Elements and Ambience Rule Realm of Haunted Minds

When I set out late two Fridays ago, it was to visit a pair of local haunts, and first on that list was the pride of the Huron Turkey Farm — Realm of Haunted Minds. Twice before I’ve visited this location (2008 & 2011) and I found each trip to be memorable and fun.

This time around I brought my sister-in-law Madison along, who’s a creep in her own right but inexperienced in the ways of haunting. Earlier this year she began reading Horrorlust; shortly thereafter I introduced her to the Haunt Guide and Fear Finder. She seemed fascinated by the images on the pages; I knew then I might have a budding haunter on my hands.

So there we were on a chilly Friday night as we soaked in the idyllic atmosphere of the Huron Turkey Farm. The county store was adorned with it’s usual lights, inside a ghoulish array of characters lined the walls. As we made our way to the haunted attraction we explored the miniature town scattered over the grounds, which is something of a playground for kids and big kids alike. The quaint structures provide an excellent place to stage a spur of the moment prank and can also be used for a unique photo op.

Once we had entered the queue area, we were asked to stand at the blood line. A quick glance at the floor indeed revealed there to be a blood soaked stain on the ground, but before we could ask any questions a ghoulish bust flickered to life and began regaling us with the rules of the house. This particular effect utilized a projection system and is immensely more effective and entertaining than having an exhausted employee recite the same rules to each group of patrons every night for the duration of the haunt season. I’ve always advocated that the show should begin before a guest even enters the haunted attraction and indeed Realm of Haunted Minds has put that philosophy to good use.

Realm of Haunted Minds isn’t the type of haunted attraction that’s going to overwhelm guests with high tech animatronics or eye popping props, that kind of thing is sprinkled in to be sure but the driving force here is simply old fashioned haunting. Realm of Haunted Minds successfully fused the mood of a fun house with the ambience of a classic haunted house.

Neon splattered walls and a robust sound system set the scene quite well, while the use of tried and true haunt troupes such as drop panels, misdirection, and hidden passageways further supplement the concept of bedrock fundamental principles. When done correctly, there’s simply no substitute for these time honored elements.

The attraction was of an ideal length and featured a fair amount of actors and if jumping and shrieking can be interpreted as enjoying oneself then Madison had a blast, I was amused to see a fresh haunter caught off guard by a bounty of techniques that are so familiar to me. In one early room a zipper-faced clown stood slightly slumped over, his wrists chained to a wall. As we turned our backs and began in the direction of the next room I waited patiently for the payoff and without missing a beat ole Zipper Face struck! Maddie, convinced the figure was a prop, nearly leaped out of her shoes.

Later, we were pursued by a tongue-wangling fiend who gave Maddie a serious case of the heebie-jeebies when he determinedly scaled the walls of his cage and began to crawl over the top of the structure. In another instance we traversed a narrow hallway and at the end, where the path took a turn to the right, tucked into the corner sat a stone skeletal bust a top a pedestal. I first encountered this gag last year while touring House of the Dead at TerrorTown — it startled me then and without fail it put a little pep into Maddie’s step.

The Realm of Haunted Minds is a good haunted house at a wonderful location and is suitable for all ages. I would suggest that fog and strobe lights be put to greater use as a means to disorient and confuse; the tight quarters would be very conducive to this effect and would serve to ratchet up the tension.

I also felt that the opportunity for a big scare was missed at the conclusion of the ghoul’s rules at the beginning of the attraction. There was a door to the left of us as we stood at the blood line, it bore something of a resemblance to an Iron Maiden. When our decrepit host had finished with his speech the doors opened automatically and we plunged into the attraction, but how wonderful would it have been if a chainsaw wielding nut, for example, had burst forth from the same structure and forced us to scramble around him?! The timing was perfect for just such a scare and what better way to keep haunters guessing than by turning a vintage staple on its ear?

Rating: 3.75 stars

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2 Responses to “Elements and Ambience Rule Realm of Haunted Minds”

  1. Suzanne Teem Says:

    Glad to hear Madison had fun! Love you guys. Keep up the great the writing. Aunt Suzanne

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