Archive for the Review Category

Season Sparked by Past Tense After Dark Haunted Triad

Posted in 2015, Past Tense After Dark, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2015 by bluefall8


We rolled into Past Tense After Dark and were immediately struck by the immense waterwheel that adorned the cider mill. The night sky shone bright with stars, the fall air had just the right amount of bite and thrill-seekers swarmed the farm like insects. The nocturnal activities at Past Tense After Dark included the Cornmaze of Fear, Hayride of Despair and the marquee attraction, House of Horrors.


John and I started for the rear of the property and soon found a massive field of corn sprawled out in front of us. Prior to entering the maze we were warned by the keeper of the corn that the trek would be a long one, possibly in excess of an hour, and were additionally cautioned that should we become too terrorized we could resort to using a safe word. But honestly, John and I would never stoop so low.

The Cornmaze of Fear was certainly large  and confusing and featured a variety of dead ends. A team of strategically placed scarecrows loomed ominously above the stalks, keeping a watchful eye on all who braved the corn. A handful of live actors also patrolled the maze although they were more concerned with providing a scare than aiding us in our quest to best the maze.

In one memorable moment, we crossed paths with a small group of teenagers, one called out to a friend who had become separated from the pack — Tiffany. After a couple of attempts the unseen Tiffany answered back but any thoughts of a reunion were cut to ribbons when the chatter of a chainsaw tore through the night. I like to think that Tiffany will be among the scarecrows next year.

We never did find the proper exit but did manage to navigate our way back to the entrance.

Rating: 3 stars


House of Horrors is the marquee attraction at Past Tense After Dark and was an eclectic fusion of haunt tropes that resulted in an highly enjoyable, unique experience. The adventure began on a wooded path, fog drifted through the air which carried the distant shrieks of fellow thrill-seekers. We walked past a humble cabin and then through the heart of a mausoleum were one well-placed creep gave us an unexpected fright.

Following several twists, the path choked us into a building — a hotel with more in common with the Stanley than the Ritz. A disfigured bellhop bounded in our direction with a level of enthusiasm that inspired a degree of unease. He led us to an elevator and closed the door behind us; a bumpy ride ensued. When the shaking ceased and the door had opened to a new floor we were greeted by an attractive woman; her role at the hotel was unclear but not unwelcome. We were led through a couple of finely detailed hallways toward the back of the building.

A vortex tunnel stood in our path, once clear of it I paused and looked back at the structure from which we had just emerged, it appeared to be a charming abode. We would later learn that it used to function as a greenhouse. Our stay outdoors was short as a larger building loomed before us, and from its bowels echoed strange sounds. John and I entered and were immediately swallowed by perfect dark. We groped blindly as a loud, bizarre cacophony of noise bombarded our ears. It was an aural assault that suggested the gadgets in a science lab had gone haywire all at once or perhaps it was the surreal language of the planets captured by precision instruments. No matter the case, the effect was disorienting and nerve-wracking.

Something furry brushed against my lips and I thrashed in the dark. A rhythmic thumping could suddenly be heard in the distance and it increased in frequency and intensity working in concert with the weird space orchestra that laid waste to our collective psyche. The whole affair was surreal, creepy and unsettling — and there was more of that to come.

Deeper into this House of Horrors, we cautiously navigated a corridor of decapitated heads, each hung from the ceiling. We were in the thick of these suspended death masks when a series of faint whispers began to grace our ears. The heads were talking, possibly plotting and they were all around us! Neither John nor myself had any desire to become one of their legion, so with our own heads on a swivel we ducked and dodged our way out of that most macabre menagerie.

But it was the classic out-of-the-fire and into-the-frying-pan scenario as we were soon cornered by an odd old man who can be best described as a cross behind a fisherman and Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. His appearance was accompanied by a quirky soundtrack that left me with the distinct impression that the country folk had bred with carnival people. He croaked a few threats or warning or perhaps a combination of both and it was almost enough to distract us from the fact that in his left hand he held a large hook and on that hook was a double-headed baby and that freakish tyke had a twitchy arm!

