Archive for the 2014 Category

Sinister Infusion Fuels Resurgent Realm of Darkness

Posted in 2014, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 16, 2015 by bluefall8

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.

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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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Weird Mishmash Spurs The Crypt

Posted in 2014, Review, The Crypt with tags , , , , on August 11, 2015 by bluefall8

 

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The Crypt was just about to close up shop when we pulled into the parking lot which meant that John and I had the distinction of being the last people to pass through its hallowed halls for the 2014 haunt season. The Crypt, as we first discovered during a Halloween visit in 2011, held a strange mixture of scenes and scares comprised of garish props, clunky animatronics and odd actors.

The sojourn began with a slow but gradual descent through the perfect dark of a silent, extensive hallway, an effective an underutilized start to any haunted house. When the serpentine passageway finally yielded, we trudged our way through a series of cluttered, musty living spaces.

The actors in this area of the attraction were universally husky, each a physically imposing figure who took a twisted pleasure in dolling out scares. Also in this quarter of The Crypt, a pair of creepy organ players kept us on our toes, a well-timed clown in rocking chair provided a jolt and we were introduced to the rotten remains of one cretin’s dead mommy.

It seemed that the residents of The Crypt would love nothing more than to make us outsiders the main ingredient in a pot of homemade gumbo, so it wasn’t a moment too soon that we exited the hoarder homestead and entered a different section of the haunted attraction.

Here, we were accosted by an exceedingly tall harlequin who insisted that he was infected with Ebola but neither John nor myself was keen to stick around for the results of a blood test and thus pushed forward into the jarring dungeon that served as the latter half of The Crypt.

In this area we were assaulted from all angles by strobes, pneumatics and all manner of haunted attraction trickery — it was a veritable glut of sensory input. In one corner a modified Fischer Price car hurled toward us out of the darkness, driven as it were by a gaggle of diminutive clowns.

We were surprised on several occasions by actors whose costumes blended neatly with their surroundings and in one unforgettable instance, a stout and hairy man confined to an inaccessible room, treated us to the most unsettling dance number since Buffalo Bill cut a rug in The Silence of the Lambs. Finally, there was the family of animatronic humans gathered around a table that jerked and twitched in such a freakish fashion that I found myself momentarily frozen with fear; mesmerized by the bizarre abomination that was before me.

The Crypt was an old school spook house that eschewed polished eye-candy in favor of a more visceral, gritty experience. The attraction was of fair length and even stimulated the frequently neglected tactile sense. The placement of a few actors amongst key props and animatronics would heighten the overall scare factor and additional dialogue from the cast wouldn’t go unappreciated. But as it was, The Crypt served as an unusual and entertaining haunted attraction.

Rating: 3.25 stars

St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum, 13 Feet Under Form Formidable Double Feature

Posted in 2014, Review, St. Lucifer's with tags , , , , on July 5, 2015 by bluefall8

We rolled into the parking lot of Playland Park accompanied by an encroaching frost, but winter’s icy grip hadn’t discouraged thrill seekers who were lined up outside St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum. It was a heart-warming sight and the shot in the arm John and I needed in our quest for a record-setting night of fright.

While we waited in line we were delighted by a gruesome twosome who entertained guests with mild jump scares and a dash of humor. The first character was a sizable man in overalls and a cowboy hat and suffered from a curious condition in which a hog’s head protruded from his stomach. His cohort was a brightly dressed clown who carried with him a ventriloquist dummy with a punk rock style. The little guy sported multi-colored, wildly spiked hair, a vest, camouflage pants and a pair of black Chuck’s. His face too was painted as a clown. It was clear that these guys loved to mess with customers but to their credit they obliged any time somebody asked them to pose for a picture including yours truly.

Through my own set of Chuck’s my toes grew numb and after a short but pleasant conversation with the owner of the joint, John and I were admitted to St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum.

lucifers

Our journey into the madhouse known as St. Lucifer’s began in a box — an elevator to be precise, but this was no ordinary elevator. Even by haunted house standards this condemned transporter may be unique; fitted as it was with a peculiar sound system and one heart-pumping surprise. St. Lucifer’s spin on the so called Hellivator is an excellent way to send customers into the dark and served as one of the highlights of our experience.

