Archive for hell’s hospital

2009 Haunt Season Preview

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2014 by bluefall8

This entry served as the official kickoff to the 2009 haunt season and was originally posted on Friday, September 11, 2009. The song at the top of this entry is called “Bag- O’-Bones” and was included on a Halloween CD called Moans from the Mausoleum.

This entry briefly summarized the 2008 haunt season, but focused mainly on the attractions we were likely to visit in 2009.

As with many of these Hallowblog entries, many of the links that were included at the time no longer function and thus have been deactivated. 

Well I heard about this Monster Mash dance
bunch of creatures flailing around
Well listen up cause now’s your chance
to get spooky and get down

Do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
Let the skeleton inside you dance around
Do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
Let the skeleton inside you dance around.

Now get up on the bony feet
And give those bony hands a clap
Well then you move those bony knees
And give that funny bone a slap
And that’s the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
That’s the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
Let the skeleton inside you dance around
That’s the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
Let the skeleton inside you dance around.

I think you really outta be knowin’
wherever you might be a goin’
well there’s a skeleton walkin’ round
they ain’t just buried in the ground
Cause you’re a bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
You’re a bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
So let the skeleton inside you dance around
Do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
You’re a bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
So let the skeleton inside you dance around.

Whoa, you’re so creepy
I think you’re scaring me a little bit now

I saw the first true signs of fall today; a few leaves had fallen from their summer perch. I knew then that the time was ripe for the first edition of Hallowblog 2009. The 2009 haunt season is nearly here and yet the memories of last year are still so fresh in my mind, it’s hard to believe that the annual celebration of all things frightful and mysterious is so close. Ahhhh, a haunting we shall go indeed but first we have much news to discuss.

The 2008 haunt season was unparalled in scope, in fact the season was such a success it will be the focus of an upcoming edition of Hallowblog. Today however we gather here at this hallowed hearth for a glimpse not into the past, no today we look into the creepy things to come.

My fellow haunters will be excited to know that a majority of haunts have already updated their websites for the coming season one of the noteworthy few that has not is TerrorTown. It is with great anticipation that I await an update from those that provided such a memorable experience last year with The House of the Dead.

Like last year Pigman’s Lair in Chelsea will be dark and it doesn’t seem as if the operators have a definitive plan for the future either. You can amuse yourself with the legend of the Pigman though; I think it’s worth a read anyway.

Legend of the Pigman

While driving on Biddle in Wyandotte last week I made a sad discovery: the building that held 2007’s Hell’s Hospital and 2008’s Templin’s Night Terror has been demolished. I have yet to hear where the Wyandotte Jaycees will hold their attraction this year but you can trust that I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.

I don’t know about anyone else but I still long for a return visit to the Nautical Nightmare. The rug was pulled out from beneath us last year and it just wasn’t right my friends. The Haunt Trinity could have been cannibalized by famished hobos! I’ve emailed somebody involved with the restoration of the Ste. Claire regarding the possible return of the water bound haunt but I have yet to receive a response.

Zioptis will apparently initiate a new rating system for haunts this year. It states on their website that too many people were failing to understand the star system or more specifically for example how a mega-haunt such as Erebus could receive the same rating as a locally produced modular haunt. Well Zioptis clearly states that the ratings are a reflection of how well an individual haunt executes what it sets out to do. They are not meant to serve as a comparison from one attraction to the next. I’m not sure how people fail to understand that, retards. Zioptis also claims that the ratings have inadvertently pitted haunts against each other. The site isn’t exactly clear on what this new system will look like but I can assure you that Hallowblog will continue to grade haunts on the star system. I’ve always enjoyed the information that Zioptis displays and I think the star system is a fine way to rate haunts. If Zioptis is guilty of anything it’s granting far too many 5 star ratings. Too often the site fails to give in-depth details of any haunt and has a tendency to give glowing reviews to mediocre attractions.

The Fear Finder may be released as early as next week but realistically I look for it to flood the area the following week. When it does come out I and my fellows haunters will have some tough decisions to make. We visited a lot of great haunts last year but it’ll be near impossible to revisit them all this year if we also plan to hit some new haunts. The 2009 haunt season will have to be the most carefully planned to date if we’re to make this year as successful and entertaining as the last. Let’s take a look at a sampling of possible first time visits then shall we?

The first haunt that jumped out at me this year is The Haunt in Walker. It’s quite a drive from my apartment, clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes so that would obviously be a factor but I encourage all fellow haunters to check out each haunt and bring your own opinions to the table.

An Ohio haunt that has hit the Haunt Trinity radar is The Haunted Hydro. This haunt is located in Fremont which is approximately 30 minutes south of TerrorTown in Maumee. This pair of haunts could make for an adventurous night in the Buckeye State.

