Archive for devil’s night

Hush End Game Anything but Silent on Devil’s Night

Posted in 2015, Hush, Review with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2016 by bluefall8

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It was set to be a late night for the folks at Hush when we visited last year on Devil’s Night; already a line snaked through the entire parking lot. John and I soaked in the impressive scene, a little more than two years prior nobody had even heard the name Hush — this crowd was a testament to the prowess of the team behind one of Detroit’s hottest haunts.

The decrepit facade of the Hush Corporation loomed in front of us ensnared by wild vegetation and marred by the fallout of some terrible event. What had befallen the once proud and polished institution? Had the risk of the experiments conducted within run afoul? Did unchecked hubris doom the organization to failure and ruin? And what had become of the iconic and inimitable Dr. Phineas Phun?!

HUSH CORPORATION EXPOSED

As John and I waited in line we watched as a clawed hand pawed through the boarded windows — there was no telling what kind of creatures were alive inside just yet, but soon we would join them inside the defunct Hush Corporation. As soon as we were admitted, a devilish character with a raspy voice welcomed us inside, he was flanked by a beastly henchman. The duo seemed to revel in the fall of Hush and were eager to see human flesh walk so willingly into its clutches, yes, the monsters had risen and now ruled the roost.

Nearby, we encountered the same odd receptionist from a year ago. Readers may remember that she exuded a cold, cyborg-like cadence and personality and indeed that remained but something had changed. She had once seemed eerie but now there was a decidedly dark quality in her robotic words. When we inquired about the whereabouts of Dr. Phun her necked suddenly twitched and she replied with icy authority, “Dr. Phun is dead.” As depraved and twisted as Dr. Phun was, if he was dead, then there was no one left to keep a lid on the madness at the Hush Corporation.

We navigated the familiar halls but found them scarcely populated by the staff that was once employed here, instead we dodged a girl who had been infected with some unknown disease, were surprised by a pint-sized animatronic pygmy and startled by a dinosaur who forced its head through a whole in the wall. No sooner were we clear of the rampaging reptile when we were confronted by a twitchy girl and her teddy bear that she referred to as Mr. Cuddles.

Once past her and the dubious Mr. Cuddles, we entered a laboratory where we had one year prior been stalked by a deranged doctor and reanimated corpse. That duo was nowhere to be found but we were immediately accosted by an elderly lab technician with a nasally voice who excitedly explained his recent experiments, one of which included his own son who was being held captive inside of a Plexiglas cell. Sonny Boy wore a rictus grin and pounded his fists angrily against the walls that held him. He laughed uncontrollably at seemingly nothing and was by all accounts, certifiably insane. After taunting him for several moments we were duped into entering the structure ourselves and forced to spend a little time with this less than prodigal son before escaping through a passage near the rear of the cell.

Soon, we emerged into the crisp night air but Hush had no plans to let us off that easily. We began to worm our way through a labyrinth of narrow passages that were packed to the gills with all manner of miscreant. A blasphemous priest assailed us with torn pages from what he called the Unholy Bible, indeed he was a horrific site to behold but he wasn’t alone. A physically imposing, snarling nihilist fervently pursued us spewing graphic rhetoric on the meaninglessness of life itself. The forceful duo struck a deeper, disturbing cord and in doing so proved to be a cut above the rest.

Around another corner, someone threatened to stuff us into a box with their pet zombie. Elsewhere some creep claimed to have eaten Dr. Phun and then insisted that John was the late doctor’s twin and should suffer a similar fate. Fortunately, a former staff member intervened and began to lead us to safety but she was soon snatched up by a cryogenic freak!

The noise had risen to a deafening din — a chainsaw rattled somewhere nearby, a dense fog obscured our view. A wild girl had leaped a top a shipping container to our left and beat it with a stick, the laugh of a lunatic could be heard reverberating through the air. Suddenly we were just two bodies in a sea of humanity as others scrambled to escape the mad scene. The chainsaw and laughter grew in volume and soon we saw a man in a gown holding a bed pan. He flicked the contents of the pan at all who passed, giggled like a school girl as he did and insisted that everybody share in what he delightfully called pea soup…or perhaps it was pee soup. Probably pee soup. Yeah, definitely pee soup.

Rating: 4 stars

HUSH DECLASSIFIED

2015 was to be the final year for Hush at the Ford Road location but a series of roadblocks prevented the team from moving ahead with its plans for a thrill park near Skateland West. No need to fret, the show must go on! Hush Haunted House will return to 34043 Ford Road in Westland with a completely rebuilt and expanded show for 2016. It would seem that the Hush Corporation has regrouped and erected a wall around the town of Hush Falls, a reportedly New Orleans inspired setting. Color me intrigued.

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A Fracas on Devil’s Night

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on October 31, 2015 by bluefall8

We got a later start than we had originally intended which cost us a visit to Rotten Manor for the time being but Devil’s Night 2015 turned out to be another fun entry in our haunted history.

All was quiet when we arrived at our first stop — Terror on the Boulevard, a home haunt in Lincoln Park. The little haunt was neatly themed, well detailed and an all around good time. Brave trick r’ treaters should be aware that it will be open once again tonight from 7-10pm so don’t miss your chance to confront the Boogeyman!

