Archive for the Terrorfied Forest & Manor Category

Legend of Bubbles, Lengthy Haunted Trail Headline Terrorfied Forest & Manor

Posted in 2015, Review, Terrorfied Forest & Manor with tags , , , on October 9, 2015 by bluefall8

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We arrived at Terrorfied Forest and Manor near the top of the 11 o’clock hour, the moon hung high in the sky and shone bright, silver light across the land. Rumors of a clown named Bubbles and his abandoned fun house seemed to be carried on the wind like a whisper.

ECHOES OF THE PAST

Mark and I approached the Manor which was illuminated by colorful, swirling spotlights. A series of sideshow banners were neatly displayed to our left which advertised such spectacles as a two-headed snake, a knife thrower and Miss Gabriele the Torso Girl. We were greeted at the threshold of the Manor by a heavily bearded man who referred to himself as the Abandoned Carney. The curious fellow told us the tale of the Bumbling Brothers Carnival which had set up on this same plot of land some 50 years past.

As the Abandoned Carney explained, folks began to disappear from the carnival and those in charge suspected that Bubbles was the culprit. When local law enforcement opened an investigation into the disappearances and it was then that management pulled up stakes in the dead of night and left the troublesome Bubbles to his own devices. As the Abandoned Carney concluded the tale, he motioned toward the structure to indicate that it was time for us to enter the ruins of Bubbles’ Fun House.

DOWN WITH THE CLOWN

As the door closed behind us we saw that a large gorilla sat at the entrance of a mirrored hallway like a silent sentinel. As we passed the hairy ape and then began the trek through the hall of mirrors, Mark and I waited for the intimidating primate to attack but alas it proved to be merely a suit. We didn’t know it at that moment but when we would reach the conclusion of the attraction this first leg of the trip would serve as a microcosm of our overall experience.

Bubbles’ Fun House had an intriguing, fun premise and it boasted some neat design features such as a series of revolving paddles, an exciting roller track and one room where it seemed as if Bubbles had suspended all of his left over Halloween candy from the ceiling. But on the other hand there was a lot of wasted space that could’ve been used to bolster the illusion of the fun house. Too often each area showcased but a single element and that fact meant we were never truly challenged when we anticipated where or how the next scare would presented itself.

Roughly halfway through the main floor we crossed paths with a fortune teller whose voice held an oddly enchanting quality that belied her cruel nature. A crystal ball glowed in one corner of the room and momentarily I had hoped that we would sit and learn our fate. I turned to the gypsy and inquired about a reading because this was an excellent opportunity for storytelling and I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers. Unfortunately, improvised interaction wasn’t the strong suit of this particular cast and the mystic whisked us into the next room.

One of the coolest and most surprising features of the attraction was a slide that plunged us into the basement. I can count on one hand the number of attractions I’ve toured over the years that utilized such a fun method of travel and the slide fit perfectly within the theme of a fun house.

The scareactors we encountered in the basement of Bubbles’ Fun House were a bit more lively than their counterparts upstairs; this was best demonstrated by an unstable clown who, in a warbling, nasally voice, informed me that I would slit Mark’s throat and drink blood from his hollowed out skull at some indeterminate point in the future. This character assailed us on numerous occasions and although his act wasn’t polished to a shine he did display enthusiasm and was, along with the gypsy woman, the most memorable of the bunch.

Soon, we squeezed through a womb-of-doom which was another feature that played well on the fun house theme. We even took a ride on rickety swing that had been constructed from a single board and a series of ropes that had been fashioned into a net. It was a bit of fun but once again it seemed to be an example of wasted space and from a narrative standpoint it made little sense. The room that housed the contraption was of fair size and was laid out it such a manner that any patron could simply bypass the scene had they desired and made directly for the exit.

It disrupted our suspension of disbelief which isn’t ideal at any time during a haunted attraction much less just before the conclusion. The finale, as it were, confronted us with a series of clowns — all as still as a corpse — a tried and true fundamental scare tactic. As we pondered which of the harlequins would attack that largest of the gang sprang to life, presumably Bubbles, and chased us from the fun house.