There was also a brightly decorated clown area that was adorned with all sorts of old newspapers, one headline read:


We figured it was likely that this Man Behind the Makeup was the same guy responsible for that ghastly collection of chattering heads and decided once more that ours were best left between our shoulders. We departed the clown archives but before House of Horrors was finished with us we had to survive a one-of-a-kind ambush from a gaggle of teddy bears that was equal parts hilarious and shocking.

Rating: 4 stars


As we waited for one of the final wagons of the night to arrive, we swapped stories of haunting with a friendly, knowledgeable employee named Nick. These impromptu conversations are the unsung heroes of any haunt outing. The night had grown late and with the passage of time the temperature had steadily dropped which made the collective body heat of a packed wagon a welcome treat. We thanked Nick for his company and boarded the wagon to parts unknown.

The group on the wagon revealed itself to be active and boisterous; the kind of folks primed for the kind of scares that the Hayride of Despair had to offer. Indeed, the very first scare was a simple flying prop that lunged from somewhere just above the cornstalks and momentarily seemed as if it would plop right down onto the head of one of the shrieking thrill-seekers.

The hayride pulled guests around the perimeter of the corn maze and revealed a series of platforms where various scenes were in progress as the wagon lurched forward. One of the highlights involved a farmer who experienced a handful of trouble from otherworldly visitors. He shouted and pleaded with anyone who would listen that he had no desire to have his brains eaten; his rant concluded when he comically proclaimed that Steven Spielberg’s E.T. was a woefully inaccurate depiction of alien beings.

As the ride continued a collection of ghouls began to board the wagon and they were not quick to depart, in fact the majority of them stayed aboard for the remainder of the trip. A few of the monsters even brandished weapons which included a chainsaw or two which made for some fun and interesting moments on a tightly-packed hayride; a body or two could be found writhing on the floor of the wagon.

The Hayride of Despair wasn’t terribly long but it was of fair length and featured a fun and frightful mix of humor and horror. The vocal occultists near the end of the path, who threatened to pull riders from the wagon, was a fun and lively touch.

Rating: 3 stars

Tunnel of Terror Conjures Ghost of Halloween Past

Posted in 2015, Review, Tunnel of Terror with tags , , , on October 23, 2015 by bluefall8


We toured the Tunnel of Terror on just the second night of operation and while it was admittedly light on actors the Rochester Jaycees long-running trailer haunt did induce a nostalgia for the humble heyday of the haunted attraction industry.

The Tunnel of Terror featured a guided tour of sorts; a trickster ghoul haphazardly led us through the coiling darkness by the sound of his voice and with the aid of a small flashlight. He disappeared more often than not to shout basic orders and offer humorous, albeit deliberately obtuse observations.

The trek was punctuated by oppressive, pitch black halls and several jump scares; I was pleasantly surprised to hear a sound system in use which is too frequently ignored at non-profit organizations.

The Tunnel of Terror was a brief haunted attraction that clocked in at under five minutes and due to space limitations did not showcase many scenes but we did like a small toxic waste area that emitted an eerie glow and also enjoyed a creepy doll room; although an inventive scare or interesting character in the latter would’ve smacked an excellent exclamation point on the whole experience.

Rating: 3 stars

Wanted Dead or Alive: The Freak’s Show, Deadwood Forest Lasso Victims at The Bone Yard

Posted in 2015, Review, The Boneyard with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by bluefall8

Logo2014In terms of weather it wasn’t an ideal night to tour The Bone Yard which featured four haunted attractions, three of which were located outdoors. But we decided to brave the elements and were soon headed in the direction of Deadwood Forest. We would later discover that we had taken a wrong turn and bypassed Scarecrow Hollow which is now the first stop at The Bone Yard. Luckily, we happened upon Randy (Bone Yard head honcho) who pointed us in the right direction before we departed. But at the time we were unaware of our foible and strode headlong to the gates of Deadwood Forest.


