Archive for the Funeral Home Category

The Haunted Funeral Home Mostly Stiff

Posted in 2014, Funeral Home, Review with tags , , , on October 6, 2014 by bluefall8

Work on The CikNis had prevented the chance for many early haunt season visits but on Saturday, September 27, I simply couldn’t wait any longer so Cikalo and I hit the road for a bit of local flavor at Inkster’s Haunted Funeral Home. This attraction isn’t anything mind-blowing but I did have a pair of fun visits there in 2011 and then again last year, unfortunately the latest foray was a decided dud but I’m still happy that we ventured out that night because there are lessons to be learned from shortcomings of The Haunted Funeral Home.

Our trip began has it usually does here when we relinquished our tickets to the doorman — a sharply dressed man fit for a funeral who bears a slight resemblance to my stepfather (that’s just an odd personal aside). Anyway, this character is great in appearance but the man behind the makeup, due to reasons that escape me, did not see fit to play the role. He merely accepted our tickets as he has in years past and ushered us into the haunted house. It is a monumental waste of an opportunity to interact with guests and prime them for the adventure that awaits.

The Haunted Funeral Home is a short attraction, a ten minute estimate would be generous, a more accurate count is closer to seven or eight and this year there just wasn’t much of substance in that time. We did enjoy a couple of actors — a stout clown offered a few moments of wise-cracking banter, elsewhere a lunatic witch rapped the cracked skull of an infant against a fireplace mantle. There were a few neat props too — a head that sprung from a pumpkin or pot, a crawling, glowing zombie and a super-sized dummy that loomed above us threateningly as we crept along a darkened hall.

There was too the signature scene of The Haunted Funeral Home, a ghoul who played a mournful tune on a genuine organ but it was all a blur of pedestrian scares and lackluster interaction otherwise. The very design of the place is entirely uninspired, consisting primarily of repetitious black hallways and scant scenes. The cast was mediocre at best with little individual personality and offered precious few scares that weren’t predictable. A handful of them were poorly hidden, half-heartedly crouching behind a wall or otherwise caught out of position.

The back-half of the haunt did feature a pair of actors who attempted to bring a little something more to their characters but each failed in their execution. The first was dressed in medical scrubs and brandished a bone saw, she professed a desire to cut a piece from Cikalo and of course we obliged. I love to give actors a chance to make guests an active part of the show but sometimes the actor can bite off more than they can chew. The whacked-out surgeon raised the tool to Cikalo’s ear, mimed sawing for a moment and then dropped an invisible chunk of flesh onto a table…and we departed.

The conclusion of the attraction was similar in that an actor painted himself into a corner. We found ourselves trapped in a dark room when suddenly the sound of a chainsaw ripped through the silence, the lights flickered and an imposing mass shuffled out of the shadows. The masked actor charged and immediately began shouting, “Get the fuck out of my house.” We paused a moment to allow the act to unfold but that crude, unimaginative sentence was apparently all this character could muster.

I understand that in general it’s more difficult to frighten adults inside of a haunted attraction; especially grown men. I have no doubt that some actors feel that they need to be more abrasive with such an audience but this is the wrong way to express that. Shouting obscenities isn’t just uncreative and unprofessional, the practice is ultimately stifling for an actor. Honestly, as an actor in a haunted attraction, where do you expect to go once those coarse commands have been shouted or how will you react when a customer does indeed offer up that appendage for the taking? The lesson here for actors is simply to avoid painting oneself into a corner.

An actor isn’t going to chop off the ear of a guest so it shouldn’t be threatened, instead it should be implied. The mere suggestion of such is a much more effective scare tactic and will provide more freedom with the act going forward. Likewise, actors should avoid direct commands that often lead to the same problem. I enjoy and applaud haunted house actors who tailor their performance for individuals and groups; some colorful language and raunchy mannerisms can be effective but it has to be done correctly. Use innuendo, provide customers an ultimatum — don’t merely bark obscenities.

On a positive note, there was an additional scene I failed to mention earlier that was worth a mention — near the end of the attraction we passed a bathtub that held the remains of an emaciated corpse and that’s precisely the kind of thing I’d like to see more of at The Haunted Funeral Home.

Rating: 1.25 stars

Creepy Crawlers Infest Funeral Home

Posted in 2013, Funeral Home, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2013 by bluefall8

The fun and lively lyrics of “Time Warp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show delighted our ears as we waited in line to enter the Funeral Home in Inkster. We happened to be the only people waiting in line, an ominous quality crept into the air the longer we stood there — alone. A heavy door stood before us, firmly shut. A singular peep hole was inlaid into the center of the door and we began to get the impression that we were being watched.

