Archive for krazy hilda’s camp of no return

2012 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2013 by bluefall8

The Midwest Haunters Convention was held this weekend in Columbus, Ohio and that means two things — Summer has arrived, and with the passing of MHC the official countdown to the haunt season has begun! I loved the EC Comics inspired promotional piece for the 10th anniversary of this event.

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So as the Midwest Haunters Convention wraps up tonight and haunt vendors, owners, and enthusiasts look forward to the fall, let us take a few moments to look back at the best that last season had to offer.

Horrorlust recognizes nine dreadful categories. Our traditional seven categories include: Monster, Killer Automatons, Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Dark Horse, Rotten Pumpkin, and of course, Haunt of the Year. In 2011 the Prop Master and Samhain Awards debuted; descriptions precede each award.

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.

2012 Rotten Pumpkin: Scream Machine

Dishonorable Mention: Nightmare Sanctum (Wyandotte Jaycees)

This wasn’t an easy decision because the Scream Machine is not a bad haunted attraction, but it has become stagnant and predictable. I’ve visited this attraction more than any other over the years and the 2012 incarnation was guilty of mailing it in more so than at any other time. It lacked precision, passion, and any truly pulse pounding moments.

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.

2012 Eerie Vibrations: Bloodview

Honorable Mention: Krazy Hilda’s Camp of No Return

A malevolent aura permeated throughout Bloodview from the moment we stepped through the gates that bore its’ namesake. It featured both indoor and outdoor attractions that seemed to pulsate with the energy of 1,000 lost souls.

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.

2012 Dark Horse: Dimensions of Darkness

Honorable Mention: A Nightmare on Elm Road

All of the fundamental elements are in place for Dimensions of Darkness to become something special. Dark, in-your-face, actor driven haunted attractions are becoming rarer with the passing of each Halloween season, but with a few inspired tweaks the gang here might just have the moxie to deliver old school back to the mainstream.

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.

2012 Killer Automatons: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

Honorable Mention: Haunted School House

Despite a number of ill timed or malfunctioning animatronics last year, House of the Dead still offered enough impressive robotic baddies to win this award going away. Without fail the operators here take care to integrate a couple of new mechanical monsters into the show each year. Indeed, House of the Dead has a stranglehold on this category, winning the Killer Automatons Award four years in a row.  

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.

2012 Monster: Sinister

Honorable Mention: Bloodview

The cavalcade of creatures at Sinister worked as a cohesive unit, the group was so in sync it was as if their minds had forged a singularity. This was a collection of professional scarers who regard haunting as a craft and worked tirelessly to hone their formidable skills. The staff here simply did not miss a beat and wasted no opportunity to engage guests. The vocalization, physicality, and improvisation were all expertly executed.

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.

2012 Prop Master: Barn of Horrors (Erwin Orchards)

Honorable Mention: Haunted Laboratory

The use of props inside the Barn of Horrors put me in mind of 2011 winner, Tent of Terror. Nothing was overdone or out of place, each prop provided a key visual element for its’ respective scene. The warped clock with a human face and giant dwarf stand out as favorites.

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.

2012 Pulse Pounder: Slaughter House

Honorable Mention: Bloodview

Admittedly this year’s selection of Slaughter House is a bit of a departure for this particular award which traditionally has gone to the scariest haunted attraction of the season. Slaugher House certainly offered some spine tingling moments but their specialty was more fun than fright. None of this is a knock on Slaugher House, quite the opposite in fact, it’s a testament to what the haunt did so well. Heart racing scares were supplanted by mind boggling illusions, the race to freedom was replaced by the race to the next room where another eye popping stunt was lying in wait. Slaughter House was a refreshing mix of fun and fear that got the blood pumping to be sure.

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.

2012 Samhain: October 5, 2012 (Erwin Orchards, Slaugher House, A Nightmare on Elm Road)

Honorable Mention: October 12, 2012 (Deadly Intentions, Sinister, Exit 13)

The night of October 5th didn’t get off to a promising start due to the weather but the magic of the haunt season would not be denied. As fate would have it we braved the Barn of Horrors twice, witnessed a haunt classic at Slaughter House (and made a friend to boot), and capped off the night with a visit to the charmingly ramshackle A Nightmare on Elm Road. It isn’t often we get to experience such a wide spectrum of the haunted landscape in a single night.

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.

