Archive for the News Category

The Lost Reviews

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2020 by bluefall8

Since the founding of Horrorlust many moons ago, a great multitude of tales have been woven upon these pages. However, as has been the case on occasion, a story that was due to be told around this hallowed hearth failed to materialize for reasons that were either personal or professional.

While the nature of these would-be entries consist overwhelmingly of haunted house reviews, other interesting yarns have languished in purgatory as well. I recently completed an audit of sorts, and discovered nearly two dozen instances of unfinished business. After thumbing through old notes and organizing original, audio recordings, I’ve decided that it’s finally time to give voice to these lost reviews.

So, what to expect from these mysterious tales of years gone by? Highlighted below is but a taste of what shall be made whole.

  • Hallowblog – Prior to the advent of Horrorlust, I penned thoughts on Halloween and haunted houses by a different name, Hallowblog. Many of those entries, originally scribed from 2006 – 2010, have already been submitted to Horrorlust. However, the entirety of the 2010 haunt season was never shared here. Most notably, this includes reviews from our lone visits to the fabled Demonic Demons in Detroit and the wild, rock concert atmosphere that engulfed the Haunted Hoochie near Columbus, Ohio.
  • SIN Chronicles – While performing as an actor with the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House in 2016, I chronicled my nightly experiences with cast and customers alike. Most of those accounts were posted contemporaneously, but the final entries were regrettably left incomplete. Soon, the painful birth of Vermin will be told in full.
  • Haunt Swaps – These events are organized by members of the Michigan Haunters Association, wherein each haunted attraction hosts a night for the other members of the association. Through the years, a mention or two has been made of these here, and as I recently reflected upon these unique treks, I decided that there were memorable nuggets worth sharing — fat, juicy, memorable nuggets!
  • Gruesome Twosome – A pair of seasons — 2016 and 2018 — were particularly troublesome and for very different reasons. Folded into that infamous coupling was a visit to the debut of Awaken as well as maiden voyages to Shawhaven Haunted Farm and Cincinnati’s Dent Schoolhouse in 2016. Not to be outdone, 2018 featured first-time visits to Deranged, Azra, and 7 Floors of Hell before it ended in a blur with last minute trips to Erebus and Hush on Halloween.

You can expect these entries to appear once a week, beginning next Monday with the first of nine Hallowblog entries from the 2010 haunt season. What’s that? You need that spooky fix now?! Alright, you fiends, click the links below and enjoy a preview of what’s to come.

Hallowblog: 2006 – 2009

The Road So Far: SIN Chronicles Revisited

Rotten Manor UnWraps A Bloody Christmas

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 27, 2020 by bluefall8

When Rotten Manor first appeared in the pages of the Fear Finder back in 2015, it was evident from the monstrous facade that this haunt had big plans in mind. Awestruck by my visit on Halloween that inaugural year, subsequent trips in 2016 and 2019 revealed that Rotten Manor had expanded and evolved with impressive results. Having quickly gained a reputation has one of the most formidable haunted houses in the state, it was no surprise when Rotten Manor decided to introduce a Christmas-themed event last year, and that tradition will continue in 2020.

READ 2015 REVIEW HERE: Rotten Manor Howls at Halloween Moon

A Bloody Christmas will be open six dates over three weekends during the month of December. Originally scheduled to premiere on November 27th, an electrical issue caused a one-week delay in yuletide screams. Rotten Manor will now open its doors for festive fright beginning Friday, December 4th and will host the event every Friday and Saturday from 7pm to Midnight through December 19th.

A Bloody Christmas will present patrons with two attractions — the namesake, Rotten Manor, and an elaborate, wooded trail that bears the same name, Rotten Forest. Tickets cost $26 per attraction or guests can opt for a combo ticket and experience both attractions for $40. Per Rotten Manor’s website, tickets are only available on-site and must be purchased with cash only.

Rotten Manor has introduced an app that’s available on the Apple Store and Google Play. A $3 coupon can be found on the FAQ page of the website where customers must register in order to attend A Bloody Christmas. Rotten Manor does enforce facial coverings and social distancing, so plan accordingly. For complete details or questions refer to the website: Rotten Manor

Rotten Manor is located at 13245 Dixie Highway in Holly, Michigan.

Black Rainbow: A Journal of Lucky Misadventures

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2020 by bluefall8

This is the first in a multi-part series detailing my happenstance introduction to a community of artists, writers, and creatives who collectively make Metro-Detroit an interesting place to live.

CHAPTER ONE: All Wounds Bleed Ink

Stating the obvious here, but I’m a big fan of horror. A good horror movie is a catharsis for the soul — a timely comeuppance, a jaw-dropping twist, the mindless slaughter of scantily-clad, nubile woman — yes, horror has the dexterity to pluck all the best strings. Horror, however, isn’t limited to the silver screen, the genre has transcended every entertainment medium known to Western Civilization, and that does bode well for those of us with an unquenchable thirst for the spookies.

