Archive for horrorlust

Black & White

Posted in News with tags , , on October 12, 2015 by bluefall8

Horrorlust Flyer 2015

Horrorlust has always been a labor of love and a work in progress. I’ve been fortunate that so many within the haunted house industry have responded to reviews, welcomed me to their haunts, granted interviews and allowed me, like a curious zombie, to pick their brains.

I’ve also been blessed with family and friends who in various ways have lent their time and talents to the evolution of Horrorlust. The latest example of this is a flyer that my brother, Jason, whipped up so that it could be distributed throughout southeast Michigan.

I remember seeing flyers for haunted houses as a child and those that resonated most powerfully were simple, streamlined blends of image and text that conjured an element of mystery. It was our goal to recreate that same dark allure with this flyer. Somewhere, I hope a kid lies awake at night wondering about the monsters at Horrorlust.

Advertisements

Interviews Coming to Horrorlust

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on May 28, 2014 by bluefall8

It’s been a long time coming but I’m excited and proud to announce that Horrorlust will soon feature interviews with owners and operators of haunted attractions. This is an idea I’ve kicked around for a couple of years but I needed to make a few bonafide contacts before the plan could come to fruition. I’ve had the pleasure over the course of the past two haunt seasons to have some wonderful conversations with a handful of owners and operators, and as it turned out these folks love to share their passion for haunting.

...a unique frequency on the haunted spectrum...
…a unique frequency on the haunted spectrum…

Rob Johnson of Darksyde Acres in Jonesvillle, Michigan was the first industry insider to pay this blog any attention, and as such it’s only fitting that he should serve as the first official Horrorlust interviewee. I recently shot Rob some questions via email and he didn’t disappoint with the answers. In fact, his answers were so thorough and engaging I’ve decided to release the interview over two separate posts. I hope readers enjoy the interview as much as I’ve enjoyed the process. I’d like to thank Rob in advance for participating in the interview. It won’t be long now, stay tuned.

Halloween Companion Number 1

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2014 by bluefall8

Here is the seminal post that would spur Hallowblog (and then Horrorlust) into existence — Halloween Companion Number 1. As you’ll soon read, the purpose of this entry was to highlight a creature of the night as well as one horror movie. It only seemed fitting to select the zombie as the featured monster and naturally Night of the Living Dead as the film. This post was originally written on Thursday, October 19, 2006.

Oh the excitement runs rampant! Rampant I tell you!! Freakin’ rampant!!! I mentioned last week that such an entry would manifest and so it is. Let’s dig into this bag of goodies.

For the first installment of the Halloween Companion I’ve decided to give you good people something of double feature. I call it a double feature because the creature and film highlighted in this entry are pretty cozy with each other; bedfellows you might say. C’mon people, consider the source, this one should be obvious.

Our creature…the zombie. (Seriously, did you expect something else?)

A rudimentary definition of a zombie would read, “a person who is believed to have died and been brought back to life without speech or free will.” That definition is not inaccurate but it is limited. It is essential to clinically, that is to say physically die in order to become a zombie. Logic follows that in order to be a zombie you must be reanimated and to be reanimated you must first die. The definition is also correct in saying that a zombie is without speech and free will. Typically the only sounds a zombie can make are moans and other guttural noises. The bit about free will definitely applies to zombies that have been reanimated by means of voodoo or other forms of black magic. This type of zombie is essentially a slave to the one who has given it a second life and when not being ordered to perform a task it will appear catatonic. This type of zombie does not present an inherent threat to human beings; it does only the bidding of its master. Unlike its cousin, that would be zombies in the Romero vein, the voodoo zombie does not feast upon warm human flesh.

And therein lies the great division between the voodoo zombie and the more prominent flesh eating ghoul. Rules regarding a zombie’s behavior vary slightly depending on the film maker’s intentions but as a template I will focus upon the those characteristics that define the Romero zombie, because truly, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead has served as the basis of zombie behavior for a plethora of films about the undead since.

