Archive for the The Deadland Category

Alternative Vibe Rocks The Deadland

Posted in 2015, Review, The Deadland with tags , , , , , , on September 28, 2015 by bluefall8

l

The very first haunted attraction of the season is forever a mix of excitement, nervousness and yes — a dash of surrealism. It’s a gamble too; after so much anticipation it’s a major disappointment if the first haunt fails to make an impression. Lucky for us this was not the case at The Deadland.

We arrived to find a relatively full parking lot and the longest line we’ve witnessed at this location over the years — the crowd was abuzz as the first glimmers of the Halloween season began to light anew. John and I would enjoy two trips through The Deadland on this night but not before the wise-cracking Mr. Imp read us the rules of the house.

All throughout The Deadland we encountered painstakingly detailed scenes, right down to the wallpaper that was peeled or otherwise fouled in some fashion. Much of the attraction had the appearance of a ramshackle hillbilly haven that hailed from some far-flung recess of the swamp but the plentiful inhabitants, by and large, were seriously lacking in hospitality.

Alongside the stellar scenery was a series of highly realistic props that complimented the actors nicely and defied patrons not to look over their shoulders out of fear that one of them just might pounce. The Deadland also made great use of lighting and fog, in particular this combination was utilized on several occasions to conceal an actor who would, at just the precise moment, deliver a startling jump scare. This trend was established during the early stages of our trek when a large, snarling man-beast suddenly appeared from out of the mist and popped our comfort bubble.

In fact, the idea of personal space is something you should leave at home for the night because the cast of characters at The Deadland like to get up close and personal; perhaps none more than the aptly named Mr. Snuggles. Mr. Snuggles was a clown — at least I think that’s what he was. He looked like a clown but he made a few comments that led me to believe that perhaps the face was not his own. Yeah, we’re talking some freaky skin suit stuff here. Mr. Snuggles delighted in rubbing his nose on our chests and his voice possessed an odd pitch and menacing cadence.

Mr. Snuggles wasn’t alone either, there was also a rotund, hissing ghoul who displayed a curious aversion to light but even he was dwarfed by the mountainous, Tiny. Tiny lumbered out of the shadows and with his immense size effectively blocked the path ahead. As he shuffled forward I was backed into a wall; I gaped at the sheer size of man. I vocally speculated to his true height and with each guess Tiny silently indicated with his thumb that I needed to go higher.

The strangeness of the scene was further heightened by the fact that a snaggle-toothed zombie was trapped in a pantry, gnashing its rotten maw in our direction and also the fact that Tiny ironically bore the mask of some ugly baby. Thankfully, the massive monster didn’t request a diaper change and when he shifted his position John and I scooted out of the room. At 6’9″ and what I would estimate to be 450-500 lbs., Tiny was likely the most physically imposing force we’ve ever encountered inside a haunted attraction.

Elsewhere, we were assailed by an energetic nut who addressed us as “sweet lips,” traded verbal barbs with yet another plus-sized creature who first pleaded for our help but then attempted to talk us into a casket and finally there was the freakish doctor who sported an oddly limp arm which spurred a humorous back-and-forth.

One of our favorite scenes included the two-story galleria of dolls which had potential to spare. However, our absolute favorite was Mikey’s birthday party where we sung a boisterous rendition of Happy Birthday at the insistence of the dead boy’s busty mother. This room was a standout not just for the decor, which stood in contrast to the usual haunted house fare, but also for the unexpected moment of interaction.

The Deadland eschewed traditional haunted house music for a more offbeat soundtrack that included a banjo number — a sound that will raise the hair on the back of any man’s neck. I enjoyed the change in tempo and atmosphere that the soundtrack offered; it was different and contrasted well with the overall experience. The first half of the attraction featured more characters of substance than the latter half but all throughout The Deadland there were scareactors aplenty. The Deadland did seem to conclude somewhat abruptly but in the end this was a gritty, actor-driven attraction with immersive scenes and offered a great value.

Rating: 3.75 stars

Thursday Outing Leaves Something to be Desired

Posted in 2011, Review, The Deadland, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , on October 16, 2011 by bluefall8

What had begun as an overcast October day turned to a dreary, drizzling night. On our schedule was a trio of haunts — Lockdown form the Wyandotte Jaycees, The Deadland in Warren, and the hell spawn of Detroit, Demonic Demons.

Demonic Demons was set to be our last stop of the night but when we arrived it was to find a sad fate. A foreclosure notice hung form the door accompanied by a large lock. Several decorations remained in their place from last year including the signature casket. The scene reminded me of an abandoned amusement park, one part spooky, one part sad. This marks the second consecutive year in which the Haunt of the Year title will be unable to be properly defended. Is the Haunt Trinity’s most cherished award possibly cursed?

The revelation that Demonic Demons was indeed closed for business was highly disappointing but before that discovery was made an evening of haunting was had — time to rewind.

EXPERIENCE THE HORROR OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD HAUNT

Jason, John, Cikalo, and I first stopped off at Lockdown where the usual issues that plague many volunteer efforts were out in force. Sound effects or music was scarcely implemented, most of the actors were young, inexperienced, and diminutive — costuming was often scant, a fair number of actors were merely dressed in street clothes. It’s really a shame that the same issues hurt the Jaycees effort year after year because what they do well is very enjoyable. The first room for instance showcased some vintage Jaycees haunting. A pastoral scene is painted on the wall, it looks like the kind of thing you’d find perhaps in a kindergarten classroom or at Sunday school — it’s innocent yet sinister. In front of it hangs a swing, in it sits a child draped in a raincoat, head bowed slowly swaying back and forth. Slowly the head is raised revealing one of those clear theatre masks, a moment later creepy, simpering laughter can be heard.

There were several other enjoyable scenes as well including the PG-13 torture scenes, the toxic wasteland complete with tubes carrying glowing liquid, and the pick-a-door room littered with clowns and jesters. Upon opening one door we found a clown sitting upon a toilet, each time we opened the door he fell victim to violent bouts of defecation — I opened the door no less than three times.

Even so these highlights weren’t quite enough to overcome Lockdown’s shortcomings — subpar interaction and timing on the part of the actors, an uninspired finale featuring a chainsaw wielding harlequin, and a middle of the road approach.

Rating: 2.25 stars

THE DEADLAND ON SOLID FOUNDATION

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting a little something more from The Deadland but I’d be fooling myself not acknowledge the fine start it’s off to at its new location. The adventure begins with a long walk down a fog filled hallway, purple lasers cast an eerie light. Each room is elaborately detailed whether it be a graveyard or hellish kitchen. Many of the props and decorations that help dress each scene are either genuine household items that lend a level of realism to the attraction or gory, detailed dummies which expertly build tension and fear.

The characters at Deadland are intense and loud, possessing above average vocalizations and improvisational skills. My favorites included a psychotic clown who was on a search for victims to stuff in his oven. There was also a somber, middle-aged priest with a voice like a serial killer, and a slim, agile loony who attacked us from above.

The Deadland has promise, it’s clear that there’s dedication and professionalism from top to bottom but a few changes need to be made to truly put this attraction over the top. There were several dead spots (areas where it seemed an actor should’ve been), I’m not sure if this was done by design or the result of being short staffed but it’s one area that can easily be improved upon.

The Deadland is enjoyable as is yet despite the admirable performance of the cast and the elaborate scenes nothing truly grabbed me or commanded my attention. When comparing price to length the attraction could afford to be longer and it would dramatically benefit from a powerful finale. Still, the Deadland has a solid foundation and has the potential to become a fixture in the Detroit haunt scene for years to come.

Rating: 3.75 stars