Deadwood Forest is an ideal setting for a ghost town and appropriately sported a series of sizable structures that fit the old west theme. My only wish was that the various buildings were incorporated more thoroughly into the attraction; for the most part guests stick to the path while the intriguing wooden store fronts loom intermittently on either side of the trail.

The Lucky Saloon in particular would’ve made for an ideal scene for substantial interaction — perhaps a gun fight were staged or a buxom wench attempted to woe your party into an illegal game of cards? Absent such immersion and with a scarcity of live bodies, much of what we saw in Deadwood Forest was solely scenery and very good scenery at that. Just beyond the Lucky Saloon a corpse swung from the hangman’s noose.

The quiet ghost town did offer a few solid startle scares by way of chainsaw and one falling ceiling that crashed loudly just above our heads. We experienced a surreal moment while we traversed a swath of forest bathed in eerie blue ovals that resembled peacock eyes. Later, we squeezed through a narrow cave passage.

There was also an excellent junkyard scene near the end of Deadwood Forest where a torso had been roasted on a spit. Not far from there a snarling creature had contorted its body into a back bend and dashed toward us on all fours — perhaps he was saving the charred remains over the grill for a midnight snack.

Rating: 3 stars


We emerged from Deadwood Forest and walked a short way into the corn where we found a gathering of people around a bonfire. We were almost immediately loaded onto a wagon with high, metal framework on either side. It was a cool look and different than any other wagon I’d previously ridden.

The hayride featured very few actors although one strange ghoul who boarded the wagon did serve up some laughs when he oddly panhandled for food. There was a trailer scene with potential as well as a lone foreboding statue that put me in mind of the grotesque idol from The Shrine.

I can appreciate that The Boneyard offered an alternative to walking the distance to the next attraction and I understand that, as Randy explained the hayride was missing a key component, but Route 666 was abbreviated for a standard hayride and failed to engage those aboard.

Rating: 1.25 stars


As we stood at the threshold for The Freak’s Show there was talk of pickled punks and the potential existence of a woman with the rare condition of a double uterus — never let anybody tell you that the person who acts as gatekeeper isn’t a vital part of the haunted attraction.

The Freak’s Show, The Bone Yard’s signature attraction, was home to a large, vocal cast who relied on jump scares and the occasional use of profanity to elicit screams. The halls of The Freak’s Show were filled with laser lights, a haunted photograph that appeared to be alive and one vibrating section of floor; we were twisted and turned in every direction.

The haunt was superbly detailed and had enough eye candy to induce an instant sugar coma — there was a doll room with a message scrawled on a dusty mirror, a rotten Christmas scene and elsewhere a carnival food vendor who had corn dogs gouged into his eye sockets!

We were made to crawl through a miniature womb of doom, pursued by a fat, mute dolly boy and blasted with some sort of fanciful air canon. There was even a clown who convinced one guest to enter a closet only to make a cheap crack about his sexuality once said guest had complied.

The actors did suffer from a creativity deficit where responses were concerned but balanced that with otherwise active, enthused performances. The Freak’s Show was an odd jumble of scenes at times but to its credit each area was highly decorated and not without some gag or scare. It was an assault on the senses and with some fine tuning can be better yet.

Rating: 3.25 stars


Scarecrow Hollow began with the whispered suggestion of a game — The Bone Yard Game. It was a point that I pondered as we pounded the dirt beneath our feet, my idle thoughts were soon interrupted when a scarecrow sprung to life and jumped from a wooden post.

Scarecrow Hollow did possess a solid amount of actors but few offered substantial interaction while most uttered forgettable one-liners. We did enjoy the hidden creep who amused us with a Yogi Bear routine, the demon too who patrolled the so-called Devil’s Lair put forth a fair performance. However, there would be no further mention of the tantalizing Bone Yard Game.

