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2015 Haunt Season Rewind

Posted in Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2016 by bluefall8

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Late September has crept up awfully quickly and many haunted attractions have already opened their doors to customers. 2016 is going to be a pivotal season here at Horrorlust for several reasons, but before any of that fun can begin we must pause and peer into the rear view mirror for a glimpse of the year that was — submitted for your approval, here are some of the most memorable moments from the 2015 haunt season as recorded here on Horrorlust.

On an overly-friendly character at The Deadland, 9/17/15

“Mr. Snuggles was a clown — at least I think that’s what he was. He looked like a clown but he made a few comments that led me to believe that perhaps the face was not his own. Yeah, we’re talking some freaky skin suit stuff here.”

On an unexpected bit of interaction at The Deadland, 9/17/15

“However, our absolute favorite was Mikey’s birthday party where we sung a boisterous rendition of Happy Birthday at the insistence of the dead boy’s busty mother.”

On a curious ringmaster at the Haunted Farm of Terror, 9/17/15

“Rigby stood head and shoulders above the fairgoers and seemed to have pilfered his outfit from Uncle Sam. One side of his face sported a nasty burn but the disfigurement did nothing to stem his voice which boomed theatrically through a mega phone.”

On a bizarre yet humorous broadcast at the Haunted Farm of Terror, 9/17/15

“Transfixed, we stood and listened to the queer tale that was being broadcast — some weird business about a degenerate rabbit.”

On the charged finale at Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors, 9/26/15

“The air suddenly felt electric, pregnant with anticipation. For a moment time stood still and then like a phantom in the night Junior answered his mother’s call…”

On a tough and unlikely decision at The Dark Box, 10/03/15

“It was a testament to the raw weirdness of the odd ghoul that we accepted the word of the pig-man.”

On the panic-inducing conclusion of The Dark Box, 10/03/15

“Further investigation would reveal the existence of a peculiar path, a path that at least one of our group members refused to travel. Needless to say, it proved to be a harrowing, heart-racing and claustrophobic road to freedom.”

On the importance of good banter at The Bone Yard, 10/03/15

“As we stood at the threshold for The Freak’s Show there was talk of pickled punks and the potential existence of a woman with the rare condition of a double uterus — never let anybody tell you that the person who acts as gatekeeper isn’t a vital part of the haunted attraction.”

On a lost youth inside the Cornmaze of Fear at Past Tense After Dark, 10/10/15

“I like to think that Tiffany will be among the scarecrows next year.”

On a riveting scene inside House of Horrors at Past Tense After Dark, 10/10/15

“The heads were talking, possibly plotting and they were all around us! Neither John nor myself had any desire to become one of their legion, so with our own heads on a swivel we ducked and dodged our way out of that most macabre menagerie.”

On unforgettable actors at Psycho Path, 10/16/15

“In one memorable passage a group of animate dolls, in various states of disrepair and degradation, begged for our assistance. One twitched in robotic spasms while she meekly pleaded for help, another, scarcely more than a torso with a head, merely seemed confused by the state of her sad existence.”

On a scene at Hallowe’en Nights reminiscent of an episode of The Twilight Zone, 10/22/15

“Old-fashioned music drifted across the intersection of Christie and Main Street while the carousel spun haunting rotations as if propelled by a ghostly hand.”

On a dedicated actress at Clio Manor, 10/24/15

“In one room a randy temptress tried to lure us onto her bed which was occupied by the body of her former lover, some poor bastard named Sammy. The temptress shamelessly mounted the corpse and began to grind her hips.”

On a near tranny hookup at Exit 13, 10/24/15

“While my companions howled with laughter, Francine was denied the kiss she so desired by the timely magic of a hidden door that whisked me into darkness and away from her eager, puckered lips.”

On a horrifying clown outside Total Blackout at Exit 13, 10/24/15

“It was as if two separate entities had decided to take up residence in the same body and I got the distinct impression that at least one, if not both, of those personalities had some molester tendencies.”

On Simple, a unique character on the Proving Grounds Trail at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison, 10/24/15

“When we inquired about his state he indicated that he was both “special” and intoxicated; indeed all signs suggested that both were true.”

On the sheer fun inside Zombie Sniper Arena at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison, 10/24/15

“After some initial confusion in which my gun seemed to jam, Steve, John and I fired upon the undead menace with wild abandon that I daresay bordered on glee.”

On a threatening actor at Hush, 10/30/15

“A physically imposing, snarling nihilist fervently pursued us spewing graphic rhetoric on the meaninglessness of life itself.”

