Haunt Season Hits Stride at Chainsaw Creek

This entry chronicles a memorable visit to Chainsaw Creek which was located in Toledo, Ohio. It was one of the earliest, if not the first, experience we ever had at a multi-attraction venue. County Morgue, one of the four attractions that was featured, won the 2008 Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award.

I hold numerous fond memories from this outing and have always considered it a formative event in our haunted history. Sadly, we never returned to Chainsaw Creek. We wanted to embark on a return trip in 2009 but weren’t able to work it into our schedule. The haunt folded after that season and has not returned since. 

This post was originally published on Wednesday, October 22, 2008.

On Saturday, October 18th the Haunt Trinity set out for Ohio with the intent of visiting Chainsaw Creek in Toledo and TerrorTown in Maumee but due to our late start we were only able to visit Chainsaw Creek. Chainsaw Creek features four attractions: County Morgue, Haunted Prison, The Black Swamp, and Carn-Evil. I was some what surprised at the size of the crowd and equally thrown off by the large security presence. Music blared from speakers as elaborately disguised ghouls paraded around the area frightening hauntgoers. I immediately liked the atmosphere of this place, the night had potential.

The four attractions sat in a corner of the Franklin Park Mall parking lot as we approached Carn-Evil was to our left, The Black Swamp and Haunted Prison stood directly before us, and County Morgue was to the right. We bought our tickets and decided to hit County Morgue first as it seemed to be the main attraction. As we waited in line we were entertained by a monster-sized clown with a curiously low set head that bobbed wildly as the creature marched about; I would later get a picture with this freakish being. County Morgue was constructed from a large party tent with a front wall made from wood. It would be easy to write such an appearance off as cheap but the frugal technique worked well here. After watching some idiotic kid fail in an attempt to weasel his way into the attraction it was our time to enter.

County Morgue offers a unique blend of old school and smash mouth haunting. Strobe lights flash throughout the haunt and hard, driving rock music pulses combining to create a disorienting effect all while the adrenaline gets pumping. Upon entering the haunt the first room holds quite a rare sight — an unkempt girl sits in a wheelchair, wearing a helmet. She held her left arm aloft and twiddled her fingers in rapid fashion…and then she spoke and proceeded to warn us of monsters in her own special way. Yeah, I was surprised too. I’ve never before witnessed the mentally retarded reduced to comic fodder for the sake of a haunted attraction. I had to admit, this place had some balls and the effect was nothing short of hilarious if not crass. The very next room did not disappoint either as we approached a doorway a legless, bloodied, zombie-nun crawled from beneath an unidentified structure and began violently gnashing at our legs. This place was crapping on all sorts of taboos! I loved it!

As we continued through the haunt I realized that I was starting to feel apprehension at every turn and that is not something easily accomplished on one such as I, this haunt was doing a hell of a job creating suspense like no other haunt this year. Many torsos hung upside down from the ceiling and each was extremely life like some of the props were even equipped with a gruesome twitching effect. Half way through the haunt we were confronted by an impish girl with a gaping head wound who excitedly and repeatedly proclaimed, “Can you help me”, we just laughed which must have rubbed her the wrong way because she then began expressing a desire to munch upon our flesh. We left the jazzed up cannibal to her own devices and were shortly confronted by a man cradling his own entrails. Highly entertained by this point we were almost sad to depart the haunt as a demented doctor pursued us with a chainsaw. At the haunt’s exit Wheelchair Girl bade us a fond farewell with her simply charming smile.

I’m always hesitant to prescribe individual ratings to a haunt with multiple attractions because as a haunt enthusiast I know that a few are there to function as side shows but County Morgue was so good that I feel it’s an insult not to give it its own rating. Truly the only knock against the haunt was that it was short but again that’s to be expected when one haunt, Chainsaw Creek, features four attractions. So now that I’ve spewed forth that tangled mess of metadiscourse…

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Next we headed to Carn-Evil, the 3D haunted attraction at Chainsaw Creek. Twice before the Haunt Trinity has set foot in 3D haunted attractions and on both occasions there was something left to be desired, I was anxious to see what Carn-Evil had to offer. While we waited in line we were entertained by a ghoulish goob who did do his job well but was unfortunately ruled partially a douche due to his ICP hoodie. There was also a behemoth grim reaper type with glowing red eyes who skulked the grounds and pointed a threatening finger at haunters. Thus we entered Carn-Evil and while we certainly weren’t blown away we weren’t disappointed. Carn-Evil was thin on live actors but the few who did populate the haunt did their craft a service and possessed excellent timing. We groped through techni-colored passageways and worked our way through a series of maze-like false walls. Everything here was relatively subtle (aside from the shockingly fluorescent 3D paint of course) but it seemed to balance nicely. The attraction ends when hauntgoers cross a great black hole which pushes the 3D effect to the max. Again, this haunt didn’t light our senses on fire but it did reestablish our faith that the 3D attraction can serve as more than mere filler. Jason, John, and I all agreed that it was the best 3D haunted attraction we had visited.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

The lines were becoming considerably shorter now and after a slightly banal conversation about haunts with a possibly stoned employee at the entrance of The Black Swamp we were granted access into this third attraction. The swamp theme is cool in theory but if it’s not pulled off just right it can become boring and lame. Chainsaw Creek does a pretty good job at creating the illusion of a swamp like atmosphere; typically haunts achieve this through a combination of heavy fog and green lasers. The first turn of the haunt revealed a lunatic clown who laughed joyously as he manically proclaimed, “I want to eat your face!” He delivered the line with such crazed joy and I really appreciated this actor’s effort, sometimes the entire show can live and die by the actors. The Black Swamp was a little light on details but did feature all the right characters for the setting including a Black Lagoon type creature that dashed at us out of the fog from beneath a wall. Like County Morgue it suffered slightly from being too brief.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Upon exiting we joined the line to the final haunted attraction, Haunted Prison. This haunt featured a great animatronic at the entrance, behind a set of bars a man is strapped to an electric chair and is of course repeatedly executed. Once we had entered it became apparent that Haunted Prison was fairly bland. Hauntgoers wind their way through a series of chain linked fence for the majority of the haunt while a fair number of workers provide decent scares. Admittedly I had grown tired by this point of the night and my wits were not very sharp but even with that said there just wasn’t a whole lot to Haunted Prison, it was just a bit too generic.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Chainsaw Creek on the whole scored positive marks and I would consider a return visit during the 2009 haunt season. The atmosphere exudes a wild and fun brand of scares which is underscored by the band of wandering creatures. County Morgue is undeniably the crown jewel; with more room the operators could turn this attraction into a full-fledged haunt itself. Carn-Evil fills the role of solid side show admirably and has some potential to expand as well. While Haunted Prison could use some work The Black Swamp has promise but it’s likely that these two will be altered next year as multi-attraction haunts rarely feature the same line up year to year. The price is right at $20 so if you’re a haunt enthusiast and you have a free Friday or Saturday it’s worth the drive from the greater Detroit area as well. I’m definitely interested to see how Chainsaw Creek evolves for the 2009 season.

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