Terror on the Boulevard a Textbook of Home Haunting

Posted in 2015, Review, Terror on the Boulevard with tags , , , on August 12, 2016 by bluefall8

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Terror on the Boulevard is a home haunt located in Lincoln Park, Michigan that has been in existence for a decade; it’s a labor of love for Adam Grignon. Like many home haunts, Terror on the Boulevard is open to the public free of admission, but is only operational a couple of nights each October. I first learned of Terror on the Boulevard in 2012 while working as a substitute teacher at Carr Elementary School. I did attempt to attend that year on Devil’s Night but was thwarted by the aftereffects of the appropriately named, Frankenstorm. Three years to the day, I returned with my faithful haunt companion, John, by my side to finally tour Terror on the Boulevard.

We encountered Adam at the entrance of his home haunt, dressed in the fashion of a father from the 1950s complete with sweater vest and pipe. He ushered us eager kiddies into his creation which we would soon discover was home to the Boogeyman. The interior of Terror on the Boulevard wasn’t so different from your own home, specifically a child’s bedroom. One hallway was decorated with wallpaper, family photos and even a vintage radio that quietly transmitted a period correct song that reinforced the Boogeyman theme.

John and I would note that the attraction was professionally lit which is not a feat easily accomplished at an outdoor home haunt. Fog machines were also implemented in an appropriate manner — the effect wasn’t overdone so that it blotted out details rather it created the impression that perhaps a small fire had recently occurred somewhere in the house.

Adam was a bit short on help on the night of our visit and that did impact what I’m sure would have been an excellent signature scare. On one wall was scrawled a message that warned “Don’t look under the bed.” We noticed some skirting near our ankles and naturally couldn’t resist the temptation. Adam later informed me that a pair of oversized hands were scheduled to assail those who were curious enough to look. I have no doubt it garnered the lion’s share of shrieks during the hours of trick r’ treating.

As it were, the most memorable scare delivered to John and I came in the largest room of the haunt where a series of sheets had been fashioned into floating ghosts. We bobbed and weaved our way through the white figures, prepared for one or more to reach in our direction. All was still for several agonizingly long moments and just when we thought we were in the clear — SWOOSH!!! One expertly disguised ghostie alerted us to the fact that he had some life in him yet.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Dreadlands Haunt of Davison Serves Up Triple Shot of Terror

Posted in 2015, Dreadlands Haunt of Davison, Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 6, 2016 by bluefall8

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If you make a habit of chasing the high that only haunting can provide, you’re sure to often find yourself in a race against the clock. Such was the case last October when we rolled into the Dreadlands Haunt of Davison. We turned onto a narrow wooded trail that didn’t seem fit to accommodate more than a single vehicle, we spotted a man to our left who held a sign that read: Sold Out. We chatted with the man briefly who seemed as confused as we were, ultimately we decided to continue down the path and hope for the best.

We wouldn’t regret that decision.

The Dreadlands Haunt of Davison seemed to be winding down for the night but that changed drastically once we began the terror triathlon comprised of The Research Labs, Proving Grounds Trail and Zombie Sniper Arena. Eager as ever, we darted for The Research Labs and never looked back.

A ONE-OF-A-KIND LABYRINTH OF HORROR

The Research Labs was a flurry of activity from the word go. Someone named Amy was on the loose and she had marshaled an army of zombies. We were whisked into a room where a large map of the United States was displayed on one wall, the area had the feel of a haphazard military bunker. A pair of soldiers engaged in a spirited debate over how to best contain the threat. The debate quickly escalated into argument which devolved into a physical altercation; one of them wound up unconscious or dead. We were ushered into the next room and left to our lonesome.

The Research Labs was mostly comprised of small, cluttered rooms filled with all manner of objects; including fish tanks that featured floating human heads. If Hoarders and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre got together for one supremely horrifying crossover it would resemble The Research Labs. Each space induced a sense of disorientation and claustrophobia. Several rooms seemed to be dead ends at first blush but further investigation revealed hidden passages disguised as a refrigerator, locker and even a closet full of moldy clothing.

The cast was plentiful, energetic and youthful if not a bit green, but boy were they vocal. Shouts and screams rebounded off of every corner of the structure, a tempest of human anguish bombarded our ears. All throughout the multi-level haunt offbeat spooks emerged from the shadows or groped at our limbs through strategically placed grabby holes. The multi-level aspect was a real stroke of brilliance which challenged haunters to climb ladders fashioned from wooden pallets. In one instance we emerged from a hole in the floor and found ourselves inside a cobweb infested attic, the planks beneath our feet sinking with every step.

