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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.

2014 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2015 by bluefall8

This list is not meant to be used to compare one haunted attraction to another. The star system (1 – 5 stars) is merely meant to reflect how well I felt each individual haunt executed their particular show. Haunted attractions are a unique breed of entertainment and the quality of a show can vary from night to night, hour to hour and guest to guest for a great many reasons.

As you’ll notice, haunts are listed below in descending order. Where there are multiple haunts with the same star rating (and that happened often in 2014) those attractions are listed in alphabetically.

Again, this list should not be used to gauge which haunt is better than another. Primarily, I use these lists for archival purposes so that I can have a record of the haunted houses I visited and how those attractions performed in a given year.

2014 STAR RATINGS

1. Centralia County Fair – 4.5 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

2. Dark Legacy – 4.5 (Wixom, MI.)

3. Exit 13 – 4.5 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

4. Hush – 4.5 (Westland, MI.)

5. Bloodview – 4.25 (Broadview Heights, OH.)

6. Zombie Uprising at Braxton Estate – 4.25 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

7. 13 Feet Under – 4 (Grand Blanc, MI.)

8. The Asylum – 4 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

9. Centralia Mental Facility – 4 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

10. House of Nightmares 3D – 4 (Pontiac, MI.)

11. The Mind Shaft – 4 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

12. Psycho Path – 4 (Flat Rock, MI.)

13. The Realm of Darkness – 4 (Pontiac, MI.)

14. Alien Caged Clowns – 3.75 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

15. Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – 3.75 (Napoleon, MI.)

16. Ultimate Haunted Barn – 3.75 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

17. District 13 – 3.5 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

18. Hayride of the Lost – 3.5 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

19. The Crypt – 3.25 (Burton, MI.)

20. St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum – 3.25 (Grand Blanc, MI.)

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

22. The Dark Abyss – 2.75 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

23. Fō-bē-ə – 2.75 (Wyandotte, MI.)

24. The Haunted Funeral Home – 1.25 (Inkster, MI.)

Bloodview Burns White Hot with Witch Trials

Posted in 2014, Bloodview, Review with tags , , , , , , on January 8, 2015 by bluefall8

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Our return to Bloodview Haunted House last October felt, in some ways, like a homecoming. Just two years prior we had embarked on our maiden sojourn to the Butcher of Broadview Heights and had come away spellbound. This time around we found ourselves at the threshold of terror on a cold and wet Friday night. As we passed through the gates of Bloodview that unmistakable and unique aura of horror permeated the air.

BEST QUEUE LINE ENTERTAINMENT IN THE BUSINESS

Zealous preachers barked hellfire and brimstone from all corners of the land while angry townsfolk demanded confessions and repentance from the poor souls who found themselves in the middle of a war between the righteous and the wicked. As John and I entered the queue line a scrawny man with an unkempt beard was engaged in an act of self-flaggellation. He wandered the area and muttered to himself, his eyes a matching set of vacant pools as he lashed his scarred back.

Elsewhere in line, some menacing witch hunters questioned and harassed a group of squeamish teenagers. A burly male hunter with long, dark hair rubbed his blade over the hair of one female guest who visibly shook with fright and then expressed concern that she would both wet herself and vomit from the fear of it all. 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.

GRISSLY GORE HOUSE

The first leg of Bloodview sent us through the small but powerful Gore House where an overpowering scent invaded our nostrils and set the stage for the foulness to follow. Almost immediately we were confronted by an imposing figure who wielded a blade and wore what looked to be a crown of thorns. I wasn’t sure if he was aligned with the holy rollers or a practitioner of witchcraft; whatever the case his eyes gleamed with malevolent triumph.

He dubbed me “Bigguns” and proceded to make a series of ominously suggestive remarks. Big Boy, as I referred to him in my private thoughts, had a coarse laugh and seemed to get great enjoyment from his interaction with John and I. Soon thereafter, inside of a room filled with hanging corpses, we encountered a special friend of Big Boy’s — a drooling husk of flesh caught somewhere between zombie and mongoloid. This deranged creature followed us for a spell and as he stumbled forward a gossamer of saliva hung from his mouth and then splattered onto the floor.

