Archive for nightmare sanctum

2014 Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House Location Revealed

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2014 by bluefall8

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The Wyandotte Jaycees annual haunted house will be located at 4560 Biddle this year. The building was originally constructed in 1970 and in recent years has been run as a bar and restaurant under several names. Each year the Jaycees is able to work with city leaders to obtain a building that is slated for demolition or otherwise vacant for the seasonal haunt. The nexus between the Jaycees and city officials is one that dates back to the late 1970’s which means that Wyandotte boasts one of the oldest haunted attractions in the entire country.

The current location will be a tough sell to the public because it isn’t conveniently located down town as it was last year. No, this year it’s situated near the fringe of the city south of Wyandotte Shores Golf Course just north of Pennsylvania. I hope the location doesn’t negatively impact attendance numbers. I’ll patronize the group as I have each year since 2007 and hope they can build off of the successes from the 2013 effort, Bloodbath on Biddle.

Below, I’ve posted star ratings and other pertinent notes from our trips through the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House over the years.

Hell’s Hospital (2007) – 4.5 stars: Held primarily in a mechanic’s garage, but also utilized an old house. Hell’s Hospital executed classic haunt fundamentals and thrilled us in the process.

Templin’s Night Terror (2008) – 3 stars: The old house was gone and the mechanic’s garage was a bit too familiar; one of the fews years the Jaycees utilized the same location consecutively. Templin’s Night Terror was a significant step back from the 2007 effort and would go on to win Horrorlust’s infamous Rotten Pumpkin Award for worst haunted attraction of the season.

Hellblock 13 (2009) – 3.75 stars: Bounced back in a big way with a lengthly trek through the old police station and courthouse; solid jump scares mixed with unsettling imagery.

Massacre Manor (2010) – 2.75 stars: Massacre Manor was held in an old homestead on Biddle which made for an excellent location although the production turned out to be a mild disappointment punctuated by missed opportunities and some amateurish acting.

Lockdown (2011) – 2.25 stars: Housed in a former bar, Lockdown featured a couple of enjoyable scenes but on the whole felt unprofessional and uninspired.

Nightmare Sanctum (2012) – 2.25 stars: Similar to 2007’s Hell’s Hospital, Nightmare Sanctum had the benefit of being held in a mechanic’s garage and a house. It suffered from the usual lows of a Jaycees haunt and can best be described as a mixed bag.

Bloodbath on Biddle (2013) – 3.25 stars: Held at former City Hall, Bloodbath on Biddle was easily the best effort by the Wyandotte Jaycees since Hellblock 13 in 2009. This haunt featured a lot of actors, creativity in design and a few visually impressive scenes. Bloodbath on Biddle went on to win Horrorlust’s 2013 Dark Horse Award.

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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.

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

Nightmare Sanctum another Mixed Bag from Wyandotte Jaycees

Posted in 2012, Review, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by bluefall8

It was with high hopes that John and I set off last Friday for the 2012 haunted house from the Wyandotte Jaycees, Nightmare Sanctum. We’ve visited the haunted offerings of the Wyandotte Jaycees each year since 2007, and as I’ve written before the results have been mixed — this year was no different. When we pulled into the empty lot that served as parking, a mangy looking man raced after the car, chainsaw in hand. He was certainly older and more imposing than the typical worker found inside most Jaycees attractions — perhaps they had turned over a new leaf?

Once we had bought our tickets we proceeded to the line for the haunted house and there we discovered that the Jaycees had wrangled themselves both a former mechanics garage and a house. This was similar to the set up the group enjoyed in 2007 when Hell’s Hospital revealed itself to be a stone cold, old school classic. A pair of ghouls stalked about at the base of the stairs leading to the house, scattering jumpy teenagers. There was a large, wooden water wheel spinning slowly on the porch — an interesting focal point if nothing else.

A pair of teenagers, a male and female, served as gatekeepers to the entrance of the haunt and they performed their duties rather poorly. Some may find it ridiculous to criticize the ticket taker but I feel that it’s an immensely under appreciated part of haunted attractions. Sure, at the end of the day all the doorman has to do is collect tickets and help control the flow of traffic, but when the doorman becomes part of the act the overall experience can be greatly enhanced. This pair failed to hold the attention of waiting guests even long enough to explain the few basic rules of the attraction and this in large part was to do with the fact that they acted as teenagers do — greeting ever other teenager in line as an acquaintance, swapping trivial stories of daily life as a high school student while the rest of us waited to get into the haunted house. Quite simply, I’m of the opinion that a capable adult should work the door.

The attraction itself had it’s share of highs and lows and we’ve found this to be typical of haunted houses produced on a low budget, but the problem with the Wyandotte Jaycees is that the lows are crushingly low. I did like the overall pace created by the combination of the house and garage although the house in particular wasn’t used to maximum effect — it seemed as if we were in and out in no time. It appeared to be a two story house from the outside with a basement as well, it felt as if we breezed a path directly through the center of the main floor. Why not capitalize on the houses naturally occurring ambiance by sending haunters upstairs or to the basement?

