Archive for Cikalo

The Dark Box Plays Mind Games

Posted in 2015, Dark Box, Review with tags , , , , on October 15, 2015 by bluefall8

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Twin, jet-black trailers sat side by side tucked against a treeline. The phrase “The Dark Box” was displayed in blood red letters near the entrance of the attraction. This was minimalism in action and the stripped-down presentation was a welcome addition to an industry gone glutton over fanciful facades and slick animatronics. The experience at The Dark Box would be psychological, visceral and physical.

BACKS AGAINST THE WALL.

DO NOT SPEAK.

PUT THIS SACK OVER YOUR HEAD.

Those were the simple, direct commands given to us by a formidable figure upon our immediate entrance into the haunt. A siren could be heard in the distance, but worse somewhere close the subtle but persistent rhythm of a clock distorted time and filled each awkward silence with palatable tension.

TURN TO YOUR RIGHT.

PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU.

WALK.

The burlap sacks were removed from our heads and we proceeded forward with caution. We entered a sparsely furnished living room where we found a nervous young man who rocked himself in front of a television screen that displayed only static. The man flailed his limbs and screamed until his lungs were surely on fire, we crawled through a tube to be free of the disturbing scene — his shrieks remained audible several rooms removed.

We traveled deeper into The Dark Box and had our path cut off by a pig-man, moments later the alternate route was also rendered impassable by an odd ghoul. The pig-man and the odd ghoul each suggested a possible exit and while neither seemed particularly trustworthy our options were limited. It was a testament to the raw weirdness of the odd ghoul that we accepted the word of the pig-man.

Soon, we crawled through a second tube and the signature sound of a chainsaw ripped through the silence with ferocity. John scrambled through last and once free reported that something had attempted to pull him back to the other side.

We were encased on either side by floor-to-ceiling wooden pallets — a thin fog crept through every slat, mysterious lights smeared hues of red, green and blue into patches of ephemeral smoke. A strobe-light sliced into the darkness of a small room populated by pearly white mannequins, a girl wept in the corner and then began to paw at us. Beyond her we discovered a blood-splattered bathroom in which the exit was neatly disguised as a shower.

A few moments later we would escape The Dark Box and emerge into the night air only to find ourselves under a thick canopy of foliage. We turned a corner, walked a few paces and hit an apparent dead end. Further investigation would reveal the existence of a peculiar path, a path that at least one of our group members refused to travel. Needless to say, it proved to be a harrowing, heart-racing and claustrophobic road to freedom.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Horrorlust Radio Episode #006

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2014 by bluefall8

In this episode #006 of Horrorlust Radio, I’m joined by the Cik-Boy, Jason Cikalo. Cikalo and I discuss horror in literature and then detail our thoughts and experiences with The CikNis — our garage haunt.

Also in this episode of Horrorlust Radio is another installment of original segments, Serious Celluloid and Hosts & Hotties. In this edition of Serious Celluloid, I recommend a 2010 released entitled The Shrine and then in Hosts & Hotties we pay respect to a Detroit horror icon, Sir Graves Ghastly.

We also discuss our most recent haunted house visits and speculate which attractions we’ll visit to close out the 2014 haunt season. I also answer a listener question regarding crowd control at haunted attractions.

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 006

This episode of Horrorlust Radio does contain explicit content; young ones cover your ears!

SHOW NOTES

Below is a promotional poster for the 2010 film, The Shrine. This is an under-the-radar horror film with a strong plot, solid acting and one unsettling twist — I believe it to be a worthy entry in our Serious Celluloid collection.

Promotional poster from the 2010 film, The Shrine.

In the words of Monty Python, “Run away, run away!”

Detroit mainstay and horror icon, Sir Graves Ghastly, pictured below. The actor who portrayed Sir Graves Ghastly was named Lawson Deming; he passed on April 24, 2007 — just one day after his 94th birthday.

Lawson Deming thrilled a generation of kids as Sir Graves Ghastly.

Lawson Deming thrilled a generation of kids as Sir Graves Ghastly.

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

1. “Killer Klowns” by The Dickies (Killer Klowns from Outer Space, 1988)

2. Evil Dead Theatrical Trailer, 1981

3. “Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie (Hellbilly Deluxe, 1998)

4. Ash is Tormented from Evil Dead, 1981

5. “Dragula” by Rob Zombie (Hellbilly Deluxe, 1998)

Summer Scream More Fun than Fright

Posted in 2014, Erebus, Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2014 by bluefall8

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We arrived at Erebus in the late afternoon hours of a sunny summer day and if that didn’t seem strange enough, there in broad daylight was a drooling zombie who worked the queue line that wrapped around the side of the imposing structure. The haunt season had come early and it felt bizarre, surreal and almost as if we had all cheated in some way. The Summer Scream Total Blackout event at Erebus had the feel of a wild card and by the time we had emerged from the haunted edifice it was with a mix of emotions and thoughts on our latest trek through the monster Erebus.

