Archive for haunted hollows

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

Sinister Sidelined

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2014 by bluefall8

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A mere two days ago I reported that Purgatory’s Revenge would not be open during the 2014 haunt season. Unfortunately, today I bring news of yet another closure. I spoke to Steve Czapiewski via email recently, Steve is the Advertising Director at Sinister, and he ended a fair amount of speculation by confirming that Sinister will not operate this Halloween season.

The dark status of Sinister is a serious blow to the Michigan haunt scene. Sinister employed an in-your-face, improvisational style which created a fresh and exhilarating haunted house romp. It featured a rock solid cast who pushed haunt etiquette to the edge and defied guests not to relish the experience. Owner Larry Black seemed to view Sinister as a haunted sand box, and within those walls, cast and customers alike could engage in a choose-your-own-adventure-story.

In 2012 Sinister snatched both the Horrorlust Monster Award and Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. In 2013 Sinister claimed the Horrolust Monster once more and in the process became the first haunt to win an award in back-to-back years since Deadly Intentions clutched the Monster Award in 2008 and 2009.

It’s also worth mention that Larry and many of his miscreants were responsible for the unforgettable show we witnessed in 2009 at Haunted Hollows in Armada. Bowbee’s Nightmare garnered three awards that fall which included Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder and Haunt of the Year. That single season trifecta is topped only by the four-award effort Darksyde Acres pulled off in 2011 when The Catacombs & Rusthole secured the Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Monster and Haunt of the Year Awards.

Steve did note that Sinister may return in time for the 2015 or 2016 haunt season and also stated that much of the cast will ply their craft as members of the Realm of Darkness this year. That is a veritable windfall for The Realm of Darkness which had a lack of quality actors in 2013. I wish all parties involved the best throughout the 2014 haunt season and into the future.

Read up on our adventures at Sinister here:

2012 – Sinister Jolts the Night with Surprise Twist

2013 – Improvisation & Intensity Forge Sinister Synergy 

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

Big Weekend Brewing, Haunt Schedule

Posted in Haunt Schedule, Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2013 by bluefall8

This Friday the original gang will be back in the saddle when the Haunt Trinity hits the road to experience a triple threat of terror. First, we return to Pontiac to conquer world famous Erebus and the Realm of Darkness. We last visited each of these during the 2010 season; both locations have provided us with many fond memories over the years including instant classics on Halloween Night 2006 and 2008. Each has earned Haunt of the Year distinction — Erebus did it in 2006, Realm of Darkness took the top prize the following year in 2007. These are two very different haunted attractions and each execute their particular blend of haunting very well. It will be interesting to see how each has changed since our last visit and just what is in store for haunters at Realm of Darkness’ new second attraction, CarnEvil 3D.

Once we have survived Pontiac’s twin terrors we’ll make the short drive to Utica where we’ll witness what’s sure to be another knockout effort from the excellent team at Sinister. Last season Sinister was nearly flawless and beat out a couple of very worthy competitors to be named Haunt of the Year. It was by no accident that Sinister blew us away either, remember this was produced by many of the same wonderful weirdos who put on one of the best haunted displays we’ve ever witnessed — I speak, of course, of Haunted Hollows in Armada circa 2009. It should come as no surprise that this twisted gang snatched the Haunt of the Year Award that year as well.

2013 SCHEDULE

I continue to tinker with the haunt schedule but with so many exciting new prospects and the unknown status of some locations it’s been difficult to nail down definitive dates and times. Listed below are a few possible trips, which as of now are in no particular order. All attractions are located in Michigan unless otherwise noted.

Night #1 – Terrorfied Forest and Manor (Pinckney), Slaughter House (Fowlerville)

Night #2 – House of Fear (Hazel Park), Blake’s (Armada), Slaughtered at Sundown (Armada)

Night #3 – Scream Machine (Taylor), Funeral Home (Inkster), Hush (Westland)

Night #4 – Exit 13 (Mt. Morris), Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles)

Night #5 – Bloodbath on Biddle (Wyandotte), Realm of Haunted Minds (Romulus), Psycho Path (Gibraltar)

Night #6 – Lake “Eerie” Haunted Hayride (Brownstown), Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood)

I’m open to suggestions for any of these nights and there’s various other places I’d like to visit as well. I’d be happy to return to the Haunted Hydro (Fremont, Ohio) this year but I’m unaware of a second haunt that we could hit that night. Usually I’d suggest Terror Town but I think I’m a bit burnt out on it after five consecutive years of visiting.