2012 Haunt of the Year: Sinister

Honorable Mention: Slaugher House

Our experience at Sinister was pure happenstance, a visit that seemed to warp the very fabric of space and time, the sort of thing that usually only occurs within the confines of The Twilight Zone. On every measurable scale the cast was brilliant; somehow providing John and I with a fresh and, dare I say, even more energized experience during our second pass. It was like being in one of your favorite films except all of the familiar scenes had been supernaturally charged and then quite amazingly we discovered new scenes and characters who hadn’t existed moments before. Sinister spun a rare gem in 2012 and will live on in haunt lore for years to come.

A Brief Note on Awards and Ratings

Many haunted attractions that we hold in high regard did not receive any awards in 2012, but that does not mean these attractions do not deserve recognition. The most notable of these are Darksyde Acres and Exit 13. Darksyde Acres’ Rusthole & Catacombs scored 4.25 out of 5 stars, the 3rd highest rating out of the 22 total attractions we visited last year. Similarly, Exit 13 was rated 4 out of 5 stars and ranked 5th overall in our ratings.

So how can it be that neither of these haunts garnered so much as an honorable mention? Well, I’ve stated numerous times that the ratings are a reflection on each individual haunt and should not necessarily be used to compare one attraction to another. So what does this all mean? I think it speaks to two things — the diversity of the awards themselves and the quality of attractions we were able to visit during the 2012 haunt season.

Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride (4.25 stars) also rated very well and it’s counterpart at Scarefest Screampark, Hayride of Doom (3.5 stars), didn’t do too shabby either. Hayrides, like corn mazes and other haunted off shoots while undeniably related to haunted houses are, in my opinion, different beasts altogether. We currently have no specific award for these attractions due to the fact that we simply don’t visit enough of them each season.

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2012 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2013 by bluefall8

For each haunted attraction I visit a 1-5 star rating is ascribed. This list is intended to reflect those ratings only and does not indicate any other type of rank such as favorite to least favorite. Nor is the star ratings system meant to pit one attraction against another it’s just my way of summing up the overall effectiveness and enjoyability of that particular haunted attraction.  A lot of factors are taken into consideration when I determine the rating such as — actor performance, theme, quality of props and special effects, originality, and level of excitement — just to name a few but at the end of the night the rating comes down to my raw gut feeling of the overall experience. Below is a complete list of the haunted attractions I visited during the 2012 Halloween season ranked by their corresponding star rating. Again, it’s important to note that the star rating isn’t meant to serve as a way to compare one attraction to another rather it’s a reflection of how well each individual haunt executed what it set out to accomplish.

2012 Star Ratings

1. Sinister – 4.75 (Utica, MI.)

2. Slaughter House – 4.5 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

3. The Rusthole & Catacombs – 4.25 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

4. Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride – 4.25 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

5. Exit 13 – 4 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

6. Bloodview – 3.75 (Broadview Heights, OH.)

7. Dark Abyss – 3.5 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

8. Dimensions of Darkness – 3.5 (Maumee, OH.)

9. Krazy Hilda’s Camp of no Return – 3.5 (Chelsea, MI.)

10. Haunted Laboratory – 3.5 (Akron, OH.)

11. Barn of Horrors – 3.5 (Erwin Orchards – South Lyon, MI.)

12. Hayride of Doom – 3.5 (Scarefest Scream Park – New Haven, MI.)

13. Haunted Schoolhouse – 3.25 (Akron, OH.)

14. Big Top Terror – 3 (Terror Town – Maumee, OH.)

15. House of the Dead – 3 (Terror Town – Maumee, OH.)

16. Haunt for Hunger – 3 (Allen Park, MI.)

17. Deadly Intentions – 3 (Warren, MI.)

18. Corn Stalkers Maze – 3 (Erwin Orchards – South Lyon, MI.)

19. Castle of the Dead – 2.75 (Scarefest Scream Park – New Haven, MI.)

20. Scream Machine – 2.25 (Taylor, MI.)

21. Nightmare Sanctum – 2.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

22. A Nightmare on Elm Road – 2 (Webberville, MI.)

Average Rating – 3.36 Stars

Krazy Hilda’s Unleashes Spooks on Campground

Posted in 2012, Krazy Hilda's, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2012 by bluefall8

It was a long ride from Wyandotte to Chelsea but it was one made with much excitement. Last year we paid our first visit to Krazy Hilda’s and instantly fell in love with the Barn of Doom, ultimately granting it our Dark Horse Award. As some of you may know, Krazy Hilda’s was at a different location last year, partnering with Coleman’s Corn Maze in Saline, but this year the old witch has relocated to an abandoned campground in Chelsea. As we drew near our surroundings grew increasingly dark and rural. Shortly, we were traveling across dirt roads flanked on either side by thick woods — Hilda and the gang were well off the beaten path this year.