Bubbles’ Fun House was an enjoyable attraction but as noted above it did suffer from a number of drawbacks. The length of the attraction was a tad on the short side and the lack of a consistent soundtrack significantly diminished the fun house atmosphere. On the plus side, the Abandoned Carney sold the story of the Bumbling Brothers Carnival quite well and a number of the scenes and ideas already in place can be enhanced with additional elements — be it a visual aide or solid character interaction or even a good old fashioned jump scare such as the one we had hoped for out of the gorilla in the hall of mirrors.

And no, I haven’t slit Mark’s throat and drank his blood from his hollowed skull. I haven’t ruled it out though.

Rating: 2.5 stars

TERRORFIED FOREST ALIVE WITH ALL MANNER OF CREATURE

Our nocturnal trek through Terrorfied Forest was filled with dozens of actors and was dotted by an array of scenes and curious structures. The trail twisted left and right, dipped up and down — the spooky adventure easily exceeded a half hour which resulted in a solid bang-for-the-buck.

The journey began when we were approached by a sinister sister who practiced her faith at Our Lady of the Holy Crucifixion which she indicated was located in Hell. We entered a structure that felt something like a mind shaft; a lengthy set of stairs descended deep into the earthen tunnel. Soon, we emerged from the subterranean scene and crossed a great vortex tunnel that featured a series of mesmerizing spirals.

We regained our equilibrium and not a moment to soon because the Terrorfied Forest had a great multitude of creepy crawlers lying in wait. A large hillbilly emerged from the brush and proceeded to stalk us for a spell; the unmistakable sounds of a banjo reverberated through the air heavy with suggestion. Ahead, we passed a series of ominous statuesque clowns, each bore warning sings. The tension grew with each passing step, in the distance a chainsaw roared to life and echoed through the woods. A revolting pair of zombies snarled and snapped their diseased maws, one provided highly impressive vocalizations that were not to be topped.

The natural ambiance of the forest heightened the horror with beautiful but foreboding scenery that included an eerily placid pond, a sloping valley flush with moonlight and the constant buzz of insects. In a couple of instances we had to employ fancy footwork — after we exited one building we found the ground beneath our feet to be sinking and then later we were surprised by a bouncy bridge.

We also enjoyed an atmospheric cemetery scene and a weird doll house that contained the decapitated head of the world’s oldest ogre. It was in the doll house that a bi-polar duo of spinsters debated which of our body parts they’d like to keep — in the end they decided on my hair and Mark’s head.

Deeper into the woods we traveled through a thick spider’s web where a creepy hand pushed through the webbing. Then we encountered the sad, but still living, remains of a man in a meat grinder — his innards left to swing in the breeze by a pack of cannibals.

Rating: 3.25 stars

Mixed Results at Terrorfied Forest and Manor

Posted in 2013, Review, Terrorfied Forest & Manor with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by bluefall8

We arrived in Pinckney with little time to spare; a full moon was suspended high in the sky as the midnight hour approached. The wooded landscape upon which Terrorfied Forest and Manor resides immediately put me in mind of Krazy Hilda’s Camp of no Return last year in Chelsea.

We sought out the ticket booth where the man who sold the tickets directed us to a Chester Van off to the left where the trail to the manor, began. The man seemed to find a certain humor in our upcoming plight, a point that Cikalo deftly countered with his own brand of perverse and salacious wit.

We hit the trail and began the short trek to the entrance of the manor, as it turned out we did not cross paths with the keeper of the van who was perhaps preoccupied at the moment. We didn’t afford him the opportunity to meet our acquaintance either as we shortly came upon the door step and plunged into the manor.

A MOST MACABRE MANOR

As soon as we crossed the threshold of the manor we were assailed by a musty odor, and this was no manufactured scent, this was the genuine article. The structure resembled that of an old house or cabin and we were allowed to roam through the abode quite freely — it put me in mind of both The Funeral Home in Inkster and The Crypt in Burton.

As we entered into a large room, we heard the roll of thunder and witnessed a simple yet effective lightning effect just outside a series of windows to our right. Posed mannequins were spread throughout the house, one dressed as a cop was beside a casket; his face stoic an expressionless. My mind was brought to select scenes from House of Wax (an underrated horror flick in my opinion). I enjoyed this approach and wouldn’t mind if it were used to even greater effect here or at other attractions. It lent a creepy tension to each scene, it was almost as if we had been pulled into an old photograph. Let’s face it, mannequins — like other inanimate human impostors (such as dolls),  possess an evil quality.