I also have interest in Dimensions of Darkness (Maumee, Ohio) which John and I experienced for the first time last year on Halloween. It had a very cool old school approach and put us in mind of the treasured Extreme Scream. However, I’ve yet to read whether or not it will be operating this season.

Finally, there is the decision to be made regarding an overnight trip. John and I have discussed the possibility of renting a room near Flint and carving up the local haunt scene. On the other hand I’ve been itching to see the Dent Schoolhouse (Cincinnati, Ohio) for a couple of years now; my fellow haunters and I will undoubtedly have a tough decision on our hands.

Sinister Jolts the Night with Surprise Twist

Posted in 2012, Review, Sinister with tags , , , , on October 17, 2012 by bluefall8

The plot of land that Sinister sits upon isn’t eye catching and when we arrived the scene wasn’t cause for a whole lot of excitement. I didn’t know a great deal about this haunt — it was a wild card in the truest sense of the phrase. With all of this in mind I wondered aloud if we weren’t about to experience a dud, and perhaps that should’ve been my first clue of the greatness to come. Three years ago, nearly to the day, similar circumstances brought me do the same thoughts about another haunted attraction that in the end, turned out to be one of the very best we’ve ever encountered.

The location in question was Haunted Hollows in Armada and in 2009 the tagline for the haunted barn was Bowbee’s Nightmare. All of us in attendance that night considered the attraction an instant classic, it went on to win our Haunt of the Year award and the name Bowbee became synonymous with haunt royalty. Sadly, that December the barn that housed Bowbee’s Nightmare burned to the ground. I became aware of this fact the following September when I began planning for the 2010 haunt season. It was a major disappointment and because we could never return the legend of Bowbee grew within our circle.

So, here John and I were on a Friday night in October at an unknown haunt — imagine our surprise when we spotted a sign atop part of the attraction that read: Bowbee’s Nightmare. I stopped dead in my tracks, perhaps a bit too dramatically but I am a haunt fiend after all, and indicated the sign to John. It was a tantalizing suggestion but was it merely a coincidence? We were hopeful that the same folks who had once given us one of our very best outings had migrated here, but what were the chances? For the moment we agreed it was probably a strange coincidence — perhaps the term Bowbee’s Nightmare was simply a horror reference with which we were unfamiliar.

We purchased our tickets and made our way over to the short line and as we stood there soaking in the night my thoughts tugged at me. The doorman seemed oddly familiar as did the disheveled humanoid bird who flanked him. The neurons in my brain were alight with fragments of memories — the cadence of a voice, the flick of an eye. No, this could not be mere coincidence, something was afoot at Sinister. I brushed the needling thoughts aside attributing them to an overactive imagination. John and I relinquished our tickets and approached the entrance of the haunt — if there was anything to my suspicions we would soon have our answers.

As we entered, the sound of simpering insanity filled our ears, it quickly turned to guttural grunts and clicks. A young girl appeared wearing a humble, old fashioned dress and quickly ran off into the next room speaking a mile a minute in some foreign tongue, and I knew she was speaking the language of Bowbee’s people. She ran in circles, twirled and finally came to rest in a bizarre upside down pose with her eyes fixed pointedly on John and I. There was pure magic in the air as a rush of memories exploded in my head — this was no coincidence Bowbee’s had been resurrected! Every scene we traversed and each character we encountered had burned into its soul the distinct mark of Bowbee.

