Archive for fowlerville

2016 Haunt Schedule: End of the Line

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2016 by bluefall8

It’s been a number of years since I approached the haunt season armed with the knowledge that I’d be visiting less haunted attractions than the previous year, but such is the case in 2016. I’m at peace with that. The decision to tour less haunted attractions in 2016 was made for two reasons — the most prominent being my involvement with the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House, SIN. The other reason for the reduction is simply that I’ve been fortunate to visit so many haunted houses over the last decade; the State of Michigan is running low on spooky places I haven’t witnessed.

Another change this year is that I’ve ranked the nights below in order of importance. In an effort to tour new attractions I’ve prioritized those trips. There are of course other factors as well such as proximity to other haunts and that is reflected as well. The haunt season does of course offer surprises every season and for that reason the list below, although ranked in order of importance, does not necessarily represent a chronological order of events. Nor is this list meant to suggest that I’ll manage to get to each of these places. I’ve done this long enough to know that each Halloween season is a unique, wild creature.

THE HAUNTED OPEN ROAD

Night #1 – Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson), Awaken (Leslie) & Shawhaven Haunted Farm (Mason)

Notes: Shawhaven Haunted Farm has been on my radar for the last couple of seasons but the clock has always seemed run out on the season before a trip could manifest. It’s an hour and a half from my home but when Awaken recently opened in nearby Leslie, I knew it was finally time to make Shawhaven a priority. Then I realized that our route would take us right by Jackson’s Underworld, a haunt we haven’t visited since 2013. This was a harmonic convergence of direction and distance as each haunt is roughly 15 – 20 minutes apart from the last.

Night #2 – Bloodview (Broadview Heights, OH.) & Carnival of Horrors (Cuyahoga Falls, OH.)

Notes: An every other year pattern is emerging with Bloodview; frequent readers may remember that Bloodview is staffed by The Legion of Terror an improvisational group that showcases a new theme every weekend. We witnessed Zombie Apocalypse in 2012 and Witch Trials in 2014. This year I want to experience the Sinister Sideshow which will be held the weekend of October 7 – 9. Carnival of Horrors is located in Cuyahoga Falls, roughly 30 minutes from Bloodview in Broadview Heights. The distance itself isn’t prohibitive but the Carnival of Horrors does host four attractions and that could prove problematic if lines are long. Luckily, this region of Ohio boasts a number of haunted attractions that can serve as an alternate if need be.

Night #3 – Haunted Elementary (Bridgeport) & Bates Haunted Saw Mill (Millington)

Notes: Haunted Elementary is now enveloped by the Bridgeport Goregrounds and features three haunts including FrightSite (a 3D attraction) and Outbreak (an interactive zombie event). It definitely has the feel of a small Michigan haunt on the upswing. Bates Haunted Saw Mill offers two attractions and touts itself as being “old school creepy.” I do love me some old school. Bridgeport and Millington are just shy of 30 minutes apart although the drive from home will eclipse the 1 hour and 45 minute mark, a pair of new locations that collectively house five attractions seems worth the gamble.

Night #4 – Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood), Psycho Path (Flat Rock) & Hush (Westland)

Notes: Admittedly, these are all attractions I’ve toured before but my last trip through Wood of Darkness came during the 2011 season. Furthermore, the haunted house has been run by an entirely different team the last several seasons which could produce a significantly different experience than when last I came knocking. There was some fear that Psycho Path would cease operations after a crucial member of the team departed during the off-season but that concern was recently laid to rest when I received confirmation that the little gem would indeed be operational in 2016 with a Medieval theme. We have visited Hush three straight years, but off-season circumstances there facilitated a total rebuild that produced an intriguing New Orleans-themed attraction. The other prime factor with this night is the proximity to home which provides a lot of flexibility where dates and times are concerned.

Night #5 – Bonadeo Farms (Highland Township) & Rotten Manor (Holly)

Notes: Rotten Manor was named the 2015 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year and new for 2016 are Rotten Forest and Clown Barn. That’s plenty of intrigue to be sure but in a year with limited dates and an emphasis on new locations, I’m not sure that the haunted corn maze and haunted house at the somewhat obscure Bonadeo Farms is enough of a lure for this night. This has the feel of a wild card so I’ll leave it to the haunt fates.