Oh yeah, it’s hard to top that kind of authenticity.

We were also impressed by a library flush with shelves of books and yet another hidden exit. As fortune would have it I would even play the central character in an interactive electrocution scene! What can I say? I never turn down the opportunity to become part of the show. Shortly thereafter, we emerged outside into the night air a top a narrow spiral staircase, but once we’d descended to ground level we were fed right back into the unique edifice.

We pawed through the darkness of a maze searching for an escape when we happened upon trees. Trees? Yeah, trees. Full grown trees inside of a haunted house?! Okay, without even checking my records I know this to be a Horrorlust first. Riveted and bewildered as we were, we managed to push ahead where we would later encounter a manic scientist, who was definitely on the spectrum. We also crossed paths with a rather sinister mother who was all too matter-of-fact when she revealed that her baby had been burnt to a crisp.

Rating: 4.5 stars

PROVING GROUNDS TRAIL HOME TO WOODLAND WEIRDOS

We stood at the edge of the woods and listened to instructions from a believable young corporal, when he had finished with the briefing we were led into a large tent. Here, we were introduced to a nebbish scientist who rambled about an anti-virus, Ebola and even engaged in a spot of scatological humor. Once his interesting spiel had concluded we exited the rear of the tent and were swallowed by the darkness of the woods.

The Proving Grounds Trail was not for the faint of heart; the entire journey lasted nearly a solid half hour. The path was lined with ramshackle huts and other outbuildings of various shapes and sizes which afforded ghouls a great many places from which to launch an ambush. In one unforgettable instance, a slovenly, middle-aged man lurched toward us on wobbly legs. His speech was heavily slurred, his mannerisms stuttered and exaggerated; in one hand he grasped a brown paper bag that concealed a bottle. When we inquired about his state he indicated that he was both “special” and intoxicated; indeed all signs suggested that both were true. He told us that his name was Simple (of course it was) and then warned us of his brother, George. With caution fresh in mind we journeyed deeper into the woods; Simple shambled off in the opposite direction.

The uneven, earthen path was strewn with a great many objects, all in a state of disrepair and decay. There was a moonshine still (likely Simple’s watering hole), a full-size above-ground pool and even a dilapidated pick-up truck which we were forced to crawl through. The woods featured a mixture of captives and cretins who roamed the territory unchecked; it was difficult to distinguish friend from foe and as a result we eyed all who approached with suspicion. The wind had begun to rip through the trees and screams echoed throughout the woods in every direction.

The trail came to an abrupt end at the front door of a small cabin, we heard the distinct sound of a gun being cocked. I knocked on the wooden door and an unseen voice told us to enter. A portly, bearded man stood in the living room brandishing a shotgun. His choice of decor made for an odd mishmash — raggedy, leopard skin furniture lined the room, a single Ansel Adams print hung on one wall.

This was George, brother of Simple.

As George told it, a big family reunion was on the horizon. He instructed us to stay off of his carpet despite the fact that we were all standing on plain, wooden boards. A noise was be heard beneath our feet. The preponderance of evidence suggested to me that perhaps George was a tad unhinged and no sooner a portion of the floor erupted! A frail, teenage girl sprung from a trap door and began to scream. George shoved the gun in her faced and forced her back into the spider hole. We took this as our cue to exit.

We would wander the bleak woods for some time still and eventually came to a large wooden structure where we ascended a set of stairs. Once at the top we were loaded one by one into a zip line contraption that sent us soaring through the trees; it proved to be a thrilling finale complete with a heart-racing gag.

Rating: 3.5 stars

ZOMBIE SNIPER ARENA MIXES INTERACTION & EXCITEMENT

I generally have very little interest in any presentation of zombie paintball but it was clear that the Dreadlands offered a different beast altogether. We wouldn’t be firing at static props or even enjoy the comfort of a protective barrier, no we would enter a maze flush with brain munchers. We geared up, listened intently to safety protocals and accepted our mission — the recovery of a highly valuable anti-virus.

It was obvious that the military brass and the grunts on the front lines were at odds with each other, a Captain Hudson argued forcefully with a superior official of unknown rank. Tensions rose so high that people became distracted and careless, a makeshift door was breached and Captain Hudson vanished into a sea of writhing, rotten flesh. In a state of panic we were thrust into the maze.

The sound of zombies hailed from every direction (we would later find out that a sound system pumped in the recorded moans and groans of the actors). After some initial confusion in which my gun seemed to jam, Steve, John and I fired upon the undead menace with wild abandon that I daresay bordered on glee. To our great shock, we found Captain Hudson, alive! The crafty military man had utilized a table to shield himself from the army of corpses. Following a quick reload we were able to gun down the remainder of the meat bags, recover the anti-virus and save the world!