The set designs were comprised mostly of every day items — a child’s tricycle in one room, walls adorned with rag dolls in another — the same creepy, kitsch appeal that helped differentiate Bowbee’s Nightmare from the competition in 2009. The cast blends into this backdrop flawlessly, they are a twisted and absolutely committed team. The interaction and improvisational skills are second to none; these range from bizarre vocalizations to spasmodic, frenzied, and even perverse mannerisms. This crew has the ability to think on its feet and alter their performance for individuals or groups. Inquire about a casket? You might just find yourself locked inside of it for a couple of minutes. Foolish enough to offer up an appendage as a treat? The ghouls here may just oblige with a bite. From timing, to physicality, right through to theatrics this cast is phenomenal.

In Bowbee’s realm there are no dead spots or awkward transitions, each turn features high energy action — all of these elements combine to set an ideal pace. The structure of the haunted attraction is also instrumental in this regard sending haunters through a smart combination of indoor and outdoor scenes. Finally, there is the high energy, visually stunning finale. There’s blood, lots of blood. A blinding strobe light bounces off a scene of cinematic brutality. Bowbee himself wields the stern hand. Sinister achieves something substantial with such a finale — with a little creativity and some fundamental tactics, Sinister has added a new wrinkle to an old troupe and the end result provides for an exciting and darkly refreshing scene.

Upon exiting John and I took our sweet ole time basking in the glow of such an excellent attraction and even as we did this we watched actors prowl the grounds, some of them squirming flat on the ground, to frighten unsuspecting guests. We were approached by a man who turned out to be the owner, Larry. He confirmed that indeed this was largely the same cast that had once dwelt inside the barn at Haunted Hollows. We kicked the can back and forth with him for a few minutes talking about haunted houses and then he kindly allowed us a second pass through his stellar attraction. The disheveled bird man was still working the guests waiting in line except now he had a wooden chicken in his hands, cracking wise with mature word play. This guy was a pro and staying in character seemed to come naturally to him. His costume wasn’t much but he sold every last inch of it, very few actors would be able to pull much out of such an odd and ratty ensemble. We briefly swapped stories with the doorman once more, now recounting our 2009 trip through Bowbee’s Nightmare.

Our second trip through was no less enjoyable than the first and that is a true testament to this attraction. Even knowing where all of the scares were coming from didn’t diminish the experience. In fact, the second go around may have surpassed our first pass. I was both surprised and impressed to find some of the actors in different locations, they were even interacting with us differently. I’ve had the opportunity to run through a few haunted attractions multiple times in the past and often the actors are caught off guard, momentarily frozen by the presence of a repeat customer — but not these freaks, it was as if they’d never encountered us before.

One character, who we dubbed the Mad Humper, assailed a corpse with even more zest and vigor than he had on our first meeting. We’d already witnessed him defile said corpse with his fist and I’ll be damned if he didn’t find a way to up the ante — imploring me to shove my hands inside the bloody mess only to wildly cram his entire head inside of it when I refused. Elsewhere, a ghoul held another haunter captive who was now separated from his group. It felt as if John and I were invading on something personal and so we took the opportunity to crack a few jokes. Once more a member of the cast here did not disappoint, he deftly included us in the odd scene by introducing us to his macabre doll Popcorn which he then contorted to reveal a second doll inside — this was Kernel. Never before has a session of show-n-tell been rooted in such deranged humor. I loved it.

When we exited for the second time it was the same as the first — with smiles on our faces. We soaked in one final treat from this epic attraction as Bowbee emerged from his murder hut to participate in a chainsaw duel with a trench coat wearing maniac! There simply aren’t a lot of haunted attractions that feature this kind of all around precision or professionalism. It’s a gem of the Michigan haunt scene and I feel fortunate to have been entertained by this excellent cast once more.

On a related note, I don’t believe we’ve ever witnessed Haunt of the Year contenders so early in the season on back to back weeks. There is no doubt though that both Sinister and Slaughter House fall firmly into that category.