On an effective, psychological scare at Dark Legacy, 10/30/15

“What? That doesn’t sound hair-raising to you? Have you ever been followed by a hobo with a shopping cart in the dark?! It’s unsettling stuff.”

On a child-actor at Rotten Manor, 10/31/15

“We also encountered a kid named Billy who possessed an unsettling, gravely voice, exercised the odd skill of scaling walls and seemed for all the world to have been recently unearthed from Pet Cemetery.”

On the genuine terror of Abandon, 10/31/15

“My heart raced like it had not raced in a good many years while inside a haunted attraction. I turned to John and inquired about his own state, his heart too threatened to beat straight out of his chest.”

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2015 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by bluefall8

This list is not meant to compare one haunted attraction to another. The star system (1 – 5 stars) is merely meant to reflect how well I felt each individual haunt executed their particular show. Haunted attractions are a unique breed of entertainment and the quality of a show can vary from night to night, hour to hour and guest to guest for a great many reasons.

As you’ll notice, haunts are listed below in descending order. Where there are multiple haunts with the same star rating those attractions are listed alphabetically.

Again, this list should not be used to gauge which haunt is better than another. Primarily, I use these lists for archival purposes so that I can have a record of the haunted houses I visited and how those attractions performed in a given year.

2015 STAR RATINGS

1. Rotten Manor – 4.75 (Holly, MI.)

2. Research Labs – 4.5 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

3. Clio Manor – 4.25 (Clio, MI.)

4. Dark Legacy – 4.25 (Wixom, MI.)

5. Exit 13 – 4.25 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

6. Hallowe’en Nights at Greenfield Village – 4.25 (Dearborn, MI.)

7. Abandon – 4 (Melvindale, MI.)

8. House of Horrors – 4 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

9. Hush – 4 (Westland, MI.)

10. Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors – 4 (Ypsilanti, MI.)

11. Zombie Sniper Arena – 4 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

12. The Deadland – 3.75 (Warren, MI.)

13. Haunted House – 3.75 (Haunted Farm of Terror – Lenox Township, MI.)

14. The Dark Box – 3.5 (Pinckney, MI.)

15. Haunted Hayride – 3.5 (Haunted Farm of Terror, Lenox Township, MI.)

16. Proving Grounds Trail – 3.5 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

17. Psycho Path – 3.5 (Flat Rock, MI.)

18. Terror on the Blvd. – 3.5 (Lincoln Park, MI.)

19. The Freak’s Show – 3.25 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

20. Terrorfied Forest – 3.25 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney, MI.)

21. Cornmaze of Fear – 3 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

22. Deadwood Forest – 3 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

23. Fear Factory – 3 (Mt. Clemens, MI.)

24. Hayride of Despair – 3 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

25. Realm of Haunted Minds – 3 (Romulus, MI.)

26. Tunnel of Terror – 3 (Rochester, MI.)

27. Total Blackout – 2.75 (Exit 13 – Mt. Morris, MI.)

28. Bubbles’ Fun House – 2.5 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor, Pinckney, MI.)

29. Delirium – 2.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

30. Scarecrow Hollow – 1.75 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

31. Route 666 – 1.25 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

Season Sparked by Past Tense After Dark Haunted Triad

Posted in 2015, Past Tense After Dark, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2015 by bluefall8

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We rolled into Past Tense After Dark and were immediately struck by the immense waterwheel that adorned the cider mill. The night sky shone bright with stars, the fall air had just the right amount of bite and thrill-seekers swarmed the farm like insects. The nocturnal activities at Past Tense After Dark included the Cornmaze of Fear, Hayride of Despair and the marquee attraction, House of Horrors.

MIND-BOGGLING MAIZE

John and I started for the rear of the property and soon found a massive field of corn sprawled out in front of us. Prior to entering the maze we were warned by the keeper of the corn that the trek would be a long one, possibly in excess of an hour, and were additionally cautioned that should we become too terrorized we could resort to using a safe word. But honestly, John and I would never stoop so low.

The Cornmaze of Fear was certainly large  and confusing and featured a variety of dead ends. A team of strategically placed scarecrows loomed ominously above the stalks, keeping a watchful eye on all who braved the corn. A handful of live actors also patrolled the maze although they were more concerned with providing a scare than aiding us in our quest to best the maze.