I regret that we failed to tour Scarecrow Hollow first as was intended — this attraction is not the closer and would’ve certainly serve best as opening act. Stupid wrong turn.

Rating: 1.75 stars

It has been my experience that bad weather and haunted attractions don’t mix well and that is especially true when a venue has outdoor events. The cold and wet sap energy from people, creature and customer alike. It was a concern that John and I discussed as we traveled toward The Bone Yard. True, the skies had never truly opened up with a downpour that day but the cumulative mist and drizzle was enough to dampen the overall effect.

The Dark Box Plays Mind Games

Posted in 2015, Dark Box, Review with tags , , , , on October 15, 2015 by bluefall8


Twin, jet-black trailers sat side by side tucked against a treeline. The phrase “The Dark Box” was displayed in blood red letters near the entrance of the attraction. This was minimalism in action and the stripped-down presentation was a welcome addition to an industry gone glutton over fanciful facades and slick animatronics. The experience at The Dark Box would be psychological, visceral and physical.




Those were the simple, direct commands given to us by a formidable figure upon our immediate entrance into the haunt. A siren could be heard in the distance, but worse somewhere close the subtle but persistent rhythm of a clock distorted time and filled each awkward silence with palatable tension.




The burlap sacks were removed from our heads and we proceeded forward with caution. We entered a sparsely furnished living room where we found a nervous young man who rocked himself in front of a television screen that displayed only static. The man flailed his limbs and screamed until his lungs were surely on fire, we crawled through a tube to be free of the disturbing scene — his shrieks remained audible several rooms removed.

We traveled deeper into The Dark Box and had our path cut off by a pig-man, moments later the alternate route was also rendered impassable by an odd ghoul. The pig-man and the odd ghoul each suggested a possible exit and while neither seemed particularly trustworthy our options were limited. It was a testament to the raw weirdness of the odd ghoul that we accepted the word of the pig-man.

Soon, we crawled through a second tube and the signature sound of a chainsaw ripped through the silence with ferocity. John scrambled through last and once free reported that something had attempted to pull him back to the other side.

We were encased on either side by floor-to-ceiling wooden pallets — a thin fog crept through every slat, mysterious lights smeared hues of red, green and blue into patches of ephemeral smoke. A strobe-light sliced into the darkness of a small room populated by pearly white mannequins, a girl wept in the corner and then began to paw at us. Beyond her we discovered a blood-splattered bathroom in which the exit was neatly disguised as a shower.

A few moments later we would escape The Dark Box and emerge into the night air only to find ourselves under a thick canopy of foliage. We turned a corner, walked a few paces and hit an apparent dead end. Further investigation would reveal the existence of a peculiar path, a path that at least one of our group members refused to travel. Needless to say, it proved to be a harrowing, heart-racing and claustrophobic road to freedom.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Legend of Bubbles, Lengthy Haunted Trail Headline Terrorfied Forest & Manor

Posted in 2015, Review, Terrorfied Forest & Manor with tags , , , on October 9, 2015 by bluefall8


We arrived at Terrorfied Forest and Manor near the top of the 11 o’clock hour, the moon hung high in the sky and shone bright, silver light across the land. Rumors of a clown named Bubbles and his abandoned fun house seemed to be carried on the wind like a whisper.


Mark and I approached the Manor which was illuminated by colorful, swirling spotlights. A series of sideshow banners were neatly displayed to our left which advertised such spectacles as a two-headed snake, a knife thrower and Miss Gabriele the Torso Girl. We were greeted at the threshold of the Manor by a heavily bearded man who referred to himself as the Abandoned Carney. The curious fellow told us the tale of the Bumbling Brothers Carnival which had set up on this same plot of land some 50 years past.

