Erebus, The Realm of Darkness & Deadly Intentions Electrify Halloween Night

This historic post was originally published on Monday, November 3, 2008 and chronicled a momentous, Halloween visit to three prominent Michigan haunted attractions — Erebus and The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and Deadly Intention in Warren.

This was the only night in all of our years of haunting that I decided to bring a hand-held tape recorder along to document some of the fun. In addition to reviews this post also included a timeline of events throughout the night and a series of humorous quotes lifted straight from the recording. It was a fun idea and a great tool to supplement the written notes I jot down at every attraction we tour; I’m not sure why I haven’t made it a standard practice.  

If I were to compile a list of our top ten most memorable nights of haunting, October 31, 2008 would surely crack the countdown.

It was Halloween night, my faced smeared as a deranged harlequin, the Haunt Trinity set off into the ink black night with much haunting to be done. Jerry joined us on this landmark occasion, a night that took us from Lincoln Park to Warren to Pontiac and back. Our first stop was Deadly Intentions a haunt none of us had previously visited.

There is nothing impressive about the location, held in what appears to be a former grocery store surrounded by a maligned urban sector Deadly Intentions’ local atmosphere won’t win any awards or attract thriving crowds but if you’re deterred by misleading appearances an excellent haunt you are sure to miss.

Deadly Intentions considers this no frills approach a badge of honor and wastes no time smacking guests in the face with a smash mouth, old school approach to haunting. Guests initially traverse a long, dark hallway before entering a room made to resemble the waiting area of a prison thus establishing the haunt’s theme. There is a desk, a security monitor, and a frightening guard who orders guests to sign-in. After doing so he throws back the prison gate and shuts it behind you. Deadly Intentions does what successful, old school haunts do: deliver knock out shows by using pitch black passages and intense actors; everything is well timed and no detail is over looked. We were entertained by a clown who rides a mobile section of wall, propositioned by a female inmate who wanted to play a macabre game involving our intestines, and lured into a room where we were surrounded by a half dozen ghouls who taunted us with chants of “little piggies.”

Later guests come upon a structure set behind mesh wire fencing; a man wearing an orange jumpsuit emerges and with outstretched arms pleads for help. His eyes have been gouged out and despite briefly pursuing the ole Disco and I there was no help for this sorry bastard. Next guests wind their way through a series of prison scenes where lunatics burst forth from holding cells while maniacs send sparks flying your way. A girl pleads for your help from above but a raging night watchman violently brandishes a baton and forces haunters into the next room which contains a casket. As guests approach the casket and the body it holds the opposite wall, made to resemble a morgue, collapses inward forcing patrons closer to the dead head in the coffin. As you exit this room a mad man with a pistol surprises haunters with a loud blast and offers some parting insults as you leave.

Deadly Intentions puts forth a great effort without the aid of expensive animatronics or other flashy effects. The fundamentals of haunting are put to good use here and that application of classic techniques results in an excellent haunting experience.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Next on our list of haunts was the formidable Realm of Darkness, the home of the mysterious and elusive wizard. In 2007 the Haunt Trinity tabbed ROD as the Haunt of the Year but last January the haunt experienced a flood that destroyed the vast majority of props and sets. This event forced the brains behind the operation to build the show anew and that fact intrigued each member of the Haunt Trinity.

On our way from Warren to Pontiac we decided to place a call to the infamous B. Mo with the sole intent to mock and ridicule him. No doubt inebriated in some distant podunk corner of Owosso he failed to answer his phone and thus he was left the following voice mail:

“B. Mo, B. Mizzemo, River Rat Morrison, Devil Douche! Listen up, it’s the Haunt Trinity calling you. We’re out crusin’ the streets, cruisin’ Michigan tonight. We hit Deadly Intentions in Warren, next Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and the twin terror Erebus. Eh, if you wanna join us man, if you get this message within the hour we got good news man. Erebus, we called, guess what? They take the EBT card. That’s right, cash, credit, EBT that’s their new slogan there. So it’s B. Mo ready if you wanna show up, you can come on down to Erebus and ugh, you know afterward we can stop at the local liquor store if you’re hungry, I don’t know if Big Boy is on the EBT bandwagon yet or what. Alright B. Mizzemo you give me a call back palzee. I know you’ll probably disregard this message and say whatever (clicking noise) don’t bother me I’ll just roll up a j and smoke it. But you gots to call B. Mo and let us know what the Fright Train was like and what you spent your Halloween doing.”

A short time later Branden would return the call and in his drunken state he truly believed that Erebus was accepting EBT cards as payment. I talked to him for several minutes before we entered Pontiac and after a few ill advised turns by Jason we came to the home of the wizard, The Realm of Darkness.

