and strategy about safely defeating the oncoming uglies as they were called. Once that business had finished we got down to the task at hand as a wave of zombies shambled into view.

I took a few pot shots at a distant zombie and then keyed on the walker nearest my location and prided myself on head shots. It wasn’t long before my juvenile instincts kicked into overdrive and I sent repeated shots to that same zombie’s crotch, and it was evident from the splattering of paint in the region that plenty of other previous participants, like myself, possessed the maturity of a 12-year-old boy.

The whole affair only lasted a minute or two but it was fun and ludicrous. I appreciated that the creators of the attraction had decided to include the recorded instructions as it really added to the atmosphere and overall fun factor of the event. As we exited, I conferred with Maddie and she too had shamelessly peppered the private parts of some dim-witted zombie.

A LITTLE CIRCUS, A LITTLE SCI-FI

One of my favorite attractions of the night was Alien Caged Clowns, a short haunt that possessed a lot of charm and creativity. A series of stagecoach wagons served as the queue line to enter the attraction, a few of them featured colorful banners that advertised wondrous acts.

A metal pole was situated at the end of the stagecoach wagons and atop it sat a small alien spaceship that housed a single clownish occupant. It was aglow with various lights and exuded a kitsch, throwback style; it reminded me of something found at a county fair in days gone by.

The final stagecoach emptied into the interior of Alien Caged Clowns where a short passage had been decorated with large wooden crates and clown memorabilia. There was even a monitor that displayed a clown who creepily danced (sometimes with balloons) to old timey music.

We were greeted by a most curious ringmaster when we entered the attraction, the fact that his spinal cord was exposed did nothing to diminish his spirits as he lively regaled us with wordplay and silly puns.

As Brandon would later explain to us, the creatures inside Alien Caged Clowns weren’t necessarily clowns in the traditional since but instead a feral alien race. I thought that was an interesting wrinkle and a fresh, fun perspective on a tried and true haunted house troupe.

The haunt employed a heavy dose of fog and strobes which made navigating the maze-like passages quite a challenge and also provided ideal cover for numerous pop out scares. Unlike other attractions in this vein, Alien Caged Clowns did not use chain-linked fence or wooden planks to form the twisting path, instead the maze was constructed of white bars which allowed the bizarre creatures to grab at us along the way.

We were treated to another bit of fun at the end of the attraction when we were made to play a guessing game before we realized we had to crouch and exit through a concealed box.

Alien Caged Clowns was colorful, quirky, fun and has, in my opinion, plenty of potential for growth.

Rating: 3.75 stars

MIND SHAFT MAYHEM

The facade outside the Mind Shaft haunted attraction was easily my favorite — a collection of wooden beams and barrels, mining tools and even a small train. The interior of the structure was no less impressive — highlighted by immersive sets, heart-pounding sounds and a fun-filled, breakneck pace.

Several characters and areas of note included a grubby, beady-eyed miner who entertained waiting guests, also a second minor who was the victim of an unfortunate ,and rather creative, cave-in scene. Finally, I was delightfully surprised by a large, hairy, Sasquatch-like prop which sprung up from beneath a bed of fog near the conclusion of the attraction.

Mind Shaft was a well-balanced haunted attraction that was true to its theme and delivered timely jump scares mixed with moments of excitement and laughter.

Rating: 4 stars

A TRIP TO THE FUNNY FARM

The next demon to be slain was the formidable, Asylum. We entered the building with a group of strangers and were greeted by a Dr. J. Wiard who seemed anything but a competent medical professional. We found ourselves in a small reception area, several chairs lined two opposing walls. The maniacal medicine man didn’t seem in a hurry to be rid of us so most of us took a seat while a couple of people stood awkwardly.

Dr. Wiard eyed the group with what appeared to be a mixture of curiosity and contempt. The little room had grown silent and suddenly I was all too aware of a rising tension. It felt like something bad was about to happen, an impending doom inched closer. Suddenly, Dr. J. Wiard picked up a phone that hung on the wall and when his conversation was finished we were instructed to leave our seats and begin down a nearby hallway.

The Asylum featured a collection of highly detailed and memorable scenes which included an electrocution that so convinced Maddie of its authenticity that she slammed herself with great force against a wall when the condemned delivered a posthumous jump scare. I could be found hunched over in laughter just a few feet away; the expert timing of the actor combined with Maddie’s shocked reaction created one of the best electrocution gags I’ve ever witnessed.

