Archive for the Realm of Darkness 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.

Realm-of-Darkness

BOWBEE COME TO DWELL INSIDE HOUSE OF NIGHTMARES 3D

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 stars

REALM OF DARKNESS REIMAGINED, REINVIGORATED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 stars

Season Concludes with Devil’s Night Frenzy

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Haunted Farm of Terror, Realm of Darkness, Review, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2015 by bluefall8

In this edition of Hallowblog Flashback, we stir the memory of a chilly, rainswept night that would forever raise the bar for Devil’s Night. Originally posted on Monday, November 2, 2009 this entry detailed our journey through Hellblock 13 in Wyandotte, The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and The Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township.

Despite such an action-packed adventure, none of these haunts would win a Horrorlust Award in 2009 although Hellblock 13 did receive an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Dark Horse Award while The Realm of Darkness was an honorable mention in three categories including Eerie Vibrations, Killer Automatons and Haunt of the Year.  

This would be the final Hallowblog entry for the year 2009.

Strange, the way the eerie magic of the season can twist and distort time into a blurred paradox for it seems as if a month has passed in a brilliant flash but concurrently the genesis of this chapter seems ages ago indeed. Last Friday, October 30th would be the final outing of the 2009 haunt season and it was another memorable entry in the history of the Haunt Trinity.

Jason, Disco, and Richard arrived at my apartment just prior to 7 o’clock and after we gorged ourselves on pizza, pop, and snacks we slipped out into the velvety night and drove the short distance to Wyandotte’s Hellblock 13. Hallowblog readers may remember that we attempted to visit this attraction on October 2nd but when we arrived we were told that it would not open for another week. We weren’t sure at the time if we’d have a chance to return but as it turned out fate would see that we did.

I was confident that the Wyandotte Jaycees could bounce back from a lackluster effort in 2008 and I am happy to report that my confidence was not misplaced. The haunt started a bit slow and it was far from perfect but in the end we had the pleasure of surviving the trench warfare that powered this gritty haunt.

As with 2007’s Hell’s Hospital, Hellblock 13 uses classic haunt fundamentals to thrill and scare guests. The attraction is well paced featuring very few dead spots or meandering dark halls. Hellblock 13 doesn’t overload haunters with fog, black lights, or strobes but when they are used it is to great effect. The Jaycees has made good use of the building’s one time purpose transforming a court room, locker room, storage facility, and jail cells into a breeding ground for creatures of the night. Midway through the haunt we came upon a large cell that may have been used as an evidence lock up or weapon storage in the past but on this night it held an old friend, Gimpy Anderson. Two years ago Gimpy delighted us with disgusting guttural noises and crude gesticulations while we waited in line at Hell’s Hospital but he wasn’t in a care free or jovial mood anymore. Ole Gimpy had worked himself into an agitated frenzy; he violently slashed a chainsaw against the fenced walls that contained him. When we passed the cell gates he rammed the blade of the saw through the gap in the posts in an attempt to tear our throats; something awful must have befallen Gimpy Anderson to cause him to attack his old friends in such a brutal manner!

Gimpy wasn’t the only entertaining worker though in fact Hellblock 13 was brimming with a legion of deadites. All the help here is volunteer which means that not all the masked assailants are highly trained in the art of the scare. Most of them put forth a good effort which is all you can really ask for from such a crew although there were a few as there usually is that were quite underwhelming. A lot of the workers here where young teenagers whose diminutive frames and squeaky screams invoke anything but fear but that can’t be helped at an all volunteer effort and as I said most of them seemed to give it their best. The females in particular displayed a capacity for ear splitting shrieks, while crossing a bridge several of these sirens emerged from the murky depths below and shook the bridge with ill intent. Later, near the end of the haunt several girls issued blood curdling screams from inside a pitch black room, those screams gave fuel to a distant chainsaw the owner of which we’d meet just before exiting the haunt.

A couple of workers employed the statue technique which lured us shameless rubes as children to chocolate. The first living mannequin was a gruesome ghoul chained to a board who sprung his trap as we exited the room he occupied. We came across a second statuesque creep just outside the row of holding cells. Visible from down the hall as we approached she displayed no sign of life. She wore a sleazy black dress that hugged her figure nicely, her knees bent awkwardly inward. In her right hand was a glistening knife held aloft as if ready to strike down the impure thoughts many haunters surely possessed as they passed. She bore a resemblance to the female spirit in 13 Ghosts although she wasn’t naked nor did she sport heaping bajumbos but these idle facts did little to stem the perverted juices that had formed a puddle beneath our feet. I know in some dark recess of Jason’s mind he wondered just how far he could get before the blade severed him from his manhood but any nefarious fantasies evaporated when she lunged at us with the knife and we were forced to flee down a row of holding cells. Another dark fantasy inducing vixen glared at us from a cell, I knew it wouldn’t be long before my brother succumbed to a fit of primal lust, we had to hurry.

Turning a corner we entered a dark room and were confronted by yet another female ghoul and this one wanted to know my name so being in a mischievous mood I obliged and gave her the Toadsworth treatment which surprisingly is not tantamount to a squibbing. No, the Toadsworth treatment has no sexual connotations what so ever. In a British accent and foppish manner I informed the lass that my name was Toadsworth Merriweather Yorkshire Reginald the III, Esquire (I suspect only my MSB cohorts will appreciate the reference). She stared at me blankly for what else can one do when disarmed by a name so absurd. As we departed the room I turned to her still in character, bowed low and said, “Pleasure to have met your acquaintance.” The haunt concluded shortly thereafter when we were chased off by the aforementioned freak with chainsaw.