Night #6 – Panic at Pinestump Hollow (St. Clair) & The Deadland (Warren)

Notes: Panic at Pinestump Hollow is similar to Shawhaven Haunted Farm in that it’s a place with more than one attraction that I’ve desired to visit for a few years now and have failed to get there. So why is it so far down on this list? Well, we’ve already visited everything else within shouting distance. We crossed off Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown in 2013, checked off The Fear Factory last year and toured Haunted Farm of Terror twice. We did visit Scarefest Scream Park in 2012 and only toured two of the four attractions so I suppose that might be an option as well. Had Salem’s Haunted Barn in Capac been operational this year, that pair would’ve moved this outing up two to three places on this list. I had also heard that the House of Fear in Hazel Park was going to reopen this year but the website for that haunt has out of date information. For all of those reasons I’ve paired it with The Deadland which provided a solid opening night show last year.

Night #7 – The Haunted Hydro (Fremont, OH.)

Notes: I last toured The Haunted Hydro six years ago in 2010. I love the place, it has atmosphere in spades. It has stood for 27 years, is operated by passionate professionals and is a true child of Halloween. But since the closure of Terror Town last year I’ve been unable to find anything to pair with The Haunted Hydro. It’s roughly an hour and half from my area and that’s something to consider for just one location; even one as excellent as The Haunted Hydro. I’m open to suggestions should anyone know of another haunt around the Fremont region.

OTHER HAUNTS OF INTEREST: THE TWISTED SIX

Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – Made a good first impression in 2014 and I have a feeling the gang here is capable of even better. It’ll be an ideal substitute should one of the haunts fall through on Night #1. Plus it’s a barn haunt. I love barn haunts.

The Dent Schoolhouse – Been pining to visit for a good five years now, would require an overnight trip. On the plus side, the Cincinnati region has several other haunted attractions that would compliment The Dent Schoolhouse quite nicely. I’m so very tempted to move this one onto the main list.

Darksyde Acres – Toured this unique locale from 2011 – 2014; one year layoff has me itching to get back. One of those post-Halloween 18+ Nights would work perfectly for me but a glance at the calendar suggests that isn’t likely this season.

Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Research Labs was without question one of the most unusual haunted attractions I’ve ever toured and last year the operators even did a glow stick event which is hard for me to even comprehend at this haunt. I’d love to experience that myself but the routes outlined above make it unlikely.

Haunting in the Hills – A new haunt located in Onsted with three attractions, the most interesting of which is called Train Car of Terror. It’s kind of in no man’s land but might be worth checking out if something funky happens to the schedule and I suddenly have a free day. In fact, it wouldn’t pair up badly with Corpse Barn Shock Haunt or Darksyde Acres.

Slaughter House – Last visited in 2013, nobody mixes humor and illusion like Slaughter House. I liked what I read last year regarding several scene updates and a Purge theme for 2016 should keep things interesting. It could be paired with Trail of Terror at Bestmaze Corn Maze in Williamston or possibly something from Night #1 if the schedule goes wonky.

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

Haunt Til You Drop

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2015 by bluefall8

As with any season of haunting changes to the schedule are inevitable and 2015 is no exception. What I have posted below is an ambition if not all together insane flight to the finish. The haunt season has concluded with a flurry of activity in years past but the 8-night, 15-haunt gauntlet listed below is the stuff of madness. It may prove to be too ambition in the end; I may be found on November 2nd lying face down in a corn field with frayed nerves and a vacant expression, but damn it, I’m going down swinging.

10/22 – Hallowe’en Nights in Greenfield Village

10/23 – Delirium

10/24 – Clio Manor, Exit 13, Dreadlands Haunt of Davison

10/25 – Shawhaven Haunted Farm, Slaughter House Adventure

10/29 – Dark Legacy, Rotten Manor

10/30 – Terror on the Boulevard, Abandon, Hush

10/31 – Slaughtered at Sundown, Terrors of Resistance

11/1 – Erebus or Wiard’s Night Terrors

And if all that doesn’t kill me I might just attempt to hit Scarefest Scream Park which will be open on Saturday, November 7th.  Why? Because haunts.

Casual Haunter’s Guide

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2014 by bluefall8

Haunted attractions come in all shapes, sizes and styles and it can be difficult to decide which establishment is worthy of your hard-earned dollars and if you’ve procrastinated until the very night of Samhain itself then you are indeed in need of help.

My band of merry haunters and I have traveled to many lands over the last decade in search of fun and fright, and have on this Halloween prepared for you a list of our most favorite locations which we’re sure will delight and excite.

