Archive for the Realm of Haunted Minds Category

The Realm of Haunted Minds Forever a Classic Treat

Posted in 2015, Realm of Haunted Minds, Review with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2016 by bluefall8

By dollar and distance it’s hard to best The Realm of Haunted Minds at the Huron Turkey Farm in Romulus. The place has never undergone a major overhaul instead change comes in drips and drabs. The country store has retained its humble but powerful atmosphere and the miniature town, just outside the haunted attraction, is still an interesting, fun and somewhat eerie curiosity that I will always take a few moments to explore. This year there was a two-story castle with an attached slide. How am I supposed to resist that?

The haunted attraction itself featured a simple but effective facade and as always has been the case, the wait to enter The Realm of Haunted Minds was very short. As it was with my most recent visit in 2013, patrons must listen to a series of instructions and rules delivered by a holographic bust that I have affectionately dubbed Ghoulface. When his booming monologue had concluded we boldly stepped through the unique iron maiden entrance.

The strong suit of The Realm of Haunted Minds has always been the application of haunt fundamentals — a solid, unpredictable layout reinforced by tight passages, hanging visual obstructions, engagement of the tactile sense and well-timed jump scares. These elements can comprise a strong foundation for a haunted attraction of any size and shape.

As we roamed the haunted attraction, the driven sound of Rob Zombie’s Living Dead Girl blared through the speakers and that, ladies and gentlemen, is always a good thing. A few scares of note included the chained zombie who broke free of his bonds near the beginning of the haunt and his cell-bound counterpart near the end of the attraction who surprised us when he breached the enclosure. Each of these scares was well-timed and seemed to be direct reactions to the taunts we had hurled at the monsters and there’s not much I love more at a haunted house than improvisation and interaction.

Elsewhere inside The Realm of Haunted Minds, we enjoyed a cretin in a sheep mask who surprised us in various ways from inside of a cage. There was also an unsettling doll shrine. And best of all was a frenzied, cackling clown who shot out of of drop panel as if powered by a piston! We would later discover this same harlequin delivering scares amidst the miniature town outside, and would you know it, he was kind enough to pose for a few pictures.

Rating: 3 stars

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Realm of Haunted Minds & The Extreme Scream

Posted in 2008, Extreme Scream, Hallowblog, Realm of Haunted Minds, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2014 by bluefall8

This entry was originally posted on Sunday, October 12, 2008 and chronicled an enjoyable night of haunting that took place at The Realm of Haunted Minds in Romulus and Extreme Scream in Taylor.

This particular trip through The Realm of Haunted Minds would later notch the 2008 Horrorlust Dark Horse Award. 

On October 4 (the Saturday before last) the same group of haunters that survived the Homer Mill one week prior braved the terrors of two local attractions: Realm of Haunted Minds and The Extreme Scream.

Jason, John, and Cherette arrived at my apartment just past dusk and we set out for Realm of Haunted Minds at the Huron Turkey Farm in Romulus. When we arrived the area was nearly deserted but the sound of Michael Myers’ haunting music reassured us that the ghastly denizens of RHM were awaiting the arrival of some unlucky souls. There was a type of country store in which customers purchase their tickets and the decorations here were noteworthy. A number of realistic, life-size dummies dotted the walls on the left side of the room one of which appeared to be Lon Chaney’s portrayal of the title character in the 1925 production of The Phantom of the Opera.

After buying our tickets we hit the grounds were various clubhouse style buildings dominated the landscape, we would explore these after we exited the Realm of Haunted Minds. Upon entering the haunted house guests listen to the wisdom of a slightly creepy animatronic wizard. The haunt features a recurring theme of hallways speckled with neon paint and lit by black light; I think it works fairly well here achieving a disorienting effect without seeming repetitive or disjointed.