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. John and I crossed the sickly threshold and emerged from the Gore House and descended a ramp to an earthen path that led to the eerie landscape known as Baby Doll Island.

ISLE OF THE DAMNED

Baby Doll Island is a wooded area littered with out-buildings, a small maze and a recently added cemetery; like the queue line it too was populated by those embroiled in the ongoing witch trials. I was impressed by the number of characters that had been dedicated to Baby Doll Island and noted that the actor’s enthusiasm hadn’t been sapped by the cold or rain.

One peculiar creature drew several laughs from us for his use of raunchy humor and cheap Ray Rice quips. He appeared to be a stout, middle-aged man and his manner of dress was interesting indeed. His fingers either sported long, sharp nails or had been adorned with gothic armor, his mouth featured a frightening array of dagger-shaped teeth and the whole of his being seemed to be filled with a wild, untamable malice. 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.

Near the end of the trail we encountered another interesting character who seemed to be out of her mind with paranoid delusions. She was bushy-haired and bespectacled — we could do nothing to ease the pain she obviously felt she had suffered at the hands of some unseen tormentors. Despite our offers of help she believed with all of her will that the world, and all who dwell therein, had betrayed her. We departed the trail and left the sad sack to mope, it was time to face the third leg of the Bloodview experience which just so happened to be the most substantial of our visit.

BURN BLOODVIEW BURN

The key to success for Bloodview’s main attraction is a combination of classic haunted house design infused with the energy of a weird, outlandish and spirited cast. The floor plan wound us through claustrophobic passages and uneven hallways that tilted left and right and up and down. Near the entrance of the haunt we encountered a malicious prankster who worked a lever that caused the floor beneath our feet to lift and lurch forward.

John and I were impressed by the physicality of several actors who pushed past us in narrow halls while they snarled and offered thinly veiled threats. The first occurrence of such happened nearly as soon as we entered the haunt when a foxy creature of the night lured us forward with a game of hide-n-seek. One moment she rushed forward and then slunk back to the shadows only to reappear again to cut off our path. She made sure to display her mouth of razor-sharp teeth several times and ultimately forced us to brush by her which was indeed threatening but not without a touch of eroticism.

There were absurd scenes as well such as a filthy bathroom that featured a thoroughly clogged toilet, a mound of excrement was in danger of eclipsing the rim but this fact did nothing to deter one mute character from mounting the porcelain throne. Elsewhere, within the walls of Bloodview, we interacted with a group of characters who had been trapped in a series of large cages, the largest of which contained several captives.

A diminutive blonde girl crawled forward and offered several meek meows, doe-eyed and adorable I offered her a couple of sympathetic pats on the head, in turn she handed me a small, fluffy fur ball which I would later pawn off on a pair of crazies at a deli counter. Another notable prisoner was a toe-headed youth who wore a pair of shorts and a button-down eagle scout shirt that he had long outgrown. He sat and stared at me as if he was completely content with his exposed pudge and when questioned about his attire he responded that he was forced to dress as such. He reminded me strongly of Chunk from The Goonies and I fought the urge to request a performance of the Truffle Shuffle.

Bloodview aslo featured a blackout maze that functioned both as psychological terror and a great false ending. Next, we roamed a few rooms which might’ve seemed warm and welcoming if not for the homespun horrors that peered at us from every corner and crevice, one such example included a pair of old-fashioned dolls who sat a top a shelf and blankly stared.

As we neared the conclusion of the haunted attraction we walked into an argument in progress as a mother-daughter duo engaged in a heated verbal spat. The source of the family feud was unclear although given the larger situation one might assume that someone was being accused of witchcraft. Our presence did little to stem the angry shouts as the two argued unabated. I did defend the daughter as she seemed the more reasonable of the pair which earned me a brief hug before she launched into another round of shouting with her mother.

The finale of Bloodview presented us with a seasoned witch hunter who sported a large gash on one side of his face which extended from where his eyeball used to be down across his cheek. In a Scottish accent he and an acolyte of sorts urged us to move forward lest we rouse the fury of a warlock the pair held captive. Indeed, along the far wall was chained an imposing figure, head covered by an animal skull. The animated witch hunter warned that this warlock was particularly fierce and indeed was the cause for the severe wound he himself sported. Following some lively debate, angry admonishments from the acolyte and a near escape of the warlock; we exited Bloodview.

