Archive for 2014

2014 Haunt Season Rewind

Posted in Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2015 by bluefall8

We gather here at the genesis of another season of screams; night has descended and the doors to many haunted attractions hungrily await the arrival of eager guests. Accompanied by a rush of excitement and a tinge of dizzied disbelief, the first night of haunting of any season is a special outing. For myself and my faithful cohorts the season will officially commence tomorrow evening although at present we have not yet decided exactly where it is that we’ll be headed. Rest assured that the haunted highway will carry us to a destination where the first memories of the 2015 haunt season will be minted.

As we peer from this precipice with an eye on the immediate future let us pause for a few moments and reflect on the year that was — submitted for your approval here are some of the most memorable moments from the 2014 haunt season as recorded here on Horrorlust.

On the atmosphere of Corpse Barn Shock Haunt, 10/04/14

“The interior of the barn was littered with corpses indeed, it was as if the barn itself had been eviscerated. All about the floor in every direction laid piles of dummies; I wasn’t sure if this was the ritual site for a serial killer or merely the dumping grounds for plague victims, but the bodies were scattered, torn and in abundance.”

On a curiosity spotted in the dark at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“…a strange sight greeted us as we rounded a corner — was that a floating head mere yards in front of us? Indeed, it was floating and glowing a magical shade of green. Wait a second?! Did my eyes deceive me? Was that a second head bobbing beside the first? Did the Gosch Brothers possess siamese twins who were aglow in the gloom like a pair of monstrous stars?!!”

On an oddly comedic character at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“…and were guided by a husky harlequin who was surprisingly spry and had the odd habit of honking his own nose.”

On a wonderfully ridiculous reaction of a party member at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“One cannot be sure of such things but a member of our group may have possibly fled with arms flailing above head looking all the world like Olive Oyl from Popeye.”

On a striking actor inside District 13 at The Fear Experience, 10/17/14

“In one corner, a frightening mime repeated the same stuttered movements like an animatronic in need of repair — his eyes were cold, lifeless, soul-sucking orbs.”

On a fellow patron who commented that she felt as if she would both urinate and vomit from fear while waiting in line at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“I was convinced by her body language that her statements weren’t merely for dramatic flair and I thus stepped back a few paces in order to avoid the splashback from any potential spew.”

On the overall flavor of the Gore House at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“The Gore House was a galleria of gross-outs and no trip is complete without passage through the one-of-a-kind vortex tunnel near the end of the structure, a vortex tunnel with the color and consistency of molten flesh.”

On an inimitable creep who inhabited Baby Doll Island at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“I couldn’t decide if he was a vampire, demon or merely the town pervert but he elicited a response and looked good doing it.”

On the aftermath of Splattertown at Wiard’s Night Terrors, 10/18/14

“As we exited, I conferred with Maddie and she too had shamelessly peppered the private parts of some dim-witted zombie.”

On an excellent bit of interaction inside the Ultimate Haunted Barn at Wiard’s Night Terrors, 10/18/14

“Curtis spoke rapidly of his vast collection of goods which were displayed throughout the room. He intimated that he had amassed such a treasure trove by less than honest means but in the next breath stated plainly that any accusations of such would not be met with politeness. Curtis spoke with quickness and clarity; his voice possessed a mesmerizing cadence dashed with a pinch of wit.”

On the eye-popping finale of Hush, 10/30/14

“My eyes darted from her to the frosty fellow inside the chamber. Had I just saw it blink? Was the equipment about to malfunction?! Just as she reassured us of the stability of the machinery, the cryogenic freak lurched forward and secured a meaty paw around the throat of our loquacious host.”

On a superb illusion at Dark Legacy, 10/30/14

“Static filled the screen for a moment but then a shape began to emerge from the white noise, a human face forced itself from the snow-driven abyss!”

On a particularly wild scene at Exit 13, 11/01/14

“And most of that took place while we marveled at a hot, sadistic nurse who tortured a wailing amputee! On top of that, we would later discover that the missing leg was no gag.”