Our next stop was Hush in Westland where the once mighty corporation was found in a ruinous state. Dr. Phun may be dead but the halls of Hush had no shortage of creepy crawlers — I was even assailed from above by a diminutive pygmy creature! The back-end of the attraction in particular was positively littered with freaks and ghouls who dialed it up to ten as all hell broke loose!

The final stop of the night was a return to Dark Legacy in Wixom, now in their second season. The haunt had been fitted with new scenes, gags and a completely redesigned Fang Cemetery. In particular we enjoyed a handful of inventive scares, several highly detailed scenes and the cast which we found to be collectively superior to their 2014 counterparts.

Full reviews to be posted in the coming weeks.

The Freaks are Due on Devil’s Night

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2015 by bluefall8

Haunting on Devil’s Night is something of a tradition here at Horrorlust; regular readers of the blog know this to be true. It may not be the magical night itself when the veil between worlds is thinnest but Devil’s Night has a special aura all its own.

The much ballyhooed Devil’s Night 2009 is the stuff of Horrorlust legend and was just this week enshrined as one of the five greatest nights in our haunted history. On that date we famously survived Hellblock 13 by the Wyandotte Jaycees, The Realm of Darkness (the final year of it’s original location) and finished the night with a maiden voyage to Haunted Farm of Terror!

In 2013 the Wyandotte Jaycees helped us kick off another memorable Devil’s Night with Bloodbath on Biddle which would go on to win the Horrorlust Dark Horse Award that season. That evening would also mark our first exposure to a rookie by the name of Hush which absolutely wowed us and subsequently claimed the Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. The night did end with a historic dud in what would become known as the death knell for the Scream Machine, that shocking turn-of-events earned Scream Machine the Horrorlust Rotten Pumpkin Award and in the process made Devil’s Night 2013 all the more memorable.

Last year we ventured first to Dark Legacy and were impressed with the scale and scope of the new attraction — it garnered the Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award. We then returned to Hush where we were once again blown away by a sterling performance that earned the then sophomore haunt the Horrorlust Monster Award.

So yeah, Devil’s Night is serious business around these parts and it is with great excitement that we anticipate another evening on the road as mayhem and mischief rule the night! If all goes as planned we will visit four separate haunted houses beginning with Terror on the Boulevard, a home haunt located in Lincoln Park. I actually attempted to visit this haunt on Devil’s Night 2012 but the so-called Frankenstorm that was all the rage at the time thwarted my efforts.

Next, we’ll burn rubber to Westland and tour Hush for a third consecutive year on Devil’s Night — this combination has yielded nothing but magic thus far so we saw no reason to make a change. Furthermore this will be the endgame for the original location as big plans are on the horizon — is this the year that Dr. Phun and the bunch render us a permanent fixture of the haunt?! If we manage to escape it’ll be off to Wixom for the revamped Dark Legacy and then a flight to the finish at the brand new Rotten Manor in Holly.

Methinks this shall be another Devil’s Night to remember for years to come.

Happy Haunting!

Five Nights Etched in Time

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2015 by bluefall8

I’m often asked which haunted house is my favorite and the honest answer is that I don’t have just one favorite. Haunted attractions come in all shapes and sizes and employ a wide range of themes, narratives and scare tactics to deliver a memorable experience. While I certainly do have my preferences, my favorites are a collection of diverse attractions. As the list below examines, some of the my most treasured haunted adventures were not limited to a single haunted house but encompassed an entire evening of haunting.

The outings below are not ranked in any way other than chronological. Trips made during the 2015 haunt season did not qualify for consideration as the season is, as of the time of this writing, in progress.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It will demand further investigation but if memory serves this was the first instance in which we toured three separate haunted attractions on a single night. 2008 was a momentous season in which we visited nine total locations, our personal best at the time. Without a doubt the best of the year was saved for Halloween when we raced against the clock to tour Deadly Intentions in Warren and then Realm of Darkness and Erebus both in Pontiac. Deadly Intentions claimed the 2008 Horrorlust Monster Award while Erebus gobbled up the 2008 Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award.

Fun Fact: The avatar used to identify myself here on Horrorlust was snapped that night.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Erebus, The Realm of Darkness & Deadly Intentions Electrify Halloween Night

Friday, October 30, 2009

Devil’s Night was raucous and windswept; large crowds and an impending storm only added to the pandemonium. We began the evening with a romp through Hellblock 13 which was held in the former Wyandotte police station and ended the night with a wild, rain-soaked hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror; sandwiched between the two was a visit to The Realm of Darkness. This night didn’t capture any awards (although had the Horrorlust Samhain Award existed at the time it would likely have been awarded to this night) but The Realm of Darkness and Hellblock 13 did combine for four honorable mentions.

Fun Fact: While on the hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror, I narrowly avoided being struck square in the face by a large, runaway prop.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Season Concludes with Devil’s Night Frenzy

Friday, October 14, 2011

This was an insanely fun night of haunting in which we witnessed three awesome, albeit different shows. Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom had style and substance while Chelsea Feargrounds boasted flash and excitement around every corner and finally The Bone Yard served up a trio of fun-filled attractions. Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom grabbed the 2011 Horrorlust Dark Horse Award, Tent of Terror (The Bone Yard) became the inaugural recipient of the Horrorlust Prop Master Award and unsurprisingly the whole night was recognized with the then brand new Horrorlust Samhain Award. Furthermore, Tent of Terror and Chelsea Feargrounds combined for three honorable mentions in other award categories.