Once free from the wild ride we pounded the halls of the haunted asylum and found that a slimy layer of frost had coated the floor throughout St. Lucifer’s. The slippery hallways and bone-chilling air created something of a surreal atmosphere; almost as if we had witnessed the ghost of the haunt season. The conditions put an odd thought into my head, that perhaps we weren’t allowed to be there, as if we had trespassed. Yeah, an early blast of winter will do some strange things to the mind of a hardcore haunter.

Determined not to be the next helpless souls permanently admitted to St. Lucifer’s and with a hearty fire that burned in our hearts we mustered the courage to forge ahead where we enjoyed an infinity hall created with the aid of light and mirrors and also appreciated a length of wall from which jutted numerous pairs of legs — storage for those who had expired within the confines of the haunted asylum.

It was obvious that the weather had sapped a lot of energy from the cast. Everyone gave an honest effort but it seemed the edge was off the performance and I couldn’t fault them because it was that cold. However, true to the spirit of the haunt season, there were those with thicker hides who dug down deep and delivered. There was a busty nurse who earned our respect simply because she wore a skimpy outfit in such conditions. There was also a short orderly who offered us some medication from her metallic tray and as we would find out, this particular pill could be administered rectally. Last but not least, there was Jimmy an unseen specter who engaged us in a spine-tingling game of hide-n-seek before we escaped St. Lucifer’s by way of an uber-tight womb of doom.

Rating: 3.25 stars

13feetunder

The wait for 13 Feet Under was much shorter and for that we were thankful. An armed guard decked out in military gear briefed us on the situation inside the area we were about to enter, but his instructions were cut short when the chained doors behind us began to sway from the weight of the infected that had amassed on the other side.

13 Feet Under utilized the concept of a military containment zone to further the story and drive the pace of the haunted attraction. It was a highly effective approach as it created an environment in which it was easy to suspend disbelief. We found ourselves actively slinking around passages in an attempt to conceal ourselves from the infected, varying our speed depending on the situation.

We came to a checkpoint near the halfway point of the attraction where another guard was stationed; in her left hand she held a chain. She rattled off a lot of information about the infected and how we should proceed if we planned to survive the ordeal but by attention was diverted by what was on the other end of the chain. A dark-haired infected full of sarcasm and a devil-may-care attitude grappled with the restraint and if I’m being completely honest, the diseased dame was making eyes at yours truly. I held up a gloved hand to test the veracity of the claims that were being made by the female soldier, besides I wasn’t so sure I didn’t want to be bitten by this particular infected as she possessed a dark allure. She locked eyes, leaned in slowly, bared her teeth and sunk them straight into my hand.

I was shocked and impressed and a little turned on (but not too turned on because it was freezing). She pulled back careful not to break eye contact, raised her eyebrows and flashed a devilish smirk. I turned to John and professed my disbelief as never before had a haunt actor taken the chomp test so far.

Stunned and more than a little enamored, John and I reluctantly trudged forward with my seemingly infected hand in tow. We ducked through open sewage pipes flush with grates that sent light from above streaming eerily through the slates. We rounded on a choke point and were intercepted by a wide-eyed survivor who advised us to halt for a moment before he noisily rushed us ahead. Before we had a chance to contemplate the need to hurry, a massive snake uncoiled from behind a wall and nearly took a bite of its own. In our haste we lost both the snake and the kind stranger.

In the distance, through a series of tall and winding wrought-iron fencing, we spotted a camper. Was it a safe haven from the infected? Was there medical personnel on hand that could deal with my love bite? Such thoughts were pushed aside when we were forced to participate in an impromptu game of red light/green light. In our delirium, we may have applied a loose interpretation of the rules and then fled like insects when the chatting of a chainsaw chewed through the frigid night air.

Rating: 4 stars

“She actually bit me…hard.” 

-My stunned reaction when the dark-haired dame called my bluff.

Exit 13 Burns Hot during Frostbitten Finale

Posted in 2014, Exit 13, Review with tags , , , , , , on June 26, 2015 by bluefall8

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When John and I set out to make Horrorlust history last November 2nd it would be amidst some seriously frigid weather that threatened to sap the last burst of energy the 2014 haunt season had to offer, but as we were about to discover the lovable loonies at Exit 13 would have none of that.