Rating: 4.75 stars

Updated 2012 Haunt Schedule

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by bluefall8

Listed below are various hypothetical trips, I’ve broken them up into two categories — main (the top list) and extra (the bottom list). I’m open to suggestions of course, but essentially the main category reflects what I feel are the top trips and therefore should be given priority over those in the extra category. Beginning Friday, September 28 through the end of October there are five weekends for haunting, typically we do a big trip on Devil’s Night or Halloween as well — so realistically that’s at least six nights out. There is also the possibility of hitting haunts twice in a week, say Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday, which is something we did last year on a couple of occasions. Anyway you slice it, October will be packed with haunted fun! Keep in mind that this list is not meant to be chronological  — I will determine dates for each trip once we coordinate schedules. Also, I’m still looking to find a third haunt on a few of these nights so if anybody has a suggestion make it know.

MAIN

#1: Erwin’s Orchards (South Lyon), Slaughter House (Fowlerville), A Nightmare on Elm Road (Webberville)

#2: Haunted School House and Laboratory (Akron, OH), Bloodview (Broadview Heights, OH)

#3: House of Fear (Hazel Park), Deadly Intentions (Warren), Blake’s Farms (Aramada)

#4: Exit 13 (Mt. Morris), Sinister (Utica)

#5: Darksyde Acres (Jonesville), Uncle Dickey’s Wrong Turn (Hudson)

EXTRA

#1: Krazy Hilda’s (Chelsea), The Boneyard (Stockbridge), Terrorfied Forest and Manor (Pickney)

#2 Scream Machine (Taylor), Realm of Haunted Minds (Romulus), Nightmare Sanctum (Wyandotte), Psycho Path (Flat Rock)

#3 Haunted Hollows (Westland), Westland Haunted Woods (Westland), Westland Jaycees (Westland)

Haunt Trinity Burns Midnight Oil at St. Lucifer’s and The Crypt

Posted in 2011, Review, St. Lucifer's, The Crypt with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by bluefall8


Halloween. The night that spawned countless scary stories, local legends, and all of our favorite horror icons. The founding members of The Haunt Trinity struck out into the night to celebrate the holiday with a visit to some fresh haunts.

The open road beckoned us, but before we hit the expressway we zig-zagged through the neighborhood of our youth reliving memories imprinted in time. When the sweet buzz of nostalgia had faded we found ourselves on I-75 barreling toward our destination — first the city of Grandblanc and then if we were lucky, the neighboring Burton.

DOUBLE FEATURE AT PLAYLAND PARK

Our first stop brought us to Playland Park, a family fun center any other time of the year but druing the season of ghosts it plays host to twin terrors headlined by St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum and rounded out by the zombie beleaguered 13 Feet Under.

The fun began before we were even able to find a parking spot. Ghouls of various sorts roamed the grounds freely — a particularly emaciated zombie followed our car gnashing at me through the back window. True to the habits of his rotting kinfolk, he peeled off and chased after the next thing to move when my tender flesh proved too elusive. While we waited in line to enter St. Lucifer’s a band of committed haunters entertained the throngs of visitors. One radical dead head zipped about on a pair of roller blades, a swamp creature slunk around the ankles of patrons, and the star of the show — a portly, middle aged woman with uneven patches of hair delighted the crowed by clucking and strutting like a chicken whilst making playfully crude remarks.

When we finally entered St. Lucifer’s we were shortly loaded into an elevator or as they’re generally referred to in the haunt biz — a hellivator. An increasing number of haunts have implemented these in recent years, the first time we experienced one was at the Scream Machine in 2006 and then again the following year at The Haunting. Terror Town’s House of the Dead also features a bumpy ride to parts unknown. However, St. Lucifer’s had a few surprises in store for us. The elevator rumbled to life and quite quickly came a most curious sound. Was that laughter? The mentally deranged held at St. Lucifer’s had broken loose and seemed to be rocking our carriage from the outside! As the elevator shook a cacophony of voices echoed through the box, combining to form a collective insanity that sounded amused, excited, and angry all at the same time. The wild ride came to a sudden halt and just when we thought we were safe the floor beneath our feet dropped! Okay, it merely dropped a few inches but it was entirely unexpected and something new to The Haunt Trinity. All in all St. Lucifer’s was off to a rollicking start.

As it were the pace was kept up fairly well as St. Lucifer’s featured a quality blend of workers and props, maintained a delicate balance of indoor and outdoor, and supported a solid lighting scheme by utilizing powerful strobe lights for thrilling scenes and plain old darkness for just enough psychological pull.