In Michigan I discovered a brand new haunt in Jackson called Jackson’s Underworld. I first came across this while looking at the Homer Mill’s myspace page, I’m unsure as to whether it’s operated by the same people or if the two haunts have simply formed an alliance. One thing is for certain if the folks at the Homer Mill are either endorsing or producing this new locale it’s worth checking out.

Also in Michigan is Darksyde Acres in Jonesville. Darksyde Acres features a number of attractions and is produced by Bodybag Entertainment, the same company that was supposed to produce the Nautical Nightmare last year. The sheer size of this place and the ambition of those involved makes this location intriguing but last years disappearing act at Hart Plaza, while not totally the fault of Bodybag Entertainment, has left a bad taste in my mouth. For the time being we’ll place this one in the wild card category.

And there’s plenty of potential first time haunts that we simply didn’t make it to last year like Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township and it’s nearby neighbors Slaughtered at Sundown and Blake’s in Armada. There are also dark horse contenders to consider like The Deadland Haunted House in Davison, The Crypt in Burton, or St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum in Grand Blanc.

And then the waters really get muddied when you start to consider which of our favorite mainstays will have to sit on the sidelines during the 2009 season. Last year we opted not to visit The Scream Machine in Taylor or The Lab in Grosse Ile but where will the axe fall this year? I’d like to visit The Scream Machine this year although The Lab is up for debate. The Lab is changing things up a bit this year offering guests an opportunity to traverse the haunt in total darkness with nothing to guide your party but a single glow stick. This “Lights Out” feature will run at midnight every Friday and Saturday.

It has been suggested that perhaps we skip Pontiac’s twin terrors this season: Erebus and The Realm of Darkness. These two haunts have served as our biggest night out the last three seasons and excluding them borders on sacrilege…but if we are to maximize both our time and dollar it may have to be a sacrifice we’re willing to make.

One place that I definitely want to return to is Deadly Intentions in Warren. This haunt scorched our frontal lobes last Halloween and the recently released 2009 theme has set my horror juices a’ bubbling: City of the Living Dead. I don’t think I have to say any more than that to those who witnessed this balls out effort last year. Jason and Disco I ask you this, can the dynamics we experienced at this haunt last year coupled with the excitement of an apocalyptic zombie theme result in anything less than an all time classic? This is a dark alchemy not soon to be forgotten.

Nor can we simply forget about Extreme Scream in Taylor or The Realm of Haunted Minds in Romulus both put forth worthy efforts last year and we’d be remiss to dismiss them so easily. And there’s also Chainsaw Creek in Toledo which delighted us last season with a slew of tasteless characters. It also remains to be known whether or not Adrian’s The Haunting deserves a second chance after a relatively disappointing visit in 2007. I would also like to propose a possible visit to Cedar Point HalloWeekends which features two new attractions this year, one of which is called Happy Jack’s Toy Factory. Can you think of a more devilishly fun theme for a haunted attraction than that?! It’ll be like Chucky, Puppetmaster, and Goosebumps all rolled into one!

We have many decisions to make this season my haunt brethren, let us choose wisely.

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2014 Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House Location Revealed

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2014 by bluefall8

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The Wyandotte Jaycees annual haunted house will be located at 4560 Biddle this year. The building was originally constructed in 1970 and in recent years has been run as a bar and restaurant under several names. Each year the Jaycees is able to work with city leaders to obtain a building that is slated for demolition or otherwise vacant for the seasonal haunt. The nexus between the Jaycees and city officials is one that dates back to the late 1970’s which means that Wyandotte boasts one of the oldest haunted attractions in the entire country.

The current location will be a tough sell to the public because it isn’t conveniently located down town as it was last year. No, this year it’s situated near the fringe of the city south of Wyandotte Shores Golf Course just north of Pennsylvania. I hope the location doesn’t negatively impact attendance numbers. I’ll patronize the group as I have each year since 2007 and hope they can build off of the successes from the 2013 effort, Bloodbath on Biddle.

Below, I’ve posted star ratings and other pertinent notes from our trips through the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House over the years.

Hell’s Hospital (2007) – 4.5 stars: Held primarily in a mechanic’s garage, but also utilized an old house. Hell’s Hospital executed classic haunt fundamentals and thrilled us in the process.

Templin’s Night Terror (2008) – 3 stars: The old house was gone and the mechanic’s garage was a bit too familiar; one of the fews years the Jaycees utilized the same location consecutively. Templin’s Night Terror was a significant step back from the 2007 effort and would go on to win Horrorlust’s infamous Rotten Pumpkin Award for worst haunted attraction of the season.

Hellblock 13 (2009) – 3.75 stars: Bounced back in a big way with a lengthly trek through the old police station and courthouse; solid jump scares mixed with unsettling imagery.

Massacre Manor (2010) – 2.75 stars: Massacre Manor was held in an old homestead on Biddle which made for an excellent location although the production turned out to be a mild disappointment punctuated by missed opportunities and some amateurish acting.

Lockdown (2011) – 2.25 stars: Housed in a former bar, Lockdown featured a couple of enjoyable scenes but on the whole felt unprofessional and uninspired.

