Mixed Results at Terrorfied Forest and Manor

We arrived in Pinckney with little time to spare; a full moon was suspended high in the sky as the midnight hour approached. The wooded landscape upon which Terrorfied Forest and Manor resides immediately put me in mind of Krazy Hilda’s Camp of no Return last year in Chelsea.

We sought out the ticket booth where the man who sold the tickets directed us to a Chester Van off to the left where the trail to the manor, began. The man seemed to find a certain humor in our upcoming plight, a point that Cikalo deftly countered with his own brand of perverse and salacious wit.

We hit the trail and began the short trek to the entrance of the manor, as it turned out we did not cross paths with the keeper of the van who was perhaps preoccupied at the moment. We didn’t afford him the opportunity to meet our acquaintance either as we shortly came upon the door step and plunged into the manor.

A MOST MACABRE MANOR

As soon as we crossed the threshold of the manor we were assailed by a musty odor, and this was no manufactured scent, this was the genuine article. The structure resembled that of an old house or cabin and we were allowed to roam through the abode quite freely — it put me in mind of both The Funeral Home in Inkster and The Crypt in Burton.

As we entered into a large room, we heard the roll of thunder and witnessed a simple yet effective lightning effect just outside a series of windows to our right. Posed mannequins were spread throughout the house, one dressed as a cop was beside a casket; his face stoic an expressionless. My mind was brought to select scenes from House of Wax (an underrated horror flick in my opinion). I enjoyed this approach and wouldn’t mind if it were used to even greater effect here or at other attractions. It lent a creepy tension to each scene, it was almost as if we had been pulled into an old photograph. Let’s face it, mannequins — like other inanimate human impostors (such as dolls), ¬†possess an evil quality.

Unfortunately their live counterparts didn’t offer much in the way of vocalization or improvisation, much of what we encountered was poorly timed scares and generic threats. It wasn’t an awful cast by any means but the effort was far from inspired.

Business would soon pick up however as we were shuttled down a long slide into the basement of the manor. I’ve always enjoyed features such as this in haunted attractions; slides are just fun and I’ve never quite seen one used to transport guests from one level of a haunt to another, typically a slide will serve merely as an exit.

The ghouls in this area were more energized than their peers on the first floor. First, a long haired nut in a straight-jacket pursued us with gusto and at the finale of the attraction we were treated to an electrocution. The actor in the chair gave a convincing performance and when we inquired about the contents of his drawers (we had to make sure he was dead) the executioner played along and confirmed that the deceased had indeed soiled his undergarments, which he confirmed with a good old fashioned thumbs up.

The Manor had its moments and certainly has potential to be improved, but there was a lot left on the table both in terms of acting and storytelling. In the end it concluded all too briefly.

Rating: 2.75 stars

MIDNIGHT STROLL THROUGH TERRORFIED FOREST

The natural ambience of a forest walk simply cannot be beaten, the path at Terrorfied Forest offered a half hour of scares through hills, valleys, and various outbuildings. The trip began with a descent into a mine which set us on our path to the forest, a string of dim red lights guided us on our journey.

We traversed a parcel of land that resembled a farm and then passed by an eerily placid body of water, the perfect place for a killer scare or monstrous prop and although we witnessed nothing of the nature, it’s just too perfect an opportunity for the operators to pass up in the future. The wooded path did feature a fair mix of live actors and props; some of the props were even animated such as the miniature wolf boy which gave me a quality startle scare.

Like those inside the Manor, many of the actors along the pathway provided sub par performances — the scares weren’t bad but they did lack a certain passion and creativity. This was no more evident than in one outbuilding where the severed body of a girl lie on a table, her captor was armed with a saw. As we entered, the actor buzzed his saw for just a moment and then placed it on the table and silently approached us. I thought perhaps we had caught him a little off guard so I encouraged him to saw her properly. He obliged as any good scare actor should but as the female actress on the table was just about to reach the peak of her scream, the shriek abruptly ended. She turned to us and snottily snapped, “You can go now.” I can scarcely blame the male actor for breaking character at this point as he was perhaps embarrassed by her unwarranted rudeness, but break character he did by asking if there were any groups behind us.

As a customer at a haunted attraction I expect the actors to be just as engaged in the show as I am, sometimes that requires a little improvisation and creativity. These actors weren’t threatened, we used no profane language, we simply engaged them as the characters they were portraying. This was amateur behavior in what was an otherwise professional haunted attraction and it’s precisely this type of behavior that continues to proliferate negative stereotypes about the haunt industry. I know that if I were the owner of a haunted attraction I would not tolerate an employee who displayed such distain toward paying guests.

Fortunately, there did happen to be some worthy characters as well such a muscly clown who blocked our path — his frame and chainsaw made for quite the imposing sight. This same area was also home to a few of his harlequin pals — dummies that held ominous signs which read, “This is the last time you’ll see me” and other similarly strange statements.

I particularly liked the sideshow themed area where it looked as if a carnival of old had once broken down on the side of the road and simply decided to stay. It is here that we met Torso Girl and later passed by a colorful wagon which contained a massive gorilla. As we stared through the protective bars the tune of classic circus music began to play, I hoped that upon its’ conclusion the beast would move to attack but it turned out to be a prop. This area concluded with a similarly themed outbuilding — it had both the feel of a fun house and a big top tent. Inside, a costumed actor ran to and fro erratically, his oversized clown arms swung comically. We exchanged pleasantries and even brokered a handshake.

The Terrorfied Forest ended with a trip through a pitch black maze, one of the best such structures we’ve ever encountered. Despite the various shortcomings here, we found it quite enjoyable. With a couple changes in personnel and the addition of a few prime scares, the Terrorfied Forest will send haunters scattering through the woods.

Rating: 3.25 stars

“I sure hope he has big fingers.”

-Cikalo’s jesting exchange with the ticket seller who warned us of Chester the Molester.

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