Archive for Hallowblog Flashback

Somnambulism at the Sinner’s Ball

Posted in Hallowblog, Word of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2015 by bluefall8

This edition of Hallowblog Flashback recalls a Word of the Week entry originally posted on Monday, October 26, 2009. The title of this entry was taken from some lines I had jotted down for a poem during the spring of 2007. The poem was never finished but I do remember that the lines were partly inspired by the song “The Bird and the Worm” by The Used. 

Alas, as it is the last Monday in October this will be the final entry in this year’s Halloween themed Word of the Week. In the true spirit of the season we shall not let this week pass quietly. On Devil’s Night the Haunt Trinity will end the haunt season with a triple shot of horror and then I’ll accompany Missy’s younger siblings for some prime trick or treating.

I’ve long been fascinated by sleep disorders, for a glimpse of a somnambulist check out The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, a very interesting silent thriller circa 1920. If you enjoy Tim Burton’s stylistic film making then you’ll appreciate the influence that this early film clearly had on him.

somnambulism [sam-nam-bye-li-zem]noun: an abnormal condition of sleep in which motor acts (as walking) are performed

Jason’s Curse, Ohio Haunts Highlight Night

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Haunted Hydro, Review, Terror Town with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2015 by bluefall8

In this edition of Hallowblog Flashback, we relive a notable night of haunting in the Buckeye State. Originally posted on Sunday, October 25, 2009 this entry documented a rather interesting and amusing excursion to Terror Town in Maumee and The Haunted Hydro in Fremont.

Terror Town’s House of the Dead would go on to win the 2009 Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award, an award the vaunted haunt would claim four consecutive seasons from 2009-2012. 

To this day my brother, Jason, is still ridiculed for the events of this night and I suspect it ‘ll be some years yet before the rest of us let him live it down.  

Our haunt excursion on Friday the 16th was a memorable experience but perhaps just as memorable as the haunts was the dilemma in which we found ourselves that jeopardized the entire night. Jason, in keeping with his rich tradition of procrastination and tardiness, once again delayed the start of our night. However that would turn out to be the least of his infractions on this night. While driving La Pleasance Road en route to southbound I-75, Jason debated aloud the pros and cons of stopping for gas at the present or putting off the menial task for some time later in the night. Prone as he is to laziness and indifference Jason nonchalantly proclaimed that later suited him just fine.

Twenty minutes later the car began to decelerate and within a minute we were at a crawl and out of gas. I am convinced that the man is cursed. Richard and I decided to jump out and began to push the vehicle while we still had some momentum. So there we were, a couple of jackasses pushing a car down US-25 in Toledo several miles from the nearest gas station. Jason relieved Richard of pushing duties after a quarter mile at which time Richard thought it pertinent to document the proceedings by snapping a few pictures. We’d gone about a half mile when a car pulled up behind us, a bearded man asked if we needed gas; somewhere in the distance I swear I heard a banjo. Thankfully he had a gas can and even more than that nobody was raped or maimed; many thanks to Beardo the Kind. We proceeded to the nearest gas station which likely would have taken well over an hour to reach had it not been for the kind stranger. The night was back on track and Terrortown was in our sights.

Last year Terrortown’s House of the Dead earned the Haunt Trinity’s top honor as Haunt of the Year and so it was with great excitement that we returned to this location. This year the offerings at Terrortown include Toxic Terror in 3D, The Asylum, and of course the incomparable House of the Dead. After purchasing our tickets we headed to the entrance for the 3D attraction. It was evident upon entering the haunt that something was amiss as nothing about it appeared in 3D, in fact the structure was completely dark. We wandered about the maze like interior for a couple of minutes amusing ourselves before making our exit. Given the situation I don’t feel that it would be fair or accurate to rate this particular attraction.

We jumped in line for The Asylum next, held in the same building that housed Slaughterhouse in 2008. Asylum offers haunters a very unique feature at the beginning of the attraction. We entered the lobby and stood before a steel door, in the middle of the door was a window which flickered and revealed its true face as a video screen. A short video began; a woman in a white dress with long, greasy black hair stalked a row of abandoned prison cells. She dragged an ax at her side and her intentions became clear. She battered the window with the ax and the door began to dent as if something would shortly break down the door. We’ve never witnessed an effect quite like this anywhere else. I could only guess at the cost of such a prop. The only downside was the fact that the door was apparently not functional because no actor erupted from the door which would have set the tone nicely.