On a fearless haunt actress at 13 Feet Under, 11/01/14

“She locked eyes, leaned in slowly, bared her teeth and sunk them straight into my hand.”

On a waltzing weirdo at The Crypt, 11/01/14

“…and in one unforgettable instance, a stout and hairy man confined to an inaccessible room, treated us to the most unsettling dance number since Buffalo Bill cut a rug in The Silence of the Lambs.”

On a large, freakish doll at The Realm of Darkness, 11/01/14

“One in particular caught my attention, it was several feet tall with a bulbous, unnaturally large head, a rictus grin and bore more than a passing resemblance to Howdy Doody.”

Haunting By Numbers: 2014 Haunt Season

Posted in Haunting By Numbers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2015 by bluefall8

2014 offered a haunt season not soon to be forgotten. Let us now ponder some pertinent numbers.

24: Number of attractions at 14 unique locations that we visited — this total topped the previous record of 23 first set in 2011 and then matched in 2013.

7: Spooky nights spent touring fright filled stomping grounds.

5: Never before toured haunted houses.

7: Counties in Michigan and Ohio where we braked for haunted house goodness; included were Genesee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne in the Mitten State while Cuyahoga was the lone representative from the Buckeye State.

4: Separate locations with a total of six haunted attractions that we visited on the night of November 1, 2014 — a one night record.

320: Round trip miles racked up during the infamous Cleveland Turn N’ Burn which saw us tour The Fear Experience and Bloodview Haunted House.

10: Haunted attractions that were visited in a single 24-hour period on Friday, October 17, 2014 and Saturday, October 18, 2014.

863: Total miles driven during the 2014 haunt season.

2010: The year in which a haunted attraction last earned a 5 star rating.

2014 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2015 by bluefall8

2014 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Rotten Pumpkin – The Rotten Pumpkin award is given to the haunt considered to be the most disappointing of the season. Disappointment may be the result of an over hyped marketing campaign or the failure of the haunt to live up to expectations set forth in previous seasons. Whatever the case may be let there be no doubt that the haunt receiving this unwanted distinction truly dropped the ball, failing to provide a worthwhile show.

2014 Rotten Pumpkin: The Haunted Funeral Home

The Haunted Funeral Home was the first attraction I visited last year, thankfully it was not an indication of things to come. Most of the cast delivered below average performances, several were even caught out of place. That was particularly unforgivable due to the fact that, at the time, we were the only group present. Little to nothing has changed here since an initial visit in 2011; this was uninspired and lazy haunting.

Eerie Vibrations – The Eerie Vibrations award is given to the haunt considered to exude the best overall atmosphere. Atmosphere is defined by the mood of the haunt itself but can also be fostered by immediate grounds or even the surrounding area.

2014 Eerie Vibrations: The Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

Honorable Mention: District 13 (The Fear Experience)

The former pig farm has presence and nowhere is it as oppressive as in The Catacombs & The Rusthole. What can I say? The story of a ghoulish spirit and mysterious third floor made an impact when I traversed the attraction all on my lonesome. This is the second time that The Catacombs & The Rusthole has captured the Eerie Vibrations Award; the first was in 2011.

Dark Horse – The Dark Horse award is given to the haunt considered to have the most potential for growth. Criteria for this award include the ability to deliver an entertaining show at a relatively small venue and at a reduced rate. Think of the Dark Horse award as  Horrorlust’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2014 Dark Horse: Psycho Path

Honorable Mention: Corpse Barn Shock Haunt

For just $10 this hidden gem offered a serious bang-for-your-buck in 2014. The volunteer effort mixed a creative flair with haunted house fundamentals and struck the right balance of fun and fright. The facade was excellent and a surprise, introductory stage show served the narrative well. A brief stroll through the woods beforehand and a wagon ride after the fact further enhanced the atmosphere.

Killer Automatons – The Killer Automatons award is given to the haunt that best integrates animatronics into its attraction. When determining this award several factors are considered including timing, prop placement, realism, and sheer wow effect.