The change of scenery helped the Wyandotte Jaycees regain its footing and the new (old) building was used to the fullest. The haunt was surprisingly long featuring a number of false endings in the form of stairwells that wound haunters onto different floors of the attraction. The Jaycees does a lot with a little; I enjoyed the subtle touches as much as anything else. A few specific examples include the deformed saran wrap dummies which either hung from the ceiling or stood eerily in the corners of one room. I also liked the second bridge which lit up from below to reveal a prop ghoul just beneath our feet. That is actually an idea I thought of several years back and it’s the first time I’ve seen it put to use. Let’s hope next years show doesn’t suffer the same sophomore slump that plagued the last location.

Rating: 3 3/4

It was time to hit one of Michigan’s perennial top haunts and one half of Pontiac’s twin terrors, The Realm of Darkness. Strange, watery disasters have haunted ROD for two years now and several paranormal research groups have investigated the occurrences for more details check out the story at Zioptis. It may all be shtick but then again I have heard of the independent organizations that toured the facility, nevertheless the angle added another layer of intrigue to the most immersive of haunted attractions.

Hallowblog readers will be familiar with the Haunt Trinity’s trials and tribulations at Realm of Darkness since 2006 we have hunted the tyrannical wizard who rules this kingdom with an iron fist. In order to find the wizard haunters participate in several games of chance during these games guests can win gems which eventually will be used to gain entry to the wizard’s secret chamber. In years past these gems were exchanged for a push of a button, the more gems you possessed the greater the chance of confronting the wizard. A source informed us that the games of chance had taken on a different twist this season and we hope the added information would give us the edge in our quest to find and defeat the wizard.

While waiting in the entrance lobby haunters are told a ghostly story about a phone booth inside the room, the number displayed at the top of the booth turns out to be the first clue. After traversing a short path we entered the main castle foyer which featured a series of doors and one looked very familiar. It was the same door we’d saw at Terrortown’s Asylum. When the video started the nurse in the room began pleading for help and pressed us to vacate the room but before we could do so a crazed inmate burst forth from some dark corner and harassed guests. The door is a cool prop and I like the fact that ROD took the idea to the next level but it seems quite disjointed with the rest of the theme. After vacating the room the path wound around a corner to a tilting book shelf and then led into the immaculately decorated waiting room.

A single ghoul occupied the room and he relayed the story of the building’s recent paranormal activity to guests. According to him motion sensors had been placed throughout the attraction by the research teams, several rooms had experienced activity including the one we currently occupied. I like the new ripple whether real or imagined it’s another layer of fun to an excellent haunted attraction.

We decided to split our party in order to double our chances of finding the wizard, Jason and Disco entered through the Realm’s trademark fireplace first, several minutes later Richard and I embarked on our journey. It was Richard’s first trip to Realm of Darkness and I defied him not to be impressed by its intricate details, inventive scenes, and interactive characters; despite his usual cynicism I believe even he enjoyed the experience.

The Realm of Darkness truly is like no other haunted attraction you’re likely to visit. Each room is amazingly detailed many even feature true to life antiques, it’s easy to forget that you’re inside a simple modern building because the dark paths and highly detailed scenes are that engrossing, it’s a darkly beautiful work of art. Haunters won’t grow bored by a series of monotonous scenes as they will at some attractions, ROD features an array of creative settings. The upside down room may seem like a simple idea but it’s quite unique and the visual effect sends a small but enjoying blip of information to the brain; I’d like to see more attractions distort perception in this manner. The cave setting is as impressive as usual featuring humid air, low ceilings, and a functioning pond; a raging dinosaur also jabs haunters into a wall by means of a primal head butt. I’m also a big fan of the hall of mirrors which presents guests with the task of navigating a series of passages inlaid with full length mirrors; you just might grow to fear your own reflection.

Realm of Darkness features several check points woven nearly seamlessly into the attraction. These check points serve two purposes acting first as an area to ensure the separation of various parties and second as a chance to further enhance the story of the wizard. At the first check point your party is engaged by a demented executioner outside his dungeon the torso of a woman bobs lifelessly inside a tank of green water. The executioner beckons haunters into his ghastly chamber and verbally berates the group. He is the wizard’s hatchet man and he’s proud of that fact. Richard and I defiantly insisted that we would find and overthrow the wizard which prompted the twisted bastard to cut the guts out of a nearby victim long deceased.

The second check point occurs as your party emerges from the dank recesses of the oppressive cave, a flight of wooden steps lead to the entrance of a rickety shack. A beastly shotgun toting she-man patrols the premises and holds the group at bay for several moments, the shack quakes with mild tremors.

Other areas of interest include a supremely fogged crypt which is home to a threatening creep who led us to a door at the end of a hall lined with spooky monks. There is also a scene dominated by a massive animatronic werewolf snacking upon a rigid corpse. And there was the doll room, yes Realm of Darkness had ripped another page out of Terrortown’s playbook and I was delighted. All around us was an army of miniature sadists apparently awaiting the instructions of their dear mother. A disheveled, rotting face had been tacked to the wall, the matriarch. No sooner had we entered the room she ordered the children to kill us and I of course anticipated the slaughter with glee for I knew the hilarious spectacle that was set to attack us. A lunatic baby emerged from a shadowed corner and began slashing at our ankles just as one had last year at House of the Dead. Richard and I laughed as we pointed at our pint-sized attacker who swiped at us with adolescent madness. The scene made my night.