Asylum wasn’t a lengthy attraction but it accomplished quite well what it set out to do. The haunt was comprised almost entirely of dark, maze like passages which were periodically streaked with the flash of a strobe light. A series of highly creepy full size props ward haunters away from various dead ends and I do mean highly creepy. The props looked identical to the girl from the video, each of them armed with an ax. Due to the realism of the dummies we initially mistook them for live actors but even after concluding that they were props nobody wanted to get too close to these fierce bitches. It turned out that The Asylum was actually light on genuine fleshies which definitely would have helped push this attraction to the next level. Those that were present weren’t bad but they certainly weren’t great either. However, this attraction will without a doubt raise some goose bumps on every visitor, if the props and ghouls don’t do it the cold air certainly will. The building is very cold which is no doubt done on purpose as the operators at Terrortown are known for their penchant to assail the senses in nontraditional ways. It was an effective maneuver, by the time we exited the haunt our hands were like ice; an interesting ripple to a solid dark maze. The haunt concludes with the largest vortex tunnel you’re likely to see anywhere. Last season it stood as a solo attraction titled The Beast but it works much better in a complimentary fashion paired with The Asylum.

Rating: 3 1/4 stars

After staggering out of the vortex we headed to the entrance of the main event, House of the Dead. We must have caught Terrortown on a slow night because there was absolutely no wait for the feature presentation in contrast we waited well over an hour last year to gain entry. We stood in the lobby and were shortly greeted by the same middle aged creep that welcomed us to Dead House last year. He received us warmly and seemed to be genuinely thrilled that we’d come to “play with his children” as he put it. I like this character and I enjoy the demented patriarch shtick he runs, it’s a fun way to start the haunt. We packed into an elevator and descended into the bowels of the rotting estate. I will not mince words, House of the Dead just wasn’t quite the acid trip induced wet dream that we experienced last year, it’s still a fine haunt that much should not be questioned but the wicked juices that fueled last year’s mind fuck have abated a bit. The attraction is notably shorter and the infamous room of killer babies has been omitted which left us particularly disappointed.

Last year one of our few criticisms of this attraction was the lack of live actors, there are many more live actors this year but unfortunately most of them have less personality than most of the animatronics. But oh, how awesome these animatronics are! The first room of the haunt held about five animatronics alone, one man had a stream of blood issuing from his stomach while another struggled futilely against the restraints that held him aloft. We were attacked by an alligator and witnessed the aftermath of a gruesome slaughter of a unicorn by a pack of burly wolves.

One of my favorite scenes involved a prop I’ve come to call the Goliath Man, a massive crucified ghoul who lunges at haunters from his post. We came upon a hallway which had a long mirror on the wall to the left, a mixture of eeriness and vanity drew our gaze and then Goliath Man struck from the other side when a partition dropped out of the wall. Pay attention folks because this is a great blend of an old school technique (misdirection) and modern technology. Another great scene involving a member of Terrortown’s automated army came in the form of a feasting alien devouring the half eaten carcass of a young girl, classy.

Another aspect of House of the Dead that scores well with the Haunt Trinity is the attraction’s attention to detail. The operators play up the House angle well sending guests through a series of narrow passages and rooms designed to look just like somebody’s home, a deranged nutter’s home yes, but a home nonetheless. The hallways are decorated with freakish family portraits and the various rooms nearly all feature still props that could just as well be the stuffed remains of family members, I especially enjoyed the sinister looking children.

House of the Dead also commands recognition for its implementation of innovative techniques such as the use of holographic projections. Also of note are unique set pieces like the stairs that break under the weight of an unseen presence. And of course any mention of all things strange and bizarre at House of the Dead would not be complete without calling attention to the odorous decay that seems to permeate the walls within the manor. The foul smell nearly overwhelmed us when we entered a room full of dead animals. Thankfully this was a small room and before we could contribute to the overall stench of the place by unleashing the contents of our stomachs we entered an adjacent meat cooler. Inside the cooler hung the bodies of many a victim but we had no time for sorrow because the keeper of the shop had arrived with a chainsaw. During the ensuing melee I heard squealing and I thought that was an odd thing to hear in a room full of dead humans. It was then that I looked about and realized that the bodies hanging from the ceiling weren’t exactly human…they were some sort of pig people hybrid! The monstrosity nearest me was squealing incessantly and arching his freakish head toward my calf. We fled the meat cooler content in the knowledge that those pig people would soon be bacon on some lucky fellow’s plate.