These zombies do not possess great physical strength in fact they are commonly depicted as being physically weak, easily overpowered by would be human prey. Zombies are also typically slow moving, exceptions do exist, for examples of such view the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later. Even Romero strayed from traditional zombie behavior for his fourth zombie film, Land of the Dead although that was more a decision that was necessary to the story arch (the zombies were evolving) rather than a simple twist on an old staple. As if slow, awkward movements and physical prowess comparable to Minnie Mouse weren’t enough of a hindrance the zombie is also a dim-witted creature, again exceptions to the rule exist. With these attributes in mind it brings one to wonder why the hell a zombie is such a formidable foe. Slow, weak, and dumb; indeed it sounds more of an apt description of the kid picked last in gym than that of a vicious, undead murderer. But my friends, to recognize the zombie’s weaknesses and ignore it’s strengths would be foolish beyond a ballot cast in favor of the GOP, okay maybe not that foolish, but it would lead one down a terribly reckless path. Yes, we are faster, stronger, and most importantly, smarter than our hunters and we can wield those advantages against them but not without understanding their strengths and motivations.

The zombie possesses an edge in two crucial areas: strength in numbers and the ability to absorb massive amounts of physical damage. Zombies tend to gather in dense packs, presumably in areas where food (humans) is or was prevalent. They rarely acknowledge each other; doing so only when quarreling over a piece of a victim (a tasty intestine will always trigger a zombie throw down). Zombies also seem to possess some awareness of human presence even when said humans are out of sight, they will also become more active when warm flesh graces their sight. It is advisable that any number of humans avoid large groups of the undead lest you risk infection, which is a topic I’ll come to later. As prior mentioned zombies can sustain large amounts of physical damage without being killed…again. A zombie could have a limb torn off, an eye gouged out, or a spinal column severed, none of these methods will stop the zombie on it’s pursuit for human flesh. To effectively combat the undead one must, to quote many a zombie flick protagonist, “You gotta shoot’em in the head”. Decapitation has also proven to be an effective method in most cases; essentially the rule stands that the brain must be destroyed in order to put down a ghoul.

Thus far we’ve established what a zombie is, its physical traits, its insatiable appetite for the living, and how they are too be guarded against. But why do zombies rise in the first place and why the hell do they want to eat people? Would they devour a friend or former lover from their living life? You bet your ass they would. Zombies are creatures of pure instinct and possess little to no memory of their prior life, they act only on the impulse to feed and possibly a primal desire to multiply, for that is exactly what occurs when a zombie has its prey. A zombie bite is a death sentence, well an undead death sentence if you will. The rule follows; if you are bitten by a zombie you will subsequently join the ranks of the undead. The time table of such a transformation depends on the extent of the injuries. Some have turned from human to zombie in mere minutes while others succumb to the infection in a matter of days. Amputation of the infected area has proven some what effective in suppressing zombie symptoms. These amputees may have been spared for the time being but the trauma of the event combined with whatever bit of infection may have survived the amputations can cause fevers and hallucinations which leads to other destructive behaviors.

So why oh why do zombies rise from the dead and kill the living? Well nobody knows for sure. Many reasons have been presented in movies dealing with these creatures, the most prominent of which are: radiation from outer space, a type of virus usually attributed to some government experiment gone wrong, a plague (presumably from Hell), a judgment from God, or as Peter from DOTD so famously said, “When there is no more room in Hell the dead will walk the Earth.” It is standardly accepted that whatever the cause zombies can infect the living by biting them, suggesting that the virus is transmitted through saliva, this theory has been broadened to other bodily fluids as well, most namely blood.

Now that I’ve made you few loyal bastards suffer through this long-winded lesson about my precious undead friends I’ll conclude by saying that any inquiries regarding the undead can promptly be sent to yours truly. And if zombies do ever rise and you wish to save your mortal ass from becoming a mindless, flesh eating ghoul you’d better seek me out because damn it my vast expanse of zombie knowledge will save your life.

At the top of this I stated that this was a double feature so without further verbal defecation I present the featured film…

Night of the Living Dead. Yes, I know you probably expected it to be Dawn as it is my favorite movie but I certainly have my reasons for choosing the gem that is Romero’s first endeavor into the zombie mythology. Night of the Living Dead has become the rule that all exceptions of the genre are born. There were of course films prior to Night that dealt with zombies but none so memorable, potent, or with such lasting impact. That it is why it became the staple. That is why it is the icon. But NOTLD is not just a classic horror film meant to elicit screams and gasps from viewers; it is also a satire, a stirring commentary about turbulent 1960’s America; a microscope analyzing race relations and social classes of its day. NOTLD is both a horror fans wet dream and a landmark artistic achievement. It is because of the latter that NOTLD remains ingrained in our collective conscious nearly 40 years after Johnny creepily quipped, “They’re coming to get you Barbara.”