Fun Fact: The Chelsea Feargrounds offered a unique photo-op in which small, alien creatures were made to look as if they’d burst from the subject’s chest.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Thrills & Chills Dominated Hilda’s, Feargrounds & The Bone Yard

Friday, October 5, 2012

Threaten as it did to thwart our plans, the weather was no match for the spirit of the season on this night. It was a trip filled with laughter, illusion and effective, low budget haunting. Barn of Horrors at Erwin Orchards won the 2012 Horrorlust Prop Master Award while Slaughter House collected the 2012 Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award. Like the previous entry, this night too claimed the Horrorlust Samhain Award.

Fun Fact: Ken Evans, one of the organizer’s of Slaugher House, happened to be conducting some quality control when we toured the barn and asked our opinion of the place once we’d exited the haunt. We got to talking and hit it off — later that year the website for Slaughter House would feature some quotes from the review I posted to Horrorlust. To the best of my knowledge that was the first instance of a haunt using my words to promote their attraction and I thought that was awesome. 

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Elements Conspire but Erwin, Slaugher House Persevere

Saturday, October 20, 2012

This overnight trip to Ohio had a big time feel as we visited two haunts with a lot of history — Bloodview in Broadview Heights and Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory in Akron. Bloodview ensnared the 2012 Horrorlust Eerie Vibrations Award and together with Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory scored a slew of honorable mentions.

Fun Fact: It was on this trip that I first enjoyed the little known, gem of a horror film called Stake Land.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Haunted Schoolhouse has Presence, lacks Punch

Laboratory Mirrors Successes, Shortcomings of Haunted Schoolhouse

Legion of Terror Breathes Life into Bloodview

Crafting A Dark Legacy

Posted in 2014, Dark Legacy, Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2015 by bluefall8

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When Dark Legacy appeared in the Fear Finder and Haunt Guide last fall with full page advertisements it was clear that somebody wasn’t playing around. The mysterious haunted attraction was new to the Detroit scene but all indicators suggested that it was being organized and operated by anything but a rookie. Located in Wixom, Michigan, Dark Legacy featured three haunted attractions — Government Owned Haunt, Kensington Detention Center and Fang Cemetery. Each leg of Dark Legacy was intricately detailed and appropriately styled to match a specific theme but the true strength here was that the journey through Michigan’s newest haunt told a single, continuous story.

John and I made the trip out to Wixom on Devil’s Night and when we arrived enjoyed a conversation with owner Austin Denney and various members of his staff. They were each enthusiastic and knowledgable about their respective roles and positions within the hierarchy of Dark Legacy; a few of them even seemed intrigued by our travels throughout the state and lands behind in our never ending chase for screams. As John and I would soon learn, our trek through Dark Legacy would become another memorable entry in our book of horrors.

The fun began in the queue area which had been fitted with prop steel girders that had been expertly distressed to create an authentic aged industrial appearance. The look set the stage well for the quasi-military research facility known simply as Government Owned Haunt. This area was dominated by large rooms and the elaborate props that had been thoughtfully selected and placed within them.

One area contained an impressive security control panel flush with monitors, switches and buttons. Another room contained a series of cages which held shrieking, thrashing animatronic monkeys and yet another laboratory saw us witness the electrocution of a tall zombie. His limbs flopped and flapped as the electricity coursed through his rotting body and then suddenly the contraption spun violently and revealed a hidden chamber from which a live actor sprung and chased us from the room.

Elsewhere, there was a strange doctor with alien specimens followed by an eye-catching hallway that featured a sliding floor and a series of dancing lasers. Amidst such eye candy it might come as a surprise that the most memorable moment inside Government Owned Haunt occurred in a very small room that was humbly decorated with a simple chair and small, floor model television. Static filled the screen for a moment but then a shape began to emerge from the white noise, a human face forced itself from the snow-driven abyss! John and I were bewildered and observed the phenomenon from various angles as a way to test the merit of the illusion. Shockingly, no matter the angle the bizarre head pushed forward from the television set. It was an awesome sight and something John and I have witnessed exactly once in all of our haunted house adventures.

We exited Government Owned Haunt and found ourselves in an alley complete with dumpster and one fetid creature who mindlessly pushed a shopping cart. This area served as a transitional one and was smartly designed to maintain continuity while it guided customers from Government Owned Haunt to Kensington Detention Center.

Kensington Detention Center, like Government Owned Haunt before it, offered immersive scenes that transported guests to a defunct facility where all manner of experiments had been conducted on the hapless souls trapped within the walls. John and I would have the pleasure of meeting several of those hapless souls as we traversed Kensington’s haunted halls.

One of the most animated characters came in the form of a small woman who wore a medical gown and had recently lost an eye. There was a metallic instrument clutched in one of her hands and as we interacted with this excitable patient it became apparent that she had likely performed the grisly surgery herself! It wasn’t long before she intimated that she’d love nothing more than to add one of our peepers to her collection.

Kensington Detention Center also showcased several props with integrated video elements and without a doubt the most exciting of the bunch was a shipping crate that had been chained to the ground and bore the words: Biohazard. The wooden box rocked back and forth as if something on the inside violently thrashed for freedom. A window near the top of the box afforded us a view into the interior and as we peered into the unknown a monstrous face suddenly appeared in the window etched with rage and anguish.

