Archive for the 2011 Category

Return to the Woods of Darkness

Posted in 2011, Review, Woods of Darkness with tags on December 19, 2011 by bluefall8

I returned to the Woods of Darkness on Saturday, October 8 – it was the first time I had visited since shooting a promotional video for the attraction the previous fall. Melissa accompanied me on the trip, a rare occurrence for my darling wife who prefers her scares from the pages of a book. I introduced her to Denise who we found at the ticket booth and the three of us chatted about haunted houses, the weather, and the impact that the video was having on ticket sales. I was glad to hear that Denise felt it was making a tangible difference – the place certainly appeared to be busier than any of my various visits the previous year. A little while later a wagon rolled in and Melissa and I jumped aboard. Little has changed during this leg of the adventure from a year ago but I think with time the operators will come to realize its value and perhaps offer up a few more primer scares in order to soften up haunters for the main attraction.

Speaking of the main attraction, it’s nestled in the woods not far from the tractor path and features an original façade in the style of a ramshackle cabin. Our wait in line was spent with a couple of devilish woodland dwellers who acquainted themselves with each group of new arrivals. There’s a great natural ambience here which blends well with the theme appropriate props, my personal favorite being the rusted VW Beetle that rests beyond a fence besides the looming house.

Woods of Darkness is an interesting haunted attraction – part haunted trail, part haunted house – the attraction nicely mixes the outdoor elements with shrouded corridors and confined spaces. There were a fair amount of changes since last year, the layout has been tweaked – returning haunters will certainly notice the slew of shacks near the rear of the attraction as well as the vortex which took me by surprise.

The personnel has also changed, if I’m not mistaken Denise said that she was unable to get a single member of her previous cast to return. That’s a shame because they seemed like a cohesive group, a bit green perhaps but they were clearly enthusiastic. At the core of any haunted attraction is the consistency of the scare which makes retaining quality help absolutely essential for a budding haunt entrepreneur. The high turnover clearly affected the overall quality of the show, most of the actors were young, inexperienced, and unable to delivery convincing interaction – they were timid, a trait monsters just shouldn’t have in their social tool kit.

There was however one creature of the night determined to elicit a scream. With a sickly smile smeared across his face he sat perfectly still in the dead center of a room littered with a mishmash of glowing artifacts. I playfully suggested that Melissa pet his head and although she showed no signs of complying with such a request it was clear she had been fooled into thinking that he too was as inanimate as the rest of his stuffed brethren strewn across the room. The harlequin sprung his trap and sent Melissa ducking behind my back and scurrying across the room. He begged her to stay and be his friend but the prospect of being playmates didn’t seem so appealing after such a scare.

Woods of Darkness is a young and promising haunt but in order to fulfill that promise it’ll have to bear the growing pains. Given the price increase this past season I would expect the attraction to expand in the near future and that can only help the overall product. The operators accomplish a lot with a little and if the right moves are made Woods of Darkness could become a prominent fixture of the downriver haunt scene.

Rating:  2.25 stars

Haunt Trinity Burns Midnight Oil at St. Lucifer’s and The Crypt

Posted in 2011, Review, St. Lucifer's, The Crypt with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by bluefall8


Halloween. The night that spawned countless scary stories, local legends, and all of our favorite horror icons. The founding members of The Haunt Trinity struck out into the night to celebrate the holiday with a visit to some fresh haunts.

The open road beckoned us, but before we hit the expressway we zig-zagged through the neighborhood of our youth reliving memories imprinted in time. When the sweet buzz of nostalgia had faded we found ourselves on I-75 barreling toward our destination — first the city of Grandblanc and then if we were lucky, the neighboring Burton.

DOUBLE FEATURE AT PLAYLAND PARK

Our first stop brought us to Playland Park, a family fun center any other time of the year but druing the season of ghosts it plays host to twin terrors headlined by St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum and rounded out by the zombie beleaguered 13 Feet Under.

The fun began before we were even able to find a parking spot. Ghouls of various sorts roamed the grounds freely — a particularly emaciated zombie followed our car gnashing at me through the back window. True to the habits of his rotting kinfolk, he peeled off and chased after the next thing to move when my tender flesh proved too elusive. While we waited in line to enter St. Lucifer’s a band of committed haunters entertained the throngs of visitors. One radical dead head zipped about on a pair of roller blades, a swamp creature slunk around the ankles of patrons, and the star of the show — a portly, middle aged woman with uneven patches of hair delighted the crowed by clucking and strutting like a chicken whilst making playfully crude remarks.

When we finally entered St. Lucifer’s we were shortly loaded into an elevator or as they’re generally referred to in the haunt biz — a hellivator. An increasing number of haunts have implemented these in recent years, the first time we experienced one was at the Scream Machine in 2006 and then again the following year at The Haunting. Terror Town’s House of the Dead also features a bumpy ride to parts unknown. However, St. Lucifer’s had a few surprises in store for us. The elevator rumbled to life and quite quickly came a most curious sound. Was that laughter? The mentally deranged held at St. Lucifer’s had broken loose and seemed to be rocking our carriage from the outside! As the elevator shook a cacophony of voices echoed through the box, combining to form a collective insanity that sounded amused, excited, and angry all at the same time. The wild ride came to a sudden halt and just when we thought we were safe the floor beneath our feet dropped! Okay, it merely dropped a few inches but it was entirely unexpected and something new to The Haunt Trinity. All in all St. Lucifer’s was off to a rollicking start.

As it were the pace was kept up fairly well as St. Lucifer’s featured a quality blend of workers and props, maintained a delicate balance of indoor and outdoor, and supported a solid lighting scheme by utilizing powerful strobe lights for thrilling scenes and plain old darkness for just enough psychological pull.

St. Lucifer’s stuck with the insane asylum theme well but didn’t limit itself to padded cells and dark hallways — we witnessed a variety of rooms including a dental area, a classroom, sleeping quarters, and a morgue. Each area included unique features or characters beginning with the dentist who displayed what can kindly be described as a less than gentle touch. In the classroom we encountered Sister Mary Clearance, a mountain of a man dressed as a nun complete with a sweet, Southernly voice that belied a firm hand. We discovered just how firm that hand could be when the good Sister reprimanded us for being late by whipping our asses with a yard stick.