My love of horror is substantial, but it is not without rival. Yes, you read that correctly, there is another. By what name is this harlot known, you ponder? Well I call her the written word. I cherish the ability to read because it has granted me the pleasure of pulling the curtain on the external world and has offered a reprieve from an otherwise racing mind. Similar to the way those flickering images flutter across the screen to form a narrative, ink patters over the page to reveal a plot. This act of absorbing and encoding these stories is singular and intimate.

So then, how to blend these two white-hot passions? Horror poured onto the page, of course, but in particular, written in short form. Yes, the joy of cracking open a book filled with an array of the eerie, macabre, and perplexing is as addicting a drug as man or nature can conceive. With that said, one can imagine what someone such as myself might do when suddenly unencumbered by the trappings of pesky employment in a world now consumed by pandemic.

Needle meet vein.

This ironic, harmonic convergence would, last month, bring me to the Balloon Factory in Ferndale where an outdoor, art pop up called Black Cat was held, the latest such event presented by Pinzu. Pinzu? Yes, Pinzu. What the hell’s a Pinzu, you say? Fair question, and one I had asked myself just two years prior. Simply put, Pinzu is a convention of sorts and having attended it twice before I found that it possessed both a certain whimsy and an allure for those who embrace all things that go bump in the night.

It was there that I had a conversation with Michael Cieslak, a Michigan-based author of horror and publisher of Dragon’s Roost Press. Michael had a small tent erected at one corner of the parking lot where he had displayed a collection of books. We chatted casually about our specific tastes in the genre and I ultimately settled on a pair of titles that jumped out at me. The first, titled The Midnight Creature Feature Picture Show, was a collection of short stories hatched from the fertile mind of David C. Hayes and published by Cieslak’s aforementioned Dragon’s Roost Press. The second selection cut from a similar narrative fabric and titled Urbane Decay, was penned by Cieslak himself and published by Source Point Press.

I found myself back in my vehicle, lost in reverie and very much filled with pleasure over the fact that my greedy fingers would soon swim across a sea of words in search of suspense, gore, and the skillful execution of gallows humor. My mind swam back to the publisher of Mr. Cieslak’s book, Source Point Press. It was a name I knew and it had caused me to reflect on the curious path that had first led me to Pinzu, a path I can plausibly claim was blazed by a foul-mouthed sock puppet some seven years prior.

Halloween Hopscotch

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2020 by bluefall8

Halloween was, as it always seems to be, a surreal, mad dash toward that invisible veil that separates our world from the next. My son, Lincoln, and I got an early start on our hunt for candy and made a stop first to Churchill Cemetery in Southgate, which was, of course, the subject of a recent story here on Horrorlust.

Lincoln bravely walked through the cemetery gates where he was offered some treats at the end of a groundkeeper’s spade which I found to be a clever and effective way to safely dispense candy in a COVID-19 world. He posed for a picture with the towering Patches before we departed Churchill Cemetery and then, at a nearby house, semi-confidently informed a creepy jack-in-the-box that it was nothing more than an electronic.

Patches (left) and my 5-year-old son, Lincoln, at Adam Grignon’s Churchill Cemetery in Southgate, Michigan.

We hopped back into the car and came to rest next on London Street in Lincoln Park; this is the street that I grew up on. As my son is still a relatively young trick r’ treater, we pounded the pavement as the Sun still hung in the air which perhaps explained the lack of houses that had yet to flick on a porch light. Lincoln didn’t notice of course, but I did, and the sight saddened me a bit.

As we visited some of the very same houses I did as a young child, I saw my memories layered over the present and I told my curious little boy stories from my own youth. All told, we probably spent an hour on the hunt and that was all Lincoln needed as he reasonably said to me, “I’m good, dad. I have enough candy.” Being a parent is humbling, and ironic, and sometimes heartbreaking; it’s also the most worthwhile endeavor I’ve ever experienced.

Yours truly (left) donning the mask of The Misfits iconic Fiend, Lincoln (right) appears amused by the rictus grin looming behind us.

As the Sun began to set, Lincoln was excited to attend a kid’s Halloween Party with his mom. Meanwhile, I hit the road with a few members of our own haunted house crew including my girlfriend, Shirley, to return to the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Ohio for the first time in a decade. Although, I did attend a limited amount of haunts this season, of those, Crazy Bob and the gang far and away ran the most efficient operation tailored to COVID-19.

A lot had changed since my last visit in 2010, but the overall charm of the place was alive and well. The theme played loosely with the current pandemic, and offered a tagline that read, “Curse or the Cure.” The outdoor maze, Curzed Woods, was a tangle of fun highlighted by a lively cast and a full moon that sent silver rays of light glistening across the bubbling surface of the Sandusky River.