Two other scenes of note occurred near the end of the attraction — in one we found ourselves inside a high-ceilinged room adorned with twinkling lights and festive Christmas decorations. A scrawny, surly Santa Claus bemoaned our presence although he wasn’t a complete grinch as we did exchange a couple of light-hearted quips   before Maddie and I departed his dwelling.

The last scene of interest consumed us entirely in an oppressive fog that left me disoriented and with a sensation that this white nothingness stretched out endlessly across space and time. It was an odd and unsettling feeling, I stopped momentarily in an attempt to gauge my sense of direction. There was nothing but a thick swirl of white abyss before my face, I turned to say something to Maddie and when I turned back around I was startled to find myself nose to nose with a gruesome face. A hideous, hanging prop was mere inches in front of me and had quite literally appeared as if from nowhere. The distinct chatter of a chainsaw ripped through the whiteout and hastened our search for the exit.

Rating: 4 stars

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF APPLE THIEVES

The Ultimate Haunted Barn is the oldest of all the haunted attractions at Wiard’s Night Terrors and as such is arguably the premier event. We entered the structure and were told to wait in front of a bank of monitors that all displayed the same bizarre sequence of flashing images. There were pigs, a laughing puppet and other unnerving oddities. It felt like we were being brainwashed in advance of some unethical psychological torture.

In the next room we were introduced to Curtis, a tall, lean young man with a hint of a southern drawl. Curtis spoke rapidly of his vast collection of goods which were displayed throughout the room. He intimated that he had amassed such a treasure trove by less than honest means but in the next breath stated plainly that any accusations of such would not be met with politeness. Curtis spoke with quickness and clarity; his voice possessed a mesmerizing cadence dashed with a pinch of wit. He was, without a doubt, the most well-rounded and fully formed character we encountered during our tour of Wiard’s Night Terrors.

The remainder of our trek through the Ultimate Haunted Barn was a mixture of humor, tension, jump scares and a bit of gore. In one darkened corner a grimy man appeared behind a window of chicken wire and sent a shower of sparks in our directions while he zestfully shouted, “Sweet Meat!” Although I fought the urge, the dark recesses of my mind refused to be denied and up to the surface swam a peculiar selection of banjo music accompanied by that infamous scene from Deliverance.

Other highlights from the Ultimate Haunted Barn included a crawling creep who popped out of a cabinet, a chainsaw-wielding nutter who swung above our heads and one seriously imposing butcher who momentarily assailed us before he returned to his twitching and bloody victim who had been hung from the ceiling. There was also a moment of separation where men and woman were forced to traverse different paths, a time-honored psychological ploy.

Rating: 3.75 stars

Wiard’s Night Terrors offered us an array of fun and diverse haunted attractions. It’s a full-fledged operation complete with concessions, bonfires, line entertainment and even Scareyoke. The atmosphere is festive and on a clear night the sky is beautiful. Wiard’s Night Terrors was a pleasure to tour and an ideal way to spend a night during the hallowed month of October.

Maddie and I capped off the night by posing for a picture with this fine gentleman.

Maddie and I capped off the night by posing for a picture with this fine gentleman.

Bloodview Burns White Hot with Witch Trials

Posted in 2014, Bloodview, Review with tags , , , , , , on January 8, 2015 by bluefall8

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Our return to Bloodview Haunted House last October felt, in some ways, like a homecoming. Just two years prior we had embarked on our maiden sojourn to the Butcher of Broadview Heights and had come away spellbound. This time around we found ourselves at the threshold of terror on a cold and wet Friday night. As we passed through the gates of Bloodview that unmistakable and unique aura of horror permeated the air.

BEST QUEUE LINE ENTERTAINMENT IN THE BUSINESS

Zealous preachers barked hellfire and brimstone from all corners of the land while angry townsfolk demanded confessions and repentance from the poor souls who found themselves in the middle of a war between the righteous and the wicked. As John and I entered the queue line a scrawny man with an unkempt beard was engaged in an act of self-flaggellation. He wandered the area and muttered to himself, his eyes a matching set of vacant pools as he lashed his scarred back.

Elsewhere in line, some menacing witch hunters questioned and harassed a group of squeamish teenagers. A burly male hunter with long, dark hair rubbed his blade over the hair of one female guest who visibly shook with fright and then expressed concern that she would both wet herself and vomit from the fear of it all. I was convinced by her body language that her statements weren’t merely for dramatic flair and I thus stepped back a few paces in order to avoid the splashback from any potential spew.