No sooner had this unsettling realization crept over us, a voice called out from the other side — a woman, begging for our help. Madison and I weren’t in a helping mood and therefore the stranger’s plea were met only by mild amusement. Suddenly, there was a second voice. This one belonged to a man and he wasn’t happy with the owner of the first voice. We heard the sounds of a struggle and then silence followed once more by the male voice which said to us, “You didn’t hear anything.”

The door swung open with some force and before us stood a stiff in a suit, his skin a bluish gray hue. Silently he took our tickets and with a wave of his arm ushered us into the Funeral Home.

The dead heads inside were amped up the moment we crossed the threshold, after all, a pair of fleshies don’t simply wander into the domain of the dead without attracting a fair amount of attention. Shrieks and catcalls reverberated through the air, a raucous pounding caused the walls to tremble; an utter cacophony of noise exploded throughout the place and accompanied us for the duration of our journey.

The vast majority of the cast wore full face masks just as they had during a visit in 2011; a fact that I bemoaned at the time. I think this haunt would be much more frightening if the cast were in face paint or perhaps even half masks but I’ve come to accept the Funeral Home for what it is. Some actors appeared as horror icons like Michael Myers or Jigsaw’s Puppet while others portrayed a litany of common Halloween staples such as skeletons, clowns, witches, and ghouls.

The rambunctious cast succeeded in many startle scares and displayed fair improvisational skills. Our favorites included a talkative, agile goblin near the beginning of the haunt who lacked an understanding of personal space. We also had a fun exchange with an elderly harlequin who had an interesting collection of toys. Mid-way through the attraction a witch peered down at us from a top a wall and let loose a scream so full of primal rage it was almost comical, her face all aquiver. Elsewhere,  a skeletal creature clawed at us from behind a window and then suddenly appeared around the next turn to confront us face to face (okay, face to skull).

The conclusion of the Funeral Home put a welcome spin on an old troupe, Maddie and I were led into a room were a flash of light offered us a brief glimpse of our surroundings — we weren’t alone. A ghoul with a bloated face was armed with a chainsaw and as the room plunged once more into darkness, his weapon roared to life. I made a conscious effort to drag my feet as to allow my fiendish friend ample time to terrorize my beloved sister-in-law. I believe it took all of two seconds before she she jabbed her hands into my back and urgently yelled, “Go! Go!”

The design of the Funeral Home won’t win any awards and the overall length definitely left a lot to be desired. With those shortcomings in mind the Funeral Home still offered an enjoyable, if not standard, haunted house experience.

Rating: 3 stars

Realm of Haunted Minds and Funeral Home a fitting pair for Windswept Outing

Posted in 2011, Funeral Home, Realm of Haunted Minds, Review with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2011 by bluefall8

The night was chilly, a steady rain fell, the wind reminded us that we were not alone. Our first stop brought us to Realm of Haunted Minds at the Huron Turkey Farm in Romulus. The building adjacent the parking lot is decorated with a variety of illuminated outlines — ghosts, bats, and an assortment of Halloween fixtures welcome you to this enclave of fright. Inside guests purchase tickets amidst a gallery of rogues — full sized replicas of some of Hollywood’s greatest horror icons mingle along side obscure creatures such as one oddly slouched harlequin. As haunters make their way to the main attraction they wind a path through a series of miniature structures, here an old school house, a jail, and even a saloon — this year a swamp creature even lurked the grounds. After some brief exploration we entered the Realm of Haunted Minds.

The front foyer bears resemblance to dungeon has changed slightly since our last visit in 2008. Instead of the house rules being delivered by a creepy animatronic wizard they are now presented to guests by a large Frankenstein monster which partially rises from its slab when addressing guests. Upon finishing his message Frankie falls back into a slumber and a pair of doors open to the left. Realm of Haunted Minds is comprised mostly of black hallways splattered with neon colored paint, a good balance of classic haunt fundamentals mixed with a modern carnivalesque edge. Like a number of Jaycees productions Realm of Haunted Minds isn’t going to blow guests away with sleek animatronics or a slew of gory props but what haunters will enjoy is the creative carpentry that is put to use. A haunted attraction is one of the few forms of entertainment where patrons can actually interact with the environment but if operators fail to implement ways to facilitate this then the show can be diminished. Here guests are confronted with a room full of doors, all of them false save for one. This technique forces haunters to face the mystery of each possibility and in a sense find their own way out. It doesn’t hurt either when the minds behind the show go the extra mile and add a twist like making the doors child sized. I’m also a big fan of ramps and slopes in haunted attractions, part of the success of any haunt is in frightening patrons which can be accomplished in a litany of ways. In the case of ramps or slopes haunters can be thrown off balance or forced to exert themselves more than normal which will in turn require them to be even more aware of their environment. These are subtle strokes but they can make all the difference to a small haunt and Realm of Haunted Minds does these nicely.