As we neared the end of the beleaguered kingdom we came upon the awe inspiring ghost ship. The ship rose high above us our eyes attracted to the lit captain’s quarters, bodies clung helplessly to the ship’s side. We crossed a short bridge and entered the ship where a Davy Joneseque creature made unintelligible sounds. The massive tentacles of a giant squid had broken through the wooden planks in several locations, a nice touch indeed. After leaving the ship we were intercepted by a ghoul who demanded to know the name of the ship’s captain. We were told the name rhymed with rage, we were allowed to pass after answering but were given no gem as we assumed we would’ve procured if we had answered correctly.

We descended a flight of stairs into a treasure trove; a wench greeted us kindly and instructed us to pick a gem from one of the treasure chests. She also told us that we would shortly come upon a Sea Hag to whom we would give our gems. A short while later we encountered the Sea Hag who yelled at us fiercely before demanding our gems. She then insisted that we fall to our knees and beg that our gems were magical, they were not which meant we wouldn’t meet the wizard but that didn’t stop Richard and I from making an outrageous spectacle of ourselves. We begged for all we were worth and profanely professed our desire to defeat the wizard and attempted to flatter the sea hag with increasingly ridiculous remarks. Eventually her serious demeanor was betrayed by a smirk and that I decided was good enough consolation for me. We left the Sea Hag and any thoughts of gaining unwarranted entry to the wizard’s lair were chased away by a chainsaw wielding pirate.

Realm of Darkness is nothing if not consistent, entertaining haunters with a great show year after year. The subtle season by season tweaks keep the theme from growing stagnant and the lure of the wizard ensures that many an aspiring hero will return each October. The only knock we have against ROD is the relative lack of live workers but those that do stalk the various scenes of this hellish dimension play the role well. Realm of Darkness is a perennial favorite of ours and you’re only doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t been there.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

The night was growing late and we desperately wanted to hit one more haunted attraction before the season was done so we made a few calls and decided it was time to visit the Haunted Farm of Terror. The sky was threatening to pour down buckets as we raced an impending storm to Lenox Township. When we arrived we parked in a mud splattered field and proceeded to buy our tickets. Haunted Farm of Terror features a haunted house as well as a haunted hayride. We headed to the entrance of the haunted house first as the Disco Devil did not desire to partake in the hayride owing to the adverse weather.

The front of the attraction was made to resemble an old cabin which I suppose is not out of place on an old fashioned farm. The haunted house consisted of a hodge podge of rooms resembling some horrific hillbilly haven. The house itself is relatively short and not particularly scary but it is a bit of fun. One of the highlights for us during the first leg of the haunt was an apparently lobotomized, wheel chair bound man. He comically pursued us in his chair and babbled nonsense; we always appreciate a good taboo. One interesting room welcomed us with a chorus of clanking pots and pans which also alerted the hungry creeps lurking within the walls to our presence. We left this room behind and exited to a path outside a massive canine protruded from a dog house and aimed it’s enormous teeth at the entire party. We walked through a corn stalk strewn path as the weather started to enhance the atmosphere. Wind howled down the path as the air grew heavy with rain. We entered another structure which featured an interesting checkered room as well as a pair of deranged clowns. The haunt soon wound a path outside once more and again we wound our way through a corn maze with hidden creeps.

The haunted house was far from great but it did feature plenty of live workers, the connecting corn maze passages were also enjoyable. There is potential here but the operators need to make a decision on the mood of the haunt. As of now it has the rare distinction of playing second fiddle to a haunted hayride and as you’ll soon find out that is no insult to the wagon bound feature at Haunted Farm of Terror.

Rating: 3 stars

Having now experienced the much heralded hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror I can say that it definitely serves as the main event. The lengthy trip through a cursed forest is punctuated by the narration of an on board host. As the wagon pulls haunters through the various scenes the host recounts the story of Lazarus, a 19th century Undertaker and one time resident who once conducted grisly experiments that have plagued the farm and surrounding woods ever since (for more details visit Haunted Farm of Terror). The narration was a lot of fun although it would have been slightly better had the tour guide appeared in costume.

The hayride also features musical accompaniment, a mix of Halloween favorites and rock music compliment many scenes along the route. For example when a horde of zombies attack the wagon, Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” blares from on board speakers. Later when passing a church haunters learn of Lazarus’ bid for redemption while Gary Jules’ “Mad World” weaves a melancholy thread through this horror rich tapestry.

The beginning of the ride features a pair of mechanized menaces that will dare even the bravest of haunters not to flinch. We sat on the right side of the wagon which meant that we’d have the pleasure of dealing with a soaring phantom. As the wagon passed a small shack the structure’s doors sprung open revealing a huge ghoul attached to a sliding track. The shrouded phantom raced toward our party and did not stop when it reached our position! I was forced to quickly flatten myself or else the streaking skull would have pummeled me square in the face. If I was amused (and I was) then Richard was positively giddy. I believe watching me nearly get clobbered by a runaway ghoul was his favorite moment of the entire haunt season. Just up the path it was time for the other side of the wagon to test their reflexes. A semi-truck was trudging our way with a blaring horn and blazing headlights. It rumbled forward rather slowly giving a false impression of safety; it then violently plowed through several stacks of barrels which lurched toward the wagon before being jerked back just as quickly.

I’m of the opinion that any good slasher flick that takes place in the woods must feature the hot silhouette of a naked chick cast against a tent and apparently the team at Haunted Farm of Terror shares the sentiment. The shapely silhouette of an erotically posed woman drew the gaze of all on board and in this moment no man aboard had a mind for any misfortune that the treacherous woods had to offer. It was an alluring sight highlighted by the shamelessly protruding nipples that could have carved a pumpkin. A single weirdo stumbled forth from somewhere nearby and broke the spell of our collective and wanton lust. The scene wasn’t frightening in the least but it was quite original and did provide a good laugh.