Our adventure began when we were detained by Officer Hottie Pants, a tall and hairy 30-something male who attempted to intimidate us with the rules of the house. If his short-shorts weren’t enough, his moderately doughy gut exposed beneath his undersized tee-shirt suggested he would pounce on even a whiff of unlawful behavior and personally administer a full body cavity search. Neither John nor myself was in the mood to hear the cold snap of a rubber glove and as such we quickly agreed to follow all of the rules. Soon, free of the dubiously named Officer Hottie Pants, we descended into a crypt then through twin vortexes and into the raging horror show that is Exit 13.

There was a recurring bumpkin-gone-bad theme present at Exit 13, most notable was a tightly designed area lined with cornstalks that also featured the convincing facade of a humble hillbilly homestead. Outside the home and among the rows of corn were various clotheslines from which hung peeled and drying faces — an excellent touch. Elsewhere in the attraction was a spacious and painstakingly detailed general store that would’ve been right at home in Children of the Corn. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the rotund redneck we encountered in one room who enjoyed a large pot of stew in which the key ingredient was dear old mom.

But there was more to Exit 13 than rural settings and scares, for instance, we were struck by the unsettling doll room that featured one life-like creature who’s howling, porcelain visage is emblazoned in my mind to this day. Once we were free of that threat we were surprised by an enormous reaper who emitted a bioluminescent glow.

As the attraction drew to a close we happened upon a mausoleum where I was bodily lifted from my feet by a stout but seriously strong creep who picked me up by my armpits and held me against a wall of the crypt. When he had relinquished his grip John and I scooted into the adjoining graveyard where Stout n’ Strong and one of his minions secured my arms and legs and attempted to serve me up to a couple of approaching zombies.

Exit 13 wasn’t quite finished with us yet, no before we emerged with hides relatively intact, we would be assailed by iron hulks, harassed by a gang of crazies who tickled us with buzzing chainsaws and my hat was even stolen momentarily when a prisoner in a plague masked snatched it from my head. And most of that took place while we marveled at a hot, sadistic nurse who tortured a wailing amputee! On top of that, we would later discover that the missing leg was no gag.

Exit 13 excelled on so many levels as a haunted attraction by successfully blending a variety of scenes and scares. The entirety of the haunt is highly detailed and filled with immersive environments. In addition it also featured a complimentary balance of blackout halls, descending pathways and interestingly textured walls. It’s a lengthy haunted house that managed to maintain an ideal pace, populated by a fearless cast who utilized every tactic available to scare actors.

As good as Exit 13 has been it still has yet to reach it’s full potential, and that is definitely a compliment. After talking to some of the key people behind the attraction it’s clear that they’re intent on expansion, and quite frankly there isn’t a haunted playground big enough for the supercharged psychos that call Exit 13 home.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Crafting A Dark Legacy

Posted in 2014, Dark Legacy, Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2015 by bluefall8

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When Dark Legacy appeared in the Fear Finder and Haunt Guide last fall with full page advertisements it was clear that somebody wasn’t playing around. The mysterious haunted attraction was new to the Detroit scene but all indicators suggested that it was being organized and operated by anything but a rookie. Located in Wixom, Michigan, Dark Legacy featured three haunted attractions — Government Owned Haunt, Kensington Detention Center and Fang Cemetery. Each leg of Dark Legacy was intricately detailed and appropriately styled to match a specific theme but the true strength here was that the journey through Michigan’s newest haunt told a single, continuous story.

John and I made the trip out to Wixom on Devil’s Night and when we arrived enjoyed a conversation with owner Austin Denney and various members of his staff. They were each enthusiastic and knowledgable about their respective roles and positions within the hierarchy of Dark Legacy; a few of them even seemed intrigued by our travels throughout the state and lands behind in our never ending chase for screams. As John and I would soon learn, our trek through Dark Legacy would become another memorable entry in our book of horrors.

The fun began in the queue area which had been fitted with prop steel girders that had been expertly distressed to create an authentic aged industrial appearance. The look set the stage well for the quasi-military research facility known simply as Government Owned Haunt. This area was dominated by large rooms and the elaborate props that had been thoughtfully selected and placed within them.

