Archive for Midnight Syndicate

Abandon All Hope, Old School is Back

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

abandon-haunted-house

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

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Horrorlust Radio Episode #012

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2015 by bluefall8

horrorlust radio

In episode #012 of Horrorlust Radio, I’m once again joined by Chop Shop creator, Steve Colwell.

In this installment of Horrorlust Radio, Steve and I delved into the use of the carnival as a time-honored horror trope and then during Nightmare Fuel, my co-host recounted an eerie experience with a UFO during his youth. Also included in this episode are several interviews from the Motor City Haunt Club’s Haunted Garage Sale.

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 012

SHOW NOTES

Corrections: Ben Woolf was indeed the actor who played Meep in American Horror Story: Freak Show but he was not in Sinister (2012); the film Steve and I attempted to recall was Insidious (2010).

The music that can be heard during Nightmare Fuel is “The Night Beckons” by Midnight Syndicate (Realm of Shadows, 2000)

A big thanks to the Motor City Haunt Club; the latest sponsor of Horrorlust Radio!

MCHClogo

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

“American Horror Story: Freak Show” theme song by Kyle Cooper, 2014

Dolls Theatrical Trailer, 1987

“The Creep” by Corpse Show Creeps (Blackblood Call, 2007)

Ralph Meets the Little People from Dolls, 1987

“Werewolves” by Corpse Show Creeps (Blackblood, 2007)

Pictured below is the cover art for Blackblood Call.

Cover Art: Blackblood Call, 2007

As a child, I found this image of Dolls to be quite disturbing, yet fascinating.

As a child, this image was burned into my mind.

Horrorlust Radio Episode #011

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2015 by bluefall8

horrorlust radio

In episode #011 of Horrorlust Radio, I’m joined by Chop Shop creator, Steve Colwell.

In this installment of Horrorlust Radio, Steve and I held an in-depth discussion about Tod Browning’s Freaks. We also recounted details from our trip to the Motor City Haunt Club’s Haunted Garage Sale, observed the passing of horror icon Wes Craven and laid to rest an old favorite in Lost to Time.

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 011

SHOW NOTES

Corrections: While Steve and I discussed the career of Tod Browning I accidentally stated that he was born in 1818 — that would make Browning a whopping 144 years old at the time of his death in 1962 which was obviously not the case. Tod Browning was actually born in 1880 and was 82 years old when he passed away.

This photo doesn’t include every member of the cast of Freaks but it was the most complete example I was able to find on the Internet. The mustachioed man center, back row is director Tod Browning to his right is Olga Baclanova who portrayed the villainous Cleopatra. The tall man in the back row is Henry Victor who played Cleopatra’s co-conspirator, the strongman Hercules. Front row, center is the Half-Boy Johnny Eck, not to be confused with the limbless Prince Randian who is pictured next to Eck on the floor.

The Hilton Siamese Twins also loom prominent in this photo, standing behind Prince Randian. To the twins’ immediate left is Daisy Earles who played the role of Frieda in the film but that does beg the question of who it is that is pictured on the opposite side of the photo standing in front of the pinheads, Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow. Harry Earles who was cast as Hans, one of the central characters of Freaks, cannot be found in this photograph. That is either Harry Earles in drag (which I doubt) or another member of the Earles’ Dancing Doll family.

A one of a kind photo for a one of a kind film.

A one of a kind photo for a one of a kind film.

From the Freak Show attraction at Terror Town, circa 2008.

The dried-up husk of a Fiji Mermaid.

The dried-up husk of a Fiji Mermaid.

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

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” theme song by Charles Bernstein, 1984

A Nightmare on Elm Street Theatrical Trailer, 1984

“Carousel Ride” by The Midnight Syndicate (Carnival Arcane, 2011)

Nancy in the Bathtub from A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984

“Freakshow” by Midnight Syndicate (Carnival Arcane, 2011)

Fō-bē-ə Fractured Friday

Posted in 2014, Review, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , , , , , on November 19, 2014 by bluefall8

The Wyandotte Jaycees has presented a curious array of haunted house experiences over the years — at times the group has nailed haunt fundamentals and shown just what can be achieved with passion and creativity, but on other occasions lackluster acting and technical deficiencies have left a lot to be desired. The annual haunted effort seems to alternate between peaks and valleys every couple of seasons and I was interested to see just where Fō-bē-ə would land.

I toured Fō-bē-ə on the same night that I visited Psycho Path in Flat Rock which was Friday, October 10 — opening night for both attractions. When my friends and I pulled into the parking lot it was to be greeted by one of my favorite Jaycees performers, a young lady who portrayed a sinister off-shoot of Alice from Lewis Carroll’s famous fantastical novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Fō-bē-ə featured familiar Wyandotte Jaycees fare such as a neon radioactive waste scene, a fog-filled swamp, the jocular Butcher Brothers and a lively execution scene where ominous religious messages had been scrawled upon the walls. New this year was a ghastly crematorium, an Egyptian corridor with glowing hieroglyphs and a series of spider-infested mirrored halls.

