Archive for Melvindale

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 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2016 by bluefall8

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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.

2015 Rotten Pumpkin: Scarecrow Hollow (The Boneyard)

Scarecrow Hollow had potential but it was squandered early and often; a couple of would-be standout moments felt clunky and incomplete. A few actors delivered average performances while the rest of the cast was unmotivated and uninspired.

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.

2015 Eerie Vibrations: Terrorfied Forest (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Honorable Mention: The Dark Box

After receiving an honorable mention in this category two years ago, the namesake of Terrorfied Forest & Manor snagged the prize in 2015. It’s hard to beat the natural ambience of the Terrorfied Forest, a half hour trek through ghoul infested woods.

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 our way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2015 Dark Horse: Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors

Honorable Mention: Psycho Path

Krazy Hilda’s is the quintessential feel good story and embodies the true spirit of the little haunt that could. Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors recaptured that classic Halloween feeling in 2015 with a show that could be enjoyed by people of all ages. This is the second time that Krazy Hilda’s has earned the Dark Horse Award, the first came during the 2011 season at the Barn of Doom when the old witch was stationed in Saline.

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.

2015 Killer Automatons: Dark Legacy

Honorable Mention: Rotten Manor

Dark Legacy built on the success of the 2014 season with a superior second act in 2015. This attraction gives visitors a little bit of everything and after securing this award two years running, it’s clear that automated monstrosities are a big part of the game plan for Dark Legacy.

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.

2015 Monster: Hush

Honorable Mention: Clio Manor

This was the award that I grappled with the most because 2015 offered up a serious field of haunted houses that featured talented and diverse casts. After much consideration Hush locked down the Monster Award in 2015 with a loaded back half that just wouldn’t be denied. This marks back-to-back Monster Awards for Hush.

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.

2015 Prop Master: Research Labs (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Honorable Mention: The Freak’s Show (The Boneyard)

Research Labs was so completely littered with household items and all sorts of common (and uncommon) junk that one might surmise it was actually occupied by the world’s most slovenly family. There was a level of authenticity here that most haunted attractions never approach.

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.

2015 Pulse Pounder: Abandon

Honorable Mention: The Dark Box

Heart-racing and hair-raising, Abandon was one of the most purely frightening haunted attractions I’ve ever visited. There was tension here fueled by a basic psychological, primal fear of the dark.

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.

2015 Samhain: Saturday, October 24, 2016 (Clio Manor, Exit 13, Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Honorable Mention: Saturday, October 31, 2016 (Rotten Manor, Abandon)

The immediate reaction from Saturday, October 24, 2016 was that it was one of the best overall nights we’d ever experienced. It was the kind of outing that leaves one exhausted and in need of a day of rest and reflection.

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.

2015 Haunt of the Year: Rotten Manor

Honorable Mention: Research Labs (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Rotten Manor burst onto the scene out of nowhere in 2015. On Halloween, Rotten Manor put the pedal to the metal and never blinked. The facade is second to none, the attention to detail among the best and the scares a jumble of fright that kept us guessing with every step.

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.)

Abandon All Hope, Old School is Back

Posted in 2015, Abandon, Review with tags , , , , , , on September 18, 2016 by bluefall8

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The Halloween moon reflected off of the wet pavement, the midnight hour approached, Abandon of Melvindale was poised to be the last hurrah of the 2015 haunt season. We parked and walked around to the opposite side of the building where things were quiet, too quiet. Despite the lack of a crowd, an energy was in the air.

John and I met the owner of Abandon, a man named Jason. He engaged us in earnest and shared ghost stories, EVPs and anecdotal evidence of the paranormal events that had occurred both inside the haunted house itself and Play Atlantis, the family fun center in which Abandon is located. One hair raising example involved an actress who fled the haunt in tears and refused to return after someone whispered an ominous warning into her ear.

In another instance, a little girl was found crying outside of a bounce house by her father and a manager of Play Atlantis. When questioned, the little girl reported that she had been shoved by a second girl inside the bounce house although at the time, that family were the only customers present; neither the father nor the manager ever saw the child in question.

The stories served as a great backdrop to the haunted attraction — with goosebumps crawling across our flesh, we were swallowed by the oppressive darkness of Abandon.

The music of Midnight Syndicate, a selection that was comprised of Gregorian chants and orchestral music, boomed throughout the voluminous space. The sound echoed so loudly that it was difficult to hear anything else which caused me to feel exposed and vulnerable. We could discern an incessant knocking, a portent of doom that created a strong psychology reaction. Although we would never discover the source, that sound would follow us throughout Abandon.

We trudged up and down long, wide ramps in near total darkness and on more than one occasion I thought I spotted a shadow figure amidst the gloom. Whether spirit or trick of the mind, the shapes evaporated any time I drew close enough to investigate. 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.

This was old school at its minimalist best and Abandon made no apologies for it. The majority of the actors hit us with quick, effective startles; appearing and disappearing so fast perhaps they were phantoms themselves. A select few spoke and while their delivery was passionate, the content of their speech was too generic for an otherwise amazingly effective haunted attraction.

John would later comment that Abandon was so absent of light that it was difficult to discern details about a given scene, but this was no criticism. That fact further reinforced the sensory deprivation concept and made sure that we were on edge the entire time.