Unfortunately their live counterparts didn’t offer much in the way of vocalization or improvisation, much of what we encountered was poorly timed scares and generic threats. It wasn’t an awful cast by any means but the effort was far from inspired.

Business would soon pick up however as we were shuttled down a long slide into the basement of the manor. I’ve always enjoyed features such as this in haunted attractions; slides are just fun and I’ve never quite seen one used to transport guests from one level of a haunt to another, typically a slide will serve merely as an exit.

The ghouls in this area were more energized than their peers on the first floor. First, a long haired nut in a straight-jacket pursued us with gusto and at the finale of the attraction we were treated to an electrocution. The actor in the chair gave a convincing performance and when we inquired about the contents of his drawers (we had to make sure he was dead) the executioner played along and confirmed that the deceased had indeed soiled his undergarments, which he confirmed with a good old fashioned thumbs up.

The Manor had its moments and certainly has potential to be improved, but there was a lot left on the table both in terms of acting and storytelling. In the end it concluded all too briefly.

Rating: 2.75 stars

MIDNIGHT STROLL THROUGH TERRORFIED FOREST

The natural ambience of a forest walk simply cannot be beaten, the path at Terrorfied Forest offered a half hour of scares through hills, valleys, and various outbuildings. The trip began with a descent into a mine which set us on our path to the forest, a string of dim red lights guided us on our journey.

We traversed a parcel of land that resembled a farm and then passed by an eerily placid body of water, the perfect place for a killer scare or monstrous prop and although we witnessed nothing of the nature, it’s just too perfect an opportunity for the operators to pass up in the future. The wooded path did feature a fair mix of live actors and props; some of the props were even animated such as the miniature wolf boy which gave me a quality startle scare.

Like those inside the Manor, many of the actors along the pathway provided sub par performances — the scares weren’t bad but they did lack a certain passion and creativity. This was no more evident than in one outbuilding where the severed body of a girl lie on a table, her captor was armed with a saw. As we entered, the actor buzzed his saw for just a moment and then placed it on the table and silently approached us. I thought perhaps we had caught him a little off guard so I encouraged him to saw her properly. He obliged as any good scare actor should but as the female actress on the table was just about to reach the peak of her scream, the shriek abruptly ended. She turned to us and snottily snapped, “You can go now.” I can scarcely blame the male actor for breaking character at this point as he was perhaps embarrassed by her unwarranted rudeness, but break character he did by asking if there were any groups behind us.

As a customer at a haunted attraction I expect the actors to be just as engaged in the show as I am, sometimes that requires a little improvisation and creativity. These actors weren’t threatened, we used no profane language, we simply engaged them as the characters they were portraying. This was amateur behavior in what was an otherwise professional haunted attraction and it’s precisely this type of behavior that continues to proliferate negative stereotypes about the haunt industry. I know that if I were the owner of a haunted attraction I would not tolerate an employee who displayed such distain toward paying guests.

Fortunately, there did happen to be some worthy characters as well such a muscly clown who blocked our path — his frame and chainsaw made for quite the imposing sight. This same area was also home to a few of his harlequin pals — dummies that held ominous signs which read, “This is the last time you’ll see me” and other similarly strange statements.

I particularly liked the sideshow themed area where it looked as if a carnival of old had once broken down on the side of the road and simply decided to stay. It is here that we met Torso Girl and later passed by a colorful wagon which contained a massive gorilla. As we stared through the protective bars the tune of classic circus music began to play, I hoped that upon its’ conclusion the beast would move to attack but it turned out to be a prop. This area concluded with a similarly themed outbuilding — it had both the feel of a fun house and a big top tent. Inside, a costumed actor ran to and fro erratically, his oversized clown arms swung comically. We exchanged pleasantries and even brokered a handshake.

The Terrorfied Forest ended with a trip through a pitch black maze, one of the best such structures we’ve ever encountered. Despite the various shortcomings here, we found it quite enjoyable. With a couple changes in personnel and the addition of a few prime scares, the Terrorfied Forest will send haunters scattering through the woods.

Rating: 3.25 stars

“I sure hope he has big fingers.”

-Cikalo’s jesting exchange with the ticket seller who warned us of Chester the Molester.