Realm of Haunted Minds also uses paint in effective ways. One area of the haunt featured a vortex tunnel, something that a lot of haunts now have (in fact we just saw one last week at the Scream Machine.) What sets this one apart is the paint pattern on the fabric of the tubular wall. Most haunts will give you the star pattern or a similar design but here their were multiple designs with the most prominent being a series of swirling ribbons that coiled the entire length of the tunnel. It was a nice touch that truly enhanced the feeling of traversing a portal. Another area where the paint pattern stood out was located near the middle of the haunt. After rounding a corner we came upon a purple and yellow polka dotted room lit entirely by a black light. The room had a strange glow about it and the light made the dots look almost as if they were floating in mid-air. To our immediate left a small window featured an elaborately painted clown and when we paused for a closer look it disappeared in a blink to reveal a clownish ghoul.

In 2008 my biggest criticism of Realm of Haunted Minds fell to the actors therein and I’d be lying if I said the criticism is no longer warranted. On the whole the haunt could use more warm bodies, the first half of the attraction in particular was scant of breathing beings. The most glaring examples of squandered opportunities came early, first in a dungeon scene that included a pair of empty stocks and then in the meat locker chucked full of hanging corpses. There can’t be a live actor in each room not every dark hallway has to have a ghoul. Different rooms serve different purposes, a darkened hallway for instance allows a guest’s imagination do the work. The purpose of the scenes described above however build anticipation through visual cues — in these instances the stocks in the dungeon and the bodies hanging from the ceiling in the meat locker — when there’s no payoff such as a screaming ghoulie what anticipation was built is now lost. The second half of the haunt was more accomplished in this area but here often times the delivery of the actors left something to be desired. That’s not to suggest that they were bad, some even managed to deliver mild startles, but as a whole the cast was pedestrian. Few of them offered much else than a scream or a growl and seemed resistant to engage us as individual haunters as opposed to a mindless horde. The best exception to this was of course our favorite ankle sniping dark dame. Three years ago she professed a desire to bite our ankles and her performance didn’t disappoint this year either. She entertained us with on the spot vocalizations and when I let John’s name slip she pounced on the chance to personalize the experience. As we exited her area she gave chase through three other rooms, all while crawling of course.

Near the end of the attraction there are several dead ends (an underutilized trick in my opinion) which eventually lead to the ever enjoyable ‘Womb of Doom’, this year I decided to plant my feet about halfway through the structure and cause what I’m pleased to learn was quite a confusing backup.

Realm of Haunted Minds is a fun, family friendly haunted attraction. There’s a lot of good aspects here grounded in fundamental haunting but there’s also room for improvement most namely the issues concerning placement and delivery of the actors. Undoubtedly though a nice place to have so close to home.

Rating: 3 1/4 stars

“Ohhhh, Johnnyyyyy!”

-Realm of Haunted Minds’ Creepy Crawler, after I let John’s name slip.

“Is there anything down there?”

“No. All I see is Lon Chaney’s face as the Phantom of the Opera painted on the wall.”

-Cikalo and I realizing we’d stumbled upon a dead end.

The second and final stop of the night brought us to Inkster’s Funeral Home. This attraction has only run for a couple of seasons and in all honesty it’s not a place I’ve ever seriously considering visiting, but sometimes half the fun of this whole season is in taking unintended adventures — for proof of that I have no further to look than our 2009 visit to Haunted Hollows in Armada. The Funeral Home is indeed held at a true to life, former funeral parlor — an ideal place for a haunted attraction. The front of the building is garishly trimmed in red and has a large window displaying an array of a dummies. We parked in a lot behind the funeral home where John was the recipient of a ghastly scare before we had even exited the vehicle — more on this later. We proceeded to a small, sliding window on the side of the building from which haunters purchased a ticket. I couldn’t help but wonder what purpose such a window would have served at an actual funeral home. Was this drive-thru urn pick up? Did loved ones of the deceased schedule services this way? Had severed heads been chucked unceremoniously out this window for little more than shits and giggles??!! One can never truly be sure of such things.

