Archive for District 13

2014 Haunt Season Rewind

Posted in Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2015 by bluefall8

We gather here at the genesis of another season of screams; night has descended and the doors to many haunted attractions hungrily await the arrival of eager guests. Accompanied by a rush of excitement and a tinge of dizzied disbelief, the first night of haunting of any season is a special outing. For myself and my faithful cohorts the season will officially commence tomorrow evening although at present we have not yet decided exactly where it is that we’ll be headed. Rest assured that the haunted highway will carry us to a destination where the first memories of the 2015 haunt season will be minted.

As we peer from this precipice with an eye on the immediate future let us pause for a few moments and reflect on the year that was — submitted for your approval here are some of the most memorable moments from the 2014 haunt season as recorded here on Horrorlust.

On the atmosphere of Corpse Barn Shock Haunt, 10/04/14

“The interior of the barn was littered with corpses indeed, it was as if the barn itself had been eviscerated. All about the floor in every direction laid piles of dummies; I wasn’t sure if this was the ritual site for a serial killer or merely the dumping grounds for plague victims, but the bodies were scattered, torn and in abundance.”

On a curiosity spotted in the dark at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“…a strange sight greeted us as we rounded a corner — was that a floating head mere yards in front of us? Indeed, it was floating and glowing a magical shade of green. Wait a second?! Did my eyes deceive me? Was that a second head bobbing beside the first? Did the Gosch Brothers possess siamese twins who were aglow in the gloom like a pair of monstrous stars?!!”

On an oddly comedic character at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“…and were guided by a husky harlequin who was surprisingly spry and had the odd habit of honking his own nose.”

On a wonderfully ridiculous reaction of a party member at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“One cannot be sure of such things but a member of our group may have possibly fled with arms flailing above head looking all the world like Olive Oyl from Popeye.”

On a striking actor inside District 13 at The Fear Experience, 10/17/14

“In one corner, a frightening mime repeated the same stuttered movements like an animatronic in need of repair — his eyes were cold, lifeless, soul-sucking orbs.”

On a fellow patron who commented that she felt as if she would both urinate and vomit from fear while waiting in line at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“I was convinced by her body language that her statements weren’t merely for dramatic flair and I thus stepped back a few paces in order to avoid the splashback from any potential spew.”

On the overall flavor of the Gore House at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“The Gore House was a galleria of gross-outs and no trip is complete without passage through the one-of-a-kind vortex tunnel near the end of the structure, a vortex tunnel with the color and consistency of molten flesh.”

On an inimitable creep who inhabited Baby Doll Island at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“I couldn’t decide if he was a vampire, demon or merely the town pervert but he elicited a response and looked good doing it.”

On the aftermath of Splattertown at Wiard’s Night Terrors, 10/18/14

“As we exited, I conferred with Maddie and she too had shamelessly peppered the private parts of some dim-witted zombie.”

On an excellent bit of interaction inside the Ultimate Haunted Barn at Wiard’s Night Terrors, 10/18/14

“Curtis spoke rapidly of his vast collection of goods which were displayed throughout the room. He intimated that he had amassed such a treasure trove by less than honest means but in the next breath stated plainly that any accusations of such would not be met with politeness. Curtis spoke with quickness and clarity; his voice possessed a mesmerizing cadence dashed with a pinch of wit.”

On the eye-popping finale of Hush, 10/30/14

“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.”

On a superb illusion at Dark Legacy, 10/30/14

“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!”

On a particularly wild scene at Exit 13, 11/01/14

“And most of that took place while we marveled at a hot, sadistic nurse who tortured a wailing amputee! On top of that, we would later discover that the missing leg was no gag.”

On a fearless haunt actress at 13 Feet Under, 11/01/14

“She locked eyes, leaned in slowly, bared her teeth and sunk them straight into my hand.”

On a waltzing weirdo at The Crypt, 11/01/14

“…and in one unforgettable instance, a stout and hairy man confined to an inaccessible room, treated us to the most unsettling dance number since Buffalo Bill cut a rug in The Silence of the Lambs.”

On a large, freakish doll at The Realm of Darkness, 11/01/14

“One in particular caught my attention, it was several feet tall with a bulbous, unnaturally large head, a rictus grin and bore more than a passing resemblance to Howdy Doody.”

2014 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2015 by bluefall8

2014 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Rotten Pumpkin – The Rotten Pumpkin award is given to the haunt considered to be the most disappointing of the season. Disappointment may be the result of an over hyped marketing campaign or the failure of the haunt to live up to expectations set forth in previous seasons. Whatever the case may be let there be no doubt that the haunt receiving this unwanted distinction truly dropped the ball, failing to provide a worthwhile show.

