Archive for the Review Category

Sinister Infusion Fuels Resurgent Realm of Darkness

Posted in 2014, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 16, 2015 by bluefall8

The midnight hour loomed large as we approached the entrance for The Realm of Darkness and the cold air seemed to bite down into our very bones. This would be our seventh trip through the wizard’s dominion and the final haunted attraction of the 2014 Halloween season.

Realm-of-Darkness

BOWBEE COME TO DWELL INSIDE HOUSE OF NIGHTMARES 3D

Our first order of business was to tour the 3D haunted attraction known as House of Nightmares which was also featured at this location in 2013 when it was called Carnevil 3D. With the name change I expected also a shift in theme but to my delight it remained that of a twisted carnival — one of my very favorite settings.

The 3D attraction seemed to have been expanded since 2013 and unlike most haunted attractions of this nature, the 3D artwork splashed throughout House of Nightmares really popped off the walls. Huge spiders dangled from webs, skulls floated through starlit space and neon-colored liquid even oozed from leaky pipes. This was easily the most impressive 3D artwork we’d witnessed inside a haunted attraction.

A few additional well-placed characters would improve the overall experience as the haunt was light on actors, but we were highly amused by a short female clown armed with a raspy voice who demonstrated the timeless classic known as the Truffle Shuffle.

As we neared the conclusion of House of Nightmares 3D, we were startled by a rotten torso that suddenly dropped from above the frame of a door and hung upside down just above our heads. It was a well-timed and effective use of an animatronic. It wasn’t long thereafter that we came to a brightly lit quarter of ultra-violence where Bowbee the Clown claimed another pound of flesh in a dramatic flourish.

Rating: 4 stars

REALM OF DARKNESS REIMAGINED, REINVIGORATED

The Realm of Darkness was as detailed and immersive as ever and while a small army of animatronics remained, it was the actors who stole the show and delivered a not soon too be forgotten experience.

We had barely entered the attraction when a mist of simulated zombie brains sprayed me directly in the face; to my right John shook with laughter. Once I had wiped the moisture from my face and eyes we plunged deeper into the haunt and soon found ourselves navigating a room stuffed with all manner of dolls. One in particular caught my attention, it was several feet tall with a bulbous, unnaturally large head, a rictus grin and bore more than a passing resemblance to Howdy Doody. I fixed the doll with a penetrating glare until we were clear of the room for there was malice in his eyes.

Soon we entered a cluttered kitchen which was inhabited by two of our old acquaintances — Bizarro Laura Ingalls and the hefty Squalaha. Bizarro Laura Ingalls was a frenzied ball of energy and as usual it was difficult to discern through her babble whether she was angry, amused or aroused. Meanwhile, Squalaha made his intentions perfectly clear despite the fact that he too possessed no ability to speak English; it would seem that no translation is required in the language of love. When the big guy wasn’t busy shoving me into a refrigerator Squalaha was found making overt sexual gestures in John’s direction. When John merely laughed off the offers Squalaha vigorously demonstrated his skills on an enormous, rampaging gargoyle.

Yes, the crazies had been unleashed upon The Realm of Darkness and if we were to survive the night we would simply have to play along with all of their twisted games and entertain their delusions.

Near the half-way point of our journey we were approached by an abnormally tall lady who wore an old fashioned white dress and donned a plain jabberwocky mask. Her gangly frame, swift mannerisms and high-pitched voice made for an unsettling combination. She seemed to flirt with me for a moment but I was suspicious that this trickster wasn’t what she claimed to be. When I voiced my suspicion that she was actually a he, the odd lady challenged me to prove my theory. I playfully began to lift the end of her dress and had my hand quickly swatted away. “I’m a lady,” shouted the character in mock offense. The exchange was a good bit of improvisation and the slap of the hand was well executed; the whole scene gave John and I a good laugh.

We ventured forward and were forced to play a game of blood-soaked Tic-Tac-Toe with a strange and hideous creature. When I defeated the lowly monster he seemed to grow agitated so we took our leave of him only to be confronted by a guy who claimed to be a doctor. The particular branch of medicine that he practiced was never made clear to us but he was adamant that a man named Ken (who neither John or myself could see) was an unrepentant asshole. I tried to reason with the animated medicine man and when that failed I thought I’d lighten the mood with a few jokes but that only caused the doctor to make crude, albeit humorous, sexual remarks before he ultimately brought the conversation back to the invisible Ken.