Soon thereafter, we traveled through a morgue and then entered the hallowed grounds of Fang Cemetery. The cemetery was highlighted by an imposing series of catacombs and an awesome graveyard scene that utilized an explosion of light, sound and movement to deliver a heart-pounding jump scare when a stone gargoyle suddenly turned animate and disrupted our progress.

When we emerged from Dark Legacy I noted that the haunted expedition had chewed up roughly 25 minutes — a length that easily surpassed the average haunted attraction. The triple threat spook house managed to avoid the pitfall of rushing guests through at a break-neck pace but also made sure to eliminate any energy-sucking dead spots.

The attention to detail cannot be understated; each room was decorated with a wealth of props, animatronics and other set decor that enhanced the atmosphere and reinforced the overall illusion of a haunted attraction. The cast was an above average one punctuated by a few standouts who served the narrative of Dark Legacy quite well. And enough cannot be said about the flow from one attraction to the next — too often this is an overlooked or neglected aspect of a haunted attraction and when done poorly can break the spell operators work so hard create.

We’re also big supporters of the growing trend of the use of so-called actor-matronics, the hybrid of live actors and animatronic costumes. In my mind this isn’t just limited to actors wearing this style of costume but can also include instances of actors delivering a scare alongside an animatronic. Dark Legacy put this practice to use on at least two occasions — first when we encountered the electrified zombie and then later when we crossed paths with a hulking robot of sorts who gave us quite the surprise indeed.

In some ways Dark Legacy put me in mind of House of the Dead at Terror Town but that isn’t to suggest that the team here isn’t carving out a unique identity. Dark Legacy opened the haunted toolbox and built an attraction that utilized all of the tools and techniques that make a haunted house fun and exciting. It was a hell of a foundation that Dark Legacy laid out in 2014 which should only lend itself to future success.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Season Concludes with Devil’s Night Frenzy

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Haunted Farm of Terror, Realm of Darkness, Review, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2015 by bluefall8

In this edition of Hallowblog Flashback, we stir the memory of a chilly, rainswept night that would forever raise the bar for Devil’s Night. Originally posted on Monday, November 2, 2009 this entry detailed our journey through Hellblock 13 in Wyandotte, The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and The Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township.

Despite such an action-packed adventure, none of these haunts would win a Horrorlust Award in 2009 although Hellblock 13 did receive an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Dark Horse Award while The Realm of Darkness was an honorable mention in three categories including Eerie Vibrations, Killer Automatons and Haunt of the Year.  

This would be the final Hallowblog entry for the year 2009.

Strange, the way the eerie magic of the season can twist and distort time into a blurred paradox for it seems as if a month has passed in a brilliant flash but concurrently the genesis of this chapter seems ages ago indeed. Last Friday, October 30th would be the final outing of the 2009 haunt season and it was another memorable entry in the history of the Haunt Trinity.

Jason, Disco, and Richard arrived at my apartment just prior to 7 o’clock and after we gorged ourselves on pizza, pop, and snacks we slipped out into the velvety night and drove the short distance to Wyandotte’s Hellblock 13. Hallowblog readers may remember that we attempted to visit this attraction on October 2nd but when we arrived we were told that it would not open for another week. We weren’t sure at the time if we’d have a chance to return but as it turned out fate would see that we did.

I was confident that the Wyandotte Jaycees could bounce back from a lackluster effort in 2008 and I am happy to report that my confidence was not misplaced. The haunt started a bit slow and it was far from perfect but in the end we had the pleasure of surviving the trench warfare that powered this gritty haunt.

As with 2007’s Hell’s Hospital, Hellblock 13 uses classic haunt fundamentals to thrill and scare guests. The attraction is well paced featuring very few dead spots or meandering dark halls. Hellblock 13 doesn’t overload haunters with fog, black lights, or strobes but when they are used it is to great effect. The Jaycees has made good use of the building’s one time purpose transforming a court room, locker room, storage facility, and jail cells into a breeding ground for creatures of the night. Midway through the haunt we came upon a large cell that may have been used as an evidence lock up or weapon storage in the past but on this night it held an old friend, Gimpy Anderson. Two years ago Gimpy delighted us with disgusting guttural noises and crude gesticulations while we waited in line at Hell’s Hospital but he wasn’t in a care free or jovial mood anymore. Ole Gimpy had worked himself into an agitated frenzy; he violently slashed a chainsaw against the fenced walls that contained him. When we passed the cell gates he rammed the blade of the saw through the gap in the posts in an attempt to tear our throats; something awful must have befallen Gimpy Anderson to cause him to attack his old friends in such a brutal manner!

Gimpy wasn’t the only entertaining worker though in fact Hellblock 13 was brimming with a legion of deadites. All the help here is volunteer which means that not all the masked assailants are highly trained in the art of the scare. Most of them put forth a good effort which is all you can really ask for from such a crew although there were a few as there usually is that were quite underwhelming. A lot of the workers here where young teenagers whose diminutive frames and squeaky screams invoke anything but fear but that can’t be helped at an all volunteer effort and as I said most of them seemed to give it their best. The females in particular displayed a capacity for ear splitting shrieks, while crossing a bridge several of these sirens emerged from the murky depths below and shook the bridge with ill intent. Later, near the end of the haunt several girls issued blood curdling screams from inside a pitch black room, those screams gave fuel to a distant chainsaw the owner of which we’d meet just before exiting the haunt.

