Archive for haunted hoochie

Haunting By Numbers: 2012 Haunt Season

Posted in Haunting By Numbers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by bluefall8

Another haunt season is nearly upon us and like those that have come before it, 2013 is sure to be filled with its own memorable nights of fright. Every season has its highlight reel moments, from five star haunts to eye popping scenes to one of a kind characters. Truly each fall that we set out on the open road is special in its own right. Here’s a look at some of the pertinent numbers behind the October magic.

22: The total number of attractions that we visited last year at 16 separate locations; this total falls just one shy of the record 23 that we toured in 2011.

8: Moonlit nights spent pounding the pavement throughout Michigan and Ohio in search of fun and fright.

10: Haunted attractions that we hit for the first time; a single season record.

11: Counties throughout Michigan and Ohio where we stopped to visit haunted houses; another single season record. In Michigan we traversed Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Ingham, Genesee, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, and Livingston. And in Ohio we cruised through Lucas, Cuyahoga, and Summit counties.

242: Cold hard cash spent on our beloved haunted attractions. This figure reflects solely what was spent on admission and does not take into consideration what was spent on gas, food, or other necessities of the road. As best as I can tell from past figures, this too is a high water mark.

1203: The staggering amount of miles traveled going to and from Michigan and Ohio’s scariest places; yet another single season record.

161: Miles of road between home and the most distant haunted house of the season — Akron’s Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory. This figure falls just short of the 170 miles we traveled in 2010 when we paid a visit to the Haunted Hoochie.

5: Consecutive years that we have braved the horror of Terror Town’s House of the Dead.

0: Strangely, the number of attractions that received a perfect 5 star score in a season that featured a gaggle of great shows.

 

Haunted School House has Presence, lacks Punch

Posted in 2012, Haunted School House & Laboratory, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by bluefall8

There’s a certain magic present on long distance, overnight haunt trips that’s hard to describe. Maybe it’s the effect of being so far from home or the unbridled excitement of visiting haunted attractions you’ve only read about on the Internet. I know, for me much of it has to do with the adventure inherent to the open road. After checking into our hotel room a Super 8 in Richfield, we passed some time by telling old stories. I came across a horror movie on the Syfy channel called Stake Land, a post apocalyptic tale in which zombie-like vampires have pushed civilization to the brink of collapse. I found it surprisingly well done, driven by a raw melancholy and steady pace. We ordered subs from a local pizzeria called East of Chicago, the subs were delicious and a right steal at $6.25 — after all, what’s a night of haunting without some hardy vittles?

After a relaxing spell the haunting hour was upon us and we hit the road for the Haunted School House and Laboratory in Akron, and when we arrived it was amid a flurry of activity. The long line to buy tickets moved fairly quickly, we were soon ascending a series of staircases to the top floor. The stairwells were actually quite a neat feature of the building if not the attraction itself. The walls were covered in years of graffeti — here a name and date, there a lone curse word. The real pieces of interest however included those scrawls that evoked the spirit of the season — some patrons had left foreboding or cryptic poetry, others supplied artwork featuring common Halloween themes such as skulls and pumpkins. Years of haunters had left an echo from the past on the wall and I found myself yearning for a sharpie so that I too could add a memory to the wonderful mural. The spell of the walls was broken only when it was time to hand over our tickets and enter the darkness within the Haunted School House.

I had suspected from the quick pace of the ticket line that this would be an attraction that found many guests herded through at once, and while this isn’t our preferred method of haunting it is understandable for places such as this that draw very large crowds. Understand, groups do enter the attraction separately but the relatively short intervals by which parties are spaced and   the sheer volume of people attending the event, make it impossible to experience this type of haunted house with your party alone. We’ve witnessed this style before at other large venues such as Erebus and the Haunted Hoochie and it certainly has its drawbacks, but those simply force operators to compensate in other areas.

The Haunted School House featured many well detailed scenes, some environments were truly immersive and on occasion put me in mind of the Realm of Darkness in Pontiac. In one early room we witnessed a unique prop in the form of an ugly ogre that was perhaps 15-feet tall. In another scene, this one a vampire’s liar, a winged mutant stood atop what appeared to be the entrance to a cavern. One delightful room actually rocked us to and fro as the entire structure shifted beneath our feet! Another neat gag involved a scarecrow who had meet an unfortunate end, yet his detached arm was making an effort to find the rest of itself.