In one memorable moment, we crossed paths with a small group of teenagers, one called out to a friend who had become separated from the pack — Tiffany. After a couple of attempts the unseen Tiffany answered back but any thoughts of a reunion were cut to ribbons when the chatter of a chainsaw tore through the night. I like to think that Tiffany will be among the scarecrows next year.

We never did find the proper exit but did manage to navigate our way back to the entrance.

Rating: 3 stars

HOUSE OF HORRORS A TRIUMPHANT BLEND OF STYLES

House of Horrors is the marquee attraction at Past Tense After Dark and was an eclectic fusion of haunt tropes that resulted in an highly enjoyable, unique experience. The adventure began on a wooded path, fog drifted through the air which carried the distant shrieks of fellow thrill-seekers. We walked past a humble cabin and then through the heart of a mausoleum were one well-placed creep gave us an unexpected fright.

Following several twists, the path choked us into a building — a hotel with more in common with the Stanley than the Ritz. A disfigured bellhop bounded in our direction with a level of enthusiasm that inspired a degree of unease. He led us to an elevator and closed the door behind us; a bumpy ride ensued. When the shaking ceased and the door had opened to a new floor we were greeted by an attractive woman; her role at the hotel was unclear but not unwelcome. We were led through a couple of finely detailed hallways toward the back of the building.

A vortex tunnel stood in our path, once clear of it I paused and looked back at the structure from which we had just emerged, it appeared to be a charming abode. We would later learn that it used to function as a greenhouse. Our stay outdoors was short as a larger building loomed before us, and from its bowels echoed strange sounds. John and I entered and were immediately swallowed by perfect dark. We groped blindly as a loud, bizarre cacophony of noise bombarded our ears. It was an aural assault that suggested the gadgets in a science lab had gone haywire all at once or perhaps it was the surreal language of the planets captured by precision instruments. No matter the case, the effect was disorienting and nerve-wracking.

Something furry brushed against my lips and I thrashed in the dark. A rhythmic thumping could suddenly be heard in the distance and it increased in frequency and intensity working in concert with the weird space orchestra that laid waste to our collective psyche. The whole affair was surreal, creepy and unsettling — and there was more of that to come.

Deeper into this House of Horrors, we cautiously navigated a corridor of decapitated heads, each hung from the ceiling. We were in the thick of these suspended death masks when a series of faint whispers began to grace our ears. The heads were talking, possibly plotting and they were all around us! Neither John nor myself had any desire to become one of their legion, so with our own heads on a swivel we ducked and dodged our way out of that most macabre menagerie.

But it was the classic out-of-the-fire and into-the-frying-pan scenario as we were soon cornered by an odd old man who can be best described as a cross behind a fisherman and Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. His appearance was accompanied by a quirky soundtrack that left me with the distinct impression that the country folk had bred with carnival people. He croaked a few threats or warning or perhaps a combination of both and it was almost enough to distract us from the fact that in his left hand he held a large hook and on that hook was a double-headed baby and that freakish tyke had a twitchy arm!

There was also a brightly decorated clown area that was adorned with all sorts of old newspapers, one headline read:

KILLER CLOWN ESCAPES FROM CIRCUS, WHO IS THE MAN BEHIND THE MAKEUP

We figured it was likely that this Man Behind the Makeup was the same guy responsible for that ghastly collection of chattering heads and decided once more that ours were best left between our shoulders. We departed the clown archives but before House of Horrors was finished with us we had to survive a one-of-a-kind ambush from a gaggle of teddy bears that was equal parts hilarious and shocking.

Rating: 4 stars

HAYRIDE OF DESPAIR A FUN MIX OF HORROR & HUMOR

As we waited for one of the final wagons of the night to arrive, we swapped stories of haunting with a friendly, knowledgeable employee named Nick. These impromptu conversations are the unsung heroes of any haunt outing. The night had grown late and with the passage of time the temperature had steadily dropped which made the collective body heat of a packed wagon a welcome treat. We thanked Nick for his company and boarded the wagon to parts unknown.

The group on the wagon revealed itself to be active and boisterous; the kind of folks primed for the kind of scares that the Hayride of Despair had to offer. Indeed, the very first scare was a simple flying prop that lunged from somewhere just above the cornstalks and momentarily seemed as if it would plop right down onto the head of one of the shrieking thrill-seekers.

The hayride pulled guests around the perimeter of the corn maze and revealed a series of platforms where various scenes were in progress as the wagon lurched forward. One of the highlights involved a farmer who experienced a handful of trouble from otherworldly visitors. He shouted and pleaded with anyone who would listen that he had no desire to have his brains eaten; his rant concluded when he comically proclaimed that Steven Spielberg’s E.T. was a woefully inaccurate depiction of alien beings.