2014 Killer Automatons: Dark Legacy

Honorable Mention: The Realm of Darkness

Dark Legacy had a little bit of everything and in 2014 put to use their electronic baddies better than any other haunt in town. There were caged monkeys, a slick electrocution and even a massive mutation contained inside of a large shipping crate. Several actor-matronics were used to maximum effect as well.

Monster – The Monster award is given to the haunt considered to have the best live actors of the season. In order to claim this award workers must display a certain level of intensity as well as a refusal to break character. Also crucial is the ability to improvise lines or actions when adapting to an individual guest or group.

2014 Monster: Hush

Honorable Mention: Bloodview

The core group of characters at Hush are polished, professional and capable of giving the best that we’ve witnessed a run for their money. Led by the inimitable Dr. Phineas Phun, the cast of Hush featured a handful of unforgettable freaks and weirdos — from an android receptionist to the supercharged loonies who went bonkers behind a pane of glass to a lullaby singing doctor and her reanimated specimen. The key players each understood their role which was crucial to the central theme of the attraction.

Prop Master – The Prop Master award is given to the haunt considered to have best implemented props into the attraction. A prop may be considered a piece of furniture, a weapon, or a dummy. The haunt that claims this award will have paid special attention to placement, function, and realism.

2014 Prop Master: Centralia County Fair (The Fear Experience)

Honorable Mention: Dark Legacy

The scenery inside Centralia County Fair was detailed, thorough and impressive. The abandoned carnival theme was so immersive and striking that it overwhelmed my senses. Keep in mind that this was an attraction that featured relatively few live actors and it excelled in spite of that fact. The scenes and set dressing were so complete it was the one attraction to which I wished I could return for the sole purpose of documenting it through photographs.

Pulse Pounder – The Pulse Pounder award is given to the haunt considered to be the most intense attraction of the season. Intensity can be gauged by a number of factors including commitment of actors, gory or realistic scenes, and harsh or loud music and sound effects. However, the most important element when considering this award is genuine fear factor.

2014 Pulse Pounder: The Mind Shaft (Wiard’s Night Terrors)

Honorable Mention: Zombie Uprising at Braxton Estate (The Fear Experience)

The Mind Shaft got the heart racing through expertly tailored sound fx that helped drive the pace of the attraction. Like 13 Feet Under, Mind Shaft made it easy and fun for guests to suspend their disbelief — if a collapsing mine doesn’t put some pep in your step then what the hell will?! The attraction concluded with an exclamation point when a Sasquatch roared out of nowhere and delivered one of the best jump scares of the season.

Samhain – This award recognizes the most enjoyable night of haunting in a given season. A plethora of factors are considered when deciding this award but at the end of the season it comes down to the night of haunting that provided us with the most scares, laughs, and memories.

2014 Samhain: October 18, 2014 (Wiard’s Night Terrors)

Honorable Mention: October 30, 2014 (Dark Legacy, Hush)

2014 delivered a number of great nights of haunting but the plethora of attractions that comprised Wiard’s Night Terrors put it over the top. I was highly amused by the reactions of my sister-in-law, Madison, who provided me with the kind of valuable feedback only a fresh set of eyes can bring. Brandon Wiard was a most gracious host who allowed us the run of the place and engaged in great conversations about the ideas that fueled the haunted houses at Night Terrors.

Haunt of the Year – The Haunt of Year award is given to the haunt considered to be the best overall attraction of the season. When deciding on this award several factors are taken into consideration including the timing and intensity of actors, the pace and length of the haunt, attention to detail, use of special effects, realism of props, and most importantly the lasting imprint left on guests.

2014 Haunt of the Year: Exit 13

Honorable Mention: Hush

This was no easy choice; the number of top-notch attractions we toured in 2014 was unprecedented. After garnering several honorable mentions in 2011 and 2012 (in various categories) this is well deserved for the lovable loonies at Exit 13. An ambitious renovation delivered multiple new scenes in 2014 which served as the ideal playground for an in-your-face cast. The haunt utilized a wide array of scare tactics while it pushed the envelope with taboo characters, tasteless humor and physicality.