Corn Stalks are Grown to be Stolen

Posted in Hallowblog, Word of the Week with tags , , , , , , on April 28, 2014 by bluefall8

Like last week, this post too was a Halloween themed Word of the Week. There are a couple of tidbits worth mentioning in this post, the first being a mention of the RWF. The RWF stood for Revolution Wrestling Federation which was a backyard wrestling production I staged with some friends over a number of years. The particular show mentioned below occurred on October 29, 2005 and would be the last one we ever did.

The second item of interest is probably the most important and can be found in the last paragraph where there is a mention of a “companion blog”. That companion blog would grow into Hallowblog by October 2007 and that would of course evolve into Horrorlust four years later. 

The final tidbit is the closing salutation. The phrase, “Later Defecators” is one that I would later use regularly at the end of certain Mud Puppets videos called Mupdates. What are the Mud Puppets? Well, since you asked, the Mud Puppets are a sketch comedy troupe that my cousin and I maintain on YouTube and we’d be tickled if you gave us a look, right here: The Mud Puppets.

This post was originally written Friday, October 13, 2006.

The second installment of the Halloween themed “Word of the Week” is late as was its immediate predecessor. I try to post regularly on Thursday but alas I’m distracted and lazy. Hell, I’m only a couple of hours late as it is. As usual there is great excitement surrounding yet another edition of “Word of the Week” but much like last Saturday’s entry, this one too has a little something extra. Before I get to that however I must relay this week’s word, which happens to be corn stalk.

Corn stalks are a staple of the Halloween season and are often associated with mystery and fear, in part thanks to The Children of the Corn films. Corn mazes have become a fixture of the Halloween season as well, off-shoots of other attractions such as haunted houses, forests, and hay rides. Corn stalks are a quintessential Halloween item, conjuring up images of objects in the same vein-pumpkins, scarecrows, full moons, witches, werewolves, and cauldrons. Good stuff those corn stalks.

One last item to clarify before I come to the defining of the word, the title: Corn stalks are grown to be stolen. Some know the story, it occurred just one Halloween removed. Hey what can I say, the RWF had a Halloween show to produce, funds were short and we needed props. Corn stalks were on that list, sacrifices had to be made and corn stalks were pilfered. Richard, my partner in crime, good times.

corn stalk-noun: a stalk of Indian corn.

And now for the latest, exciting announcement. I have decided that the Halloween themed “Word of the Week”, as great as it is, just isn’t enough of a tribute to such a great holiday. Therefore I’ve decided to add a companion blog to the “Word of the Week” for the duration of the month of October. This blog will contain a weekly creature as well as a recommended horror film and a section dedicated to memories of Halloween past. Other content may creep in there as well as I think of it and I am of course open to suggestions.

Later Defecators.

…Somewhere in the City of Necropolis

Posted in Hallowblog, Word of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2014 by bluefall8

This is the first of many entries regarding Halloween that predated Horrorlust. When I began to rifle through some of my old posts I was somewhat surprised to discover that the total number exceeded fifty. I’ll upload these missives one by one, once a week until the backlog has been exhausted. Each of these entries was originally posted at Myspace and Livejournal.

Word of the Week was a column I used to write once a week and as you’ll soon read I decided to give it a Halloween flavor during the month of October once upon a time. I actually maintained the practice through October 2012 and then retired it last year to focus on other aspects of Horrorlust. This particular post was written Sunday, October 8, 2006 which means that it predates even Hallowblog which didn’t officially debut until nearly a year later.

