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2015 Haunt Schedule: Never is Enough

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2015 by bluefall8

The haunt schedule can be a restless beast — there are time restraints, geographic considerations, unexpected vehicle maintenance and of course the threat of inclement weather. The 2014 schedule was made all the more problematic when some friends and I decided to produce a home haunt for a Halloween party. The CikNis was held on Saturday, October 25, 2014 but the build began in early September and as it was quite an undertaking, the project limited the number of haunts I visited that month to exactly one.

In addition I acted in the Wyandotte Jaycees haunted house on three or four nights in late October and unfortunately several of my Friday nights were effectively wiped out because I was needed at work. Don’t get me wrong, both The CikNis and the opportunity to act with the Wyandotte Jaycees were worthwhile and fruitful experiences but my participation in each did eliminate potential nights from the road schedule.

This year there is no home haunt to consider and I have yet to determine whether or not I’ll reprise my role as the irrepressible Gerkins with the Wyandotte Jaycees, so with that said the haunt schedule will feature more flexibility this fall. Although, a number of my Fridays will once again be hampered by work responsibilities. But, over the years I’ve learned to roll with the punches and leave it in the hands of the haunt fates.

Below, in no particular order, are possible outings for the 2015 haunt season.

HIGHWAY TO HELL

Night #1 – The Deadland (Warren), Fear Factory (Mt. Clemens) & Panic at Pine Stump Hollow (St. Clair)

Night #2 – The Dark Box (Pinckney) & The Boneyard (Stockbridge)

Night #3 – Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson) & Shawhaven Haunted Farm (Mason)

Night #4 – Heck of A Haunted Barn (Monroe) & Haunted Hydro (Fremont, OH.)

Night #5 – Past Tense After Dark (Lapeer), Scott’s Rooms of Terror (Oxford) & Tunnel of Terror (Rochester)

Night #6 – Haunted Elementary (Bridgeport), Clio Manor (Clio) & Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Night #7 – Wiard’s Night Terrors (Ypsilanti)

Night #8 – Rotten Manor (Holly), Bonadeo Farms (Highland) & Dark Legacy (Wixom)

Night #9 – Abandon (Melvindale), Hush (Westland) & Krazy Hilda’s (Ypsilanti)

Night #10 – Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood), Psycho Path (Flat Rock) & Delirium (Wyandotte)

Night #11 – Slaughtered at Sundown (Armada), Haunted Farm of Terror (Lenox Township) & Scarefest Scream Park (New Haven)

I paid special attention this season to attractions that Horrorlust has never toured; there’s 13 listed and Krazy Hilda’s has relocated since our last visit in 2012. Once I identified some fresh blood I sprinkled in some old favorites that we haven’t patronized in a few years. I like that there’s wiggle room in the schedule to allow for unexpected circumstances, for instance, we could easily slot Shawhaven Haunted Farm alongside The Dark Box if need be.

I also wanted to be sure to hit each of the sponsors for Horrorlust Radio and furthermore limited the number of locations toured on any given night to just three. John and I did manage to hit four separate locations on November 1st last year but it was a breakneck pace that did suck some of the enjoyment out of the experience. Admittedly, some of the haunts listed are wild cards but we’ve gambled before and come away with enjoyable experiences.

OTHER HAUNTS OF INTEREST

Bloodview – One of my all-time favorite places. A different theme each weekend is a tempting prospect indeed. I wish it weren’t so damn far from my home.

Bates Haunted Saw Mill & JC’s Axe House – If Haunted Elementary or Clio Manor don’t pan out for any reason this Millington haunt could fit the bill.

Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – Enjoyed it last year, confident an even better show is possible. Plus, it’s hard to pass up if we’re near Jackson.

Darksyde Acres – The old pig farm has become a staple in recent years and it’s hard to resist that wild, unpredictable cast. It’s a haul though without much else in the area.

Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Might be placed into rotation during trip to Past Tense After Dark if limited dates render lesser knowns unlikely.

The Haunt – I was once told by a veteran haunted house owner that, “If you haven’t been to The Haunt, you haven’t been anywhere.”

Realm of Haunted Minds – It’s close to home and has a throwback charm; I like to visit every couple of years.

7 Floors of Hell – That’s a lot of floors and I need that much haunting in my life. Plus, I love my overnight Ohio trips; especially those that give me an excuse to hit Bloodview.

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)

Haunting By Numbers: 2014 Haunt Season

Posted in Haunting By Numbers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2015 by bluefall8

2014 offered a haunt season not soon to be forgotten. Let us now ponder some pertinent numbers.

24: Number of attractions at 14 unique locations that we visited — this total topped the previous record of 23 first set in 2011 and then matched in 2013.

7: Spooky nights spent touring fright filled stomping grounds.

5: Never before toured haunted houses.

7: Counties in Michigan and Ohio where we braked for haunted house goodness; included were Genesee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne in the Mitten State while Cuyahoga was the lone representative from the Buckeye State.

4: Separate locations with a total of six haunted attractions that we visited on the night of November 1, 2014 — a one night record.

320: Round trip miles racked up during the infamous Cleveland Turn N’ Burn which saw us tour The Fear Experience and Bloodview Haunted House.

10: Haunted attractions that were visited in a single 24-hour period on Friday, October 17, 2014 and Saturday, October 18, 2014.

863: Total miles driven during the 2014 haunt season.

2010: The year in which a haunted attraction last earned a 5 star rating.

