Archive for 2011

Sinister Sidelined

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2014 by bluefall8

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A mere two days ago I reported that Purgatory’s Revenge would not be open during the 2014 haunt season. Unfortunately, today I bring news of yet another closure. I spoke to Steve Czapiewski via email recently, Steve is the Advertising Director at Sinister, and he ended a fair amount of speculation by confirming that Sinister will not operate this Halloween season.

The dark status of Sinister is a serious blow to the Michigan haunt scene. Sinister employed an in-your-face, improvisational style which created a fresh and exhilarating haunted house romp. It featured a rock solid cast who pushed haunt etiquette to the edge and defied guests not to relish the experience. Owner Larry Black seemed to view Sinister as a haunted sand box, and within those walls, cast and customers alike could engage in a choose-your-own-adventure-story.

In 2012 Sinister snatched both the Horrorlust Monster Award and Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. In 2013 Sinister claimed the Horrolust Monster once more and in the process became the first haunt to win an award in back-to-back years since Deadly Intentions clutched the Monster Award in 2008 and 2009.

It’s also worth mention that Larry and many of his miscreants were responsible for the unforgettable show we witnessed in 2009 at Haunted Hollows in Armada. Bowbee’s Nightmare garnered three awards that fall which included Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder and Haunt of the Year. That single season trifecta is topped only by the four-award effort Darksyde Acres pulled off in 2011 when The Catacombs & Rusthole secured the Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Monster and Haunt of the Year Awards.

Steve did note that Sinister may return in time for the 2015 or 2016 haunt season and also stated that much of the cast will ply their craft as members of the Realm of Darkness this year. That is a veritable windfall for The Realm of Darkness which had a lack of quality actors in 2013. I wish all parties involved the best throughout the 2014 haunt season and into the future.

Read up on our adventures at Sinister here:

2012 – Sinister Jolts the Night with Surprise Twist

2013 – Improvisation & Intensity Forge Sinister Synergy 

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Horrorlust Haunt Awards: A History

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by bluefall8

The haunt awards, like Horrorlust itself, are the result of an evolution. The 2013 crop will be the sixth annual edition for most of the awards — Rotten Pumpkin, Eerie Vibrations, Dark Horse, Killer Automatons, Pulse Pounder, and Monster all debuted following the 2008 haunt season. The Prop Master and Samhain Awards were both added at the conclusion of the 2011 season, thus making this the third consecutive year for those respective distinctions.

The oldest award that we recognize is of course, Haunt of the Year. This award predates Horrorlust, indeed Haunt of the Year goes back even further than Hallowblog, the predecessor to this blog. Not long before I began chronicling all of these wonderful haunted adventures my merry band of travelers and I would simply agree upon the best attraction of the Halloween season. And so you’ll notice that in the annals of Horrorlust, that the Haunt of the Year Award is officially recognized as having originated in 2005.

As an interesting aside, it’s worth noting that these awards were initially called the Haunt Trinity Haunt Awards. If you delve into the depths of past Horrorlust posts you’re sure to come across such a phrase. The Haunt Trinity was a nickname I fashioned once a upon a time for a frequent trio of haunters. The group was comprised of myself, Jason (my older brother), and our good friend John who is sometimes referred to in these posts as the Disco Devil or simply, Disco.

I used to get a kick out of the name; I even spun spur of the moment rhymes about it and haunted attractions but mostly I think it merely served to annoy everybody else. After a time, it was rarely just the three of us participating in the beloved haunt excursions; a half a dozen or more friends and acquaintances regularly rotated in and out on any given night. My brother began to joke that the nickname Haunt Trinity was a misnomer.

A couple of years ago he found work in a new field and his schedule changed drastically; allowing him to partake in the haunted festivities only a time or two per season. This roughly coincided with the advent of Horrorlust and so it has been since 2011 that the annual awards have shared the namesake of this blog.

Readers, if you need a refresher on any of the awards please refer to the other posts under the “Awards” category, where full descriptions are posted. As a historical footnote, it’s worth mentioning that we began to recognize an honorable mention for each award in 2009 although those are not listed in this post. Interested parties are referred to the aforementioned entries found under the “Awards” category.

Fun Fact: No haunted attraction has ever been named Haunt of the Year on more than one occasion. In fact, there exists just two haunted houses that claimed the same award in multiple years. House of the Dead (Terror Town) won the Killer Automatons Award four consecutive years from 2009-2012. Deadly Intentions secured the Monster Award in back-to-back years during the 2008 and 2009 haunt seasons.