Near the end of the trail our wagon pulled us through an area that used to serve as a drive-in theater, broken down cars littered the landscape. It was while in the middle of the car strewn path that a blinding mass of headlights flooded the wagon and we were temporarily without sight. A mass of ghouls seized the opportunity to attack us helpless fleshies and the result was a wild one indeed. After escaping the old drive-in we were informed by our host that a particularly vicious zombie stalked the area we were entering, his name was Ferby. This demonic being charged at our wagon and terrorized those aboard but when we came across a shanty serving as a barber shop Ferby’s attention shifted to the building. Inside a girl was strapped to a chair and she was screaming for all that she was worth, Eminem’s “Hi…My Name Is” mocked her lament. The host informed us that Ferby had captured her from a previous group of haunters but we could free her with an act of mercy. A vote was held and it seemed that half of the wagon wanted Ferby to free her while the other half wanted blood! The host further informed us that setting her free meant a damsel from our wagon would have to take her place and that information quickly sealed the poor girl’s fate. A strobe effect cast a chaotic light on the barber shop and Ferby roughly grabbed the girl by her hair, threw her onto her back, and began to swing his blade. As we pulled away the girl lay still while Ferby produced a severed head that he proudly held aloft; what a scene!

As we headed back to the muddy parking lot a vast array of creeps and freaks attacked the wagon, one stood atop a pillar nearly ten feet off the ground, he seemed to be acting as some sort of gatekeeper. Drunk on the essence of the season and riled up from a fun-filled night of haunting, I loudly encouraged the mutant to jump and to my great surprise and amusement he did; these fools were out to please.

It had begun to rain in earnest as we came to the end of the ride and the end of the haunt season. Before we departed Richard and I ran about and snapped a few pictures and then navigated the muddy pit of a parking lot over to Disco and Jason who were waiting in the comfort of John’s car.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

“You think if Siamese twins went to a haunted house they’d have to pay twice?”

-Richard, great philosopher of our time.

“Come on asshole! Come on! Rot in Hell!!!

-John, berating a slow-moving motorist, his voice inflection and tone were impeccable.

Erebus, The Realm of Darkness & Deadly Intentions Electrify Halloween Night

Posted in 2008, Deadly Intentions, Erebus, Hallowblog, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2014 by bluefall8

This historic post was originally published on Monday, November 3, 2008 and chronicled a momentous, Halloween visit to three prominent Michigan haunted attractions — Erebus and The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and Deadly Intention in Warren.

This was the only night in all of our years of haunting that I decided to bring a hand-held tape recorder along to document some of the fun. In addition to reviews this post also included a timeline of events throughout the night and a series of humorous quotes lifted straight from the recording. It was a fun idea and a great tool to supplement the written notes I jot down at every attraction we tour; I’m not sure why I haven’t made it a standard practice.  

If I were to compile a list of our top ten most memorable nights of haunting, October 31, 2008 would surely crack the countdown.

It was Halloween night, my faced smeared as a deranged harlequin, the Haunt Trinity set off into the ink black night with much haunting to be done. Jerry joined us on this landmark occasion, a night that took us from Lincoln Park to Warren to Pontiac and back. Our first stop was Deadly Intentions a haunt none of us had previously visited.

There is nothing impressive about the location, held in what appears to be a former grocery store surrounded by a maligned urban sector Deadly Intentions’ local atmosphere won’t win any awards or attract thriving crowds but if you’re deterred by misleading appearances an excellent haunt you are sure to miss.

Deadly Intentions considers this no frills approach a badge of honor and wastes no time smacking guests in the face with a smash mouth, old school approach to haunting. Guests initially traverse a long, dark hallway before entering a room made to resemble the waiting area of a prison thus establishing the haunt’s theme. There is a desk, a security monitor, and a frightening guard who orders guests to sign-in. After doing so he throws back the prison gate and shuts it behind you. Deadly Intentions does what successful, old school haunts do: deliver knock out shows by using pitch black passages and intense actors; everything is well timed and no detail is over looked. We were entertained by a clown who rides a mobile section of wall, propositioned by a female inmate who wanted to play a macabre game involving our intestines, and lured into a room where we were surrounded by a half dozen ghouls who taunted us with chants of “little piggies.”

Later guests come upon a structure set behind mesh wire fencing; a man wearing an orange jumpsuit emerges and with outstretched arms pleads for help. His eyes have been gouged out and despite briefly pursuing the ole Disco and I there was no help for this sorry bastard. Next guests wind their way through a series of prison scenes where lunatics burst forth from holding cells while maniacs send sparks flying your way. A girl pleads for your help from above but a raging night watchman violently brandishes a baton and forces haunters into the next room which contains a casket. As guests approach the casket and the body it holds the opposite wall, made to resemble a morgue, collapses inward forcing patrons closer to the dead head in the coffin. As you exit this room a mad man with a pistol surprises haunters with a loud blast and offers some parting insults as you leave.

Deadly Intentions puts forth a great effort without the aid of expensive animatronics or other flashy effects. The fundamentals of haunting are put to good use here and that application of classic techniques results in an excellent haunting experience.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Next on our list of haunts was the formidable Realm of Darkness, the home of the mysterious and elusive wizard. In 2007 the Haunt Trinity tabbed ROD as the Haunt of the Year but last January the haunt experienced a flood that destroyed the vast majority of props and sets. This event forced the brains behind the operation to build the show anew and that fact intrigued each member of the Haunt Trinity.