Nightmare Sanctum (2012) – 2.25 stars: Similar to 2007’s Hell’s Hospital, Nightmare Sanctum had the benefit of being held in a mechanic’s garage and a house. It suffered from the usual lows of a Jaycees haunt and can best be described as a mixed bag.

Bloodbath on Biddle (2013) – 3.25 stars: Held at former City Hall, Bloodbath on Biddle was easily the best effort by the Wyandotte Jaycees since Hellblock 13 in 2009. This haunt featured a lot of actors, creativity in design and a few visually impressive scenes. Bloodbath on Biddle went on to win Horrorlust’s 2013 Dark Horse Award.

Official Launch of the 2008 Haunt Season

Posted in Hallowblog, Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2014 by bluefall8

This flashback erupted into existence on Saturday, September 27, 2008. For a few years I enjoyed this style of entry as a way to provide highlights of the previous season at the cusp of the latest season of screams. It’s an idea I’ve considered resurrecting and honestly it brings back a lot of good memories. Here I provided snippets from reviews of all the haunted attractions we visited in 2007 and also touched on our then impending visit to the Homer Mill. 

Bring out your dead, bring out your dead! Tonight the haunt season blasts off with a visit to the Homer Mill. Jason and Disco will arrive at my apartment at approximately 7 p.m. The estimated drive time to the village of Homer is 1 hour and 45 minutes and I suspect, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, “This shall be a night to remember.” As we kick off another wonderful season of tricks and treats I suggest we step into a portal and experience once more the magic that thrilled us in 2007.

Last year Hallowblog became the forum in which I chronicled all things Halloween, throughout the season many memorable moments were enshrined in Hallowblog lore, here’s a look back at the best of the best.

It was last year on this very weekend that we visited The Haunting in Adrian. The trip was detailed in a September 29th edition of Hallowblog entitled, Haunting Season Begins.

On the Haunting’s main attraction, The 13th Floor

“The remainder of the attraction was less than stellar but the fat lady with the butcher knife managed to elicit some laughs when she leapt at us and proclaimed, “Meat! I looooove meat!””

“The last item of interest was an immensely large man who sat upon a bed gnawing at a brain. I wasn’t quite sure why anyone would fear this as I harbored serious doubts that he could so much as heave his gelatinous form from the space he occupied.”

On The Haunting’s Manic Maze

“Absent were any actors or props but the maze did give us the opportunity to run around like idiots attempting to frighten other, unsuspecting guests.”

Friday, October 12th marked our next outing. On this night we targeted three downriver haunts, The Lab in Grosse Ile, The Scream Machine in Taylor, and finally Hell’s Hospital in Wyandotte. The shenanigans from this trip were recorded in Hallowblog the following day in an entry titled Downriver Haunt Review.

On The Lab

“I waited for his infected ass to leap at us and beg for help but it turned out to be simply a prop after all.”

“There was a hefty chainsaw wielding fellow who played his role well, trapping us against a wall while repeatedly asking for Amanda’s eyes with apparent sexual zest.”

“I however thought the keycard was a cool souvenir and therefore stowed it in my back pocket and proceeded to inform the guard that I had lost it.”

On The Scream Machine and The Carnevil of Lost Souls in 3D

“I just have to meet Chunk the Clown who happens to reside somewhere in the mysterious annuls of the 3D realm.”

“After The Scream Machine McCreary professed that she had pissed her pants and thus departed.”

On Hell’s Hospital

“While you wait in line a gimpy little fellow entertains the masses with a combination of guttural sounds and questionable gestures.”

The final edition of Hallowblog was posted on October 21st and recounted our visit to two kings of the haunt industry: The Realm of Darkness and Erebus. The entry was entitled Haunt Season Home Stretch.

On the Realm of Darkness

“Our first stop was The Realm of Darkness where I looked to avenge last year’s defeat to the elusive Wizard.”

“A few that stood out include the screaming girl in the swinging cage, the massive demon, the clown that stood stock still in the black light lit tunnel, and the man on stilts who would not relent in terrorizing Jason until I yelled rape.”

“The fucking wizard eluded us once more and I was left to curse his wretched name for another year.”

On Erebus

“I like Erebus, I like it a lot but for me it has less of a feel of a traditional haunted house and more of a funhouse on crack.”

Ahhh, memories! The 2007 haunt season was indeed memorable, in fact I visited more haunts last year than in any other past year. If you count my stint working at Pumpkin Forest Hayrides last years’ visited haunts total eight. But last season was hampered by a severe lack of funds on my behalf and a failure to organize an outing past October 19th. I should avoid those pitfalls this year as I’ve been planning like a manic lunatic and working many hours between two jobs. I want this to be the best haunt season I’ve ever experienced and part of that is smashing to bits the record amount of haunts we visited last year.