Once free, we enjoyed a stroll through a makeshift museum which detailed the long history of the Haunted Hydro, a history that I was pleasantly surprised to learn included the Fremont Jaycees.

The main attraction located inside the former hydro-electric dam itself, Cure Family’s Bizarre Bazaar, did not disappoint either, dotted with an array of highly-detailed rooms full of whimsy and fright. Our favorites included a skeletal, high school band, a curiously padded cell, and a series of interesting freak show displays near the conclusion of the attraction.

The entire affair came to an end in bales of laughter when Jaclyn, Shirley’s impish, 17-year-old cousin, who I affectionately (and sometimes disparagingly) refer to as Frankenstein, unwittingly purchased a pair of bondage bracelets which she believed to be a spooky necklace.

All the World is A Mirror

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2020 by bluefall8

I get to reminiscing sometimes, and I find the entries here at Horrorlust to be a portal to the past. I’ve made little to no time to chronicle my love of Halloween and haunted houses here over the last four seasons and that’s left me yearning for days gone by. This wasn’t an idle choice, of course, nor was it due to a sudden lack of interest. Life comes fast at times — priorities change, dynamics shift.

But, I miss it.

My role as a father as well as my position with the Wyandotte Jaycees haunted house project, means the halycon days of unbridled Friday and Saturday nights is in the rearview mirror. Still, I’d like to get back to regularly sharing my experiences on both sides of the haunt industry, and I’d like to offer up other fare in the realm of horror as well.

Due to the domino effect caused by COVID-19, the haunted house committee within the Wyandotte Jaycees made the decision not to operate this fall. I don’t regret that decision as it was the right and responsible call. The silver lining for me was that less nights spent in character meant I could, on a limited basis, reengage as a patron.

While the outings have been sparse, they’ve also been informative, strangely refreshing, and both somber and surreal, simultaneously.

A trip to Deranged revealed that the now third year haunt has improved its scenery with a series of quaint, neatly designed facades throughout the wooded trail, but the actors, aside from a few talented standouts, could use some fundamental pointers on the art of the scare.

Two weeks later, I found myself at Darksyde Acres for the first time in six years. The operation has changed substantially in some ways and remained static in others. The experience was overall a positive one with an expanded trek through the first leg of the journey, it also featured a much larger cast than previous seasons although the vast majority of them were wet behind the ears.

Finally, last weekend I found myself with a large group out in Pinckney at what turned out to be a highly enjoyable, second year effort called Ghostly Grove. We endured quite a wait to experience the outdoor trail, but it offered the right mix of fun and fright, as the ghouls and goblins elicited shrieks with creative scares and the woodland setting lent itself to several truly majestic scenes.

That last one was the spark I needed to peek back into this diary of a madman and summon the will to write once more.

Cleveland Trip Underscored by Mix of Emotions

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2018 by bluefall8

This past Saturday, I took to the road with 7 Floors of Hell and Bloodview on the agenda. It was a fun outing despite some rain but overall I did expect more from my maiden voyage to 7 Floors of Hell. The same can be said of my beloved Bloodview; this was my third trip to the haunt called home by the Legion of Terror  and although it had its moments, I found myself nostalgic for years gone by.

7 Floors of Hell, as the name implies, featured seven separate haunted attractions — Chaos, The Basement, House of the Dead, Catacombs, The Butcher Shop, Mental Ward and Phobia. Chaos and The Basement were the best executed, House of the Dead also had several redeeming qualities but on average the various haunts offered too few unique scares or interesting characters.

The set designs fit the bill and each attraction featured plentiful, impressive props, but only a handful of actors engaged in fun and creative interaction, the vast majority delivered simple jump scares and bland, cliched vocalizations.

Bloodview remained a beautiful, macabre Mecca but the cast on this night was largely missing that magical spark. There were memorable moments sprinkled here and there but that was the exception. Perhaps the lack of punch was caused by the rain, or the false emergency that was in full swing upon our arrival or maybe it was simply the effect of the passage of time on yours truly. Such things are difficult to discern these days.

Brotherly Love

Posted in News on October 7, 2018 by bluefall8

The weather was admittedly crummy last night throughout Metro-Detroit, but most attractions defied the elements and remained open to the public. My brother, Jason, and I set off into the dreary night in search of fright. Once upon a time, my brother scarcely missed a haunt outing, but then he became a nurse and his work schedule seriously put the brakes on haunting. I was shocked when I realized that it had been five years since he and I had visited a haunt together.

Our target on this night was Madison Heights with Azra: Chamber of Horrors in our sights. As my brother was in a hilariously altered state of mind (more on this later), I was asked to ferry us to our destination. While cruising through Detroit on northbound I-75 we witnessed an extended lighting strike that appeared as if it may have produced a small explosion. It was cool sight to behold.