Sinister Infusion Fuels Resurgent Realm of Darkness

Posted in 2014, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 16, 2015 by bluefall8

The midnight hour loomed large as we approached the entrance for The Realm of Darkness and the cold air seemed to bite down into our very bones. This would be our seventh trip through the wizard’s dominion and the final haunted attraction of the 2014 Halloween season.

Realm-of-Darkness

BOWBEE COME TO DWELL INSIDE HOUSE OF NIGHTMARES 3D

Our first order of business was to tour the 3D haunted attraction known as House of Nightmares which was also featured at this location in 2013 when it was called Carnevil 3D. With the name change I expected also a shift in theme but to my delight it remained that of a twisted carnival — one of my very favorite settings.

The 3D attraction seemed to have been expanded since 2013 and unlike most haunted attractions of this nature, the 3D artwork splashed throughout House of Nightmares really popped off the walls. Huge spiders dangled from webs, skulls floated through starlit space and neon-colored liquid even oozed from leaky pipes. This was easily the most impressive 3D artwork we’d witnessed inside a haunted attraction.

A few additional well-placed characters would improve the overall experience as the haunt was light on actors, but we were highly amused by a short female clown armed with a raspy voice who demonstrated the timeless classic known as the Truffle Shuffle.

As we neared the conclusion of House of Nightmares 3D, we were startled by a rotten torso that suddenly dropped from above the frame of a door and hung upside down just above our heads. It was a well-timed and effective use of an animatronic. It wasn’t long thereafter that we came to a brightly lit quarter of ultra-violence where Bowbee the Clown claimed another pound of flesh in a dramatic flourish.

Rating: 4 stars

REALM OF DARKNESS REIMAGINED, REINVIGORATED

The Realm of Darkness was as detailed and immersive as ever and while a small army of animatronics remained, it was the actors who stole the show and delivered a not soon too be forgotten experience.

We had barely entered the attraction when a mist of simulated zombie brains sprayed me directly in the face; to my right John shook with laughter. Once I had wiped the moisture from my face and eyes we plunged deeper into the haunt and soon found ourselves navigating a room stuffed with all manner of dolls. One in particular caught my attention, it was several feet tall with a bulbous, unnaturally large head, a rictus grin and bore more than a passing resemblance to Howdy Doody. I fixed the doll with a penetrating glare until we were clear of the room for there was malice in his eyes.

Soon we entered a cluttered kitchen which was inhabited by two of our old acquaintances — Bizarro Laura Ingalls and the hefty Squalaha. Bizarro Laura Ingalls was a frenzied ball of energy and as usual it was difficult to discern through her babble whether she was angry, amused or aroused. Meanwhile, Squalaha made his intentions perfectly clear despite the fact that he too possessed no ability to speak English; it would seem that no translation is required in the language of love. When the big guy wasn’t busy shoving me into a refrigerator Squalaha was found making overt sexual gestures in John’s direction. When John merely laughed off the offers Squalaha vigorously demonstrated his skills on an enormous, rampaging gargoyle.

Yes, the crazies had been unleashed upon The Realm of Darkness and if we were to survive the night we would simply have to play along with all of their twisted games and entertain their delusions.

Near the half-way point of our journey we were approached by an abnormally tall lady who wore an old fashioned white dress and donned a plain jabberwocky mask. Her gangly frame, swift mannerisms and high-pitched voice made for an unsettling combination. She seemed to flirt with me for a moment but I was suspicious that this trickster wasn’t what she claimed to be. When I voiced my suspicion that she was actually a he, the odd lady challenged me to prove my theory. I playfully began to lift the end of her dress and had my hand quickly swatted away. “I’m a lady,” shouted the character in mock offense. The exchange was a good bit of improvisation and the slap of the hand was well executed; the whole scene gave John and I a good laugh.