In no particular order…

Erebus, Pontiac, MI. – It may not be the darling of hardcore haunters but let there be no doubt that Erebus has stood the test of time and has never failed to deliver the goods. The army of animatronics and actor-controlled puppets featured at Erebus is unrivaled by anything in the Metro-Detroit area. Anybody who enjoys haunted attractions should tour Erebus at least once.

Terror Town, Maumee, OH. – House of the Dead can rival Erebus for mechanized monstrosities per square foot and features a number of special effects witnessed at precious few locations. The static props found throughout the bowels of House of the Dead are among the most frightening and lifelike on the market.

Exit 13, Mt. Morris, MI. – One of the most in-your-face, physical casts a haunted house can legally spawn. Quality design, near perfect pace and a blend of laughs and scares alike.

Hush, Westland, MI. – A young haunt with a lot of guts highlighted by some seriously killer scenes and top notch acting.

Bloodview, Broadview Heights, OH. – Staffed by the best troupe of actors a haunted house could possibly want; a group known as the Legion of Terror. The show is re-themed each weekend, the main building has one of the best designs we’ve ever witnessed.

Darksyde Acres, Jonesville, MI. – You never quite know what you’re going to encounter at Darksyde Acres. Come for the scares, stay for the vivacious haunt hotties.

Haunted Hydro, Fremont, OH. – Crazy Bob Turner is a class act of the industry and a true artisan of his craft, the old hydro dam is an excellent structure for a haunted attraction and the location exudes the very spirit of Halloween.

Slaughterhouse Adventure, Fowlerville, MI. – Most effective mix of story, illusion and comedy. Slaugherhouse features three attractions including a haunted barn, haunted corn maze and haunted hayride. Do yourself a favor and spring for the combo package.

Haunted Farm of Terror, Lenox Township, MI. – We’ve only visited The Haunted Farm of Terror once (2009) but to this day we have yet to witness a more electrifying and unique haunted hayride.

Other notable Michigan locations include St. Lucifer’s & 13 Feet Under (Grand Blanc), Wiard’s Night Terrors (Ypsilanti) Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles), The Realm of Darkness (Pontiac) and Dark Legacy (Wixom).

I encourage you to poke around Horrorlust for past reviews (use the drop-down window on the right hand side of the homepage) on all of these attractions and furthermore I welcome any feedback you may have regarding your own experiences.

Happy Haunting.

Horrorlust Radio Episode #003

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2014 by bluefall8

Wrestler, home haunter and haunted attraction enthusiast Mike Marvel serves as co-host for episode #003 of Horrorlust Radio.

In the third episode of Horrorlust Radio, Mike and I discuss the tradition of home haunting in all its various forms and then dig into the pros and cons of multi-attraction venues.

This episode also features the second installment of Lost to Time, a segment that highlights haunts now departed; you’ll also hear the birth of a new segment, Hosts & Hotties where we pay respect to icons of the industry from horror hosts to scream queens and everybody in between. The luscious Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is our inaugural honoree.

Mike and I also banter about the quality of haunted attractions during the month of September and even delve briefly into the crossover elements of professional wrestling and the haunted attraction industry.

I’m actively seeking sponsors for Horrorlust Radio, if you own or operate a haunted attraction or are otherwise involved or connected to the haunt industry and are interested in such an opportunity you can contact me at the following email address: horrorlust@bluestarproductions.net

Email any questions or comments to the address above or feel welcome to post any reactions to this podcast in the comments section below.

HORRORLUST RADIO: EPISODE 003

SHOW NOTES

Mike Marvel isn’t just a wrestler, home haunter and haunted attraction enthusiast, he’s also the man behind the scenes at Michigan Haunt Central on Facebook.

Brandywine Cemetery, the prominent home haunt cited during this episode, is located at 2727 Brandywine St. Ann Arbor, MI. 48104. Brandywine Cemetery will be open Thursday, October 30 and Friday, October 31 in 2014. For more information visit their website here: Brandywine Cemetery

I’ve included a scan of The Lab’s 2009 ad from the Fear Finder. My scanner isn’t quite large enough to capture the entire ad but you can enjoy 95% of this colorful, eye-catching advertisement.

Fear Finder, 2009

Fear Finder, 2009

And for those of you who live under a rock, here’s a picture of the gorgeous Elvira, the first honoree in Hosts & Hotties.

She puts the lust in Horrorlust.