Onward we pushed and encountered a fidgety girl who brandished implements of torture but before her exact intentions were revealed a weird, human-sized rabbit entered the scene holding a knife. The rabbit just sort of stood in the corner and cocked its head from side to side as it considered us. The Realm of Darkness was definitely approaching a threshold of strangeness most can scarcely imagine.

We left the pair to their own devices and soon squeezed through an area that featured a conveyor belt of torsos. Did one of those torsos belong to Ken the Asshole? Elsewhere, we witnessed the electrocution of a gaunt, skeletal creature and were surprised when the wretch made a last minute dash for us just as we exited the room — the latest example of the burgeoning practice of the so called actor-matronics.

Our fun was almost at an end but not before we were accosted by the crotchety skeletal pirate known as Captain Sage who pursued haunters straight out of The Realm of Darkness with an impressive rendition of sea legs in which the angst-ridden Captain propelled himself using only his upper body strength whilst his legs dragged behind him as if lifeless.

Rating: 4 stars

Weird Mishmash Spurs The Crypt

Posted in 2014, Review, The Crypt with tags , , , , on August 11, 2015 by bluefall8

 

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The Crypt was just about to close up shop when we pulled into the parking lot which meant that John and I had the distinction of being the last people to pass through its hallowed halls for the 2014 haunt season. The Crypt, as we first discovered during a Halloween visit in 2011, held a strange mixture of scenes and scares comprised of garish props, clunky animatronics and odd actors.

The sojourn began with a slow but gradual descent through the perfect dark of a silent, extensive hallway, an effective an underutilized start to any haunted house. When the serpentine passageway finally yielded, we trudged our way through a series of cluttered, musty living spaces.

The actors in this area of the attraction were universally husky, each a physically imposing figure who took a twisted pleasure in dolling out scares. Also in this quarter of The Crypt, a pair of creepy organ players kept us on our toes, a well-timed clown in rocking chair provided a jolt and we were introduced to the rotten remains of one cretin’s dead mommy.

It seemed that the residents of The Crypt would love nothing more than to make us outsiders the main ingredient in a pot of homemade gumbo, so it wasn’t a moment too soon that we exited the hoarder homestead and entered a different section of the haunted attraction.

Here, we were accosted by an exceedingly tall harlequin who insisted that he was infected with Ebola but neither John nor myself was keen to stick around for the results of a blood test and thus pushed forward into the jarring dungeon that served as the latter half of The Crypt.

In this area we were assaulted from all angles by strobes, pneumatics and all manner of haunted attraction trickery — it was a veritable glut of sensory input. In one corner a modified Fischer Price car hurled toward us out of the darkness, driven as it were by a gaggle of diminutive clowns.

We were surprised on several occasions by actors whose costumes blended neatly with their surroundings and in one unforgettable instance, a stout and hairy man confined to an inaccessible room, treated us to the most unsettling dance number since Buffalo Bill cut a rug in The Silence of the Lambs. Finally, there was the family of animatronics humans gathered around a table that jerked and twitched in such a freakish fashion that I found myself momentarily frozen with fear; mesmerized by the bizarre abomination that was before me.

The Crypt was an old school spook house that eschewed polished eye-candy in favor of a more visceral, gritty experience. The attraction was of fair length and even stimulated the frequently neglected tactile sense. The placement of a few actors amongst key props and animatronics would heighten the overall scare factor and additional dialogue from the cast wouldn’t go unappreciated. But as it was, The Crypt served as an unusual and entertaining haunted attraction.

Rating: 3.25 stars

St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum, 13 Feet Under Form Formidable Double Feature

Posted in 2014, Review, St. Lucifer's with tags , , , , on July 5, 2015 by bluefall8

We rolled into the parking lot of Playland Park accompanied by an encroaching frost, but winter’s icy grip hadn’t discouraged thrill seekers who were lined up outside St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum. It was a heart-warming sight and the shot in the arm John and I needed in our quest for a record-setting night of fright.

While we waited in line we were delighted by a gruesome twosome who entertained guests with mild jump scares and a dash of humor. The first character was a sizable man in overalls and a cowboy hat and suffered from a curious condition in which a hog’s head protruded from his stomach. His cohort was a brightly dressed clown who carried with him a ventriloquist dummy with a punk rock style. The little guy sported multi-colored, wildly spiked hair, a vest, camouflage pants and a pair of black Chuck’s. His face too was painted as a clown. It was clear that these guys loved to mess with customers but to their credit they obliged any time somebody asked them to pose for a picture including yours truly.