One area contained an impressive security control panel flush with monitors, switches and buttons. Another room contained a series of cages which held shrieking, thrashing animatronic monkeys and yet another laboratory saw us witness the electrocution of a tall zombie. His limbs flopped and flapped as the electricity coursed through his rotting body and then suddenly the contraption spun violently and revealed a hidden chamber from which a live actor sprung and chased us from the room.

Elsewhere, there was a strange doctor with alien specimens followed by an eye-catching hallway that featured a sliding floor and a series of dancing lasers. Amidst such eye candy it might come as a surprise that the most memorable moment inside Government Owned Haunt occurred in a very small room that was humbly decorated with a simple chair and small, floor model television. Static filled the screen for a moment but then a shape began to emerge from the white noise, a human face forced itself from the snow-driven abyss! John and I were bewildered and observed the phenomenon from various angles as a way to test the merit of the illusion. Shockingly, no matter the angle the bizarre head pushed forward from the television set. It was an awesome sight and something John and I have witnessed exactly once in all of our haunted house adventures.

We exited Government Owned Haunt and found ourselves in an alley complete with dumpster and one fetid creature who mindlessly pushed a shopping cart. This area served as a transitional one and was smartly designed to maintain continuity while it guided customers from Government Owned Haunt to Kensington Detention Center.

Kensington Detention Center, like Government Owned Haunt before it, offered immersive scenes that transported guests to a defunct facility where all manner of experiments had been conducted on the hapless souls trapped within the walls. John and I would have the pleasure of meeting several of those hapless souls as we traversed Kensington’s haunted halls.

One of the most animated characters came in the form of a small woman who wore a medical gown and had recently lost an eye. There was a metallic instrument clutched in one of her hands and as we interacted with this excitable patient it became apparent that she had likely performed the grisly surgery herself! It wasn’t long before she intimated that she’d love nothing more than to add one of our peepers to her collection.

Kensington Detention Center also showcased several props with integrated video elements and without a doubt the most exciting of the bunch was a shipping crate that had been chained to the ground and bore the words: Biohazard. The wooden box rocked back and forth as if something on the inside violently thrashed for freedom. A window near the top of the box afforded us a view into the interior and as we peered into the unknown a monstrous face suddenly appeared in the window etched with rage and anguish.

Soon thereafter, we traveled through a morgue and then entered the hallowed grounds of Fang Cemetery. The cemetery was highlighted by an imposing series of catacombs and an awesome graveyard scene that utilized an explosion of light, sound and movement to deliver a heart-pounding jump scare when a stone gargoyle suddenly turned animate and disrupted our progress.

When we emerged from Dark Legacy I noted that the haunted expedition had chewed up roughly 25 minutes — a length that easily surpassed the average haunted attraction. The triple threat spook house managed to avoid the pitfall of rushing guests through at a break-neck pace but also made sure to eliminate any energy-sucking dead spots.

The attention to detail cannot be understated; each room was decorated with a wealth of props, animatronics and other set decor that enhanced the atmosphere and reinforced the overall illusion of a haunted attraction. The cast was an above average one punctuated by a few standouts who served the narrative of Dark Legacy quite well. And enough cannot be said about the flow from one attraction to the next — too often this is an overlooked or neglected aspect of a haunted attraction and when done poorly can break the spell operators work so hard create.

We’re also big supporters of the growing trend of the use of so-called actor-matronics, the hybrid of live actors and animatronic costumes. In my mind this isn’t just limited to actors wearing this style of costume but can also include instances of actors delivering a scare alongside an animatronic. Dark Legacy put this practice to use on at least two occasions — first when we encountered the electrified zombie and then later when we crossed paths with a hulking robot of sorts who gave us quite the surprise indeed.