This installment of “Word of the Week” is a bit late but, ah yes, the wait was quite worth it. You see, Halloween is my favorite holiday and so I’ve decided that for the duration of the great month of October each edition of “Word of the Week” will be Halloween-themed. I know, I do too much for you people. And yet there is still another treat to share. In this inaugural Halloween issue I have included two words for your enjoyment. I loved them both so much I just couldn’t bear to leave one out in the chilly October night. The first appears in the title as the featured word of the week always does, necropolis. What a wonderfully morbid notion; beautiful in it’s own way.

necropolis-noun: cemetery, especially a large elaborate cemetery of an ancient city.

Interesting terminology is it not? A necropolis is described as an “elaborate cemetery”. I wonder what qualifies it as elaborate, sounds interesting. If I ever find a nice necropolis I’ll be sure to frolic about the elaborate workings.

The second word is closely related to the first, necromancy.

necromancy-noun: the art or practice of conjuring up the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future; magic, sorcery.

I also considered the words necromancer and necrosis (isn’t that a cool word), but if you desire to know anything further about all things necro I suggest you do a little research, you have all you’ll get from me. All this talk has me thinking about zombies, and really it doesn’t get much better than that.

Bring out your Dead

Posted in News with tags , on April 10, 2014 by bluefall8

It was a long and bitter winter here in Michigan, as it was throughout much of the Midwest and Northeast. Finally, the weather seems to have taken a turn for the better and spring is beginning to manifest. For months, everything outside my walls was frozen solid but inside, Horrorlust kept the fires lit with various projects that are starting to bear fruit.

Readers will notice some changes, most notably to the sidebar which has undergone a much needed reorganization. The most important and useful change is in regard to how reviews can now be accessed; instead of scrolling down the page in what seemed an endless sea of posts, users can now use the Categories drop down box to easily navigate the various posts on Horrorlust. As you’ll notice reviews are now sorted by year and haunt.

I’m tinkering with other smaller features as well, so you’ll likely continue to notice changes over the coming weeks. This is all part of an effort to highlight the best content on the blog and provide a more comprehensive experience for the haunt fiends who dwell herein.

Some of you know that prior to Horrorlust I wrote similar content under the title, Hallowblog. This forerunner was in existence from 2006-2010 and although some of the entries that were apart of Hallowblog have been referenced on occasion, none of those formative posts have been shared on Horrorlust in their original form. This is something I plan to correct going forward; although I won’t simply post all of the old entries at once. I’ll slowly post them over the course of many months, likely providing a little back story with each as to provide context.

On a final note, I’d like to point out that early in the 2012 haunt season I began to write each individual review as a separate post. Prior to this I would often write reviews for an entire outing, for instance, if we had gone to three haunts in one night I would write one massive review divided by sections for each location. This review from 2011 is a good example of that: Thrills & Chills Dominate Hilda’s, Feargrounds and The Boneyard! This practice however resulted in reviews that I felt were simply too exhausting for most people to enjoy; so I made the decision to house each review within its own post.

2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2014 by bluefall8

The 2013 field was full of worthy nominees and after much consideration, I’m prepared to unveil the 2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards.

2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards Banner

Rotten Pumpkin – The Rotten Pumpkin award is given to the haunt considered to be the most disappointing of the season. Disappointment may be the result of an over hyped marketing campaign or the failure of the haunt to live up to expectations set forth in previous seasons. Whatever the case may be let there be no doubt that the haunt receiving this unwanted distinction truly dropped the ball, failing to provide a worthwhile show.

2013 Rotten Pumpkin: Scream Machine

Dishonorable Mention: 3-Story Haunted Barn (Blake’s)

The Scream Machine is now the first attraction to earn this undesired distinction twice; in consecutive years no less. It pains me to say that this selection was a no-brainer. The Scream Machine didn’t merely slip this year, instead the once respected haunt nosedived into an ugly downward spiral. The cast was unprofessional, listless and undoubtedly one of the very worst we’ve encountered. The design of the haunt was uninteresting, repetitive, and creatively bankrupt.

 

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

2013 Eerie Vibrations: Village of the Living Dead

Honorable Mention: Terrorfied Forest (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Village of the Living Dead seemed to pulse with a special kind of energy from the moment we crossed the threshold of the haunt. The mixture of dense fog, orchestral music and subterranean passages produced a surreal, claustrophobic adrenaline rush.

