Archive for Clio

Weird October

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2016 by bluefall8

It’s been several years since I visited so few haunted attractions during the month of October. The season started normal enough on Saturday, October 1 with a trio of stops at Shawhaven Haunted Farm, Awaken and Jackson’s Underworld. A pair of weeknight outings organized by the Michigan Haunters Association then brought me to Rotten Manor on Tuesday, October 11 and then Clio Manor and Exit 13 the following night.

Due to my budding love affair with SIN, an already streamlined haunt schedule was blown to bits by the second week of October. A return to the beloved Bloodview was dashed along with would-be maiden voyages to Haunted Elementary and Bates Haunted Saw Mill. Psycho Path was shutdown by the City of Flat Rock over safety concerns and was relegated to hosting a hayride — that put a serious damper on a night that included other nearby haunts, Woods of Darkness and Hush.

But perhaps it was all written in the stars, 2016 was a season of change. I found a second family at SIN and while I’m disappointed I didn’t get to visit a bunch of new and exciting places this fall, I don’t regret my decision to commit to SIN. It was a blast and I’ll cherish the memories.

The lack of trips did leave me hankering for some post Halloween fun and lo and behold an opportunity presented itself. Tomorrow night we’ll drive to Cincinnati for an overnight trip headlined by The Dent Schoolhouse where a most intriguing and timely event is set to take place — Lights Out: Clown Edition. If time permits we’ll then make a break for Middletown, home to Nightmare Manor and Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park.

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Slash & Burn

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2016 by bluefall8

One of the cool perks of my work with SIN Haunted House has been the opportunity to tour other haunted attractions and on weeknights no less. Through the Michigan Haunters Association a number of haunted attractions throughout the state have collaborated to each host an event at their location. I think it’s a great tool for networking and provides haunters an opportunity to experience and appreciate the work of other passionate haunt freaks.

On Tuesday we converged at Rotten Manor and then last night enjoyed both Clio Manor and the indomitable, Exit 13. I toured all of those attractions last year and as such had planned to skip them this season so this afforded me the chance to get back to some great places and I’m thankful for that. Due to the insider nature of these events, as well as the aforementioned previous trips, I hadn’t originally planned to write official reviews but I still wanted to touch on some highlights from each event.

And then Exit 13 happened last night and I just don’t see how I can’t write a full review of the superior, odds-defying horror show that is taking place in Mt. Morris. So with that said I plan to do a streamlined review of these three locations with a focus on what was new. As for now, it’ll soon be time to channel Vermin once more and what a night it shall be next Monday when SIN is the final stop on the haunt swap. A plague is coming and Vermin is set to draw your sins as venom is drawn from a wound.

2015 Haunt Season Rewind

Posted in Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2016 by bluefall8

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Late September has crept up awfully quickly and many haunted attractions have already opened their doors to customers. 2016 is going to be a pivotal season here at Horrorlust for several reasons, but before any of that fun can begin we must pause and peer into the rear view mirror for a glimpse of the year that was — submitted for your approval, here are some of the most memorable moments from the 2015 haunt season as recorded here on Horrorlust.

On an overly-friendly character at The Deadland, 9/17/15

“Mr. Snuggles was a clown — at least I think that’s what he was. He looked like a clown but he made a few comments that led me to believe that perhaps the face was not his own. Yeah, we’re talking some freaky skin suit stuff here.”

On an unexpected bit of interaction at The Deadland, 9/17/15

“However, our absolute favorite was Mikey’s birthday party where we sung a boisterous rendition of Happy Birthday at the insistence of the dead boy’s busty mother.”

On a curious ringmaster at the Haunted Farm of Terror, 9/17/15

“Rigby stood head and shoulders above the fairgoers and seemed to have pilfered his outfit from Uncle Sam. One side of his face sported a nasty burn but the disfigurement did nothing to stem his voice which boomed theatrically through a mega phone.”

On a bizarre yet humorous broadcast at the Haunted Farm of Terror, 9/17/15

“Transfixed, we stood and listened to the queer tale that was being broadcast — some weird business about a degenerate rabbit.”

On the charged finale at Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors, 9/26/15

“The air suddenly felt electric, pregnant with anticipation. For a moment time stood still and then like a phantom in the night Junior answered his mother’s call…”

On a tough and unlikely decision at The Dark Box, 10/03/15

“It was a testament to the raw weirdness of the odd ghoul that we accepted the word of the pig-man.”

On the panic-inducing conclusion of The Dark Box, 10/03/15

“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.”

On the importance of good banter at The Bone Yard, 10/03/15

“As we stood at the threshold for The Freak’s Show there was talk of pickled punks and the potential existence of a woman with the rare condition of a double uterus — never let anybody tell you that the person who acts as gatekeeper isn’t a vital part of the haunted attraction.”