However, there was one standout scene inside of the house. One room was decorated as a macabre nursery and bathed in the familiar glow of a black light, three girls dressed as rag dolls chanted a slow, mournful rendition of “Ring Around the Rosie” that sounded more like a dirge than a children’s nursery rhyme. Two of the girls sat at a small table, a tea party long gone cold. The third sat inside of a crib and peered up at us with dead eyes. It was a very nicely balanced scene.

However, the very next scene was a shining example of the repetitive problems that plague the Wyandotte Jaycees. We entered a dilapidated bathroom and our eyes were drawn to the sliding glass doors affixed to the shower, a perfect opportunity for a scare or a bit of comedy but we were offered neither, nothing happened — merely a dead spot where an actor should have been.

There were several other highlights though and I’d like to chronicle those before I come to the worst transgressions of the attraction. There was a good blend of scenes and dark, winding hallways; fog was also used appropriately.

One scene that we enjoyed was also featured last year but was enhanced this season with the addition of two actors. The scene featured various barrels, each with brightly colored toxic waste spilling over the lid. Neon colored tubes ran along  the walls, pumping a liquid to and from parts unknown. As we soaked in the vibrant landscape a lively brain muncher lunged at us only to be quickly put down by a masked gunmen.

And now we come to the part where the wheels came off — the second half of Nightmare Sanctum was wrought with very bad workers. An appropriately detailed butcher shop was wasted on a pair of underwhelming pig boys, a room adorned with glowing Jason masks saw an actor clumsily stumble and then blatantly break character when one of the masks attached to his body came unstrapped and fell to the floor. Worse still, near the end of the attraction we encountered a series of actors who were terrible. Their timing was abysmal and their subsequent performance, listless. In addition, Nightmare Sanctum employed no sound system — yet another annual detraction, and at times we could clearly hear the workers communicating with each other.

I understand that the Jaycees operates on a limited budget but there are solutions to these recurring issues, for instance, in key areas simply conceal a CD player to cover monster chatter — the themes from Halloween, The Exorcist, and Poltergeist generally make for ideal haunted house music. Furthermore, the operators need to take better care of actor placement — perhaps individually certain workers are ineffective at delivering scares, so put them together and perhaps they’ll feed off of each other emboldened by strength in numbers.

On a final note, I took my nephew to the Friendly Monster Event held here a mere two days later and in the final room of the attraction I spotted a painting on the wall — something I hadn’t noticed when John and I had visited. The painting depicted a forest in the fall and possessed a dark beauty. Some creative fellow had the good sense to make a few alterations — creepy figures were hidden amongst the trees, one swung from a noose. It was an unsettling image but rendered completely useless during our nocturnal visit because no attention had been drawn to it. If only a spotlight had guided our eyes to the spooky portrait we would have been easy picking for a prime scare.

Rating: 2.25 stars

Running the Haunt Gamut

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by bluefall8

We got a bit of a late start last night and it adversely affected our haunting but that didn’t stop us from experiencing some interesting moments along the way. Nightmare Sanctum from the Wyandotte Jaycees had some peaks and valleys, but was ultimately hindered once more by the usual shortcomings found here. The new locale for Krazy Hilda’s is tailor made for a haunted attraction and the fine folks there provided a spooky fun time. We pulled into Slaughter House a bit late in the night and were only able to experience the Blood Bath and Beyond Hayride. Our trip through the woods was punctuated by comedy and stunning effects — no other hayride we’ve experienced offers so much bang for your buck. Full reviews will be posted in the coming days.

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!

Updated 2012 Haunt Schedule

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by bluefall8

Listed below are various hypothetical trips, I’ve broken them up into two categories — main (the top list) and extra (the bottom list). I’m open to suggestions of course, but essentially the main category reflects what I feel are the top trips and therefore should be given priority over those in the extra category. Beginning Friday, September 28 through the end of October there are five weekends for haunting, typically we do a big trip on Devil’s Night or Halloween as well — so realistically that’s at least six nights out. There is also the possibility of hitting haunts twice in a week, say Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday, which is something we did last year on a couple of occasions. Anyway you slice it, October will be packed with haunted fun! Keep in mind that this list is not meant to be chronological  — I will determine dates for each trip once we coordinate schedules. Also, I’m still looking to find a third haunt on a few of these nights so if anybody has a suggestion make it know.

MAIN

#1: Erwin’s Orchards (South Lyon), Slaughter House (Fowlerville), A Nightmare on Elm Road (Webberville)

#2: Haunted School House and Laboratory (Akron, OH), Bloodview (Broadview Heights, OH)

#3: House of Fear (Hazel Park), Deadly Intentions (Warren), Blake’s Farms (Aramada)

#4: Exit 13 (Mt. Morris), Sinister (Utica)

#5: Darksyde Acres (Jonesville), Uncle Dickey’s Wrong Turn (Hudson)

EXTRA

#1: Krazy Hilda’s (Chelsea), The Boneyard (Stockbridge), Terrorfied Forest and Manor (Pickney)

#2 Scream Machine (Taylor), Realm of Haunted Minds (Romulus), Nightmare Sanctum (Wyandotte), Psycho Path (Flat Rock)

#3 Haunted Hollows (Westland), Westland Haunted Woods (Westland), Westland Jaycees (Westland)