Archive for nighttime spooky hayride

2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2014 by bluefall8

The 2013 field was full of worthy nominees and after much consideration, I’m prepared to unveil the 2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards.

2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards Banner

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.

2013 Rotten Pumpkin: Scream Machine

Dishonorable Mention: 3-Story Haunted Barn (Blake’s)

The Scream Machine is now the first attraction to earn this undesired distinction twice; in consecutive years no less. It pains me to say that this selection was a no-brainer. The Scream Machine didn’t merely slip this year, instead the once respected haunt nosedived into an ugly downward spiral. The cast was unprofessional, listless and undoubtedly one of the very worst we’ve encountered. The design of the haunt was uninteresting, repetitive, and creatively bankrupt.

 

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.

2013 Eerie Vibrations: Village of the Living Dead

Honorable Mention: Terrorfied Forest (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Village of the Living Dead seemed to pulse with a special kind of energy from the moment we crossed the threshold of the haunt. The mixture of dense fog, orchestral music and subterranean passages produced a surreal, claustrophobic adrenaline rush.

 

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.

2013 Dark Horse: Bloodbath on Biddle

Honorable Mention: Realm of Haunted Minds

The Wyandotte Jaycees took full advantage of the old City Hall building and in doing so, provided  guests with a lengthy trip through two levels of haunted rooms and corridors. Bloodbath on Biddle featured creative room design and a slew of warm bodies, actors who proved more capable than in previous seasons. Time and money are luxuries that Jaycees groups simply do not have to waste, the folks at Bloodbath on Biddle deserve a lot of credit for managing their resources wisely.

 

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.

2013 Killer Automatons: Erebus

Honorable Mention: Jackson’s Underworld

House of the Dead’s four year stranglehold on this award has finally been broken as the old king returns to the throne. This is the second Killer Automatons Award for Erebus; the first came in 2008.

 

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.

2013 Monster: Sinister

Honorable Mention: Exit 13

This award proved to be the most difficult selection of the 2013 season as there were several deserving candidates. In the end however it was the unrelenting, improvisational impresarios of Sinister who grabbed the award for a second consecutive year.

 

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.

2013 Prop Master: Hillside Mortuary (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Honorable Mention: Slaughter House (Slaughter House Adventure)

Hillside Mortuary earned this award in 2013 by offering haunters a trek through fully furnished rooms, complete with eerily posed mannequins. The motionless spooks were ominously frozen throughout the attraction, seemingly captured in moments of life that will live forever. The creepiest of the bunch stood expressionless next to an open casket — I got the chills just thinking about it.

 

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.

2013 Pulse Pounder: Village of the Living Dead

Honorable Mention: Purgatory’s Revenge

Reminiscent at times of our 2010 trip to Demonic Demons in Detroit, Village of the Living Dead toyed with the senses in various ways. Haunters were forced to crawl, climb, and grope their way through blinding fog and strobe effects. The overall effect produced a major spike in our heart rates.

 

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.

2013 Samhain: October 25, 2013 (Purgatory’s Revenge, Blake’s & Slaughtered at Sundown)

Honorable Mention: November 1, 2013 (Exit 13 & Village of the Living Dead)

We enjoyed a long night of haunting on October 25, when we managed to visit three attractions for the first time. Purgatory’s Revenge was a very good first time effort while the Nighttime Spooky Hayride at Blake’s was a feast for the eyes; meanwhile Slaughtered at Sundown offered classic fundamentals and engrossing scenes.

 

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.

2013 Haunt of the Year: Hush

Honorable Mention: Erebus

Quite simply, we were highly impressed with the overall effort from the rookie, Hush. The clever theme was leveraged well by Dr. Phineas Phun who highlighted an excellent cast that was full of energy. The scenes and scares varied in type and intensity and that approach produced a common thread of fun and fright that prevailed throughout Hush. It was a welcome surprise in 2013 that left us yearning for more and reminded us once again why we cherish this rite of passage each October.

2013 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2014 by bluefall8

In anticipation of the 2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards Nominations, I present to any interested parties, a complete list of last season’s ratings. It should be noted that ratings, in and of themselves, do not determine awards.  This list is used primarily as a means of reference for my own archival purposes. I hope you find it enjoyable, nevertheless.

