Archive for 2016

Mackinaw Manor Automatonapalooza

Posted in 2016, Mackinaw Manor, Review with tags , , , , on October 15, 2016 by bluefall8

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In late August I went on vacation with my family to Petoskey and while there we decided to take a day trip to Mackinaw City. Mackinaw Crossings is a modern shopping district with a quaint atmosphere, one of the businesses featured there is a fully automated haunted attraction called Mackinaw Manor. The chance to visit a haunt in August was too great to pass up and at just $7 a head it was a no-brainer. As fate would have it the original trio was present — my brother, Jason, good friend, John and myself — the fabled Haunt Trinity.

Jason was out of practice and it showed as he was startled and spooked on several occasions. Beginning with the first room where a seance had commenced, a pneumatic prop emerged from beneath the lid of a crate and gave my big brother a proper jump scare. John and I shared a laugh at his expense and would enjoy several others as we progressed through Mackinaw Manor.

Near the halfway point of the attraction skeletal remains swung down from the ceiling and flailed helplessly while upside down; this too got a rise out of Jason. Soon we forced our way through a womb of doom and found ourselves on the threshold of  a child’s bedroom where sinister forces were at work. A girl laid prone on the bed, her head secured in the oversized hands of some kiddie snatcher. I think I saw her draw a few shallow breaths while voices swirled around the room. Behind us a closet door burst open and a miniature maniac darted in our direction with a mad glint in his eyes and a knife in hand.

Mackinaw Manor was brief and as a fully automated attraction featured no live actors but it was fun and a good value. The first and last rooms in particular where executed well and served as highlights of our trip.

Rating: 3 stars

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Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2016 by bluefall8

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I wasn’t able to get out to SIN and drop into Vermin until 11pm last night but I made the best of a short night. I arrived to find Daffodil, an adorable and spunky clown armed with a Brooklyn accent and sharp wit, entertaining guests out front. I joined in and after a lot of convincing we coaxed a pair of women out of their car and into the house. However, as per the bargain we stuck, Daffodil and Vermin were made to escort the pair through the haunted house.

It was a fun bit of interaction and those ladies really loved my hair, but another strangler wasn’t so fond of me. She refused to even entire the building with the rest of her group and professed her discomfort with me despite the fact as she put it, “…you’re not even wearing a costume.” For those interested, the primary dress for Vermin is an old pair of ripped up jeans and a flannel — that’s it. The thrust of this character comes through my body language, cadence and words. I do pride myself on the ability to mess with guests in the same clothes I arrived in.

Role Reversal

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2016 by bluefall8

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It was another slow Thursday but certainly better than the previous week when a single couple crossed the threshold of SIN. I channeled a darker side of Vermin by funneling my own anger into the character and I saw the result in the faces of various customers. A few people issued stifled, nervous laughter; one woman wondered aloud whether it was an act and then questioned if I actually worked at the attraction. I was very pleased with those reactions.

Then the night took a truly interesting twist. The house was set to lose an actress at 9:30pm and I was asked to fill her role in the Elizabeth Bathory room. Yeah, I donned a nightie and embraced the drag. The girls all loved it and snapped pictures and video so I sold it for all I was worth. The guys were amused but less than the girls.

I pursued one of the more uncomfortable guys with a series of sexually suggestive proposals. He squirmed away on his back once, scrambled to get to his feet and then jabbed me in the chest with a crowbar. I couldn’t stop the act for a crowbar though so I grabbed the straight end, scraped it across my chest and told him I liked the pain. It did cause a small cut but he did drop the crowbar and flee the room.  So, you know, victory was mine.

There were only a couple of groups who came through the haunted house once I was in the Bathory room but they seemed shocked and amused by the sight of me. When they entered the room I could be found leaning over the bathtub rinsing my hair, ass stuck in the air, wagging seductively or I would stand with my back to the entrance and flip my hair. With each gag, I whirled around and revealed that I was a man and that had eyes popping out of the sockets. Then I playfully lowered one of my straps and accidentally on purpose let it fall. The howls of laughter and surprise were music to my ears.