The finale of the attraction made use of heavy fog and unrelenting strobe lights, a ghoul named Jimmy stalked us from the shrouded mist. We raced toward a choke point — a Womb of Doom — as it would turn out it was the most suffocating one of its kind. Jason and I broke through to the other end and waited for John to emerge…and waited…and waited. Had the Womb of Doom ensnared the Disco Devil? Perhaps Jimmy of the Mist had caught up with him? Had John been sucked into a some sort of Halloween time warp? Questions abound but one thing was for certain, we would not abandon our friend to haunt purgatory. Our decision was made, we had to reenter the Womb! Just as we were about to take the plunge Disco sprung forth from the inky black void like a monstrous feline — proving to me that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed messing with friends during the ultimate season of practical jokes.

St. Lucifer’s was overwhelmingly enjoyable. The workers exhibited good to great acting and the attraction itself was constructed well and was of fair length. The characters were bizarre, grotesque, and humorous — we watched one disheveled lunatic lick a pane of glass in an apparent attempt to express his desire for us. Elsewhere a mentally stunted nun babbled nonsense whilst mistreating a patient. There were also cool structural features such as the aforementioned elevator but also a set of old freezer doors used to simulate entering a morgue. We were even treated to a highly realistic dummy of a midget, and boy do I enjoy that sort of thing.

Rating: 3.75 stars

13 FEET UNDER UNEARTHS A GEM

13 Feet Under is the second house at this location but unlike so many other haunts that feature multiple attractions this is no side show, rather it’s a full blown haunt in its own right. 13 Feet Under was in a sentence — interesting and different with a dash of gloom and fun. Much like St. Lucifer’s, 13 Feet Under employed a design that left many areas open overhead — a feature that lent an authentic feel to the ravaged cityscape the theme suggested. I felt like Jill Valentine dodging Nemesis through back alleys and fire escapes in Resident Evil 3…minus the boobs of course. I was also reminded of Deadly Intensions’ City of the Dead from 2009.

There were some truly neat design features within the haunt such as descending bridges and sewer passages built from large construction tubing — the latter an excellent choice in terms of creativity to transition from one area to another and too also provide haunters with an unfamiliar environment with which to interact.

The first quarter of the haunt was thin on actors but this didn’t detract from the experience in fact it seemed to set the mood well. The first character of note we came across was a walker bound granny who made a bit of small talk before dropping her robe to reveal a pair of comically saggy breasts complete with nipple tassels. She gyrated and danced much to our delight, tassels cutting circles in the October air. When she had finished her geriatric thrusting it was clear we were meant to be on our way but intent on getting the maximum bang for our buck, we attempted to goad ole granny into an encore performance but alas we had received all we would get. That was definitely one of the most outright hilarious moments we’ve ever experienced while haunting.

Further into the haunt we came across three young lasses who had each been trapped in a cage. They begged for our help but as usual all we could do was ogle. We did a fair bit of ogling later on as well when we witnessed a genuine amputee performing in a scene of torture and mutilation. Sex and violence peddled in its basest forms can usually enhance any haunted attraction.

Midway through the attraction we traversed a room full of body bags each stuffed with an occupant. The scene had been designed to look as if the corpses had been disposed of in an alley or area for trash collection. It was wonderfully reminiscent of what I like to call the “Pit of Dead” scene from Dawn of the Dead — needless to say I found it to be a very nice touch.

Speaking of dead things, we had finally found some flesh eaters in this ruined city. A tall fence separated our party from them but that wouldn’t stop any brain muncher worth its weight. The pair pushed against the fence which had a surprising amount of give. They may have surprised us with their ferocity but their yellowed teeth remained on the other side of the fence. We hastened our pace for such a commotion had surely alerted others of their kind to our presence. Shortly thereafter we were surprised by the same emaciated cretin who had chased our car earlier in the night. I offered the hungry fellow a few sporting chomps as is my custom but my reflexes were too quick for the wretched rotter.

We neared the end of the haunt as we wound our way through a wrought iron maze of fence. There was a camper visible ahead, it was lit up and decorated as if it were home…to something. We were given no time to soak in the scene, the residents were home and they were pissed. The lady of the land shrieked something about trespassing whilst a pair of weapon clad weirdos hurried toward us hellbent on getting us off of their land. After a few threats from them and a couple of wise cracks from us we did indeed depart their property and in doing so exited 13 Feet Under.

13 Feet Under was an all around solid haunting experience, scoring particularly well in the areas of acting, pace, props, design, and theme. Along with St. Lucifer’s this double bill should find success for many seasons to come.

Rating: 4 stars

BURTON’S CRYPT BLENDS ODD JUMBLE OF SCARES

The silver light of the Halloween Moon acted as a stimulus upon us, the night was growing late but with The Crypt so tantalizingly close it would be nothing short of a crime if we were to fail in our quest of a Samhain trifecta. On this night however fate would smile upon us as we soon found ourselves standing in line for the final haunt of the 2011 season. The Crypt is located in Burton in what appeared to be a vast and bleak postindustrial landscape; it felt as if we were on the outskirts of Midgar.

The Crypt featured a fairly pedestrian façade but seemed to be comprised of a building and various trailers; it seemed to be of decent length but it was difficult to estimate. We were allowed to enter the structure a few minutes sooner than we would have when the couple in front of us comically chickened out – attempting to quiet their nerves no less than three times.

We entered the darkness and were quickly entrenched in an oppressive series of catacombs. Caught up in the euphoria of our final outing I brashly announced the arrival of The Haunt Trinity to any ghouls within earshot, and what do you know, one such ghoul took umbrage to my bravado and offered up a quality first scare. The first half of the haunt was very well done offering an immersive environment that see-sawed surprisingly well between damp crypts and household scenes of horror. Indeed, the most interesting scenes were those that resembled the living quarters of what can only be called a trailer park nightmare. The rooms were immaculately and bizarrely decorated, The Crypt as it turned out was not without some of the flavor of a pair of our all-time favorites –The Realm of Darkness and Armada’s Haunted Hollows. One room featured a curiously shaped fish bowl complete with livestock, another held a wild-eyed, piano playing fleshy, and yet another had a large, redneck man in a shower.

The props in the first half of the haunt were plentiful, creepy, and kitsch – it was easy to imagine that we had wandered stupidly into the dark fantasy of some whacked out and twisted white trash. The haunt stretched on and the scenery and mood shifted dramatically. We walked down a dark passageway and then through a door that led us to a brightly colored room, a clown with ridiculously long legs sat limply in the corner. As we crossed the room Spider Legs sprang to life and proceeded to tower over us looking like a pasty-faced abomination. This room seemed to distinguish the line between the first and second half of the haunted attraction. The latter half of the haunt wasn’t bad but it was relatively disappointing compared to the first half. This second area of the haunt had a much more generic feel and relied much more heavily on animatronics. The haunt felt a bit slapped together toward the end, at times resembling a dungeon but too often it featured rooms and scenes that felt disconnected from one to the next.