I’m very excited for tonight’s visit to the Homer Mill. Last year our trip to The Haunting in Adrian required a relatively lengthy drive but that jaunt through small towns and farm country added a layer of mystery, intrigue, and fright to our adventure. The trip to the village of Homer will be nearly double the length of the route to Adrian and I’m hoping that this year’s season opener will find us on a route of similar eeriness. The fact that Homer is a village has me dreaming up scenes of wild-eyed locals chasing us down a deserted country road with pitchforks and flaming torches while the haunt trinity flees the mob while bellowing a spirited “Aweeeeeeeeeeeeel!”

Downriver Haunt Review

Posted in 2007, Hallowblog, Review, Scream Machine, The Lab, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2014 by bluefall8

Originally posted on Sunday, October 14, 2007 this entry chronicled our visit to three haunted attractions located throughout the Downriver area. To the best of my knowledge this was the only time I formatted a review in such a fashion (placing haunters and attractions in list form at the top of the review).

I never did uncover the mystery haunt referenced by Pudge in this post; I’ve come to believe she was mistaken about the year and that the haunt in question was indeed Extreme Scream. Also in this post I provided a mini-review of the Pumpkin Factory in Belleville which my wife and I had visited that fall.

As with previous Hallowblog entries, the pictures that are mentioned in the posts are not posted anywhere on Horrorlust at present. 

Date: 10/12/07

Haunters: Jason, Joel, John, McCreary

Haunt Targets: The Lab, The Scream Machine, Hell’s Hospital

Last Friday night marked a trifecta of terror as we set out to explore some downriver haunts. The night was fraught with excitement as we headed to our first haunt, The Lab. We weren’t able to visit The Lab last year but the venue was highly entertaining as The Chop Shop in 2005, Jason and I in particular were looking forward to the experience.

Prior to entering the greater haunted house guests are shown a video featuring a scientist who explains the events surrounding the mysterious lockdown and the reason for your involvement. The group then selects a leader (yours truly, thank you very much) who is given a keycard which will presumably give you access to other areas of The Lab. This was a nice touch but the experience would have been enhanced ten fold if the keycard actually did anything. I thought perhaps I’d have to swipe the card to open doors but no such interaction.

The haunt stuck to the theme throughout with several scenes offering up some very cool props; one man had been completely covered in a green fungus that had seemingly taken his life. I waited for his infected ass to leap at us and beg for help but it turned out to be simply a prop after all. That became a theme in and of itself; too many props and not enough live actors. I think this severely detracted from the experience at The Lab. The theme of this haunt would do well to feature live actors in make up as opposed to masks. The story goes that strange genetic tests were being performed so show me some freaks and mutants.

There was a hefty chainsaw wielding fellow who played his role well, trapping us against a wall while repeatedly asking for McCreary’s eyes with apparent sexual zest. Another memorable actor was featured in a room with blue tubes, he had spooky white pupils and an I’d-like-to-eat-you-grin. Just prior to exiting the haunt you come to a scene on the left of a deceased security guard. He sits in a chair behind a desk, the whole set enclosed by a mesh steel security fence. There is even a monitor on the desk which guests can view themselves on. The dead security guard never moves, instead someone pops out of a drop section of the wall behind you, the same gag that was run at the Chop Shop and Giyra before that.

This was another drawback of the haunt; the layout was far too similar to its predecessors. I was able to picture what the rooms looked like during their previous incarnations as we walked through it. This excess of familiarity made it harder to suspend disbelief. I also felt that The Lab featured far too many “crazed” animal gags; the animal based animatronics were especially weak although the breathing alien babies were quite sweet.

The haunt ends rather abruptly when an armed government official encourages you to rush down a flight of stairs only to transcribe the number on your keycard onto a chalkboard with the all too obvious result that the writing surface drops to reveal a screaming creature. I however thought the keycard was a cool souvenir and therefore stowed it in my back pocket and proceeded to inform the guard that I had lost it. After you write down a number he opens the back door and the terror is over.

I was slightly disappointed but The Lab does have plenty of potential to improve. The operators present a fairly unique premise but fail to properly utilize the atmosphere inherent to such a haunt.

Rating: 3 stars

Our next stop was The Scream Machine in Taylor which delighted me both last year and in 2002. The Hellevator has undoubtedly improved now featuring an ultra creepy actor dressed up like a deformed life-sized doll lurking in the corner. She initially offered Disco what I believe was a teddy bear and then proceeds to get right in each group member’s face when the lights flicker on and off. I’m a big fan of the Hellevator, it’s truly a great gimmick to jump start a haunt.

After exiting the Hellevator and surviving a dizzying black hole the majority of the haunt is dominated by an impressive graveyard scene. It’s great eye candy but the lack of confinement is not very conducive to suspense. Guests wind through a series of hallways all just off the graveyard path which ultimately causes the group to view the same scene several times which quickly becomes stagnant. The Scream Machine doesn’t suffer from a lack of live actors but does feature repetiton of said actors to a fault.