On our way from Warren to Pontiac we decided to place a call to the infamous B. Mo with the sole intent to mock and ridicule him. No doubt inebriated in some distant podunk corner of Owosso he failed to answer his phone and thus he was left the following voice mail:

“B. Mo, B. Mizzemo, River Rat Morrison, Devil Douche! Listen up, it’s the Haunt Trinity calling you. We’re out crusin’ the streets, cruisin’ Michigan tonight. We hit Deadly Intentions in Warren, next Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and the twin terror Erebus. Eh, if you wanna join us man, if you get this message within the hour we got good news man. Erebus, we called, guess what? They take the EBT card. That’s right, cash, credit, EBT that’s their new slogan there. So it’s B. Mo ready if you wanna show up, you can come on down to Erebus and ugh, you know afterward we can stop at the local liquor store if you’re hungry, I don’t know if Big Boy is on the EBT bandwagon yet or what. Alright B. Mizzemo you give me a call back palzee. I know you’ll probably disregard this message and say whatever (clicking noise) don’t bother me I’ll just roll up a j and smoke it. But you gots to call B. Mo and let us know what the Fright Train was like and what you spent your Halloween doing.”

A short time later Branden would return the call and in his drunken state he truly believed that Erebus was accepting EBT cards as payment. I talked to him for several minutes before we entered Pontiac and after a few ill advised turns by Jason we came to the home of the wizard, The Realm of Darkness.

Like last year we entered the building and made our way across a draw bridge and then into the lobby of the castle. In the lobby guests watch a video explaining the history of the land, the rise of a tyrannical wizard, and the madness into which the towns people descended. Next, we made our way through a hallway and then into a second lobby. This second room is the last stop before entering the heart of The Realm and this year it was crawling with hooded druids. The druids were handing each group a gem, the tokens usually collected throughout the mysterious Realm via games of chance; each gem allows your party a chance to unlock the door to the wizard’s chamber. A druid presented our party with a gem and I seized the opportunity to indulge this character in this wonderful fantasy. “Do you know the wizard,” I asked. “Yes, I know him,” answered the druid calmly. “I have a message for him. Will you deliver this message,” I asked. “Yes,” responded the druid. “You tell the wizard that we’re coming for that ass. He’s gonna pay what he owes.” I couldn’t tell you what went through this man’s head but to his great credit he didn’t miss a beat staying completely in character. After a brief pause to consider my request he responded, “I like your style. Here take this and tell no one. This is a special gem.” I couldn’t believe it. My nonsensical tomfoolery had just gained us an extra shot at the wizard, I told the group that this was surely a good omen.

Shortly after we crossed the threshold and began our quest to conquer the wizard in earnest. The first encounter on our path was with a rather chunky ghoul who demanded that one of us read from a book that sat open upon a desk. The room was dark and it was difficult to read the text but this ghoul was persistent so I decided to do a little improvisation, “He dropped his pants and grabbed his ankles,” I read as my cohorts burst into laughter and then as if innocent I looked up from the book and asked, “What the hell is this?” The ghoul broke character and looked at the text and asked, “Where does it say that?” We all had a hardly laugh before she regained her composure and ordered us into the next room. Once there a male ghoul dressed as a waiter greeted us and then insulted my make up stating that I looked “like an idiot.” The female ghoul from the previous room had apparently followed us into the room and she took issue with the comment stating, “I think he’s pretty cute.” I wasn’t sure if any of this was part of either of their acts and when I looked at Jason he had this “Hey-if-she-wants-it-man” expression on his face. I was starting to believe that maybe the theory he first put forth over a year ago at The Haunting in Adrian had some merit after all. The horny ghoul departed with a creepy smile and the waiter displayed to us a macabre feast before leading us to a staircase at the end of the room. Before any of us could begin our ascent he tossed aside the stairs which collapsed out of sight revealing a secret passage way. It was a neat trick that I’ve never witnessed any where else.

We continued our trek through the shadowy corners of ROD experiencing a blend of familiar scenes and unknown horrors. In one room a deranged executioner straggled a hapless victim and then taunted us for being “cocky” and “just like the rest.” He told us that we’d end up in his dungeon when his boss, the wizard, was through with us. We also traversed an elaborate crypt the keeper of which went nose-to-nose with me for a solid thirty seconds or more, I admired that worker’s commitment. ROD also features a cave complete with running water, a scene that truly makes you feel as if you’re underground. New this year was a sheet room similar to what we saw at the Homer Mill and there was also a weaving pathway in which the walls were completely mirrors. A deadly jester stalked the reflected path but what was actually the scariest moment of this sequence was repeatedly mistaking my own appearance for that of a monster due to my aforementioned make up.

We were unsuccessful in what turned out to be our lone game of chance, in 2006 and 2007 ROD featured three such games; this point would be much lamented when we realized that we’d come to the end of the haunt. Winding our way toward the end of the treacherous realm we encountered a curvy ghoul who snarled at us while gyrating her body against a wall in a rather lewd fashion, I was sure I saw a triumphant gleam in Jason’s eyes. Further down the path we were ambushed by the most effective animatronics we’d witnessed all haunt season. A pair of large, growling dogs leapt from the ground and landed on a table to our right. The resulting clang was very loud and gave all of us a good scare. Shortly thereafter we spotted the cursed pirate ship that we had heard tell of and soon found ourselves waiting in line for our chance at the wizard. Once we had submitted our gems we waited briefly and were then told to proceed through the door before us and then up the staircase to the left. This had not happened last year or the year before that and as we ascended the staircase we prepared ourselves with a final showdown with the wizard. A short walk down a hallway to a descending path of stairs robbed us of all hope though, we were entering the bowels of the pirate ship which led to the haunt’s exit. The wizard had slipped through our grasp once more.