Overall, The Crypt was a very enjoyable haunted attraction and not a bad way to conclude the 2011 haunt season. I’d be remiss however if I failed to mention the excellent choice of music throbbing throughout the attraction – first the theme from Halloween and then The Exorcist. I’ve said it before and I ‘ll say it again, when in doubt you just cannot go wrong with either of those tunes scaring up the air molecules inside of a haunted house.

Rating: 3.75 stars

Anxiety Alley, Papp Park Induce Modular Mayhem

Posted in 2011, Anxiety Alley, Review, Taylor Northwest Little League with tags , , on October 31, 2011 by bluefall8

Last Friday was certainly not the most memorable night of haunting we’ve ever embarked upon but it was a night of haunting nonetheless. Earlier in the evening we enjoyed a meal at Mallie’s for John’s birthday where the food was tasty but the service left a lot to be desired. The Wings dropped at 4-2 decision to the rival Sharks and were even robbed of a goal by the often maligned officials but as this was a Friday in October I took it all in stride. Myself, Richard, and a slightly drunken John set out for a pair of local productions, first up was Anxiety Alley in my home town of Lincoln Park.

ANXIETY ALLEY A SHADOW OF FORMER SELF

Anxiety Alley, as best as my memory can serve, was the first haunted attraction that I ever visited. I remember traversing the dark halls with my mom, brother, and Aunt Lorie – I couldn’t have been much older than five or six at the time. Being so young and in such a strange environment my brother and I were both understandably terrified, in fact I have no idea what convinced my mom or aunt that a trek through a series of haunted trailers was just what two young boys needed. I don’t recall much other than screaming in terror as my aunt carried me in her arms. Strangely enough Jason and I each vaguely recall two bizarre scenes both of which seem unlikely to have actually taken place. During a moment of particularly horrific terror I can remember a monster resembling the creature from the black lagoon standing up inside of a bath tub washing itself. I said this shit was strange. The second as Jason tells it was a scene involving a well or pit in which visitors peered into a hole in the floor and witnessed an angry monster far below. This second memory if true would have been one hell of a cool illusion for a low budget haunt to have pulled off back in the late 80’s and the first, well that would remain strange in any era. One of these days I’ll make a point to question both my mom and aunt about the events of that night; perhaps they’ll be able to shed some light on what was clearly a very formative trip even if the horror of the experience kept me from understanding it at the time.

As a student at Foote Elementary rumors persisted every fall that there existed a trap door in one of the trailers that comprised Anxiety Alley. As the story went adventurous kids had used this rumored entry point to sneak into the haunted house. I was always quite fascinated by that story. I liked to imagine that monsters and mad men actually lived inside the structure waiting patiently for foolish youths to entire their domain. Over the years I visited Anxiety Alley a number of times, once with Branden when I was around 12 and then with Jason during the fall of ’96 – just before we moved to Frenchtown, and of course there were the nocturnal tropes that Cikalo and I embarked on from 2001-2004.

It was with all of these memories swirling about my mind that the three of us arrived at the familiar location but any hope of adding an exciting entry to the long history of the modular haunt was quickly dashed. When we pulled into the parking lot it was to find the costumed workers milling about outside the haunted attraction. They weren’t outside as line entertainment either; they were simply on a break as we were told. The workers were all teenagers and not one amongst them was remotely professional in their demeanor, we paid for our tickets and chatted briefly with the ticket seller while the rest of the staff scrambled to get into place. The scene didn’t inspire any confidence but I was determined to enjoy whatever nostalgia the old haunt had to offer.

The show began and was over in five minutes and there was a lot wrong with Anxiety Alley but first I’ll concentrate on what was done right. The passageways were dark and tight – two elements that for various reasons are essential to the success of a small, modular haunted attraction. I also noted the persistently haunting theme from Halloween beating steadily through the sound system, perhaps the best auditory band aid a haunt can ask for but alas 1,000 band aids wouldn’t have saved this ill-conceived and poorly executed attraction.

There are typically only a few scenes in any trailer haunt due to a lack of space but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, it just means that these spaces have to be used to maximum effect and Anxiety Alley fell far short of that goal. The scenes were uninspired, forgettable, and dull. There weren’t many props and there certainly were no animatronics, that’s to be expected given the venue but these facts do not have to spell certain doom. These conditions simply require operators to get creative with the space and budget that’s available. What really drove this production into the ground was the cast. I would rate 90% of the staff as entirely incompetent in the art of scaring. They were often found standing in plain sight and when spotted did nothing to elicit a scream, shriek, or startle. Most of them uttered not a word or sound; they simply looked at us and if we were lucky one might cock their head. Two workers in particular were content to do absolutely nothing at all. They were found seated on the floor, curled up in a nook. The pair gazed up as we past and that was it. There was one actor who performed well, a screaming girl who sung in lullaby tones whilst threatening our lives – sadly she became an afterthought amidst so much awfulness.

The folks running Anxiety Alley clearly have little knowledge of how a haunted attraction needs to be run. There’s no professionalism or organization and for $10 haunters deserve a lot more bang for the buck. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this was the worst cast I’ve ever witnessed assembled in a haunted attraction. Sadly, this was nothing more than teenagers unleashed without supervision and they acted accordingly – immature, unprepared, and disinterested.

Rating: 1 star

“Got three, Chain Man.”

-The pronouncement that preceded our entry into Anxiety Alley, a fun bit of nostalgia in what was an otherwise very poor attraction.  

PAPP PARK HAUNTED ATTRACTIONS HAVE PROMISE

We drove to Papp Park in Taylor hoping to experience a better show at the Taylor Northwest Little League run haunted attraction. In the past this event has been referred to by several names including Papp Park Panic Attack and Terror Zone. Here, there are two events a modular haunt and a haunted hayride. Fortunately our trip here offered some fun and helped salvage the night.

We hit the haunted house first and were treated to a worthy effort by a team of volunteers. Thick fog blanketed the entire attraction which left us groping our way through shadows and mist; the haze also provided cover for lurking creatures. It was dead silent within the haunted halls and the actors did an admirable job under such circumstances by not carelessly giving away their location. The scenes were relatively simplistic but this approach mixed well with the heavy fog and dark, twisting passages. My favorite sequence saw us blindly stumble through a pitch black hallway only to be momentarily blasted with an overpowering flood of light.  Simple, effective strategies can go a long way at small, volunteer efforts; it’s these light touches that are often the difference between disappointment and success.