When I visited The Scream Machine in 2002 the back end of the haunt featured a funeral scene which I found quite eerie. Guests were forced to walk a center path with pews on either side filled with ghoulies. It was a great scene but failed to deliver a real thrill when nobody leapt from a pew. Last year the scene was omitted but its back this year. This time around guests have to wind through a path of pews as opposed to walking down a center aisle but again no one springs forth from a seat. Someone does pop out of the top of an organ located near the exit of the room but I really feel one of the zombie looking creeps in the pews would provide more of a scare.

The Scream Machine is too short and too wide open. Granted a handful of grand scenes provide a wow factor but sheer scares and general creepiness are distinctly lacking. The Hellevator may have improved but overall I think The Scream Machine has experienced some slippage since last season.

We didn’t hit the 3D feature The Carnevil of Lost Souls having not forgot the lackluster experience it provided last year but I do plan to revisit this attraction November 1-4 when both haunts will be available for the low price of $10. I just have to meet Chunk the Clown who happens to reside somewhere in the mysterious annuls of the 3D realm.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

After The Scream Machine McCreary professed that she had pissed her pants and thus departed. I think she was joking…but I’m not entirely sure. It was down to the trio and we were determined to knock out one more haunt. We zipped down to Anxiety Alley which looked deserted, a lone worker stood outside the haunt. He told us they had actually closed early because of a lack of customers. That news left me slightly sad but at just $6 I’m planning to visit Anxiety Alley this season. I think the last time I was there was about nine or ten years ago.

We knew we still had time to hit Hell’s Hospital in Wyandotte and so we were off. Admission to Hell’s Hospital was $10 and without a doubt was the best deal of the night. The Wyandotte Jaycees converted both an old mechanic garage and an old house into a quality haunt. While you wait in line a gimpy little fellow entertains the masses with a combination of guttural sounds and questionable gestures. He amused us greatly and even posed for a picture which has of course been posted. Hell’s Hospital employed the classic haunt approach utilizing pitch black hallways and deliberate sounds to build tension.

There is nothing very flashy hear, just a creepy and sometimes smelly old house meant to scare you shitless. The timing of the actors was excellent especially during the scene with the nurse. I don’t want to ruin this scene for anyone planning to go so I’ll only say that you shouldn’t pay to much attention to the nurse or her large friend. This scene was an excellent fusion of timing, lighting, and structure. In the end it resulted in the biggest surprise of the night.

A few of the actors fooled me into believing they were props which is something I’m quite adept at recognizing, none did it better than a ghoulie chained to a chair in the room that was strangely cold.

This attraction absolutely nailed the fundamentals of a haunted house and I can’t think of enough good things to say about it. If you live downriver and plan to visit just one haunted attraction this season then make it Hell’s Hospital. The only true criticism we had of the place was the lack of a climactic finale. It was so good I’m thinking of dragging Missy there before the season ends.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

A successful night of haunting and still there are four downriver haunts to hit before the season ends. Those include Anxiety Alley, Leo’s House of Horror, Papp Park Panic Attack, and The Realm of Haunted Minds. Pudge claims to have visited a haunted house on Telegraph in Taylor near I-94 which is where the Extreme Scream usually resides but that isn’t operating this year so I am left to wonder where the hell she went. Of course she failed to get the name of the attraction so I’ll have to do some detective work.

It’s worth mentioning that I started work at Halloween USA today. I spent the day half-heartedly greeting people while perusing the products in my section. Needless to say I found a bundle of props I’d love to adorn throughout the apartment…Missy I suspect feels otherwise. Ah well, you can at least view some of the props in the picture section.

I also made it to a haunted hayride on Saturday. Missy and I ventured to Belleville where we visited The Pumpkin Factory. It’s a quaint farm that features several free minor attractions which are worth a look as well as a neat country store that has some delicious doughnuts.

The hayride itself was alright, it wasn’t bad but it certainly wasn’t spectacular. I felt that the actors timing was generally sub par. It was lengthy and for that it deserves positive marks but the lack of any real shocks or impressive scenes left much to be desired. It was a fun experience though and I’d really like to give a few more haunted hayrides a whirl before I judge this one too harshly. At the least it’s a nice place for families with young children.

Rating: 3 stars

Phantom Forest Hayrides & Other News

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2014 by bluefall8

This is an obscure but neat read originally posted October 9, 2007. The majority of it is dedicated to my experience as member of the team at Phantom Forest Hayrides in Grosse Ile during one weekend that season. Unfortunately the pictures that I reference several times are not available anywhere on Horrorlust.

Also included in this entry is a link to a short, but vital article about Night of the Living Dead — it is highly recommended. 

Last Friday and Saturday I worked at Phantom Forest Hayrides but before I get to my review of that experience I have a number of other Halloween related topics to cover. Well quite obviously I have yet to find a more suitable title for this column although Hallowblog is actually growing on me so it may not change at all. I had thought about titling it Bad Moon Rising after the song but it didn’t seem sufficient and I haven’t thought of anything else. So be it.

