Archive for legion of terror

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.

Legion of Terror Breathes Life into Bloodview

Posted in 2012, Bloodview, Review with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2012 by bluefall8

It was apparent from the get go that the actors at Bloodview were cut from a different cloth than those at the Haunted School House and Laboratory. The ghouls and goblins here bill themselves as the Legion of Terror and claim to be the oldest improvisational troupe in the United States.

Every weekend the brains behind Bloodview change the theme of the attraction and it was by no mistake that our trip coincided with an outbreak of the undead. As we passed through the wrought iron gates to the grounds I watched a pair of zombies shamble lively after guests. As we waited in line to buy tickets a rotund zombie, once an officer of the law, stumbled about near guests, his mouth agape — death it seemed did nothing to curb his appetite.

The queue line area was certainly among the best I’ve ever seen, everywhere you looked reanimated meat bags pursued, harassed, and terrified haunters. The zombies here were of all sorts — air suckers and grabbers, chompers, droolers, and aimless bumblers. There seemed to be no less than a dozen of these characters who assailed waiting patrons in revolving waves. The performance of these actors was impressive and their dedication to the craft, inspiring. They were as entertaining as anything at Bloodview and that is not a knock against any other aspects of the show.

Soon we entered the first area of the haunted attraction, a large garage that helped set the tone for what was to come. The decor was simple and grotesque, the walls consisted merely of wooden slats. It had a bit of a chop shop vibe that fit well with the unique vortex tunnel near the exit that was flesh colored. The spinning fabric appeared to be adorned in chunks of long rotten meat. The overall effect was actually kind of sickening, but I liked it. Once outside we traveled into a lightly wooded area and across a small bridge to a location known as Baby Doll Island. As you may have guessed dolls of all shapes and sizes (and degrees of dismemberment) litter the landscape. Haunters wind their way through wooden outbuildings while a few gibbering nuts ask strange questions, one of them hung upside down from a support beam, grinning at guests with a joyful malice. This area of the attraction was of fair length and kept guests engaged with a smattering of small buildings through which we were forced to travel. This setup provided plenty of hiding places for hungry ghouls intent on scoring their next warm meal. Near the end of the trail, a man restrained a female zombie with a leash. Her particular death hue and characterization but me strongly in mind of the zombies from Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. She fought against her restraints, valiantly struggling for a piece of tender flesh. It was humorous for obvious reasons but due to her convincing portrayal, it was also quite creepy — by night’s end she certainly stood out as one of my favorite zombies.

We reentered the queue line where the mass of undead seemed to have swelled. Standing beneath this pavilion I soaked it all in, the spirit of Halloween was alive and well. A radio report brought us periodic updates on the zombie crises and filled the lulls with fitting music like the theme from The Walking Dead. I noticed a zombie dressed in old fashioned garb, she walked haphazardly in a confused state and generally put me in mind of some of the lady villagers in Resident Evil 4 — she gave me the willies much worse than any of her energetic counterparts.

As the undead menace terrorized haunters in all corners of the pavilion it was our time to enter the main attraction and we would not be disappointed. Bloodview featured a good deal of old school fundamentals — tight passages and a disorienting, claustrophobic design. Much of the attraction was comprised of bayou style shanties, each detailed with odd artifacts, like stained glass windows with eerie depictions, and dizzying floor plans. There were choke points near elevated platforms which a clever brain muncher could utilize to launch an attack. Near one of these a girl could be heard rambling near incoherence about mortal coil and immortality. She was excellent in her role, taking care to scold us for not heeding her earlier warnings when we found ourselves passing the prior mentioned elevated area that happened to wind back near her original location. Later, we found a large zombie standing on a platform and strapped to the wall. He groped wildly at passing haunters and looked, at times, as if he’d break free of his bonds. It was an intimidating sight as he towered above the group from his platform, swinging precariously — another highlight of the attraction.

As we neared the conclusion of the haunted house, we wandered into a darkened corridor which turned into another and then another. It was one of those moments where we seriously thought we may have accidentally stumbled into an area not meant for haunters, but the path continued to wind and strangely not a zombie sought us out. The combination of near perfect dark and multiple, twisting pathways caused us to become separated and this just so happened to coincide with unhinged excitement. Other haunters had followed us into this area and several attempts to back track had created quite a log jam of bodies. At one point I wandered the darkness in solitude, occasionally Richard would call out to me but I couldn’t discern in what direction his voice had come from.

Eventually I found Jason and we discovered an apparent end to the confusing maze. It ran into a longer hallway, this one with a little bit of light, and near the end a white robed figure stood eerily still, watching. Jason was the first to spot the apparition and still unsure if we’d taken a wrong turn we decided to back track once more. I, of course, couldn’t help but take a look at the mysterious phantom and when I did she began a slow stalk in my direction. A truly well timed performance — that moment of hesitation really helped sell the whole scene. Jason had already rounded a corner when I too struck back into the safety of the blackened maze, after all we had to find the rest of our party. Our paths soon crossed and indeed, in tow, there was a gaggle of other haunters. If the zombies would have struck at that precise moment the rotting bastards could have feasted for a week.

It was a flight to freedom from here, a mad dash through a series of ghoul infested scenes. We survived the horror and broke out of the haunted house onto the grounds of Bloodview where the teeming mass of undead still scurried in their fashion after anything that moved. Ultimately, Bloodview won’t fall on the list of all time best haunted attractions but it was highly enjoyable with a few moments that just bristled with infectious energy. The line entertainment as I mentioned previously was among the best we’ve witnessed; these folks aced Zombie 101 and smashed the advanced course as well. I suppose my only complaint would concern the pace which often seemed too breakneck; a few more key actors inside of the main attraction wouldn’t have been unappreciated either. With all of that said, I came away a fan of the Legion of Terror — I hope to make it back some day.

Rating: 3.75 stars