Rating: 2.75 stars

Richard and I headed to the wagon while John, not a fan of haunted hayrides, waited for us in the comfy confines of his car. The hayride was certainly amateurish but the operators compensated for this with a veritable army of ghouls. There were various small scenes along the route in which simple misdirection was employed prior to the wagon being assailed by a pack of nutters. The ride was accompanied by music and a bit of narration and all in all was a bit of fun. I was highly amused by a pint sized demon that popped out of a box, stormed the wagon, and manically brandished a sword at haunters. Another laugh came later when we witnessed a girl being munched on by a neatly placed wolf puppet. As the wagon wound toward the end of the trail we were surprised by slithering mummies, pursued by a gang of clowns, and paid a very special visit by Michael Myers. Taylor Northwest Little League has a nice, little production at Papp Park. With some tweaks this could become something special for the Downriver area.

Rating: 2.25

Terror Town, Barn of Blood Conjure Haunted Time Warp

Posted in 2011, Barn of Blood, Review, Terror Town with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by bluefall8

During the final weekend of the 2008 haunt season I found myself at both Terror Town and Apple Charlie’s Barn of Blood on separate days and as the unseen Haunt Fates would have it, that is exactly where I found myself once again last weekend…on two separate days. First Terror Town, then Barn of Blood. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly a detour into The Twilight Zone but it was close damn it!

Our first stop actually found us at Heck of a Haunted Barn in Monroe but when we arrived the place was simply dead, a few workers roamed the grounds in very basic make up and costuming. Outwardly there was nothing to suggest that this was anything but a heck of a waste of $12 so we decided to depart for Terror Town.

BIG TOP FLOP

The House of the Dead looms as large as ever at Terror Town and is joined this year by a 3D attraction called Big Top Terror; a combo ticket will set you back $25 and for that price haunters expect a unique, memorable experience. Big Top Terror however is just the latest in a long line of 3D attractions to fall flat. The attraction is thin on workers and those that did inhabit the paint splattered halls were lethargic at best. The haunt was also extraordinarily short clocking in under five minutes. There were some cool props but nothing in the way of haunting fundamentals was employed, it was simply a stroll through neon painted rooms. Near the end of the attraction a large box sat against a wall, a wicked clown’s face adorned the front. Of course the box had to be opened right? That was the whole point of the gag! As I approached the mystery box a clown appeared from it’s side and bellowed, “Open it!” We were finally going to experience some interaction in this haunted house but just as quickly as my heart jumped it fell back to its usual steady beat. Nothing was in the box. I could see that it was open on the other end and wondered aloud if we were supposed to go through it but the worker just looked at me and breathed heavily as if his loud proclamation had yielded some satisfyingly dreadful result. I reiterated my query only to be met with more heavy breathing. I noticed a path in front of us and decided to take it. We exited the attraction. As it was the most enjoyable part of Big Top Terror was the jazzed up jingle playing outside the attraction, Killer Klowns by The Dickies which of course is the title track from 1988’s Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Rating: 1.5 stars

DEAD HOUSE AWAKENS ANEW

House of the Dead once again spans two separate buildings connected by an impressive array of black holes and one well decorated, cemetery. As we first discovered in 2008 this haunted attraction will attack from every angle and assail every sense. House of the Dead is a lengthy trek through ghostly corridors furnished with possessed furniture, blood thirsty creatures, and all manners of strangeness.

The mood for this house most macabre is set from the get go as haunters make their way down a long, narrow hallway illuminated by a cold, blue glow. This first section of Dead House is merely a prelude for the grand horrors to come but was punctuated by a passageway full of deafening poppers; a room full of questionably lively freight, and the ultra-realistic and creepy full sized dummies that we witnessed first at Terror Town in 2008. My personal favorite was a child ghoul who stood around a corner near the exit of this first area. I’ve referenced these particular props on numerous occasions and they are without a doubt the most convincing dummies the haunt industry has to offer. I do not know what company produces them but when I find out I’ll relay the news and post some pictures.

Following the first building is one of the most impressive vortex tunnels you’re likely to find anywhere on planet Earth, no less than six end-to-end tunnels spin in unison. Upon exiting and taking a moment to restore our collective equilibrium we proceeded out doors to a cemetery full of life. This graveyard scene functioned as a wonderful transition between the first half of the attraction and the second. Highlights here included a stone gargoyle which surprisingly leaped from its pedestal and bounded toward us like one of the evil, flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. Also of note was the foggy funeral procession which featured a casket, four ghoulish pall bearers, and the distinct smell of mold.

Shortly thereafter we entered the second building, what I like to refer to as House of the Dead proper. We were immediately assailed by a crawling girl with stringy hair who spoke of a ‘master’ that had horrific plans for our body parts. As she wailed and swayed inappropriately close to our crotches an eye opening effect erupted in front of us. The floorboards seemed to crack before us, a strange light poured out from beneath them; it seemed as if something was racing at us from under the floor. It was undoubtedly a neat effect that employed several elements, something we’ve never quite witnessed anywhere else. Just around the corner we ascended some stairs to a bridge and as we crossed, the walls adorned with skeletons, on either side of us collapsed inward. On the other side of the bridge we descended yet another set of stairs, putting us squarely within the limits of Mayer Wormface’s realm.

As always a litany of strange, gruesome, and truly spectacular animatronics dotted the haunted halls of Dead House although it was with some disappointment that we found several of the rampaging robots non-operational. We were also less than impressed with the scant cast of live workers inside House of the Dead. The darkly jovial patriarch however remains as entertaining as ever, stationed this season by Hellivator, the rest of the cast would do well to take their cues from him.

New horrors inside of House of the Dead this year include highly convincing animatronic snakes that descend upon haunters from above, hissing menacingly. My favorite addition was a room in which the walls were smeared with children’s handprints and foreboding nursery rhymes. As we attempted to leave the room a huge, green hand shot out from a slot in the wall and attempted to snatch visitors. Shortly after escaping this scene we arrived outside once more surrounded now by fog and hanging corpses. As we traversed this last area of Dead House we were surprised by a tall, chainsaw equipped butcher.