We ventured forward and were forced to play a game of blood-soaked Tic-Tac-Toe with a strange and hideous creature. When I defeated the lowly monster he seemed to grow agitated so we took our leave of him only to be confronted by a guy who claimed to be a doctor. The particular branch of medicine that he practiced was never made clear to us but he was adamant that a man named Ken (who neither John or myself could see) was an unrepentant asshole. I tried to reason with the animated medicine man and when that failed I thought I’d lighten the mood with a few jokes but that only caused the doctor to make crude, albeit humorous, sexual remarks before he ultimately brought the conversation back to the invisible Ken.

Onward we pushed and encountered a fidgety girl who brandished implements of torture but before her exact intentions were revealed a weird, human-sized rabbit entered the scene holding a knife. The rabbit just sort of stood in the corner and cocked its head from side to side as it considered us. The Realm of Darkness was definitely approaching a threshold of strangeness most can scarcely imagine.

We left the pair to their own devices and soon squeezed through an area that featured a conveyor belt of torsos. Did one of those torsos belong to Ken the Asshole? Elsewhere, we witnessed the electrocution of a gaunt, skeletal creature and were surprised when the wretch made a last minute dash for us just as we exited the room — the latest example of the burgeoning practice of the so called actor-matronics.

Our fun was almost at an end but not before we were accosted by the crotchety skeletal pirate known as Captain Sage who pursued haunters straight out of The Realm of Darkness with an impressive rendition of sea legs in which the angst-ridden Captain propelled himself using only his upper body strength whilst his legs dragged behind him as if lifeless.

Rating: 4 stars

Weird Mishmash Spurs The Crypt

Posted in 2014, Review, The Crypt with tags , , , , on August 11, 2015 by bluefall8

 

Chemco

The Crypt was just about to close up shop when we pulled into the parking lot which meant that John and I had the distinction of being the last people to pass through its hallowed halls for the 2014 haunt season. The Crypt, as we first discovered during a Halloween visit in 2011, held a strange mixture of scenes and scares comprised of garish props, clunky animatronics and odd actors.

The sojourn began with a slow but gradual descent through the perfect dark of a silent, extensive hallway, an effective an underutilized start to any haunted house. When the serpentine passageway finally yielded, we trudged our way through a series of cluttered, musty living spaces.

The actors in this area of the attraction were universally husky, each a physically imposing figure who took a twisted pleasure in dolling out scares. Also in this quarter of The Crypt, a pair of creepy organ players kept us on our toes, a well-timed clown in rocking chair provided a jolt and we were introduced to the rotten remains of one cretin’s dead mommy.

It seemed that the residents of The Crypt would love nothing more than to make us outsiders the main ingredient in a pot of homemade gumbo, so it wasn’t a moment too soon that we exited the hoarder homestead and entered a different section of the haunted attraction.

Here, we were accosted by an exceedingly tall harlequin who insisted that he was infected with Ebola but neither John nor myself was keen to stick around for the results of a blood test and thus pushed forward into the jarring dungeon that served as the latter half of The Crypt.

In this area we were assaulted from all angles by strobes, pneumatics and all manner of haunted attraction trickery — it was a veritable glut of sensory input. In one corner a modified Fischer Price car hurled toward us out of the darkness, driven as it were by a gaggle of diminutive clowns.

We were surprised on several occasions by actors whose costumes blended neatly with their surroundings and in one unforgettable instance, a stout and hairy man confined to an inaccessible room, treated us to the most unsettling dance number since Buffalo Bill cut a rug in The Silence of the Lambs. Finally, there was the family of animatronic humans gathered around a table that jerked and twitched in such a freakish fashion that I found myself momentarily frozen with fear; mesmerized by the bizarre abomination that was before me.

The Crypt was an old school spook house that eschewed polished eye-candy in favor of a more visceral, gritty experience. The attraction was of fair length and even stimulated the frequently neglected tactile sense. The placement of a few actors amongst key props and animatronics would heighten the overall scare factor and additional dialogue from the cast wouldn’t go unappreciated. But as it was, The Crypt served as an unusual and entertaining haunted attraction.

Rating: 3.25 stars

Exit 13 Burns Hot during Frostbitten Finale

Posted in 2014, Exit 13, Review with tags , , , , , , on June 26, 2015 by bluefall8

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When John and I set out to make Horrorlust history last November 2nd it would be amidst some seriously frigid weather that threatened to sap the last burst of energy the 2014 haunt season had to offer, but as we were about to discover the lovable loonies at Exit 13 would have none of that.