Despite our disappointment at yet another defeat at the hands of the wizard we had to admit that The Realm of Darkness had delivered a great show once more. No, it didn’t quite live up to its Haunt of the Year status of 2007 but it was close. What hurt the haunt this year was our growing familiarity with its structure as well as the reduction in the games of chance and the overall length of the attraction. Despite all of this it remains one of the finest haunts that we’ve visited and if you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing ROD it should be on your short list of must see haunts. Few attractions have such an attention to detail, here you’ll forget you’re in a haunted attraction at times because the atmosphere is that emmersive. The chainsaw man at the end of the haunt deserves special note as well. While in line I watched this guy chase group after group straight into the parking lot at top speed.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

We had arrived at our final destination, the last scream of the 2008 haunt season, the goliath of down town Pontiac: Erebus. In 2006 the four story monster edifice was the unquestioned king of the season and as we approached its towering walls the streets were thronged with revelers and freaks alike. This was my third trip to Erebus and it was going to be unique, not just for me, but for you readers of Hallowblog as well. This trip through the depths of Erebus was to be like none other because it was to be documented in the first live walkthrough in Haunt Trinity history.

The brains behind the scenes at Erebus continue with the premise that the haunt is merely a front, a lie created by the mad scientist who uses the building for time travel experiments. By advertising the place as a haunted attraction this lunatic is able to lure in unsuspecting victims who are shortly transported through time and space. It’s a fun theme if not a bit worn but the operators here do not fail to send visitors through a bizarre and eerie assortment of scenes from a Jurassic period jungle to a dank Middle Ages dungeon to a modern day cemetery.

Although the haunt is largely the same show that visitors enjoyed in 2007 several changes helped to mix up the overall dynamics. A handful of rooms stripped away the monstrous animatronics and elaborate props in favor of a more traditional feel. The change of pace showed off the versatility that Erebus is capable of and something I’d like to see the haunt continue to do in the future. The best example of this occurred in what we came to call the zombie room. Guests enter an ordinary looking living room well ordinary save for the corpse that a lustful zombie is devouring. The undead menace chases guests into a long closet full of swaying clothes and shadowed ghouls. Also of note in this vein are the compact, boarded corridors that force haunters to crouch as they move forward. I especially enjoy the bright lights that bleed through the cracks in the floor creating a disorienting effect.

Erebus was a lot of fun this year certainly better than last year although not quite as thrilling as the 2006 showcase. Make no mistake, Erebus is a unique haunt and that fact is not due to its sheer size alone. Erebus is a mad house, a funhouse on crack, a haunted house jacked on anabolic steriods. If you’ve never experienced Erebus you are doing your haunting experience a huge disservice. The staff here deserves a lot of credit for crowd control as well. It drives me nuts whenever my group runs into other haunters because somebody is usually going to get screwed out of certain surprises and with such a massive crowd at Erebus it’s bound to happen at times. Erebus has a system of periodic seperation that works pretty well and although the occassional run in does occur it’s not as magnified as it might be at other haunts because Erebus does such a great job putting on a macabre circus. My only complaint applies to the relative similiarity of the haunt from year to year; a major shake up would be welcome in my eyes.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

And with that we close out the 2008 haunt season, a memorable odyssey full of fright, mystery, and laughter. This season the Haunt Trinity visited more haunts than in any past year something we’ll look to due yet again next year. So raise your glass as yet another era passes because here we are once more at hallow’s end.

A Halloween Timeline

7:31-The Haunt Trinity follows Southfield to east bound I-94 en route to Deadly Intentions in Warren.

7:42-The highs and lows of the 2008 haunt season discussed.

7:54-We arrive at Deadly Intentions and are slightly surprised by the depressing locale.

8:44-Back in the car following our trek through Deadly Intentions none of us give a damn about the shady atmosphere any longer.

8:49-As we find our way back to the expressway it is agreed that Deadly Intentions was a riot of a haunt.

9:02-While on our way to The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac we amuse ourselves with a prank call to Branden, he fails to answer his phone which resulted in an amusing voice mail.

9:07-A loud and drunken B. Mo returns my call and offers his insights on the economy and Halloween.

9:20-Jason takes unintended detours through Pontiac while seeking The Realm of Darkness.

9:30-We arrive at the home of the evil wizard and hope to avenge our previous failures.

10:57-We emerge from The Realm of Darkness defeated once again, we were however thoroughly entertained.

11:34-While we wait in the front lobby of Erebus we discuss Haunt of the Year contenders.

12:00-Awaiting entrance into the scanning chamber.

12:07-Released from the chamber we enter the heart of the haunted edifice.

12:30-We escape the horror of the monster Erebus, Jason attempts to corral the Chain Man.

12:35-In the car we discuss the merits of Erebus pausing briefly to taunt the Chain Man before leaving Pontiac.

1:20-We stop at an all night diner on Southfield in Lincoln Park. Our waitress gives us free food, flirts shamelessly, nearly pours water on Jerry’s head, and admits to drinking at work. My food was delicious.

2:20-While departing the diner Jason insists that the waitress has flashed us. We give our final thoughts on the season and head home exhausted.

The Best of Hallowblog Live

“Didn’t they have an alligator guy come on and go chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp…chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp?”

“Where…wha? I don’t remember that.”

-My bemused reply to Jason when he made a bizarre remark about an alligator man that nobody else seemed to remember.