Bloodview is a unique stop on the haunted highway and one that holds a special place in my heart. The Legion of Terror is comprised of passionate scareactors whose attention to details such as costuming, make-up, improvisation and even accents did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. This is a great location with some throwback appeal, fleshed out with a versatile cast who love to entertain. Bloodview is home to some true sons and daughters of Halloween.

Rating: 4.25 stars

“I think you’d have an easier time with those girls in front of me.”

“How do you know what I like, Bigguns?”

-An exchange with Big Boy inside the Gore House while he held me at knife point.

Casual Haunter’s Guide

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2014 by bluefall8

Haunted attractions come in all shapes, sizes and styles and it can be difficult to decide which establishment is worthy of your hard-earned dollars and if you’ve procrastinated until the very night of Samhain itself then you are indeed in need of help.

My band of merry haunters and I have traveled to many lands over the last decade in search of fun and fright, and have on this Halloween prepared for you a list of our most favorite locations which we’re sure will delight and excite.

In no particular order…

Erebus, Pontiac, MI. – It may not be the darling of hardcore haunters but let there be no doubt that Erebus has stood the test of time and has never failed to deliver the goods. The army of animatronics and actor-controlled puppets featured at Erebus is unrivaled by anything in the Metro-Detroit area. Anybody who enjoys haunted attractions should tour Erebus at least once.

Terror Town, Maumee, OH. – House of the Dead can rival Erebus for mechanized monstrosities per square foot and features a number of special effects witnessed at precious few locations. The static props found throughout the bowels of House of the Dead are among the most frightening and lifelike on the market.

Exit 13, Mt. Morris, MI. – One of the most in-your-face, physical casts a haunted house can legally spawn. Quality design, near perfect pace and a blend of laughs and scares alike.

Hush, Westland, MI. – A young haunt with a lot of guts highlighted by some seriously killer scenes and top notch acting.

Bloodview, Broadview Heights, OH. – Staffed by the best troupe of actors a haunted house could possibly want; a group known as the Legion of Terror. The show is re-themed each weekend, the main building has one of the best designs we’ve ever witnessed.

Darksyde Acres, Jonesville, MI. – You never quite know what you’re going to encounter at Darksyde Acres. Come for the scares, stay for the vivacious haunt hotties.

Haunted Hydro, Fremont, OH. – Crazy Bob Turner is a class act of the industry and a true artisan of his craft, the old hydro dam is an excellent structure for a haunted attraction and the location exudes the very spirit of Halloween.

Slaughterhouse Adventure, Fowlerville, MI. – Most effective mix of story, illusion and comedy. Slaugherhouse features three attractions including a haunted barn, haunted corn maze and haunted hayride. Do yourself a favor and spring for the combo package.

Haunted Farm of Terror, Lenox Township, MI. – We’ve only visited The Haunted Farm of Terror once (2009) but to this day we have yet to witness a more electrifying and unique haunted hayride.

Other notable Michigan locations include St. Lucifer’s & 13 Feet Under (Grand Blanc), Wiard’s Night Terrors (Ypsilanti) Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles), The Realm of Darkness (Pontiac) and Dark Legacy (Wixom).

I encourage you to poke around Horrorlust for past reviews (use the drop-down window on the right hand side of the homepage) on all of these attractions and furthermore I welcome any feedback you may have regarding your own experiences.

Happy Haunting.

The Fear Experience, Bloodview Blitz the Night

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2014 by bluefall8

What an action-packed, surreal experience the Cleveland Turn N’ Burn proved to be. It was difficult to pass areas like Toledo, Fremont and Elyria with the knowledge that old favorites and untapped horrors were within shouting distance but we were on a mission to see The Fear Experience and then Bloodview and we wouldn’t be distracted or deterred.

The Fear Experience certainly had a presence, housed inside an enormous building the joint was crawling with patrons itching for some scares. It was a breakneck pace through a haunted odyssey that overloaded my brain with sensory input. The trek sent us through a dizzying array of spectacularly detailed scenes including a zombie infested estate, a mental asylum and the best display of a carnival theme that we’ve ever witnessed.