St. Lucifer’s stuck with the insane asylum theme well but didn’t limit itself to padded cells and dark hallways — we witnessed a variety of rooms including a dental area, a classroom, sleeping quarters, and a morgue. Each area included unique features or characters beginning with the dentist who displayed what can kindly be described as a less than gentle touch. In the classroom we encountered Sister Mary Clearance, a mountain of a man dressed as a nun complete with a sweet, Southernly voice that belied a firm hand. We discovered just how firm that hand could be when the good Sister reprimanded us for being late by whipping our asses with a yard stick.

The finale of the attraction made use of heavy fog and unrelenting strobe lights, a ghoul named Jimmy stalked us from the shrouded mist. We raced toward a choke point — a Womb of Doom — as it would turn out it was the most suffocating one of its kind. Jason and I broke through to the other end and waited for John to emerge…and waited…and waited. Had the Womb of Doom ensnared the Disco Devil? Perhaps Jimmy of the Mist had caught up with him? Had John been sucked into a some sort of Halloween time warp? Questions abound but one thing was for certain, we would not abandon our friend to haunt purgatory. Our decision was made, we had to reenter the Womb! Just as we were about to take the plunge Disco sprung forth from the inky black void like a monstrous feline — proving to me that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed messing with friends during the ultimate season of practical jokes.

St. Lucifer’s was overwhelmingly enjoyable. The workers exhibited good to great acting and the attraction itself was constructed well and was of fair length. The characters were bizarre, grotesque, and humorous — we watched one disheveled lunatic lick a pane of glass in an apparent attempt to express his desire for us. Elsewhere a mentally stunted nun babbled nonsense whilst mistreating a patient. There were also cool structural features such as the aforementioned elevator but also a set of old freezer doors used to simulate entering a morgue. We were even treated to a highly realistic dummy of a midget, and boy do I enjoy that sort of thing.

Rating: 3.75 stars

13 FEET UNDER UNEARTHS A GEM

13 Feet Under is the second house at this location but unlike so many other haunts that feature multiple attractions this is no side show, rather it’s a full blown haunt in its own right. 13 Feet Under was in a sentence — interesting and different with a dash of gloom and fun. Much like St. Lucifer’s, 13 Feet Under employed a design that left many areas open overhead — a feature that lent an authentic feel to the ravaged cityscape the theme suggested. I felt like Jill Valentine dodging Nemesis through back alleys and fire escapes in Resident Evil 3…minus the boobs of course. I was also reminded of Deadly Intensions’ City of the Dead from 2009.

There were some truly neat design features within the haunt such as descending bridges and sewer passages built from large construction tubing — the latter an excellent choice in terms of creativity to transition from one area to another and too also provide haunters with an unfamiliar environment with which to interact.

The first quarter of the haunt was thin on actors but this didn’t detract from the experience in fact it seemed to set the mood well. The first character of note we came across was a walker bound granny who made a bit of small talk before dropping her robe to reveal a pair of comically saggy breasts complete with nipple tassels. She gyrated and danced much to our delight, tassels cutting circles in the October air. When she had finished her geriatric thrusting it was clear we were meant to be on our way but intent on getting the maximum bang for our buck, we attempted to goad ole granny into an encore performance but alas we had received all we would get. That was definitely one of the most outright hilarious moments we’ve ever experienced while haunting.

Further into the haunt we came across three young lasses who had each been trapped in a cage. They begged for our help but as usual all we could do was ogle. We did a fair bit of ogling later on as well when we witnessed a genuine amputee performing in a scene of torture and mutilation. Sex and violence peddled in its basest forms can usually enhance any haunted attraction.

Midway through the attraction we traversed a room full of body bags each stuffed with an occupant. The scene had been designed to look as if the corpses had been disposed of in an alley or area for trash collection. It was wonderfully reminiscent of what I like to call the “Pit of Dead” scene from Dawn of the Dead — needless to say I found it to be a very nice touch.

