Archive for castle of the dead

The Haunt List

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2014 by bluefall8

As you’ll shortly read, I was still toying with an alternate name for Hallowblog when this was first written; however the name would ultimately stick.

I suppose this can be viewed as my own pared down version of the Fear Finder; over the years I did end up visiting the majority of these haunted attractions. As of 2013, 15 of the 22 attractions listed remained in operation in some form.

The curtain fell on Deadly Intentions in 2012 although The Deadland currently uses the same building. The Lab and Chainsaw Creek last ran in 2009. To the best of my knowledge, Scare Grounds at the Fairgrounds closed up after 2008 and  Death Sentence, Motor City Massacre and Nox were open only during the 2007 season. This was originally posted October 4, 2007.

I’ve compiled a list of haunted attractions I’d like to visit this season, I realize it is quite unlikely that I make it to each of these but this list is simply meant to serve as a general guideline. If any of these sound interesting just let me know and we’ll make the trek you rotten bastards. Jason and Disco have served as my fellow haunt-goers the last three years but we wouldn’t mind a few new faces.

In other Halloween news, I’ve decided against running the companion blog to the Halloween themed Word of the Week. No worries though, I have plenty other Halloween content to provide and it is quite likely that anything that would have appeared in the companion blog will simply be infused into this column, Hallowblog. And that brings me to my next point; I’ve received no suggestions for an alternate blog title so that means I’ll pick one of my own making in the coming days.

If you’re looking for on-screen horror check out Flight of the Living Dead which was released on DVD October 2. No, I haven’t watched it but c’mon it’s got zombies. 28 Weeks Later will also be available on DVD October 9. At theatres horror fans can watch Resident Evil: Extinction, Saw IV premiering October 26, or the vampire thriller 30 Days of Night beginning October 19.

That’s all the news I have for now so look over the list below and tell me what strikes your haunting fancy.

In no particular order:

The Scream Machine & Carnevil of Lost Souls

Taylor, MI./$12 for Scream Machine or $16 for both

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/27-11/4

The Lab

Grosse Ile, MI./$12

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/28-10/31

Anxiety Alley

Lincoln Park, MI./$6

Hours: 7-11

Run Dates: 10/12-13, 19-21, 26-30

Erebus

Pontiac, MI./$20

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri: 7-1, Sat: 6-1

Run Dates: 9/28-11/3

The Realm of Darkness

Pontiac, MI./$19

Hours: Sun-Thurs: Tix on sale @ 7:30, Fri-Sat: Tix on sale @ 7

Run Dates: 9/21-23, 28-30, 10/5-7, 11-14, 18-31

Terrortown

Maumee, OH./$10 for main attraction or $16 for three

Hours: Sun: 7:30-10, Fri-Sat: 7:30-Midnight, Halloween: 7:30-10

Run Dates: Fri, Sat, Sun starting 9/28-10/28, also 10/31

Chainsaw Creek

Toledo, OH./$10 per house or $20 for all four

Hours: Sun-Thurs: Dark-11, Fri-Sat: Dark-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/28-10/15 (Thurs-Sun), 10/18-10/31

Scare Grounds at the Fairgrounds

Michigan State Fairgrounds/$13

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 10/12-10/31

Hell’s Hospital

Wyandotte, MI./$10

Hours: Sun & Thurs: 7-10, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight, Mon & Wed (Halloween week) 7-10

Run Dates: 10/6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31

Realm of Haunted Minds

Romulus, MI./$10

Hours: 7-10

Run Dates: 10/5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 29-30

The Carn-evil of Fear

Flat Rock, MI./$10

Hours: 8-11

Run Dates: 10/19-20, 26-27

Haunted Hill Acres

Belleville, MI./per event

Hours: Tix on sale @ 7

Dates: Every Thurs-Sun in October

Phantom Forest Hayrides

Grosse Ile, MI./$8

Hours: Fri-Sat: 7-11, Sun: 7-10

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-30

The Pumpkin Factory

Belleville, MI./$6

Hours: Fri-Sat: 7-10, Sun: 7-9

Run Dates: Every Fri-Sun in October

Slaughtered at Sundown

Armada, MI./$12 or $20 for both attractions

Hours: Begins @ 7

Run Dates: 9/28-10/27 (Fri-Sat only), 10/21, 10/28

Blake’s Nighttime Spooky Hayrides

Armada, MI./Call for prices (586) 784-9710

Hours: Dusk-?

Run Dates: 9/28-29, every Fri-Sun in October

Fear Factory

Warren, MI./$17

Hours: 7-?