The Haunted School House also made use of water in several scenes which is always something I enjoy in a haunted attraction. Undoubtedly the coolest animatronic in the entire attraction was a water dwelling worm that broke the placid surface of a pool in search of food. Water was used again near the end of the attraction when we found ourselves traversing what felt to be an underground chamber, in fact the scene reminded me greatly of the set used in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A large skull appeared to have been carved from the very stone the wall was made of and from his gaping maw poured a stream of water. In one area there appeared to be a long tunnel similar to a sewer in a major city but the path did not lead that way. Whether the structure was genuine or simply a neat illusion I do not know, but I would have liked to explore it just the same.

The Haunted School House connected most of these beautifully detailed sets with the winding, dark hallways common to haunted attractions only here the halls were often sparkling with green laser beams. There was also a robust amount of ghouls that populated the Haunted School House but most of them were in masks which detracted from the realism. I would estimate that the majority of the cast gave a fine effort but their was little in the way of extended interaction, improvisation, or creative vocalizations. The cast did deliver a few good startles but that was about it where scare factor was concerned.

I liked the Haunted School House, the scenes were superbly detailed and the length was fair but I was hoping the name of the attraction wasn’t merely a name. I can think of only one instance in which the theme that the name suggests was put into effect, that occurred in an old fashioned bathroom where a skeleton perched upon a porcelain hurled tailor made insults at passing haunters. This scene was more in line with what I expected and had hoped to see. Any time a haunted attraction is able to secure a unique building like a former school or funeral home, I feel that it’s important to play upon the history and atmosphere as much as possible. With that said, the Haunted School House is obviously doing something right — you don’t run for 39 consecutive years on luck.

Rating: 3.25 stars

2010 Haunt Trinity Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2011 by bluefall8

As promised here is the 2010 Haunt Awards. The Haunt Trinity recognizes seven dreadful categories: Monster, Killer Automatons, Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Dark Horse, Rotten Pumpkin, and of course Haunt of the Year.

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.

2010 Rotten Pumpkin: Leo’s House of Horror

Dishonorable Mention: Lair of Scare (Haunted Hydro)

It had the feel of a modular haunt stuck in the past. The scares were premature and there was little to no attention paid to the fine subtleties that can make or break a small production haunt. The barely five minutes we spent inside the attraction weren’t worth the $7 Craig and I paid. To put it quite simply, Leo’s House of Horror was bland and uninspired.

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.

2010 Eerie Vibrations: Demonic Demons

Honorable Mention: The Haunted Farm

From the moment we arrived this place had an altered vibe about it and it would only get more intense as the night wore on. The old building seemed alive, truly a character unto itself, the soundtrack was suffocating and endless, the actors were superb.

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 Haunt Trinity’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2010 Dark Horse: Woods of Darkness

Honorable Mention: Thrill Kill (Westland Jaycees)

A haunt built right in the forest had just the right mix of fun and fright and with plenty of room to expand the Woods of Darkness was the obvious choice for this award.

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.

2010 Killer Automatons: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

Honorable Mention: Haunted Hoochie (Dead Acres)

The army of android abominations is as large and breathtaking as any assembled at any haunt we’ve visited. In 2010 they stomped, howled, lurched, and gnashed their teeth. The robotic innovations inside House of the Dead are as varied as any assortment you’re sure to find.

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.

2010 Monster: The Realm of Darkness

Honorable Mention: Demonic Demons

In 2010 the strength of this fine haunted attraction was not the pursuit of the Wizard but rather the professionalism of its actors. Filled with energy and charisma this team of dark entertainers demonstrated a firm grasp of improvisation, timing, and dedication to the scare.

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.

2010 Pulse Pounder: Demonic Demons

Honorable Mention: Haunted Hoochie (Dead Acres)

Demonic Demons was flat out scary, most of the screams issued here were less out of fun and more out of fright. If you don’t believe me just ask my good friend Brad who attempted to ward off the man of the house with a human shield. Indeed so frightened was he that he desperately choked yours truly with my own damn hoodie. Excellently paced with just enough quiet time as to make the next assault seem that much more intense.

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.

2010 Haunt of the Year: Demonic Demons

Honorable Mention: Erebus

What else can I say? Demonic Demons certainly had some stiff competition during the 2010 haunt season but when all was said and done the Detroit legend flat out deserved this award. I’ve never witnessed a haunt do so much with so few warm bodies and the layout was a stroke of quiet brilliance. Our minds roamed while we groped our way through a claustrophobia inducing darkness. The operators allowed us to freak ourselves out and then the monsters delivered intense, precision scares. The execution was cerebral, the experience primal.