Like last year we entered the building and made our way across a draw bridge and then into the lobby of the castle. In the lobby guests watch a video explaining the history of the land, the rise of a tyrannical wizard, and the madness into which the towns people descended. Next, we made our way through a hallway and then into a second lobby. This second room is the last stop before entering the heart of The Realm and this year it was crawling with hooded druids. The druids were handing each group a gem, the tokens usually collected throughout the mysterious Realm via games of chance; each gem allows your party a chance to unlock the door to the wizard’s chamber. A druid presented our party with a gem and I seized the opportunity to indulge this character in this wonderful fantasy. “Do you know the wizard,” I asked. “Yes, I know him,” answered the druid calmly. “I have a message for him. Will you deliver this message,” I asked. “Yes,” responded the druid. “You tell the wizard that we’re coming for that ass. He’s gonna pay what he owes.” I couldn’t tell you what went through this man’s head but to his great credit he didn’t miss a beat staying completely in character. After a brief pause to consider my request he responded, “I like your style. Here take this and tell no one. This is a special gem.” I couldn’t believe it. My nonsensical tomfoolery had just gained us an extra shot at the wizard, I told the group that this was surely a good omen.

Shortly after we crossed the threshold and began our quest to conquer the wizard in earnest. The first encounter on our path was with a rather chunky ghoul who demanded that one of us read from a book that sat open upon a desk. The room was dark and it was difficult to read the text but this ghoul was persistent so I decided to do a little improvisation, “He dropped his pants and grabbed his ankles,” I read as my cohorts burst into laughter and then as if innocent I looked up from the book and asked, “What the hell is this?” The ghoul broke character and looked at the text and asked, “Where does it say that?” We all had a hardly laugh before she regained her composure and ordered us into the next room. Once there a male ghoul dressed as a waiter greeted us and then insulted my make up stating that I looked “like an idiot.” The female ghoul from the previous room had apparently followed us into the room and she took issue with the comment stating, “I think he’s pretty cute.” I wasn’t sure if any of this was part of either of their acts and when I looked at Jason he had this “Hey-if-she-wants-it-man” expression on his face. I was starting to believe that maybe the theory he first put forth over a year ago at The Haunting in Adrian had some merit after all. The horny ghoul departed with a creepy smile and the waiter displayed to us a macabre feast before leading us to a staircase at the end of the room. Before any of us could begin our ascent he tossed aside the stairs which collapsed out of sight revealing a secret passage way. It was a neat trick that I’ve never witnessed any where else.

We continued our trek through the shadowy corners of ROD experiencing a blend of familiar scenes and unknown horrors. In one room a deranged executioner straggled a hapless victim and then taunted us for being “cocky” and “just like the rest.” He told us that we’d end up in his dungeon when his boss, the wizard, was through with us. We also traversed an elaborate crypt the keeper of which went nose-to-nose with me for a solid thirty seconds or more, I admired that worker’s commitment. ROD also features a cave complete with running water, a scene that truly makes you feel as if you’re underground. New this year was a sheet room similar to what we saw at the Homer Mill and there was also a weaving pathway in which the walls were completely mirrors. A deadly jester stalked the reflected path but what was actually the scariest moment of this sequence was repeatedly mistaking my own appearance for that of a monster due to my aforementioned make up.

We were unsuccessful in what turned out to be our lone game of chance, in 2006 and 2007 ROD featured three such games; this point would be much lamented when we realized that we’d come to the end of the haunt. Winding our way toward the end of the treacherous realm we encountered a curvy ghoul who snarled at us while gyrating her body against a wall in a rather lewd fashion, I was sure I saw a triumphant gleam in Jason’s eyes. Further down the path we were ambushed by the most effective animatronics we’d witnessed all haunt season. A pair of large, growling dogs leapt from the ground and landed on a table to our right. The resulting clang was very loud and gave all of us a good scare. Shortly thereafter we spotted the cursed pirate ship that we had heard tell of and soon found ourselves waiting in line for our chance at the wizard. Once we had submitted our gems we waited briefly and were then told to proceed through the door before us and then up the staircase to the left. This had not happened last year or the year before that and as we ascended the staircase we prepared ourselves with a final showdown with the wizard. A short walk down a hallway to a descending path of stairs robbed us of all hope though, we were entering the bowels of the pirate ship which led to the haunt’s exit. The wizard had slipped through our grasp once more.

Despite our disappointment at yet another defeat at the hands of the wizard we had to admit that The Realm of Darkness had delivered a great show once more. No, it didn’t quite live up to its Haunt of the Year status of 2007 but it was close. What hurt the haunt this year was our growing familiarity with its structure as well as the reduction in the games of chance and the overall length of the attraction. Despite all of this it remains one of the finest haunts that we’ve visited and if you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing ROD it should be on your short list of must see haunts. Few attractions have such an attention to detail, here you’ll forget you’re in a haunted attraction at times because the atmosphere is that emmersive. The chainsaw man at the end of the haunt deserves special note as well. While in line I watched this guy chase group after group straight into the parking lot at top speed.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

We had arrived at our final destination, the last scream of the 2008 haunt season, the goliath of down town Pontiac: Erebus. In 2006 the four story monster edifice was the unquestioned king of the season and as we approached its towering walls the streets were thronged with revelers and freaks alike. This was my third trip to Erebus and it was going to be unique, not just for me, but for you readers of Hallowblog as well. This trip through the depths of Erebus was to be like none other because it was to be documented in the first live walkthrough in Haunt Trinity history.

