Psycho Path Sleeper Cell

Friday, October 10 began as a hopeful evening but an illness and an out-of-town status had sidelined my usual cohorts; leaving me without a partner in crime.

My initial plan was to tour all that Wiard’s Night Terrors had to offer but as the mimutes and hours slipped by it became clear that there just wouldn’t be enough time in the night to enjoy such a haunted smorgasboard.

I shifted gears and decided to stay close to home in order to salvage the night and fortunately I found some friends willing to play ball.

For a few years now, Psycho Path in Flat Rock had caught my eye but each October the clock seemed to run out of time on the haunt season before I could pay a visit to the local attraction. The lesson here is to follow your gut because the resulting experience turned out to be the sleeper hit of the 2014 haunt season.

I joined my friend Phil, his wife Maggie and a friend of hers at the Community Lutheran Church on Gibraltar Road in Flat Rock. We purchased our tickets and then waited in line inside of a gymnasium before we exited through the back of the building and walked a path into the woods where we found the entrance for the Gosch Brother’s Circus of Horrors.

I was immediately struck by the facade of the attraction and the quality of the overall ambience — there is a certain charm of a hidden show in the woods. The aforementioned facade towered over those waiting in line and bore the gigantic image of clown and was situated so that all who entered would do so by passing directly through the jaws of the fearsome harlequin. In addition gears, pipes and steel girders adorned the fanciful piece.

To our right stood a barker of sorts a top a podium, his entire left arm had been replaced by an intricate contraption which he soon demonstrated as a functioning gatling gun. Beside him was a silent assistant who wore a neat top hat, thick goggles and seemed generally satisfied with the proceedings. While the larger-than-life facade loomed in the background this whimsical duo entertained the crowd; the whole scene seemed a mishmash of carnivale and steam punk and the resulting effect had me spellbound.

Once we had gained entry into the gaping maw of the super-sized clown we were surprised to find ourselves inside of a circus tent. There were support beams, a stage and bales of hay upon which the audience was meant to sit. A theatrical woman stood on stage and bade us to settle into our seats. Shortly, a male counterpart appeared on stage opposite her and warned us of the wondrous freaks we would encounter during our journey through this most curious of attractions. He also used a bit of well-timed comedy to insult our general appearance before the whole tent was engulfed in darkness and our party accosted by a ring of clowns!

When the hoodlum harlequins relented we departed the big top through a door on the far side of the tent, a strange sight greeted us as we rounded a corner — was that a floating head mere yards in front of us? Indeed, it was floating and glowing a magical shade of green. Wait a second?! Did my eyes deceive me? Was that a second head bobbing beside the first? Did the Gosch Brothers possess siamese twins who were aglow in the gloom like a pair of monstrous stars?!!

I must say that the Gosch Brother’s Circus of Horrors made good use of haunt fundamentals, employing various dead ends and some of the best concealed hidden passages I’ve ever encountered.  In one polka-dotted area I found the exit by pure luck while I haphazardly groped about the room; truly an expertly blended seam.

Soon, we stumbled upon a hive of clowns who bamboozled us with misdirection through a series of halls where swirling pinpricks of light twinkled amidst the fog. It was here that I was most impressed by the level of detail paid to costuming and makeup as the actors were decked out from head to toe. It was also here that we crossed paths with an animatronic Pennywise which signaled yet another dead end.

As we traveled deeper into the Gosch Brother’s Circus of Horrors we intruded upon a knife-throwing act, refused to be the playmates of three identically dressed, heavily bandaged girls and were guided by a husky harlequin who was surprisingly spry and had the odd habit of honking his own nose. Was there no end to the madness in this house of horrors?! What had happened to those girls faces any way? What could possibly require so much gauge and bandages?

We neared the end of the attraction and little did I know that I was about to get an answer to that question. We had entered a sort of dollmaker’s workshop, a plump clown (yeah, another one! this place had an infestation on its hands!) cackled incessantly; upon a table to our right was a living abomination. Crouched on the table was the remnant of a creature in mid girl-to-doll transformation — sharp wires jutted out of her mouth at every angle.

The Gosch Brother’s had indeed acquired quite a tabernacle of terror for display in their Circus of Horrors but it was time for these townies to hit the dusty trail, a departure hastened by the sound of a chainsaw ripping through the night. One cannot be sure of such things but a member of our group may have possibly fled with arms flailing above head looking all the world like Olive Oyl from Popeye.

We boarded a wagon intent to put some distance between us and the Gosch Brother’s Circus of Horrors; a short hayride through the woods brought us back to the relative safety from whence we had come.

I was pleasantly surprised by the experience at Psycho Path and came away with precious few criticisms. I do wish the rear facade had matched the rest of the excellent theme and in general I thought the entire production deserved something more inspired and inventive than the standard chainsaw finale, but more than anything I wished I had found the time in seasons past to tour this hidden gem. Rest assured that it’s on my radar now and if this trip was indication of things to come, the Psycho Path will become a local favorite in short order.

Rating: 4 stars

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