2014 Rotten Pumpkin: The Haunted Funeral Home

The Haunted Funeral Home was the first attraction I visited last year, thankfully it was not an indication of things to come. Most of the cast delivered below average performances, several were even caught out of place. That was particularly unforgivable due to the fact that, at the time, we were the only group present. Little to nothing has changed here since an initial visit in 2011; this was uninspired and lazy haunting.

Eerie Vibrations – The Eerie Vibrations award is given to the haunt considered to exude the best overall atmosphere. Atmosphere is defined by the mood of the haunt itself but can also be fostered by immediate grounds or even the surrounding area.

2014 Eerie Vibrations: The Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

Honorable Mention: District 13 (The Fear Experience)

The former pig farm has presence and nowhere is it as oppressive as in The Catacombs & The Rusthole. What can I say? The story of a ghoulish spirit and mysterious third floor made an impact when I traversed the attraction all on my lonesome. This is the second time that The Catacombs & The Rusthole has captured the Eerie Vibrations Award; the first was in 2011.

Dark Horse – The Dark Horse award is given to the haunt considered to have the most potential for growth. Criteria for this award include the ability to deliver an entertaining show at a relatively small venue and at a reduced rate. Think of the Dark Horse award as  Horrorlust’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2014 Dark Horse: Psycho Path

Honorable Mention: Corpse Barn Shock Haunt

For just $10 this hidden gem offered a serious bang-for-your-buck in 2014. The volunteer effort mixed a creative flair with haunted house fundamentals and struck the right balance of fun and fright. The facade was excellent and a surprise, introductory stage show served the narrative well. A brief stroll through the woods beforehand and a wagon ride after the fact further enhanced the atmosphere.

Killer Automatons – The Killer Automatons award is given to the haunt that best integrates animatronics into its attraction. When determining this award several factors are considered including timing, prop placement, realism, and sheer wow effect.

2014 Killer Automatons: Dark Legacy

Honorable Mention: The Realm of Darkness

Dark Legacy had a little bit of everything and in 2014 put to use their electronic baddies better than any other haunt in town. There were caged monkeys, a slick electrocution and even a massive mutation contained inside of a large shipping crate. Several actor-matronics were used to maximum effect as well.

Monster – The Monster award is given to the haunt considered to have the best live actors of the season. In order to claim this award workers must display a certain level of intensity as well as a refusal to break character. Also crucial is the ability to improvise lines or actions when adapting to an individual guest or group.

2014 Monster: Hush

Honorable Mention: Bloodview

The core group of characters at Hush are polished, professional and capable of giving the best that we’ve witnessed a run for their money. Led by the inimitable Dr. Phineas Phun, the cast of Hush featured a handful of unforgettable freaks and weirdos — from an android receptionist to the supercharged loonies who went bonkers behind a pane of glass to a lullaby singing doctor and her reanimated specimen. The key players each understood their role which was crucial to the central theme of the attraction.

Prop Master – The Prop Master award is given to the haunt considered to have best implemented props into the attraction. A prop may be considered a piece of furniture, a weapon, or a dummy. The haunt that claims this award will have paid special attention to placement, function, and realism.

2014 Prop Master: Centralia County Fair (The Fear Experience)

Honorable Mention: Dark Legacy

The scenery inside Centralia County Fair was detailed, thorough and impressive. The abandoned carnival theme was so immersive and striking that it overwhelmed my senses. Keep in mind that this was an attraction that featured relatively few live actors and it excelled in spite of that fact. The scenes and set dressing were so complete it was the one attraction to which I wished I could return for the sole purpose of documenting it through photographs.

Pulse Pounder – The Pulse Pounder award is given to the haunt considered to be the most intense attraction of the season. Intensity can be gauged by a number of factors including commitment of actors, gory or realistic scenes, and harsh or loud music and sound effects. However, the most important element when considering this award is genuine fear factor.

2014 Pulse Pounder: The Mind Shaft (Wiard’s Night Terrors)

Honorable Mention: Zombie Uprising at Braxton Estate (The Fear Experience)

The Mind Shaft got the heart racing through expertly tailored sound fx that helped drive the pace of the attraction. Like 13 Feet Under, Mind Shaft made it easy and fun for guests to suspend their disbelief — if a collapsing mine doesn’t put some pep in your step then what the hell will?! The attraction concluded with an exclamation point when a Sasquatch roared out of nowhere and delivered one of the best jump scares of the season.

Samhain – This award recognizes the most enjoyable night of haunting in a given season. A plethora of factors are considered when deciding this award but at the end of the season it comes down to the night of haunting that provided us with the most scares, laughs, and memories.