 

Rotten Pumpkin

2008: Templin’s Night Terror (Wyandotte Jaycees)

2009: Jackson’s Underworld

2010: Leo’s House of Horror

2011: Anxiety Alley

2012: Scream Machine

 

Eerie Vibrations

2008: Homer Mill

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: The Haunted Farm

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Bloodview

 

Dark Horse

2008: Realm of Haunted Minds

2009: Extreme Scream

2010: Woods of Darkness

2011: Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom

2012: Dimensions of Darkness

 

Killer Automatons

2008: Erebus

2009: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2010: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2011: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2012: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

 

Pulse Pounder

2008: County Morgue (Chainsaw Creek)

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: Demonic Demons

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Slaughter House (Slaughter House Adventure)

 

Monster

2008: Deadly Intentions

2009: Deadly Intentions

2010: Realm of Darkness

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Sinister

 

Prop Master

2011: Tent of Terror (The Boneyard)

2012: Barn of Horrors (Erwin Orchards)

 

Samhain

2011: October 14, 2011 (Krazy Hilda’s, Chelsea Feargrounds, The Boneyard)

2012: October 12, 2012 (Erwin Orchards, Slaughter House Adventure, A Nightmare on Elm Road)

 

Haunt of the Year

2005: Nautical Nightmare

2006: Erebus

2007: Realm of Darkness

2008: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: Demonic Demons

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Sinister

Creepy Crawlers Infest Funeral Home

Posted in 2013, Funeral Home, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2013 by bluefall8

The fun and lively lyrics of “Time Warp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show delighted our ears as we waited in line to enter the Funeral Home in Inkster. We happened to be the only people waiting in line, an ominous quality crept into the air the longer we stood there — alone. A heavy door stood before us, firmly shut. A singular peep hole was inlaid into the center of the door and we began to get the impression that we were being watched.

No sooner had this unsettling realization crept over us, a voice called out from the other side — a woman, begging for our help. Madison and I weren’t in a helping mood and therefore the stranger’s plea were met only by mild amusement. Suddenly, there was a second voice. This one belonged to a man and he wasn’t happy with the owner of the first voice. We heard the sounds of a struggle and then silence followed once more by the male voice which said to us, “You didn’t hear anything.”

The door swung open with some force and before us stood a stiff in a suit, his skin a bluish gray hue. Silently he took our tickets and with a wave of his arm ushered us into the Funeral Home.

The dead heads inside were amped up the moment we crossed the threshold, after all, a pair of fleshies don’t simply wander into the domain of the dead without attracting a fair amount of attention. Shrieks and catcalls reverberated through the air, a raucous pounding caused the walls to tremble; an utter cacophony of noise exploded throughout the place and accompanied us for the duration of our journey.

The vast majority of the cast wore full face masks just as they had during a visit in 2011; a fact that I bemoaned at the time. I think this haunt would be much more frightening if the cast were in face paint or perhaps even half masks but I’ve come to accept the Funeral Home for what it is. Some actors appeared as horror icons like Michael Myers or Jigsaw’s Puppet while others portrayed a litany of common Halloween staples such as skeletons, clowns, witches, and ghouls.

The rambunctious cast succeeded in many startle scares and displayed fair improvisational skills. Our favorites included a talkative, agile goblin near the beginning of the haunt who lacked an understanding of personal space. We also had a fun exchange with an elderly harlequin who had an interesting collection of toys. Mid-way through the attraction a witch peered down at us from a top a wall and let loose a scream so full of primal rage it was almost comical, her face all aquiver. Elsewhere,  a skeletal creature clawed at us from behind a window and then suddenly appeared around the next turn to confront us face to face (okay, face to skull).

The conclusion of the Funeral Home put a welcome spin on an old troupe, Maddie and I were led into a room were a flash of light offered us a brief glimpse of our surroundings — we weren’t alone. A ghoul with a bloated face was armed with a chainsaw and as the room plunged once more into darkness, his weapon roared to life. I made a conscious effort to drag my feet as to allow my fiendish friend ample time to terrorize my beloved sister-in-law. I believe it took all of two seconds before she she jabbed her hands into my back and urgently yelled, “Go! Go!”

The design of the Funeral Home won’t win any awards and the overall length definitely left a lot to be desired. With those shortcomings in mind the Funeral Home still offered an enjoyable, if not standard, haunted house experience.

Rating: 3 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

Sinister Eyes where Shadows Lie

Posted in News, Word of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by bluefall8

The calendar has flipped and it’s finally official — October 1st. With this comes news — haunt, horror, and Halloween news of course and there’s plenty of it. This particular post celebrates the 7th annual Halloween themed Word of the Week, but before we come to that, I have a few notes to share. Due to shooting part of the Mud Puppets Halloween Special this past weekend I did not visit any haunted attractions. It was a bit painful really, but rest assured haunt fiends that this will not be the case this weekend. Friday night will mark the beginning of the haunt season proper with a visit to Erwin’s Orchards in South Lyon, Slaughter House in Fowlerville, and if time permits a stop at A Nightmare on Elm Road in Webberville! These attractions are all new to myself and my merry band of haunters, so it is with a bang that we seek to kick off the month of October. A detailed post concerning this trip will be posted in a few days.

Another post to be made this week concerns the long awaited 2011 Haunt Awards! The 2011 haunt season was memorable for many reasons and I’ll finally reveal the best from a record breaking season! There will be the usual seven categories: Rotten Pumpkin, Eerie Vibrations, Dark Horse, Killer Automatons, Monster, Pulse Pounder, and Haunt of the Year — in addition I will introduce two new exciting categories — Prop Master and Samhein. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the awards fear not, each will be accompanied by a description and criteria for winning.

One final note before we get to the word — I’d just like to share that my preferred ritual of celebrating October 1st is with a viewing of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, a classic.

sinister [si-nes-ter] – adjective: singularly evil or productive of evil, accompanied by or leading to disaster.