A couple of workers employed the statue technique which lured us shameless rubes as children to chocolate. The first living mannequin was a gruesome ghoul chained to a board who sprung his trap as we exited the room he occupied. We came across a second statuesque creep just outside the row of holding cells. Visible from down the hall as we approached she displayed no sign of life. She wore a sleazy black dress that hugged her figure nicely, her knees bent awkwardly inward. In her right hand was a glistening knife held aloft as if ready to strike down the impure thoughts many haunters surely possessed as they passed. She bore a resemblance to the female spirit in 13 Ghosts although she wasn’t naked nor did she sport heaping bajumbos but these idle facts did little to stem the perverted juices that had formed a puddle beneath our feet. I know in some dark recess of Jason’s mind he wondered just how far he could get before the blade severed him from his manhood but any nefarious fantasies evaporated when she lunged at us with the knife and we were forced to flee down a row of holding cells. Another dark fantasy inducing vixen glared at us from a cell, I knew it wouldn’t be long before my brother succumbed to a fit of primal lust, we had to hurry.

Turning a corner we entered a dark room and were confronted by yet another female ghoul and this one wanted to know my name so being in a mischievous mood I obliged and gave her the Toadsworth treatment which surprisingly is not tantamount to a squibbing. No, the Toadsworth treatment has no sexual connotations what so ever. In a British accent and foppish manner I informed the lass that my name was Toadsworth Merriweather Yorkshire Reginald the III, Esquire (I suspect only my MSB cohorts will appreciate the reference). She stared at me blankly for what else can one do when disarmed by a name so absurd. As we departed the room I turned to her still in character, bowed low and said, “Pleasure to have met your acquaintance.” The haunt concluded shortly thereafter when we were chased off by the aforementioned freak with chainsaw.

The change of scenery helped the Wyandotte Jaycees regain its footing and the new (old) building was used to the fullest. The haunt was surprisingly long featuring a number of false endings in the form of stairwells that wound haunters onto different floors of the attraction. The Jaycees does a lot with a little; I enjoyed the subtle touches as much as anything else. A few specific examples include the deformed saran wrap dummies which either hung from the ceiling or stood eerily in the corners of one room. I also liked the second bridge which lit up from below to reveal a prop ghoul just beneath our feet. That is actually an idea I thought of several years back and it’s the first time I’ve seen it put to use. Let’s hope next years show doesn’t suffer the same sophomore slump that plagued the last location.

Rating: 3 3/4

It was time to hit one of Michigan’s perennial top haunts and one half of Pontiac’s twin terrors, The Realm of Darkness. Strange, watery disasters have haunted ROD for two years now and several paranormal research groups have investigated the occurrences for more details check out the story at Zioptis. It may all be shtick but then again I have heard of the independent organizations that toured the facility, nevertheless the angle added another layer of intrigue to the most immersive of haunted attractions.

Hallowblog readers will be familiar with the Haunt Trinity’s trials and tribulations at Realm of Darkness since 2006 we have hunted the tyrannical wizard who rules this kingdom with an iron fist. In order to find the wizard haunters participate in several games of chance during these games guests can win gems which eventually will be used to gain entry to the wizard’s secret chamber. In years past these gems were exchanged for a push of a button, the more gems you possessed the greater the chance of confronting the wizard. A source informed us that the games of chance had taken on a different twist this season and we hope the added information would give us the edge in our quest to find and defeat the wizard.

While waiting in the entrance lobby haunters are told a ghostly story about a phone booth inside the room, the number displayed at the top of the booth turns out to be the first clue. After traversing a short path we entered the main castle foyer which featured a series of doors and one looked very familiar. It was the same door we’d saw at Terrortown’s Asylum. When the video started the nurse in the room began pleading for help and pressed us to vacate the room but before we could do so a crazed inmate burst forth from some dark corner and harassed guests. The door is a cool prop and I like the fact that ROD took the idea to the next level but it seems quite disjointed with the rest of the theme. After vacating the room the path wound around a corner to a tilting book shelf and then led into the immaculately decorated waiting room.

A single ghoul occupied the room and he relayed the story of the building’s recent paranormal activity to guests. According to him motion sensors had been placed throughout the attraction by the research teams, several rooms had experienced activity including the one we currently occupied. I like the new ripple whether real or imagined it’s another layer of fun to an excellent haunted attraction.

We decided to split our party in order to double our chances of finding the wizard, Jason and Disco entered through the Realm’s trademark fireplace first, several minutes later Richard and I embarked on our journey. It was Richard’s first trip to Realm of Darkness and I defied him not to be impressed by its intricate details, inventive scenes, and interactive characters; despite his usual cynicism I believe even he enjoyed the experience.

The Realm of Darkness truly is like no other haunted attraction you’re likely to visit. Each room is amazingly detailed many even feature true to life antiques, it’s easy to forget that you’re inside a simple modern building because the dark paths and highly detailed scenes are that engrossing, it’s a darkly beautiful work of art. Haunters won’t grow bored by a series of monotonous scenes as they will at some attractions, ROD features an array of creative settings. The upside down room may seem like a simple idea but it’s quite unique and the visual effect sends a small but enjoying blip of information to the brain; I’d like to see more attractions distort perception in this manner. The cave setting is as impressive as usual featuring humid air, low ceilings, and a functioning pond; a raging dinosaur also jabs haunters into a wall by means of a primal head butt. I’m also a big fan of the hall of mirrors which presents guests with the task of navigating a series of passages inlaid with full length mirrors; you just might grow to fear your own reflection.