2014 Samhain: October 18, 2014 (Wiard’s Night Terrors)

Honorable Mention: October 30, 2014 (Dark Legacy, Hush)

2014 delivered a number of great nights of haunting but the plethora of attractions that comprised Wiard’s Night Terrors put it over the top. I was highly amused by the reactions of my sister-in-law, Madison, who provided me with the kind of valuable feedback only a fresh set of eyes can bring. Brandon Wiard was a most gracious host who allowed us the run of the place and engaged in great conversations about the ideas that fueled the haunted houses at Night Terrors.

Haunt of the Year – The Haunt of Year award is given to the haunt considered to be the best overall attraction of the season. When deciding on this award several factors are taken into consideration including the timing and intensity of actors, the pace and length of the haunt, attention to detail, use of special effects, realism of props, and most importantly the lasting imprint left on guests.

2014 Haunt of the Year: Exit 13

Honorable Mention: Hush

This was no easy choice; the number of top-notch attractions we toured in 2014 was unprecedented. After garnering several honorable mentions in 2011 and 2012 (in various categories) this is well deserved for the lovable loonies at Exit 13. An ambitious renovation delivered multiple new scenes in 2014 which served as the ideal playground for an in-your-face cast. The haunt utilized a wide array of scare tactics while it pushed the envelope with taboo characters, tasteless humor and physicality.

2014 Star Ratings

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

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

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

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


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

2. Dark Legacy – 4.5 (Wixom, MI.)

3. Exit 13 – 4.5 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

4. Hush – 4.5 (Westland, MI.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Psycho Path – 4 (Flat Rock, MI.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

19. The Crypt – 3.25 (Burton, MI.)

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

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

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

23. Fō-bē-ə – 2.75 (Wyandotte, MI.)

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

Tetralogy of Terror at The Fear Experience

Posted in 2014, Fear Experience, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2014 by bluefall8


It was a dreary Friday night when John and I set a course for the Cleveland area; a two and a half hour trip that seemed to pass relatively quickly. Our first stop brought us to The Fear Experience located on Brookpark Road in Parma, Ohio which we would shortly discover was a veritable feast for the senses.

The parking lot alone was larger than most haunted attractions and the building that housed The Fear Experience is, according to the haunt’s website, in excess of 100,000 square feet. A large banner hung above the entrance, music pumped through speakers; there was certainly a big event feel to The Fear Experience.

We entered the structure, purchased our tickets and were ushered through a detailed facade which led us to the massive queue area. The entire space was bathed in an eerie blue hue and covered in a thin fog. Rock music ripped through the scene while a handful of characters tenderized those waiting in line. A couple of mausoleums added additional atmosphere to the queue area.

I was thankful that John and I had arrived when we did because the line was only growing longer and when it came time for us to entire the first attraction, Zombie Uprising, we had waited nearly an hour. However, our wait was about to pay off as we embarked on a breakneck adventure through four haunted landscapes.

Upon entering Braxton Estate I was immediately struck by the level of detail — we traversed fully furnished rooms and highly convincing hallways where tattered cloth hung from the ceiling; it was undoubtedly an immersive experience. The whole of the house was infested with the undead; something had caused this once proud manor to fall to ruin. Everywhere there was clutter and grime; no longer a warm homestead, Braxton Estate had been rendered a slovenly Shangri-La.

There were large holes in the walls, so large in fact a flesh eater had managed to wedge herself inside of one and utilized it as a point of ambush. Her torso jutted from the wall and swung in our direction as we passed as if it were attached to a swivel. We encountered more dead heads near the conclusion of Zombie Uprising when we roamed through a ghostly playground connected to Braxton Estate.

Zombie Uprising featured one room that stood out over all the rest — a small dining room that required us to walk at a forty-five degree angle. The floor, walls, and furniture were all slanted which created a fun and memorable experience. Another design feature that I enjoyed was a series of box fans that had been placed inside the walls throughout Braxton Estate. It was something different that played with sound and light in interesting ways and was just one more element that contributed to the overall atmosphere.

Rating: 4.25 stars

We exited Braxton Estate and were immediately ushered into the Centralia Mental Facility which was nearly identical to Zombie Uprising in terms of length and amount of actors. Centralia Mental Facility was perhaps not as detailed as the aforementioned Braxton Estate but it was no less immersive. In one memorable instance as we navigated the shadowy passages, I was surprised to hear The Dixie Cups’ 1964 hit “Chapel of Love.” The sweet melody stood in stark contrast to our surroundings and as such created a distinctly odd, ominous and even cautiously humorous moment.

Inside this den of lunacy we witnessed a surgeon gleefully wield an electric bone saw at any who crossed his path, passed an exhibition of caged nutters and were even forced to enter a padded cell complete with a patient who lent the term wallflower a whole new meaning. The Centralia Mental Facility presented many solid startle scares, the best an enormous circular saw that buzzed near the tops of our heads. Fortunately, we were able to escape by way of an inordinately long and suspiciously loose womb-of-doom.