“If I’d of known that two weeks ago I’d of been there for sure.”

-Branden via cell phone after I’d convinced him that Erebus was accepting Bridge cards as a form of payment.

“Well remind me next year and maybe I’ll pack a fuckin’ sandwich.”

-Jason’s retort after I insisted that The Realm of Darkness takes 30-45 minutes to traverse.

“Did they give everyone a special gem in the beginning?”

“Nah man, it was my wit that got us that gem.”

-Me, clarifying for Jason, the origin of our special gem.

“Whoa look out here! A mega T-Rex comin’ at ya! OH GOD! IT’S BITING MY LEG! It’s knocking me over! Oh my God! It nearly took out me and Jerry! Jason’s been knocked down by it! HE’S HEADBUTTING IT! JASON’S HEADBUTTING THE T-REX!!!

-Me, while in Erebus, thoroughly entertaining myself with the running commentary for Hallowblog Live.

Haunt Season Home Stretch

Posted in 2007, Erebus, Hallowblog, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2014 by bluefall8

This post comes to us from Sunday, October 21, 2007 and as you’ll read, it chronicles an outing to Pontiac’s twin terrors — Erebus and The Realm of Darkness. We have visited the acclaimed pair six times each over the years; that total trails only the Wyandotte Jaycees (7) and the current leader, The Scream Machine (8).

Last Friday was a big haunt night as I joined the usual tandem in a return to Pontiac. Last year the three of us hit The Realm of Darkness and Erebus on Halloween night and having never previously visited these haunts I came away from the experience delighted. Needless to say I was ecstatic for the return as I viewed the trip as the likely pinnacle of the haunting season. Our first stop was The Realm of Darkness where I looked to avenge last year’s defeat to the elusive Wizard.

There isn’t much to criticize at The Realm of Darkness; the haunt delivers on all fronts. The attention to detail is amazing, each room is elaborately decorated which creates a unique atmosphere absent from many other haunts. The video that precedes the haunt has been vastly improved and the large fireplace remains a fun way to enter the haunt. The live actors are the best I’ve encountered at a haunt this season. These people are committed to the act and several of them unleash some shockingly loud screams. A few that stood out include the screaming girl in the swinging cage, the massive demon, the clown that stood stock still in the black light lit tunnel, and the man on stilts who would not relent in terrorizing Jason until I yelled rape.

The props too are first rate and utilized very effectively. Most haunts do a half-assed job when propelling a puppet in the guests’ direction but ROD pulled it off expertly on numerous occasions. Visual diversions and timing are the crucial elements when springing these traps and I’ll be damned if ROD doesn’t have it down. Another wonderful prop, perhaps my favorite, occurs immediately upon exit from the room with the dropping spiked ceiling. Actually, to be entirely accurate, the guests don’t even exit the room when the door springs open and a gigantic, stampeding gargoyle charges forward. It’s an impressive sight and if it fails to elicit a scream it’s only because the rubes will be to busy shouting “Holy shit!”

I am a big fan of interactive haunts and ROD does this well allowing guests the chance to collect jewels from ghoulies. These jewels of course tie into the greater theme of the haunt which is the defeat of the vaunted wizard. Speaking of the wizard, well I wish I had a daring tale of peril and triumph to share but I don’t. The fucking wizard eluded us once more and I was left to curse his wretched name for another year.

There is one last part of the haunt that I would like to share before I bring this review to a conclusion. Just prior to meeting the “Black light Clown” guests are forced to cross a drawbridge which happens to be home to an ax-wielding zombie. I like when haunts use the rare actor like this essentially turning the haunting adage on its head. It’s a different kind of fear and suspense when you are forced to cross the unknown willingly as opposed to being repeatedly surprised. It was truly a nice touch and a spot that will stand out as one of the most unique of the season for me.

The Realm of Darkness misses not a beat and annually visitors will only be disappointed at the slightly familiar layout. I’m finding that to be a theme at haunts and it can be a major detraction. Familiarity breeds a sense of direction which can lead to comfort and that is a nasty formula for attractions that thrive on the unknown.

Rating: 5 Stars
Following the festivities at The Realm of Darkness we made the very short drive to Erebus. Last year Erebus made Halloween and I was looking forward to a repeat performance but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being slightly disappointed. Yes, you read that right, the vaunted Erebus was disappointing. Now don’t go nuts with that statement, Erebus remains one hell of an impressive haunted attraction, the experience simply wasn’t the same as it was last year. This could be due to various factors the most uncontrollable of which may have been the fact that the excitement of Halloween night added to the adventure one year ago. But there were plenty of tangible signs of slippage readily available in the haunt itself.

The swamp that Erebus features toward the end of the haunt is quite innovative creating a sensation of both claustrophobia and suffocation achieved through a combination of fog, inflatables, and a steadily steeping path. The effect proved wonderful last year but this time around left something to be desired. The fog was too thin allowing guests not only a better view of the room at large but also the oppressive inflatables pressing in from either side. It is crucial to the success of such an effect that the ability to see is kept to a minimum.

The ball chamber, which was a highlight of the season last year, has been omitted and that was a serious detraction for me personally. The structure of the haunt itself was varied in a number of spots but the majority of the layout is similar or the same and just as it did at ROD the sense of familiarity detracts from the sensation of fear and suspense.

The actors at Erebus are good but there is room for improvement and it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more live actors, particularly in the swamp. The back story of Erebus adds an interesting layer not emphasized at most haunted attractions. The introductory video was a great touch this year especially the climax at which a giant insect burst trough the screen and hovers mere feet above the guests.