GRISSLY GORE HOUSE

The first leg of Bloodview sent us through the small but powerful Gore House where an overpowering scent invaded our nostrils and set the stage for the foulness to follow. Almost immediately we were confronted by an imposing figure who wielded a blade and wore what looked to be a crown of thorns. I wasn’t sure if he was aligned with the holy rollers or a practitioner of witchcraft; whatever the case his eyes gleamed with malevolent triumph.

He dubbed me “Bigguns” and proceded to make a series of ominously suggestive remarks. Big Boy, as I referred to him in my private thoughts, had a coarse laugh and seemed to get great enjoyment from his interaction with John and I. Soon thereafter, inside of a room filled with hanging corpses, we encountered a special friend of Big Boy’s — a drooling husk of flesh caught somewhere between zombie and mongoloid. This deranged creature followed us for a spell and as he stumbled forward a gossamer of saliva hung from his mouth and then splattered onto the floor.

The Gore House was a galleria of gross-outs and no trip is complete without passage through the one-of-a-kind vortex tunnel near the end of the structure, a vortex tunnel with the color and consistency of molten flesh. John and I crossed the sickly threshold and emerged from the Gore House and descended a ramp to an earthen path that led to the eerie landscape known as Baby Doll Island.

ISLE OF THE DAMNED

Baby Doll Island is a wooded area littered with out-buildings, a small maze and a recently added cemetery; like the queue line it too was populated by those embroiled in the ongoing witch trials. I was impressed by the number of characters that had been dedicated to Baby Doll Island and noted that the actor’s enthusiasm hadn’t been sapped by the cold or rain.

One peculiar creature drew several laughs from us for his use of raunchy humor and cheap Ray Rice quips. He appeared to be a stout, middle-aged man and his manner of dress was interesting indeed. His fingers either sported long, sharp nails or had been adorned with gothic armor, his mouth featured a frightening array of dagger-shaped teeth and the whole of his being seemed to be filled with a wild, untamable malice. I couldn’t decide if he was a vampire, demon or merely the town pervert but he elicited a response and looked good doing it.

Near the end of the trail we encountered another interesting character who seemed to be out of her mind with paranoid delusions. She was bushy-haired and bespectacled — we could do nothing to ease the pain she obviously felt she had suffered at the hands of some unseen tormentors. Despite our offers of help she believed with all of her will that the world, and all who dwell therein, had betrayed her. We departed the trail and left the sad sack to mope, it was time to face the third leg of the Bloodview experience which just so happened to be the most substantial of our visit.

BURN BLOODVIEW BURN

The key to success for Bloodview’s main attraction is a combination classic haunted house design infused with the energy of a weird, outlandish and spirited cast. The floor plan winded us through claustrophobic passages and uneven hallways that tilted left and right and up and down. Near the entrance of the haunt we encountered a malicious prankster who worked a lever that caused the floor beneath our feet to lift and lurch forward.

John and I were impressed by the physicality of several actors who pushed past us in narrow halls while they snarled and offered thinly veiled threats. The first occurrence of such happened nearly as soon as we entered the haunt when a foxy creature of the night lured us forward with a game of hide-n-seek. One moment she rushed forward and then slunk back to the shadows only to reappear again to cut off our path. She made sure to display her mouth of razor-sharp teeth several times and ultimately forced us to brush by her which was indeed threatening but not without a touch of eroticism.

There were absurd scenes as well such as a filthy bathroom that featured a thoroughly clogged toilet, a mound of excrement was in danger of eclipsing the rim but this fact did nothing to deter one mute character from mounting the porcelain throne. Elsewhere, within the walls of Bloodview, we interacted with a group of characters who had been trapped in a series of large cages, the largest of which contained several captives.

A diminutive blonde girl crawled forward and offered several meek meows, doe-eyed and adorable I offered her a couple of sympathetic pats on the head, in turn she handed me a small, fluffy fur ball which I would later pawn off on a pair of crazies at a deli counter. Another notable prisoner was a toe-headed youth who wore a pair of shorts and an button-down eagle scout shirt that he had long outgrown. He sat and stared at me as if he was completely content with his exposed pudge and when questioned about his attire he responded that he forced to dress as such. He reminded me strongly of Chunk from The Goonies and I fought the urge to request a performance of the Truffle Shuffle.