Rating: 4 stars

We experienced a short wait once free from Centralia Mental Facility and it seemed our time spent amongst the patients had created in us a yearning for cotton candy and games of chance, so we did the logical thing and made our way to the Centralia County Fair. We exchanged pleasantries with the ticket taker at the fair’s entrance who asked in less than decent terms if we’d enjoyed our trip through the mental facilities’ peculiar finale. I got the distinct impression that he may have had something to do with the womb-of-doom’s present condition.

Fortunately, we were spared further speculation and allowed entrance into the Centralia County Fair which possessed a dark and magical allure. We entered into an abandoned midway full of tents, carnival games and prizes galore. The level of detail was substantial, my brain couldn’t process the information fast enough. The midway was capped with the classic test of strength game — the High Striker. I had visions of setting a new high score, bright lights flashed across my face as a cheering throne of fairgoers applauded my triumph. There I was looking like Dennis the Menace, holding some cartoonishly over-sized plush toy aloft while my faithful friend John stood beside me patting me on the back as he smiled at the roaring crowd and proclaimed, “This is my buddy, this is my pal!”

My reverie was broken by a lone carney who roamed the midway and instead of issuing a challenge he suggested we be on our way; scuzzy jerk didn’t want to part with any of the goods. Next, we traveled a narrow path — to our left was a wall littered with flyers of missing persons and aged posters that advertised the Centralia County Fair from years gone by. I had a strong and sudden sympathy for the central characters in R.L. Stine’s The Beast.

We left the eerie scene behind us and came to an area where I imagine patrons once purchased funnel cakes, corn dogs and candy apples but the carnival had fallen silent. Again, I was impressed and awestruck at the excellent level of detail. Before we were assailed by another angry carney, we plunged into a nearby funhouse rigged with a brilliant array of lights, mirrors and multi-colored ropes that hung from the ceiling.

Later, we clawed our way through a disorienting maze full of hanging, striped tarps only to then happen upon caged side show freaks. Once free of the curiously named figures we found ourselves back inside the funhouse, now surrounded by large, brightly colored boxes and pillars. We bobbed and weaved through the vivid scene and in the far corner found a very curious exit. It required us to duck a bit but a small, long passage seemed to be our ticket to freedom; a white inflatable pushed down on us from above and of all the sights at the Centralia County Fair it might’ve been that glowing, half womb-of-doom that filled us with the most glee and bewilderment.

Rating: 4.5 stars

The last leg of The Fear Experience was District 13 which had a cold, industrial feel. There were green lasers used to disorient guests at the beginning and end of the attraction which was an unsettling journey through a series of tall chain-linked fences. It was difficult to gauge the size of the space due to the heavy fog, strobe lights and harsh music but it felt voluminous. In one corner, a frightening mime repeated the same stuttered movements like an animatronic in need of repair — his eyes were cold, lifeless, soul-sucking orbs.

While inside District 13, I couldn’t shake the notion that we were akin to rats in a maze. As we staggered along the route we were subject to a loud, intermittent banging. Would we be rewarded with a food pellet if we reacted with the desired response? Was I supposed to leap with fright, run headlong into a wall or spectacularly wet myself?! I wasn’t sure but that noise was setting me on edge and it only served to heighten the sensation that we were being watched for the amusement of some unseen audience.

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Fear Experience offered an enjoyable selection of haunted attractions and did from beginning to end provide quality entertainment at a reasonable price. Of course, there were a couple of drawbacks, such as the feeder system with which guests are funneled through the haunted attractions. This was particularly detrimental to the experience inside Zombie Uprising and Centralia Mental Facility which featured plenty of actors but little time for interaction as we often crossed paths with other patrons.

Centralia County Fair on the other hand would’ve benefited immensely from additional actors as it seemed quite scarce on live bodies. Unfortunately, those that were present didn’t offer much outside of standard interaction and that was truly a shame because this setting provided wonderful opportunities for storytelling.

It would’ve been thrilling to engage in a game of chance with a shady carny or to have been loaded onto a questionable ride or offered a dubious treat from the food truck. Why not encounter a distraught mother who sought to reunite with a missing child or be presented with a doomed fate by a mysterious fortune teller?

Still, John and I have toured plenty of haunted attractions that employed a carnival theme and none did it better than Centralia County Fair. The minds behind the madness at The Fear Experience have built a wonderful stage for which to act out future plays; perhaps next year all the crucial roles will be cast.


The Fear Experience, Bloodview Comprise Cleveland Turn & Burn

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

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

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

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

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

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