She puts the lust in Horrorlust.

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

1. “This is Halloween” by Danny Elfman (The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993)

2. The Return of the Living Dead  Theatrical Trailer, 1985

3. “Living Walls” by Midnight Syndicate (The 13th Hour, 2005)

4. Trash from The Return of the Living Dead, 1985

5. “Born of the Night” by Midnight Syndicate (Born of the Night, 1998)

2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2014 by bluefall8

The 2013 field was full of worthy nominees and after much consideration, I’m prepared to unveil the 2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards.

2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards Banner

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.

2013 Rotten Pumpkin: Scream Machine

Dishonorable Mention: 3-Story Haunted Barn (Blake’s)

The Scream Machine is now the first attraction to earn this undesired distinction twice; in consecutive years no less. It pains me to say that this selection was a no-brainer. The Scream Machine didn’t merely slip this year, instead the once respected haunt nosedived into an ugly downward spiral. The cast was unprofessional, listless and undoubtedly one of the very worst we’ve encountered. The design of the haunt was uninteresting, repetitive, and creatively bankrupt.

 

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.

2013 Eerie Vibrations: Village of the Living Dead

Honorable Mention: Terrorfied Forest (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Village of the Living Dead seemed to pulse with a special kind of energy from the moment we crossed the threshold of the haunt. The mixture of dense fog, orchestral music and subterranean passages produced a surreal, claustrophobic adrenaline rush.

 

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 the Horrorlust’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2013 Dark Horse: Bloodbath on Biddle

Honorable Mention: Realm of Haunted Minds

The Wyandotte Jaycees took full advantage of the old City Hall building and in doing so, provided  guests with a lengthy trip through two levels of haunted rooms and corridors. Bloodbath on Biddle featured creative room design and a slew of warm bodies, actors who proved more capable than in previous seasons. Time and money are luxuries that Jaycees groups simply do not have to waste, the folks at Bloodbath on Biddle deserve a lot of credit for managing their resources wisely.

 

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.

2013 Killer Automatons: Erebus

Honorable Mention: Jackson’s Underworld

House of the Dead’s four year stranglehold on this award has finally been broken as the old king returns to the throne. This is the second Killer Automatons Award for Erebus; the first came in 2008.

 

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.

2013 Monster: Sinister

Honorable Mention: Exit 13

This award proved to be the most difficult selection of the 2013 season as there were several deserving candidates. In the end however it was the unrelenting, improvisational impresarios of Sinister who grabbed the award for a second consecutive year.

 

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.

2013 Prop Master: Hillside Mortuary (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Honorable Mention: Slaughter House (Slaughter House Adventure)

Hillside Mortuary earned this award in 2013 by offering haunters a trek through fully furnished rooms, complete with eerily posed mannequins. The motionless spooks were ominously frozen throughout the attraction, seemingly captured in moments of life that will live forever. The creepiest of the bunch stood expressionless next to an open casket — I got the chills just thinking about it.

 

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.

2013 Pulse Pounder: Village of the Living Dead

Honorable Mention: Purgatory’s Revenge

Reminiscent at times of our 2010 trip to Demonic Demons in Detroit, Village of the Living Dead toyed with the senses in various ways. Haunters were forced to crawl, climb, and grope their way through blinding fog and strobe effects. The overall effect produced a major spike in our heart rates.

 

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.

2013 Samhain: October 25, 2013 (Purgatory’s Revenge, Blake’s & Slaughtered at Sundown)

Honorable Mention: November 1, 2013 (Exit 13 & Village of the Living Dead)

We enjoyed a long night of haunting on October 25, when we managed to visit three attractions for the first time. Purgatory’s Revenge was a very good first time effort while the Nighttime Spooky Hayride at Blake’s was a feast for the eyes; meanwhile Slaughtered at Sundown offered classic fundamentals and engrossing scenes.

 

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.

2013 Haunt of the Year: Hush

Honorable Mention: Erebus

Quite simply, we were highly impressed with the overall effort from the rookie, Hush. The clever theme was leveraged well by Dr. Phineas Phun who highlighted an excellent cast that was full of energy. The scenes and scares varied in type and intensity and that approach produced a common thread of fun and fright that prevailed throughout Hush. It was a welcome surprise in 2013 that left us yearning for more and reminded us once again why we cherish this rite of passage each October.