Run Dates: 9/21-23, 28-30, 10/4-7, 10-14, 17-31

Motor City Massacre

Roseville, MI./$15

Hours: 7-till the Massacre ends

Run Dates: 9/28-29, 10/5-7, 12-14, 18-31

Death Sentence

Waterford, MI./$12 (Sun-Wed), $15 (Thurs-Sat)

Hours: Sun-Wed: 7-11, Thurs-Sat: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-10/31

Nox

Troy, MI./$17

Hours: Weekdays: 7-11, Weekends: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/3-7, 10-14, 17-31

Castle of the Dead

Lenox Township, MI./$16

Hours: Thurs & Sun: 7-11, Fri & Sat: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 25-31

Deadly Intentions

Warren, MI./$13

Hours: Weekdays: 7:30-11, Fri-Sat: 7:30-1

Run Dates: 9/21-30 (Fri-Sun only), 10/4-21 (Thurs-Sun only), 10/25-31

Advertisements

CarnEvil 3D Waxes, Realm of Darkness Wanes

Posted in 2013, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by bluefall8

After we departed Erebus we made the very short drive to the Realm of Darkness, where we expected nothing short of a great haunted attraction. A three year wait in between visits had breathed an air of freshness into Erebus, why should the Realm of Darkness be any different?

Unfortunately, a bad taste was put in our mouths before we even got out of the car when we were charged $5 for parking. You can say that $5 isn’t much money but really what is the purpose of such a fee? Why is it necessary to charge customers an additional fee to park? Haunted attractions aren’t cheap — the past two seasons in particular have bore witness to a marked increase in ticket prices. Granted an overwhelming majority of haunted attractions don’t charge for parking and for that I am thankful, but those that do risk an eroding fan base.

As a consumer I hate any service or product that has additional fees; I deplore the practice. Haunted attraction operators can attempt to explain it away all they like but  the best argument in the world will do nothing to dent the negative correlation customers associate with such fees. I apologize for going off on a tangent, but it irked me. As someone who visits many haunted attractions every season, often traveling an hour or two or more to get there — a parking fee is an insult and smacks of a money grab.

The grounds were nearly void of guests — an uninspiring site to be sure but not uncommon for a September night. A husky, bald clown with a mustache like a caterpillar provided a couple of laughs while we waited to enter the haunt. On his hip was one of the newer additions from VFX Creative Studios — an Attack Line puppet. These innovative puppets are available in four different characters — zombie, werewolf, scarecrow, and clown and are designed to be worn and controlled by an actor. The puppets feature realistic glass eyes and are equipped with articulation points through the mouth and neck. A good source of solid entertainment for any queue area.

CARNEVIL 3D OOZES WITH PROMISE

We entered the new attraction here first, CarnEvil 3D. Admittedly, none of us has ever been very impressed by these 3D attractions — the 3D effect often leaves much to be desired and  merely creates a blurry, tunnel vision effect that I find uncomfortable. When we have encountered a favorable 3D attraction it has usually been the actors would made it worthwhile and not the gimmicky presentation.

CarnEvil 3D however turned out to be pretty cool. The setting was established from the beginning of the attraction; a carnival sideshow. As we entered one room a colorful popcorn machine propelled the iconic snack into the air. A series of benches dotted the area, this apparently was where patrons were meant to purchase tickets. Comically macabre artwork lined the walls, my favorite was a brightly colored depiction of one so called Lobster Boy.

A pair of youths sat amongst the aforementioned benches and as we passed each one held an index finger aloft and laughed manically at something only they could see. Their eyes were blank and whatever madness held sway over their minds would not be broken by our taunts or inquiries. The pair put me in mind of the Ghastly Grinner who once terrorized an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? by infecting his victims with uncontrollable laughter.

The middle section of the attraction was a blur of neon colors and kitsch artwork, the embodiment of this particular blend was the aptly named Cyclops Boy. There was also Chuckles the Clown who did passionately urge us onward, but he could’ve definitely offered more in the way of interaction and improvisation.

Finally, we came to the advertised sideshow and what a collection their was of freaks and oddities, each contained within an individual cage. Here we meet Swamp Boy, conjoined twins, the Invisible Man, and a laughing clown who also displayed a penchant for chomping.

CarnEvil 3D was fun, offered a few memorable scenes, and was one of the more enjoyable attractions of this type that we have witnessed. It was in need of additional actors and more of an emphasis on story would’ve greatly enhanced the overall experience. How about an interactive game of chance for instance? Ring toss to win a twisted trinket, perhaps? Spin the big wheel to decide the fate of your party? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Rating: 3.25 stars

POWER OF THE WIZARD DIMINISHED

We returned to the queue line and after a brief wait were beckoned to enter the Realm of Darkness. A tall and portly ghoul waxed philosophical about the journey that awaited; he reminded me greatly of Mathias who guarded the door last year at Scarefest Screampark’s Castle of the Dead. He was theatrical, well spoken, and a worthy addition to the Wizard’s army of undead minions.