As the ride continued a collection of ghouls began to board the wagon and they were not quick to depart, in fact the majority of them stayed aboard for the remainder of the trip. A few of the monsters even brandished weapons which included a chainsaw or two which made for some fun and interesting moments on a tightly-packed hayride; a body or two could be found writhing on the floor of the wagon.

The Hayride of Despair wasn’t terribly long but it was of fair length and featured a fun and frightful mix of humor and horror. The vocal occultists near the end of the path, who threatened to pull riders from the wagon, was a fun and lively touch.

Rating: 3 stars

Horrorlust Radio Episode #016

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2015 by bluefall8

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In episode #016 of Horrorlust Radio, I’m joined once again by fellow haunted attraction enthusiast, Mike Marvel.

In this installment of Horrorlust Radio, Mike and I continued our discussion of haunted houses, specifically how such attractions can succeed or fail on the strength of a finale.

This edition of Horrorlust Radio also featured interviews with the cast and crew of TNT Productions stage performance of Night of the Living Dead. Also included is an interview with Corey from Past Tense After Dark.

I’m actively seeking sponsors for Horrorlust Radio, if you own or operate a haunted attraction or are otherwise involved or connected to the haunt industry and are interested in such an opportunity you can contact me at the following email address: horrorlust@bluestarproductions.net

Email any questions or comments to the address above or feel welcome to post any reactions to this podcast in the comments section below.

HORRORLUST RADIO: EPISODE 016

SHOW NOTES

Thank you to the latest sponsor of Horrorlust Radio, Krazy Hilda’s!

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Join me for Night of the Living Dead this Saturday at James R. Desana Center for Arts & Culture located at 81 Chestnut Street in Wyandotte!

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch may not feature the iconic Michael Myers but it did introduce a generation of impressionable youths to the hypnotic tune of the Silver Shamrock commercial. As a child I was quite horrified by the images of those masks that rotted the heads of countless unsuspecting kids.

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The songs and audio clips featured in this episode are listed below in chronological order:

“Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers (Single, 1962)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch Theatrical Trailer, 1982

“Night Wraiths” by Nox Arcana (Grimm Tales, 2008)

Silver Shamrock Commercial from Halloween III: Season of the Witch, 1982

“Darkly Everafter” by Nox Arcana (Grimm, 2008)

 

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Past Tense After Dark Delivers the Fright Stuff

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on October 11, 2015 by bluefall8

Following another Saturday night in the great month of October, we placed two more notches in the old belt after maiden visits to Tunnel of Terror in Rochester and Past Tense After Dark in Lapeer.

Tunnel of Terror brought me back to my youth with an old school trailer haunt that pressed in on us from all sides. The pitch black passages and sparse scenery struck the right tone and left me brimming with ideas. Past Tense After Dark was a pure delight which exceeded expectations with a professional cast, superior detailing and a penchant for humor. The House of Horrors, in particular, succeeded on several fronts and rocketed to the top of the best of list for 2015.

Full reviews to be posted in the coming weeks, of course. Thanks to Paul and Dan at the Tunnel of Terror as well as Nick and Corey at Past Tense After Dark for being gracious and knowledgeable hosts. It’s always fun to talk haunts and I enjoyed picking your brains. Corey even shared a great local ghost story — you can’t beat that!

Crisp Air, Fresh Haunts

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2015 by bluefall8

It will be a night of first time visits for us tonight and I don’t think there’s anything more exciting during the month of October than the chance to tour never-before-seen haunted attractions.

First, we’ll check in with the Rochester Jaycees at the Tunnel of Terror! The Tunnel of Terror is a so-called trailer or modular haunt and quite frankly I have a bit of a thing for trailer haunts. The trailer haunt and other scrappy volunteer efforts formed the very foundation that the haunted house industry was built on, so any time I discover one I relish the opportunity to pass through its halls. There simply aren’t that many trailer haunts left in this area; I believe the last time I paid one a visit was four years ago.

We plan to cap the night off at Past Tense After Dark in Lapeer which boasts three attractions — Hayride of Despair, Cornmaze of Fear and The House of Horrors. Past Tense After Dark is one of a handful of attractions that I’ve yearned to visit for a couple of years now and I’m happy to finally see a trip manifest.