Horrorlust Haunt Awards: A History

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by bluefall8

The haunt awards, like Horrorlust itself, are the result of an evolution. The 2013 crop will be the sixth annual edition for most of the awards — Rotten Pumpkin, Eerie Vibrations, Dark Horse, Killer Automatons, Pulse Pounder, and Monster all debuted following the 2008 haunt season. The Prop Master and Samhain Awards were both added at the conclusion of the 2011 season, thus making this the third consecutive year for those respective distinctions.

The oldest award that we recognize is of course, Haunt of the Year. This award predates Horrorlust, indeed Haunt of the Year goes back even further than Hallowblog, the predecessor to this blog. Not long before I began chronicling all of these wonderful haunted adventures my merry band of travelers and I would simply agree upon the best attraction of the Halloween season. And so you’ll notice that in the annals of Horrorlust, that the Haunt of the Year Award is officially recognized as having originated in 2005.

As an interesting aside, it’s worth noting that these awards were initially called the Haunt Trinity Haunt Awards. If you delve into the depths of past Horrorlust posts you’re sure to come across such a phrase. The Haunt Trinity was a nickname I fashioned once a upon a time for a frequent trio of haunters. The group was comprised of myself, Jason (my older brother), and our good friend John who is sometimes referred to in these posts as the Disco Devil or simply, Disco.

I used to get a kick out of the name; I even spun spur of the moment rhymes about it and haunted attractions but mostly I think it merely served to annoy everybody else. After a time, it was rarely just the three of us participating in the beloved haunt excursions; a half a dozen or more friends and acquaintances regularly rotated in and out on any given night. My brother began to joke that the nickname Haunt Trinity was a misnomer.

A couple of years ago he found work in a new field and his schedule changed drastically; allowing him to partake in the haunted festivities only a time or two per season. This roughly coincided with the advent of Horrorlust and so it has been since 2011 that the annual awards have shared the namesake of this blog.

Readers, if you need a refresher on any of the awards please refer to the other posts under the “Awards” category, where full descriptions are posted. As a historical footnote, it’s worth mentioning that we began to recognize an honorable mention for each award in 2009 although those are not listed in this post. Interested parties are referred to the aforementioned entries found under the “Awards” category.

Fun Fact: No haunted attraction has ever been named Haunt of the Year on more than one occasion. In fact, there exists just two haunted houses that claimed the same award in multiple years. House of the Dead (Terror Town) won the Killer Automatons Award four consecutive years from 2009-2012. Deadly Intentions secured the Monster Award in back-to-back years during the 2008 and 2009 haunt seasons.

 

Rotten Pumpkin

2008: Templin’s Night Terror (Wyandotte Jaycees)

2009: Jackson’s Underworld

2010: Leo’s House of Horror

2011: Anxiety Alley

2012: Scream Machine

 

Eerie Vibrations

2008: Homer Mill

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: The Haunted Farm

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Bloodview

 

Dark Horse

2008: Realm of Haunted Minds

2009: Extreme Scream

2010: Woods of Darkness

2011: Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom

2012: Dimensions of Darkness

 

Killer Automatons

2008: Erebus

2009: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2010: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2011: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2012: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

 

Pulse Pounder

2008: County Morgue (Chainsaw Creek)

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: Demonic Demons

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Slaughter House (Slaughter House Adventure)

 

Monster

2008: Deadly Intentions

2009: Deadly Intentions

2010: Realm of Darkness

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Sinister

 

Prop Master

2011: Tent of Terror (The Boneyard)

2012: Barn of Horrors (Erwin Orchards)

 

Samhain

2011: October 14, 2011 (Krazy Hilda’s, Chelsea Feargrounds, The Boneyard)

2012: October 12, 2012 (Erwin Orchards, Slaughter House Adventure, A Nightmare on Elm Road)

 

Haunt of the Year

2005: Nautical Nightmare

2006: Erebus

2007: Realm of Darkness

2008: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: Demonic Demons

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Sinister

2013 Horrorlust Haunt Award Nominations

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2014 by bluefall8

As the Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show rolls on in St. Louis; the time as come to recognize the best haunted offerings of the 2013 season. We here at Horrorlust present nine dreadful categories , the original seven include: Monster, Killer Automatons, Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Dark Horse, Rotten Pumpkin and finally, Haunt of the Year. In 2011 we added the Prop Master and Samhain Awards.

Below are descriptions for each category accompanied by this years’ nominees. All cities listed in parenthesis are located in the State of Michigan unless otherwise noted.