There is, of course, room for improvement — an unnerving narrative is just waiting to be spun by a few clever characters; in addition, Abandon is aching for a finale to capitalize on all of that tension. Regardless, it’s great to finally have a bare bones, old school haunt in the Downriver area once again. Ever since Extreme Scream left Taylor following the 2009 haunt season there’s been a hole in my heart and now Abandon has emerged from the blackness to fill the void.

Rating: 4 stars

The Haunt Guide: 2016 Edition

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2016 by bluefall8

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The 2016 version of The Haunt Guide is now available to view and download at the Michigan Haunters Association website. Long time readers may notice that the cover art has changed, gone is the self-reflexive skeleton who was pictured reading a copy of The Haunt Guide. As you can see above, the cover page now features a cemetery scene set beneath an inky night sky — there’s even a tombstone shaped like the Wolverine State.

Most of the haunted attractions advertised inside The Haunt Guide have become mainstays with that publication in recent years but there are a handful of interesting entries to note. The most prominent news is the addition of a third attraction, called Dead Souls Corral, at The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac. No word on whether the new attraction is an indoor or outdoor event or exactly how it might, if at all, interact with the other attractions there.

It’s good to see that a pair of first year hits will return for a second season — Abandon at Play Atlantis in Melvindale and Rotten Manor in Holly. The team at Rotten Manor does not appear content to rest on the laurels of 2015 having added Rotten Forest and a third attraction ominously dubbed, Clown Barn.

I was very excited to see a new haunt by the name of Awaken located in the small town of Leslie, Michigan which is a mere 15 minutes south of Mason, home to Shawhaven Haunted Farm. Also new to The Haunt Guide is Wicked Woods of Terror in Caro, Michigan which isn’t terribly far from Haunted Elementary in Bridgeport. Haunted Elementary is now under the umbrella known as Bridgeport Goregrounds which also boasts a 3D attraction called FrightSite and a third known as Outbreak.

Lastly, after two years in the dark, The Scream Machine will whir to life once more — this time at a new location in Taylor on Ecorse Road. I sincerely hope the one-time Downriver staple can reinvent itself and rise from the ashes of a dismal 2013 but I do have reservations. The ad featured inside The Haunt Guide is strikingly similar if not identical to the one that was used during the last few years of The Scream Machine’s initial run. It doesn’t help matters that, as of the time of this writing, the ad also includes a web address that doesn’t work.

Rotten Manor, Abandon Driven Mad by Halloween Moon

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on November 1, 2015 by bluefall8

Howl at the moon, baby. I went to bed last night with thoughts of Rotten Manor and Abandon swirling in my head and when I woke this morning those same thoughts remained stuck in my mind. What had we experienced? Had our eyes deceived us? Did any of that really happen?! When you find yourself pondering such questions that’s when you know you’ve witnessed an all-time classic and on Halloween no less.

After some trick r’ treating with the little ones, which included one seriously awesome yard display on Kings Highway in Lincoln Park, John and I hightailed it into the night. This has been a haunt season busier and longer than any that has come before it — we were admittedly feeling road-weary as we drove north on I-75 through increasingly poor conditions. The further north we traveled the harder the rain hit the pavement and the lower visibility sunk. But any fear that Halloween would become a washout began to recede the moment we arrived at Rotten Manor.

The facade was far more impressive than it had appeared in pictures; it jutted from the landscape like a mountain in a valley and what lie on the inside was more impressive still. Rotten Manor was a half-hour trek through expertly detailed and creative environments that held inventive scares, glorious eye candy, surreal strangeness and the omnipresence of a Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist dummy. Loaded with live actors, psychological warfare and several unique features — Rotten Manor blasted itself into the rarefied territory of our all-time best haunted house adventures.

As we drove in the direction of home we reveled in the experience and thought it a shame that Rotten Manor hadn’t been our last stop of the night because it seemed impossible that anything could follow that. Indeed, another first year attraction, Abandon had its work cut out. We pulled into Play Atlantis in Melvindale a little more than an hour after we had departed Rotten Manor with that experience fresh in mind. Somehow, Abandon would make an impression all it’s own.

Abandon took old school to the nth degree and in the process redefined minimalism. The cavernous, multi-level haunt supplied atmosphere in spades; an effect that was heightened by the expert use of Midnight Syndicate’s booming medieval music. So much of Abandon was purposely understated which provided the imagination free range to manifest horrors hidden in every shadow. Fueled by ghost stories and a genuine sweep from a team of paranormal research investigators (go on, I dare you to ask about the EVPs), Abandon possessed an eerie vibe that is difficult to find. In terms of pure fear factor it was one of the most foreboding and frightening haunted attractions we’ve toured in all these many seasons.

A heartfelt thank you to Wally, Eric and the rest of the large cast and crew of Rotten Manor and to Jason of Abandon who patiently shared creepy stories including his own personal encounters. All of you made Halloween 2015 a truly unforgettable night of haunting that will live on in Horrorlust lore for many moons to come.

The Best Night of the Year

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , on October 31, 2015 by bluefall8

The best rite of passage of childhood is set to commence all across the nation; all manner of freaks, creeps, ghouls and monsters will soon flood neighborhoods in search of treasured treats. My son and I will join my sister, nephew and the Disco Devil for trick r’ treating and once the kids have had their fill we’ll turn our gaze to haunted houses!

We seem set to tour Abandon in Melvindale and Rotten Manor in Holly — a pair of new haunts on All Hallow’s Eve shall fit the bill well!

Happy Halloween!