Realm of Darkness features several check points woven nearly seamlessly into the attraction. These check points serve two purposes acting first as an area to ensure the separation of various parties and second as a chance to further enhance the story of the wizard. At the first check point your party is engaged by a demented executioner outside his dungeon the torso of a woman bobs lifelessly inside a tank of green water. The executioner beckons haunters into his ghastly chamber and verbally berates the group. He is the wizard’s hatchet man and he’s proud of that fact. Richard and I defiantly insisted that we would find and overthrow the wizard which prompted the twisted bastard to cut the guts out of a nearby victim long deceased.

The second check point occurs as your party emerges from the dank recesses of the oppressive cave, a flight of wooden steps lead to the entrance of a rickety shack. A beastly shotgun toting she-man patrols the premises and holds the group at bay for several moments, the shack quakes with mild tremors.

Other areas of interest include a supremely fogged crypt which is home to a threatening creep who led us to a door at the end of a hall lined with spooky monks. There is also a scene dominated by a massive animatronic werewolf snacking upon a rigid corpse. And there was the doll room, yes Realm of Darkness had ripped another page out of Terrortown’s playbook and I was delighted. All around us was an army of miniature sadists apparently awaiting the instructions of their dear mother. A disheveled, rotting face had been tacked to the wall, the matriarch. No sooner had we entered the room she ordered the children to kill us and I of course anticipated the slaughter with glee for I knew the hilarious spectacle that was set to attack us. A lunatic baby emerged from a shadowed corner and began slashing at our ankles just as one had last year at House of the Dead. Richard and I laughed as we pointed at our pint-sized attacker who swiped at us with adolescent madness. The scene made my night.

As we neared the end of the beleaguered kingdom we came upon the awe inspiring ghost ship. The ship rose high above us our eyes attracted to the lit captain’s quarters, bodies clung helplessly to the ship’s side. We crossed a short bridge and entered the ship where a Davy Joneseque creature made unintelligible sounds. The massive tentacles of a giant squid had broken through the wooden planks in several locations, a nice touch indeed. After leaving the ship we were intercepted by a ghoul who demanded to know the name of the ship’s captain. We were told the name rhymed with rage, we were allowed to pass after answering but were given no gem as we assumed we would’ve procured if we had answered correctly.

We descended a flight of stairs into a treasure trove; a wench greeted us kindly and instructed us to pick a gem from one of the treasure chests. She also told us that we would shortly come upon a Sea Hag to whom we would give our gems. A short while later we encountered the Sea Hag who yelled at us fiercely before demanding our gems. She then insisted that we fall to our knees and beg that our gems were magical, they were not which meant we wouldn’t meet the wizard but that didn’t stop Richard and I from making an outrageous spectacle of ourselves. We begged for all we were worth and profanely professed our desire to defeat the wizard and attempted to flatter the sea hag with increasingly ridiculous remarks. Eventually her serious demeanor was betrayed by a smirk and that I decided was good enough consolation for me. We left the Sea Hag and any thoughts of gaining unwarranted entry to the wizard’s lair were chased away by a chainsaw wielding pirate.

Realm of Darkness is nothing if not consistent, entertaining haunters with a great show year after year. The subtle season by season tweaks keep the theme from growing stagnant and the lure of the wizard ensures that many an aspiring hero will return each October. The only knock we have against ROD is the relative lack of live workers but those that do stalk the various scenes of this hellish dimension play the role well. Realm of Darkness is a perennial favorite of ours and you’re only doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t been there.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

The night was growing late and we desperately wanted to hit one more haunted attraction before the season was done so we made a few calls and decided it was time to visit the Haunted Farm of Terror. The sky was threatening to pour down buckets as we raced an impending storm to Lenox Township. When we arrived we parked in a mud splattered field and proceeded to buy our tickets. Haunted Farm of Terror features a haunted house as well as a haunted hayride. We headed to the entrance of the haunted house first as the Disco Devil did not desire to partake in the hayride owing to the adverse weather.

The front of the attraction was made to resemble an old cabin which I suppose is not out of place on an old fashioned farm. The haunted house consisted of a hodge podge of rooms resembling some horrific hillbilly haven. The house itself is relatively short and not particularly scary but it is a bit of fun. One of the highlights for us during the first leg of the haunt was an apparently lobotomized, wheel chair bound man. He comically pursued us in his chair and babbled nonsense; we always appreciate a good taboo. One interesting room welcomed us with a chorus of clanking pots and pans which also alerted the hungry creeps lurking within the walls to our presence. We left this room behind and exited to a path outside a massive canine protruded from a dog house and aimed it’s enormous teeth at the entire party. We walked through a corn stalk strewn path as the weather started to enhance the atmosphere. Wind howled down the path as the air grew heavy with rain. We entered another structure which featured an interesting checkered room as well as a pair of deranged clowns. The haunt soon wound a path outside once more and again we wound our way through a corn maze with hidden creeps.