Terror Town is a haunted attraction that I would recommend to anyone who has not yet paid it a visit. The sheer volume of animated props and creatures is overwhelming and the average haunter will witness things here that they aren’t likely to see anywhere else. You won’t breeze through this haunt in 5-10 minutes either, this year we spent a solid 25 minutes navigating our way through the dark confines of House of the Dead. Also of great interest at Terror Town is the effort to engage all five senses, a touch most attractions pay no attention. House of the Dead is not without flaws of course, the workers as previously mentioned left a lot to be desired this year. The animatronics, as impressive as they might be on their own, oftentimes feel out of place or poorly implemented. I prefer to see a haunt stick to the theme that it has set forth — a gigantic Rancor-like creature may not play into the continuity in this setting. I was also highly disappointed in the conclusion this year, a simple chainsaw surprise may be fitting for many haunts but not one as over the top as Terror Town’s House of the Dead. I can’t help but wonder if the operators at Terror Town aren’t resting on their laurels to some degree. Still, House of the Dead has an excellent atmosphere, top notch props, and loads of potential. I’d like to see more focus on the scare factor here and less on the wow factor.

Rating: 3.75 stars

“Show us your udders!”

-Cikalo, commanding a hefty street walker in Toledo with an old favorite

APPLE ORCHARD HORROR

On Sunday I paid a visit to Apple Charlie’s and experienced a completely different haunted attraction – Barn of Blood. Barn of Blood is a brief haunted jaunt, appropriately priced at just $5, and evokes the spirit of a bygone era of haunting. This was bare bones haunting and when executed properly it can be just as effective as any mega-haunt. It was a very dark and deathly quiet journey through the barn, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of workers hidden inside as well. There is room for improvement – some creative alterations to the interior structure and a little more intensity from the cast would make for an excellent if not small haunted attraction.

Rating: 3 stars

Thrills & Chills Dominate Hilda’s, Feargrounds and The Boneyard!

Posted in 2011, Chelsea Feargrounds, Krazy Hilda's, Review, The Boneyard with tags , , , on October 18, 2011 by bluefall8

Friday October 14, 2011 turned out to be the monster night of haunting it was predicted to be. John, Cikalo, Richard, and I departed from Wyandotte at roughly a quarter past seven with three haunted attractions in our sights. If all went well we would have completed our maiden voyage to Krazy Hilda’s, Chelsea Feargrounds, and The Boneyard in a single night. The deft driving skills of the Disco Devil had us cruising down I-94 in no time en route to our first stop — Krazy Hilda’s and her formidable Barn of Doom.

WITCHES, GOBLINS, AND GHOULS RULE KRAZY HILDA’S

The atmosphere at Krazy Hilda’s has all the charm of a family owned farm because that is precisely what it is. A darkened, old farm house greets haunters as they exit their vehicles. A bon fire flickers in the night providing warmth for guests, nearby a large tent complete with tables and chairs offers patrons a place to relax while swapping stories over cider and donuts — here is a quintessential snap shot of Michigan in the fall.

It was a clear, beautiful night in Saline and there was scarcely a wait to enter the Barn of Doom, I think that’s called harmonic convergence. We came to the entrance of the barn and spent several minutes in conversation with the ticket taker a short, 40-something woman with a great sense of humor. The position of ticket taker or doorman is often an under appreciated in the industry. A ticket taker, whether in costume or not isn’t going to make or break the show but when done right this individual can enhance the overall experience and that is exactly what the friendly lady did here. One of Hilda’s goblins was armed with a radio and in contact with our new friend who informed the creature that she had “Four, overgrown chicken nuggets” to satisfy their hunger.

Cikalo and I entered the Barn of Doom first and immediately discovered that the operators at Krazy Hilda’s still remember what scares people, the dark. So many haunted attractions have lost sight that darkness evokes humanity’s most primal instinct, fear. Such perfect dark engages imagination and will send guests to the wandering unknown inside their mind. This approach provides fertile ground for actors lurking in dark places and the creatures dwelling inside the Barn of Doom took full advantage of this delivering numerous startles to us helpless victims.

In one of the earliest rooms we were confronted by ghoul who used a severed head as a puppet, the tongue lolling and licking at us as we passed. Elsewhere a militant creep demanded I drop to my knees and touch my nose. When I’d done so several of Krazy Hilda’s minions mocked me relentlessly. The path eventually led us outside the barn and into the corn where we followed twists and turns down a treacherous path. Here the gang at Hilda’s made great use of threatening dummies which eyed us from the corn. It was here that we were pursued by an imposingly large horror icon and when we stumbled upon a mess of body parts a heartless harpy assailed us parroting my comments by shrieking, “Look what they’ve done! Look what they’ve done!”

We continued our journey which brought us to a graveyard washed in an eerie bluish-green light. A crooked, gnarled tree straight out of Sleepy Hollow welcomed us into the cemetery. The dead stirred here and the living were not welcome, Cikalo and I made our way up a ramp that led us back into Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom. The end of the attraction was highlighted by a pair of rooms – the first was painstakingly painted in what I’d estimate was 1 x 1 squares, each square painted with a symbol from a playing card. I loved the effect, I felt as if we’d been dropped into some sort of bizarre Alice in Wonderland detour. The final room was neatly decorated with brightly colored props and several sinister circus clowns.

We exited the Barn of Doom but Krazy Hilda wasn’t quite through with us just yet. In order to gain our freedom we had to brave one final horror, a familiar haunt finale but one that works so much better when executed properly as it was at Hilda’s.

Krazy Hilda’s has a great fall atmosphere and features a haunt with a good pace and a fun layout. The volunteer staff delivered some of the most consistent startle scares I’ve ever witnessed. The scenes inside and outside of the barn employ an effective mix of creativity and haunting fundamentals. I urge anyone who appreciates the art of haunting to get to Krazy Hilda’s this fall.

Rating: 4.25 stars

CREATIVE INSANITY REIGNS AT FEARGROUNDS

The haunted attraction at the Fairgrounds in Chelsea is held in a very large modern pull barn. The show begins before patrons even buy a ticket. A bat-like humanoid revealed an impressive wingspan on a small hill near the haunt’s entrance, a silent octogenarian moodily pushed a walker around the grounds, a neatly placed statue cast a massive and foreboding shadow against the exterior of the building. A large castel facade dominated the lobby area, to the left of this a fun photo-op is available to haunters for a mere $1. We would take advantage of this once we completed our journey through the haunted attraction.