A lot of networks feature Halloween themed programming in celebration of the season, a few notable examples are 13 Days of Halloween which runs on the Sci-fi channel beginning Friday, October 19 and 13 Nights of Halloween on the ABC Family channel premiering the same night.

I found a recent article on Night of the Living Dead, it’s short and sweet:

Undead: Year Zero

This Friday we’ll be hitting some combination of the downriver haunts. The Lab in Grosse Ile and Hell’s Hospital in Wyandotte make a good natural coupling when considering routes. If time allows for a third haunt The Scream Machine or Anxiety Alley would do nicely. I would also like to do some haunting on Saturday. Missy and I have talked about heading to an orchard, The Festival of the Dead in Belleville has my vote but if we don’t do that we may just knock out a local haunt. If it’s a local haunt The Realm of Haunted Minds in Romulus or Papp Park Panic Attack located in Taylor would make worthy candidates.

My experience at Phantom Forest Hayrides was a lot of fun. When I first arrived I took a tour of the trail and snapped a number of pictures which have been posted in a separate album labeled “Phantom Forest Hayrides.” Initially I thought the sets were slightly lackluster and unlikely to scare very many people but as the sky darkened the woods grew increasingly menacing. The trail offers up a naturally frightening ambience as it is set in a heavily wooded area with active wildlife stirring up mysterious sounds in the brush. I witnessed several deer on the trial and had a number of instances when something large moved in the dense woods out of sight. I told myself it was deer but try to maintain that thought when you’re alone in the woods surrounded by darkness.

As it turned out I was the first and last scare that customers would experience, in all there was only seven people working the event, each responsible for two spots save for the old guy named Leonard. Most members of the staff had walkie-talkies so everybody usually knew precisely where the tractor was. When the tractor was set to enter the driver would radio that they were indeed heading in and I’d hide in the brush and set off a fog machine. Typically I’d let about half of the wagon pass before leaping forth and that seemed to be a good strategy. After each wagon passed me it was pulled through a black tunnel and then around a corner. Obscured from view I’d begin to walk the path to my next spot. I followed the same path as the tractor until the gang of grim reapers at which point a clearing was cut through the woods and it was here that I was able to gain access to the opposite side of the trail which probably seemed like quite a distance to anyone unaware of the short cut.

The hearse scene which is also included in the pictures served as my second spot and what a great spot it was. By night the scene is flooded with an eerie greenish-blue light and I was positioned behind a tree on the opposite side of the road. It was very rare that anyone turned their gaze from the hearse scene probably convinced one of the figures would move and therefore the attack from the other side was almost always pulled off with much success. My favorite scare may have been a woman who literally threw herself off the bail of hay which she sat upon and squirmed on the other side of the tractor floor.

The whole back and forth ordeal became a bit of a workout when business picked up and the operators began running two tractors. It was unseasonably warm last weekend but I opted to wear a hoodie anyway so that I could protect myself from mosquitoes and poison ivy. I worked up quite a sweat hustling back to the first position as the call typically came over the radio that another tractor was pulling out before I’d even passed the grim reapers.

The staff was nice and has been running the attraction for eight years. Its family owned and operated and I feel quite well run for the decided lack of quality help. I asked Leonard (the old guy) how much the ad in the Fear Finder cost and he told me it ran about $600. That’s just to have the basic information printed in the back section by the maps; booming publication Mr. Terebus and company are running, isn’t it?

Phantom Forest Hayrides isn’t going to give you terrifying scares or striking eye candy, it lacks in sleek props and deathly scares but the creepy natural ambience balances things nicely. Much of the experience will rely heavily on the workers whose enthusiasm can wax and wane throughout the night. At just $8 (that includes cider and a donut) I think it’s a great place for younger audiences and ideal for families. Adult and teen haunt-goers will want to seek something more elaborate if tension and fear is what you seek. Although if you’re in the area, for example at The Lab, Phantom Forest Hayrides would serve as a good buffer haunt before hitting that next terror filled endeavor.

The Haunt List

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2014 by bluefall8

As you’ll shortly read, I was still toying with an alternate name for Hallowblog when this was first written; however the name would ultimately stick.

I suppose this can be viewed as my own pared down version of the Fear Finder; over the years I did end up visiting the majority of these haunted attractions. As of 2013, 15 of the 22 attractions listed remained in operation in some form.

The curtain fell on Deadly Intentions in 2012 although The Deadland currently uses the same building. The Lab and Chainsaw Creek last ran in 2009. To the best of my knowledge, Scare Grounds at the Fairgrounds closed up after 2008 and  Death Sentence, Motor City Massacre and Nox were open only during the 2007 season. This was originally posted October 4, 2007.