After we had our tickets we proceeded to a back door which oddly served as the entrance to the haunted attraction. A man dressed in a suit appeared from behind the door — the funeral director, of course. It’s always a nice touch when the ticket taker is also a character. It’s the same idea behind line entertainment, a chance to engage the guests before entering the attraction itself. This particular doormen was dressed the part but he wasn’t playing the part and that dampened the effect. Once inside the haunt we were treated to a fair effort at a location with promise. I was initially surprised that the haunt was comprised of dark hallways with black flaps hanging above the openings between rooms. I was expecting and hoping for more of a traditional funeral home decor and that is definitely something I think the operators should change going forward. There were a few areas where this was showcased but it wasn’t nearly enough. What good is it to run a haunted attraction out of an old funeral home and not play to that fact heavily. That’s not to say the show was unenjoyable but it was a show that could have been put on in any building. There was a neat scene in one hallway where a narrow strip of floor was actually thick plexiglass. Below a slab was visible, a bloody smock thrown haphazardly across it — and that’s precisely what I would have loved to see more. Send me to the morgue, a room full of caskets, the incinerator!

There were a lot of actors in the Funeral Home and some of them were serviceable like the shouting creep who emerged from what looked like a bar? Collectively however the cast was underwhelming. Most of the actors wore masks, masks of horror movie icons to be precise, which can work under certain conditions but certainly there was a better option to fit the theme of this haunt. A large number of the actors lacked the knowledge of a proper scare, for example on several occasions we entered a room and encountered what we believed to be a prop but what was in fact an expertly still actor. In more than one instance I even leaned in for a closer looked and wondered aloud whether it was a prop or not and when nothing happened I proceeded through the room. The actor finally delivered the scare when we began to depart the room. The result was a barely there scare in fact those of us at the front of the line were more confused than anything else. In these instances it would have made much more sense if the actor were to have sprung to life when being inspected. Here I was wondering aloud whether it was a prop, what better set up could you ask for?!

I did take note that the theme from 1978’s Halloween was playing throughout our journey in the Funeral Home and any haunt operator in doubt over music can’t go wrong with that choice. On an amusing note there was a ghoul playing a piano near the end of the attraction, he had his back turned to us as we entered the room and therefore I was not able to immediately peg him for a genuine fleshy. Another rather humorous moment occurred when I spotted a window to my right, what appeared to be a macabre bedroom lie beyond the threshold. I asked a nearby creep if perhaps that was the rape room. Funeral homes have those right? We turned a corner, walked down a hallway and then spotted a door to our right. There was also an apparent path that led straight ahead and for a moment we wondered where we were supposed to go. An actor dressed as Jigsaw’s Puppet from Saw had lurked into the hall as well but he was apparently in no mood to offer assistance.

We decided to go through the door on the right and found ourselves in imminent danger. We had unwittingly waltzed directly into the aforementioned Rape Room! I saw a door at the other end of the room and decided to go through that as well. It lead to another hallway and here there were two doors, one directly in front of us and a second to the left. I tried the one on the left (a bathroom if the sign on the door can be trusted) and called inside but heard nothing in response. I even tried the light switch but nothing so we ventured on. The next door led us to a similar hallway and I was sure we had taken a wrong turn. Why hadn’t that damn overgrown puppet warned us I wondered. Did he want us to go into the Rape Room? We had noticed a doorway that led back into the haunt in the previous hallway, strangely enough this doorway led back to the room on the opposite side of the Rape Room — the room we’d first glimpse the Rape Room. Possessing no desire to be defiled by man-sized puppets (well maybe Alec desired that) we beat a hasty retreat back to the proper path.

The monsters seemed momentarily caught off guard but recovered quickly enough and soon we came to the haunt’s conclusion, yet another point of strangeness. The path turned to what seemed to be a dead end. A new age Michael Myers stood menacing and silent near the only thing that appeared to be a doorway but it wouldn’t budge. I figured we were being held in the room for a moment to deliver a scare so after a couple of attempts at the door Cikalo and I simply plopped down on an old couch. Mr. Myers remained as still as a statue, ignoring our questions just as that pervert of a puppet had earlier. Then suddenly he darted from the room as if he had somewhere better to be. Pounding could be heard from the other side of the door so I thought it was time to give it another try and just then it sprang open and nearly blasted me in the face. An unseen force had propelled the door in my direction but luckily my face was spared a proper smashing. We proceeded into a dark room and for a moment all was silent but then a loud noise jarred the room to life, a red light bathed all, and a large cretin delivered an inspired final scare.

The Funeral Home was enjoyable but the same show that we witnessed could have been held in any old building. This was a funeral home! A FUNERAL HOME!!! The possibilities here are awesome to behold! Here’s my vision: drop the masks entirely and put the cast in face paint, death hues only. Only use the narrow, black hallways as a means to transition from one room to the next and otherwise let the funeral home decor shine. Show me a deranged mortician, a rampaging necrophile, an army or reanimates! Let the haunters participant in a wake only to be chased from the room by grief crazed widows! My mind teems with the possibilities of what could be done with such an attraction. Alas, some day my haunt friends.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

“John, look. There’s genitals on the window.”

-Richard, calling attention to the fact that Cikalo had “brained” the passenger side window.