On a lost youth inside the Cornmaze of Fear at Past Tense After Dark, 10/10/15

“I like to think that Tiffany will be among the scarecrows next year.”

On a riveting scene inside House of Horrors at Past Tense After Dark, 10/10/15

“The heads were talking, possibly plotting and they were all around us! Neither John nor myself had any desire to become one of their legion, so with our own heads on a swivel we ducked and dodged our way out of that most macabre menagerie.”

On unforgettable actors at Psycho Path, 10/16/15

“In one memorable passage a group of animate dolls, in various states of disrepair and degradation, begged for our assistance. One twitched in robotic spasms while she meekly pleaded for help, another, scarcely more than a torso with a head, merely seemed confused by the state of her sad existence.”

On a scene at Hallowe’en Nights reminiscent of an episode of The Twilight Zone, 10/22/15

“Old-fashioned music drifted across the intersection of Christie and Main Street while the carousel spun haunting rotations as if propelled by a ghostly hand.”

On a dedicated actress at Clio Manor, 10/24/15

“In one room a randy temptress tried to lure us onto her bed which was occupied by the body of her former lover, some poor bastard named Sammy. The temptress shamelessly mounted the corpse and began to grind her hips.”

On a near tranny hookup at Exit 13, 10/24/15

“While my companions howled with laughter, Francine was denied the kiss she so desired by the timely magic of a hidden door that whisked me into darkness and away from her eager, puckered lips.”

On a horrifying clown outside Total Blackout at Exit 13, 10/24/15

“It was as if two separate entities had decided to take up residence in the same body and I got the distinct impression that at least one, if not both, of those personalities had some molester tendencies.”

On Simple, a unique character on the Proving Grounds Trail at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison, 10/24/15

“When we inquired about his state he indicated that he was both “special” and intoxicated; indeed all signs suggested that both were true.”

On the sheer fun inside Zombie Sniper Arena at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison, 10/24/15

“After some initial confusion in which my gun seemed to jam, Steve, John and I fired upon the undead menace with wild abandon that I daresay bordered on glee.”

On a threatening actor at Hush, 10/30/15

“A physically imposing, snarling nihilist fervently pursued us spewing graphic rhetoric on the meaninglessness of life itself.”

On an effective, psychological scare at Dark Legacy, 10/30/15

“What? That doesn’t sound hair-raising to you? Have you ever been followed by a hobo with a shopping cart in the dark?! It’s unsettling stuff.”

On a child-actor at Rotten Manor, 10/31/15

“We also encountered a kid named Billy who possessed an unsettling, gravely voice, exercised the odd skill of scaling walls and seemed for all the world to have been recently unearthed from Pet Cemetery.”

On the genuine terror of Abandon, 10/31/15

“My heart raced like it had not raced in a good many years while inside a haunted attraction. I turned to John and inquired about his own state, his heart too threatened to beat straight out of his chest.”

2015 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2016 by bluefall8

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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.

2015 Rotten Pumpkin: Scarecrow Hollow (The Boneyard)

Scarecrow Hollow had potential but it was squandered early and often; a couple of would-be standout moments felt clunky and incomplete. A few actors delivered average performances while the rest of the cast was unmotivated and uninspired.

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.

2015 Eerie Vibrations: Terrorfied Forest (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Honorable Mention: The Dark Box

After receiving an honorable mention in this category two years ago, the namesake of Terrorfied Forest & Manor snagged the prize in 2015. It’s hard to beat the natural ambience of the Terrorfied Forest, a half hour trek through ghoul infested woods.

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 our way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2015 Dark Horse: Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors

Honorable Mention: Psycho Path

Krazy Hilda’s is the quintessential feel good story and embodies the true spirit of the little haunt that could. Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors recaptured that classic Halloween feeling in 2015 with a show that could be enjoyed by people of all ages. This is the second time that Krazy Hilda’s has earned the Dark Horse Award, the first came during the 2011 season at the Barn of Doom when the old witch was stationed in Saline.

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.

2015 Killer Automatons: Dark Legacy

Honorable Mention: Rotten Manor

Dark Legacy built on the success of the 2014 season with a superior second act in 2015. This attraction gives visitors a little bit of everything and after securing this award two years running, it’s clear that automated monstrosities are a big part of the game plan for Dark Legacy.

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.

2015 Monster: Hush

Honorable Mention: Clio Manor

This was the award that I grappled with the most because 2015 offered up a serious field of haunted houses that featured talented and diverse casts. After much consideration Hush locked down the Monster Award in 2015 with a loaded back half that just wouldn’t be denied. This marks back-to-back Monster Awards for Hush.

