Archive for blood bath & beyond hayride

Triple Threat a Real Treat at Slaughter House

Posted in 2013, Review, Slaughter House Adventure with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by bluefall8

If you own a parcel of land in Michigan’s countryside, you already have one of the key elements of a successful haunted attraction — mix in an old barn, cornstalks, and a patch of woods and you have all the right ingredients for a haunting good time. Such is the case is Fowlerville where Slaugher House, Haunted Maze, and Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride comprise “Michigan’s Best Trifecta of Terror!”

The Wolverine State is dotted with a veritable smattering of haunted attractions and this is one location that deserves attention. There are scares to be had here for certain but also plenty of laughter as well as a measure of magic. The pricing is flexible too, allowing guests to participate in one, two, or three attractions — the $30 super combo which allows haunters to experience the haunted hat trick is one of the better bargains we’ve come across.

SLIGHT OF HAND, TWIST OF FATE

Little has changed since last year inside the formidable barn known as Slaughter House, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you consider the fact that the show we were treated to in 2012 was a mile a minute thrill ride. Many of the characters we encountered last year were on hand as well but were portrayed, in many instances, by different actors. The results in this case were varied; some performed admirably, even out doing their predecessors while others left us yearning for the latter. I personally missed the little old lady in the final room the most, she was a breath of fresh air last year.

Billy Wonka and his special son, Billy Jr., were on hand once more and the duo didn’t disappoint with their hilariously tasteless antics. Also of note was the diminutive trickster who played on our sympathies before being cast to the depths of Hell! This technique in particular is something I greatly enjoyed about Slaughter House that I’ve never seen at any other attraction; truly a brilliant storytelling device.

There was also a bit of old school fundamentals at work inside one room where a series of dummies formed a semi-circle. Intermittent blasts of light from a strobe revealed that all was still. Another flash of light illuminated the room and we were offered a similar sight save for one dummy which remained stock still but had changed position, now with an extended index finger that presumably pointed us in the correct direction. It may not sound like much but in my mind it was an example of classic haunting that utilized anticipation and misdirection.

Unfortunately, there was a malfunction with the mechanism incorporated in the guillotine illusion, and despite a valiant effort there wasn’t much the actor could do to save the scene. Familiarity did sap some of the magic out of the overall effect of the show for us but that obviously won’t be an issue for anybody who has yet to experience Slaughter House. I very much enjoyed the use of comedy employed here — the recurring theme of ordinary people persecuted for minor offenses and then subsequently executed through archaic means created a fun and absurd form of entertainment.

Rating: 3.25 stars

MONSTROUS MAIZE MOST IMPRESSIVE

One of the most striking elements of the haunted corn maze is the maize itself — it’s enormous! We’ve witnessed some monstrous stalks before but the corn here jutted out of the ground and leaped toward the moonlit sky at a height that exceeded thirteen feet; the vast size easily left us at a loss for a sense of direction.

The attraction was of generous length and the path even wound guests through various shacks, silos, and a storage bin that served as a dark maze. The finale featured an interactive carnival of sorts where a clownish host tried his hand at the Hammer Bell before he encouraged me to shoot some electronic sensors. It was all in good fun, and when a zombie burst out of a cellar beneath the firing range, he shot it in the head.

Rating: 3.5 stars

BLOOD BATH & BEYOND TO THE MOON

The Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride is yet another enjoyable attraction here, clocking in at just over thirty minutes it certainly offered haunters a great return on their dollar. Many of the scenes remained the same as last year but there was quite a shake up as well including a comical electrocution and an impressive bit with a scarecrow who was suddenly elevated off of his post and lifted above the corn.

In the woods we encountered an artist of sorts who had the odd hobby of framing the heads of dead relatives — mom and dad had already been framed handsomely and late brother Billy was just about to become the latest member of his macabre collection. One instance of slight of hand later, Billy’s head sat before us and urged his able bodied brother to snatch a good looking lady from the wagon.