As the Abandoned Carney explained, folks began to disappear from the carnival and those in charge suspected that Bubbles was the culprit. When local law enforcement opened an investigation into the disappearances and it was then that management pulled up stakes in the dead of night and left the troublesome Bubbles to his own devices. As the Abandoned Carney concluded the tale, he motioned toward the structure to indicate that it was time for us to enter the ruins of Bubbles’ Fun House.


As the door closed behind us we saw that a large gorilla sat at the entrance of a mirrored hallway like a silent sentinel. As we passed the hairy ape and then began the trek through the hall of mirrors, Mark and I waited for the intimidating primate to attack but alas it proved to be merely a suit. We didn’t know it at that moment but when we would reach the conclusion of the attraction this first leg of the trip would serve as a microcosm of our overall experience.

Bubbles’ Fun House had an intriguing, fun premise and it boasted some neat design features such as a series of revolving paddles, an exciting roller track and one room where it seemed as if Bubbles had suspended all of his left over Halloween candy from the ceiling. But on the other hand there was a lot of wasted space that could’ve been used to bolster the illusion of the fun house. Too often each area showcased but a single element and that fact meant we were never truly challenged when we anticipated where or how the next scare would presented itself.

Roughly halfway through the main floor we crossed paths with a fortune teller whose voice held an oddly enchanting quality that belied her cruel nature. A crystal ball glowed in one corner of the room and momentarily I had hoped that we would sit and learn our fate. I turned to the gypsy and inquired about a reading because this was an excellent opportunity for storytelling and I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers. Unfortunately, improvised interaction wasn’t the strong suit of this particular cast and the mystic whisked us into the next room.

One of the coolest and most surprising features of the attraction was a slide that plunged us into the basement. I can count on one hand the number of attractions I’ve toured over the years that utilized such a fun method of travel and the slide fit perfectly within the theme of a fun house.

The scareactors we encountered in the basement of Bubbles’ Fun House were a bit more lively than their counterparts upstairs; this was best demonstrated by an unstable clown who, in a warbling, nasally voice, informed me that I would slit Mark’s throat and drink blood from his hollowed out skull at some indeterminate point in the future. This character assailed us on numerous occasions and although his act wasn’t polished to a shine he did display enthusiasm and was, along with the gypsy woman, the most memorable of the bunch.

Soon, we squeezed through a womb-of-doom which was another feature that played well on the fun house theme. We even took a ride on rickety swing that had been constructed from a single board and a series of ropes that had been fashioned into a net. It was a bit of fun but once again it seemed to be an example of wasted space and from a narrative standpoint it made little sense. The room that housed the contraption was of fair size and was laid out it such a manner that any patron could simply bypass the scene had they desired and made directly for the exit.

It disrupted our suspension of disbelief which isn’t ideal at any time during a haunted attraction much less just before the conclusion. The finale, as it were, confronted us with a series of clowns — all as still as a corpse — a tried and true fundamental scare tactic. As we pondered which of the harlequins would attack that largest of the gang sprang to life, presumably Bubbles, and chased us from the fun house.

Bubbles’ Fun House was an enjoyable attraction but as noted above it did suffer from a number of drawbacks. The length of the attraction was a tad on the short side and the lack of a consistent soundtrack significantly diminished the fun house atmosphere. On the plus side, the Abandoned Carney sold the story of the Bumbling Brothers Carnival quite well and a number of the scenes and ideas already in place can be enhanced with additional elements — be it a visual aide or solid character interaction or even a good old fashioned jump scare such as the one we had hoped for out of the gorilla in the hall of mirrors.

And no, I haven’t slit Mark’s throat and drank his blood from his hollowed skull. I haven’t ruled it out though.

Rating: 2.5 stars


Our nocturnal trek through Terrorfied Forest was filled with dozens of actors and was dotted by an array of scenes and curious structures. The trail twisted left and right, dipped up and down — the spooky adventure easily exceeded a half hour which resulted in a solid bang-for-the-buck.