House of the Dead is indeed an interesting and rare piece of work. Last year the attraction was an absolute hit with hardly any live actors at all and this year Dead House seemed to gain success in spite of the lackluster performance of said actors. I don’t believe we’ve ever come across any place or situation quite like this. I would obviously like to see the haunt return to its 2008 length but I dare say it seems counter intuitive to suggest that the operators scale back the number of live performers, but perhaps House of the Dead would be at its best with a few well placed warm bodies. The animatronics are simply the best we’ve witnessed; some really seem to take on a life of their own. The unique oddities inherent to this attraction add a layer to the experience and atmosphere that a lot of haunts just can’t touch. I hope the brain trust at Terrortown continue to evolve the idea of homestead gone bad because it has a lot of fun possibilities I’d love to see brought to life.

Rating: 3 3/4

We departed the Lucas County Fairgrounds and nearly forty minutes later arrived just in time to purchase our tickets at the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Ohio. The adventure marked our first visit to this attraction and as with all first time trips we were eager to sample the offerings. There are two primary attractions here the crown jewel and namesake, Haunted Hydro and Industrial Mayhem; an outdoor attraction that truly exceeded all expectations.

Industrial Mayhem forces haunters through a long series of narrow paths bordered on both sides by chain linked fence. The attraction features a differently themed creature of the night each weekend; thus far it had been home to demons and nightmarish clowns but as fortune would have it our visit coincided with an outbreak of the living dead. Zombies littered the grounds and their jaws were a’ gnashing. The workers featured elaborately gruesome make up and some even donned those twisted contacts that warp the eyes. The actors were hard working and refused to be content with a single scare, several hungry ghouls stalked us through the gritty path and attacked us three or four times each. Much of the cast added to the genuine zombie appeal by refusing to break character responding to our usual hijinx with garbled grows and menacing snarls; these flesh eaters meant business.

The haunt featured two set pieces in particular which ensured that the repetitious setting did not become monotonous. The first was a boat and as we passed a starving zombie crawled from beneath the watercraft and began thrashing at our legs. Later the path led directly into the back of a hearse through which we were made to crawl. Midway through the dreary mobile a portion of the floor lights up, a ghoul trapped beneath a pane of glass pounds frantically in an attempt to procure the just out of reach delicacies.

Near the end of the attraction we came across a small junk yard that housed a hungry female zombie who was currently gorging herself on the neck of a once proud but now dead, stallion. She glared at us greedily as if the hardy meal she had already won wasn’t enough. The glint in her glossy eyes told us she had a zest for man flesh. Jason appeared a little too eager to oblige so we quickly pushed forward before he made a fatally embarrassing mistake. We wound our way into a burnt out dump, a revolting mutant wandered amidst the rubble. He wore construction gear and had a face that looked as if it had been washed in an acid bath. His skin was raw and tinged red, it looked like a lump of bloody hamburger. He entered a shack with shelves lined with grim trinkets; on one shelf a jar filled with orange slime contained a multitude of eye balls. He began pouring muddy, waste water from one barrel to the next offering us a drink as he did so. He also engaged us in a bit of tasteless humor involving one of our mothers.

We rounded the shack and attempted to exit Industrial Mayhem but we were chased away from the double doors by a deranged man who was very concerned about the damage we may cause his doors. Jason managed to escape on the first attempt barreling through the flimsy doors with wanton disregard. We had to retreat several times behind the mutant’s shack before making a run for it and escaping one by one. I was the last to breach the threshold; the little, angry man was still shouting about his doors.

Rating: 4 1/4 stars

We crossed the court yard and made our way to the entrance of the Haunted Hydro where the eccentric owner, Crazy Bob was entertaining some female patrons. Ole Bob rambled on for a bit about never forgetting a face and tried rather futilely to rattle Disco. Crazy Bob shortly relented and allowed us to enter the old hydro dam now home to a soggy army of ghouls and weirdoes. The building is an impressive sight to behold featuring a ceiling that towers far above the heads of its guests. We enjoyed Haunted Hydro but the haunt lacked a cohesive theme and that was disappointing because the structure would be quite believable as a medieval castle.

