Archive for the The Haunting Category

Haunting Season Begins

Posted in 2007, Hallowblog, Review, The Haunting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2014 by bluefall8

This was originally written September 29, 2007 and was the first official entry under the Hallowblog banner. In it, I waxed over film, television, and general haunt news but the bulk of the text covered a visit to The Haunting in Adrian, Michigan. This entry has particular importance to me; to the best of my knowledge this is the first full-length review that I ever wrote for a haunted attraction. This trip as you will soon read, also marked the beginning of a long running joke after my brother, Jason, made a rather tactless and dubious observation.

Fall has arrived with all its radiant majesty and for us Halloween enthusiasts the magic of the season is poised to erupt. I have a multitude of topics I’d like to cover in this inaugural issue and I’d appreciate, no prefer, feedback.

On that note I’d like to state that I’m looking for a more intriguing name to brand this Halloween column with other than the generically crafted Hallowblog. I won’t say I’m holding an open contest (due to the lack of a prize) but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own and if I don’t receive any quality submissions I’ll simply settle with one of those; this is just one small way in which I thought I could make this blog slightly interactive.

The Halloween themed Word of the Week returns this Monday, October 1 and like last year will run the duration of the month of October. Also, like last year, each week’s entry will be accompanied by a companion blog featuring other Halloween related content. Last year’s format was rather simple, each week I featured a monster and a horror film, I also provided a list of Halloween highlights past. I do aim to continue in the same vein this year but new content will also be added.

Yesterday I watched a horror movie called Demonic which really isn’t worth mentioning. Tom Savini played the role of some nutter living in a forest infested with naked female demon types. Yeah, that’s primarily it. The film offered no other redeeming qualities; not exactly a horror classic. What is worth watching however is Dead Like Me. Missy and I have been watching the first season on DVD, it compliments the season well.

To my great delight I obtained a copy of the Fear Finder last Tuesday and plans for the haunting season began to take shape. Each October I excitedly anticipate visiting haunted attractions but it seems that I never make it to enough of them. Last year I didn’t get started until the middle of the month, visiting The Scream Machine and The Screamatorium on the 13th. Jason, Disco, and I next went haunting on Halloween night in Pontiac which was a trip to be remembered as Erebus and the Realm of Darkness proved to be among the best haunts I’ve ever visited. It was the most I’d visited in one season but still I was left unsatisfied. So this year I wanted to be sure to have a plan in place to cover all my haunting desires.

Originally we (Jason, Disco, and I) planned to start the season with a visit to The Scream Machine in Taylor which has become something of a staple over the years. September 27-30 marks the opening weekend for The Scream Machine and tickets are a mere $10 for both attractions. We ended up changing our plans though due to the fact that few attractions have yet opened and as Jason pointed out we could hit downriver haunts anytime. My original plan was to hit The Scream Machine and then head down Dix where we’d explore Anxiety Alley for a mere $5 but Lincoln Park’s annual modular haunt doesn’t open until October 12.

The Haunting in Adrian has an enticing full page ad in the Fear Finder and after reading a five star review at Zioptis it seemed that we might start the haunting season off with a bang. Zioptis by the way is a great source for seasonal fun, interested parties can familiarize themselves with Zioptis here: Zioptis Foundation

The Fear Finder ad touted a $20 combo package that included admission to the 13th floor and 3-Dementia haunted houses, ghost tour, manic maze, two items from the concession stand, coupon to the gift shop, an illusion show, and a souvenir photo with a zombie. It seemed a damn good deal for twenty bucks, the photo with a zombie was particularly enticing to me. But we didn’t end up paying $20, nope, Jason spotted a deal on their website, for just $10 one was granted admission to both haunted attractions, the ghost tour, manic maze, and the illusion show. No, it didn’t include the zombie photo but I figured the difference would more than balance out in our favor if indeed we still decided to get a picture with a flesh-eater.

So the trio was off to Adrian, a trip through the sticks that was interesting in and of itself; the small towns we passed on our way there had all the markings of a B-rate horror flick. We arrived at the Lenawee County Fairgrounds and I was surprised by the lack of crowd, lights, and music. I reminded myself that it was early in the season and we were on a rather sizable chunk of land. We made our way to the entrance of the main attraction and still the crowd was sparse, and really that’s how it would remain.