 

Dark Horse – The Dark Horse award is given to the haunt considered to have the most potential for growth. Criteria for this award include the ability to deliver an entertaining show at a relatively small venue and at a reduced rate. Think of the Dark Horse award as the Horrorlust’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2013 Dark Horse: Bloodbath on Biddle

Honorable Mention: Realm of Haunted Minds

The Wyandotte Jaycees took full advantage of the old City Hall building and in doing so, provided  guests with a lengthy trip through two levels of haunted rooms and corridors. Bloodbath on Biddle featured creative room design and a slew of warm bodies, actors who proved more capable than in previous seasons. Time and money are luxuries that Jaycees groups simply do not have to waste, the folks at Bloodbath on Biddle deserve a lot of credit for managing their resources wisely.

 

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.

2013 Killer Automatons: Erebus

Honorable Mention: Jackson’s Underworld

House of the Dead’s four year stranglehold on this award has finally been broken as the old king returns to the throne. This is the second Killer Automatons Award for Erebus; the first came in 2008.

 

Monster – The Monster award is given to the haunt considered to have the best live actors of the season. In order to claim this award workers must display a certain level of intensity as well as a refusal to break character. Also crucial is the ability to improvise lines or actions when adapting to an individual guest or group.

2013 Monster: Sinister

Honorable Mention: Exit 13

This award proved to be the most difficult selection of the 2013 season as there were several deserving candidates. In the end however it was the unrelenting, improvisational impresarios of Sinister who grabbed the award for a second consecutive year.

 

Prop Master – The Prop Master award is given to the haunt considered to have best implemented props into the attraction. A prop may be considered a piece of furniture, a weapon, or a dummy. The haunt that claims this award will have paid special attention to placement, function, and realism.

2013 Prop Master: Hillside Mortuary (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Honorable Mention: Slaughter House (Slaughter House Adventure)

Hillside Mortuary earned this award in 2013 by offering haunters a trek through fully furnished rooms, complete with eerily posed mannequins. The motionless spooks were ominously frozen throughout the attraction, seemingly captured in moments of life that will live forever. The creepiest of the bunch stood expressionless next to an open casket — I got the chills just thinking about it.

 

Pulse Pounder – The Pulse Pounder award is given to the haunt considered to be the most intense attraction of the season. Intensity can be gauged by a number of factors including commitment of actors, gory or realistic scenes, and harsh or loud music and sound effects. However, the most important element when considering this award is genuine fear factor.

2013 Pulse Pounder: Village of the Living Dead

Honorable Mention: Purgatory’s Revenge

Reminiscent at times of our 2010 trip to Demonic Demons in Detroit, Village of the Living Dead toyed with the senses in various ways. Haunters were forced to crawl, climb, and grope their way through blinding fog and strobe effects. The overall effect produced a major spike in our heart rates.

 

Samhain – This award recognizes the most enjoyable night of haunting in a given season. A plethora of factors are considered when deciding this award but at the end of the season it comes down to the night of haunting that provided us with the most scares, laughs, and memories.

2013 Samhain: October 25, 2013 (Purgatory’s Revenge, Blake’s & Slaughtered at Sundown)

Honorable Mention: November 1, 2013 (Exit 13 & Village of the Living Dead)

We enjoyed a long night of haunting on October 25, when we managed to visit three attractions for the first time. Purgatory’s Revenge was a very good first time effort while the Nighttime Spooky Hayride at Blake’s was a feast for the eyes; meanwhile Slaughtered at Sundown offered classic fundamentals and engrossing scenes.

 

Haunt of the Year – The Haunt of Year award is given to the haunt considered to be the best overall attraction of the season. When deciding on this award several factors are taken into consideration including the timing and intensity of actors, the pace and length of the haunt, attention to detail, use of special effects, realism of props, and most importantly the lasting imprint left on guests.

2013 Haunt of the Year: Hush

Honorable Mention: Erebus

Quite simply, we were highly impressed with the overall effort from the rookie, Hush. The clever theme was leveraged well by Dr. Phineas Phun who highlighted an excellent cast that was full of energy. The scenes and scares varied in type and intensity and that approach produced a common thread of fun and fright that prevailed throughout Hush. It was a welcome surprise in 2013 that left us yearning for more and reminded us once again why we cherish this rite of passage each October.