For my stalwart haunted house companion Disco Devil and myself, it was our sixth trip through the 4-story haunted edifice but with us we also brought our friend and Erebus virgin, Cikalo. He’s joined us on a handful of excursions since 2011 and I was very interested to hear his thoughts on Michigan’s most well-known haunted attraction.

Despite a fair crowd our wait to enter wasn’t overly long and we were soon handed glow-in-the-dark necklaces to wear through the haunt — our only apparent means to light the path ahead. I was disappointed with the necklaces because I had hoped for a glow stick so that I could hold it aloft like a torch and light the way as if I was some kind of modern day Indiana Jones. I suppose management felt that a glow stick was much more likely to be dropped and lost than a necklace, and thus my cinematic fantasies were dashed.

Our journey began as all of our trips through Erebus have — first with a brief stop in front of a large video projection and then a few moments locked inside the scanning chamber. Each of these are fun but after so many years something fresh would be a welcome change.

John and I had visited Erebus as recent as last fall, so it was no surprise that the layout of the attraction was relatively unchanged but the operators had implemented various tweaks and twists. A serpent burst forth from the vase near the Snake Charmer, a moving wall threatened to cast us into a bottomless pit, a wrecking ball sprung from the darkness and crashed into our path and we were made to kneel in the buried alive chamber.

Present also was, of course, the usual legion of actor-controlled puppets that I affectionately refer to as lurchers, leapers and grabbers. A number of these puppets were quite aggressive, on several occasions a member of our party found themselves ensnared by their hairy clutches.

Elsewhere in the belly of the beast, a pack of crazed monkeys descended from the ceiling and one of the sneaky simians nearly snatched the hat from my head! Moments later, while we traversed the liquid sky corridor, a strategically placed ghoul popped me right in the face with a bloody stump; who doesn’t like a bloody stump to the mush?

A couple of actors of note included the large fellow who stalked the hall of mirrors, which made for an interesting and eerie setting under the dimly lit conditions, and also Dolly Boy who seemed lost in a fantasy land where toys could speak and was only peripherally aware of our existence.

It was during the early stages of Erebus that I believe the haunt was the darkest and it was at this juncture that we witnessed several solid jump scares, but on the whole the attraction did suffer from subpar acting and an excess of light for an event that was billed as a total blackout. I knew heading into the event that it would be difficult for Erebus to pull off such a feat because the animatronics and various special effects, that indeed make Erebus what it is, are dependent on at least some light. Regardless, I would have personally preferred to have these visual aspects sacrificed in the spirit of the event. The glow necklaces gave off a decent amount of light as it was and alone may just have provided just enough illumination to truly create that lost in the darkness sensation.

The acting as I mentioned left something to be desired; many of the actors didn’t seem equipped to effectively interact with guests once initial contact had been made. The immediate scare wasn’t bad but there wasn’t much there in the way of dialogue or unique mannerisms and often one after another became a generic blur. An army of actors who are essentially little more than worker bees can be pulled off without detracting from the show, in fact we’ve witnessed it on numerous occasions at Erebus, but on this night there simply weren’t enough characters with substance to balance the equation.

In the end, we did enjoy this trek through Erebus but it wasn’t the total blackout we had hoped it would be and because of that we couldn’t help but feel like we’d just traversed Erebus on a night where some of the lights simply weren’t working. With that in mind, Cikalo, who again had never toured Erebus, commented that he would’ve preferred to have seen it all full power. For all of these reasons, I hope that if this event is held again that the operators see fit to take the concept further as to truly differentiate the Summer Scream Total Blackout from the fall production.

The one thought that kept swimming to the surface of my mind was just how strange it felt to be at a haunted attraction in the middle of July, and as I sit here and share my thoughts on that day I’m still struck by that feeling. There’s no doubt that there’s an unmistakable element of magic in the air during the haunt season and for whatever reason it just wasn’t there on that summer day. Now that’s not to see that we didn’t have a good time because we did — I guess it was sort of like eating ice cream in the winter; it was simply out of season.

Rating: 3 stars