The journey began when we were approached by a sinister sister who practiced her faith at Our Lady of the Holy Crucifixion which she indicated was located in Hell. We entered a structure that felt something like a mind shaft; a lengthy set of stairs descended deep into the earthen tunnel. Soon, we emerged from the subterranean scene and crossed a great vortex tunnel that featured a series of mesmerizing spirals.

We regained our equilibrium and not a moment to soon because the Terrorfied Forest had a great multitude of creepy crawlers lying in wait. A large hillbilly emerged from the brush and proceeded to stalk us for a spell; the unmistakable sounds of a banjo reverberated through the air heavy with suggestion. Ahead, we passed a series of ominous statuesque clowns, each bore warning sings. The tension grew with each passing step, in the distance a chainsaw roared to life and echoed through the woods. A revolting pair of zombies snarled and snapped their diseased maws, one provided highly impressive vocalizations that were not to be topped.

The natural ambiance of the forest heightened the horror with beautiful but foreboding scenery that included an eerily placid pond, a sloping valley flush with moonlight and the constant buzz of insects. In a couple of instances we had to employ fancy footwork — after we exited one building we found the ground beneath our feet to be sinking and then later we were surprised by a bouncy bridge.

We also enjoyed an atmospheric cemetery scene and a weird doll house that contained the decapitated head of the world’s oldest ogre. It was in the doll house that a bi-polar duo of spinsters debated which of our body parts they’d like to keep — in the end they decided on my hair and Mark’s head.

Deeper into the woods we traveled through a thick spider’s web where a creepy hand pushed through the webbing. Then we encountered the sad, but still living, remains of a man in a meat grinder — his innards left to swing in the breeze by a pack of cannibals.

Rating: 3.25 stars

Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors Casts A Spell

Posted in 2015, Krazy Hilda's, Review with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2015 by bluefall8


It had been three years since the witch had last beckoned to me but any concern that she had lost her magic was quickly dispelled. Now located at Panama Farms on Ford Road in Ypsilanti, one could argue that Krazy Hilda is more potent now than ever she was.

An earthen path descended slowly but surely toward the forest and once at the base of the treeline we waited until the call of the witch signaled us to enter her shrouded dominion. Once inside we discovered a landscape dotted with classic Halloween scenes that included Frankenstein’s Laboratory, an eerie cemetery and a werewolf’s lair; among others. The natural ambiance of the forest trail was the ideal canvas for Hilda’s coven to ply their craft; there are some effects that no amount of money can buy.

Somewhere in the distance we heard the chilling lullaby of an unseen woman and it seemed inevitable that we would, at some point in our journey, cross her path. For the time being we had to deal with a series of great jump scares that were executed by the expertly concealed cast. A skull-faced creature, who Mark dubbed Gully Suit Man, bounded after us like an animal and in a raspy voice told us with much enthusiasm that he’d like to chew our bones. No sooner had we shook the camouflaged cretin and the master of nightmares himself, Freddy Krueger, had materialized from behind some tombstones.

As a general rule of thumb, I’m not a fan of licensed characters being used in haunted attractions but this actor truly did the character justice. He was a towering man in full costume and makeup, he even nailed Freddy’s trademark acerbic wit. Mark and I sought the safety of a black structure but soon it was clear that the dream weaver had decided to follow.

Krueger clicked his metal talons and drug them across the wall; it was apparent that he too had entered the structure. We scrambled around several corners in search of an exit and when we found it we desperately attempted to escape but to no avail. The mirthless laugh of Freddy Krueger echoed through the halls as we balked at the false exit. In desperation we tried an adjoining panel and by luck were able to flee the corrupter of sleep.

It was quite a scene that the Trail of Terrors had set, one that featured sparse animatronics but used dummies as effective implements of misdirection. As we crossed a bridge a pair of decapitated heads hung from a tree branch and appeared positively dreadful illuminated only by moonlight.