The Chelsea Feargrounds was a veritable grab bag of haunting elements, there was old school, there was new school and just about everything in between. There was a narrative about a mad scientist but this functioned more as a reason to showcase several gizmos and animatronics more than it did to explain any story line. It reminded me of Terror Town although it was clear the this place was less about bumps in the night and more interested in the wow factor.

The first several rooms featured characters who expounded on the think narrative rather than delivering scares and I was happy when that trend ended. Ironically enough it was indeed one of these rooms in which one of my favorite moments occurred. A female ghoul prattled on about the history of the aforementioned mad scientist but what caught my attention was an excellent fortune teller machine in the corner of the room. Those creepy contraptions have always given me the willies. A wild-eyed monkey madly slammed cymbals together from inside the box where the mystic stared out at us with dead, frozen eyes. As we moved forward to texit the room the evil seer lurched form his seat and slammed his hands against the glass! This was no wretched robot! This turbaned future caster was genuine flesh and bone!

Another area of interest further exploited fear of the carnival variety. First, a large floor to ceiling mirror combined with hanging, white ropes and a strobe light created a disoriented, glowing experience. Later a labyrinthine hall of mirrors amused us with visions of our own foul mugs when suddenly one mirror changed and revealed a devilish jester leering at us from behind it. Lastly we came upon a narrow passage that featured a simple yet clever illusion using what we believed to be mirrors.

Once we escaped the Horror at Mirrorland we entered a small, filthy kitchen where insects scattered across the dinner table and a deranged cross dresser offered us the latest meal. I wasn’t surprised when Richard greedily grabbed at the grub for he would as my Grandpa Irv likes to say, “Eat the ass out of an elephant and have the nerve to ask for more.” I was however a tad surprised when I grabbed a handful and began shoving the worms into my mouth.

Near the end of the attraction I was excited to enter one of my favorite scenes, the creepy doll room. Always, these rooms feature fantastically ghoulish play things — some with glowing faces or moving heads. A number of them may even wield weapons and if you’re lucky one of the pint sized deadites will even attack your group! Unfortunately the worker puppeteering the miniature maniac was one of the most unenthusiastic and unimaginative goofs to ever set foot in a haunted attraction. The initial scare was cut short when the worker abruptly stopped the puppet half the distance to our group. I offered my hand up for a good slashing as to allow the worker a second chance but junior wasn’t biting. I made several more taunts in hopes to elicit a response — hell I stopped short of tickling his chin — but nothing.The worker simply stood there like a dolt, a pox on what was otherwise a fun filled haunted adventure.

The haunt did conclude in an exciting manner, after exiting a greenhouse that contained chomping plants we were urged by what appeared to be a S.W.A.T team too quickly clear the area. The reason, you ask? Brain munchers, man!! A pair of sharply dressed dead heads attacked from behind and then a second pair appeared at our side. Soon several others emerged and we were surrounded, but the gunners did their part in dispatching the undead menace whilst Cikalo and I disarmed at least one flesh eater with nothing more than our irreverent wit.

The Chelsea Feargrounds haunted attraction featured superb props and animatronics — a chomping toilet, a faucet that poured blood, and a flatulent deer’s behind (complete with smell) were just a small sampling of the strangeness that greeted us here. We witnessed a rock formation spring to life, traversed a room full of murderous mannequins, and were blasted with sticky, white globs. You read that right. The costuming and make up was done well and the actors as a whole put forth a worthy effort. My only complaint is that at $17 ($15 w/coupon) the attraction could afford to be a little longer.

Once we emerged from the haunt we took advantage of the fun photo-op I mentioned earlier. The staff seemed particularly amused at our willingness to cram four grown men into a small space for the sole purpose of acting like complete idiots.

Rating: 4 stars

TENT OF TERROR HEADLINES THE BONEYARD

When we arrived at The Boneyard in Stockbridge the air had become noticeably colder but such trivial matters have never put a chill in this haunter’s blood. Here patrons claw their way through the Tent of Terror before hitching a wagon ride to Deadwood Forest and finally navigate through the thick fields of corn in Scarecrow Hollow.

Tent of Terror was an elaborately detailed attraction, so immersive in fact you will completely forget at times that you are in a tent. Our journey was punctuated by the hard driving musical stylings of Rob Zombie — an excellent choice for any adrenaline pumping haunted attraction. Tent of Terror was some what reminiscent of County Morgue at Chainsaw Creek in 2008 and that fact put a smile on my face. The attraction was positively brimming with ghouls and freaks — one popped out of a suitcase, several inhabited a macabre nursery, a quartet of clowns appeared as if from nowhere in yet another room issuing insults and threats. No solitary actor or scene really stole the show or outshone the rest but that certainly doesn’t suggest that these tent dwellers weren’t up to snuff. The scenes had a flow to them and the actors worked in a steady cohesion to provide an overall consistency in the scares.

Several memorable moments included a corpse that was skinned clean of all flesh, a black hallway blazing with dancing beams of blue, red, and green lasers, and finally a hung, left for dead pilgrim who lunged at us from death’s door. My favorite moment however came when we were herded down a narrow shaft, forced to crawl down a ramp. Where the ramp leveled off there was a small, strangely distorted window. A dagger-mouthed, beady-eyed, monster with wild, jet black hair was staring out at me hungrily growling, tilting its head to and fro. Its features were oddly misshapen by the glass and illuminated from beneath by an eerie purple light. It reminded me of something similar I saw years ago as a child at Anxiety Alley in Lincoln Park.

Rating: 4 stars

We hopped a wagon to the woods where we were dropped off at the entrance of Deadwood Forest, a western ghost town where the dead rule. Essentially a haunted trail, Deadwood Forest was impressively detailed featuring scaled down versions of Western mainstays such as a saloon and jail house, among others. There were intermittent blasts of fire scattered throughout the forest, a hunchbacked, hobbling hag and a fun, falling wall gag.

Considering the length of the trail it is scarcely populated which leads to more dead spots than are useful. A lack of actors in such an open space also facilitates aimless wandering and a fair amount of second guessing where the path is concerned. Additional actors would have increased the excitement of this attraction considerably.

Rating: 2.75 stars

The forest wall broke and we entered Scarecrow Hollow, a long corn maze full of dead ends and chattering chainsaws. The disorienting trek through Scarecrow Hollow was quite fun but it’s also one of the few times you’ll hear me criticize an attraction for being too long. The majority of the actors seem to be concentrated at the beginning and end of the corn maze which works well in those areas but also creates lengthy lulls throughout much of the attraction. Highlights of Scarecrow Hollow included the corn fed fiend who repeated the liens of passing haunters, although he was presented with a line he would not repeat as we passed, the clearing where we were ambushed by strobe lights and chainsaw touting lunatics, and of course the man with the demon horns who awkwardly participated in our crude jokes.