As it was nearly closing time, the entire house followed the last two groups which produced a chaotic atmosphere; one that I’m sure seemed overwhelming for the customers. With one group, once inside the H.H. Holmes room, I crawled a top a mattress on all four and encouraged a couple of woman to lie with me. They declined the offer but several of my fellow actors remarked how much they enjoyed that particular bit of lascivious nonsense after the fact.

On a final note, there was a gentleman in a wheelchair working the dining room as a zombie who I hadn’t met before. Early in the night I did a little walk through and he was awesome in his role and gave me the legitimate creeps.

Turn the Page, It’s October!

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2016 by bluefall8

The open road beckons as we commence the 2016 haunt season. If all goes according to plan and the weather is cooperative, we’ll visit three of Michigan’s scariest places for a total of six attractions.

First, we burn rubber to Mason, Michigan which is home to Shawhaven Haunted Farm. A trip here has eluded us in seasons past and I’m pleased to finally have it penciled in with priority. Shawhaven offers three haunted attractions — Dead Maze, Wagons of Fear and the headliner, Samara’s Boarding House. If time does us any favors we might just check out one of the Escape Rooms too!

Once finished there, we make the short drive to Leslie, Michigan where we will experience a tantalizing new haunted house called, Awaken. The website for Awaken is full of content and I appreciate the effort that has been made on social media to promote the attraction. The theme has remained something of a mystery to me — disparate photos on Facebook have revealed a funeral service, barbershop and the possible presence of a circus. Yeah, I’m sold. I can’t wait to see how it all blends together.

Our last stop of the night will bring us back to Jackson’s Underworld which we have visited twice previously, first in 2009 and again in 2013, each trip yielded very different results. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews since our last stop three years ago and now there’s also a second attraction entitled, Psycho Vision 3D!

I fully anticipate a highly satisfying night of haunting!

JACKSON’S UNDERWORLD: A RETROSPECTIVE

Disappointment Ravages Opening Night (2009)

Jackson’s Underworld Rising? (2013)

2016 Haunt Schedule: End of the Line

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2016 by bluefall8

It’s been a number of years since I approached the haunt season armed with the knowledge that I’d be visiting less haunted attractions than the previous year, but such is the case in 2016. I’m at peace with that. The decision to tour less haunted attractions in 2016 was made for two reasons — the most prominent being my involvement with the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House, SIN. The other reason for the reduction is simply that I’ve been fortunate to visit so many haunted houses over the last decade; the State of Michigan is running low on spooky places I haven’t witnessed.

Another change this year is that I’ve ranked the nights below in order of importance. In an effort to tour new attractions I’ve prioritized those trips. There are of course other factors as well such as proximity to other haunts and that is reflected as well. The haunt season does of course offer surprises every season and for that reason the list below, although ranked in order of importance, does not necessarily represent a chronological order of events. Nor is this list meant to suggest that I’ll manage to get to each of these places. I’ve done this long enough to know that each Halloween season is a unique, wild creature.

THE HAUNTED OPEN ROAD

Night #1 – Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson), Awaken (Leslie) & Shawhaven Haunted Farm (Mason)

Notes: Shawhaven Haunted Farm has been on my radar for the last couple of seasons but the clock has always seemed run out on the season before a trip could manifest. It’s an hour and a half from my home but when Awaken recently opened in nearby Leslie, I knew it was finally time to make Shawhaven a priority. Then I realized that our route would take us right by Jackson’s Underworld, a haunt we haven’t visited since 2013. This was a harmonic convergence of direction and distance as each haunt is roughly 15 – 20 minutes apart from the last.

Night #2 – Bloodview (Broadview Heights, OH.) & Carnival of Horrors (Cuyahoga Falls, OH.)