I’ve compiled a list of haunted attractions I’d like to visit this season, I realize it is quite unlikely that I make it to each of these but this list is simply meant to serve as a general guideline. If any of these sound interesting just let me know and we’ll make the trek you rotten bastards. Jason and Disco have served as my fellow haunt-goers the last three years but we wouldn’t mind a few new faces.

In other Halloween news, I’ve decided against running the companion blog to the Halloween themed Word of the Week. No worries though, I have plenty other Halloween content to provide and it is quite likely that anything that would have appeared in the companion blog will simply be infused into this column, Hallowblog. And that brings me to my next point; I’ve received no suggestions for an alternate blog title so that means I’ll pick one of my own making in the coming days.

If you’re looking for on-screen horror check out Flight of the Living Dead which was released on DVD October 2. No, I haven’t watched it but c’mon it’s got zombies. 28 Weeks Later will also be available on DVD October 9. At theatres horror fans can watch Resident Evil: Extinction, Saw IV premiering October 26, or the vampire thriller 30 Days of Night beginning October 19.

That’s all the news I have for now so look over the list below and tell me what strikes your haunting fancy.

In no particular order:

The Scream Machine & Carnevil of Lost Souls

Taylor, MI./$12 for Scream Machine or $16 for both

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/27-11/4

The Lab

Grosse Ile, MI./$12

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/28-10/31

Anxiety Alley

Lincoln Park, MI./$6

Hours: 7-11

Run Dates: 10/12-13, 19-21, 26-30

Erebus

Pontiac, MI./$20

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri: 7-1, Sat: 6-1

Run Dates: 9/28-11/3

The Realm of Darkness

Pontiac, MI./$19

Hours: Sun-Thurs: Tix on sale @ 7:30, Fri-Sat: Tix on sale @ 7

Run Dates: 9/21-23, 28-30, 10/5-7, 11-14, 18-31

Terrortown

Maumee, OH./$10 for main attraction or $16 for three

Hours: Sun: 7:30-10, Fri-Sat: 7:30-Midnight, Halloween: 7:30-10

Run Dates: Fri, Sat, Sun starting 9/28-10/28, also 10/31

Chainsaw Creek

Toledo, OH./$10 per house or $20 for all four

Hours: Sun-Thurs: Dark-11, Fri-Sat: Dark-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/28-10/15 (Thurs-Sun), 10/18-10/31

Scare Grounds at the Fairgrounds

Michigan State Fairgrounds/$13

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 10/12-10/31

Hell’s Hospital

Wyandotte, MI./$10

Hours: Sun & Thurs: 7-10, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight, Mon & Wed (Halloween week) 7-10

Run Dates: 10/6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31

Realm of Haunted Minds

Romulus, MI./$10

Hours: 7-10

Run Dates: 10/5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 29-30

The Carn-evil of Fear

Flat Rock, MI./$10

Hours: 8-11

Run Dates: 10/19-20, 26-27

Haunted Hill Acres

Belleville, MI./per event

Hours: Tix on sale @ 7

Dates: Every Thurs-Sun in October

Phantom Forest Hayrides

Grosse Ile, MI./$8

Hours: Fri-Sat: 7-11, Sun: 7-10

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-30

The Pumpkin Factory

Belleville, MI./$6

Hours: Fri-Sat: 7-10, Sun: 7-9

Run Dates: Every Fri-Sun in October

Slaughtered at Sundown

Armada, MI./$12 or $20 for both attractions

Hours: Begins @ 7

Run Dates: 9/28-10/27 (Fri-Sat only), 10/21, 10/28

Blake’s Nighttime Spooky Hayrides

Armada, MI./Call for prices (586) 784-9710

Hours: Dusk-?

Run Dates: 9/28-29, every Fri-Sun in October

Fear Factory

Warren, MI./$17

Hours: 7-?

Run Dates: 9/21-23, 28-30, 10/4-7, 10-14, 17-31

Motor City Massacre

Roseville, MI./$15

Hours: 7-till the Massacre ends

Run Dates: 9/28-29, 10/5-7, 12-14, 18-31

Death Sentence

Waterford, MI./$12 (Sun-Wed), $15 (Thurs-Sat)

Hours: Sun-Wed: 7-11, Thurs-Sat: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-10/31

Nox

Troy, MI./$17

Hours: Weekdays: 7-11, Weekends: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/3-7, 10-14, 17-31

Castle of the Dead

Lenox Township, MI./$16

Hours: Thurs & Sun: 7-11, Fri & Sat: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 25-31

Deadly Intentions

Warren, MI./$13

Hours: Weekdays: 7:30-11, Fri-Sat: 7:30-1

Run Dates: 9/21-30 (Fri-Sun only), 10/4-21 (Thurs-Sun only), 10/25-31

Nightmare Sanctum another Mixed Bag from Wyandotte Jaycees

Posted in 2012, Review, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by bluefall8

It was with high hopes that John and I set off last Friday for the 2012 haunted house from the Wyandotte Jaycees, Nightmare Sanctum. We’ve visited the haunted offerings of the Wyandotte Jaycees each year since 2007, and as I’ve written before the results have been mixed — this year was no different. When we pulled into the empty lot that served as parking, a mangy looking man raced after the car, chainsaw in hand. He was certainly older and more imposing than the typical worker found inside most Jaycees attractions — perhaps they had turned over a new leaf?