The brains behind the scenes at Erebus continue with the premise that the haunt is merely a front, a lie created by the mad scientist who uses the building for time travel experiments. By advertising the place as a haunted attraction this lunatic is able to lure in unsuspecting victims who are shortly transported through time and space. It’s a fun theme if not a bit worn but the operators here do not fail to send visitors through a bizarre and eerie assortment of scenes from a Jurassic period jungle to a dank Middle Ages dungeon to a modern day cemetery.

Although the haunt is largely the same show that visitors enjoyed in 2007 several changes helped to mix up the overall dynamics. A handful of rooms stripped away the monstrous animatronics and elaborate props in favor of a more traditional feel. The change of pace showed off the versatility that Erebus is capable of and something I’d like to see the haunt continue to do in the future. The best example of this occurred in what we came to call the zombie room. Guests enter an ordinary looking living room well ordinary save for the corpse that a lustful zombie is devouring. The undead menace chases guests into a long closet full of swaying clothes and shadowed ghouls. Also of note in this vein are the compact, boarded corridors that force haunters to crouch as they move forward. I especially enjoy the bright lights that bleed through the cracks in the floor creating a disorienting effect.

Erebus was a lot of fun this year certainly better than last year although not quite as thrilling as the 2006 showcase. Make no mistake, Erebus is a unique haunt and that fact is not due to its sheer size alone. Erebus is a mad house, a funhouse on crack, a haunted house jacked on anabolic steriods. If you’ve never experienced Erebus you are doing your haunting experience a huge disservice. The staff here deserves a lot of credit for crowd control as well. It drives me nuts whenever my group runs into other haunters because somebody is usually going to get screwed out of certain surprises and with such a massive crowd at Erebus it’s bound to happen at times. Erebus has a system of periodic seperation that works pretty well and although the occassional run in does occur it’s not as magnified as it might be at other haunts because Erebus does such a great job putting on a macabre circus. My only complaint applies to the relative similiarity of the haunt from year to year; a major shake up would be welcome in my eyes.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

And with that we close out the 2008 haunt season, a memorable odyssey full of fright, mystery, and laughter. This season the Haunt Trinity visited more haunts than in any past year something we’ll look to due yet again next year. So raise your glass as yet another era passes because here we are once more at hallow’s end.

A Halloween Timeline

7:31-The Haunt Trinity follows Southfield to east bound I-94 en route to Deadly Intentions in Warren.

7:42-The highs and lows of the 2008 haunt season discussed.

7:54-We arrive at Deadly Intentions and are slightly surprised by the depressing locale.

8:44-Back in the car following our trek through Deadly Intentions none of us give a damn about the shady atmosphere any longer.

8:49-As we find our way back to the expressway it is agreed that Deadly Intentions was a riot of a haunt.

9:02-While on our way to The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac we amuse ourselves with a prank call to Branden, he fails to answer his phone which resulted in an amusing voice mail.

9:07-A loud and drunken B. Mo returns my call and offers his insights on the economy and Halloween.

9:20-Jason takes unintended detours through Pontiac while seeking The Realm of Darkness.

9:30-We arrive at the home of the evil wizard and hope to avenge our previous failures.

10:57-We emerge from The Realm of Darkness defeated once again, we were however thoroughly entertained.

11:34-While we wait in the front lobby of Erebus we discuss Haunt of the Year contenders.

12:00-Awaiting entrance into the scanning chamber.

12:07-Released from the chamber we enter the heart of the haunted edifice.

12:30-We escape the horror of the monster Erebus, Jason attempts to corral the Chain Man.

12:35-In the car we discuss the merits of Erebus pausing briefly to taunt the Chain Man before leaving Pontiac.

1:20-We stop at an all night diner on Southfield in Lincoln Park. Our waitress gives us free food, flirts shamelessly, nearly pours water on Jerry’s head, and admits to drinking at work. My food was delicious.

2:20-While departing the diner Jason insists that the waitress has flashed us. We give our final thoughts on the season and head home exhausted.

The Best of Hallowblog Live

“Didn’t they have an alligator guy come on and go chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp…chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp?”

“Where…wha? I don’t remember that.”

-My bemused reply to Jason when he made a bizarre remark about an alligator man that nobody else seemed to remember.

“If I’d of known that two weeks ago I’d of been there for sure.”

-Branden via cell phone after I’d convinced him that Erebus was accepting Bridge cards as a form of payment.

“Well remind me next year and maybe I’ll pack a fuckin’ sandwich.”

-Jason’s retort after I insisted that The Realm of Darkness takes 30-45 minutes to traverse.

“Did they give everyone a special gem in the beginning?”

“Nah man, it was my wit that got us that gem.”

-Me, clarifying for Jason, the origin of our special gem.

“Whoa look out here! A mega T-Rex comin’ at ya! OH GOD! IT’S BITING MY LEG! It’s knocking me over! Oh my God! It nearly took out me and Jerry! Jason’s been knocked down by it! HE’S HEADBUTTING IT! JASON’S HEADBUTTING THE T-REX!!!

-Me, while in Erebus, thoroughly entertaining myself with the running commentary for Hallowblog Live.

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