One major drawback was the timing of the actors, often off it served as a double dose of disappointment when paired with lackluster deliveries which plagued numerous workers. However, one particular actor was dead set on precision. After being herded down a narrow passage guests approach a turn to the right that forces them to crouch very low to the floor; all would’ve been fine if it hadn’t been for a hungry, undead girl stooped in the corner. The position of the corner and the low ceiling forces the haunt goers to come face-to-face with the frightening creature who barred her teeth in a menacing snarl. As we passed she made her desires known stating, “I want to bite your ankles”. She proceeded to follow us through several rooms, dragging her body across the floor as if her legs were useless. Her persistence was appreciated and I thought it only proper to offer her a just reward, shaking my exposed ankle at her as we rounded a corner I said, “Earn your meal biatch.” She didn’t just steal the show at RHM; she made the show and will no doubt be remembered as one of the top actors of the haunt season.

The rest of the haunted house featured passable if not forgettable scenes perhaps the most awe-inspiring was the room that contained a massive Frankenstein strapped to a medical table. I also was struck by a hallway that featured a high arching ceiling with bright pink tube lights running up either side of the walls and crossing over guests’ heads. As with the Homer Mill there was a “Womb of Doom” just prior to the end of the haunt. Upon exiting haunters wind their way through a small maze comprised of wooden fence posts. We eventually escaped the maze albeit by questionable means when Jason insisted on ducking beneath a wooden structure and barreling through a rather small opening between wooden planks, that opening needless to say increased in size once we had made our hasty exit.

The Realm of Haunted Minds has potential. It’s a great place for someone looking to get into the spirit of the Halloween season who isn’t quite prepared for the scares offered at more intense or graphic attractions.

Rating: 3 stars

We departed the Huron Turkey Farm and began the trek to Taylor for the Extreme Scream. The Extreme Scream wasn’t open in 2007 but during the 2004 Halloween season Branden, John, Amanda, and I discovered just how effective this haunt could be. Needless to say I was very excited to return to this haunt with an old school slant.

The Extreme Scream still features a lot of plain, dark hallways and the desired effect is pulled off here better than any other haunt I’ve visited. The operators here smartly allow haunters to psyche themselves out allowing them a lot of time to think about what lies around the next corner while feeling their way through these basic but effective hallways.

Prior to entering the haunt the guy at the door runs a shtick in which he cons the party weakling (typically the girl in the group) out of their name. Once he has the name he announces it to the foul ghoulies inside and as you may have guessed such dubious honors were bestowed upon Cherette. The monsters wasted little time in taunting Cherette, one depraved creature suggested that we, “Take Cherette to the bedroom”. I’m fairly certain I heard a satisfying slurp escape Jason’s lips.

The Extreme Scream features a strong blend of dark passages, props, actors, and simple yet effective gags. This haunt really starts to hit its’ stride at the midway point with a series of shrinking hallways that force guests to turn sideways and push their way along. While this occurs an agile clown scampers across the tops of walls taunting visitors below. Another neat feature of the Extreme Scream is the various locations at which haunters are forced to crawl their way along, sometimes while grunting creatures pursue you from a parallel path separated by intersecting wooden planks. The timing of the majority of actors is precise here and most seem committed to scaring the guests.

At one point we entered a room where the walls were lined with lockers, a single door stood at the far corner. We went through it and immediately suspected that we had strayed from the haunt. We were staring at the haunt’s sound system and standing in what seemed to be a type of access pathway to numerous rooms throughout the attraction. I could also hear the distinct chatter of employees; in fact I spotted two of them not far from me. After several attempts to find an alternate path and failing to do so I simply approached one of the workers and he directed me back to the locker room where I reunited with the group. Apparently there was a small door near the floor; we had to crawl to get through it. I’m fairly certain that haunt goers aren’t expected to find this for themselves because a ghoul had now appeared in the room behind the secret door this room was actually visible from the employee pathway we had mistakenly entered but it was so small I wasn’t sure that we were supposed to enter it. The ghoul who had suddenly appeared I assume was suppose to have jumped out at us and then directed us in the right direction in the first place, I guess he was busting a ghoulie feke.

The haunt concluded shortly and suffered from a terribly anticlimactic finish. Guests enter a room where a man in an electric chair, bathed in red light slowly raises his head. The prop is merely meant to distract you as a plainly visible slot in the wall houses a masked actor who provided a would be mild scare.

