The Scream Machine and Rainy Nights

John and I headed out last night on what had been a predominantly rainy day just as it had been one year prior when we kicked the season off with a visit to the Scream Machine. Also like last year we planned to hit the Woods of Darkness but were unable to due to rain, ditto for this season. But our spirits were not dampened for the Scream Machine has merely greased the gears for us haunting fiends with a fun opening night show. My cousin Jenny accompanied us on this night and she informed me she hadn’t been to a haunted house in a decade or more. For shame. I was more than happy to reintroduce her to the haunt scene.

On the whole it wasn’t a bad opening night from the Scream Machine, in fact from the point of view of a first timer it would probably score much higher. I like the Scream Machine, I truly do but after six visits it has become old hat. The Hellevator remains enjoyable but doesn’t possess the same zip it once held and the layout may have changed some what from last year but overall the scenes and props are simply too familiar. For example a scene that appeared toward the front of the haunt in years past may be near the end this year — this blender effect as I like to call it can be effective in small strokes but I believe the application was too liberal in this instance.

Perhaps the haunt’s greatest strength was the actors which were as abundant as ever. The ghouls possessed a high energy and pursued us with determination with a handful of actors assailing us on as many as four occasions. A few of them especially liked Jenny who displayed a penchant for screaming that was surpassed only by Brad’s primal shrieks during our 2010 visit to Demonic Demons in Detroit. It always makes for a good laugh when somebody is repeatedly spooked by the actors but the cast should be careful not to neglect the other guests and by the midpoint of the attraction John and I were fairly ignored by the ghouls. The exception to this was the pair of clowns near the end of the haunt who displayed a great zest for frightening the entire party and deserve additional recognition for their ability to improvise lines.

The large graveyard scene found in the center of the attraction remains visually impressive, I was particularly struck by one clear casket containing a skeleton adorned in gothic garb. The church scene is bigger than ever featuring nearly twenty full sized dummies and the brains behind the scenes have finally saw fit to mix in some warm bodies amongst the stiffs. Also of note was a neat scene toward the beginning of the haunt decorated like a common living room. A television sat against one wall broadcasting static. A pair of full sized windows against the far wall provided the room a voyeuristic air and sure enough Michael peered in at us and shortly gave chase.

For all it’s charm the Scream Machine falls short of truly standing out — it can certainly be better, I’ve witnessed it in past years myself. There are a few simple things that could be done to improve the haunt. My biggest complaint may be that the operators do not utilize the entire building. A portion of the building is used as perimeter for much of the attraction, providing the actors with a number of shortcuts to various areas. Due to this setup guests can see brightly glowing exit signs above door frames covered only by black flaps. If the entire structure were utilized these areas could simply be blocked off or disguised while still providing the actors with quick access to various areas, plus haunters would be treated to a longer show. My second complaint is quite simply that the attraction is too well lit, most areas of the attraction are not immediately closed in from above. This allows a lot of other light to filter into the attraction; something as simple as camo-netting would go a long way to rectify the problem. And as always my final complaint about the Scream Machine is the anti-climatic ending. It still features the old Carnevil of Lost Souls passageways which are mostly large rooms with empty space. Granted a car gag has been added and the actors in this area were among the best but still it leaves something to be desired.

The first haunt of the year always seems to go by in a gleeful blur which forces me to work that much harder to deliver an accurate account of events. The Scream Machine has often been more fun than fright which is perfectly fine but I think creatively this location is capable of more.

Rating: 2 3/4 stars

“Jen-ny. Jen-ny. Stay and play with me, Jen-ny!”

-Graveyard Creep who begged Jenny to stay and play on no less than three occasions.

“Here they are big boy! Here’s my balls! Want to play with them?!”

-A highly energetic clown who lewdly stroked the fuzzy balls on his costume and implored me to do the same.

Weekly Haunt Bucks: $10

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2 Responses to “The Scream Machine and Rainy Nights”

  1. I agree with your three complaints about the Scream Machine. I think I would have given it 2.5 stars though. I really don’t think it is worth the $15 that they charge on days other than opening weekend. They really need to make some major changes to justify that price. The hellivator just isn’t good enough anymore…

  2. Fair points Disco, fair points. The length of the Scream Machine alone warrants a cheaper rate. With a few tweaks a $10-12 price range would be suitable, but yes I think $15 is a bit much.

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