Notes: An every other year pattern is emerging with Bloodview; frequent readers may remember that Bloodview is staffed by The Legion of Terror an improvisational group that showcases a new theme every weekend. We witnessed Zombie Apocalypse in 2012 and Witch Trials in 2014. This year I want to experience the Sinister Sideshow which will be held the weekend of October 7 – 9. Carnival of Horrors is located in Cuyahoga Falls, roughly 30 minutes from Bloodview in Broadview Heights. The distance itself isn’t prohibitive but the Carnival of Horrors does host four attractions and that could prove problematic if lines are long. Luckily, this region of Ohio boasts a number of haunted attractions that can serve as an alternate if need be.

Night #3 – Haunted Elementary (Bridgeport) & Bates Haunted Saw Mill (Millington)

Notes: Haunted Elementary is now enveloped by the Bridgeport Goregrounds and features three haunts including FrightSite (a 3D attraction) and Outbreak (an interactive zombie event). It definitely has the feel of a small Michigan haunt on the upswing. Bates Haunted Saw Mill offers two attractions and touts itself as being “old school creepy.” I do love me some old school. Bridgeport and Millington are just shy of 30 minutes apart although the drive from home will eclipse the 1 hour and 45 minute mark, a pair of new locations that collectively house five attractions seems worth the gamble.

Night #4 – Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood), Psycho Path (Flat Rock) & Hush (Westland)

Notes: Admittedly, these are all attractions I’ve toured before but my last trip through Wood of Darkness came during the 2011 season. Furthermore, the haunted house has been run by an entirely different team the last several seasons which could produce a significantly different experience than when last I came knocking. There was some fear that Psycho Path would cease operations after a crucial member of the team departed during the off-season but that concern was recently laid to rest when I received confirmation that the little gem would indeed be operational in 2016 with a Medieval theme. We have visited Hush three straight years, but off-season circumstances there facilitated a total rebuild that produced an intriguing New Orleans-themed attraction. The other prime factor with this night is the proximity to home which provides a lot of flexibility where dates and times are concerned.

Night #5 – Bonadeo Farms (Highland Township) & Rotten Manor (Holly)

Notes: Rotten Manor was named the 2015 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year and new for 2016 are Rotten Forest and Clown Barn. That’s plenty of intrigue to be sure but in a year with limited dates and an emphasis on new locations, I’m not sure that the haunted corn maze and haunted house at the somewhat obscure Bonadeo Farms is enough of a lure for this night. This has the feel of a wild card so I’ll leave it to the haunt fates.

Night #6 – Panic at Pinestump Hollow (St. Clair) & The Deadland (Warren)

Notes: Panic at Pinestump Hollow is similar to Shawhaven Haunted Farm in that it’s a place with more than one attraction that I’ve desired to visit for a few years now and have failed to get there. So why is it so far down on this list? Well, we’ve already visited everything else within shouting distance. We crossed off Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown in 2013, checked off The Fear Factory last year and toured Haunted Farm of Terror twice. We did visit Scarefest Scream Park in 2012 and only toured two of the four attractions so I suppose that might be an option as well. Had Salem’s Haunted Barn in Capac been operational this year, that pair would’ve moved this outing up two to three places on this list. I had also heard that the House of Fear in Hazel Park was going to reopen this year but the website for that haunt has out of date information. For all of those reasons I’ve paired it with The Deadland which provided a solid opening night show last year.

Night #7 – The Haunted Hydro (Fremont, OH.)

Notes: I last toured The Haunted Hydro six years ago in 2010. I love the place, it has atmosphere in spades. It has stood for 27 years, is operated by passionate professionals and is a true child of Halloween. But since the closure of Terror Town last year I’ve been unable to find anything to pair with The Haunted Hydro. It’s roughly an hour and half from my area and that’s something to consider for just one location; even one as excellent as The Haunted Hydro. I’m open to suggestions should anyone know of another haunt around the Fremont region.

OTHER HAUNTS OF INTEREST: THE TWISTED SIX

Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – Made a good first impression in 2014 and I have a feeling the gang here is capable of even better. It’ll be an ideal substitute should one of the haunts fall through on Night #1. Plus it’s a barn haunt. I love barn haunts.