The first two scenes were highly detailed and would have felt at home at The Realm of Darkness. The first was a bedroom scene and the second a dining room, the latter scene offered up a hilarious worker who really pushed the envelope. After leaping out of a chair the portly ghoul offered us what he referred to as eyeball soup and then suggested that he add a special ingredient. He squatted slightly and began rubbing his hand on his ass; he then brought his hand to the bowl and proclaimed that the secret ingredient was “brown sugar.” We of course responded with bales of laughter and our sides nearly split when this repugnant wretch gyrated his hips and rubbed the personal concoction on his nipple. He responded promptly to our ribbing by wiping his fingers on my nipple which was actually quite surprising because haunt workers are not supposed to touch guests but I found the whole scene to be ludicrous and took no offense. Brown Sugar Man, I salute you!

We were lead shortly through a narrow hall filled with various clown props; the passage was lit by black lights and concluded when a simpering French clown provided a mild scare. The path took several more turns and we ended up in a security room, the walls lined with monitors, a woman occupied the chair behind the desk and our presence clearly disturbed her. She rose from the chair with great jerky movements and stalked our party to the end of the room.

Near the conclusion of the attraction haunters are treated to display both rare and bizarre in nature. A brightly colored, old fashioned puppet booth stood before us standing in surreal contrast to the dimly lit and grimy surroundings. A scrawny, high pitched male appears from behind the curtains holding a dirty teddy bear in his left hand. The bear would like to sing us a song and of course we agree to witness this odd side show. The puppeteer disappears behind the curtains and shakes the teddy bear about as he sings a dark rhyme about death. At one point the bear disappears behind the curtains and a large, clawed hand shoots quickly toward the guests functioning as a dovetail for the lyrics. When the song concludes the slimy puppet master cheers his own depraved lyrics and encourages us to do the same, we happily offer a round of applause and exit the scene.

We headed up an inclined path; a large shadow could be seen high upon a wall in the distance, another neat feature. The path turned and took us into a room with a deep pit, several nutters patrolled the room including a manic judge but to my disappointment the pit of despair held no captives. The path briefly led outside which afforded us the opportunity to appreciate the exterior of the Hydro. When we reentered we soon came to the conclusion of the haunt, a large graveyard setting that featured either a hopelessly drunk or helplessly insane pirate who blathered nonsense and begged us not to leave him.

The haunt concluded on a some what lackluster note but it did feature a lot of live actors most of which were quite good at what they set out to do. The unique features mentioned above were all welcome surprises and something I’d like to see the haunt build on. We had a lot of fun at the Haunted Hydro and I’d like to plan a return trip in a future season.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

“Oh, I hope they’re not too old.”

-Richard responding to the House of the Dead patriarch’s enthusiasm when he expressed delight that we had come to play with his children

“(Strangled laughter) Your mother…(more strangled laughter)…douche.”

-The reaction of the construction mutant when I suggested that his filthy, barrel water had been used as a douche by Richard’s mom

Wicked Ways on Tunneled Paths

Posted in Hallowblog, Word of the Week with tags , , , , on January 27, 2015 by bluefall8

This Word of the Week entry blinked into existence on Monday, October 19, 2009.

The third installment of the Halloween themed WOTW has a lot of descriptions, enjoy.

wicked [wi-ked]adjective: morally bad: evil, sinful; fierce, vicious

Chaos at Deadly, Serendipitous Rain

Posted in 2009, Deadly Intentions, Hallowblog, Haunted Hollows, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2015 by bluefall8

This edition of Hallowblog Flashback was originally posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 and chronicled a most memorable night of haunting at two Michigan attractions. Deadly Intentions would go on to win the 2009 Horrorlust Monster Award and also received an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award.

It was Bowbee’s Nightmare at Haunted Hollows, the other attraction we visited on the night in question, that actually snagged the 2009 Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award along with the Horrorlust Eerie Vibrations Award and Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. The cast at Bowbee’s Nightmare also received an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Monster Award that season.

Sadly, the barn that housed Bowbee’s Nightmare burned to the ground one December morning in 2009. Haunted Hollows continued to produce various haunted attractions through 2012 but has been dark since that time. In 2011, much of the diehard cast followed Larry Black to Pontiac when Sinister haunted house ran alongside The Realm of Darkness. In 2012 and 2013 Sinister was stationed in Utica and then last year with Sinister closed Larry led the core of his crazies back to The Realm of Darkness where their storied history continued.