2013 STAR RATINGS

1. Hush – 4.75 (Westland, MI.)

2. Erebus – 4.5 (Pontiac, MI.)

3. Nighttime Spooky Hayride – 4.5 (Blake’s – Armada, MI.)

4. Bloodbath & Beyond Hayride – 4.25 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

5. Exit 13 – 4.25 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

6. Village of the Living Dead – 4.25 (St. Charles, MI.)

7. Purgatory’s Revenge – 4 (New Haven, MI.)

8. Realm of Haunted Minds – 3.75 (Romulus, MI.)

9. Sinister – 3.75 (Utica, MI.)

10. Haunted Corn Maze – 3.5 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

11. Slaughtered at Sundown – 3.5 (Aramada, MI.)

12. Bloodbath on Biddle – 3.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

13. CarnEvil 3D – 3.25 (Pontiac, MI.)

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

15. Slaughter House – 3.25 (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville, MI.)

16. Catacombs & The Rusthole – 3 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

17. Dark Abyss – 3 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

18. Funeral Home – 3 (Inkster, MI.)

19. Hillside Mortuary – 2.75 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney, MI.)

20. Jackson’s Underworld – 2.75 (Jackson, MI.)

21. Realm of Darkness – 2.75 (Pontiac, MI.)

22. 3 Story Haunted Barn – 2.25 (Blake’s – Armada, MI.)

23. Scream Machine – 0.5 (Taylor, MI.)

Big Crowds take a Bite out of Blake’s

Posted in 2013, Blake's, Review with tags , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2013 by bluefall8

We were in high spirits when we arrived at Blake’s were business was booming; the parking lot was packed and there seemed to be people everywhere. There was a country store, a petting farm, a dance floor, and one monstrous pile of hay! Oh yeah, there was also the haunted attractions — Blake’s 3-Story Haunted Barn and Nighttime Spooky Hayride. We’d waited a long time to sample Blake’s haunted offerings, finally we had arrived — and we were ready to have our fill.

RETRO VIBES STALL INSIDE HAUNTED BARN

Our first clue to the nature of this haunt came while we waited in line where a large wall read, “Welcome to the Loonie Bin Gallery”. A series of holes lined the walls and inside of each depression was a video monitor. Every screen displayed a lunatic in a state of excitement or confusion, some babbled nonsense while others merely leered. I came to think of them as the special cousin or pervert uncle that everybody tries to avoid at family gatherings.

The first level of the barn put me in mind of a dark ride, those old staples of countless county fairs. There wasn’t a single actor in this area, rather it was filled with numerous animatronics — most of which were somewhat outdated. It felt more like a fun house than a haunted barn, although we did get a kick out of the large monkey who clung to a fence while being electrocuted.

As we came to the second floor I thought perhaps the lack of live monsters on the first was just a tactic to catch us off guard; perhaps the dusty automatons were simply meant to elicit cheap chuckles? Were we being softened up for what was to come next? For a moment it seemed like that might be true; as we began our trek on the second level we came to a stop.

A top a small stage, a man sat in an electric chair. A metal box covered his head, his face visible only through a the monitor at the front of the contraption. The switch was thrown and as the electricity coursed through his body, the man screamed in agony. When the current had ceased he slumped over dead, the box was retracted from his head.

His body hung limp for a moment, and then the charred cretin sprung into action and hurled himself at the barrier between us and the stage. The close proximity revealed detailed make-up effects, his face and head appeared to have been burnt to a crisp. This was by far the most effective scene in the 3-Story Haunted Barn.

The design of the haunt had potential — ramps, narrow passages, and low ceilings were all present but the remainder of the attraction featured only a handful of actors who seemed to simply go through the motions. Outside of the aforementioned electrocution, we didn’t witness any creative scenes or even come across a noteworthy prop.

As we neared the conclusion of the 3-Story Haunted Barn we did encounter an intimidating sight, the Big Boy Clown — dubbed such for both his stature and his girth. He would lead us through the Black Hole, a spinning vortex speckled with a thousand pinpricks of laser light. Admittedly, this was an eye catching site as the area near the vortex appeared to twinkle with the reflection of innumerable crystals.

I expected more from Blake’s 3-Story Haunted Barn, the throwback appeal of the first level never reached full potential and there was just too little of anything else to make an impact. We didn’t find the experience all together unenjoyable, it just felt like a lot of prelude without much rising action or climax. In the halls of our haunted history, Blake’s 3-Story Haunted Barn is likely to blend into the background.

Rating: 2.25 stars

NIGHTTIME SPOOKY HAYRIDE EQUIPPED WITH TRICKS AND TREATS

As I stated, I was disappointed in Blake’s 3-Story Haunted Barn but I wasn’t altogether surprised. An acquaintance of mine had previously informed me of his experience and his overall sentiment proved to be true, but this realization actually heartened me because he also went on to rave about the hayride — and his enthusiasm wasn’t misplaced.