Further down the path we drove by the scene of a car accident where the drunkard responsible for the wreck, shambled directionless through the woods while he incredulously insisted that he wasn’t the guilty party. This particular actor was quite the comedic sight both in appearance and delivery; he had made for a very believable drunk.

Later, we drove directly into a blood feud that featured the infamous Hatfield and McCoy families; the sides engaged in a verbal spat which then escalated when octogenarians from each family were brutalized by the other side. Our tractor hastily departed among a hail of threats and gunfire.

Shortly thereafter we came to rest near a cage in the woods, a woman was held captive inside. Outside the structure a mad scientist raved about an elixir of youth that he had created and he was prepared to demonstrate it on the young lady. The scientist attempted to parry favor with those on the wagon by asking who among us wouldn’t pay a steep price for just such a potion, he even went so far as to single out a guest but she didn’t seem eager to play along.

The scientist, however, was the persistent type and pressed further but no answer came and when the silence lingered on the precipice of awkwardness — I threw my voice and bellowed, “Yeah, she could stand to lose a few.” To my great pleasure (and relief) the whole of the wagon roared with laughter and the determined scientist was able to continue with his demonstration which resulted in the woman being transformed into a screaming child.

The finale of the hayride also featured some humor; yet another loose canon scientist had been engaged in experimentation. This fellow had nabbed himself a live alien specimen but his experiment devolved quickly which resulted in the rather abrupt and senseless death of the extraterrestrial being. The scene became even more improbable when the mother ship ascended above his lab with an agenda of revenge!

Rating: 4.25 stars

“Don’t goose a ghost, you’ll end up with a hand full of sheet!”

-Sage wisdom from the woodland drunk.

2012 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2013 by bluefall8

The Midwest Haunters Convention was held this weekend in Columbus, Ohio and that means two things — Summer has arrived, and with the passing of MHC the official countdown to the haunt season has begun! I loved the EC Comics inspired promotional piece for the 10th anniversary of this event.

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So as the Midwest Haunters Convention wraps up tonight and haunt vendors, owners, and enthusiasts look forward to the fall, let us take a few moments to look back at the best that last season had to offer.

Horrorlust recognizes nine dreadful categories. Our traditional seven categories include: Monster, Killer Automatons, Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Dark Horse, Rotten Pumpkin, and of course, Haunt of the Year. In 2011 the Prop Master and Samhain Awards debuted; descriptions precede each award.

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.

2012 Rotten Pumpkin: Scream Machine

Dishonorable Mention: Nightmare Sanctum (Wyandotte Jaycees)

This wasn’t an easy decision because the Scream Machine is not a bad haunted attraction, but it has become stagnant and predictable. I’ve visited this attraction more than any other over the years and the 2012 incarnation was guilty of mailing it in more so than at any other time. It lacked precision, passion, and any truly pulse pounding moments.

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.

2012 Eerie Vibrations: Bloodview

Honorable Mention: Krazy Hilda’s Camp of No Return

A malevolent aura permeated throughout Bloodview from the moment we stepped through the gates that bore its’ namesake. It featured both indoor and outdoor attractions that seemed to pulsate with the energy of 1,000 lost souls.

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 the Horrorlust’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2012 Dark Horse: Dimensions of Darkness

Honorable Mention: A Nightmare on Elm Road

All of the fundamental elements are in place for Dimensions of Darkness to become something special. Dark, in-your-face, actor driven haunted attractions are becoming rarer with the passing of each Halloween season, but with a few inspired tweaks the gang here might just have the moxie to deliver old school back to the mainstream.

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.

2012 Killer Automatons: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

Honorable Mention: Haunted School House

Despite a number of ill timed or malfunctioning animatronics last year, House of the Dead still offered enough impressive robotic baddies to win this award going away. Without fail the operators here take care to integrate a couple of new mechanical monsters into the show each year. Indeed, House of the Dead has a stranglehold on this category, winning the Killer Automatons Award four years in a row.  