Like Haunted Hollows, Deadly Intentions is also no longer in operation having last run a show in 2012. On the plus side, the building that used to house Deadly Intentions is still active each October as it is now the home of The Deadland.

Try as the weather did last Friday to spoil our night of haunting the effort was as some would say, all for naught. Due to Jason’s usual lazy man shenanigans we didn’t depart from my apartment until 8:45 but we made good time and arrived at Deadly Intentions roughly half an hour later. A slight drizzle misted the air but for the chance to experience City of the Living Dead I would have braved an Indian monsoon. We did have a bit of a wait but that did nothing to diminish our spirits, our admission was paid; we had a one way ticket to a zombie infested Necropolis…I was happy.

The haunt on the whole was very well done but that was to be expected, what really impressed me was the cohesion and flow from one room to the next; the effect of a desolate city was pulled off very nicely. The trip begins in tavern complete with tables, stools, and a fully stocked bar. A visibly shaken bartender intercepted us and began rambling about dead people and infected bites, his breath smells of liquor. He was at a loss as to what he should do and when I attempted to reassure him that we could handle the situation by hurling Molotov cocktails at the zombies he grew agitated, pulled a gun on us, and demanded that we exit his bar. The whole episode put me in mind of that scene at the beginning of Resident Evil 2 when Leon seeks shelter in a gun shop only to stare down the barrel of a shot gun. It was a great scene to watch then and it was a lot of fun to experience first hand as well.

The adjacent room is adorned in the usual trappings of a bar as well: sports memorabilia and beer signs lined the wall while old school video games occupied a corner of the room to the left a bubble hockey table dared me to strike up a game. And I would have challenged one of my mates too if it weren’t for a particularly agile zombie that thrashed about the room lusting for our flesh. He pursued us out of the bar and into a room best described as the area behind the bar. Dumpsters lined the walls and again I was impressed with the creativity of the scenes. We had no time to admire such things though as the bar ghoul still hungered for our warm flesh. A female zombie emerged from the dumpsters and swiped at us viciously. The pair of undead assailants romped about the scene, rapidly dodging around our feet as we attempted to navigate the tight passageway. I must say that I very much admired their commitment to the act; they certainly were not deterred by the threat of bodily harm.

The dumpster area gave way to an alley where a zombie hobo, a dirty zombie hobo had taken up residence. He lovingly gnawed at a severed leg which must have sated his appetite for the time being because he seemed only mildly interested in the ready meal that had so freely wandered into his undead fiefdom. Much to our amusement the scene included a burning barrel and a large cardboard box which contained the half eaten remains of a grisly corpse. Behind us a zombie tussle had begun, the female ghoul from the dumpster area had followed us into the alley and she wrestled Zobo (zombie hobo) for the rights to his meaty snack. We left them to settle their differences and entered into Master Baiter’s Tackle Shop. The store front sign of course elicited a cheap laugh and the decor inside the room was well done but the disfigured heathen behind the counter did his cohorts a disservice by allowing us to traverse the store unharassed.

After exiting the store we entered a short series of alleys, home to a psychotic, bone wielding clown. He circled our party several times, violently swinging his crude weapon, smashing it against the walls. He was murderous but displayed no overt cannibalistic desires and so we passed without further incident.

The chaos continued as we did our best to navigate the ravaged cityscape, ahead we spotted a house, the light of a television flickered behind a curtained window but no refuge would be had as we were chased off by an angry homeowner. Up ahead we came across a deranged girl who seemed to have locked herself in a large cage as a means to protect herself from the undead horde. She shouted at us shrilly and demanded that we leave her alone. We noticed a TV inside the makeshift prison which was currently showing a pornographic film. Try as he might Jason could not contain the gleam of curiosity in his eyes but with a mass of flesh munchers on our trail even he could not justify lingering any longer.

We found ourselves at the front doors of a church, a bloodied nun fled from the building, her arms flailing above her head as she wailed a lament of primal terror. It was apparent from her screams that someone had done something terrible. Inside the church we found the source of all the calamity, a zombified priest stood chained to the wall. His eyes had been artfully gouged from his head and he had indeed slaughtered himself a feast, caked in blood as he was. As we passed I gave him a sporting chance at my hand and to his credit he did not disappoint, I reacted just in time and avoided the deadly chomp.