Our adventure began when we were detained by Officer Hottie Pants, a tall and hairy 30-something male who attempted to intimidate us with the rules of the house. If his short-shorts weren’t enough, his moderately doughy gut exposed beneath his undersized tee-shirt suggested he would pounce on even a whiff of unlawful behavior and personally administer a full body cavity search. Neither John nor myself was in the mood to hear the cold snap of a rubber glove and as such we quickly agreed to follow all of the rules. Soon, free of the dubiously named Officer Hottie Pants, we descended into a crypt then through twin vortexes and into the raging horror show that is Exit 13.

There was a recurring bumpkin-gone-bad theme present at Exit 13, most notable was a tightly designed area lined with cornstalks that also featured the convincing facade of a humble hillbilly homestead. Outside the home and among the rows of corn were various clotheslines from which hung peeled and drying faces — an excellent touch. Elsewhere in the attraction was a spacious and painstakingly detailed general store that would’ve been right at home in Children of the Corn. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the rotund redneck we encountered in one room who enjoyed a large pot of stew in which the key ingredient was dear old mom.

But there was more to Exit 13 than rural settings and scares, for instance, we were struck by the unsettling doll room that featured one life-like creature who’s howling, porcelain visage is emblazoned in my mind to this day. Once we were free of that threat we were surprised by an enormous reaper who emitted a bioluminescent glow.

As the attraction drew to a close we happened upon a mausoleum where I was bodily lifted from my feet by a stout but seriously strong creep who picked me up by my armpits and held me against a wall of the crypt. When he had relinquished his grip John and I scooted into the adjoining graveyard where Stout n’ Strong and one of his minions secured my arms and legs and attempted to serve me up to a couple of approaching zombies.

Exit 13 wasn’t quite finished with us yet, no before we emerged with hides relatively intact, we would be assailed by iron hulks, harassed by a gang of crazies who tickled us with buzzing chainsaws and my hat was even stolen momentarily when a prisoner in a plague masked snatched it from my head. And most of that took place while we marveled at a hot, sadistic nurse who tortured a wailing amputee! On top of that, we would later discover that the missing leg was no gag.

Exit 13 excelled on so many levels as a haunted attraction by successfully blending a variety of scenes and scares. The entirety of the haunt is highly detailed and filled with immersive environments. In addition it also featured a complimentary balance of blackout halls, descending pathways and interestingly textured walls. It’s a lengthy haunted house that managed to maintain an ideal pace, populated by a fearless cast who utilized every tactic available to scare actors.

As good as Exit 13 has been it still has yet to reach it’s full potential, and that is definitely a compliment. After talking to some of the key people behind the attraction it’s clear that they’re intent on expansion, and quite frankly there isn’t a haunted playground big enough for the supercharged psychos that call Exit 13 home.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Psycho Path Sleeper Cell

Posted in 2014, Psycho Path, Review with tags , , , , , on November 10, 2014 by bluefall8

Friday, October 10 began as a hopeful evening but an illness and an out-of-town status had sidelined my usual cohorts; leaving me without a partner in crime.

My initial plan was to tour all that Wiard’s Night Terrors had to offer but as the mimutes and hours slipped by it became clear that there just wouldn’t be enough time in the night to enjoy such a haunted smorgasboard.

I shifted gears and decided to stay close to home in order to salvage the night and fortunately I found some friends willing to play ball.

For a few years now, Psycho Path in Flat Rock had caught my eye but each October the clock seemed to run out of time on the haunt season before I could pay a visit to the local attraction. The lesson here is to follow your gut because the resulting experience turned out to be the sleeper hit of the 2014 haunt season.

I joined my friend Phil, his wife Maggie and a friend of hers at the Community Lutheran Church on Gibraltar Road in Flat Rock. We purchased our tickets and then waited in line inside of a gymnasium before we exited through the back of the building and walked a path into the woods where we found the entrance for the Gosch Brother’s Circus of Horrors.