Rating: 4 stars

Horrorlust on YouTube

Posted in News with tags , , , on August 4, 2016 by bluefall8

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As the title implies, Horrorlust now has a YouTube channel! In the months and years to come you can expect to see interviews with horror personalities, mini-documentaries and on-site clips from haunted attractions. In addition, haunters and horror fanatics can use Horrorlust on YouTube as a portal to other creepy content through ‘liked’ videos, saved playlists and featured channels.

Do you operate a YouTube channel dedicated to horror and Halloween or know of one that is? If so, drop a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to subscribe.

Thus far the channel features three videos — a trio of short interviews with author Kasey Pierce who last year had her horror anthology, Pieces of Madness, released by Rocket Ink Studios. In the video embedded below, Kasey talks about the inspiration for the book.

Sponsorships, Notes and Other Fine Morsels

Posted in News with tags , on July 25, 2016 by bluefall8

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

It’s late July and haunts are gearing up for fall — if you own or operate a haunted attraction and desire alternative or addition means of advertising, consider the offerings here at Horrorlust. One method of promotion is Horrorlust Radio which is in need of sponsors for the 2016 season. For pricing, details and an informational packet contact: horrorlust31@gmail.com

MIDSUMMER HOUSE CLEANING

Regular readers have probably noticed the change in our web address, but if not make note of it. No longer a need to include .wordpress in the title, it’s now simply: horrorlust.com

In addition to a presence on Facebook and Twitter, you can now follow Horrorlust on Instagram as well. There, you can view snapshots from all of our fall adventures this Halloween season and in the mean time, enjoy creepy pictures from previous years. Come find us under the moniker: horrorlust.

Exit 13 a Livewire of Horror

Posted in 2015, Exit 13, Review with tags , , on June 28, 2016 by bluefall8

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It isn’t easy for a haunted attraction to continually improve from season to season, in fact, it’s hard. John and I have found that repeated trips to the same attraction year after year without a break can render even our favorite places a bit stale. 2015 marked the fourth consecutive year that John and I had visited Exit 13 but there was no sign of fatigue; the brazen barbarians who call this place home are determined to rewrite the rule book.

In 2014, Exit 13 was crowned the Horrorlust Haunt of the Year and I had no doubt that the psycho-charged cast would do their utmost to defend that title. We pulled into a packed parking lot and saw a long, winding line of eager faces who had also come to experience Exit 13. Along with John and I was Steve an Exit 13 virgin. No worries though, the freaks inside are expert in the art of popping haunt cherries!

ROCK’EM SOCK’EM HALLOWEEN SPOOKS

Exit 13 was it’s usual self, that is to say, a bad ass blend of in-your-face antics and old school minimalism — no place does it better. The textured walls and expansive environment psyche you out and keep one guessing throughout the dark, winding journey. And then, all of a sudden — you aren’t alone anymore. Dinner is served with a promise of dessert from a southern belle transsexual named Francine and Francine isn’t a shy lass. It’s said that a man’s stomach is the way to his heart and this is true, but I can’t be bought so cheaply (I mean, a single meal? Come on!). While my companions howled with laughter, Francine was denied the kiss she so desired by the timely magic of a hidden door that whisked me into darkness and away from her eager, puckered lips.

Francine wouldn’t be the last femme fatale who took a shine to yours truly, approximately midway through the haunt I was held captive by another woman. This one had a thick eastern European accent and she brandished a bone. I was ordered behind a counter where a second much taller woman stood. My friends were ordered to leave the room which they did without much resistance, traitors.

Meanwhile, Helga and her pet giantess formed a human barrier around me. The giantess was silent but I feared she would be quick to anger and thus I didn’t dare risk rousing her temper with my usual sarcastic comments. Helga, however, spoke at length in that ominous, old world accent. It seemed she had plans for one hell of a soup and she fancied me as the main ingredient. Thankfully, Helga had a change of heart and decided perhaps I was too sweet for her soup. Helga ordered me out of her kitchen. I glanced over my shoulder once more at the mute giantess, she didn’t flinch, she only glowered. I dashed from the pair with expediency on a mission to reunite with my party, but alas, Helga had held me in her clammy clutches for too long. I had no choice but to continue the treacherous trek through Exit 13, alone.