We followed the path around a bend, the sound of circus music was carried on the cool, fall air to our ears. A carnival game loomed ahead and inside the booth was a clown. He challenged me to a game of Paper, Scissor, Rock and following some sound deliberation I was victorious. And it was a good thing too because one of my fingers was on the line!

It wasn’t long after we’d ditched the clown that we stumbled upon a small homestead where the front yard had been littered with dolls. Some had been posed as if they were at play, one gruesome youngster had it’s mouth stapled shut while another offered up a pair of soiled underwear.

Just as I had challenged Mark to kiss the creepy mannequin that resided on the porch a familiar tune rattled the air. We had found Lullaby Girl and she wasn’t alone. In her arms she cradled an infant, an infant with glowing red eyes who chimed in a sing-song voice, “I’m watching you” and “Come play with me.” Something about that demon child told me that it didn’t play well with others so we made for the treeline which was now in sight.

Clear of the forest we traversed a long pathway, lined with a tall fence on either side. A stray ghoul or two tracked us from the other side; it felt as if we were being prepped for an ambush. To our surprise the path opened on a quaint country scene, a dark-haired woman sat silently in a chair. We tried to inquire about a pair of emaciated corpses next to her but she eyed us with disdain and in a weird, strangled voice informed us that we had to leave. The old hag decided that we hadn’t moved fast enough and in a calm voice that cut to the bone she called out a single name, “Juuuunioooor.”

The air suddenly felt electric, pregnant with anticipation. For a moment time stood still and then like a phantom in the night Junior answered his mother’s call — by the skin of our teeth and with the aid of some fancy footwork, Mark and I were able to escape Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors, hides intact.

Rating: 4 stars

“Oh, there’s a Junior! There’s always a Junior!”

– Yours truly, once made aware of the existence of the aforementioned, Junior

Haunted Farm of Terror Throws A Monster Party

Posted in 2015, Haunted Farm of Terror, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2015 by bluefall8


Haunted Farm of Terror was the last stop for opening night 2015 — the one-two punch of haunted house and hayride was exactly the combo we needed to end our nocturnal adventure. The night air was cool and the sky was clear; a smattering of thrill seekers roamed the expansive grounds. John and I wasted little time in acquiring our tickets and then walked straight to the entrance of the haunted house where an old friend waited to greet us.


On a September night in 2012 we stood at the threshold of Scarefest Scream Park’s Castle of the Dead and were greeted by a large man who wore an elaborate Vicotorian-era outfit and possessed a curious, out-of-date accent to match. His name was Mathayus and one year later we would again encounter him at the Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and lo and behold here he was again at Haunted Farm of Terror with another impressive monologue that whisked us into the haunted house.

No sooner had we entered, we saw that aged newspaper clippings had been tacked to one wall — each article detailed the mysterious disappearance of some hapless local. However, there would be little time for such things as reading for this house teemed with all manner of nightmare creatures.

A crazed, white-haired woman handed me a jarred head that she then forcefully instructed me to place in a cupboard. Once that task was complete she grew angrier with each passing sentence; she shouted about a cemetery and accused me of not doing my job. Meanwhile, a psycho-eyed doctor who wore a strange mask over his mouth and nose crept out of the shadows. As John and I made our way through the medical area we encountered patients with ailments that ranged from catatonia to fits of screaming.

Once free of the drab medical facility we quite shockingly discovered that the circus was in town — more specifically Rigby Q. Quincey’s “Top Tent of Terror!” Rigby stood head and shoulders above the fairgoers and seemed to have pilfered his outfit from Uncle Sam. One side of his face sported a nasty burn but the disfigurement did nothing to stem his voice which boomed theatrically through a mega phone. Rigby Q. Quincey rattled off a dazzling array of freaks featured inside the Top Tent of Terror that included pickled punks but before we were allowed to feast our eyes on such curiosities, Rigby instructed that we enter a structure called the Hot Box.