Once we had bought our tickets we proceeded to the line for the haunted house and there we discovered that the Jaycees had wrangled themselves both a former mechanics garage and a house. This was similar to the set up the group enjoyed in 2007 when Hell’s Hospital revealed itself to be a stone cold, old school classic. A pair of ghouls stalked about at the base of the stairs leading to the house, scattering jumpy teenagers. There was a large, wooden water wheel spinning slowly on the porch — an interesting focal point if nothing else.

A pair of teenagers, a male and female, served as gatekeepers to the entrance of the haunt and they performed their duties rather poorly. Some may find it ridiculous to criticize the ticket taker but I feel that it’s an immensely under appreciated part of haunted attractions. Sure, at the end of the day all the doorman has to do is collect tickets and help control the flow of traffic, but when the doorman becomes part of the act the overall experience can be greatly enhanced. This pair failed to hold the attention of waiting guests even long enough to explain the few basic rules of the attraction and this in large part was to do with the fact that they acted as teenagers do — greeting ever other teenager in line as an acquaintance, swapping trivial stories of daily life as a high school student while the rest of us waited to get into the haunted house. Quite simply, I’m of the opinion that a capable adult should work the door.

The attraction itself had it’s share of highs and lows and we’ve found this to be typical of haunted houses produced on a low budget, but the problem with the Wyandotte Jaycees is that the lows are crushingly low. I did like the overall pace created by the combination of the house and garage although the house in particular wasn’t used to maximum effect — it seemed as if we were in and out in no time. It appeared to be a two story house from the outside with a basement as well, it felt as if we breezed a path directly through the center of the main floor. Why not capitalize on the houses naturally occurring ambiance by sending haunters upstairs or to the basement?

However, there was one standout scene inside of the house. One room was decorated as a macabre nursery and bathed in the familiar glow of a black light, three girls dressed as rag dolls chanted a slow, mournful rendition of “Ring Around the Rosie” that sounded more like a dirge than a children’s nursery rhyme. Two of the girls sat at a small table, a tea party long gone cold. The third sat inside of a crib and peered up at us with dead eyes. It was a very nicely balanced scene.

However, the very next scene was a shining example of the repetitive problems that plague the Wyandotte Jaycees. We entered a dilapidated bathroom and our eyes were drawn to the sliding glass doors affixed to the shower, a perfect opportunity for a scare or a bit of comedy but we were offered neither, nothing happened — merely a dead spot where an actor should have been.

There were several other highlights though and I’d like to chronicle those before I come to the worst transgressions of the attraction. There was a good blend of scenes and dark, winding hallways; fog was also used appropriately.

One scene that we enjoyed was also featured last year but was enhanced this season with the addition of two actors. The scene featured various barrels, each with brightly colored toxic waste spilling over the lid. Neon colored tubes ran along  the walls, pumping a liquid to and from parts unknown. As we soaked in the vibrant landscape a lively brain muncher lunged at us only to be quickly put down by a masked gunmen.

And now we come to the part where the wheels came off — the second half of Nightmare Sanctum was wrought with very bad workers. An appropriately detailed butcher shop was wasted on a pair of underwhelming pig boys, a room adorned with glowing Jason masks saw an actor clumsily stumble and then blatantly break character when one of the masks attached to his body came unstrapped and fell to the floor. Worse still, near the end of the attraction we encountered a series of actors who were terrible. Their timing was abysmal and their subsequent performance, listless. In addition, Nightmare Sanctum employed no sound system — yet another annual detraction, and at times we could clearly hear the workers communicating with each other.

I understand that the Jaycees operates on a limited budget but there are solutions to these recurring issues, for instance, in key areas simply conceal a CD player to cover monster chatter — the themes from Halloween, The Exorcist, and Poltergeist generally make for ideal haunted house music. Furthermore, the operators need to take better care of actor placement — perhaps individually certain workers are ineffective at delivering scares, so put them together and perhaps they’ll feed off of each other emboldened by strength in numbers.

On a final note, I took my nephew to the Friendly Monster Event held here a mere two days later and in the final room of the attraction I spotted a painting on the wall — something I hadn’t noticed when John and I had visited. The painting depicted a forest in the fall and possessed a dark beauty. Some creative fellow had the good sense to make a few alterations — creepy figures were hidden amongst the trees, one swung from a noose. It was an unsettling image but rendered completely useless during our nocturnal visit because no attention had been drawn to it. If only a spotlight had guided our eyes to the spooky portrait we would have been easy picking for a prime scare.

Rating: 2.25 stars