Archive for akron

Five Nights Etched in Time

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2015 by bluefall8

I’m often asked which haunted house is my favorite and the honest answer is that I don’t have just one favorite. Haunted attractions come in all shapes and sizes and employ a wide range of themes, narratives and scare tactics to deliver a memorable experience. While I certainly do have my preferences, my favorites are a collection of diverse attractions. As the list below examines, some of the my most treasured haunted adventures were not limited to a single haunted house but encompassed an entire evening of haunting.

The outings below are not ranked in any way other than chronological. Trips made during the 2015 haunt season did not qualify for consideration as the season is, as of the time of this writing, in progress.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It will demand further investigation but if memory serves this was the first instance in which we toured three separate haunted attractions on a single night. 2008 was a momentous season in which we visited nine total locations, our personal best at the time. Without a doubt the best of the year was saved for Halloween when we raced against the clock to tour Deadly Intentions in Warren and then Realm of Darkness and Erebus both in Pontiac. Deadly Intentions claimed the 2008 Horrorlust Monster Award while Erebus gobbled up the 2008 Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award.

Fun Fact: The avatar used to identify myself here on Horrorlust was snapped that night.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Erebus, The Realm of Darkness & Deadly Intentions Electrify Halloween Night

Friday, October 30, 2009

Devil’s Night was raucous and windswept; large crowds and an impending storm only added to the pandemonium. We began the evening with a romp through Hellblock 13 which was held in the former Wyandotte police station and ended the night with a wild, rain-soaked hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror; sandwiched between the two was a visit to The Realm of Darkness. This night didn’t capture any awards (although had the Horrorlust Samhain Award existed at the time it would likely have been awarded to this night) but The Realm of Darkness and Hellblock 13 did combine for four honorable mentions.

Fun Fact: While on the hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror, I narrowly avoided being struck square in the face by a large, runaway prop.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Season Concludes with Devil’s Night Frenzy

Friday, October 14, 2011

This was an insanely fun night of haunting in which we witnessed three awesome, albeit different shows. Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom had style and substance while Chelsea Feargrounds boasted flash and excitement around every corner and finally The Bone Yard served up a trio of fun-filled attractions. Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom grabbed the 2011 Horrorlust Dark Horse Award, Tent of Terror (The Bone Yard) became the inaugural recipient of the Horrorlust Prop Master Award and unsurprisingly the whole night was recognized with the then brand new Horrorlust Samhain Award. Furthermore, Tent of Terror and Chelsea Feargrounds combined for three honorable mentions in other award categories.

Fun Fact: The Chelsea Feargrounds offered a unique photo-op in which small, alien creatures were made to look as if they’d burst from the subject’s chest.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Thrills & Chills Dominated Hilda’s, Feargrounds & The Bone Yard

Friday, October 5, 2012

Threaten as it did to thwart our plans, the weather was no match for the spirit of the season on this night. It was a trip filled with laughter, illusion and effective, low budget haunting. Barn of Horrors at Erwin Orchards won the 2012 Horrorlust Prop Master Award while Slaughter House collected the 2012 Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award. Like the previous entry, this night too claimed the Horrorlust Samhain Award.

Fun Fact: Ken Evans, one of the organizer’s of Slaugher House, happened to be conducting some quality control when we toured the barn and asked our opinion of the place once we’d exited the haunt. We got to talking and hit it off — later that year the website for Slaughter House would feature some quotes from the review I posted to Horrorlust. To the best of my knowledge that was the first instance of a haunt using my words to promote their attraction and I thought that was awesome. 

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Elements Conspire but Erwin, Slaugher House Persevere

Saturday, October 20, 2012

This overnight trip to Ohio had a big time feel as we visited two haunts with a lot of history — Bloodview in Broadview Heights and Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory in Akron. Bloodview ensnared the 2012 Horrorlust Eerie Vibrations Award and together with Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory scored a slew of honorable mentions.

Fun Fact: It was on this trip that I first enjoyed the little known, gem of a horror film called Stake Land.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Haunted Schoolhouse has Presence, lacks Punch

Laboratory Mirrors Successes, Shortcomings of Haunted Schoolhouse

Legion of Terror Breathes Life into Bloodview

Haunting By Numbers: 2012 Haunt Season

Posted in Haunting By Numbers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by bluefall8

Another haunt season is nearly upon us and like those that have come before it, 2013 is sure to be filled with its own memorable nights of fright. Every season has its highlight reel moments, from five star haunts to eye popping scenes to one of a kind characters. Truly each fall that we set out on the open road is special in its own right. Here’s a look at some of the pertinent numbers behind the October magic.

22: The total number of attractions that we visited last year at 16 separate locations; this total falls just one shy of the record 23 that we toured in 2011.