The Dent Schoolhouse – Been pining to visit for a good five years now, would require an overnight trip. On the plus side, the Cincinnati region has several other haunted attractions that would compliment The Dent Schoolhouse quite nicely. I’m so very tempted to move this one onto the main list.

Darksyde Acres – Toured this unique locale from 2011 – 2014; one year layoff has me itching to get back. One of those post-Halloween 18+ Nights would work perfectly for me but a glance at the calendar suggests that isn’t likely this season.

Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Research Labs was without question one of the most unusual haunted attractions I’ve ever toured and last year the operators even did a glow stick event which is hard for me to even comprehend at this haunt. I’d love to experience that myself but the routes outlined above make it unlikely.

Haunting in the Hills – A new haunt located in Onsted with three attractions, the most interesting of which is called Train Car of Terror. It’s kind of in no man’s land but might be worth checking out if something funky happens to the schedule and I suddenly have a free day. In fact, it wouldn’t pair up badly with Corpse Barn Shock Haunt or Darksyde Acres.

Slaughter House – Last visited in 2013, nobody mixes humor and illusion like Slaughter House. I liked what I read last year regarding several scene updates and a Purge theme for 2016 should keep things interesting. It could be paired with Trail of Terror at Bestmaze Corn Maze in Williamston or possibly something from Night #1 if the schedule goes wonky.

Mass Exodus

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2016 by bluefall8

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While the cover art of the 2016 edition of the Fear Finder dazzled, the content inside the treasured seasonal publication left me yearning for more. Very few new haunts were featured, in fact, if you exclude the returning Scream Machine, there was just one new entry — Haunting in the Hills. Haunting in the Hills will include an outdoor trail of sorts, a haunted hayride and Train Car of Terror. This event will be held in Onsted, Michigan at the Stagecoach Stop Western Resort.

BLOODLETTING

So, who’s not in the Fear Finder this fall? Quite a number of places, actually. Below, I’ve highlighted some notable omissions.

Abandon, Bonadeo Farms, Exit 13, Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village, Haunted Elementary, St. Charles’ Village of the Living Dead and A Terror in Townsend Forest are not listed in the Fear Finder for 2016 but each of these attractions will be open and are advertised elsewhere.

WAITING GAME

Also missing in action are Erwin Orchards as well as Krazy Hilda’s; no word yet whether these haunts will be open or closed this season.

SHUTTERED

The Boneyard in Stockbridge announced several months ago that it would not be operational in 2016 so that particular vanishing act came as no surprise. Also dark for 2016 is Heck of a Haunted Barn in Monroe.

The big shock however was the announcement just days ago that Dark Legacy in Wixom would be closed. Dark Legacy is a powerhouse and had advertised everywhere since exploding on the scene in 2014, no specifics are known as to why it will be closed this season.

The biggest disappointment was word that The Dark Box will not be open after an intriguing rookie season. According to the folks there, the City of Pinckney took issue with the physicality employed at The Dark Box.

2016 Fear Finder Cover Art Released

Posted in News with tags , , , on September 9, 2016 by bluefall8

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Another fall season is rapidly approaching and with it comes the latest edition of the Fear Finder! The digital version will be released this weekend and distribution of hard copies will begin next week, as for now, we can enjoy the beautiful cover art of Steve Shipp.

Our unnamed hero is front and center trying to enjoy some fall fare. He seems to have just become aware that a pack of pumpkin reapers are in hot pursuit. Maybe they like cider and donuts too? I love the phosphorescent green that illuminates the shrouds worn by the gourd gang; the shades of orange and red splashed across the scene are equally eye-catching and atmospheric.

No gimmicks or contrivances here, this is a classic Fear Finder cover by Steve Shipp. In several ways it brings to mind the 2012 cover which was another favorite of mine. I love the autumn allure of this artwork.

As I do every year, I’ll request that other collectors of the Fear Finder looking to swap or sell, get in touch with me by leaving a comment on this post or by emailing: horrorlust31@gmail.com

I am in possession of copies dating back to 2006 and would sorely like to complete my collection.