Two zombie-looking chicks with spooky white pupils sat at a bench statuesque holding a guitar, staring resolutely in our direction. They were a nice touch and I’ll admit that they freaked me out a bit. They did such a good job of remaining still that I wasn’t sure if they were props. The Haunting was a bit of a let down, after so much fanfare I expected an attraction on par with the top of the class. It wasn’t necessarily bad but nothing gave it a unique feel. I’m going to give the whole affair the benefit of the doubt and chalk the lowlights up to the fact that they may still be working out the quirks this early in the season.

Although some very elementary mistakes were made, for instance, at several points in the first attraction it seemed that sections of walls had to be missing because we had an unobscured view into the greater building which wasn’t being used for the attractions. At several points I even saw what looked to be members of the technical team just standing in plain view as if they wanted customers to spot them. That nonsense should never happen as it greatly diminishes the haunting experience.

The Haunting employed a theme centered on the 13th floor of a hotel run afoul. I enjoyed the entrance which included a ghastly looking attendant and the butchered bell hop who directs guests to their rooms. Next patrons are loaded onto The Haunting’s version of the Hellevator which vastly pales in comparison to the one that The Scream Machine used last year. The Haunting blew its load early offering up a scene in which the victim of some terrible medical experiment lies writhing in bed while entrails issue forth from their torso. We’ve witnessed the gag before but it never gets old as the victim pleads for your help. The remainder of the attraction was less than stellar but the fat lady with the butcher knife managed to elicit some laughs when she leapt at us and proclaimed, “Meat! I looooove meat!” I decided against the obvious jokes and continued into a room that resembled a meat cooler full of disembodied human parts. The last item of interest was an immensely large man who sat upon a bed gnawing at a brain. I wasn’t quite sure why anyone would fear this as I harbored serious doubts that he could so much as heave his gelatinous form from the space he occupied. I was brought out of my reverie by would be creepy laughter if only it hadn’t been so seductive. A dead looking chick dressed as a maid emerged from the corner and stalked us from the room. Jason would later make a rather dubious observation regarding this particular incident.

We exited The Haunting shortly and came to the entrance of the 3D attraction known as 3-Dementia. I’ve gone to just one of these prior (The Carnevil of Lost Souls) and I was disappointed then so my expectations weren’t exactly soaring as I entered 3-Dementia. In fairness it was better than The Carnevil of Lost Souls but that isn’t saying much. I think attractions like this have potential and with some time and innovative ideas can serve as a quality side attraction at various haunts. As it stands however they are merely add-on filler.

Well we each openly voiced our disappointment upon exit and soon learned that the photo with a zombie would follow suit. I had hoped for and even expected a live actor but what we saw were two props that could scarcely be called zombies so we declined the photo. We hurried over to the illusion show which was short but did add a nice ripple to the whole experience.

The Ghost Tour was next and was designed to be more campy than scary but the effect was pulled off nicely by the clashing personalities of our tour guides, Gabriel and Gregory. Gabriel played the part of the traditional, spooky tour guide, attempting to instill fear in the guests with ghost stories about the grounds; each story would of course climax in some small scare. Gregory was a slightly hyper ghoul with a penchant for off beat, well timed comedy. The Ghost Tour ended where the Monster Maze picked up. Absent were any actors or props but the maze did give us the opportunity to run around like idiots attempting to frighten other, unsuspecting guests. At one point John and I became separated from Jason and attempted to reunite using our patented “Aweel” call.

Overall I’d give the experience 3 out of 5 stars and am left to believe that The Haunting was firing on all cylinders when Zioptis came calling, otherwise there is no way they would have been awarded a top rating. I wouldn’t mind heading back later in the season to confirm my suspicions but with so many other haunts to visit I doubt we’ll find the time.

It wasn’t a bad start to the haunt season; the atmosphere was rife with the intoxicating scent of fall and that intangible magic unique to the Halloween season.

I plan to post whatever pictures I can from our various visits this season so be sure to check that periodically. Keep in mind that I have to be some what careful when taking these pictures as not all monsters or operators are exactly fond of the practice. I’ll leave you with the following quotes from our endeavor:

“If we get lost out here we might as well rape and murder ourselves…save the locals the trouble.”   -Joel

“Sometimes I just want to grab one of those girl workers. It’s almost like they want you to, do you know what I mean? I mean I would never do it but I think if I did they’d just let me.”   -Jason

The Haunting Redeemed, Darksyde Discovered

Posted in 2011, Darksyde Acres, Review, The Haunting with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by bluefall8

Just as so many October adventures had thrilled us before so too did the excursions of this past weekend. The events of this past weekend will surely go on to live in Haunt Trinity lore for seasons to come, and just as well because many a memorable moment was made. The haunt season never truly begins until we’ve traveled at least a couple of county lines from home. Journey with us then, won’t you? As we gather around this hallowed hearth to share titillating tales full of deliciously macabre monstrosities.