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.

2015 Prop Master: Research Labs (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Honorable Mention: The Freak’s Show (The Boneyard)

Research Labs was so completely littered with household items and all sorts of common (and uncommon) junk that one might surmise it was actually occupied by the world’s most slovenly family. There was a level of authenticity here that most haunted attractions never approach.

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.

2015 Pulse Pounder: Abandon

Honorable Mention: The Dark Box

Heart-racing and hair-raising, Abandon was one of the most purely frightening haunted attractions I’ve ever visited. There was tension here fueled by a basic psychological, primal fear of the dark.

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.

2015 Samhain: Saturday, October 24, 2016 (Clio Manor, Exit 13, Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Honorable Mention: Saturday, October 31, 2016 (Rotten Manor, Abandon)

The immediate reaction from Saturday, October 24, 2016 was that it was one of the best overall nights we’d ever experienced. It was the kind of outing that leaves one exhausted and in need of a day of rest and reflection.

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.

2015 Haunt of the Year: Rotten Manor

Honorable Mention: Research Labs (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Rotten Manor burst onto the scene out of nowhere in 2015. On Halloween, Rotten Manor put the pedal to the metal and never blinked. The facade is second to none, the attention to detail among the best and the scares a jumble of fright that kept us guessing with every step.

2015 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by bluefall8

This list is not meant 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 those attractions are listed 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.

2015 STAR RATINGS

1. Rotten Manor – 4.75 (Holly, MI.)

2. Research Labs – 4.5 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

3. Clio Manor – 4.25 (Clio, MI.)

4. Dark Legacy – 4.25 (Wixom, MI.)

5. Exit 13 – 4.25 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

6. Hallowe’en Nights at Greenfield Village – 4.25 (Dearborn, MI.)

7. Abandon – 4 (Melvindale, MI.)

8. House of Horrors – 4 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

9. Hush – 4 (Westland, MI.)

10. Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors – 4 (Ypsilanti, MI.)

11. Zombie Sniper Arena – 4 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

12. The Deadland – 3.75 (Warren, MI.)

13. Haunted House – 3.75 (Haunted Farm of Terror – Lenox Township, MI.)

14. The Dark Box – 3.5 (Pinckney, MI.)

15. Haunted Hayride – 3.5 (Haunted Farm of Terror, Lenox Township, MI.)

16. Proving Grounds Trail – 3.5 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

17. Psycho Path – 3.5 (Flat Rock, MI.)

18. Terror on the Blvd. – 3.5 (Lincoln Park, MI.)

19. The Freak’s Show – 3.25 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

20. Terrorfied Forest – 3.25 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney, MI.)

21. Cornmaze of Fear – 3 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

22. Deadwood Forest – 3 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

23. Fear Factory – 3 (Mt. Clemens, MI.)

24. Hayride of Despair – 3 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

25. Realm of Haunted Minds – 3 (Romulus, MI.)

26. Tunnel of Terror – 3 (Rochester, MI.)

27. Total Blackout – 2.75 (Exit 13 – Mt. Morris, MI.)

28. Bubbles’ Fun House – 2.5 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor, Pinckney, MI.)

29. Delirium – 2.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

30. Scarecrow Hollow – 1.75 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

31. Route 666 – 1.25 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

Mayhem & Mystery Collide at Clio Manor

Posted in 2015, Clio Manor, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2016 by bluefall8

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Clio Manor has been in operation for only a few short seasons but it was evident from our trip last fall that the gang here has made great strides in that time. Located in the back of a large building, Clio Manor thrilled us with memorable characters versed in horror and comedy alike who populated a myriad of richly detailed and interactive scenes. The journey spanned two levels, was thoughtfully paced and offered over 20 minutes of heart-pounding haunt goodness!

The fun began when we were regaled with a theatrical and comedic introduction by a man in dapper attire who called himself, Blot. He was a stringy, agile type who was skilled in many tricks of the trade; something about him put me in mind of Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. When he had finished with the house rules and other pleasantries, Blot led us to the top of a staircase and bade us farewell but not before he dropped a rather ominous and vague reference to someone named Roxanne.

Alone in the dark, John, Steve and I started down a hallway but were quickly intercepted by a curious fellow dressed in basic street clothes. There was something off about his demeanor, something foreboding. He communicated with us through a combination of eye movement and hand gestures. A few tense moments passed in confusion but then Steve correctly surmised that our new acquaintance had had his tongue removed; presumably cut out by the mysterious and seemingly violent, Roxanne.

Our mute friend guided us to another room where we encountered a fireman with an ax stuck firmly into the center of his chest. He said that he had been called there to suppress a fire when a crazy lady had waylaid him with the weapon. My money was on Roxanne, who definitely seemed to be on a roll. Beyond our help, I advised the fireman to accept his fate and die peacefully. In turn, he dutifully directed us through a hole in the wall.