Bloodview aslo featured a blackout maze that functioned both as psychological terror and a great false ending. Next, we roamed a few rooms which might’ve seemed warm and welcoming if not for the homespun horrors that peered at us from every corner and crevice, one such example included a pair of old-fashioned dolls who sat a top a shelf and blankly stared.

As we neared the conclusion of the haunted attraction we walked into an argument in progress as a mother-daughter duo engaged in a heated verbal spat. The source of the family feud was unclear although given the larger situation one might assume that someone was being accused of witchcraft. Our presence did little to stem the angry shouts as the two argued unabated. I did defend the daughter as she seemed the more reasonable of the pair which earned me a brief hug before she launched into another round of shouting with her mother.

The finale of Bloodview presented us with a seasoned witch hunter who sported a large gash on one side of his face which extended from where his eyeball used to be down across his cheek. In a Scottish accent he and an acolyte of sorts urged us to move forward lest we rouse the fury of a warlock the pair held captive. Indeed, along the far wall was chained an imposing figure, head covered by an animal skull. The animated witch hunter warned that this warlock was particularly fierce and indeed was the cause for the severe wound he himself sported. Following some lively debate, angry admonishments from the acolyte and an near escape of the warlock; we exited Bloodview.

Bloodview is a unique stop on the haunted highway and one that holds a special place in my heart. The Legion of Terror is comprised of passionate scareactors who’s attention to details such as costuming, make-up, improvisation and even accents did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. This is a great location with some throwback appeal, fleshed out with a versatile cast who love to entertain. Bloodview is home to some true sons and daughters of Halloween.

Rating: 4.25 stars

“I think you’d have an easier time with those girls in front of me.”

“How do you know what I like, Bigguns?”

-An exchange with Big Boy inside the Gore House while he held me at knife point.

Trio of Downriver Haunts Spark Season

Posted in 2009, Extreme Scream, Hallowblog, Review, Scream Machine, The Lab with tags , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2014 by bluefall8

Few nights of haunting contain three separate attractions as enjoyable as those we experienced in this post from Thursday, October 8, 2009. And as you’ll read we were in desperate need of such a night after suffering a disappointment of historic proportions just one week earlier. It pains me to say that all three of these haunted attractions are no longer in existence.

When the book is closed on the 2009 haunt season it’s likely that we’ll point to Friday, October 2 as the night that saved the Haunt Trinity. One week earlier we had suffered the most disappointing outing in our history. The experience had left us skeptical about the 2009 season; our enthusiasm had noticeably waned. We needed a night like last Friday, an outing that will forever be enshrined in Haunt Trinity lore as Redemption Night.

The night began when Jason, Richard, and Disco arrived at my apartment just past 8:00 p.m. We planned to hit three area haunts and after a little debating we decided to start at The Scream Machine in Taylor. We skipped Scream Machine last year because previous visits in 2006 and 2007, although quite enjoyable, were fairly similar. We plopped down our $15 and enjoyed the castle facade before entering the haunted halls of The Scream Machine.

In 2006 The Scream Machine premiered The Hellevator, a cursed elevator that wildly transports haunters to the bowels of a forgotten land. It’s always a lot of fun and a great way to start any haunted adventure. We’ve experienced this feature at several other haunts but we have yet to find any place that does it as well as Scream Machine. The Hellevator is pitch black as you enter and when the door shuts the wild ride begins with violent tremors followed by electrical noises and flashing lights that reveal a long, black-haired girl creeping out of the far corner. When the Hellevator comes to rest an unsettling whisper seeps into your skull, “We’ve been waiting for you.” I’m positive that the line is from a horror movie although the title escapes me at the moment nevertheless the effect is well timed and very creepy; it feels as if the sound has actually formed a cushion around your head. The ride comes to an end and guests are released into a spinning vortex tunnel before entering Scream Machine proper.

The majority of this attraction sends haunters winding through an elaborate cemetery complete with dank crypts and prowling creatures. This is the same basic layout that The Scream Machine has employed in the past except this year it’s much more immersive, so much so that Jason likened the experience to The Realm of Darkness. The scenes are highly detailed featuring a great blend of still props and animatronics that provide the eye candy that has become a staple of Scream Machine.