Rating: 3 stars

Thursday Outing Leaves Something to be Desired

Posted in 2011, Review, The Deadland, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , on October 16, 2011 by bluefall8

What had begun as an overcast October day turned to a dreary, drizzling night. On our schedule was a trio of haunts — Lockdown form the Wyandotte Jaycees, The Deadland in Warren, and the hell spawn of Detroit, Demonic Demons.

Demonic Demons was set to be our last stop of the night but when we arrived it was to find a sad fate. A foreclosure notice hung form the door accompanied by a large lock. Several decorations remained in their place from last year including the signature casket. The scene reminded me of an abandoned amusement park, one part spooky, one part sad. This marks the second consecutive year in which the Haunt of the Year title will be unable to be properly defended. Is the Haunt Trinity’s most cherished award possibly cursed?

The revelation that Demonic Demons was indeed closed for business was highly disappointing but before that discovery was made an evening of haunting was had — time to rewind.

EXPERIENCE THE HORROR OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD HAUNT

Jason, John, Cikalo, and I first stopped off at Lockdown where the usual issues that plague many volunteer efforts were out in force. Sound effects or music was scarcely implemented, most of the actors were young, inexperienced, and diminutive — costuming was often scant, a fair number of actors were merely dressed in street clothes. It’s really a shame that the same issues hurt the Jaycees effort year after year because what they do well is very enjoyable. The first room for instance showcased some vintage Jaycees haunting. A pastoral scene is painted on the wall, it looks like the kind of thing you’d find perhaps in a kindergarten classroom or at Sunday school — it’s innocent yet sinister. In front of it hangs a swing, in it sits a child draped in a raincoat, head bowed slowly swaying back and forth. Slowly the head is raised revealing one of those clear theatre masks, a moment later creepy, simpering laughter can be heard.

There were several other enjoyable scenes as well including the PG-13 torture scenes, the toxic wasteland complete with tubes carrying glowing liquid, and the pick-a-door room littered with clowns and jesters. Upon opening one door we found a clown sitting upon a toilet, each time we opened the door he fell victim to violent bouts of defecation — I opened the door no less than three times.

Even so these highlights weren’t quite enough to overcome Lockdown’s shortcomings — subpar interaction and timing on the part of the actors, an uninspired finale featuring a chainsaw wielding harlequin, and a middle of the road approach.

Rating: 2.25 stars

THE DEADLAND ON SOLID FOUNDATION

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting a little something more from The Deadland but I’d be fooling myself not acknowledge the fine start it’s off to at its new location. The adventure begins with a long walk down a fog filled hallway, purple lasers cast an eerie light. Each room is elaborately detailed whether it be a graveyard or hellish kitchen. Many of the props and decorations that help dress each scene are either genuine household items that lend a level of realism to the attraction or gory, detailed dummies which expertly build tension and fear.

The characters at Deadland are intense and loud, possessing above average vocalizations and improvisational skills. My favorites included a psychotic clown who was on a search for victims to stuff in his oven. There was also a somber, middle-aged priest with a voice like a serial killer, and a slim, agile loony who attacked us from above.

The Deadland has promise, it’s clear that there’s dedication and professionalism from top to bottom but a few changes need to be made to truly put this attraction over the top. There were several dead spots (areas where it seemed an actor should’ve been), I’m not sure if this was done by design or the result of being short staffed but it’s one area that can easily be improved upon.

The Deadland is enjoyable as is yet despite the admirable performance of the cast and the elaborate scenes nothing truly grabbed me or commanded my attention. When comparing price to length the attraction could afford to be longer and it would dramatically benefit from a powerful finale. Still, the Deadland has a solid foundation and has the potential to become a fixture in the Detroit haunt scene for years to come.

Rating: 3.75 stars

The Haunting Redeemed, Darksyde Discovered

Posted in 2011, Darksyde Acres, Review, The Haunting with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by bluefall8

Just as so many October adventures had thrilled us before so too did the excursions of this past weekend. The events of this past weekend will surely go on to live in Haunt Trinity lore for seasons to come, and just as well because many a memorable moment was made. The haunt season never truly begins until we’ve traveled at least a couple of county lines from home. Journey with us then, won’t you? As we gather around this hallowed hearth to share titillating tales full of deliciously macabre monstrosities.

A TRIP FOUR YEARS IN THE MAKING

It simply wouldn’t be a haunt outing if Jason didn’t find a way to complicate matters and while last weekend may not have been his finest effort at such it was certainly notable. But I don’t hold it against him really — after all he is my brother, my original haunt partner stretching all the way back to our youth when we enjoyed stuffing old clothes full of dead leaves in order to make dummies. We departed Monroe at approximately 8:20 p.m. and arrived at The Haunting in Adrian nearly an hour later. We had first visited The Haunting some four years prior and came away from that experience harboring disappointment, but we wanted to give the show a fair shake so a return trip was in order (We actually intended to return here in 2009 but Jason’s prior mentioned shenanigans derailed the trip. We planned a similar trip last year but it too fell to the wayside. I simply let you guess why.) We’d finally returned — Jason, John, and I accompanied also by Amanda McCreary who transformed our typical trio into a quartet. Amanda last went haunting with us during the 2007 season, a night in which she braved The Scream Machine and The Lab.

The grounds were eerily deserted when we arrived, the scene instantly reminded me of our visit four seasons earlier. But there was something different in the air this time and I held firmly to my conviction that The Haunting would be vindicated. We headed for the ticket window and paid a meager $5 (the haunt usually costs $10 but a coupon from The Haunting website, coupled with a canned good donation will net you a $5 discount). It was clear that the operators had majorly overhauled the waiting area and as we would find out shortly half of the haunt was themed in the familiar 3D paint while the back half bore more of a resemblance to a classic haunted attraction. I’ll spare you the suspense just this one time dear readers and tell you outright that The Haunting did not disappoint a second time.