8: Moonlit nights spent pounding the pavement throughout Michigan and Ohio in search of fun and fright.

10: Haunted attractions that we hit for the first time; a single season record.

11: Counties throughout Michigan and Ohio where we stopped to visit haunted houses; another single season record. In Michigan we traversed Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Ingham, Genesee, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, and Livingston. And in Ohio we cruised through Lucas, Cuyahoga, and Summit counties.

242: Cold hard cash spent on our beloved haunted attractions. This figure reflects solely what was spent on admission and does not take into consideration what was spent on gas, food, or other necessities of the road. As best as I can tell from past figures, this too is a high water mark.

1203: The staggering amount of miles traveled going to and from Michigan and Ohio’s scariest places; yet another single season record.

161: Miles of road between home and the most distant haunted house of the season — Akron’s Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory. This figure falls just short of the 170 miles we traveled in 2010 when we paid a visit to the Haunted Hoochie.

5: Consecutive years that we have braved the horror of Terror Town’s House of the Dead.

0: Strangely, the number of attractions that received a perfect 5 star score in a season that featured a gaggle of great shows.

 

2012 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2013 by bluefall8

For each haunted attraction I visit a 1-5 star rating is ascribed. This list is intended to reflect those ratings only and does not indicate any other type of rank such as favorite to least favorite. Nor is the star ratings system meant to pit one attraction against another it’s just my way of summing up the overall effectiveness and enjoyability of that particular haunted attraction.  A lot of factors are taken into consideration when I determine the rating such as — actor performance, theme, quality of props and special effects, originality, and level of excitement — just to name a few but at the end of the night the rating comes down to my raw gut feeling of the overall experience. Below is a complete list of the haunted attractions I visited during the 2012 Halloween season ranked by their corresponding star rating. Again, it’s important to note that the star rating isn’t meant to serve as a way to compare one attraction to another rather it’s a reflection of how well each individual haunt executed what it set out to accomplish.

2012 Star Ratings

1. Sinister – 4.75 (Utica, MI.)

2. Slaughter House – 4.5 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

3. The Rusthole & Catacombs – 4.25 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

4. Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride – 4.25 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

5. Exit 13 – 4 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

6. Bloodview – 3.75 (Broadview Heights, OH.)

7. Dark Abyss – 3.5 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

8. Dimensions of Darkness – 3.5 (Maumee, OH.)

9. Krazy Hilda’s Camp of no Return – 3.5 (Chelsea, MI.)

10. Haunted Laboratory – 3.5 (Akron, OH.)

11. Barn of Horrors – 3.5 (Erwin Orchards – South Lyon, MI.)

12. Hayride of Doom – 3.5 (Scarefest Scream Park – New Haven, MI.)

13. Haunted Schoolhouse – 3.25 (Akron, OH.)

14. Big Top Terror – 3 (Terror Town – Maumee, OH.)

15. House of the Dead – 3 (Terror Town – Maumee, OH.)

16. Haunt for Hunger – 3 (Allen Park, MI.)

17. Deadly Intentions – 3 (Warren, MI.)

18. Corn Stalkers Maze – 3 (Erwin Orchards – South Lyon, MI.)

19. Castle of the Dead – 2.75 (Scarefest Scream Park – New Haven, MI.)

20. Scream Machine – 2.25 (Taylor, MI.)

21. Nightmare Sanctum – 2.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

22. A Nightmare on Elm Road – 2 (Webberville, MI.)

Average Rating – 3.36 Stars

Laboratory Mirrors Successes, Shortcomings of Haunted School House

Posted in 2012, Haunted School House & Laboratory, Review with tags , , , , on October 24, 2012 by bluefall8

Once we were free of the grip of the Haunted School House we walked the short distance to the Laboratory but not before Jason and John made a quick pit stop into some dense brush. Jason carried himself with shockingly little grace and probably had more than a few other haunters convinced that Big Foot, and not a man, was about to burst forth from the shrubbery. It’s moments like these that help make haunt outings so memorable. Shortly, the group reassembled and we finished the walk to the entrance of the Laboratory.

Just as we had at the Haunted School House, we ascended to the top floor before entering the attraction, and at the Laboratory the first leg of the journey is in 3D. I’m not a fan of the 3D gimmick in haunted houses. It’s rarely done correctly and it doesn’t add much to the attraction, usually the glasses simply fog the edges of your vision and leave you feeling a bit dizzy. I’ve given the whole thing a fair shake and I’m ready to see it become a thing of the past. Aside from that, the Laboratory much like the Haunted School House featured greatly detailed scenes and monstrous props. In one lair of scares we traversed a lengthy rope bridge which Richard tilted from side to side with child like amusement. A few other areas of note included the carnival area where several seriously creepy clowns resided. Opposite one, a large harlequin head bobbed dementedly atop a thick coil. The hallway leading to this room was lit with colorful, swirling lights. The direction in which the lights were fixed helped to blind haunters to the snarling freak hiding at the end of the hall — simple, effective haunting fundamentals at work. Elsewhere, a wonderfully detailed dentist scene revealed a haunt hottie — I was sure John would volunteer for some oral surgery but perhaps he was distracted by her mutant partner who ripped the jaw off of what used to be a patient.