We emerged on the other side into a series of would-be homey rooms save for the gore and gaggle of crazies who accosted us at every turn. In one room a randy temptress tried to lure us onto her bed which was occupied by the body of her former lover, some poor bastard named Sammy. The temptress shamelessly mounted the corpse and began to grind her hips. I attempted to convince John to lie on the mattress but to no avail, meanwhile Sammy was stiff for all the wrong reasons.

Next, we were introduced to Clownie the Clown a decidedly oddball character who seemed the optimal cross-section of effeminate and autistic — if you can imagine such a thing. The end result was a bizarre but likable character who told bad jokes, asked us to play with his toy box (I’m pretty sure that was a euphemism) and invited us to walk down something he called “the acid brick road.” Yeah, Clownie was weird. No sooner had Clownie left us in a room full of toys when an overgrown Teddy Bear launched itself at us from a pile of stuffed animals. It unleashed a gurgled snarl that seemed one-part aggressive, one-part aroused and then began to paw at us in a very friendly fashion.

Free from those pervy clutches we pushed deeper into Clio Manor. A darkly attractive girl was spotted ahead but she dashed off at first sight and quickly crawled beneath a bed. She soon reemerged and revealed that it was she who had dealt the deathblow to the fireman. Who would’ve thought that bloodthirsty Roxanne would be so alluring? With no weapon currently in her possession, we used the opportunity to escape unscathed.

We bobbed and weaved in and out of several scenes and then descended a staircase back to the main level of the edifice. There we meet a sweet, but creepy girl who had an affinity for human ears; she kept them pickled in jars. She even recounted her experience with a recent victim named Suzie and then introduced us to her pet, a dog-man named Sid. Sid tickled my chin and then forced John to pass a couple of playful tests before he allowed us to proceed. A few minutes later an unseen assailant tickled my ribs and then copped a cheap feel of my chest. I suspect Sid had tracked our scent.

Near the end of the attraction we witnessed an excellent diminishing point vortex which was used to maximum effect when coupled with a jump scare. The punk who delivered the surprise then warned us of someone known as The Harvester, and that’s just not the name of anybody you ever want to meet. Any thoughts of sidestepping The Harvester were dashed when we happened upon a series of makeshift cages, and those cages were occupied by people.

Suddenly, we were in the presence of The Harvester and his chainsaw. After a brief exchange of words, his limp-separator rattled to life and we fled through a narrow path as his captives desperately, or perhaps angrily, pushed against the chicken wire that formed the walls of their cell.

Rating: 4.25 stars

“Don’t fall down. If you do, I get the nibbly bits.”

-One of Blot’s, our gracious host, many warnings.

Clio Manor, Exit 13 & Dreadlands Haunt of Davison Spawn Nightmare Fuel

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by bluefall8

I woke up with a headache this morning which was really no surprise when you stop to consider that last night I got absolutely drunk on haunts. I can say without exaggeration or hyperbole that last night was one for the record books, an evening that rocketed up the list of best outings ever.

Clio Manor exceeded my expectations with a fusion of unique characters, substantial interaction and a physical cast that exercised a certain subversive element. Many of the scenes were visually compelling while the scares possessed a creative flair that kept us guessing. Furthermore, Clio Manor was exceptionally paced and offered some serious bang-for-the-buck as it clocked in at more than twenty minutes.

Exit 13 was rockin’ n rollin’ as usual and continued to solidify itself as one of the best haunted houses in the entire state of Michigan. The actors were as in-your-face as ever — my chin was stroked, my hair petted; I was manhandled by a clown and propositioned for a kiss by a transsexual named Francine! The level of detail throughout Exit 13 and all of its various scenes was impressive to say the least. Like Clio Manor, Exit 13 ensnared guests in excess of twenty minutes and there was even a second attraction — Total Blackout!

The night concluded at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison and we arrived just in time to buy tickets to this hidden gem of the Michigan haunt scene. The Research Labs were like no haunt we’ve ever seen; it featured a large cast, hidden passages, false endings and multiple levels among so many other goodies! It was the stuff that the best nightmares are made of! The second attraction, Proving Grounds Trail, was fun too and offered moments of humor amidst the scares; the zip line finale was a thrilling first at a haunted attraction. Finally, we stormed Zombie Sniper Arena where we worked in concert to shoot down the undead menace and recovered the anti-virus.

Indeed, it was a night not soon to be forgotten. Many thanks to Justin of Clio Manor, Rebecca of Exit 13 and Royce of Dreadlands for being such gracious and friendly hosts.