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.

2013 Rotten Pumpkin Nominees: 

3-Story Haunted Barn (Blake’s – Armada)

Realm of Darkness (Pontiac)

Scream Machine (Taylor)

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.

2013 Eerie Vibrations Nominees:

Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Terrorfied Forest (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney)

Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles)

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.

2013 Dark Horse Nominees:

Bloodbath on Biddle (Wyandotte)

Hillside Mortuary (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney)

Realm of Haunted Minds (Romulus)

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.

2013 Killer Automatons Nominees:

Erebus (Pontiac)

Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson)

Realm of Darkness (Pontiac)

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.

2013 Monster Nominees:

Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Hush (Westland)

Sinister (Utica)

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.

2013 Prop Master Nominees:

Bloodbath on Biddle (Wyandotte)

Slaughter House (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville)

Hillside Mortuary (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney)

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.

2013 Pulse Pounder Nominees:

Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Purgatory’s Revenge (New Haven)

Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles)

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.

2013 Samhain Nominees:

October 25, 2013 (Blake’s, Purgatory’s Revenge, Slaughtered at Sundown)

October 30, 2013 (Bloodbath on Biddle, Hush, Scream Machine)

November 1, 2013 (Exit 13 & Village of the Living Dead)

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.

2013 Haunt of the Year Nominees:

Erebus (Pontiac)

Hush (Westland)

Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles)

For awards from 2010-2012 consult the “Awards” category listed in the sidebar to the right. A comprehensive list of past winners will be posted mid-week with the 2013 winners being released one week from today.

2013 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2014 by bluefall8

In anticipation of the 2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards Nominations, I present to any interested parties, a complete list of last season’s ratings. It should be noted that ratings, in and of themselves, do not determine awards.  This list is used primarily as a means of reference for my own archival purposes. I hope you find it enjoyable, nevertheless.

2013 STAR RATINGS

1. Hush – 4.75 (Westland, MI.)

2. Erebus – 4.5 (Pontiac, MI.)

3. Nighttime Spooky Hayride – 4.5 (Blake’s – Armada, MI.)

4. Bloodbath & Beyond Hayride – 4.25 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

5. Exit 13 – 4.25 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

6. Village of the Living Dead – 4.25 (St. Charles, MI.)

7. Purgatory’s Revenge – 4 (New Haven, MI.)

8. Realm of Haunted Minds – 3.75 (Romulus, MI.)

9. Sinister – 3.75 (Utica, MI.)

10. Haunted Corn Maze – 3.5 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

11. Slaughtered at Sundown – 3.5 (Aramada, MI.)

12. Bloodbath on Biddle – 3.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

13. CarnEvil 3D – 3.25 (Pontiac, MI.)

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

15. Slaughter House – 3.25 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

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

17. Dark Abyss – 3 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

18. Funeral Home – 3 (Inkster, MI.)

19. Hillside Mortuary – 2.75 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney, MI.)

20. Jackson’s Underworld – 2.75 (Jackson, MI.)

21. Realm of Darkness – 2.75 (Pontiac, MI.)

22. 3 Story Haunted Barn – 2.25 (Blake’s – Armada, MI.)

23. Scream Machine – 0.5 (Taylor, MI.)

Triple Threat a Real Treat at Slaughter House

Posted in 2013, Review, Slaughter House Adventure with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by bluefall8

If you own a parcel of land in Michigan’s countryside, you already have one of the key elements of a successful haunted attraction — mix in an old barn, cornstalks, and a patch of woods and you have all the right ingredients for a haunting good time. Such is the case is Fowlerville where Slaugher House, Haunted Maze, and Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride comprise “Michigan’s Best Trifecta of Terror!”

The Wolverine State is dotted with a veritable smattering of haunted attractions and this is one location that deserves attention. There are scares to be had here for certain but also plenty of laughter as well as a measure of magic. The pricing is flexible too, allowing guests to participate in one, two, or three attractions — the $30 super combo which allows haunters to experience the haunted hat trick is one of the better bargains we’ve come across.

SLIGHT OF HAND, TWIST OF FATE

Little has changed since last year inside the formidable barn known as Slaughter House, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you consider the fact that the show we were treated to in 2012 was a mile a minute thrill ride. Many of the characters we encountered last year were on hand as well but were portrayed, in many instances, by different actors. The results in this case were varied; some performed admirably, even out doing their predecessors while others left us yearning for the latter. I personally missed the little old lady in the final room the most, she was a breath of fresh air last year.

