Terror Town, Barn of Blood Conjure Haunted Time Warp

During the final weekend of the 2008 haunt season I found myself at both Terror Town and Apple Charlie’s Barn of Blood on separate days and as the unseen Haunt Fates would have it, that is exactly where I found myself once again last weekend…on two separate days. First Terror Town, then Barn of Blood. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly a detour into The Twilight Zone but it was close damn it!

Our first stop actually found us at Heck of a Haunted Barn in Monroe but when we arrived the place was simply dead, a few workers roamed the grounds in very basic make up and costuming. Outwardly there was nothing to suggest that this was anything but a heck of a waste of $12 so we decided to depart for Terror Town.

BIG TOP FLOP

The House of the Dead looms as large as ever at Terror Town and is joined this year by a 3D attraction called Big Top Terror; a combo ticket will set you back $25 and for that price haunters expect a unique, memorable experience. Big Top Terror however is just the latest in a long line of 3D attractions to fall flat. The attraction is thin on workers and those that did inhabit the paint splattered halls were lethargic at best. The haunt was also extraordinarily short clocking in under five minutes. There were some cool props but nothing in the way of haunting fundamentals was employed, it was simply a stroll through neon painted rooms. Near the end of the attraction a large box sat against a wall, a wicked clown’s face adorned the front. Of course the box had to be opened right? That was the whole point of the gag! As I approached the mystery box a clown appeared from it’s side and bellowed, “Open it!” We were finally going to experience some interaction in this haunted house but just as quickly as my heart jumped it fell back to its usual steady beat. Nothing was in the box. I could see that it was open on the other end and wondered aloud if we were supposed to go through it but the worker just looked at me and breathed heavily as if his loud proclamation had yielded some satisfyingly dreadful result. I reiterated my query only to be met with more heavy breathing. I noticed a path in front of us and decided to take it. We exited the attraction. As it was the most enjoyable part of Big Top Terror was the jazzed up jingle playing outside the attraction, Killer Klowns by The Dickies which of course is the title track from 1988’s Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Rating: 1.5 stars

DEAD HOUSE AWAKENS ANEW

House of the Dead once again spans two separate buildings connected by an impressive array of black holes and one well decorated, cemetery. As we first discovered in 2008 this haunted attraction will attack from every angle and assail every sense. House of the Dead is a lengthy trek through ghostly corridors furnished with possessed furniture, blood thirsty creatures, and all manners of strangeness.

The mood for this house most macabre is set from the get go as haunters make their way down a long, narrow hallway illuminated by a cold, blue glow. This first section of Dead House is merely a prelude for the grand horrors to come but was punctuated by a passageway full of deafening poppers; a room full of questionably lively freight, and the ultra-realistic and creepy full sized dummies that we witnessed first at Terror Town in 2008. My personal favorite was a child ghoul who stood around a corner near the exit of this first area. I’ve referenced these particular props on numerous occasions and they are without a doubt the most convincing dummies the haunt industry has to offer. I do not know what company produces them but when I find out I’ll relay the news and post some pictures.

Following the first building is one of the most impressive vortex tunnels you’re likely to find anywhere on planet Earth, no less than six end-to-end tunnels spin in unison. Upon exiting and taking a moment to restore our collective equilibrium we proceeded out doors to a cemetery full of life. This graveyard scene functioned as a wonderful transition between the first half of the attraction and the second. Highlights here included a stone gargoyle which surprisingly leaped from its pedestal and bounded toward us like one of the evil, flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. Also of note was the foggy funeral procession which featured a casket, four ghoulish pall bearers, and the distinct smell of mold.

Shortly thereafter we entered the second building, what I like to refer to as House of the Dead proper. We were immediately assailed by a crawling girl with stringy hair who spoke of a ‘master’ that had horrific plans for our body parts. As she wailed and swayed inappropriately close to our crotches an eye opening effect erupted in front of us. The floorboards seemed to crack before us, a strange light poured out from beneath them; it seemed as if something was racing at us from under the floor. It was undoubtedly a neat effect that employed several elements, something we’ve never quite witnessed anywhere else. Just around the corner we ascended some stairs to a bridge and as we crossed, the walls adorned with skeletons, on either side of us collapsed inward. On the other side of the bridge we descended yet another set of stairs, putting us squarely within the limits of Mayer Wormface’s realm.

As always a litany of strange, gruesome, and truly spectacular animatronics dotted the haunted halls of Dead House although it was with some disappointment that we found several of the rampaging robots non-operational. We were also less than impressed with the scant cast of live workers inside House of the Dead. The darkly jovial patriarch however remains as entertaining as ever, stationed this season by Hellivator, the rest of the cast would do well to take their cues from him.

New horrors inside of House of the Dead this year include highly convincing animatronic snakes that descend upon haunters from above, hissing menacingly. My favorite addition was a room in which the walls were smeared with children’s handprints and foreboding nursery rhymes. As we attempted to leave the room a huge, green hand shot out from a slot in the wall and attempted to snatch visitors. Shortly after escaping this scene we arrived outside once more surrounded now by fog and hanging corpses. As we traversed this last area of Dead House we were surprised by a tall, chainsaw equipped butcher.

Terror Town is a haunted attraction that I would recommend to anyone who has not yet paid it a visit. The sheer volume of animated props and creatures is overwhelming and the average haunter will witness things here that they aren’t likely to see anywhere else. You won’t breeze through this haunt in 5-10 minutes either, this year we spent a solid 25 minutes navigating our way through the dark confines of House of the Dead. Also of great interest at Terror Town is the effort to engage all five senses, a touch most attractions pay no attention. House of the Dead is not without flaws of course, the workers as previously mentioned left a lot to be desired this year. The animatronics, as impressive as they might be on their own, oftentimes feel out of place or poorly implemented. I prefer to see a haunt stick to the theme that it has set forth — a gigantic Rancor-like creature may not play into the continuity in this setting. I was also highly disappointed in the conclusion this year, a simple chainsaw surprise may be fitting for many haunts but not one as over the top as Terror Town’s House of the Dead. I can’t help but wonder if the operators at Terror Town aren’t resting on their laurels to some degree. Still, House of the Dead has an excellent atmosphere, top notch props, and loads of potential. I’d like to see more focus on the scare factor here and less on the wow factor.

Rating: 3.75 stars

“Show us your udders!”

-Cikalo, commanding a hefty street walker in Toledo with an old favorite

APPLE ORCHARD HORROR

On Sunday I paid a visit to Apple Charlie’s and experienced a completely different haunted attraction – Barn of Blood. Barn of Blood is a brief haunted jaunt, appropriately priced at just $5, and evokes the spirit of a bygone era of haunting. This was bare bones haunting and when executed properly it can be just as effective as any mega-haunt. It was a very dark and deathly quiet journey through the barn, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of workers hidden inside as well. There is room for improvement – some creative alterations to the interior structure and a little more intensity from the cast would make for an excellent if not small haunted attraction.

Rating: 3 stars

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: