Archive for homer mill

Disappointment Ravages Opening Night

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Homer Mill, Jackson's Underworld, Review with tags , , , , , , on December 3, 2014 by bluefall8

This entry was originally posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 and is the infamous chronicle of our highly disappointing journey to Jackson’s Underworld and subpar return to the Homer Mill.

I hadn’t slept much on the day in question and did experience a memorable hallucination as we drove home that night; as we approached an underpass on the expressway I witnessed a thick, hairy spider, much larger than our car, clinging to the underbelly of the bridge. It began to move slowly as we approached, flexing it’s legs as if to crawl topside.

I had the presence of mind to realize that it was merely a figment of my imagination caused by sleep deprivation but it was horrifying just the same; the thought of it gives me goosebumps to this day.

What was supposed to be an electric start to the 2009 haunt season was quite possibly the biggest disappointment in Haunt Trinity history. After making the one hour and twenty minute drive to Jackson we made a quick stop at Luke’s new apartment and then with Luke and Heather in tow we drove the short distance to Jackson’s Underworld.

The building was imposing; I had the distinct feeling that it used to be a school although nothing would ever confirm my suspicions. After purchasing our tickets (tickets we were charged $5 too much for, more on this later) we proceeded to the entrance of the haunt and divided into two groups. Luke, Heather, and John entered first. Jason, Richard, and I followed several minutes later after receiving instructions from a condemned animatronic freak featuring an amusing extend-o-neck in the fashion of Inspector Gadget.

Unfortunately it was all down hill from there. I wouldn’t say Jackson’s Underworld blew its load early; it simply had no load to give. Everything started off okay I suppose, a very creepy zombie couple waltzed as we entered one room, a two-faced corpse lurched from a casket in another but ten minutes into the haunt we had yet to come across a single live actor. The worn school house hallways would have been conducive to some quality scares but not a creep lurked and soon the eerily quaint setting gave way to black hallway after black hallway. Let me be clear, this was not an attempt at an old school haunt; in fact the hallways were only semi-dark. At times these halls meandered so long without anything happening that the whole experience took on the feel of a maze, a maze without the enjoyment of a challenge that is. This cycle of sterile boredom would become a theme throughout the haunt as a series of hallways gave way to an uninspired scene which would trail off into another series of hallways.

There was a decent sheet room and a dizzying vortex that threw me strangely off kilter for some time but it was painfully obvious at the half way point that this place just didn’t have it. We had caught up to Luke, Heather, and John by this point and it became clear that we were resigned to make our own fun. I turned my attention to scaring Heather as a collective sense of tomfoolery took hold of the group. Shortly, we came upon a “womb of doom” and Luke joined the prestigious ranks of those who have likened the experience to that of birth. We were coming to the end now and while I kept hoping to find some redeeming feature no such thing would manifest.

We did witness some first rate animatronics but nothing seemed to be integrated very well and it was all stuff we’d quite literally witnessed before at the Homer Mill. There were a few actors of note but they were only noteworthy due to their inability to produce a scare. I was amused by a child ghoulie who stood behind a set of bars wielding a knife. He seemed hungry so I extended my index finger and wiggled it near the bars as to solicit a chomp but the diminutive monster ignored the tasty morsel and instead slipped through the bars and once among us seemed merely bemused and bewildered. A short while later we came upon a gutted corpse lying on a slab but despite our lengthy provocations (threats that included a right squibbing from the JVD) the actress made no attempt to frighten us. The incident so piqued Jason’s curiosity that he later offered up what I’m sure he felt to be a succinct observation.

The greatest disappointment by an actor however was reserved for what was quite possibly the coolest room in the entire haunt. We entered what looked like a massive boiler room, to the left a man hung above our heads, a sickle stuck through his chest. To the right a body lie in decay, a dark path ran between bulks of machinery and something lurked in the bowels; a big scare was sure to come. A shrouded ghoul stumbled forward slowly and as it approached I wondered aloud what type of creature it could be. It was then that Heather made a remark that did not fully register until we had exited the haunt, as the ghoul grew close I thought to myself, “Surely she didn’t just say that.” The promise of a big scare was quickly evaporated as the rotting cretin turned and skulked away as slowly and silently as it had approached. A collective confusion gripped the room while a part of me wondered if Heather’s comment may have hastened the ghoul’s retreat.

Nobody will accuse Jackson’s Underworld of offering a short attraction but everybody should lament how poorly the space is utilized. The haunt takes approximately thirty minutes to traverse more than half of which is spent walking through scarcely inhabited hallways. The scenes are average at best offering little to no suspense or actor interaction. The few good areas that could have produced solid, creative scares yielded nothing which displays a lack of creativity and caring. Jackson’s Underworld excels in no area of haunting to call the experience mediocre would be a compliment bordering on outright exaggeration; Jason summarized it best by labeling Jackson’s Underworld anemic. An imitation of the Homer Mill would have been preferable to this bastardization.

“I think it’s a half-breed”

-Heather, speculating on the nature of the boiler room ghoul who was ironically portrayed by an actor that very well may have been a “halfie”

“She was probably just pretending to be a prop so that we didn’t have our way with her.”

-Jason, continuing his rich tradition of making compulsive, sexually deviant remarks while haunting

Rating: 2 stars

Luke and Heather headed back to their apartment while the rest of us pushed forward to the Homer Mill. Before we hit the dusty trail a stop at the liquor store was in order as Jason and Disco harbored a desire to get blind drunk which they did with amazing rapidity. Thirty minutes later the impressive structure of the Homer Mill came into view and our night of disappointment would continue.

As with Jackson’s Underworld we were once again charged $20 to enter the attraction despite the fact that both had been advertised as $15 during the month of September. We debated the point with an employee who claimed that the ad in the Fear Finder was a misprint. We paid the admission and proceeded to the entrance of the haunt where we were informed that the third floor of the haunt had been closed for the season. If you’ve never visited the Homer Mill it’s important to understand that the third floor is truly what separates this haunt from all the rest; it’s the reason Homer Mill was such a special experience last year and its removal was tantamount to castration.

Due to the omission of the third floor the haunt was considerably shorter which the operators compensated for with a healthy increase in live actors. The actors were well timed and displayed some heart; fundamentals that are always appreciated by the Haunt Trinity. The animatronics were great once more and a series of statically charged walls zapped our senses in an unexpected and unfamiliar way. There was also a brand new meat cooler featuring a hyped up, chainsaw wielding lunatic who thrilled us with his macabre charisma. Unfortunately a familiar layout sapped some of the punch from the commanding aura of the building.

We emerged from the haunt and were highly disappointed to find the Homer Mill’s unique restaurant closed. We proceeded to the bar where Jason, John, and Richard paid $10.50 for a pitcher of beer. Apparently it was the night of a thousand disappointments. The ridiculous prices and lack of food acted as a stimulus upon our departure. It was a long drive home; one filled with tasteless jokes, sleep deprived hallucinations, and plenty of discussion about the disappointing outing.

Rating: 3 stars

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Zero Hour for Haunt Trinity

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2014 by bluefall8

This entry was originally posted on Thursday, September 24, 2009 and served as a prelude to our first outing of the season. If I were asked to pick the most disappointing night of haunting I’ve ever experienced, off the top of my head, I would have to pick this one.

The song lyrics that accompany this entry are from a song called “Brain Food” which can also be found on the Moans From the Mausoleum Halloween CD. 

Somebody woke the dead
now breakfast is inside your head
I’m going to eat your brains tonight

There’s just one earthly delight
for a zombie who needs a bite
So I’m going to eat your brains tonight

Brain food (It’s a zombie attack)
Brain food (It’s a midnight snack)
Brain food it keeps me coming back to life

Oh please don’t make me wait
Take off your hat and get a plate
Cause I’m going to eat your brains tonight

I haven’t had a decent meal
since the day my coffin was sealed
And I’m going to eat your brains tonight

Brain food (It’s a zombie attack)
Brain food (It’s a midnight snack)
Brain food it keeps me coming back to life

Well there’s just one thing I want
don’t need no fancy restaurant
I’m just going to eat your brains tonight

I’ve been craving a human feast
since I was pronounced deceased
So I’m going to eat your brains tonight

Brain food (It’s a zombie attack)
Brain food (It’s a midnight snack)
Brain food it keeps me coming back to life

I didn’t mean to give you a fright
but I’ve got an undying appetite
I’m just going to eat your brains tonight

So enough of these idle chatter
It’s time to chow down on your gray matter
I’m going to eat your brains tonight

Brain food (It’s a zombie attack)
Brain food (It’s a midnight snack)
Brain food it keeps me coming back to life

Brain food (It’s a zombie attack)
Brain food (It’s a midnight snack)
Brain food it keeps me coming back to life

And it begins, anew. Tomorrow night the Haunt Trinity begins the annual pilgrimage to all places spooky. In the spirit of the past two seasons we’ll kick off festivities with a visit to a brand new haunt, Jackson’s Underworld. Located in Jackson, Michigan JU as described in the Fear Finder has been “specially designed and built by the creators of the Homer Mill.” Followers of Hallowblog know well the high marks Homer Mill received last year; based on our experience there the bar has been set high for Jackson’s Underworld. I’m not entirely sure what this particular building used to be used for but several pictures found at the haunt’s website reveal old elevators and what looks to be a massive boiler room. My only concern is that in an effort to duplicate the success of the Homer Mill the operators will have fallen into the pitfall of an imitation. It is my hope that JU can utilize the structural elements that make Homer Mill so rare while infusing the experience with a spirit of its own.

Following our visit to Jackson’s Underworld we’ll make the forty minute drive to the aforementioned Homer Mill. We’ll be visiting the haunt nearly a year to the day since our original visit and I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to return at all. It’s quite a drive to Homer and given our desire to hit an array of new haunts this year it seemed as if a trip to the Homer Mill was unlikely, but along came Jackson’s Underworld and suddenly we had ourselves an outing. The night will end with a visit to the Mill’s restaurant where I indulged in some delicious chili-cheese fries last year. Something new is in order for this year I do believe.

The Haunt Trinity will converge at Jason’s humble abode to begin the night. Making his debut with the Haunt Trinity will be long time friend Richard Sander; better known to some as the kid who once broke a bunch of beer bottles at Food Town. We plan to depart around 6 p.m. and upon arriving in Jackson we may even meet up with Luke “The Spook” Zapor. This will also be the first time that we have hit two haunts on opening night. May this be another adventurous season of fun and fright.

A haunting we shall go.

2008 Numbers & Awards

Posted in Awards, Hallowblog, Haunting By Numbers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2014 by bluefall8

2008 marked the first season that I compiled numbers such as those listed below; it was also the first year that I assigned awards on such a scale.

On occasion I will look back over past awards and wonder if perhaps I didn’t shortchange a haunted attraction in a particular category; I bring this up now because in 2008 I gave a lot of thought to the Pulse Pounder and Killer Automatons Awards. Those awards would be won by County Morgue (Chainsaw Creek) and Erebus respectively, but there was spirited debate amongst myself and fellow haunters both during and after the fact.

There was certainly a case to be made for House of the Dead (Terror Town) with respect to the Killer Automatons Award and both John and Jason told me that they felt Deadly Intentions deserved the edge where the Pulse Pounder Award was concerned.

Situations such as those would, in future seasons, lead me to name not just the award winner but also an honorable mention; which is a system I prefer as I feel it provides a more complete picture for each award.

This entry was originally posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009.

The 2008 haunt season was full of unprecedented fun and fright. In order to put things into perspective I’ve compiled the following numbers.

10: The number of Hallowblog entries posted throughout the season, the most since its inception in 2006.

9: The number of haunts visited by the Haunt Trinity, a one year record.

136: The amount of money each of us spent on those nine haunted attractions.

6: The number of nights we set out to visit haunted attractions.

2: The number of states we traversed on our quest for Halloween fun (Michigan and Ohio).

96: Miles traveled to the Homer Mill, the furthest haunt of the 2008 season.

446: The total number of miles we traveled throughout the haunt season.

If all goes as planned many of those numbers will be surpassed this season, what is less certain however is the performance and subsequent rating of the haunted attractions. Let’s take a look back at last year’s noteworthy performances. Presented here in Hallowblog for the first time are the 2008 haunt awards as chosen by the Haunt Trinity.

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 during the 2008 season.

2008 Rotten Pumpkin: Templin’s Night Terror

The Haunt Trinity had high expectations after experiencing a superb, old school experience at Hell’s Hospital in 2007 but the Wyandotte Jaycees wasn’t able to recapture the magic. It wasn’t just that a number of actors were undisciplined and ineffective or that their less than whispered conversations were clearly audible over an oddly mute sound system, no more than anything the largest detraction of the Jaycees’ 2008 effort was that it felt like a bad imitation of its usual product.

Eerie Vibrations: The Eerie Vibrations award is given to the haunt considered to exude the best overall atmosphere. Atmosphere can be defined by the mood of the haunt itself but can also be fostered by immediate grounds or even the surrounding area.

2008 Eerie Vibrations: Homer Mill

A lot of haunted attractions possess a great atmosphere but in the end it was the Homer Mill that jumped out at us the most. Homer Mill is like no other haunt we’ve ever visited, as if the structure of an old mill adapted to a haunt isn’t a unique enough atmosphere for you then consider the Halloween themed restaurant and bar connected to the haunt. The seemingly opposing but strangely complimentary buildings forge a rare synergy that creates a comfy, fun atmosphere whether you’re traversing the haunt or enjoying a bite to eat and all the while you can hear screams of fun or fright as it may be heralding from the other side.

Dark Horse: The Dark Horse award is given to the haunt considered to have the most potential for improvement. 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.

2008 Dark Horse: Realm of Haunted Minds

Realm of Haunted Minds is located at the Huron Turkey Farm and is one of those haunts that is fun for all ages, it’s not too intense but it isn’t geared toward children either. There’s room to expand here and the haunt benefits from a semi-rural locale which by night creates a creepy small town farm atmosphere.

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.

2008 Killer Automatons: Erebus

A number of mega haunts have awesome animatronics these days but nowhere are they put to greater use than at Pontiac’s four story monster. The integration of animatronics at Erebus is impressive, the willingness of the operators to push the envelope with robots that literally attack patrons shows a commitment to fright that warrants high scores in my book.

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 at the end of the experience the most important element is the level of one’s own fear.

2008 Pulse Pounder: County Morgue (Chainsaw Creek)

Chainsaw Creek’s crown jewel is not a long or intricate haunt but it is frightening. County Morgue is slim on live actors but those that do inhabit its cold corridors are a credit to their craft. County Morgue is a dark brew of ultra-gory props, ear splitting heavy metal, and mind numbing strobe effects. It might not sound like much but the place brought me to a level of fright I don’t often feel. I was tentative when approaching objects and less than comfortable when turning corners. The fear I felt here brought me back to my youth.

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 a refusal to break character. Also crucial is the ability to improvise lines or actions when adapting to an individual guest or group.

2008 Monster: Deadly Intentions

When you talk about a commitment to scaring guests any conversation that doesn’t include Deadly Intentions is just plain wrong. The collective energy put forth by the staff here in 2008 was unmatched. These people are relentless in their quest to scare you and don’t think you’re going to deter them with sophomoric quips. The group at Deadly Intentions clearly loves what they do. It’s primal, in your face, non-stop insanity.

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 haunt’s ability to leave a lasting experience in the minds of guests.

2008 Haunt of the Year: House of the Dead (TerrorTown)

In a season packed with worthy contenders House of the Dead rose to the top of the corpse pile. An unlikely amalgam of innovative techniques and bizarre visuals propelled this stench laden living tomb to haunt super stardom. It was fun, it was scary. It was a wild, haunt riot that assailed all five senses and had me wishing I’d possessed a sixth for I’m certain it would have been delightfully thrown off kilter. Experiencing House of the Dead isn’t like visiting a haunted attraction it’s more like being ripped from reality only to be dropped in a wacky, bygone era video game world complete with a giant enemy eyeball. If you’ve ever played Monster Party for Nintendo then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what House of the Dead is all about.

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.

Realm of Haunted Minds & The Extreme Scream

Posted in 2008, Extreme Scream, Hallowblog, Realm of Haunted Minds, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2014 by bluefall8

This entry was originally posted on Sunday, October 12, 2008 and chronicled an enjoyable night of haunting that took place at The Realm of Haunted Minds in Romulus and Extreme Scream in Taylor.

This particular trip through The Realm of Haunted Minds would later notch the 2008 Horrorlust Dark Horse Award. 

On October 4 (the Saturday before last) the same group of haunters that survived the Homer Mill one week prior braved the terrors of two local attractions: Realm of Haunted Minds and The Extreme Scream.

Jason, John, and Cherette arrived at my apartment just past dusk and we set out for Realm of Haunted Minds at the Huron Turkey Farm in Romulus. When we arrived the area was nearly deserted but the sound of Michael Myers’ haunting music reassured us that the ghastly denizens of RHM were awaiting the arrival of some unlucky souls. There was a type of country store in which customers purchase their tickets and the decorations here were noteworthy. A number of realistic, life-size dummies dotted the walls on the left side of the room one of which appeared to be Lon Chaney’s portrayal of the title character in the 1925 production of The Phantom of the Opera.

After buying our tickets we hit the grounds were various clubhouse style buildings dominated the landscape, we would explore these after we exited the Realm of Haunted Minds. Upon entering the haunted house guests listen to the wisdom of a slightly creepy animatronic wizard. The haunt features a recurring theme of hallways speckled with neon paint and lit by black light; I think it works fairly well here achieving a disorienting effect without seeming repetitive or disjointed.

One major drawback was the timing of the actors, often off it served as a double dose of disappointment when paired with lackluster deliveries which plagued numerous workers. However, one particular actor was dead set on precision. After being herded down a narrow passage guests approach a turn to the right that forces them to crouch very low to the floor; all would’ve been fine if it hadn’t been for a hungry, undead girl stooped in the corner. The position of the corner and the low ceiling forces the haunt goers to come face-to-face with the frightening creature who barred her teeth in a menacing snarl. As we passed she made her desires known stating, “I want to bite your ankles”. She proceeded to follow us through several rooms, dragging her body across the floor as if her legs were useless. Her persistence was appreciated and I thought it only proper to offer her a just reward, shaking my exposed ankle at her as we rounded a corner I said, “Earn your meal biatch.” She didn’t just steal the show at RHM; she made the show and will no doubt be remembered as one of the top actors of the haunt season.

The rest of the haunted house featured passable if not forgettable scenes perhaps the most awe-inspiring was the room that contained a massive Frankenstein strapped to a medical table. I also was struck by a hallway that featured a high arching ceiling with bright pink tube lights running up either side of the walls and crossing over guests’ heads. As with the Homer Mill there was a “Womb of Doom” just prior to the end of the haunt. Upon exiting haunters wind their way through a small maze comprised of wooden fence posts. We eventually escaped the maze albeit by questionable means when Jason insisted on ducking beneath a wooden structure and barreling through a rather small opening between wooden planks, that opening needless to say increased in size once we had made our hasty exit.

The Realm of Haunted Minds has potential. It’s a great place for someone looking to get into the spirit of the Halloween season who isn’t quite prepared for the scares offered at more intense or graphic attractions.

Rating: 3 stars

We departed the Huron Turkey Farm and began the trek to Taylor for the Extreme Scream. The Extreme Scream wasn’t open in 2007 but during the 2004 Halloween season Branden, John, Amanda, and I discovered just how effective this haunt could be. Needless to say I was very excited to return to this haunt with an old school slant.

The Extreme Scream still features a lot of plain, dark hallways and the desired effect is pulled off here better than any other haunt I’ve visited. The operators here smartly allow haunters to psyche themselves out allowing them a lot of time to think about what lies around the next corner while feeling their way through these basic but effective hallways.

Prior to entering the haunt the guy at the door runs a shtick in which he cons the party weakling (typically the girl in the group) out of their name. Once he has the name he announces it to the foul ghoulies inside and as you may have guessed such dubious honors were bestowed upon Cherette. The monsters wasted little time in taunting Cherette, one depraved creature suggested that we, “Take Cherette to the bedroom”. I’m fairly certain I heard a satisfying slurp escape Jason’s lips.

The Extreme Scream features a strong blend of dark passages, props, actors, and simple yet effective gags. This haunt really starts to hit its’ stride at the midway point with a series of shrinking hallways that force guests to turn sideways and push their way along. While this occurs an agile clown scampers across the tops of walls taunting visitors below. Another neat feature of the Extreme Scream is the various locations at which haunters are forced to crawl their way along, sometimes while grunting creatures pursue you from a parallel path separated by intersecting wooden planks. The timing of the majority of actors is precise here and most seem committed to scaring the guests.

At one point we entered a room where the walls were lined with lockers, a single door stood at the far corner. We went through it and immediately suspected that we had strayed from the haunt. We were staring at the haunt’s sound system and standing in what seemed to be a type of access pathway to numerous rooms throughout the attraction. I could also hear the distinct chatter of employees; in fact I spotted two of them not far from me. After several attempts to find an alternate path and failing to do so I simply approached one of the workers and he directed me back to the locker room where I reunited with the group. Apparently there was a small door near the floor; we had to crawl to get through it. I’m fairly certain that haunt goers aren’t expected to find this for themselves because a ghoul had now appeared in the room behind the secret door this room was actually visible from the employee pathway we had mistakenly entered but it was so small I wasn’t sure that we were supposed to enter it. The ghoul who had suddenly appeared I assume was suppose to have jumped out at us and then directed us in the right direction in the first place, I guess he was busting a ghoulie feke.

The haunt concluded shortly and suffered from a terribly anticlimactic finish. Guests enter a room where a man in an electric chair, bathed in red light slowly raises his head. The prop is merely meant to distract you as a plainly visible slot in the wall houses a masked actor who provided a would be mild scare.

The misguided trip into an employee area as well as an uninspired finish put a blotch on what was an otherwise very enjoyable and well done haunt. I did miss the cart ride that the Extreme Scream featured in 2004.

Rating: 4 stars

Homer Mill Delivers Explosive Kick Off

Posted in 2008, Hallowblog, Homer Mill, Review with tags , , on September 2, 2014 by bluefall8

This review detailed the first trip we ever made to the Homer Mill and was written Saturday, October 4, 2008. We would return to the Homer Mill a year later but by the spring of 2010 the historic building had burned to the ground. I’ll always remember this inaugural trip fondly; it’s a shame what happened to the Homer Mill.

The drive to the Homer Mill took just under two hours most of which was spent on westbound I-94. As Jason, Disco, Cherette, and I drew near Homer, Michigan we traveled M-60 which did provide some interesting local scenery winding through a number of small towns including one that featured a creepy cemetery sitting just off the road.

The Homer Mill bursts out of the wooded setting that surrounds the haunt and instantly the impressive nature of the building leaves an imprint on its visitors. There was a sizable crowd milling about in front of the haunt which also sports a bar and restaurant. We parked in the rear near an old Silo and entered through into a lobby sandwiched between a bar (to the right) and a restaurant (to the left). Initially we were going to grab something to eat before entering the haunt but after learning that there was a forty minute wait for a table we left our name and went to buy our tickets. We shortly joined the line out front that we had previously witnessed upon entering and waited maybe fifteen minutes before entering the haunt. I snapped a number of pictures and soaked in the atmosphere to pass the time and soon we were swallowed by the Mill.

The Homer Mill is a rare haunted attraction; the structure of the building lends itself to a natural ambience that most haunts are unable to replicate. The owners have smartly integrated the mill’s stairways and catwalks into the attraction and in doing so provide haunt goers with a truly unique experience.

The haunt begins with a humorous gag; entering a cavernous room guests get a full view of the bare ass of a man slumped over a barrel. When approached the animatronic begins spewing into the barrel while speakers pump the sound of retching into the room. The scene is funny but reflecting on this singular moment in contrast with the rest of the haunt causes it to seem a tad disjointed.

Guests next cross a bridge which actually has water underneath it and are quickly confronted by an alligator that sprays mist in their direction. As the misting begins the bridge tilts slightly creating the sensation that guests may be chucked into the glowing green depths. I’m a big fan of water being used in haunted attractions and I’d like to see it implemented in increasingly creative ways. The sudden jolt of the bridge shifting was a nice touch as well but it was relatively subtle as the owners probably don’t actually want anyone projected from the safety of the bridge.

The Homer Mill features some truly awesome animatronics; three in particular come to mind and rival anything you’ll see anywhere else including mighty Erebus. The first is an execution scene, a man lies face down locked into a guillotine and after the blade falls the body twitches in a gruesome and hilarious manner. The next instance of animatronic mayhem comes in the form of an apparent psychiatric patient. As guests pass through a darkened hallway a strobe flashes from the right and a straight-jacketed man bound by chains begins flailing desperately. The effect is enhanced by the bouncing chains that crash to the floor and also thrash in unison with the dreadlocks upon the puppets head. The prop was very convincing and mimicked human mannerisms in a very believable fashion. The third and final animatronic was also shockingly realistic, a man sitting behind prison bars is strapped to an electric chair, an ominous pause is palpable. I thought for a moment that the figure would break free from his restraints and lunge forward but no sooner had the thought taken hold the chair lit up and the man began wildly shaking and screaming as smoke filled the room. It was indeed an animatronic as I have stated but when it was hoisted so high out of the chair I thought it likely even probable that the figure was an actor, a very impressive sight. Jason later stated that he has saw that same prop online selling for $10,000.

Another interesting feature of the Homer Mill is the external bridge that connects two of the buildings. Haunters actually leave one structure and cross a bridge that temporarily leads outdoor before entering a second building. Once inside the next building guests enter a room with a floor composed of only 2 x 4’s and wire mesh. It was a great effect because the mesh flooring sinks under the weight and visitors have a direct view of a nearly 30-40 foot drop below. It’s in this part of the haunt that the natural structure of the building really shines. Haunters climb stairs and cross catwalks with immense drops on all sides.

When considering the sheer size of the haunt it’s tempting to suggest that the Homer Mill is thin on live actors but this surprisingly doesn’t detract from the show. The Mill is a little heavy on animatronics but it’s hard to view this as a point of criticism when the puppets are so damn good. The Homer Mill also makes good use of traditional black hallways forcing haunters to grope in the dark as they make their way to safety through a very well paced attraction. Another interesting feature of the haunt is the ability to hear music and crowd chatter coming from the bar and restaurant. It would be easy to dismiss this as an obvious detraction and maybe in a traditional sense of haunting that is accurate but this fact creates a sensation of disorientation. Yes, you can hear the band playing and a cacophony of conversation but you can’t tell where it coming from or how one would come to find the source.

The haunt comes to an end with a final bridge to cross which leads to a doorway filled with a bulging inflatable. Guests must force their way through the oppressive structure; the entombing led to many vaginal jokes as I quibbed, “I feel like I’m being born.” Cherette would later dub this particular feature the “Womb of Doom.”

After exiting the haunt we snagged a seat in the Halloween themed restaurant and enjoyed a bite to eat, I opted for some tasty chili-cheese fries while Jason and Disco concerned themselves with the blood red beer.

The Homer Mill has it all and fires on all cylinders. It satisfies guests with a wonderful show and a neat restaurant as well. As we departed, after I mistakenly drove across a pedestrian bridge that is, I reflected on what a fun and fulfilling experience the Homer Mill had provided for the premiere of the 2008 haunt season.

Rating: 5 stars

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!”