There are two truly special scenes at the Laboratory and each will amaze most haunters because what they have to offer isn’t likely to be seen anywhere else. In both instances haunters are forced along a narrow path that circles the perimeter of the room. In the first, a dazzling laser show sends green prisms of light up through several stories — peering over the edge reveals large portions of the floors below to be missing; a mesmerizing sight. The second room is no less awe inspiring as it featured a huge Tesla Coil and this was no mere prop, cracking jolts of electricity exploded in the air. This was not an illusion, the distinct smell of ozone permeated the air — it was as if we were in the midst of a colossal summer storm.

The Laboratory was soon at an end but not before we ventured through an extremely disorienting vortex, one of the absolute best of its kind. The path then led us outdoor where we were routed into an old school bus. We exited through the emergency door at the rear, after a lone deadite gave Jason a fright of course, and wound our way through a path strewn with discarded artifacts from the Laboratory and Haunted School House but little else transpired in this area.

As with the Haunted School House, we agreed that the Laboratory was quite enjoyable but also capable of much more. I’ve already detailed some of the detractions that were present in the Haunted School House but are two in particular that I’d like to touch upon now. Due to the structure of the buildings haunters are required to use stairwells to access each level. These areas aren’t decorated and do not feature actors like the rest of the attraction for obvious safety reasons, and while all of this likely cannot be help it does break up the flow of the haunted houses. Just as your mind and body acclimate to the surroundings, you’re briefly pulled out of the show and the happy spell is somewhat diminished. The second feature I’m not crazy about is the design of the attraction. By and large, haunters traverse a clearly defined path with scenes generally to the left or right, or both. At times this approach took on the feel of a zoo or museum attraction and by never crossing those barriers the workers effectively suppressed whatever fear factor could have existed.

Both the Haunted School House and Laboratory were highly enjoyable haunted houses — the length was fair and as I’ve mentioned many of the scenes were highly detailed and immersive, but neither haunt truly used its building or theme to maximum effect — this was especially true of the Haunted School House. I have no doubt that managing attractions of such size and age is a unique challenge. Furthermore, I cannot help but wonder if years of prop acquisition and endless set modification hasn’t hampered rather than help the respective attractions. Then again, the major detractions at these haunted attractions may be more due to the structures in which they are housed and if that is the case there may be little the operators can do to rectify such. Only a fool would suggest that haunting is easy.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Haunted School House has Presence, lacks Punch

Posted in 2012, Haunted School House & Laboratory, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by bluefall8

There’s a certain magic present on long distance, overnight haunt trips that’s hard to describe. Maybe it’s the effect of being so far from home or the unbridled excitement of visiting haunted attractions you’ve only read about on the Internet. I know, for me much of it has to do with the adventure inherent to the open road. After checking into our hotel room a Super 8 in Richfield, we passed some time by telling old stories. I came across a horror movie on the Syfy channel called Stake Land, a post apocalyptic tale in which zombie-like vampires have pushed civilization to the brink of collapse. I found it surprisingly well done, driven by a raw melancholy and steady pace. We ordered subs from a local pizzeria called East of Chicago, the subs were delicious and a right steal at $6.25 — after all, what’s a night of haunting without some hardy vittles?

After a relaxing spell the haunting hour was upon us and we hit the road for the Haunted School House and Laboratory in Akron, and when we arrived it was amid a flurry of activity. The long line to buy tickets moved fairly quickly, we were soon ascending a series of staircases to the top floor. The stairwells were actually quite a neat feature of the building if not the attraction itself. The walls were covered in years of graffeti — here a name and date, there a lone curse word. The real pieces of interest however included those scrawls that evoked the spirit of the season — some patrons had left foreboding or cryptic poetry, others supplied artwork featuring common Halloween themes such as skulls and pumpkins. Years of haunters had left an echo from the past on the wall and I found myself yearning for a sharpie so that I too could add a memory to the wonderful mural. The spell of the walls was broken only when it was time to hand over our tickets and enter the darkness within the Haunted School House.