In some ways Dark Legacy put me in mind of House of the Dead at Terror Town but that isn’t to suggest that the team here isn’t carving out a unique identity. Dark Legacy opened the haunted toolbox and built an attraction that utilized all of the tools and techniques that make a haunted house fun and exciting. It was a hell of a foundation that Dark Legacy laid out in 2014 which should only lend itself to future success.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Hush Evolved

Posted in 2014, Hush, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2015 by bluefall8

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On Devil’s Night 2013, we visited a rookie haunted attraction located in Westland, Michigan known simply as Hush. The experience was a memorable one and Hush would go on to be named the 2013 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year. As fate would have it, we would return one year to the day and test our will against Dr. Phineas Phun and his creations at the Hush Corporation.

We approached the front doors and were soon reacquainted with the madman of malpractice, the aforementioned Dr. Phineas Phun. It would seem that the good doctor doesn’t forget a face because he instantly recognized John and I and immediately he launched into suggestive quips and darkly playful banter.

As Dr. Phun toyed with us as a cat does a mouse, I noticed to our left a second man who was dressed in a medical coat. He was tall with long black hair and sported a child-like smile; he waved repeatedly and eyed us stupidly. Dr. Phun noted the exchange and introduced us to his rather special brother, Phileas Phun. Phileas seemed docile and even friendly, but prior experience had taught me not to trust a member of the Phun family — just how many offspring had Momma Phun produced anyway? I wouldn’t have time to ponder the thought further as the Phun Brothers bade us an ominous farewell and ushered us into the Hush Corporation.

HUSH 2.0

John and I found ourselves in a small but sleek reception area, a short secretary approached us from behind a desk and began to explain the cutting edge scientific experimentation performed at the Hush Corporation. There was an alien sheen to her hair and her face was marked with curious, phosphorescent symbols. However, it was her words that were strangest of all — she spoke in a clear and direct manner but her cadence was stilted. Her words and sentences possessed no flow, no soul. It was as if she were merely reading from a script, emotionless. It was almost as if the very words coming out of her mouth had been programmed.

She asked no questions and gave no indication she regarded us with anything other than cold indifference. She had made her way to a door opposite the desk and with cocked, twitching head she began to repeat the same phrase over and over and over. John and I took this as our cue to exit before she turned into an angry android.

We wandered the darkened halls of the Hush Corporation dodging booby traps and lurking critters; we steeled our nerves when made to pass an incinerator complete with glowing embers, heat and steam. Shortly, we had descended into an elaborate sewer system where pipes carried the runoff of all manner of foulness being conducted at the shadowy Hush Corporation.

As we crept and ducked our way through the labrythine pipes, a writhing, hunched creature hunted us from the dank shadows. As the repellant monstrosity slunk through shafts of light I caught a momentarily glimpse of its grotesque face. It put me strongly in mind of the sewer-dwelling Flukeman that Agents Mulder and Scully once confronted in an episode of The X-Files.

Moments later we encountered a bald, middle-aged doctor who had been confined to a steel cage that appeared to be suspended above a dark waterway. Our sudden presence seemed to excite him; he flapped his hands and attempted to reach out to us all while he cooed and made other silly sounds. Why had this doctor been locked inside of a cage in the sewer system? Was he a would be whistleblower who attempted to expose the Hush Corporation? Was this another member of the Phun family? Would he and his steel prison plummet to a watery grave?

John and I had no time to ponder such questions, pursued by a mutant toilet monster as we were. We soon emerged from the musty atmosphere of the sewer system and found ourselves once again surrounded by the inner workings of the Hush Corporation. We turned a corner and spotted what appeared to be the kind of large display case one would expect to see at a zoo. A pair of male patients, or more accurately specimens, were going absolutely bonkers inside the enclosure.

The duo pulled at their hair, pounded the glass with their fists and issued primal screams as if under persistent psychological torture. Rage and lunacy danced wildly in their eyes and quite suddenly one of the pair attempted to escape the cage by climbing through a narrow opening in the ceiling. When he failed in his bid to escape he utilized his new perch to violently grab hold of and strangle his cellmate.

Next, we entered a brightly-lit medical laboratory and immediately heard the opening notes of a familiar nursery rhyme. A petite, attractive blonde dressed in a lab coat moved jerkily toward an operating table and in her hand was a large needle. Upon the slab was a slumped cadaver and as we processed the scene, the sinister songstress theatrically thrust the needle into the stiff. The injection revitalized the corpse and in an instant, John and I found ourselves being stalked by both the reanimate and Dr. Blondie.