It would be Disco who would next be put to the test in this city teeming with the living dead. We had come to a choke point, the perfect place for an ambush, when an excitable butcher appeared and blocked our path. He began sniffing the air and muttered under his breath. He approached Disco, pinned him to the wall, and began sniffing him. Disco did his best to show no fear but it was clear that this creep had unnerved him. “Ohhh, I like this one,” said the butcher with a hint of thinly veiled sexual zest; Richard, Jason, and I could only laugh. The Disco however refused to squeal like a piggy and braved his way past this depraved maniac. The butcher would not be easily deterred and pursued us for some time. He was soon joined by a stocky zombie with a mangled face. The pair lumbered after us as we fled to the outskirts of the infected city. Another zombie joined their ranks and then a lunatic with chainsaw sought to sever anything that so happened to come his way. It was a frenzied atmosphere as we fled our pursuers past the city limits but just when we thought we’d escaped a zombie leaped from a ladder and made sure to hasten our exit.

For the second consecutive year Deadly Intentions delivered a fun and exciting show. I like the fact that City of the Living Dead included survivors who in the spirit of Dead Rising, had broke with reality and become hostile. The theme was awesome and lent itself nicely to some truly creative scenes, especially those at the beginning of the haunt. The actors were once more impressive in every regard displaying a level of intensity and enthusiasm unmatched anywhere else. The show was not without flaw though, for instance a heavy saturation of gore would have been appropriate with this theme. A greater commitment to continuity would have also helped to enhance the theme of the haunt. There were a few scenes that didn’t exactly play to the City of the Living Dead angle as well as others might have, for example, the girl in the cage could have been replaced by a car accident scene where hungry ghouls sucked the marrow from bones.

With that said, Deadly does deserve special recognition for it’s ability to squeeze the most out of its resources. There are no animatronics here nor are there expensive props but there are also no lengthy stretches of pitch black hallways. Deadly Intentions does employ modern lighting and sound techniques which when coupled with a nuts and bolts approach to haunting creates a hybrid between new and old, a neo old school if you will. The bottom line is that Deadly Intentions is a great haunt; it’ll be interesting to see how the brain trust continues to reinvent this rock solid attraction.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Our next stop was the Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township but when we arrived we discovered to our great disappointment that the haunt had closed early do to rain. Perturbed, Richard and I got out of the vehicle with mischief on our minds. Richard decided that he would be justly amused if we were to make some modifications to the haunt’s sign. So it was that as we departed the phrase “open anus” blazed merrily from the signage at the Haunted Farm of Terror.

It was just past 10:30 at this time and we scrambled to find another attraction that would accept our haunt dollars. Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown are both located in nearby Armada but Blake’s too had closed early because of inclement weather and Slaughtered at Sundown was set to cut off ticket sales at 11:00. That left us with just one option, Haunted Hollows also in Armada. Haunted Hollows just opened last year but I’d heard some good things about it so with no other options we embarked on a short journey to the rural barn.

I was not impressed with the scene before us as we pulled into a nearly deserted and muddy parking lot. We exited the vehicle and proceeded to the ticket booth where I reluctantly handed over $15. We walked up a hill lined with cornstalks to the entrance of the barn. We were welcomed by a less than enthused Bride of Frankenstein and a guy dressed up like an old lady. After some corny dialogue from Granny Drag any hope I had for this haunt was quickly evaporating. The attraction only allowed two guests at a time so Jason and Disco entered first followed by Richard and I several minutes later. The haunt started a bit slow and I was convinced that this was going to be a short and pathetic money grab but that was the last negative thought I would have.

Bowbee’s Nightmare, as the attraction was titled, turned out to be an excellent haunt featuring innovative workers, effective props, and a truly creepy atmosphere. The attraction used no sound system which generally spells doom for a haunt because not only can music set the mood it also conveniently covers any noise hidden actors may unintentionally make. However this did not mean certain doom for Bowbee’s Nightmare quite the opposite was true, the eerie silence seemed to put us on edge and complimented the natural ambiance of the barn in a most frighteningly potent fashion.