Through my own set of Chuck’s my toes grew numb and after a short but pleasant conversation with the owner of the joint, John and I were admitted to St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum.

lucifers

Our journey into the madhouse known as St. Lucifer’s began in a box — an elevator to be precise, but this was no ordinary elevator. Even by haunted house standards this condemned transporter may be unique; fitted as it was with a peculiar sound system and one heart-pumping surprise. St. Lucifer’s spin on the so called Hellivator is an excellent way to send customers into the dark and served as one of the highlights of our experience.

Once free from the wild ride we pounded the halls of the haunted asylum and found that a slimy layer of frost had coated the floor throughout St. Lucifer’s. The slippery hallways and bone-chilling air created something of a surreal atmosphere; almost as if we had witnessed the ghost of the haunt season. The conditions put an odd thought into my head, that perhaps we weren’t allowed to be there, as if we had trespassed. Yeah, an early blast of winter will do some strange things to the mind of a hardcore haunter.

Determined not to be the next helpless souls permanently admitted to St. Lucifer’s and with a hearty fire that burned in our hearts we mustered the courage to forge ahead where we enjoyed an infinity hall created with the aid of light and mirrors and also appreciated a length of wall from which jutted numerous pairs of legs — storage for those who had expired within the confines of the haunted asylum.

It was obvious that the weather had sapped a lot of energy from the cast. Everyone gave an honest effort but it seemed the edge was off the performance and I couldn’t fault them because it was that cold. However, true to the spirit of the haunt season, there were those with thicker hides who dug down deep and delivered. There was a busty nurse who earned our respect simply because she wore a skimpy outfit in such conditions. There was also a short orderly who offered us some medication from her metallic tray and as we would find out, this particular pill could be administered rectally. Last but not least, there was Jimmy an unseen specter who engaged us in a spine-tingling game of hide-n-seek before we escaped St. Lucifer’s by way of an uber-tight womb of doom.

Rating: 3.25 stars

13feetunder

The wait for 13 Feet Under was much shorter and for that we were thankful. An armed guard decked out in military gear briefed us on the situation inside the area we were about to enter, but his instructions were cut short when the chained doors behind us began to sway from the weight of the infected that had amassed on the other side.

13 Feet Under utilized the concept of a military containment zone to further the story and drive the pace of the haunted attraction. It was a highly effective approach as it created an environment in which it was easy to suspend disbelief. We found ourselves actively slinking around passages in an attempt to conceal ourselves from the infected, varying our speed depending on the situation.

We came to a checkpoint near the halfway point of the attraction where another guard was stationed; in her left hand she held a chain. She rattled off a lot of information about the infected and how we should proceed if we planned to survive the ordeal but by attention was diverted by what was on the other end of the chain. A dark-haired infected full of sarcasm and a devil-may-care attitude grappled with the restraint and if I’m being completely honest, the diseased dame was making eyes at yours truly. I held up a gloved hand to test the veracity of the claims that were being made by the female soldier, besides I wasn’t so sure I didn’t want to be bitten by this particular infected as she possessed a dark allure. She locked eyes, leaned in slowly, bared her teeth and sunk them straight into my hand.

I was shocked and impressed and a little turned on (but not too turned on because it was freezing). She pulled back careful not to break eye contact, raised her eyebrows and flashed a devilish smirk. I turned to John and professed my disbelief as never before had a haunt actor taken the chomp test so far.

Stunned and more than a little enamored, John and I reluctantly trudged forward with my seemingly infected hand in tow. We ducked through open sewage pipes flush with grates that sent light from above streaming eerily through the slates. We rounded on a choke point and were intercepted by a wide-eyed survivor who advised us to halt for a moment before he noisily rushed us ahead. Before we had a chance to contemplate the need to hurry, a massive snake uncoiled from behind a wall and nearly took a bite of its own. In our haste we lost both the snake and the kind stranger.

In the distance, through a series of tall and winding wrought-iron fencing, we spotted a camper. Was it a safe haven from the infected? Was there medical personnel on hand that could deal with my love bite? Such thoughts were pushed aside when we forced to participate in an impromptu game of red light/green light. In our delirium, we may have applied a loose interpretation of the rules and then fled like insects when the chatting of a chainsaw chewed through the frigid night air.