We didn’t fancy ourselves as just another victim of the Hush Corporation and therefore took our leave of the two. In fact, as we fled the scene we transitioned into an outdoor area filled with crates and shipping containers. We hadn’t made it far before we’d attracted the attention of several pint-sized monsters who were briskly intercepted by armed guards. The guards vocally rushed us forward and as John and I plowed onward the tail of Hush orphans seemed to swell in our wake.

Through undoubtedly unpleasant means the team of mercenaries kept the Hushies at bay which afforded John and I one last demonstration from a staff member of the Hush Corporation. We happened upon a large containment chamber, through a window was visible the ugly mug of a beastly specimen in suspended animation.

A tall, lean female scientist stood beside the cryogenic apparatus and instantly began to recite a litany of facts and figures about the technology employed by the Hush Corporation. She bore many of the physical hallmarks displayed by the cyborg receptionist we’d encountered at the beginning of our journey but she did seem knowledgeable and confident about her work on this particular project.

My eyes darted from her to the frosty fellow inside the chamber. Had I just saw it blink? Was the equipment about to malfunction?! Just as she reassured us of the stability of the machinery, the cryogenic freak lurched forward and secured a meaty paw around the throat of our loquacious host. Once again, armed guards descended upon the area shouting orders and brandishing weapons. And with that John and I were swept from the Hush Corporation, fortunate to have survived unscathed.

FULL DISCLOSURE

Too often, upstart haunted attractions suffer from a sophomore slump but such was not the case at Hush in 2014. The team manufactured an eye-catching new facade, implemented a series of expertly detailed and highly immersive scenes and skillfully executed several special effects which all served to engineer a complete overhaul of the show.

Hush was well-paced, stuck to a theme, told an enjoyable story and the most talented actors were smartly saved for key sequences. The team behind Hush is young, ambitious and has accomplished a lot on the Michigan haunt scene in just two years. I look forward to the future evolution of Hush Haunted House.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Haunted Hexad Fuels Wiard’s Night Terrors

Posted in 2014, Review, Wiard's Night Terrors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2015 by bluefall8

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The air was dry, the sky was clear and the revelers were out in throngs to experience the haunted happenings that Wiard’s Night Terrors had to offer. Less than 24 hours ago I had been in the Cleveland, Ohio area to tour both The Fear Experience and Bloodview and now I stood in Ypsilanti, Michigan on the threshold of six additional haunted attractions.

The flurry of activity near the entrance of the thrill park was matched by the dizzying buzz inside my mind. I had attempted some ambitious haunt endeavors in the past but this schedule was a whole other beast. When combined, The Fear Experience, Bloodview and Wiard’s Night Terrors featured roughly a dozen haunted attractions and I was on pace to tour them all in little more than a 24-hour period! Was I mad?!! Had I lost my mind?!!! Was it even possible to enjoy the hallowed pastime of haunting at such a breakneck pace??!!! Would I be able to commit enough details to memory in order to draft a review???!!!

This blog isn’t called Horrorlust for nothing.

It was time to switch off the mental machine and simply soak in the energy that surrounded me. I had brought my teenaged sister-in-law, Madison, along for the night of frights as she had never before experienced a thrill park of this magnitude. I thought it would be fun to gauge her reactions in contrast to those of the more grizzled veterans who are usually by my side for these nocturnal horror shows.

We were shortly joined by Brandon Wiard, one of the operators here and the man who had extended us an invite. He had been making the rounds, snapping photos and when he arrived he had with him a camera which led us into a conversation about photography and another passion of mine, videography. When able, Brandon served as a tour guide throughout the night and the first attraction he recommended we visit was the Hayride of the Lost.

PROTECT IT WITH FIRE

Hayride of the Lost pulled us through the backwoods of Wiard’s Orchard where a gang of unruly moonshiners had set up shop. There was a frail old man who popped out of a window and issued a comical warning near the beginning of the woodland jaunt; I can only assume it was his kinfolk we encountered deeper into the woods.

