Scream Machine, Haunt for Hunger

The final Saturday of October isn’t one to be spent sitting at home, it’s one of the last good chances for haunters to explore the season’s offerings. All of my usual running buddies happened to be out of town so I called up ole Deadly Ted who told me he had not indulged in a haunted attraction since his freshman year of high school (1996) — for shame. We didn’t have a lot of time, so we decided to hit a couple of local attractions — Haunt for Hunger, a yard haunt in Allen Park, and The Scream Machine in Taylor, a staple of the downriver haunt scene.

Haunt for Hunger is a yard haunt that benefits Gleaners Food Band, admission this year was a donation of four canned goods or $4. I was impressed by the detail that had been put into the facade, a back wrought iron fence stood before a grey stone wall. As it was a yard haunt, Haunt for Hunger was fairly short but that was to be expected. The small passages did feature a few neat props including a couple of full sized, high quality dummies. There was also a sound system which is more than some Jaycees haunts can boast and the 7-8 workers who prowled the shadowed corridors performed admirably. With some creativity and ingenuity, yard haunts like Haunt for Hunger can become quite special.

Rating: 3 stars

SCREAM MACHINE GOING HOARSE

When we arrived at the Scream Machine the place was positively buzzing — I hadn’t seen it that busy since a visit ten years ago on Halloween. The Scream Machine still possesses some neat features like the Hellivator, and superb scenery such as the elaborate graveyard in the center of the attraction. In fact, the graveyard scene here is one of the most complete and well balanced sets I’ve witnessed anywhere. There was a new room near the end of the attraction as well — a medieval temple of sorts complete with windows that flashed red as if a terrible storm raged outside. All of this however wasn’t enough to mask what has sadly become a repetitive haunted attraction.

In recent years the Scream Machine has fallen into the trap of changing very little from year to year. All of the usual rooms, gags, and props were present once more and were scarcely different in terms of placement or location from a year ago. The saving grace of the Scream Machine has often been the solid performance of the actors, but that wasn’t the case during our visit this year. Unfortunately, the attraction seemed a bit understaffed and the majority of those present didn’t put forth anything in the way of an inspired effort — the scares were bland, predictable, and disappointing.

The oft lamented lack of a proper finale remains a glaring weakness of this attraction. I’ve suggested before that the Scream Machine relies far too much on past achievements and that has never been more apparent than this year. The foundation for a very good haunted house is still there, but the Scream Machine is in dire need of some fresh blood to shake things up.

Rating: 2.25 stars

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