Rating: 4 stars

“She actually bit me…hard.” 

-My stunned reaction when the dark-haired dame called my bluff.

Exit 13 Burns Hot during Frostbitten Finale

Posted in 2014, Exit 13, Review with tags , , , , , , on June 26, 2015 by bluefall8

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When John and I set out to make Horrorlust history last November 2nd it would be amidst some seriously frigid weather that threatened to sap the last burst of energy the 2014 haunt season had to offer, but as we were about to discover the lovable loonies at Exit 13 would have none of that.

Our adventure began when we were detained by Officer Hottie Pants, a tall and hairy 30-something male who attempted to intimidate us with the rules of the house. If his short-shorts weren’t enough, his moderately doughy gut exposed beneath his undersized tee-shirt suggested he would pounce on even a whiff of unlawful behavior and personally administer a full body cavity search. Neither John nor myself was in the mood to hear the cold snap of a rubber glove and as such we quickly agreed to follow all of the rules. Soon, free of the dubiously named Officer Hottie Pants, we descended into a crypt then through twin vortexes and into the raging horror show that is Exit 13.

There was a recurring bumpkin-gone-bad theme present at Exit 13, most notable was a tightly designed area lined with cornstalks that also featured the convincing facade of a humble hillbilly homestead. Outside the home and among the rows of corn were various clotheslines from which hung peeled and drying faces — an excellent touch. Elsewhere in the attraction was a spacious and painstakingly detailed general store that would’ve been right at home in Children of the Corn. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the rotund redneck we encountered in one room who enjoyed a large pot of stew in which the key ingredient was dear old mom.

But there was more to Exit 13 than rural settings and scares, for instance, we were struck by the unsettling doll room that featured one life-like creature who’s howling, porcelain visage is emblazoned in my mind to this day. Once we were free of that threat we were surprised by an enormous reaper who emitted a bioluminescent glow.

As the attraction drew to a close we happened upon a mausoleum where I was bodily lifted from my feet by a stout but seriously strong creep who picked me up by my armpits and held me against a wall of the crypt. When he had relinquished his grip John and I scooted into the adjoining graveyard where Stout n’ Strong and one of his minions secured my arms and legs and attempted to serve me up to a couple of approaching zombies.

Exit 13 wasn’t quite finished with us yet, no before we emerged with hides relatively intact, we would be assailed by iron hulks, harassed by a gang of crazies who tickled us with buzzing chainsaws and my hat was even stolen momentarily when a prisoner in a plague masked snatched it from my head. And most of that took place while we marveled at a hot, sadistic nurse who tortured a wailing amputee! On top of that, we would later discover that the missing leg was no gag.

Exit 13 excelled on so many levels as a haunted attraction by successfully blending a variety of scenes and scares. The entirety of the haunt is highly detailed and filled with immersive environments. In addition it also featured a complimentary balance of blackout halls, descending pathways and interestingly textured walls. It’s a lengthy haunted house that managed to maintain an ideal pace, populated by a fearless cast who utilized every tactic available to scare actors.

As good as Exit 13 has been it still has yet to reach it’s full potential, and that is definitely a compliment. After talking to some of the key people behind the attraction it’s clear that they’re intent on expansion, and quite frankly there isn’t a haunted playground big enough for the supercharged psychos that call Exit 13 home.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Crafting A Dark Legacy

Posted in 2014, Dark Legacy, Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2015 by bluefall8

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When Dark Legacy appeared in the Fear Finder and Haunt Guide last fall with full page advertisements it was clear that somebody wasn’t playing around. The mysterious haunted attraction was new to the Detroit scene but all indicators suggested that it was being organized and operated by anything but a rookie. Located in Wixom, Michigan, Dark Legacy featured three haunted attractions — Government Owned Haunt, Kensington Detention Center and Fang Cemetery. Each leg of Dark Legacy was intricately detailed and appropriately styled to match a specific theme but the true strength here was that the journey through Michigan’s newest haunt told a single, continuous story.

John and I made the trip out to Wixom on Devil’s Night and when we arrived enjoyed a conversation with owner Austin Denney and various members of his staff. They were each enthusiastic and knowledgable about their respective roles and positions within the hierarchy of Dark Legacy; a few of them even seemed intrigued by our travels throughout the state and lands behind in our never ending chase for screams. As John and I would soon learn, our trek through Dark Legacy would become another memorable entry in our book of horrors.

The fun began in the queue area which had been fitted with prop steel girders that had been expertly distressed to create an authentic aged industrial appearance. The look set the stage well for the quasi-military research facility known simply as Government Owned Haunt. This area was dominated by large rooms and the elaborate props that had been thoughtfully selected and placed within them.

One area contained an impressive security control panel flush with monitors, switches and buttons. Another room contained a series of cages which held shrieking, thrashing animatronic monkeys and yet another laboratory saw us witness the electrocution of a tall zombie. His limbs flopped and flapped as the electricity coursed through his rotting body and then suddenly the contraption spun violently and revealed a hidden chamber from which a live actor sprung and chased us from the room.

Elsewhere, there was a strange doctor with alien specimens followed by an eye-catching hallway that featured a sliding floor and a series of dancing lasers. Amidst such eye candy it might come as a surprise that the most memorable moment inside Government Owned Haunt occurred in a very small room that was humbly decorated with a simple chair and small, floor model television. Static filled the screen for a moment but then a shape began to emerge from the white noise, a human face forced itself from the snow-driven abyss! John and I were bewildered and observed the phenomenon from various angles as a way to test the merit of the illusion. Shockingly, no matter the angle the bizarre head pushed forward from the television set. It was an awesome sight and something John and I have witnessed exactly once in all of our haunted house adventures.

We exited Government Owned Haunt and found ourselves in an alley complete with dumpster and one fetid creature who mindlessly pushed a shopping cart. This area served as a transitional one and was smartly designed to maintain continuity while it guided customers from Government Owned Haunt to Kensington Detention Center.

Kensington Detention Center, like Government Owned Haunt before it, offered immersive scenes that transported guests to a defunct facility where all manner of experiments had been conducted on the hapless souls trapped within the walls. John and I would have the pleasure of meeting several of those hapless souls as we traversed Kensington’s haunted halls.

One of the most animated characters came in the form of a small woman who wore a medical gown and had recently lost an eye. There was a metallic instrument clutched in one of her hands and as we interacted with this excitable patient it became apparent that she had likely performed the grisly surgery herself! It wasn’t long before she intimated that she’d love nothing more than to add one of our peepers to her collection.

Kensington Detention Center also showcased several props with integrated video elements and without a doubt the most exciting of the bunch was a shipping crate that had been chained to the ground and bore the words: Biohazard. The wooden box rocked back and forth as if something on the inside violently thrashed for freedom. A window near the top of the box afforded us a view into the interior and as we peered into the unknown a monstrous face suddenly appeared in the window etched with rage and anguish.

Soon thereafter, we traveled through a morgue and then entered the hallowed grounds of Fang Cemetery. The cemetery was highlighted by an imposing series of catacombs and an awesome graveyard scene that utilized an explosion of light, sound and movement to deliver a heart-pounding jump scare when a stone gargoyle suddenly turned animate and disrupted our progress.

When we emerged from Dark Legacy I noted that the haunted expedition had chewed up roughly 25 minutes — a length that easily surpassed the average haunted attraction. The triple threat spook house managed to avoid the pitfall of rushing guests through at a break-neck pace but also made sure to eliminate any energy-sucking dead spots.

The attention to detail cannot be understated; each room was decorated with a wealth of props, animatronics and other set decor that enhanced the atmosphere and reinforced the overall illusion of a haunted attraction. The cast was an above average one punctuated by a few standouts who served the narrative of Dark Legacy quite well. And enough cannot be said about the flow from one attraction to the next — too often this is an overlooked or neglected aspect of a haunted attraction and when done poorly can break the spell operators work so hard create.

We’re also big supporters of the growing trend of the use of so-called actor-matronics, the hybrid of live actors and animatronic costumes. In my mind this isn’t just limited to actors wearing this style of costume but can also include instances of actors delivering a scare alongside an animatronic. Dark Legacy put this practice to use on at least two occasions — first when we encountered the electrified zombie and then later when we crossed paths with a hulking robot of sorts who gave us quite the surprise indeed.

In some ways Dark Legacy put me in mind of House of the Dead at Terror Town but that isn’t to suggest that the team here isn’t carving out a unique identity. Dark Legacy opened the haunted toolbox and built an attraction that utilized all of the tools and techniques that make a haunted house fun and exciting. It was a hell of a foundation that Dark Legacy laid out in 2014 which should only lend itself to future success.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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

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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

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