The hayride was highlighted by several impressive fire balls, detailed facades and one flying, chainsaw wielding maniac who assailed us from above inside of a barn. The tour did suffer from a couple of lulls in the action and I would’ve welcomed a little more interaction — especially from the creepy but relatively stoic firemen who guarded the aforementioned barn — but on the whole the Hayride of the Lost was a fun experience capable of being enjoyed by all ages. Did I mention we were given cider and donuts at the conclusion of the ride?

Rating: 3.5 stars

Once we had disembarked and wolfed down our treats, we gleefully watched a fire juggler perform for the crowd. I always appreciate quality side shows with my haunted attractions, and this chap delighted us with his skillful fire play and timely wit.

When his act had concluded we reconnected with Brandon who led us to the entrance of Splattertown, a zombie paintball shoot. This was actually the first time I’d participated in such an attraction and I was looking forward to unleashing multi-colored mayhem all over some rotting enemies.

However, before we could fight the undead menace, we had to place headphones onto our ears and listen to some rules and strategy about safely defeating the oncoming uglies as they were called. Once that business had finished we got down to the task at hand as a wave of zombies shambled into view.

I took a few pot shots at a distant zombie and then keyed on the walker nearest my location and prided myself on head shots. It wasn’t long before my juvenile instincts kicked into overdrive and I sent repeated shots to that same zombie’s crotch, and it was evident from the splattering of paint in the region that plenty of other previous participants, like myself, possessed the maturity of a 12-year-old boy.

The whole affair only lasted a minute or two but it was fun and ludicrous. I appreciated that the creators of the attraction had decided to include the recorded instructions as it really added to the atmosphere and overall fun factor of the event. As we exited, I conferred with Maddie and she too had shamelessly peppered the private parts of some dim-witted zombie.

A LITTLE CIRCUS, A LITTLE SCI-FI

One of my favorite attractions of the night was Alien Caged Clowns, a short haunt that possessed a lot of charm and creativity. A series of stagecoach wagons served as the queue line to enter the attraction, a few of them featured colorful banners that advertised wondrous acts.

A metal pole was situated at the end of the stagecoach wagons and atop it sat a small alien spaceship that housed a single clownish occupant. It was aglow with various lights and exuded a kitsch, throwback style; it reminded me of something found at a county fair in days gone by.

The final stagecoach emptied into the interior of Alien Caged Clowns where a short passage had been decorated with large wooden crates and clown memorabilia. There was even a monitor that displayed a clown who creepily danced (sometimes with balloons) to old timey music.

We were greeted by a most curious ringmaster when we entered the attraction, the fact that his spinal cord was exposed did nothing to diminish his spirits as he lively regaled us with wordplay and silly puns.

As Brandon would later explain to us, the creatures inside Alien Caged Clowns weren’t necessarily clowns in the traditional since but instead a feral alien race. I thought that was an interesting wrinkle and a fresh, fun perspective on a tried and true haunted house troupe.

The haunt employed a heavy dose of fog and strobes which made navigating the maze-like passages quite a challenge and also provided ideal cover for numerous pop out scares. Unlike other attractions in this vein, Alien Caged Clowns did not use chain-linked fence or wooden planks to form the twisting path, instead the maze was constructed of white bars which allowed the bizarre creatures to grab at us along the way.

We were treated to another bit of fun at the end of the attraction when we were made to play a guessing game before we realized we had to crouch and exit through a concealed box.

Alien Caged Clowns was colorful, quirky, fun and has, in my opinion, plenty of potential for growth.

Rating: 3.75 stars

MIND SHAFT MAYHEM

The facade outside the Mind Shaft haunted attraction was easily my favorite — a collection of wooden beams and barrels, mining tools and even a small train. The interior of the structure was no less impressive — highlighted by immersive sets, heart-pounding sounds and a fun-filled, breakneck pace.

Several characters and areas of note included a grubby, beady-eyed miner who entertained waiting guests, also a second minor who was the victim of an unfortunate ,and rather creative, cave-in scene. Finally, I was delightfully surprised by a large, hairy, Sasquatch-like prop which sprung up from beneath a bed of fog near the conclusion of the attraction.

Mind Shaft was a well-balanced haunted attraction that was true to its theme and delivered timely jump scares mixed with moments of excitement and laughter.