The Nighttime Spooky Hayride was a good length, featured an energetic cast, and even made a stop in the middle of the apple orchard so that guests could enjoy complimentary cider and donuts.

The madness all began when our jovial guide, a thin man with a skeletal face who will henceforth be referred to as the Wagon Keeper, explained the rules of the land. However, before our wagon could gain any traction we were attacked by a pair of wild harlequins. The duo frightened and harassed various patrons which yielded comical results — a number of teenaged girls screamed and cowered to the delight of all.

The path wound through plenty of scenes and silos, riders were assailed by explosive leapers, a collapsing sign, and outlandish executions. One maniac chopped off the head of an unlucky lass and then chased after the wagon while he waved the head in the air.

Elsewhere we watched as an accused witch burned in spectacular fashion, shortly thereafter we encountered a man who begged for our help — his head in a noose, and his toes barely touched the box beneath him. Suddenly, yet another witch (and quite a sexy one at that) emerged from the darkness and punted the box from beneath the man’s feet! He swung he did, he swung.

In another fun scene a woman broke loose from a prison, but was brought down shortly when an ill tempered guard chased her into the corn and fired a round into her back. It was all wonderful fun but I had the distinct feeling that the recently deceased were likely innocent of the crimes they had been accused. Oh well, we cheered their deaths just the same.

As we neared the end of our ride we pulled through a structure that the Wagon Keeper referred to as the Tunnel of Love. A disco ball hung from the ceiling and jets of light danced romantically all around our carriage. Several expertly still characters sprung to life as we passed. The whole experience put me in mind of a scene from 1962’s Carnival of Souls.

However we weren’t free just yet — those dreadful clowns who had kicked off our journey decided it was time to have some more fun. As our wagon chugged along the path, I noticed a small shack to the right and to the left was a garish gallery of marionette clowns. The exhibition featured half a dozen or more stiffs and I found it darkly fascinating.

As I absorbed the striking scenery a sudden, bright flash from the shack left many of us temporarily blinded and beneath such cover the horrible harlequin attacked our party once more. He was soon joined by his cohort who was, of course, a plant among the hanging puppets.

The Nighttime Spooky Hayride was an undeniably fun romp through orchards and corn fields. It featured a plentiful cast and enough laughter and shrieks to keep things interesting.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Temperatures Drop as Haunt Season Heats Up

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2013 by bluefall8

Friday turned out to be a well rounded and fun night of haunting. Our trip to Purgatory’s Revenge in New Haven was the highlight of the night. There we witnessed a solid show that put us in mind of the excellent gang at Sinister, and we had a great conversation with the minds behind the madness at this second year effort.

Once we departed we were off to Blake’s which impressed us with it’s size and scope. The 3-Story Haunted Barn offered a few enjoyable scenes but on the whole left much to be desired, but the Nighttime Spooky Hayride lived up to it’s billing.

Lastly, we made our way to Slaughtered at Sundown where we enjoyed a blend of elaborate scenery and haunting fundamentals. Full reviews coming soon as well as a look ahead at the final week of the season!

Now I’m off to finish up the Mud Puppets Halloween Special! I hope you’ll all give it a chance, until then you can enjoy last year’s special Our Muddy Nightmare or check out our Horror Month collection!

Colossus of Armada

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2013 by bluefall8

In the time since our haunted travels began we’ve toured just about every major haunted attraction throughout Michigan, but one monster of the scene has evaded us and tonight we’ll finally add it to our collection — and the name of that location is Blake’s. We’ve made various attempts over the years to visit but inevitably some factor arose to thwart our plans, but not tonight.

First, we’ll make an inaugural stop at another location, Purgatory’s Revenge in New Haven, and then we travel to storied Armada where we’ll experience Blake’s 3-Story Haunted Barn, the much heralded Nighttime Spooky Hayride, and perhaps even stuff our maws with the various vittles I’ve heard so much about. Once done there if time should happen to permit we’ll waltz right on down the road and cap off the night at Slaughtered at Sundown, yet another maiden haunt for us. Slaughtered at Sundown has a haunted barn of their own as well as the Slaughtered Town Hayride.

Also, reviews from the Realm of Haunted Minds and the Funeral Home will be posted this weekend; and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Mud Puppets Halloween Special, Our Muddier Nightmare!