Eye candy is great but live actors are the heart of almost every haunt and The Scream Machine had warm bodies in spades. On the whole the actors were committed and persistent with several ghouls assailing our group more than once. The actors were also very well timed in fact the crew here made Jason jump more than he ever has at any one haunt. A great number of those scares came from an old trick of the haunting trade: drop down panels. There is nothing spectacular about this gag as a matter of fact they’re usually easy to spot, for example if you see a picture or a squared shaped panel on a wall it’s a safe bet that a monster will appear from behind the wall but The Scream Machine integrated them so well into the attraction that we were surprised numerous times. Deadites sprung from wooden boxes adorned with skulls and materialized behind casket shaped designs covered with skeletons that had been in-laid into the walls. It was a new twist on an old trick and it served the overall effect of the haunt very well.

The Scream Machine also features a church scene which has been a favorite of mine since my first visit in 2002. In that year as well as 2007 haunters are made to wind their way through a series of pews where a gruesome assortment of characters await your passing. In this year’s version the church is significantly scaled down which does detract from the overall grandeur of the scene but in its place is a sense of foreboding intimacy. Guests enter the room and travel a single, narrow path flanked on both sides by a set of pews containing half a dozen freaks and weirdoes. An actor does pounce on your group but it isn’t one of the seated patrons of the church which I feel would be the most appropriate scare in this setting; however this is merely a minor, even subjective flaw in what is an otherwise great attraction.

Yet another scene of note is the chop shop setting near the end of the attraction. Haunters are treated to a prelude of this scene while traversing a dark hall in which the right wall is made up of wooden planks. The gaping boards offered a glimpse into the next room which contained a pasty faced ghoul who eyed our gang hungrily as he cocked his head to and fro sizing up his potential meal. Once inside the room we discovered a smattering of body parts hanging from the ceiling and no sooner were attacked by the pasty faced one and a deranged buddy of his. Pasty Face pursued us through the chop shop and into a room with jars of pickled body parts.

We shook him as we entered a series of rooms that were formally used as part of Carnevil of Lost Souls, a 3D attraction that once followed The Scream Machine. These attractions are universally distinguishable by the special paint used to decorate the walls, paint that glows underneath a blacklight. The change of scene did not seem disjointed from the rest of the haunt and I think it was a cool decision by the operators to incorporate some of this space into this year’s version of The Scream Machine. A cackling jester pranced about the maze like rooms and seemed to delight in our inability to navigate the structure. Eventually this happily demented creature pointed us to the exit, pleasantly cackling the entire time.

If I had to describe Scream Machine in one word it would be execution. Nearly everything here from the actors to the props to the very pace of the haunt is executed with extreme precision. There is room for improvement but any such changes would be described as subtle at best. The $15 price tag does sting a bit but if you live in the downriver area and want to experience an excellent haunted attraction without driving a half an hour or more then The Scream Machine will suit yours needs nicely.

“I’ve been threatened with a pickling!”

-My warning to the rest of the group when a sadistic mad man threatened me after I observed a jar of pickled eyes

“The big one’s jumpy!”

-A nasty ghoulie alerting his monster brethren to Jason’s nervous nature

“The antithesis of stretch face.”

-Richard, commenting on a shrunken faced skeleton that put him in mind of an unsavory lass

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Next up was a stop at the Wyandotte Jaycees’ 2009 effort, Hellblock 13. Located at the corner of Biddle and Ford Avenue the haunt is located in what used to be a police station. However, when we arrived the place was oddly deserted and lit rooms were plainly visible through the windows from the street. The haunt was supposed to open on Thursday night but an employee informed us that it wasn’t quite ready and it would instead open on October 8th. I would think that a local group that has placed ads in both the Fear Finder and Haunt Guide would be open on time but clearly I’d be wrong. It strikes of unprofessionalism and brings to mind the disappointing effort we witnessed from this group last year. It remains to be seen if we’ll find the time to return to this local venue.

This set back would do little to deter our haunting spirit as we immediately decided to head over to the old school haunt Extreme Scream. There was only one group of people in front of us when we arrived and thus our wait was minimal. If you find yourself at Extreme Scream take a moment to appreciate the throw back artwork splashed across the walls while you wait in line, it puts me in mind of the Halloween imagery of my early childhood.

The haunt stumbled out of the gate when I began to open the door to the first room and saw three actors making a slow exit. I purposely delayed to allow them a moment to scram but they seem disoriented and out of sync as we traversed the first series of rooms. Luckily business picked up from here and we experienced yet another knock out, old school effort from Extreme Scream.