What we experienced was a balanced presentation built on the tried and true fundamentals of haunting. The pace of the attraction was ideal, surprises were well disguised, and the cast delivered a solid, theatrical performance. Attention to detail has been paid to the placement of props – all throughout the labyrinthine structure dark halls and corners are dotted with convincing dummies, effectively keeping haunters on edge. As I mentioned earlier the first half of the haunted house features glowing paint, an element arguably enhanced by the use of 3D glasses; personally I don’t find the glasses necessary. I enjoyed the glow of these areas as well as the beautifully dark works of art peering out from the walls.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the neat trick employed near the beginning of the attraction. A giggling ghoul shepherded our party into a small room and closed the door behind us, a pair of vampire busts on either side of the door near the ceiling issued some sort of a chant. When the door opened the room we had previously occupied had radically changed. The room we initially entered was a basic, back square featuring no props or decorations. What now stood before us was a long, glowing hallway. It’s a technique the creators at The Haunting refer to as the vanishing room. We’ve witnessed similar gags before — The Scream Machine for instance uses the same technique when guests exit the Hellivator – but never has it pulled off better than at The Haunting.

The second half of the haunted house, referred to as The Darkness, began when our party was confronted by a tall, rotund ghoul who collected our 3D glasses. He bore a resemblance to Uncle Fester from The Addams Family and after collecting the glasses began asking us if we were, “…prepared to enter the darkness.” He spoke in a whisper and when satisfied that we were indeed ready to brave the darkness ahead, he allowed us entry. He revealed his true intentions however when he banged his fist on the wall and loudly announced our arrival to his dead brothers and sisters. It was this act that caused me to dub him Fester the Turncoat Bastard.

Shortly after entering The Darkness we came to a wonderfully lit hallway illuminated by a green laser which cast a majestic series of dancing points of light across our bodies and throughout the air. Our interaction with Fester set the tone for the remaining of the haunt as we came across several other actors – all in effective face paint – who delivered worthy performances. Among my personal favorites was an angry, twitchy girl, a stocky zombie who issued an unsettling, air sucking howl, and a hobo who requested change in exchange for access to a secret door.

I stated from the onset that The Haunting did not disappoint as it did back in 2007 and I stand by that statement. What we witnessed here last weekend was nothing short of a quality attraction steeped in the fundamentals of haunting.

Rating: 3.75 stars

BOONDOCKS HAUNT WILL SHOCK AND SURPRISE

A fog crept over the countryside as we headed for Jonesville, a countryside dotted with looming barns, decrepit farm houses, and Victorian estates. It was quiet and nearly deserted when we arrived at Darksyde Acres, a former pig farm. Outwardly it may have appeared docile but within its bowels all manner of creatures lurked both beautiful and hideous, deranged and merry. Darksyde Acres boasts three attractions — The Catacombs, Rusthole, and The Dark Abyss; the first two run concurrently. We purchased our tickets, were told to follow a row of colorful, blinking lights, and warned of the anal trauma ahead. We made a porta-potty pit stop at the entrance of the first haunt, when McCreary opened the door a blood stained, saber toothed, man-sized rabbit leaped from the latrine. Darksyde had used a gag I’d long sought to witness even before we entered the attraction; I already liked the place.

A tall, portly Elvis impersonator welcomed us into the haunt, before us was a winding queue area with small but numerous scenes on either side. We walked down a center path until a deliciously devilish voice informed us that we were going the wrong way. We turned toward the voice — a scantily clad haunt vixen! My eyes may have popped out of my head whilst steam shot from my ears. Beside me John’s jaw dropped to the floor and his tongue rolled cartoonishly from his mouth. There’s definitely a chance that Jason begun removing his pants. Even McCreary was momentarily stunned by the brazen hotness of it all. The dark temptress corrected our path and was soon joined by a second femme fatale. The duo scampered off at times only to reappear and make sexual remarks or would otherwise be found in erotic poses with props. Jason wondered aloud if perhaps we hadn’t crossed over into some sort of blissful haunt afterlife. Such reveries were interrupted briefly when a dainty young man in a dress beckoned us closer and flashed us his nipples, he would later attempt to kiss Jason. Such shenanigans were salacious and attention grabbing and set the stage well for what was to follow. We approached the end of the queue line and came to rest on the threshold of the haunt, the Disco Devil and I took the first shift.

The approach at Darksyde Acres is intense, raunchy, and rare. Guests will not be wowed by flashy animatronics nor can this be accurately called a haunted attraction in the traditional sense, this is something different. Many of the actors are a wild, twisted breed, perhaps the best example of this is a pair of clowns respectively named Bubbles and Pickles. Pickles is a frenzied ball of energy and as horny as a toad, he lovingly spoke of rape and begged that we allow him to grab our backsides. When we obliged Pickles’ excitement grew tenfold an he implored that we return the favor which I thought was only fair. The stimulus propelled Pickles into a crazed euphoria, he whooped and giggled uncontrollably and quite literally bounced from one wall to the next. For an instant I thought perhaps my long time friend Stu was behind the make up. Bubbles in contrast had a more purely sinister nature although even he had a penchant for comedy which was revealed during a conversation about his rumored polka-dotted phallus.

As we traveled deeper into the attraction we traversed crypts, graveyards, and absolute darkness. A steady stream of heavy metal flooded our ears and at one point I was pleased to hear the circus inspired sound of Creature Feature. We were assailed by zombies, demons, and hot, dead girls. You read that correctly — hot, dead girls! Smoking deadites appeared behind bars equipped with stripper moves and it was in a word, mesmerizing. One particular scene even involved a stripper pole and some fancy moves, but that as we would later find out was a cruel illusion.

Rating: 4 stars

A short walk separates the attractions, the final of which is themed after an old pirate ship — The Dark Abyss. Here, Captain Karcass and his crew have been bound for some 300 years and as you might imagine they’re typically eager to add new souls to their league of damned, but on this night they were mostly jovial — a bit sarcastic perhaps but on the whole in good spirits. Captain Karcass delighted us with some witty banter before he sent us on our way through halls full of lusty wenches, decomposing bodies, and malevolent mariners. The ship was elaborately detailed, highlighted by a hallway of askew mirrors and one room full of dead pirates and treasure. The attraction even had a peculiar smell, a hint of bonfire and something else that was strangely familiar yet elusive.

Rating: 3.25 stars

Locations such as Darksyde Acres are the reason we continue to visit haunted attractions. The actors delivered a nearly flawless performance displaying superb interaction, effective vocalizations, and creative improvisation. The recurring threat of anal trauma is emphasized well first by the howling harlequins and then by the angst ridden Cain who dwells in the dank recesses of The Rusthole. Darksyde Acres features a good mix of dark passages, immersive scenes, and surreal strangeness — oh yeah the half naked girls don’t hurt either. In my opinion this secluded homestead of horror is worth the drive from anywhere in the Metro-Detroit area.