The formidable doormen beckoned us to peer into a mirror and then took his leave of us, shortly a skeleton appeared in the mirror and unleashed an angry diatribe that felt a little redundant considering the speech we had just been given. Worse, no scare would manifest as the bony fiend neared his noisy climax — truly a missed opportunity.

We found the Realm of Darkness as detailed an immersive as it ever was. A few areas of note included the doll room which featured a true to life shrieking dolly, an elaborate cemetery, and finally a funeral setting that induced goosebumps. Also of note was the snake infested cave and one wiry clown who utilized a bungee contraption to spring into action.

On the down side there is little new about the Realm of Darkness, much of the attraction felt merely scrambled. It reminded me of the shows that the Scream Machine has produced in recent years — not bad but certainly lacking and in need of a revamp.

Animatronics greatly outnumbered live actors and this lopsided ratio did not work in favor of the haunt. Furthermore, I was particularly disappointed to find most of the live crew a little stiff. In past seasons the cast here has ranged from consistently good to excellent but this year far too many fell somewhere between average to good. The pursuit of the Wizard too seemed to have been diminished. What was once an integral and exciting element of the show felt listless and contrived.

Rating: 2.75 stars

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

Haunt Season Awakens with Visit to Scarefest Scream Park

Posted in 2012, Review, Scarefest Scream Park with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2012 by bluefall8

I can only hope that our record breaking trip to Scarefest Scream Park is an omen of things to come for the 2012 haunt season. This past Saturday, John, Richard and myself made the journey to the village of New Haven, Michigan to explore, of course, the frights and sights offered at one of Michigan’s numerous scream parks! We were lured to this particular location due to the half off special the haunt offered last weekend. Ordinarily, Scarefest Scream Park charges patrons $45 to experience four unique haunted attraction and that is indeed a steep price. Haunters can find coupons available online and in the Fear Finder, there’s a $5 off coupon which can be used on a single attraction or a $10 off coupon good for the all inclusive package. Anyway, we decided to check out the Castle of the Dead and Hayride of Doom which cost us a grand total of $15 — all in all not a bad price to start the haunt season.

I was struck by just how many people had attended the event this early in the season, we’ve gone to haunts many times during the last weekend in September and aside from the Homer Mill in 2008, they’ve always been very slow. The Scarefest Scream Park was alive with fun and fright however — I would guess that was due in no small part to the half off promotion. We headed first for the Castle of the Dead and were delighted to witness some fine line entertainment. It’s easy for talent at such attractions to view these so called preview weekends as being less important than the October dates but these creatures of the night were up to snuff. A young, energetic ghoul ran up and down the queue line, spouting silly phrases and providing laughs for waiting guests — he even copied my stance as I spoke to John and Richard and cracked wise with us for a few moments. Before long though, it was time to approach the large double doors that served as the entrance to the castle.

All in all, Castle of the Dead was a fairly average haunted attraction perhaps even slightly above average. On the positive side there were ample workers (I counted roughly 20) and it was of fair length, clocking in at nearly 15 minutes. The majority of the workers performed quite well but nobody stole the show or provided us with a particularly memorable moment. Those that did stand out include a black and white checkered hallway where a long haired, stilted ghoul impeded our path as well as a clown room with walls decorated with painted, neon balloons. There was also a cross dressing, bi-polar nutter who made ridiculous remarks only to apologize for his behavior moments later, and finally a funeral setting where an energetic deadite enthusiastically told us the story of how he killed his wife and implored us to lay hands upon her casket. We would learn shortly that she wasn’t dead at all, at least not dead enough — she bounded in from behind us and the two deranged love birds made sure we fled the scene.

Another highlight included the character we met before we even entered the castle walls. Atop the stairs was a couple of sorts decked out in wonderfully elaborate garb and make up. They mocked us according to their custom and then beckoned their brother, Mathias. Mathias was a physically imposing sight, measuring an estimated 6’4″ and 375 lbs. Mathias however was not simply an overgrown brute, he possessed a wit and theatrical knack unmatched anywhere else in the Castle of the Dead. He poked fun at us while displaying good comic timing and improvisational skills, and was a true artisan of his craft.

However, I did mention that Castle of the Dead was by and large an average haunted house. There were several aspects of the attraction that left a lot to be desired. The best example of this is likely the lack of a consistent theme. The haunted house is called Castle of the Dead and indeed the external facade suggests such as did the dress and manner of Mathias and his cohorts but the rest of the attraction was a mishmash of familiar haunt troupes — there was the aforementioned clown and funeral scene but also a radioactive room and a slaughter house setting. It felt some what lackadaisical and uninspired.