Originally, I had hoped we could also visit Scott’s Haunted Corn Maze, Hayride and Rooms of Terror but given the number of attractions between it and Past Tense After Dark, I think we’d be cutting it a bit too close. It’s a shame as we will pass Oxford on our way to and from Lapeer but such is the life of a haunter.

2015 Haunt Schedule: Never is Enough

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2015 by bluefall8

The haunt schedule can be a restless beast — there are time restraints, geographic considerations, unexpected vehicle maintenance and of course the threat of inclement weather. The 2014 schedule was made all the more problematic when some friends and I decided to produce a home haunt for a Halloween party. The CikNis was held on Saturday, October 25, 2014 but the build began in early September and as it was quite an undertaking, the project limited the number of haunts I visited that month to exactly one.

In addition I acted in the Wyandotte Jaycees haunted house on three or four nights in late October and unfortunately several of my Friday nights were effectively wiped out because I was needed at work. Don’t get me wrong, both The CikNis and the opportunity to act with the Wyandotte Jaycees were worthwhile and fruitful experiences but my participation in each did eliminate potential nights from the road schedule.

This year there is no home haunt to consider and I have yet to determine whether or not I’ll reprise my role as the irrepressible Gerkins with the Wyandotte Jaycees, so with that said the haunt schedule will feature more flexibility this fall. Although, a number of my Fridays will once again be hampered by work responsibilities. But, over the years I’ve learned to roll with the punches and leave it in the hands of the haunt fates.

Below, in no particular order, are possible outings for the 2015 haunt season.

HIGHWAY TO HELL

Night #1 – The Deadland (Warren), Fear Factory (Mt. Clemens) & Panic at Pine Stump Hollow (St. Clair)

Night #2 – The Dark Box (Pinckney) & The Boneyard (Stockbridge)

Night #3 – Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson) & Shawhaven Haunted Farm (Mason)

Night #4 – Heck of A Haunted Barn (Monroe) & Haunted Hydro (Fremont, OH.)

Night #5 – Past Tense After Dark (Lapeer), Scott’s Rooms of Terror (Oxford) & Tunnel of Terror (Rochester)

Night #6 – Haunted Elementary (Bridgeport), Clio Manor (Clio) & Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Night #7 – Wiard’s Night Terrors (Ypsilanti)

Night #8 – Rotten Manor (Holly), Bonadeo Farms (Highland) & Dark Legacy (Wixom)

Night #9 – Abandon (Melvindale), Hush (Westland) & Krazy Hilda’s (Ypsilanti)

Night #10 – Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood), Psycho Path (Flat Rock) & Delirium (Wyandotte)

Night #11 – Slaughtered at Sundown (Armada), Haunted Farm of Terror (Lenox Township) & Scarefest Scream Park (New Haven)

I paid special attention this season to attractions that Horrorlust has never toured; there’s 13 listed and Krazy Hilda’s has relocated since our last visit in 2012. Once I identified some fresh blood I sprinkled in some old favorites that we haven’t patronized in a few years. I like that there’s wiggle room in the schedule to allow for unexpected circumstances, for instance, we could easily slot Shawhaven Haunted Farm alongside The Dark Box if need be.

I also wanted to be sure to hit each of the sponsors for Horrorlust Radio and furthermore limited the number of locations toured on any given night to just three. John and I did manage to hit four separate locations on November 1st last year but it was a breakneck pace that did suck some of the enjoyment out of the experience. Admittedly, some of the haunts listed are wild cards but we’ve gambled before and come away with enjoyable experiences.

OTHER HAUNTS OF INTEREST

Bloodview – One of my all-time favorite places. A different theme each weekend is a tempting prospect indeed. I wish it weren’t so damn far from my home.

Bates Haunted Saw Mill & JC’s Axe House – If Haunted Elementary or Clio Manor don’t pan out for any reason this Millington haunt could fit the bill.

Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – Enjoyed it last year, confident an even better show is possible. Plus, it’s hard to pass up if we’re near Jackson.

Darksyde Acres – The old pig farm has become a staple in recent years and it’s hard to resist that wild, unpredictable cast. It’s a haul though without much else in the area.

Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Might be placed into rotation during trip to Past Tense After Dark if limited dates render lesser knowns unlikely.

The Haunt – I was once told by a veteran haunted house owner that, “If you haven’t been to The Haunt, you haven’t been anywhere.”

Realm of Haunted Minds – It’s close to home and has a throwback charm; I like to visit every couple of years.

7 Floors of Hell – That’s a lot of floors and I need that much haunting in my life. Plus, I love my overnight Ohio trips; especially those that give me an excuse to hit Bloodview.