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.

2012 Monster: Sinister

Honorable Mention: Bloodview

The cavalcade of creatures at Sinister worked as a cohesive unit, the group was so in sync it was as if their minds had forged a singularity. This was a collection of professional scarers who regard haunting as a craft and worked tirelessly to hone their formidable skills. The staff here simply did not miss a beat and wasted no opportunity to engage guests. The vocalization, physicality, and improvisation were all expertly executed.

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.

2012 Prop Master: Barn of Horrors (Erwin Orchards)

Honorable Mention: Haunted Laboratory

The use of props inside the Barn of Horrors put me in mind of 2011 winner, Tent of Terror. Nothing was overdone or out of place, each prop provided a key visual element for its’ respective scene. The warped clock with a human face and giant dwarf stand out as favorites.

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.

2012 Pulse Pounder: Slaughter House

Honorable Mention: Bloodview

Admittedly this year’s selection of Slaughter House is a bit of a departure for this particular award which traditionally has gone to the scariest haunted attraction of the season. Slaugher House certainly offered some spine tingling moments but their specialty was more fun than fright. None of this is a knock on Slaugher House, quite the opposite in fact, it’s a testament to what the haunt did so well. Heart racing scares were supplanted by mind boggling illusions, the race to freedom was replaced by the race to the next room where another eye popping stunt was lying in wait. Slaughter House was a refreshing mix of fun and fear that got the blood pumping to be sure.

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.

2012 Samhain: October 5, 2012 (Erwin Orchards, Slaugher House, A Nightmare on Elm Road)

Honorable Mention: October 12, 2012 (Deadly Intentions, Sinister, Exit 13)

The night of October 5th didn’t get off to a promising start due to the weather but the magic of the haunt season would not be denied. As fate would have it we braved the Barn of Horrors twice, witnessed a haunt classic at Slaughter House (and made a friend to boot), and capped off the night with a visit to the charmingly ramshackle A Nightmare on Elm Road. It isn’t often we get to experience such a wide spectrum of the haunted landscape in a single night.

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.

2012 Haunt of the Year: Sinister

Honorable Mention: Slaugher House

Our experience at Sinister was pure happenstance, a visit that seemed to warp the very fabric of space and time, the sort of thing that usually only occurs within the confines of The Twilight Zone. On every measurable scale the cast was brilliant; somehow providing John and I with a fresh and, dare I say, even more energized experience during our second pass. It was like being in one of your favorite films except all of the familiar scenes had been supernaturally charged and then quite amazingly we discovered new scenes and characters who hadn’t existed moments before. Sinister spun a rare gem in 2012 and will live on in haunt lore for years to come.

A Brief Note on Awards and Ratings

Many haunted attractions that we hold in high regard did not receive any awards in 2012, but that does not mean these attractions do not deserve recognition. The most notable of these are Darksyde Acres and Exit 13. Darksyde Acres’ Rusthole & Catacombs scored 4.25 out of 5 stars, the 3rd highest rating out of the 22 total attractions we visited last year. Similarly, Exit 13 was rated 4 out of 5 stars and ranked 5th overall in our ratings.

So how can it be that neither of these haunts garnered so much as an honorable mention? Well, I’ve stated numerous times that the ratings are a reflection on each individual haunt and should not necessarily be used to compare one attraction to another. So what does this all mean? I think it speaks to two things — the diversity of the awards themselves and the quality of attractions we were able to visit during the 2012 haunt season.

Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride (4.25 stars) also rated very well and it’s counterpart at Scarefest Screampark, Hayride of Doom (3.5 stars), didn’t do too shabby either. Hayrides, like corn mazes and other haunted off shoots while undeniably related to haunted houses are, in my opinion, different beasts altogether. We currently have no specific award for these attractions due to the fact that we simply don’t visit enough of them each season.

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