The hallways were pitch black as usual which naturally heightens the other senses for the eventual scares just around the corner. I enjoyed the off beat sound effects employed here, a mixture of breaking glass, power tools, and other loud disconcerting noises of a similar vein. The sound system did go oddly quiet at times and the overall experience would have been better served had it not because during these brief lulls distant chatter could be heard. Thankfully it was brief as such a thing can kill the atmosphere of an attraction; we witnessed this last year at Templin’s Night Terror in Wyandotte and boy was it lame.

One feature I absolutely love at Extreme Scream is the creative ways in which haunters are made to traverse the haunt. We experienced this in 2004 when we were made to crouch through a hallway only to be loaded into a cart at the end and then again last year when we were forced to crawl through entire passageways and shuffle sideways through others. This year guests come upon a hallway lined with lockers and when that hall dead end’s into more lockers a hidden ghoul emerges and reveals a hidden passageway within the lockers. Haunters crawl through a narrow passage while creeps stalk from above offering threats and insults.

I also enjoy the unique strobe effect employed at Extreme Scream. Most haunts use a standard strobe effect which pulses quickly making movements appear staggered or jittery and while that’s visually startling in its own right Extreme Scream has mastered a technique that serves its purposes well. Here the strobe flashes very slowly perhaps one burst of light every five seconds. In this way guests get a very quick glimpse of their surroundings before being swallowed by total darkness once more. The effect is similar to that of a camera flash and in this way it is blinding.

Another room of great interest was what we came to call the silhouette room named for the outlined druids surrounding the walls perimeter. As each outline is painted black haunters are left to guess which outline will act as a door and guide them to the next room, it’s simply another example of old school tactics put to good use. This room led to an interesting scene indeed something we’ve never witnessed before, a scene so bizarre that perhaps it would have been more at home at Terrortown’s House of the Dead. Initially the room was pitch black like many others but one of those patented strobe blasts later I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a painting of the head of a massive monster on the wall. There was a hole near the top of the wall and from that void was draped a massive tongue which gave my leg a grazing lick. I had just been violated by a 13-foot monster tongue and it amused me something fierce!

The haunt draws to an end with a series of narrow hallways which routes guests into a room with thin PVC pipes hanging from the ceiling. A feature like this may not sound very impressive but it compliments the haunt well and adds just a tinge of fun house flavor. The finale is slightly improved over last year replacing a rather mild puppet in an electric chair with a hefty live actor who gets zapped instead and issues shrieks of agony. This scene leads haunters into the final room where the archetypical chainsaw wielding maniac makes sure that you vacate the grounds.

Extreme Scream is a hell of a bargain at just $10; you’ll be hard pressed to find a bigger bang for your dollar. This haunt is a throw back in every sense of the word and any self respecting haunter would be wise to pay Extreme Scream a visit. Attractions like this are a dying breed and that’s a shame because this is what haunting is all about at its roots. Extreme Scream isn’t perfect in fact some additional training for the actors would serve the haunt well, but the up side here far out paces any shortcomings and therefore Extreme Scream should be an essential destination on anyone’s list of must see area haunts.

“It’s just a junkie in his bed.”

-My reaction to the guy who squirmed from beneath bed sheets and ordered us out of his room

“Extreme Scream…old school haunting done right.”

“Was that your attempt to be quoted in Hallowblog? Cause you’re gonna fuckin’ have to try harder than that.”

-Jason delivering a line so bad it was good followed by my derisive retort

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

The final destination of the night resided on the isle of Grosse Ile at a little haunt known as The Lab. This particular attraction was not on our radar last season but we were eager to see if it had improved since our last visit in 2007. The haunt is in a great location; located near the southern tip of the island it borders woodland that provides an ominous rustic ambience. We were allowed to select one of four Lab buttons with the purchase of our ticket, a nice bonus to a haunt nerd such as myself.

The infamous Dr. Pickles engages haunters at the entrance of the haunt flanked by an armed guard meanwhile a 9-foot mutant insect harasses guests. We were not made to wait long as the line was quite short. The good doctor has us step into a hallway as he explains a few basic rules before allowing us to proceed into a small lobby where a second armed guard is present. Here haunters view a short video featuring a Gen-Tech Labs scientist who explains the bizarre situation into which you and your friends are about to be thrust. I’m a fan of the video introduction even if it is slightly corny but I wish the creative team here would use this opportunity for a fun scare. As I mentioned this takes place in a small lobby so there isn’t a lot of places to hide but the room does have this cool balcony that would be an ideal place to spring a surprise. Maybe a dummy could be thrown from the perch or perhaps a crazed ghoul attempts to lower a noose over the neck of an unsuspecting rube. Better yet, perhaps a mutated scientist could emerge and warn your party of the folly upon which you are about to embark only to be gunned down by the armed guard. Now that would set the tone of the haunt quite nicely. Anyway, after the video the guard asks your group to pick a leader, the person who will carry the data collecting keycard around their neck and this year Jason was afforded the honors.