I was immediately struck by the facade of the attraction and the quality of the overall ambience — there is a certain charm of a hidden show in the woods. The aforementioned facade towered over those waiting in line and bore the gigantic image of clown and was situated so that all who entered would do so by passing directly through the jaws of the fearsome harlequin. In addition gears, pipes and steel girders adorned the fanciful piece.

To our right stood a barker of sorts a top a podium, his entire left arm had been replaced by an intricate contraption which he soon demonstrated as a functioning gatling gun. Beside him was a silent assistant who wore a neat top hat, thick goggles and seemed generally satisfied with the proceedings. While the larger-than-life facade loomed in the background this whimsical duo entertained the crowd; the whole scene seemed a mishmash of carnivale and steam punk and the resulting effect had me spellbound.

Once we had gained entry into the gaping maw of the super-sized clown we were surprised to find ourselves inside of a circus tent. There were support beams, a stage and bales of hay upon which the audience was meant to sit. A theatrical woman stood on stage and bade us to settle into our seats. Shortly, a male counterpart appeared on stage opposite her and warned us of the wondrous freaks we would encounter during our journey through this most curious of attractions. He also used a bit of well-timed comedy to insult our general appearance before the whole tent was engulfed in darkness and our party accosted by a ring of clowns!

When the hoodlum harlequins relented we departed the big top through a door on the far side of the tent, a strange sight greeted us as we rounded a corner — was that a floating head mere yards in front of us? Indeed, it was floating and glowing a magical shade of green. Wait a second?! Did my eyes deceive me? Was that a second head bobbing beside the first? Did the Gosch Brothers possess siamese twins who were aglow in the gloom like a pair of monstrous stars?!!

I must say that the Gosch Brother’s Circus of Horrors made good use of haunt fundamentals, employing various dead ends and some of the best concealed hidden passages I’ve ever encountered.  In one polka-dotted area I found the exit by pure luck while I haphazardly groped about the room; truly an expertly blended seam.

Soon, we stumbled upon a hive of clowns who bamboozled us with misdirection through a series of halls where swirling pinpricks of light twinkled amidst the fog. It was here that I was most impressed by the level of detail paid to costuming and makeup as the actors were decked out from head to toe. It was also here that we crossed paths with an animatronic Pennywise which signaled yet another dead end.

As we traveled deeper into the Gosch Brother’s Circus of Horrors we intruded upon a knife-throwing act, refused to be the playmates of three identically dressed, heavily bandaged girls and were guided by a husky harlequin who was surprisingly spry and had the odd habit of honking his own nose. Was there no end to the madness in this house of horrors?! What had happened to those girls faces any way? What could possibly require so much gauge and bandages?

We neared the end of the attraction and little did I know that I was about to get an answer to that question. We had entered a sort of dollmaker’s workshop, a plump clown (yeah, another one! this place had an infestation on its hands!) cackled incessantly; upon a table to our right was a living abomination. Crouched on the table was the remnant of a creature in mid girl-to-doll transformation — sharp wires jutted out of her mouth at every angle.

The Gosch Brother’s had indeed acquired quite a tabernacle of terror for display in their Circus of Horrors but it was time for these townies to hit the dusty trail, a departure hastened by the sound of a chainsaw ripping through the night. One cannot be sure of such things but a member of our group may have possibly fled with arms flailing above head looking all the world like Olive Oyl from Popeye.

We boarded a wagon intent to put some distance between us and the Gosch Brother’s Circus of Horrors; a short hayride through the woods brought us back to the relative safety from whence we had come.

I was pleasantly surprised by the experience at Psycho Path and came away with precious few criticisms. I do wish the rear facade had matched the rest of the excellent theme and in general I thought the entire production deserved something more inspired and inventive than the standard chainsaw finale, but more than anything I wished I had found the time in seasons past to tour this hidden gem. Rest assured that it’s on my radar now and if this trip was indication of things to come, the Psycho Path will become a local favorite in short order.

Rating: 4 stars