Disappointment Ravages Opening Night

This entry was originally posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 and is the infamous chronicle of our highly disappointing journey to Jackson’s Underworld and subpar return to the Homer Mill.

I hadn’t slept much on the day in question and did experience a memorable hallucination as we drove home that night; as we approached an underpass on the expressway I witnessed a thick, hairy spider, much larger than our car, clinging to the underbelly of the bridge. It began to move slowly as we approached, flexing it’s legs as if to crawl topside.

I had the presence of mind to realize that it was merely a figment of my imagination caused by sleep deprivation but it was horrifying just the same; the thought of it gives me goosebumps to this day.

What was supposed to be an electric start to the 2009 haunt season was quite possibly the biggest disappointment in Haunt Trinity history. After making the one hour and twenty minute drive to Jackson we made a quick stop at Luke’s new apartment and then with Luke and Heather in tow we drove the short distance to Jackson’s Underworld.

The building was imposing; I had the distinct feeling that it used to be a school although nothing would ever confirm my suspicions. After purchasing our tickets (tickets we were charged $5 too much for, more on this later) we proceeded to the entrance of the haunt and divided into two groups. Luke, Heather, and John entered first. Jason, Richard, and I followed several minutes later after receiving instructions from a condemned animatronic freak featuring an amusing extend-o-neck in the fashion of Inspector Gadget.

Unfortunately it was all down hill from there. I wouldn’t say Jackson’s Underworld blew its load early; it simply had no load to give. Everything started off okay I suppose, a very creepy zombie couple waltzed as we entered one room, a two-faced corpse lurched from a casket in another but ten minutes into the haunt we had yet to come across a single live actor. The worn school house hallways would have been conducive to some quality scares but not a creep lurked and soon the eerily quaint setting gave way to black hallway after black hallway. Let me be clear, this was not an attempt at an old school haunt; in fact the hallways were only semi-dark. At times these halls meandered so long without anything happening that the whole experience took on the feel of a maze, a maze without the enjoyment of a challenge that is. This cycle of sterile boredom would become a theme throughout the haunt as a series of hallways gave way to an uninspired scene which would trail off into another series of hallways.

There was a decent sheet room and a dizzying vortex that threw me strangely off kilter for some time but it was painfully obvious at the half way point that this place just didn’t have it. We had caught up to Luke, Heather, and John by this point and it became clear that we were resigned to make our own fun. I turned my attention to scaring Heather as a collective sense of tomfoolery took hold of the group. Shortly, we came upon a “womb of doom” and Luke joined the prestigious ranks of those who have likened the experience to that of birth. We were coming to the end now and while I kept hoping to find some redeeming feature no such thing would manifest.

We did witness some first rate animatronics but nothing seemed to be integrated very well and it was all stuff we’d quite literally witnessed before at the Homer Mill. There were a few actors of note but they were only noteworthy due to their inability to produce a scare. I was amused by a child ghoulie who stood behind a set of bars wielding a knife. He seemed hungry so I extended my index finger and wiggled it near the bars as to solicit a chomp but the diminutive monster ignored the tasty morsel and instead slipped through the bars and once among us seemed merely bemused and bewildered. A short while later we came upon a gutted corpse lying on a slab but despite our lengthy provocations (threats that included a right squibbing from the JVD) the actress made no attempt to frighten us. The incident so piqued Jason’s curiosity that he later offered up what I’m sure he felt to be a succinct observation.

The greatest disappointment by an actor however was reserved for what was quite possibly the coolest room in the entire haunt. We entered what looked like a massive boiler room, to the left a man hung above our heads, a sickle stuck through his chest. To the right a body lie in decay, a dark path ran between bulks of machinery and something lurked in the bowels; a big scare was sure to come. A shrouded ghoul stumbled forward slowly and as it approached I wondered aloud what type of creature it could be. It was then that Heather made a remark that did not fully register until we had exited the haunt, as the ghoul grew close I thought to myself, “Surely she didn’t just say that.” The promise of a big scare was quickly evaporated as the rotting cretin turned and skulked away as slowly and silently as it had approached. A collective confusion gripped the room while a part of me wondered if Heather’s comment may have hastened the ghoul’s retreat.

Nobody will accuse Jackson’s Underworld of offering a short attraction but everybody should lament how poorly the space is utilized. The haunt takes approximately thirty minutes to traverse more than half of which is spent walking through scarcely inhabited hallways. The scenes are average at best offering little to no suspense or actor interaction. The few good areas that could have produced solid, creative scares yielded nothing which displays a lack of creativity and caring. Jackson’s Underworld excels in no area of haunting to call the experience mediocre would be a compliment bordering on outright exaggeration; Jason summarized it best by labeling Jackson’s Underworld anemic. An imitation of the Homer Mill would have been preferable to this bastardization.

“I think it’s a half-breed”

-Heather, speculating on the nature of the boiler room ghoul who was ironically portrayed by an actor that very well may have been a “halfie”

“She was probably just pretending to be a prop so that we didn’t have our way with her.”

-Jason, continuing his rich tradition of making compulsive, sexually deviant remarks while haunting

Rating: 2 stars

Luke and Heather headed back to their apartment while the rest of us pushed forward to the Homer Mill. Before we hit the dusty trail a stop at the liquor store was in order as Jason and Disco harbored a desire to get blind drunk which they did with amazing rapidity. Thirty minutes later the impressive structure of the Homer Mill came into view and our night of disappointment would continue.

As with Jackson’s Underworld we were once again charged $20 to enter the attraction despite the fact that both had been advertised as $15 during the month of September. We debated the point with an employee who claimed that the ad in the Fear Finder was a misprint. We paid the admission and proceeded to the entrance of the haunt where we were informed that the third floor of the haunt had been closed for the season. If you’ve never visited the Homer Mill it’s important to understand that the third floor is truly what separates this haunt from all the rest; it’s the reason Homer Mill was such a special experience last year and its removal was tantamount to castration.

Due to the omission of the third floor the haunt was considerably shorter which the operators compensated for with a healthy increase in live actors. The actors were well timed and displayed some heart; fundamentals that are always appreciated by the Haunt Trinity. The animatronics were great once more and a series of statically charged walls zapped our senses in an unexpected and unfamiliar way. There was also a brand new meat cooler featuring a hyped up, chainsaw wielding lunatic who thrilled us with his macabre charisma. Unfortunately a familiar layout sapped some of the punch from the commanding aura of the building.

We emerged from the haunt and were highly disappointed to find the Homer Mill’s unique restaurant closed. We proceeded to the bar where Jason, John, and Richard paid $10.50 for a pitcher of beer. Apparently it was the night of a thousand disappointments. The ridiculous prices and lack of food acted as a stimulus upon our departure. It was a long drive home; one filled with tasteless jokes, sleep deprived hallucinations, and plenty of discussion about the disappointing outing.

Rating: 3 stars

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One Response to “Disappointment Ravages Opening Night”

  1. […] Disappointment Ravages Opening Night (2009) […]

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