I had suspected from the quick pace of the ticket line that this would be an attraction that found many guests herded through at once, and while this isn’t our preferred method of haunting it is understandable for places such as this that draw very large crowds. Understand, groups do enter the attraction separately but the relatively short intervals by which parties are spaced and   the sheer volume of people attending the event, make it impossible to experience this type of haunted house with your party alone. We’ve witnessed this style before at other large venues such as Erebus and the Haunted Hoochie and it certainly has its drawbacks, but those simply force operators to compensate in other areas.

The Haunted School House featured many well detailed scenes, some environments were truly immersive and on occasion put me in mind of the Realm of Darkness in Pontiac. In one early room we witnessed a unique prop in the form of an ugly ogre that was perhaps 15-feet tall. In another scene, this one a vampire’s liar, a winged mutant stood atop what appeared to be the entrance to a cavern. One delightful room actually rocked us to and fro as the entire structure shifted beneath our feet! Another neat gag involved a scarecrow who had meet an unfortunate end, yet his detached arm was making an effort to find the rest of itself.

The Haunted School House also made use of water in several scenes which is always something I enjoy in a haunted attraction. Undoubtedly the coolest animatronic in the entire attraction was a water dwelling worm that broke the placid surface of a pool in search of food. Water was used again near the end of the attraction when we found ourselves traversing what felt to be an underground chamber, in fact the scene reminded me greatly of the set used in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A large skull appeared to have been carved from the very stone the wall was made of and from his gaping maw poured a stream of water. In one area there appeared to be a long tunnel similar to a sewer in a major city but the path did not lead that way. Whether the structure was genuine or simply a neat illusion I do not know, but I would have liked to explore it just the same.

The Haunted School House connected most of these beautifully detailed sets with the winding, dark hallways common to haunted attractions only here the halls were often sparkling with green laser beams. There was also a robust amount of ghouls that populated the Haunted School House but most of them were in masks which detracted from the realism. I would estimate that the majority of the cast gave a fine effort but their was little in the way of extended interaction, improvisation, or creative vocalizations. The cast did deliver a few good startles but that was about it where scare factor was concerned.

I liked the Haunted School House, the scenes were superbly detailed and the length was fair but I was hoping the name of the attraction wasn’t merely a name. I can think of only one instance in which the theme that the name suggests was put into effect, that occurred in an old fashioned bathroom where a skeleton perched upon a porcelain hurled tailor made insults at passing haunters. This scene was more in line with what I expected and had hoped to see. Any time a haunted attraction is able to secure a unique building like a former school or funeral home, I feel that it’s important to play upon the history and atmosphere as much as possible. With that said, the Haunted School House is obviously doing something right — you don’t run for 39 consecutive years on luck.

Rating: 3.25 stars

Beauty Amidst the Horror in North East Ohio

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by bluefall8

Our overnight stay in Ohio saw us visit numerous areas including Richfield and Akron in Summit County as well as Broadview Heights in Cuyahoga County. The roadsides were splashed with the brilliant colors of fall as we passed hills and valleys on our way to a haunting good time. Did the long awaited trip deliver the goods or did we return to Michigan with disappointment in our haunting hearts? I have many thoughts to share on this particular trip and you can expect reviews to appear early this week. Also this week, I’ll detail the trips we’ll embark upon as we enter the homestretch. I’ve been ambitious in my writing this season and I don’t intend to let up now — readers can expect an entry dedicated to home haunts, I will also present my guide for the casual haunter.

High Expectations for Haunted School House and Laboratory, Bloodview Haunted House

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2012 by bluefall8

This afternoon the original members of the Haunt Trinity reunite for an epic, overnight haunting excursion! Tonight we make our inaugural trip to the Haunted School House and Laboratory in Akron, Ohio. The Haunted School House has a storied history having once been the Thomastown Elementary School and currently holds the title as America’s longest running haunted attraction — scaring guests since 1974. The Laboratory once housed the Guggenheim Air Institute, the building is distinguished in American lore as reportedly being the only decagon shaped structure in the entire nation. Collectively the two attractions boast seven floors of haunted goodness — and are respectively celebrating 39 and 32 years of operation. The Haunted School House and Laboratory  has consistently been rated as one of the top haunted attractions in the country.

In addition to one of America’s most influential haunted attractions we will also pay a visit to Bloodview Haunted House in Broadview Heights, Ohio. Bloodview Haunted House is interesting in its own right, the attraction is staffed entirely by an improvisational theater group known as the Legion of Terror. Each weekend the theme of the attraction is altered and tonight we will bear witness to zombie mayhem. I have read reviews that suggest the queue line entertainment at Bloodview is as much a part of the show as anything inside the haunted house, tales of sirens and rampaging hordes of the undead have reached my ears.

I’m intrigued by what I’ve read about all of these haunted attractions and if tonight’s trip is even half as fun as our nocturnal foray to the Buckeye State in 2010, then we are in for one hell of a time. Happy Haunting!