I like Erebus, I like it a lot but for me it has less of a feel of a traditional haunted house and more of a funhouse on crack. The puppets and animatronics are no doubt the best I’ve witnessed at any attraction but an inanimate object can only invoke so much fear.

Erebus is a lot of fun but this most recent show left me in reveries about how good it was last year.

Rating: 4 ½ stars

CarnEvil 3D Waxes, Realm of Darkness Wanes

Posted in 2013, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by bluefall8

After we departed Erebus we made the very short drive to the Realm of Darkness, where we expected nothing short of a great haunted attraction. A three year wait in between visits had breathed an air of freshness into Erebus, why should the Realm of Darkness be any different?

Unfortunately, a bad taste was put in our mouths before we even got out of the car when we were charged $5 for parking. You can say that $5 isn’t much money but really what is the purpose of such a fee? Why is it necessary to charge customers an additional fee to park? Haunted attractions aren’t cheap — the past two seasons in particular have bore witness to a marked increase in ticket prices. Granted an overwhelming majority of haunted attractions don’t charge for parking and for that I am thankful, but those that do risk an eroding fan base.

As a consumer I hate any service or product that has additional fees; I deplore the practice. Haunted attraction operators can attempt to explain it away all they like but  the best argument in the world will do nothing to dent the negative correlation customers associate with such fees. I apologize for going off on a tangent, but it irked me. As someone who visits many haunted attractions every season, often traveling an hour or two or more to get there — a parking fee is an insult and smacks of a money grab.

The grounds were nearly void of guests — an uninspiring site to be sure but not uncommon for a September night. A husky, bald clown with a mustache like a caterpillar provided a couple of laughs while we waited to enter the haunt. On his hip was one of the newer additions from VFX Creative Studios — an Attack Line puppet. These innovative puppets are available in four different characters — zombie, werewolf, scarecrow, and clown and are designed to be worn and controlled by an actor. The puppets feature realistic glass eyes and are equipped with articulation points through the mouth and neck. A good source of solid entertainment for any queue area.

CARNEVIL 3D OOZES WITH PROMISE

We entered the new attraction here first, CarnEvil 3D. Admittedly, none of us has ever been very impressed by these 3D attractions — the 3D effect often leaves much to be desired and  merely creates a blurry, tunnel vision effect that I find uncomfortable. When we have encountered a favorable 3D attraction it has usually been the actors would made it worthwhile and not the gimmicky presentation.

CarnEvil 3D however turned out to be pretty cool. The setting was established from the beginning of the attraction; a carnival sideshow. As we entered one room a colorful popcorn machine propelled the iconic snack into the air. A series of benches dotted the area, this apparently was where patrons were meant to purchase tickets. Comically macabre artwork lined the walls, my favorite was a brightly colored depiction of one so called Lobster Boy.

A pair of youths sat amongst the aforementioned benches and as we passed each one held an index finger aloft and laughed manically at something only they could see. Their eyes were blank and whatever madness held sway over their minds would not be broken by our taunts or inquiries. The pair put me in mind of the Ghastly Grinner who once terrorized an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? by infecting his victims with uncontrollable laughter.

The middle section of the attraction was a blur of neon colors and kitsch artwork, the embodiment of this particular blend was the aptly named Cyclops Boy. There was also Chuckles the Clown who did passionately urge us onward, but he could’ve definitely offered more in the way of interaction and improvisation.

Finally, we came to the advertised sideshow and what a collection their was of freaks and oddities, each contained within an individual cage. Here we meet Swamp Boy, conjoined twins, the Invisible Man, and a laughing clown who also displayed a penchant for chomping.

CarnEvil 3D was fun, offered a few memorable scenes, and was one of the more enjoyable attractions of this type that we have witnessed. It was in need of additional actors and more of an emphasis on story would’ve greatly enhanced the overall experience. How about an interactive game of chance for instance? Ring toss to win a twisted trinket, perhaps? Spin the big wheel to decide the fate of your party? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Rating: 3.25 stars

POWER OF THE WIZARD DIMINISHED

We returned to the queue line and after a brief wait were beckoned to enter the Realm of Darkness. A tall and portly ghoul waxed philosophical about the journey that awaited; he reminded me greatly of Mathias who guarded the door last year at Scarefest Screampark’s Castle of the Dead. He was theatrical, well spoken, and a worthy addition to the Wizard’s army of undead minions.

The formidable doormen beckoned us to peer into a mirror and then took his leave of us, shortly a skeleton appeared in the mirror and unleashed an angry diatribe that felt a little redundant considering the speech we had just been given. Worse, no scare would manifest as the bony fiend neared his noisy climax — truly a missed opportunity.

We found the Realm of Darkness as detailed an immersive as it ever was. A few areas of note included the doll room which featured a true to life shrieking dolly, an elaborate cemetery, and finally a funeral setting that induced goosebumps. Also of note was the snake infested cave and one wiry clown who utilized a bungee contraption to spring into action.

On the down side there is little new about the Realm of Darkness, much of the attraction felt merely scrambled. It reminded me of the shows that the Scream Machine has produced in recent years — not bad but certainly lacking and in need of a revamp.

Animatronics greatly outnumbered live actors and this lopsided ratio did not work in favor of the haunt. Furthermore, I was particularly disappointed to find most of the live crew a little stiff. In past seasons the cast here has ranged from consistently good to excellent but this year far too many fell somewhere between average to good. The pursuit of the Wizard too seemed to have been diminished. What was once an integral and exciting element of the show felt listless and contrived.

Rating: 2.75 stars