A TRIP FOUR YEARS IN THE MAKING

It simply wouldn’t be a haunt outing if Jason didn’t find a way to complicate matters and while last weekend may not have been his finest effort at such it was certainly notable. But I don’t hold it against him really — after all he is my brother, my original haunt partner stretching all the way back to our youth when we enjoyed stuffing old clothes full of dead leaves in order to make dummies. We departed Monroe at approximately 8:20 p.m. and arrived at The Haunting in Adrian nearly an hour later. We had first visited The Haunting some four years prior and came away from that experience harboring disappointment, but we wanted to give the show a fair shake so a return trip was in order (We actually intended to return here in 2009 but Jason’s prior mentioned shenanigans derailed the trip. We planned a similar trip last year but it too fell to the wayside. I simply let you guess why.) We’d finally returned — Jason, John, and I accompanied also by Amanda McCreary who transformed our typical trio into a quartet. Amanda last went haunting with us during the 2007 season, a night in which she braved The Scream Machine and The Lab.

The grounds were eerily deserted when we arrived, the scene instantly reminded me of our visit four seasons earlier. But there was something different in the air this time and I held firmly to my conviction that The Haunting would be vindicated. We headed for the ticket window and paid a meager $5 (the haunt usually costs $10 but a coupon from The Haunting website, coupled with a canned good donation will net you a $5 discount). It was clear that the operators had majorly overhauled the waiting area and as we would find out shortly half of the haunt was themed in the familiar 3D paint while the back half bore more of a resemblance to a classic haunted attraction. I’ll spare you the suspense just this one time dear readers and tell you outright that The Haunting did not disappoint a second time.

What we experienced was a balanced presentation built on the tried and true fundamentals of haunting. The pace of the attraction was ideal, surprises were well disguised, and the cast delivered a solid, theatrical performance. Attention to detail has been paid to the placement of props – all throughout the labyrinthine structure dark halls and corners are dotted with convincing dummies, effectively keeping haunters on edge. As I mentioned earlier the first half of the haunted house features glowing paint, an element arguably enhanced by the use of 3D glasses; personally I don’t find the glasses necessary. I enjoyed the glow of these areas as well as the beautifully dark works of art peering out from the walls.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the neat trick employed near the beginning of the attraction. A giggling ghoul shepherded our party into a small room and closed the door behind us, a pair of vampire busts on either side of the door near the ceiling issued some sort of a chant. When the door opened the room we had previously occupied had radically changed. The room we initially entered was a basic, back square featuring no props or decorations. What now stood before us was a long, glowing hallway. It’s a technique the creators at The Haunting refer to as the vanishing room. We’ve witnessed similar gags before — The Scream Machine for instance uses the same technique when guests exit the Hellivator – but never has it pulled off better than at The Haunting.

The second half of the haunted house, referred to as The Darkness, began when our party was confronted by a tall, rotund ghoul who collected our 3D glasses. He bore a resemblance to Uncle Fester from The Addams Family and after collecting the glasses began asking us if we were, “…prepared to enter the darkness.” He spoke in a whisper and when satisfied that we were indeed ready to brave the darkness ahead, he allowed us entry. He revealed his true intentions however when he banged his fist on the wall and loudly announced our arrival to his dead brothers and sisters. It was this act that caused me to dub him Fester the Turncoat Bastard.

Shortly after entering The Darkness we came to a wonderfully lit hallway illuminated by a green laser which cast a majestic series of dancing points of light across our bodies and throughout the air. Our interaction with Fester set the tone for the remaining of the haunt as we came across several other actors – all in effective face paint – who delivered worthy performances. Among my personal favorites was an angry, twitchy girl, a stocky zombie who issued an unsettling, air sucking howl, and a hobo who requested change in exchange for access to a secret door.

I stated from the onset that The Haunting did not disappoint as it did back in 2007 and I stand by that statement. What we witnessed here last weekend was nothing short of a quality attraction steeped in the fundamentals of haunting.