Billy Wonka and his special son, Billy Jr., were on hand once more and the duo didn’t disappoint with their hilariously tasteless antics. Also of note was the diminutive trickster who played on our sympathies before being cast to the depths of Hell! This technique in particular is something I greatly enjoyed about Slaughter House that I’ve never seen at any other attraction; truly a brilliant storytelling device.

There was also a bit of old school fundamentals at work inside one room where a series of dummies formed a semi-circle. Intermittent blasts of light from a strobe revealed that all was still. Another flash of light illuminated the room and we were offered a similar sight save for one dummy which remained stock still but had changed position, now with an extended index finger that presumably pointed us in the correct direction. It may not sound like much but in my mind it was an example of classic haunting that utilized anticipation and misdirection.

Unfortunately, there was a malfunction with the mechanism incorporated in the guillotine illusion, and despite a valiant effort there wasn’t much the actor could do to save the scene. Familiarity did sap some of the magic out of the overall effect of the show for us but that obviously won’t be an issue for anybody who has yet to experience Slaughter House. I very much enjoyed the use of comedy employed here — the recurring theme of ordinary people persecuted for minor offenses and then subsequently executed through archaic means created a fun and absurd form of entertainment.

Rating: 3.25 stars

MONSTROUS MAIZE MOST IMPRESSIVE

One of the most striking elements of the haunted corn maze is the maize itself — it’s enormous! We’ve witnessed some monstrous stalks before but the corn here jutted out of the ground and leaped toward the moonlit sky at a height that exceeded thirteen feet; the vast size easily left us at a loss for a sense of direction.

The attraction was of generous length and the path even wound guests through various shacks, silos, and a storage bin that served as a dark maze. The finale featured an interactive carnival of sorts where a clownish host tried his hand at the Hammer Bell before he encouraged me to shoot some electronic sensors. It was all in good fun, and when a zombie burst out of a cellar beneath the firing range, he shot it in the head.

Rating: 3.5 stars

BLOOD BATH & BEYOND TO THE MOON

The Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride is yet another enjoyable attraction here, clocking in at just over thirty minutes it certainly offered haunters a great return on their dollar. Many of the scenes remained the same as last year but there was quite a shake up as well including a comical electrocution and an impressive bit with a scarecrow who was suddenly elevated off of his post and lifted above the corn.

In the woods we encountered an artist of sorts who had the odd hobby of framing the heads of dead relatives — mom and dad had already been framed handsomely and late brother Billy was just about to become the latest member of his macabre collection. One instance of slight of hand later, Billy’s head sat before us and urged his able bodied brother to snatch a good looking lady from the wagon.

Further down the path we drove by the scene of a car accident where the drunkard responsible for the wreck, shambled directionless through the woods while he incredulously insisted that he wasn’t the guilty party. This particular actor was quite the comedic sight both in appearance and delivery; he had made for a very believable drunk.

Later, we drove directly into a blood feud that featured the infamous Hatfield and McCoy families; the sides engaged in a verbal spat which then escalated when octogenarians from each family were brutalized by the other side. Our tractor hastily departed among a hail of threats and gunfire.

Shortly thereafter we came to rest near a cage in the woods, a woman was held captive inside. Outside the structure a mad scientist raved about an elixir of youth that he had created and he was prepared to demonstrate it on the young lady. The scientist attempted to parry favor with those on the wagon by asking who among us wouldn’t pay a steep price for just such a potion, he even went so far as to single out a guest but she didn’t seem eager to play along.

The scientist, however, was the persistent type and pressed further but no answer came and when the silence lingered on the precipice of awkwardness — I threw my voice and bellowed, “Yeah, she could stand to lose a few.” To my great pleasure (and relief) the whole of the wagon roared with laughter and the determined scientist was able to continue with his demonstration which resulted in the woman being transformed into a screaming child.

The finale of the hayride also featured some humor; yet another loose canon scientist had been engaged in experimentation. This fellow had nabbed himself a live alien specimen but his experiment devolved quickly which resulted in the rather abrupt and senseless death of the extraterrestrial being. The scene became even more improbable when the mother ship ascended above his lab with an agenda of revenge!

Rating: 4.25 stars

“Don’t goose a ghost, you’ll end up with a hand full of sheet!”

-Sage wisdom from the woodland drunk.