As I navigated the dark passages, I encountered a dead end which had been fitted with a full-length mirror which provided an unexpected startle when a strobe light revealed my own face — it was a serious moment of disassociation that made me feel oddly uncomfortable. Further on ahead I entered an elaborate cemetery and was forced to crawl through a hole in the wall of a mausoleum. On hands and knees, I gingerly progressed through the narrow shaft and all the while I had visions of decomposed hands clutching at my flesh.

Free of the cemetery, I found myself in yet another dark passage when a long-haired patient, atop a gurney, propelled the contraption in my direction. I dodged it but not by much and as a reward for that feat of dexterity I would shortly be roughed up by a pair of malevolent clowns who sent me tumbling through the exit where I was finally reunited with John and Steve.

Rating: 4.25 stars

TOTAL BLACKOUT TRUE TO ITS NAME

Exit 13 had added a second attraction in 2015 — a no frills, blackout maze that was indeed devoid of almost all light. We were greeted at the entrance by a sizable clown who had the curious habit of speaking in two completely different voices. It was as if two separate entities had decided to take up residence in the same body and I got the distinct impression that at least one, if not both, of those personalities had some molester tendencies.

Once he had finished horrifying us into a collective coma, the harlequin slunk off to do what I’m sure were perverse things. We entered Total Blackout and spend a fair amount of time trudging through the blackened halls. There was one point where my hand touched something damp and furry attached to a wall, a conversation about wet, fuzzy muffs ensued briefly. The back-and-forth upset the locals as unseen forces could be heard growling at us from the dark.

Total Blackout has potential to expand and evolve; it can be a great experimental attraction for Exit 13 going forward. Here’s to future zaniness!

Rating: 2.75 stars

Mayhem & Mystery Collide at Clio Manor

Posted in 2015, Clio Manor, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2016 by bluefall8

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Clio Manor has been in operation for only a few short seasons but it was evident from our trip last fall that the gang here has made great strides in that time. Located in the back of a large building, Clio Manor thrilled us with memorable characters versed in horror and comedy alike who populated a myriad of richly detailed and interactive scenes. The journey spanned two levels, was thoughtfully paced and offered over 20 minutes of heart-pounding haunt goodness!

The fun began when we were regaled with a theatrical and comedic introduction by a man in dapper attire who called himself, Blot. He was a stringy, agile type who was skilled in many tricks of the trade; something about him put me in mind of Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. When he had finished with the house rules and other pleasantries, Blot led us to the top of a staircase and bade us farewell but not before he dropped a rather ominous and vague reference to someone named Roxanne.

Alone in the dark, John, Steve and I started down a hallway but were quickly intercepted by a curious fellow dressed in basic street clothes. There was something off about his demeanor, something foreboding. He communicated with us through a combination of eye movement and hand gestures. A few tense moments passed in confusion but then Steve correctly surmised that our new acquaintance had had his tongue removed; presumably cut out by the mysterious and seemingly violent, Roxanne.

Our mute friend guided us to another room where we encountered a fireman with an ax stuck firmly into the center of his chest. He said that he had been called there to suppress a fire when a crazy lady had waylaid him with the weapon. My money was on Roxanne, who definitely seemed to be on a roll. Beyond our help, I advised the fireman to accept his fate and die peacefully. In turn, he dutifully directed us through a hole in the wall.

We emerged on the other side into a series of would-be homey rooms save for the gore and gaggle of crazies who accosted us at every turn. In one room a randy temptress tried to lure us onto her bed which was occupied by the body of her former lover, some poor bastard named Sammy. The temptress shamelessly mounted the corpse and began to grind her hips. I attempted to convince John to lie on the mattress but to no avail, meanwhile Sammy was stiff for all the wrong reasons.

Next, we were introduced to Clownie the Clown a decidedly oddball character who seemed the optimal cross-section of effeminate and autistic — if you can imagine such a thing. The end result was a bizarre but likable character who told bad jokes, asked us to play with his toy box (I’m pretty sure that was a euphemism) and invited us to walk down something he called “the acid brick road.” Yeah, Clownie was weird. No sooner had Clownie left us in a room full of toys when an overgrown Teddy Bear launched itself at us from a pile of stuffed animals. It unleashed a gurgled snarl that seemed one-part aggressive, one-part aroused and then began to paw at us in a very friendly fashion.

Free from those pervy clutches we pushed deeper into Clio Manor. A darkly attractive girl was spotted ahead but she dashed off at first sight and quickly crawled beneath a bed. She soon reemerged and revealed that it was she who had dealt the deathblow to the fireman. Who would’ve thought that bloodthirsty Roxanne would be so alluring? With no weapon currently in her possession, we used the opportunity to escape unscathed.