The haunted house was far from great but it did feature plenty of live workers, the connecting corn maze passages were also enjoyable. There is potential here but the operators need to make a decision on the mood of the haunt. As of now it has the rare distinction of playing second fiddle to a haunted hayride and as you’ll soon find out that is no insult to the wagon bound feature at Haunted Farm of Terror.

Rating: 3 stars

Having now experienced the much heralded hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror I can say that it definitely serves as the main event. The lengthy trip through a cursed forest is punctuated by the narration of an on board host. As the wagon pulls haunters through the various scenes the host recounts the story of Lazarus, a 19th century Undertaker and one time resident who once conducted grisly experiments that have plagued the farm and surrounding woods ever since (for more details visit Haunted Farm of Terror). The narration was a lot of fun although it would have been slightly better had the tour guide appeared in costume.

The hayride also features musical accompaniment, a mix of Halloween favorites and rock music compliment many scenes along the route. For example when a horde of zombies attack the wagon, Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” blares from on board speakers. Later when passing a church haunters learn of Lazarus’ bid for redemption while Gary Jules’ “Mad World” weaves a melancholy thread through this horror rich tapestry.

The beginning of the ride features a pair of mechanized menaces that will dare even the bravest of haunters not to flinch. We sat on the right side of the wagon which meant that we’d have the pleasure of dealing with a soaring phantom. As the wagon passed a small shack the structure’s doors sprung open revealing a huge ghoul attached to a sliding track. The shrouded phantom raced toward our party and did not stop when it reached our position! I was forced to quickly flatten myself or else the streaking skull would have pummeled me square in the face. If I was amused (and I was) then Richard was positively giddy. I believe watching me nearly get clobbered by a runaway ghoul was his favorite moment of the entire haunt season. Just up the path it was time for the other side of the wagon to test their reflexes. A semi-truck was trudging our way with a blaring horn and blazing headlights. It rumbled forward rather slowly giving a false impression of safety; it then violently plowed through several stacks of barrels which lurched toward the wagon before being jerked back just as quickly.

I’m of the opinion that any good slasher flick that takes place in the woods must feature the hot silhouette of a naked chick cast against a tent and apparently the team at Haunted Farm of Terror shares the sentiment. The shapely silhouette of an erotically posed woman drew the gaze of all on board and in this moment no man aboard had a mind for any misfortune that the treacherous woods had to offer. It was an alluring sight highlighted by the shamelessly protruding nipples that could have carved a pumpkin. A single weirdo stumbled forth from somewhere nearby and broke the spell of our collective and wanton lust. The scene wasn’t frightening in the least but it was quite original and did provide a good laugh.

Near the end of the trail our wagon pulled us through an area that used to serve as a drive-in theater, broken down cars littered the landscape. It was while in the middle of the car strewn path that a blinding mass of headlights flooded the wagon and we were temporarily without sight. A mass of ghouls seized the opportunity to attack us helpless fleshies and the result was a wild one indeed. After escaping the old drive-in we were informed by our host that a particularly vicious zombie stalked the area we were entering, his name was Ferby. This demonic being charged at our wagon and terrorized those aboard but when we came across a shanty serving as a barber shop Ferby’s attention shifted to the building. Inside a girl was strapped to a chair and she was screaming for all that she was worth, Eminem’s “Hi…My Name Is” mocked her lament. The host informed us that Ferby had captured her from a previous group of haunters but we could free her with an act of mercy. A vote was held and it seemed that half of the wagon wanted Ferby to free her while the other half wanted blood! The host further informed us that setting her free meant a damsel from our wagon would have to take her place and that information quickly sealed the poor girl’s fate. A strobe effect cast a chaotic light on the barber shop and Ferby roughly grabbed the girl by her hair, threw her onto her back, and began to swing his blade. As we pulled away the girl lay still while Ferby produced a severed head that he proudly held aloft; what a scene!

As we headed back to the muddy parking lot a vast array of creeps and freaks attacked the wagon, one stood atop a pillar nearly ten feet off the ground, he seemed to be acting as some sort of gatekeeper. Drunk on the essence of the season and riled up from a fun-filled night of haunting, I loudly encouraged the mutant to jump and to my great surprise and amusement he did; these fools were out to please.

It had begun to rain in earnest as we came to the end of the ride and the end of the haunt season. Before we departed Richard and I ran about and snapped a few pictures and then navigated the muddy pit of a parking lot over to Disco and Jason who were waiting in the comfort of John’s car.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

“You think if Siamese twins went to a haunted house they’d have to pay twice?”

-Richard, great philosopher of our time.

“Come on asshole! Come on! Rot in Hell!!!

-John, berating a slow-moving motorist, his voice inflection and tone were impeccable.

Hush Evolved

Posted in 2014, Hush, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2015 by bluefall8

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On Devil’s Night 2013, we visited a rookie haunted attraction located in Westland, Michigan known simply as Hush. The experience was a memorable one and Hush would go on to be named the 2013 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year. As fate would have it, we would return one year to the day and test our will against Dr. Phineas Phun and his creations at the Hush Corporation.

We approached the front doors and were soon reacquainted with the madman of malpractice, the aforementioned Dr. Phineas Phun. It would seem that the good doctor doesn’t forget a face because he instantly recognized John and I and immediately he launched into suggestive quips and darkly playful banter.