Two years ago one of my biggest complaints about The Lab was its lack of live actors but to their credit they improved in this area offering up plenty of warm blooded monstrosities. The first creature of note was an irradiated skeleton lodged in a barrel of toxic waste, a comically creepy scene indeed. As we ventured deeper into the madness of Gen-Tech Labs we were assaulted by spitting lizards and nearly chomped by an enormous plant creature with a bulbous head. Later we came upon a research lab which contained alien fetuses preserved in large tubes. When we leaned closer to the glass that separated us from the room a fiendish ghoul smashed his face against the glass. As we departed this ghastly scene we came upon a hallway filled with ankle deep smoke, green lasers swept through the mist creating a swamp like atmosphere; an effect I like very much.

Shortly after we entered a lab and were greeted by an eccentric nutter who called himself Dr. Sprinkles. Apparently, as he informed us, Dr. Sprinkles had been conducting experiments with cadavers in an attempt to raise the dead. He made a spectacle of demonstrating his technique and became excited to the point of orgasmic euphoria when it seemed his wretch of a specimen would indeed rise. However, the experiment went awry and Dr. Sprinkles became incensed demanding that we leave the room. As we exited his creature rose and the doctor returned to his blissful state.

It wasn’t long that we came upon yet another doctor, Dr. Pickles. Apparently the situation inside The Lab had become dire enough as to pry him away from his post at the entrance. A werewolf burst forth from a crate and Dr. Pickles diligently fought the furry fiend off with a crowbar. He offered up some solid banter before urging us to strike forward. I shook his hand for valiantly defending us which the doctor told me was foolish owing to the fact that everything in The Lab was contaminated, I’d been hoodwinked. We left Dr. Pickles to deal with the werewolf and were meet shortly thereafter by a creature who would have felt at home in the Black Lagoon. He made desperate gurgling noises and gestured wildly for us to continue down the path. It was a neat sound effect and quite appropriate for the character in question.

We were nearly at the end of the haunt when we entered a dark room where a fair, young maiden lay gutted on a slab. More than one member of our group had their heart set on a juicy squibbing but those hopes were dashed when the keeper of the room emerged with his chainsaw. A light flashed before us and a second girl screamed from behind a door urging us to flee the scene. A few twists and turns later we found ourselves traversing a uniquely shaped triangular hall illuminated by orange lights beneath grates in the floor. The smoke filled room gave me the impression of a giant honeycomb which caused me to flash on that scene in the 1998 X-files film where Mulder and Scully find those weird structures that contain genetically modified bees.

The shouts of an armed guard called out to us as we passed a security room containing a petrified corpse, a shrieking harpy assailed us from the right and then offered a flirtatious greeting which Jason took as evidence to support his long standing claim about females that work at haunted attractions. He would not however get the opportunity to explore the situation further as the armed guard appeared and insisted that we dart down a nearby staircase. We did as he suggested and found a hungry T-Rex snapping at our heads from above but we avoided the beast and came to the bottom of the staircase, turned in the keycard, and exited The Lab.

The 2009 offering at The Lab surpasses the effort we witnessed two years ago. There do remain a number of scenes involving prop animals and plant creatures which served as a detriment in 2007 but the haunt has been balanced nicely by the addition of many live actors. The layout of the attraction has been modified as well, it isn’t a total overhaul but the tweaks that have been made serve the theme of the haunt well. I love the structure of this building especially the area near the end with the ramps. There’s still work to be done here if The Lab is to join the ranks of the elite but the show is heading in the right direction.

“I think he said he’s got an itchy taint.”

-Me, attempting to translate the swampland gibberish of the Black Lagoon creature

“You moron, now you’re infected too.”

-Dr. Pickles, after I insisted on shaking his hand

“Nothing could redeem last week.”

-Richard, responding to claims that our successful night of haunting had a redemptive nature after our lackluster visit to Jackson’s Underworld and Homer Mill one week prior

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

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