The actors are the engine that drives Haunted Hollows and what a terrifyingly strange cast they were. The actors scored high marks on timing, make-up, and intensity but it was an unusual trait that jettisoned this brigade of creepy crawlers into haunt super stardom, the ghouls did not speak English. Many of the actors made guttural noises or menacing growls but those that did speak did so in what sounded like some sort of tribal dialect, the effect was disconcerting; the cast was very well trained. A noteworthy few included a skinny clown who displayed his improvisational skills by mimicking the circus tune that Richard began to sing when the wicked harlequin first assailed us; he bobbed his head from side to side and bounded about with gleeful madness. On the next floor a meaty female built like a bull dog burst from a refrigerator and growled menacingly. Her face was a mass of decay, a large boil protruded from her left cheek; she was a monstrosity to behold.

Richard and I caught up to Jason and Disco at the back end of the haunt and with juvenile delight I did my utmost to make Disco sully his draws. We had a hearty laugh but all the bustle alerted a hunchbacked ghoul to our presence. He was similar in stock to the Bull Dog Woman; I wondered what hideous spawns the pair might produce. The creature possessed surprising agility, leaping from a crouched position he gnashed at our faces. We escaped into the darkness but our reprieve was brief as a pair of nightmarish dames appeared as if born from shadow. One of them had long, blond hair and an appealing figure but even Jason’s perversion was swayed by the blood dripping from her mouth, a mouth lined with razor sharp teeth. She would reappear several times as we navigated the labyrinthine structure. Sometimes she would dart ahead of us and peek around corners and at others here presence was only made known to us by the haunting lament she seemed to enjoy singing, a bizarre combination that sounded like a cross between hiccups and strangled nursery rhymes. She appeared atop a staircase once we’d exited the haunt where she serenely hummed that strange dirge. She even pursued us to the parking lot and when goaded she approached our vehicle and snapped her teeth at my camera; now that’s dedication.

Bowbee’s Nightmare puts to great use an army of props, dummies, and mannequins; the likes of which were among the creepiest we’ve ever witnessed. This barrage of bodies kept our heads on a constant swivel, forever guessing where the next attack would come from. And all of this paid off wonderfully with one well placed actor. At the end of a small passageway a large doll sat atop a dresser limp and lifeless. Her white, expressionless face was in contrast to the black pig tails that fell on either side of her head. Suddenly, just as we were about to turn the corner she rocked forward and simpered darkly. When the gag was run on Jason and Disco, Richard and I could hear their shocked surprise several rooms away.

The haunt also featured a couple of false endings, one in the form of a very tight “Womb of Doom” and the other a fun vortex tunnel in which we snapped a memorable picture. Haunted Hollows also featured one very effective animatronic, an enormous Frankenstein that sprung to life with violent spasms caused by jolts of ear splitting electricity. A lot of haunts have animatronics in spades nowadays but the use of just one went a long way at the deathly quiet Bowbee’s Nightmare. The ending of the haunt was also memorable, after being led by some sort of garbling ghoul Bowbee himself was roused and chased us into a narrow, wooden choke point with the aid of a trusty chainsaw. Before we could race to the end of the passage a second abomination, Bowbee’s apprentice I presumed, forced us backward with a chainsaw of his own. It was a fun, wild end as the two disgruntled freaks pushed the four of us closer together with every swipe of the buzzing chainsaws.

Haunted Hollows’ Bowbee’s Nightmare succeeds by focuses on the fundamentals of haunting and in doing so delivered a unique and ultra creepy experience. The barn itself becomes a character and left us feeling as Disco quipped, feeling as if we’d just had a spell with the mutants from The People Under the Stairs. The barn has the feel of a B-rate slasher flick and that’s a compliment; this place will creep you out.

Rating: 5 stars

Pallor of the Waning Light

Posted in Hallowblog, Word of the Week with tags , , , , , on January 13, 2015 by bluefall8

This Word of the Week entry was originally posted Monday, October 12, 2009. In it, I waxed philosophical on Bram Stoker’s Dracula and George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

So many of our favorite ghouls, goblins, creeps, and freaks owe part of their terrible appeal to this week’s word. Where would Count Dracula be if he hadn’t featured a ghastly visage? I dare say Romero’s foul ghouls would have enjoyed but a fraction of their eventual fame had it not been for their iconic pallor.

pallor [pa-ler]noun: paleness