As Dr. Phun toyed with us as a cat does a mouse, I noticed to our left a second man who was dressed in a medical coat. He was tall with long black hair and sported a child-like smile; he waved repeatedly and eyed us stupidly. Dr. Phun noted the exchange and introduced us to his rather special brother, Phileas Phun. Phileas seemed docile and even friendly, but prior experience had taught me not to trust a member of the Phun family — just how many offspring had Momma Phun produced anyway? I wouldn’t have time to ponder the thought further as the Phun Brothers bade us an ominous farewell and ushered us into the Hush Corporation.

HUSH 2.0

John and I found ourselves in a small but sleek reception area, a short secretary approached us from behind a desk and began to explain the cutting edge scientific experimentation performed at the Hush Corporation. There was an alien sheen to her hair and her face was marked with curious, phosphorescent symbols. However, it was her words that were strangest of all — she spoke in a clear and direct manner but her cadence was stilted. Her words and sentences possessed no flow, no soul. It was as if she were merely reading from a script, emotionless. It was almost as if the very words coming out of her mouth had been programmed.

She asked no questions and gave no indication she regarded us with anything other than cold indifference. She had made her way to a door opposite the desk and with cocked, twitching head she began to repeat the same phrase over and over and over. John and I took this as our cue to exit before she turned into an angry android.

We wandered the darkened halls of the Hush Corporation dodging booby traps and lurking critters; we steeled our nerves when made to pass an incinerator complete with glowing embers, heat and steam. Shortly, we had descended into an elaborate sewer system where pipes carried the runoff of all manner of foulness being conducted at the shadowy Hush Corporation.

As we crept and ducked our way through the labrythine pipes, a writhing, hunched creature hunted us from the dank shadows. As the repellant monstrosity slunk through shafts of light I caught a momentarily glimpse of its grotesque face. It put me strongly in mind of the sewer-dwelling Flukeman that Agents Mulder and Scully once confronted in an episode of The X-Files.

Moments later we encountered a bald, middle-aged doctor who had been confined to a steel cage that appeared to be suspended above a dark waterway. Our sudden presence seemed to excite him; he flapped his hands and attempted to reach out to us all while he cooed and made other silly sounds. Why had this doctor been locked inside of a cage in the sewer system? Was he a would be whistleblower who attempted to expose the Hush Corporation? Was this another member of the Phun family? Would he and his steel prison plummet to a watery grave?

John and I had no time to ponder such questions, pursued by a mutant toilet monster as we were. We soon emerged from the musty atmosphere of the sewer system and found ourselves once again surrounded by the inner workings of the Hush Corporation. We turned a corner and spotted what appeared to be the kind of large display case one would expect to see at a zoo. A pair of male patients, or more accurately specimens, were going absolutely bonkers inside the enclosure.

The duo pulled at their hair, pounded the glass with their fists and issued primal screams as if under persistent psychological torture. Rage and lunacy danced wildly in their eyes and quite suddenly one of the pair attempted to escape the cage by climbing through a narrow opening in the ceiling. When he failed in his bid to escape he utilized his new perch to violently grab hold of and strangle his cellmate.

Next, we entered a brightly-lit medical laboratory and immediately heard the opening notes of a familiar nursery rhyme. A petite, attractive blonde dressed in a lab coat moved jerkily toward an operating table and in her hand was a large needle. Upon the slab was a slumped cadaver and as we processed the scene, the sinister songstress theatrically thrust the needle into the stiff. The injection revitalized the corpse and in an instant, John and I found ourselves being stalked by both the reanimate and Dr. Blondie.

We didn’t fancy ourselves as just another victim of the Hush Corporation and therefore took our leave of the two. In fact, as we fled the scene we transitioned into an outdoor area filled with crates and shipping containers. We hadn’t made it far before we’d attracted the attention of several pint-sized monsters who were briskly intercepted by armed guards. The guards vocally rushed us forward and as John and I plowed onward the tail of Hush orphans seemed to swell in our wake.

Through undoubtedly unpleasant means the team of mercenaries kept the Hushies at bay which afforded John and I one last demonstration from a staff member of the Hush Corporation. We happened upon a large containment chamber, through a window was visible the ugly mug of a beastly specimen in suspended animation.

A tall, lean female scientist stood beside the cryogenic apparatus and instantly began to recite a litany of facts and figures about the technology employed by the Hush Corporation. She bore many of the physical hallmarks displayed by the cyborg receptionist we’d encountered at the beginning of our journey but she did seem knowledgeable and confident about her work on this particular project.

My eyes darted from her to the frosty fellow inside the chamber. Had I just saw it blink? Was the equipment about to malfunction?! Just as she reassured us of the stability of the machinery, the cryogenic freak lurched forward and secured a meaty paw around the throat of our loquacious host. Once again, armed guards descended upon the area shouting orders and brandishing weapons. And with that John and I were swept from the Hush Corporation, fortunate to have survived unscathed.

FULL DISCLOSURE

Too often, upstart haunted attractions suffer from a sophomore slump but such was not the case at Hush in 2014. The team manufactured an eye-catching new facade, implemented a series of expertly detailed and highly immersive scenes and skillfully executed several special effects which all served to engineer a complete overhaul of the show.

Hush was well-paced, stuck to a theme, told an enjoyable story and the most talented actors were smartly saved for key sequences. The team behind Hush is young, ambitious and has accomplished a lot on the Michigan haunt scene in just two years. I look forward to the future evolution of Hush Haunted House.

Rating: 4.5 stars