There was a doctor and patient scene in which malpractice was on display, much to our delight electroshock therapy was all the rage. The good doctor sent voltage pulsing through the uncooperative patient and then at our insistence zapped the patient with a second wave just for good measure. Phil even took a brief turn at the controls when the subject refused to expire.

My favorite areas included the freak show and dollmaker’s keep although both would’ve benefited considerably from additional actors and enhanced interaction.

Rounding out the experience was a captive girl, chained to a wall who possessed an ear-splitting scream, a comical, stiff-armed zombie who pursued us to the edge of Biddle Avenue and a madman with a modified chainsaw that featured one gigantic, wicked blade.

Fō-bē-ə wasn’t a high water mark for the Wyandotte Jaycees but nor was it a cellar dweller. I am impressed by what the group is able to accomplish in such a short amount of time; yes the buildings in which the Jaycees’ haunted attractions are held each year are provided by the City of Wyandotte, but the local outfit isn’t handed the keys to the kingdom until late August or even early September. It is a testament to the hard work of members and volunteers alike that the Wyandotte Jaycees has managed to produce a haunted attraction annually dating back to the 1970’s.

With that said I do believe that the seasonal spook house would benefit immensely if a few aspects of the overall production were paid a little more attention. The group would to well to focus on storytelling and continuity, for instance, the name Fō-bē-ə was a neat concept and a smart marketing tactic but in execution there was a lot left undone. Too often a Jaycees haunted attraction features a hodgepodge of scenes, an amalgam of disparate settings which have little or nothing to do with each other and without substantial character interaction to provide a counterweight, the effect can be jarring.

I also think it’s absolutely crucial that the Wyandotte Jaycees update their soundtrack. In my experience the group has looped audio of screams and shouts which has always sounded dated and corny or has in other instances not employed a soundtrack at all. An effective alternative would be the music of Nox Arcana, Midnight Syndicate or even theme songs from popular horror movies. This is a simple fix that will vastly improve the atmosphere of the production and cover the sounds of movement and idle chatter amongst the cast.

Rating: 2.75 stars

There will always be a special place in my heart for the Wyandotte Jaycees and I will continue to be a patron of their haunted house each October because I respect the history of the group and believe in the spirit of community leadership. Fō-bē-ə may have fallen in the middle of the pack but if history is any indicator, the brains behind the scenes of the Wyandotte Jaycees will recapture the essence of Halloween once more.

 

Horrorlust Radio Episode #003

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2014 by bluefall8

Wrestler, home haunter and haunted attraction enthusiast Mike Marvel serves as co-host for episode #003 of Horrorlust Radio.

In the third episode of Horrorlust Radio, Mike and I discuss the tradition of home haunting in all its various forms and then dig into the pros and cons of multi-attraction venues.

This episode also features the second installment of Lost to Time, a segment that highlights haunts now departed; you’ll also hear the birth of a new segment, Hosts & Hotties where we pay respect to icons of the industry from horror hosts to scream queens and everybody in between. The luscious Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is our inaugural honoree.

Mike and I also banter about the quality of haunted attractions during the month of September and even delve briefly into the crossover elements of professional wrestling and the haunted attraction industry.

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 003

SHOW NOTES

Mike Marvel isn’t just a wrestler, home haunter and haunted attraction enthusiast, he’s also the man behind the scenes at Michigan Haunt Central on Facebook.

Brandywine Cemetery, the prominent home haunt cited during this episode, is located at 2727 Brandywine St. Ann Arbor, MI. 48104. Brandywine Cemetery will be open Thursday, October 30 and Friday, October 31 in 2014. For more information visit their website here: Brandywine Cemetery

I’ve included a scan of The Lab’s 2009 ad from the Fear Finder. My scanner isn’t quite large enough to capture the entire ad but you can enjoy 95% of this colorful, eye-catching advertisement.

Fear Finder, 2009

Fear Finder, 2009

And for those of you who live under a rock, here’s a picture of the gorgeous Elvira, the first honoree in Hosts & Hotties.

She puts the lust in Horrorlust.

She puts the lust in Horrorlust.

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

1. “This is Halloween” by Danny Elfman (The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993)

2. The Return of the Living Dead  Theatrical Trailer, 1985

3. “Living Walls” by Midnight Syndicate (The 13th Hour, 2005)

4. Trash from The Return of the Living Dead, 1985

5. “Born of the Night” by Midnight Syndicate (Born of the Night, 1998)