When the fun was done at The Fear Experience, John and I made the short drive to Bloodview in Broadview Heights where the Legion of Terror did not disappoint. The witches were out and so too were the preachers and townsfolk who sought to destroy them. Bloodview proved to be once again a haunted tour de force punctuated by an immersive experience fueled by the unparalleled talents of the Legion of Terror.

Full reviews will appear on Horrorlust in the coming days and weeks!

As for tonight, some work on The CikNis and should the weather cooperate a possible trip to Wiard’s Night Terrors.

The Fear Experience, Bloodview Comprise Cleveland Turn & Burn

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2014 by bluefall8

The air bristles, the approaching night beckons. John and I are to leave shortly for a haunt excursion not soon to be forgotten. In 2012 we witnessed a highly memorable outbreak of the dead at Bloodview and on this night the twisted and brilliant minds collectively known as the Legion of Terror will assail guests with a bonafide throwback — witch trials. Will John and I be swept up in the frenzy of paranoia? Will we too burn at the stake?!

Two years ago Bloodview snagged the Horrorlust Eerie Vibrations Award and was an honorable mention for he Horrorlust Monster and Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Awards; can the Legion of Terror repeat the feat or dare I say, even exceed our expectations?

And that is not all that the night has in store; after much hype we make our virgin sojourn to The Fear Experience in Parma, Ohio. There we will attempt to survive four haunted attractions including a Zombie Uprising at Braxton Estate, Centralia County Fair, Centralia Mental Facility and District 13. Centralia is a town with a particularly sinister past, but you don’t have to take my word for it; go ahead and check it out for yourself. The Fear Experience has lifted a bit of history from a true life Pennsylvanian town.

The website for The Fear Experience warns to avoid many things inside the Centralia County Fair such as accepting a prize at the midway or stopping for a snack at the burnt out food truck. There was also talk of a freak show complete with a lizard-boy and wolf-man; I just don’t think I possess the kind of impulse control the Centralia County Fair might require.

Here’s to a night of adventure! Happy Haunting!

Horrorlust Radio Episode #005

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2014 by bluefall8

I’m flying solo without a net in episode #005 of Horrorlust Radio.

In the fifth episode of Horrorlust Radio, I talk about the haunted attractions I’ve visited thus far and those I aim to tour before the 2014 Halloween season is to end; I also answer a few listener questions.

This episode of Horrorlust Radio also features the second installment of Nightmare Fuel and the debut of Dead Files. In Nightmare Fuel, I recount several ghostly nights spent in Lovett Hall, a former high school now part of The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Dead Files is a segment in which haunted house reviews are read in dramatic fashion and up first is an account from a 2012 trip to Bloodview in Broadview Heights, Ohio.

I also provide my thoughts on the season premieres of The Walking Dead and American Horror Story. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gerkins’ appearance on the Chop Shop!

I’m actively seeking sponsors for Horrorlust Radio, if you own or operate a haunted attraction or are otherwise involved or connected to the haunt industry and are interested in such an opportunity you can contact me at the following email address: horrorlust@bluestarproductions.net

Email any questions or comments to the address above or feel welcome to post any reactions to this podcast in the comments section below.

HORRORLUST RADIO: EPISODE 005

SHOW NOTES

Here’s a poster from Ed Wood’s Night of the Ghouls, the subject of the latest episode of the Chop Shop which featured my alter-ego Gerkins alongside Uncle Dead Guy.

A bizarre horror film with an even stranger history.

A bizarre horror film with an even stranger history.

Gerkins with Uncle Dead Guy, a match made in Hell.

Gerkins with Uncle Dead Guy, a match made in Hell.

Lovett Hall is a beautiful structure but it’s walls undoubtedly hold many secrets lost to time; by night certain areas, such as the ballroom and dormitories, are creepy indeed.

Lovett Hall originally opened in the late 1930's.

Lovett Hall originally opened in the late 1930’s.

The songs and audio clips featured in this episode are listed below in chronological order:

1. “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (Green River, 1969)

2. Day of the Dead Theatrical Trailer, 1985

3. Unknown Song, Unknown Artist

4. Captain Rhodes argues with Dr. Logan from Day of the Dead, 1985

5. “Labyrinth of Dreams” by Nox Aracana (Grimm Tales, 2008)