Rating: 4 stars

A TRIP TO THE FUNNY FARM

The next demon to be slain was the formidable, Asylum. We entered the building with a group of strangers and were greeted by a Dr. J. Wiard who seemed anything but a competent medical professional. We found ourselves in a small reception area, several chairs lined two opposing walls. The maniacal medicine man didn’t seem in a hurry to be rid of us so most of us took a seat while a couple of people stood awkwardly.

Dr. Wiard eyed the group with what appeared to be a mixture of curiosity and contempt. The little room had grown silent and suddenly I was all too aware of a rising tension. It felt like something bad was about to happen, an impending doom inched closer. Suddenly, Dr. J. Wiard picked up a phone that hung on the wall and when his conversation was finished we were instructed to leave our seats and begin down a nearby hallway.

The Asylum featured a collection of highly detailed and memorable scenes which included an electrocution that so convinced Maddie of its authenticity that she slammed herself with great force against a wall when the condemned delivered a posthumous jump scare. I could be found hunched over in laughter just a few feet away; the expert timing of the actor combined with Maddie’s shocked reaction created one of the best electrocution gags I’ve ever witnessed.

Two other scenes of note occurred near the end of the attraction — in one we found ourselves inside a high-ceilinged room adorned with twinkling lights and festive Christmas decorations. A scrawny, surly Santa Claus bemoaned our presence although he wasn’t a complete grinch as we did exchange a couple of light-hearted quips before Maddie and I departed his dwelling.

The last scene of interest consumed us entirely in an oppressive fog that left me disoriented and with a sensation that this white nothingness stretched out endlessly across space and time. It was an odd and unsettling feeling, I stopped momentarily in an attempt to gauge my sense of direction. There was nothing but a thick swirl of white abyss before my face, I turned to say something to Maddie and when I turned back around I was startled to find myself nose to nose with a gruesome face. A hideous, hanging prop was mere inches in front of me and had quite literally appeared as if from nowhere. The distinct chatter of a chainsaw ripped through the whiteout and hastened our search for the exit.

Rating: 4 stars

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF APPLE THIEVES

The Ultimate Haunted Barn is the oldest of all the haunted attractions at Wiard’s Night Terrors and as such is arguably the premier event. We entered the structure and were told to wait in front of a bank of monitors that all displayed the same bizarre sequence of flashing images. There were pigs, a laughing puppet and other unnerving oddities. It felt like we were being brainwashed in advance of some unethical psychological torture.

In the next room we were introduced to Curtis, a tall, lean young man with a hint of a southern drawl. Curtis spoke rapidly of his vast collection of goods which were displayed throughout the room. He intimated that he had amassed such a treasure trove by less than honest means but in the next breath stated plainly that any accusations of such would not be met with politeness. Curtis spoke with quickness and clarity; his voice possessed a mesmerizing cadence dashed with a pinch of wit. He was, without a doubt, the most well-rounded and fully formed character we encountered during our tour of Wiard’s Night Terrors.

The remainder of our trek through the Ultimate Haunted Barn was a mixture of humor, tension, jump scares and a bit of gore. In one darkened corner a grimy man appeared behind a window of chicken wire and sent a shower of sparks in our directions while he zestfully shouted, “Sweet Meat!” Although I fought the urge, the dark recesses of my mind refused to be denied and up to the surface swam a peculiar selection of banjo music accompanied by that infamous scene from Deliverance.

Other highlights from the Ultimate Haunted Barn included a crawling creep who popped out of a cabinet, a chainsaw-wielding nutter who swung above our heads and one seriously imposing butcher who momentarily assailed us before he returned to his twitching and bloody victim who had been hung from the ceiling. There was also a moment of separation where men and woman were forced to traverse different paths, a time-honored psychological ploy.

Rating: 3.75 stars

Wiard’s Night Terrors offered us an array of fun and diverse haunted attractions. It’s a full-fledged operation complete with concessions, bonfires, line entertainment and even Scareyoke. The atmosphere is festive and on a clear night the sky is beautiful. Wiard’s Night Terrors was a pleasure to tour and an ideal way to spend a night during the hallowed month of October.

Maddie and I capped off the night by posing for a picture with this fine gentleman.

Maddie and I capped off the night by posing for a picture with this fine gentleman.