The so-called Hot Box resembled what 1950’s America imagined as the space age home of the future — it was straight out of the mind of Buckminster Fuller and the whole thing was full of a dense fog. Inside the Hot Box visibility was zero and as we trudged forward the we could still hear the excitable voice of Rigby Q. Quincey as he ushered others into the structure. John and I emerged from the Hot Box and soon found ourselves among many of the oddities that Rigby had so proudly proclaimed just moments ago. There was a bearded lady, what looked to be a pale-paced pinhead and a strange doctor who insisted I hear the pun-driven story of the Jelly Fish Man.

Once free of the freaks we entered a brightly-colored area that was home to Shortcake the Clown, who was fueled by spunk and armed with jokes. Old timey music bounced off the walls of the tent while the beautiful Shortcake told us of her time in clown college and then snapped our photograph with a most peculiar camera. Reluctantly, we left the irrepressible Shortcake and soon found ourselves navigating the twists and turns of an outdoor maze. In one moment of humility I attempted to travel through a nonexistent door — a simple but effective silhouette gag that left me open to the ridicule of various ghouls.

With bruised ego in tow we forged ahead and soon found ourselves gathered at a table where someone had left a collection of Army paraphernalia, included among the rabble was an old radio. Transfixed, we stood and listened to the queer tale that was being broadcast — some weird business about a degenerate rabbit. Just then we were approached by a shifty character who instructed that we should continue ahead should we want to avoid the rabbit. The dude seemed as untrustworthy as they come but the rabbit was now in sight armed with a chainsaw and although he was caged he strode in our direction with purpose.

John and I entered an area to the right and as we did so the door to the rabbit’s cage opened and simultaneously closed the opening that we had just used to escape the mangy hare. We had been hoodwinked and locked into a cell of our own. Fortunately, the rabbit’s attention was diverted by a group of screaming girls who had materialized in our wake. The electronic door seemed to experience a malfunction and in the mayhem we slipped past the slime ball bunny and escaped to freedom.

Rating: 3.75 stars


The Haunted Farm of Terror has a sordid history indeed and that dark legacy was revealed during a wild ride through the woods — it’s safe to say that this is not your daddy’s haunted hayride. The story of Lazarus is told through an on-board narrator and further embellished by an eclectic playlist of music that was tailored to individual scenes along the journey. The resulting effect is a high energy production that sliced through a range of emotions from fun and fright to revenge and sorrow.

The rollicking adventure began in earnest when a scarecrow burst to life and assailed the wagon as the sound of “Killing In the Name” by Rage Against the Machine erupted into the night. The tone had been set and from here on out the wagon would be attacked from both sides by a horde of actors, flying puppets and various other gags that involved barrels and one runaway semi-truck.

One memorable scene made good use of John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a County Boy” in which a transgendered hillbilly by the dual name of Cletus and Caitlyn waved suggestively to us from the porch of a redneck homestead. The scene inspired a lot of laughter but the merriment came to an abrupt end when the vicious, chainsaw-wielding zombie named Ferby emerged from the woods and with unanimous approval from all of us on the wagon decapitated one unlucky lass.

Another noteworthy scene included the circus tent where we witnessed one clown perform a back flip from atop a barrel energized as he was by the raucous tones of “Jump Around” by House of Pain. There was also the church scene in which an executioner coldly chopped off the arms of a captive girl while Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” blared through the speakers. We also enjoyed a huge spider that was nestled in a massive web that hung high in the trees; a great emission of bubbles seeped from the spider’s back end and floated down upon the wagon.

The haunted hayride was a fair length, featured moments of interaction and was well served by a mix of music from the mid-90’s to early-00’s that included The Smashing Pumpkins, Rob Zombie, The Beastie Boys and Disturbed. The narrative formula that initiated most of the scares did tip its hand after a time but all in all it was an energetic romp through the woods that mixed humor with horror and had patrons singing and screaming along.

Rating: 3.5 stars


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