Sinister Infusion Fuels Resurgent Realm of Darkness

The midnight hour loomed large as we approached the entrance for The Realm of Darkness and the cold air seemed to bite down into our very bones. This would be our seventh trip through the wizard’s dominion and the final haunted attraction of the 2014 Halloween season.

Realm-of-Darkness

BOWBEE COME TO DWELL INSIDE HOUSE OF NIGHTMARES 3D

Our first order of business was to tour the 3D haunted attraction known as House of Nightmares which was also featured at this location in 2013 when it was called Carnevil 3D. With the name change I expected also a shift in theme but to my delight it remained that of a twisted carnival — one of my very favorite settings.

The 3D attraction seemed to have been expanded since 2013 and unlike most haunted attractions of this nature, the 3D artwork splashed throughout House of Nightmares really popped off the walls. Huge spiders dangled from webs, skulls floated through starlit space and neon-colored liquid even oozed from leaky pipes. This was easily the most impressive 3D artwork we’d witnessed inside a haunted attraction.

A few additional well-placed characters would improve the overall experience as the haunt was light on actors, but we were highly amused by a short female clown armed with a raspy voice who demonstrated the timeless classic known as the Truffle Shuffle.

As we neared the conclusion of House of Nightmares 3D, we were startled by a rotten torso that suddenly dropped from above the frame of a door and hung upside down just above our heads. It was a well-timed and effective use of an animatronic. It wasn’t long thereafter that we came to a brightly lit quarter of ultra-violence where Bowbee the Clown claimed another pound of flesh in a dramatic flourish.

Rating: 4 stars

REALM OF DARKNESS REIMAGINED, REINVIGORATED

The Realm of Darkness was as detailed and immersive as ever and while a small army of animatronics remained, it was the actors who stole the show and delivered a not soon too be forgotten experience.

We had barely entered the attraction when a mist of simulated zombie brains sprayed me directly in the face; to my right John shook with laughter. Once I had wiped the moisture from my face and eyes we plunged deeper into the haunt and soon found ourselves navigating a room stuffed with all manner of dolls. One in particular caught my attention, it was several feet tall with a bulbous, unnaturally large head, a rictus grin and bore more than a passing resemblance to Howdy Doody. I fixed the doll with a penetrating glare until we were clear of the room for there was malice in his eyes.

Soon we entered a cluttered kitchen which was inhabited by two of our old acquaintances — Bizarro Laura Ingalls and the hefty Squalaha. Bizarro Laura Ingalls was a frenzied ball of energy and as usual it was difficult to discern through her babble whether she was angry, amused or aroused. Meanwhile, Squalaha made his intentions perfectly clear despite the fact that he too possessed no ability to speak English; it would seem that no translation is required in the language of love. When the big guy wasn’t busy shoving me into a refrigerator Squalaha was found making overt sexual gestures in John’s direction. When John merely laughed off the offers Squalaha vigorously demonstrated his skills on an enormous, rampaging gargoyle.

Yes, the crazies had been unleashed upon The Realm of Darkness and if we were to survive the night we would simply have to play along with all of their twisted games and entertain their delusions.

Near the half-way point of our journey we were approached by an abnormally tall lady who wore an old fashioned white dress and donned a plain jabberwocky mask. Her gangly frame, swift mannerisms and high-pitched voice made for an unsettling combination. She seemed to flirt with me for a moment but I was suspicious that this trickster wasn’t what she claimed to be. When I voiced my suspicion that she was actually a he, the odd lady challenged me to prove my theory. I playfully began to lift the end of her dress and had my hand quickly swatted away. “I’m a lady,” shouted the character in mock offense. The exchange was a good bit of improvisation and the slap of the hand was well executed; the whole scene gave John and I a good laugh.

We ventured forward and were forced to play a game of blood-soaked Tic-Tac-Toe with a strange and hideous creature. When I defeated the lowly monster he seemed to grow agitated so we took our leave of him only to be confronted by a guy who claimed to be a doctor. The particular branch of medicine that he practiced was never made clear to us but he was adamant that a man named Ken (who neither John or myself could see) was an unrepentant asshole. I tried to reason with the animated medicine man and when that failed I thought I’d lighten the mood with a few jokes but that only caused the doctor to make crude, albeit humorous, sexual remarks before he ultimately brought the conversation back to the invisible Ken.

Onward we pushed and encountered a fidgety girl who brandished implements of torture but before her exact intentions were revealed a weird, human-sized rabbit entered the scene holding a knife. The rabbit just sort of stood in the corner and cocked its head from side to side as it considered us. The Realm of Darkness was definitely approaching a threshold of strangeness most can scarcely imagine.

We left the pair to their own devices and soon squeezed through an area that featured a conveyor belt of torsos. Did one of those torsos belong to Ken the Asshole? Elsewhere, we witnessed the electrocution of a gaunt, skeletal creature and were surprised when the wretch made a last minute dash for us just as we exited the room — the latest example of the burgeoning practice of the so called actor-matronics.

Our fun was almost at an end but not before we were accosted by the crotchety skeletal pirate known as Captain Sage who pursued haunters straight out of The Realm of Darkness with an impressive rendition of sea legs in which the angst-ridden Captain propelled himself using only his upper body strength whilst his legs dragged behind him as if lifeless.

Rating: 4 stars

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