Speaking of dead things, we had finally found some flesh eaters in this ruined city. A tall fence separated our party from them but that wouldn’t stop any brain muncher worth its weight. The pair pushed against the fence which had a surprising amount of give. They may have surprised us with their ferocity but their yellowed teeth remained on the other side of the fence. We hastened our pace for such a commotion had surely alerted others of their kind to our presence. Shortly thereafter we were surprised by the same emaciated cretin who had chased our car earlier in the night. I offered the hungry fellow a few sporting chomps as is my custom but my reflexes were too quick for the wretched rotter.

We neared the end of the haunt as we wound our way through a wrought iron maze of fence. There was a camper visible ahead, it was lit up and decorated as if it were home…to something. We were given no time to soak in the scene, the residents were home and they were pissed. The lady of the land shrieked something about trespassing whilst a pair of weapon clad weirdos hurried toward us hellbent on getting us off of their land. After a few threats from them and a couple of wise cracks from us we did indeed depart their property and in doing so exited 13 Feet Under.

13 Feet Under was an all around solid haunting experience, scoring particularly well in the areas of acting, pace, props, design, and theme. Along with St. Lucifer’s this double bill should find success for many seasons to come.

Rating: 4 stars

BURTON’S CRYPT BLENDS ODD JUMBLE OF SCARES

The silver light of the Halloween Moon acted as a stimulus upon us, the night was growing late but with The Crypt so tantalizingly close it would be nothing short of a crime if we were to fail in our quest of a Samhain trifecta. On this night however fate would smile upon us as we soon found ourselves standing in line for the final haunt of the 2011 season. The Crypt is located in Burton in what appeared to be a vast and bleak postindustrial landscape; it felt as if we were on the outskirts of Midgar.

The Crypt featured a fairly pedestrian façade but seemed to be comprised of a building and various trailers; it seemed to be of decent length but it was difficult to estimate. We were allowed to enter the structure a few minutes sooner than we would have when the couple in front of us comically chickened out – attempting to quiet their nerves no less than three times.

We entered the darkness and were quickly entrenched in an oppressive series of catacombs. Caught up in the euphoria of our final outing I brashly announced the arrival of The Haunt Trinity to any ghouls within earshot, and what do you know, one such ghoul took umbrage to my bravado and offered up a quality first scare. The first half of the haunt was very well done offering an immersive environment that see-sawed surprisingly well between damp crypts and household scenes of horror. Indeed, the most interesting scenes were those that resembled the living quarters of what can only be called a trailer park nightmare. The rooms were immaculately and bizarrely decorated, The Crypt as it turned out was not without some of the flavor of a pair of our all-time favorites –The Realm of Darkness and Armada’s Haunted Hollows. One room featured a curiously shaped fish bowl complete with livestock, another held a wild-eyed, piano playing fleshy, and yet another had a large, redneck man in a shower.

The props in the first half of the haunt were plentiful, creepy, and kitsch – it was easy to imagine that we had wandered stupidly into the dark fantasy of some whacked out and twisted white trash. The haunt stretched on and the scenery and mood shifted dramatically. We walked down a dark passageway and then through a door that led us to a brightly colored room, a clown with ridiculously long legs sat limply in the corner. As we crossed the room Spider Legs sprang to life and proceeded to tower over us looking like a pasty-faced abomination. This room seemed to distinguish the line between the first and second half of the haunted attraction. The latter half of the haunt wasn’t bad but it was relatively disappointing compared to the first half. This second area of the haunt had a much more generic feel and relied much more heavily on animatronics. The haunt felt a bit slapped together toward the end, at times resembling a dungeon but too often it featured rooms and scenes that felt disconnected from one to the next.

Overall, The Crypt was a very enjoyable haunted attraction and not a bad way to conclude the 2011 haunt season. I’d be remiss however if I failed to mention the excellent choice of music throbbing throughout the attraction – first the theme from Halloween and then The Exorcist. I’ve said it before and I ‘ll say it again, when in doubt you just cannot go wrong with either of those tunes scaring up the air molecules inside of a haunted house.

Rating: 3.75 stars