We also felt that the transitional hallways were too plain and in some instances too well lit. In my opinion one of the primary benefits of such passages in haunted attractions is the opportunity for guests to psyche themselves out but that doesn’t happen on a clearly lit path, had these hallways simply been dark with possibly some artificial fog this could’ve been accomplished. Our last major complaint was the lack of an interesting ending — what we saw was the all too familiar crazy-with-a-chainsaw. Don’t get me wrong, the chainsaw chase is a classic and it works in the right setting, but not here. Here would have been an excellent chance to rely on the established theme — why not an executioner chasing guests with an oversized axe? He could even slam it into the wall dramatically to spur on those hardier souls.

The haunt also employed a series of interactive rooms, wherein guests are asked to sit down or are told a story. Whatever the case may be, it’s all a set up for the next scare and in some instances this can work very well but as it did here, in conjunction with the inconsistent theme, provided a disjointed experience. The first occurrence of such took place in the first room of the attraction, an area designed to look like the room in the original Saw — this was where Mathias and his cohorts bid us adieu. It had promise but in the end there was little payoff. The second instance was the funeral scene which as I mentioned was one of the haunt’s highlights and the third was the execution we watched with the bi-polar cross dresser. The latter two in particular worked well on their own but as I’ve mentioned already, simply didn’t flow with the rest of the house.

Castle of the Dead wasn’t a bad haunted attraction by my standards but it didn’t provide any truly frightening moments, interesting environments, or cohesive theme. The majority of the cast did a fair to good job with several of them providing above average interactions but at the end of the day it was a pedestrian haunted experience.

Rating: 2.75 stars

The wait for the Hayride of Doom was considerably longer than Castle of the Dead as the crowd had swelled in size, once more I was struck at just how many people had attended the event this early in the season. When we did board our wagon we found our narrator to be a tall, slim male clad from head to toe in black. His dark hair hung in greasy strands across his pale face, he bore an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Manson. Throughout the duration of the ride he provided an impassioned and sometimes humorous account of the turmoil that had befell the land, he was excellent in this role.

The operators here have implemented a quiet stroke of brilliance — fitting the underside of each wagon with a series of strobe lights. This widely eliminates the need for lighting at individual scenes along the route, undoubtedly saving boatloads of both time and money. The hayride was a good length, I’d estimate it lasted anywhere from 15-20 minutes as we wound our way by a multitude of haunted landscapes including a village, prison, church, butcher shop, various graveyards, and finally a refugee camp. We passed through a massive barn at one juncture, crossed several bridges, and laid our eyes upon both a giant humanoid bat and an even larger creature that defied conventional description. Each scene supported a fair amount of prowling ghouls, my favorites of which included living doll girlies and , of course, zombies. The zombies ran about wildly thrashing and gnashing as they do — I even saw one haphazardly riding a Big Wheel bike in pursuit of the wagon! In my opinion however, it was the creepy living dolls that stole the show. These femme fatales dominated the landscape in one particular scene and emerged from the woods with a menacing gait that suggested their limbs were indeed molded from plastic and socketed into place. I also enjoyed the church scene near the end of the ride, a wooden walkway rose above the wagon and stretched across the path. A priest or druid of sorts was located in the middle of the structure wearing the skull of a steer of all things, angrily gesturing toward our wagon. The scene seriously put me in mind of the main village and certain baddies in Resident Evil 4 — I have no doubt that it was at least, in part, inspired by such.

The Hayride of Doom may not have been the raucous, rain drenched, Devil’s Night melee we experienced at the nearby Haunted Farm of Terror in 2009 but it was still very good. There was a lot to take in and I wish we could’ve made the trip once more — not only to soak in a more complete view of the scenes but also to enjoy the superb commentary that punctuated the hayride.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Scarefest Scream Park does feature two additional attractions — Terror Zone Maze and 3D Haunted House as well as Forest of Darkness and Yappo’s Fun House. We decided to skip those due to underwhelming experiences with 3D and maze attractions in the past (and the testimony of an acquaintance who attended the event last year). Personally, I would have preferred to check them out if for no other reason than we were already there but I do keep the feelings of my haunt brethren in mind and on this night I did what I rarely do and agreed to skip these final two attractions.

Weekend of Milestones

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on September 15, 2012 by bluefall8

When I checked the mail yesterday afternoon it was to find the current issue of HauntWorld waiting for me. Today I hunted down a copy of the Fear Finder at a local Kmart thus making it the earliest I have ever obtained a copy. Finally, tonight myself and some veteran haunters are getting a jump start on the season with a visit to the Scarefest Scream Park — a trip that will set a mark for the earliest we’ve ever visited a haunted attraction! The current mark has stood for nearly three years, it was set on September 25, 2009 when we ventured to Jackson’s Underworld and the Homer Mill in what will always be remembered as an abjectly disappointing night. We’ll hope for better tonight as we make the trek to New Haven where we’ll experience Scarefest Scream Park’s Castle of the Dead and Hayride of Doom. These discounted September previews can often leave a lot to be desired but we’ve also made some great haunt memories on such trips, so there is reason for optimism.