The misguided trip into an employee area as well as an uninspired finish put a blotch on what was an otherwise very enjoyable and well done haunt. I did miss the cart ride that the Extreme Scream featured in 2004.

Rating: 4 stars

Elements and Ambience Rule Realm of Haunted Minds

Posted in 2013, Realm of Haunted Minds, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2013 by bluefall8

When I set out late two Fridays ago, it was to visit a pair of local haunts, and first on that list was the pride of the Huron Turkey Farm — Realm of Haunted Minds. Twice before I’ve visited this location (2008 & 2011) and I found each trip to be memorable and fun.

This time around I brought my sister-in-law Madison along, who’s a creep in her own right but inexperienced in the ways of haunting. Earlier this year she began reading Horrorlust; shortly thereafter I introduced her to the Haunt Guide and Fear Finder. She seemed fascinated by the images on the pages; I knew then I might have a budding haunter on my hands.

So there we were on a chilly Friday night as we soaked in the idyllic atmosphere of the Huron Turkey Farm. The county store was adorned with it’s usual lights, inside a ghoulish array of characters lined the walls. As we made our way to the haunted attraction we explored the miniature town scattered over the grounds, which is something of a playground for kids and big kids alike. The quaint structures provide an excellent place to stage a spur of the moment prank and can also be used for a unique photo op.

Once we had entered the queue area, we were asked to stand at the blood line. A quick glance at the floor indeed revealed there to be a blood soaked stain on the ground, but before we could ask any questions a ghoulish bust flickered to life and began regaling us with the rules of the house. This particular effect utilized a projection system and is immensely more effective and entertaining than having an exhausted employee recite the same rules to each group of patrons every night for the duration of the haunt season. I’ve always advocated that the show should begin before a guest even enters the haunted attraction and indeed Realm of Haunted Minds has put that philosophy to good use.

Realm of Haunted Minds isn’t the type of haunted attraction that’s going to overwhelm guests with high tech animatronics or eye popping props, that kind of thing is sprinkled in to be sure but the driving force here is simply old fashioned haunting. Realm of Haunted Minds successfully fused the mood of a fun house with the ambience of a classic haunted house.

Neon splattered walls and a robust sound system set the scene quite well, while the use of tried and true haunt troupes such as drop panels, misdirection, and hidden passageways further supplement the concept of bedrock fundamental principles. When done correctly, there’s simply no substitute for these time honored elements.

The attraction was of an ideal length and featured a fair amount of actors and if jumping and shrieking can be interpreted as enjoying oneself then Madison had a blast, I was amused to see a fresh haunter caught off guard by a bounty of techniques that are so familiar to me. In one early room a zipper-faced clown stood slightly slumped over, his wrists chained to a wall. As we turned our backs and began in the direction of the next room I waited patiently for the payoff and without missing a beat ole Zipper Face struck! Maddie, convinced the figure was a prop, nearly leaped out of her shoes.

Later, we were pursued by a tongue-wangling fiend who gave Maddie a serious case of the heebie-jeebies when he determinedly scaled the walls of his cage and began to crawl over the top of the structure. In another instance we traversed a narrow hallway and at the end, where the path took a turn to the right, tucked into the corner sat a stone skeletal bust a top a pedestal. I first encountered this gag last year while touring House of the Dead at TerrorTown — it startled me then and without fail it put a little pep into Maddie’s step.

The Realm of Haunted Minds is a good haunted house at a wonderful location and is suitable for all ages. I would suggest that fog and strobe lights be put to greater use as a means to disorient and confuse; the tight quarters would be very conducive to this effect and would serve to ratchet up the tension.

I also felt that the opportunity for a big scare was missed at the conclusion of the ghoul’s rules at the beginning of the attraction. There was a door to the left of us as we stood at the blood line, it bore something of a resemblance to an Iron Maiden. When our decrepit host had finished with his speech the doors opened automatically and we plunged into the attraction, but how wonderful would it have been if a chainsaw wielding nut, for example, had burst forth from the same structure and forced us to scramble around him?! The timing was perfect for just such a scare and what better way to keep haunters guessing than by turning a vintage staple on its ear?

Rating: 3.75 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.