We bobbed and weaved in and out of several scenes and then descended a staircase back to the main level of the edifice. There we meet a sweet, but creepy girl who had an affinity for human ears; she kept them pickled in jars. She even recounted her experience with a recent victim named Suzie and then introduced us to her pet, a dog-man named Sid. Sid tickled my chin and then forced John to pass a couple of playful tests before he allowed us to proceed. A few minutes later an unseen assailant tickled my ribs and then copped a cheap feel of my chest. I suspect Sid had tracked our scent.

Near the end of the attraction we witnessed an excellent diminishing point vortex which was used to maximum effect when coupled with a jump scare. The punk who delivered the surprise then warned us of someone known as The Harvester, and that’s just not the name of anybody you ever want to meet. Any thoughts of sidestepping The Harvester were dashed when we happened upon a series of makeshift cages, and those cages were occupied by people.

Suddenly, we were in the presence of The Harvester and his chainsaw. After a brief exchange of words, his limp-separator rattled to life and we fled through a narrow path as his captives desperately, or perhaps angrily, pushed against the chicken wire that formed the walls of their cell.

Rating: 4.25 stars

“Don’t fall down. If you do, I get the nibbly bits.”

-One of Blot’s, our gracious host, many warnings.

Delirium Gets Lost Inside Mind of a Madman

Posted in 2015, Review, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , on June 15, 2016 by bluefall8

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As a citizen of the City of Wyandotte and an avid haunter, it would seem sacrilege to fail to visit the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House each fall. Indeed, since 2007 not a season has passed in which I haven’t checked out the haunted happenings of my local Jaycees. No matter the result — be it good, bad or indifferent — a trip through the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House has become a tradition. Last October, Delirium came to the former City Hall on Biddle and it echoed the successes and shortcomings of previous Jaycees’ haunted houses.

It was clear mere minutes into our voyage that Delirium was badly short-staffed which caused the meandering dark, empty halls to seem that much more like a gargantuan waste of space. There was a scene or two with actors right off the hop but after that it was a painfully long time before anything of substance happened again; wandering through darkened passages will lose its effect if there’s no pay off and this seriously hampered the first third of the haunted attraction.

Also on the negative side of the ledger is the chronically bad soundtrack — a disparate collection of weird and repetitive screams, bestial cries and silence. It’s outdated and borderline corny. It doesn’t enhance the atmosphere or mood of the attraction, in fact, it detracts from it. The soundtrack is also deficient at covering the movement or idle chatter of the actors who sometimes need to communicate with each other. It is, in effect, a complete failure at everything a soundtrack is supposed to do for a haunted attraction. If it can’t be replaced by something more dynamic and modern, simply eliminating it would be an improvement.

Despite these setbacks, Delirium did showcase several enjoyable scenes and characters. In one room a young girl sat on a bed and tapped out an inexpert tune on a toy piano. She wasn’t pleased with our presence and expressed her displeasure when she forcefully threw a baby doll against a wall. The miniature monster did this with such quickness and violence that she gave our group a genuine shock — most impressive.

Next, we suddenly found ourselves in a large room completely decked out for Christmas. This was another authentic surprise and the overall effect was melancholy and haunting in spite of the cheerful yuletide tune that played on an unseen radio. A lone teen-aged girl roamed the room holding a small present. She was hyperactive in her love for the holiday and possessed a frenzied, strangled laugh.

Another favorite area was the freak show complete with sideshow banners and the absurd Lobster Boy. Much to our delight the freak show led us to a game of chance where I was afforded the chance to throw the head of a baby doll at some stacked bottles! With my life on the line I wound up, my aim was true and that baby’s head sent those bottles clattering in all directions. The clownish carneys who were in charge of the game were the finest actors in all of Delirium, their interaction and vocalizations in stark contrast to the amateurish deliveries found throughout much of the attraction.

There were also several other areas of note that had the seed of a good scare but the aforementioned lack of actors derailed what might have been. Included in that list were a brightly-lit laboratory that featured an empty desk, a threadbare playground and an appropriately detailed ritual scene.

Delirium concluded with an above average chainsaw gag in which we encountered the scientist who was responsible for the state of affairs. He was determined to right all of his wrongs and he was willing to get bloody to that end. Needless to say, he thought we were as good a place to start as any.

Once we exited Delirium we were introduced to the inimitable Murray the Clown who emerged as a bona fide mascot for the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House. The man behind the greasepaint is a true credit to the organization.

Rating: 2.25 stars

“I’ve heard of being eatin’ out but this is ridiculous.”

-My artful reaction to an enormous rat devouring a corpse

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