I was a little skeptical about Azra which is held in a former laser tag venue, but the new haunt did not disappoint. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall production value. It did feature a mishmash of themes — one part medieval, gothic dungeon, one part industrial hellscape and a little harlequin influence near the conclusion for good measure — but some how the disparate narratives pulled together okay.

When we had exited through the sewer of Azra, we arrived on the inside of an adjoining space that housed a rage room where two dudes gleefully smashed glass items and a variety of themed escape rooms! One facade was shaped like a pyramid, another put me in mind of a lost, underwater civilization, but what truly piqued my interest was the brightly colored Mardi Gras room that reminded me of something I once saw on Are You Afraid of the Dark?.

“So, I found a piece of a stale cookie in my desk. I ate it. Now, I’m stoned.”

-My brother, explaining his actions before departing his house, and what just might become a pre-haunt ritual.

Sad Face, Happy Face

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2018 by bluefall8

Ominous clouds roll through the sky, the wind carries a frenzied energy — it’s an ideal night to be one of the horde at any haunted attraction. Unfortunately, for your dear author here at Horrorlust, it’s a work night…and so is tomorrow. But, like last Saturday, I believe I’ll grace a few local haunts with my presence. Where I shall visit remains to be decided, but there’s no shortage of options.

On the flip side of that coin, they’re some Michigan mainstays that will not be operating this season; the most noteworthy of which is St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum which is reportedly in the midst of a move. No word yet on where the new location will be but the operators do hope to find a new home in time for the 2019 season.

Also in the dark is Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors, a fun for the whole family event, that has stolen my heart over the years. The ole witch vows to be back next year and I take her at her word because Hilda and her brood have proven mighty resilient over the years.

As some of you know, Anxiety Alley in Lincoln Park did not operate last year after decades of opening its doors to seasonal patrons. Several weeks ago, my source within my hometown informed me that the trailers in which the event was held had officially been scraped. Anxiety Alley was poorly organized and executed in recent years but it was the object of boyhood fascination and the very first haunted attraction that I ever attended. It holds a special place in my heart and will be missed.

On a happier note the Woods of Darkness in South Rockwood will open its gates tonight for the 2018 haunt season. The Psycho Path in Flat Rock will follow suit on Friday, October 12th. I fully intend to visit both of these attractions this season as I have in the past.

Happy Haunting.

With Autumn Air, I Breathe Again

Posted in News with tags , , , , on September 27, 2018 by bluefall8

Silver moonlight showered the night, a crispness bit the air and I was alive once more. Last Saturday a local, double feature was just what I needed to kick the season off in style. As fate would have it, an old favorite returned to form and a promising upstart offered a preview of things to come.

The Scream Machine was a wild ride through classic scenes, humorous scares and moments of fun interaction. Once free of the soul-sucking device, we tried our hand at an escape room but our efforts to break free were thwarted by a chubby, dead boy and his incessant chatter! It all added up to a new, thrilling chapter for Taylor’s resurrected haunt.

In nearby Romulus, Deranged had attracted a respectable crowd for just its second night of operation. The forest trail provided an idyllic setting on this beautiful first night of fall. Deranged was a little rough around the edges but a mixture of atmosphere, sheer weirdness and a decidedly odd family dynamic ensured a memorable experience.

Exit 13 Goes Bonkers

Posted in News with tags , , , , on January 17, 2017 by bluefall8

Last Friday, Exit 13 opened its doors for a little event known as Friday the 13th Massacre. But this was no ordinary night — well, there aren’t really ordinary nights at Exit 13. Suffice it to say, this production by the Monsters of Mt. Morris was extra special. You see, once the clock rolled past 10:30pm, patrons were made to sign a waiver upon entrance and every pair of wrists were fitted with restraints.

I made this journey with members of my Jaycees family, all of whom were involved with SIN Haunted House last fall. Anticipation was high and the bladder of more than one haunter in our group was fit to burst. Oh, not mine of course. But there were those in the group who had to make an extra pit stop before we were granted access to the haunted halls of Exit 13.  What’s that? You want names? No, I can’t do that. Not without being bribed anyway.

Once inside we experienced an outlandish landscape at a breakneck pace that left each of us covered in goop, theatrical blood and one supremely foul-smelling scent. There were actors around every corner who engaged us with enthusiasm, sarcasm and flat out abuse. It was wild and unpredictable, like the haunted house version of a choose-your-own-adventure book. Groups were broken up, folks were snatched up, heads were bagged.

Exit 13 has engaged in some interesting experiments over the course of several haunt seasons and in the process has become one of the best haunted attractions in the entire state. I suspect the tinkering has only just begun. A full review of this most raucous affair will be penned in the coming weeks.