We pulled into a vast clearing, illuminated by powerful work lights. Once we had parked, we exited the vehicle and were directed toward a wooded path which led to the camp grounds. Now, there weren’t any scares during this brief jaunt but it did allow us the chance to soak in the natural ambience, and heck you just can’t help but wonder if something is lurking in the woods.

We bought our tickets and had a nice conversation with the lady at the window who kindly provided us with discount coupons after we’d left ours in the car. When we inquired about the change of venue she informed us that the owner of Coleman’s Corn Maze had given them a raw deal — Hilda and her minions had no choice but to relocate. There was no line for the attraction and this made me sad for two reasons. The first being that the staff and operators here deserve better, they draw more out of what they have perhaps better than any other group I’ve witnessed. The second reason was simply because the lady who collects tickets is a joy to converse with and no wait meant our discussion was cut short (we swapped stories of Taylor’s former haunt, Extreme Scream).

Hilda’s featured some seasoned scarers who were well trained in the art of the startle  and one could hardly ask for a better back drop on which to ply such a craft. Here and there cabins dotted the landscape, the haunted trail left us feeling completely exposed. Our favorite moment occurred early in our trek, as we were marching up a hill there was a disturbance on the ground to our right. A rotting flesh eater clawed his way out of a bed of leaves and staggered after us expressing a desire for our brains! I must admit that the actor did a great job of pursuing us and whatever instrument he used to create such an unique vocalization was an excellent choice. His agonized moans for “Braaaaains” could be heard across the neighboring hills and valleys and provided a most unsettling effect.

I appreciate the fact that Krazy Hilda’s makes use of homemade dummies, some may argue that they look cheap and unconvincing but the practice brought me back to my youth. These dummies also provided a distraction for guests who may otherwise have spotted a lurking monster eager to deliver a scare. One cabin had a pair of cellar doors located at the rear and as you might have guessed, the doors flew open with malice as we approached them. A menacing, female ghoul emerged with expert timing and stalked us down the path.

Some of the workers were equipped with milk jugs (a strange tool for a monster you may be thinking) but these jugs weren’t filled with milk rather they contained something hard and numerous, small rocks perhaps, and when shaken abruptly at just the right moment served to heighten each scare. Simple, yet effective tactics such as these are often ignored at many haunts always to their detriment; scaring is done right at Krazy Hilda’s.

My only disappointment was that our path never took us through one of the various cabins we saw along the haunted path although the staff did seem to indicate that they planned to run at the location going forward so perhaps this is something they’ll integrate in the future. I trust that the minds behind Krazy Hilda’s realize what they have and will make full use of their facilities in time.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Perfect Weather for an October Outing

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2012 by bluefall8

It is with a note of sadness that we find ourselves already at the final Friday in October, but while it’s here we plan to make hay. Tonight, John and I travel to Nightmare Sanctum the latest offering from the Wyandotte Jaycees. This group has offered a mixed bag of attractions in recent years — delivering an old school classic in 2007 and a highly enjoyable romp through an abandoned police station on Devil’s Night 2009. However, the 2008 incarnation was utterly forgettable earning our Rotten Pumpkin Award for worst haunt of the season. Their efforts fell a bit flat in 2010 and 2011 as well, we’re hoping our return tonight bares witness to a change of fortune for the long running Wyandotte Jaycees.

From there we’ll beat the path to Chelsea, Michigan to the Camp of No Return where Krazy Hilda and her army of ghouls have taken up residence. Last year, Krazy Hilda’s was a standout attraction earning our Dark Horse Award and, along with The Boneyard and Chelsea Feargrounds, the Samhein Award. An abandoned campground will provide an interesting setting for this all volunteer effort.

Finally, we make our return to Slaughter House Adventure in Fowlerville. We were blown away by the illusions at Slaughter House early in the season but were unable to experience the Haunted Maze or Blood Bath and Beyond Hayride due to adverse weather conditions. It is extremely rare for us to pay a second visit to a single haunt in the same season, I’m excited to see if any tweaks have been made to the show since our first visit on October 5th. Happy Haunting!