Rating: 3.75 stars

BOONDOCKS HAUNT WILL SHOCK AND SURPRISE

A fog crept over the countryside as we headed for Jonesville, a countryside dotted with looming barns, decrepit farm houses, and Victorian estates. It was quiet and nearly deserted when we arrived at Darksyde Acres, a former pig farm. Outwardly it may have appeared docile but within its bowels all manner of creatures lurked both beautiful and hideous, deranged and merry. Darksyde Acres boasts three attractions — The Catacombs, Rusthole, and The Dark Abyss; the first two run concurrently. We purchased our tickets, were told to follow a row of colorful, blinking lights, and warned of the anal trauma ahead. We made a porta-potty pit stop at the entrance of the first haunt, when McCreary opened the door a blood stained, saber toothed, man-sized rabbit leaped from the latrine. Darksyde had used a gag I’d long sought to witness even before we entered the attraction; I already liked the place.

A tall, portly Elvis impersonator welcomed us into the haunt, before us was a winding queue area with small but numerous scenes on either side. We walked down a center path until a deliciously devilish voice informed us that we were going the wrong way. We turned toward the voice — a scantily clad haunt vixen! My eyes may have popped out of my head whilst steam shot from my ears. Beside me John’s jaw dropped to the floor and his tongue rolled cartoonishly from his mouth. There’s definitely a chance that Jason begun removing his pants. Even McCreary was momentarily stunned by the brazen hotness of it all. The dark temptress corrected our path and was soon joined by a second femme fatale. The duo scampered off at times only to reappear and make sexual remarks or would otherwise be found in erotic poses with props. Jason wondered aloud if perhaps we hadn’t crossed over into some sort of blissful haunt afterlife. Such reveries were interrupted briefly when a dainty young man in a dress beckoned us closer and flashed us his nipples, he would later attempt to kiss Jason. Such shenanigans were salacious and attention grabbing and set the stage well for what was to follow. We approached the end of the queue line and came to rest on the threshold of the haunt, the Disco Devil and I took the first shift.

The approach at Darksyde Acres is intense, raunchy, and rare. Guests will not be wowed by flashy animatronics nor can this be accurately called a haunted attraction in the traditional sense, this is something different. Many of the actors are a wild, twisted breed, perhaps the best example of this is a pair of clowns respectively named Bubbles and Pickles. Pickles is a frenzied ball of energy and as horny as a toad, he lovingly spoke of rape and begged that we allow him to grab our backsides. When we obliged Pickles’ excitement grew tenfold an he implored that we return the favor which I thought was only fair. The stimulus propelled Pickles into a crazed euphoria, he whooped and giggled uncontrollably and quite literally bounced from one wall to the next. For an instant I thought perhaps my long time friend Stu was behind the make up. Bubbles in contrast had a more purely sinister nature although even he had a penchant for comedy which was revealed during a conversation about his rumored polka-dotted phallus.

As we traveled deeper into the attraction we traversed crypts, graveyards, and absolute darkness. A steady stream of heavy metal flooded our ears and at one point I was pleased to hear the circus inspired sound of Creature Feature. We were assailed by zombies, demons, and hot, dead girls. You read that correctly — hot, dead girls! Smoking deadites appeared behind bars equipped with stripper moves and it was in a word, mesmerizing. One particular scene even involved a stripper pole and some fancy moves, but that as we would later find out was a cruel illusion.

Rating: 4 stars

A short walk separates the attractions, the final of which is themed after an old pirate ship — The Dark Abyss. Here, Captain Karcass and his crew have been bound for some 300 years and as you might imagine they’re typically eager to add new souls to their league of damned, but on this night they were mostly jovial — a bit sarcastic perhaps but on the whole in good spirits. Captain Karcass delighted us with some witty banter before he sent us on our way through halls full of lusty wenches, decomposing bodies, and malevolent mariners. The ship was elaborately detailed, highlighted by a hallway of askew mirrors and one room full of dead pirates and treasure. The attraction even had a peculiar smell, a hint of bonfire and something else that was strangely familiar yet elusive.

Rating: 3.25 stars

Locations such as Darksyde Acres are the reason we continue to visit haunted attractions. The actors delivered a nearly flawless performance displaying superb interaction, effective vocalizations, and creative improvisation. The recurring threat of anal trauma is emphasized well first by the howling harlequins and then by the angst ridden Cain who dwells in the dank recesses of The Rusthole. Darksyde Acres features a good mix of dark passages, immersive scenes, and surreal strangeness — oh yeah the half naked girls don’t hurt either. In my opinion this secluded homestead of horror is worth the drive from anywhere in the Metro-Detroit area.