2014 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2015 by bluefall8

2014 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

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.

2014 Rotten Pumpkin: The Haunted Funeral Home

The Haunted Funeral Home was the first attraction I visited last year, thankfully it was not an indication of things to come. Most of the cast delivered below average performances, several were even caught out of place. That was particularly unforgivable due to the fact that, at the time, we were the only group present. Little to nothing has changed here since an initial visit in 2011; this was uninspired and lazy haunting.

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.

2014 Eerie Vibrations: The Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

Honorable Mention: District 13 (The Fear Experience)

The former pig farm has presence and nowhere is it as oppressive as in The Catacombs & The Rusthole. What can I say? The story of a ghoulish spirit and mysterious third floor made an impact when I traversed the attraction all on my lonesome. This is the second time that The Catacombs & The Rusthole has captured the Eerie Vibrations Award; the first was in 2011.

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  Horrorlust’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2014 Dark Horse: Psycho Path

Honorable Mention: Corpse Barn Shock Haunt

For just $10 this hidden gem offered a serious bang-for-your-buck in 2014. The volunteer effort mixed a creative flair with haunted house fundamentals and struck the right balance of fun and fright. The facade was excellent and a surprise, introductory stage show served the narrative well. A brief stroll through the woods beforehand and a wagon ride after the fact further enhanced the atmosphere.

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.

2014 Killer Automatons: Dark Legacy

Honorable Mention: The Realm of Darkness

Dark Legacy had a little bit of everything and in 2014 put to use their electronic baddies better than any other haunt in town. There were caged monkeys, a slick electrocution and even a massive mutation contained inside of a large shipping crate. Several actor-matronics were used to maximum effect as well.

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.

2014 Monster: Hush

Honorable Mention: Bloodview

The core group of characters at Hush are polished, professional and capable of giving the best that we’ve witnessed a run for their money. Led by the inimitable Dr. Phineas Phun, the cast of Hush featured a handful of unforgettable freaks and weirdos — from an android receptionist to the supercharged loonies who went bonkers behind a pane of glass to a lullaby singing doctor and her reanimated specimen. The key players each understood their role which was crucial to the central theme of the attraction.

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.

2014 Prop Master: Centralia County Fair (The Fear Experience)

Honorable Mention: Dark Legacy

The scenery inside Centralia County Fair was detailed, thorough and impressive. The abandoned carnival theme was so immersive and striking that it overwhelmed my senses. Keep in mind that this was an attraction that featured relatively few live actors and it excelled in spite of that fact. The scenes and set dressing were so complete it was the one attraction to which I wished I could return for the sole purpose of documenting it through photographs.

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.

2014 Pulse Pounder: The Mind Shaft (Wiard’s Night Terrors)

Honorable Mention: Zombie Uprising at Braxton Estate (The Fear Experience)

The Mind Shaft got the heart racing through expertly tailored sound fx that helped drive the pace of the attraction. Like 13 Feet Under, Mind Shaft made it easy and fun for guests to suspend their disbelief — if a collapsing mine doesn’t put some pep in your step then what the hell will?! The attraction concluded with an exclamation point when a Sasquatch roared out of nowhere and delivered one of the best jump scares of the season.

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.

2014 Samhain: October 18, 2014 (Wiard’s Night Terrors)

Honorable Mention: October 30, 2014 (Dark Legacy, Hush)

2014 delivered a number of great nights of haunting but the plethora of attractions that comprised Wiard’s Night Terrors put it over the top. I was highly amused by the reactions of my sister-in-law, Madison, who provided me with the kind of valuable feedback only a fresh set of eyes can bring. Brandon Wiard was a most gracious host who allowed us the run of the place and engaged in great conversations about the ideas that fueled the haunted houses at Night Terrors.

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.

2014 Haunt of the Year: Exit 13

Honorable Mention: Hush

This was no easy choice; the number of top-notch attractions we toured in 2014 was unprecedented. After garnering several honorable mentions in 2011 and 2012 (in various categories) this is well deserved for the lovable loonies at Exit 13. An ambitious renovation delivered multiple new scenes in 2014 which served as the ideal playground for an in-your-face cast. The haunt utilized a wide array of scare tactics while it pushed the envelope with taboo characters, tasteless humor and physicality.

2014 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2015 by bluefall8

This list is not meant to be used 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 (and that happened often in 2014) those attractions are listed in 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.

2014 STAR RATINGS

1. Centralia County Fair – 4.5 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

2. Dark Legacy – 4.5 (Wixom, MI.)

3. Exit 13 – 4.5 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

4. Hush – 4.5 (Westland, MI.)

5. Bloodview – 4.25 (Broadview Heights, OH.)

6. Zombie Uprising at Braxton Estate – 4.25 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

7. 13 Feet Under – 4 (Grand Blanc, MI.)

8. The Asylum – 4 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

9. Centralia Mental Facility – 4 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

10. House of Nightmares 3D – 4 (Pontiac, MI.)

11. The Mind Shaft – 4 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

12. Psycho Path – 4 (Flat Rock, MI.)

13. The Realm of Darkness – 4 (Pontiac, MI.)

14. Alien Caged Clowns – 3.75 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

15. Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – 3.75 (Napoleon, MI.)

16. Ultimate Haunted Barn – 3.75 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

17. District 13 – 3.5 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

18. Hayride of the Lost – 3.5 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

19. The Crypt – 3.25 (Burton, MI.)

20. St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum – 3.25 (Grand Blanc, MI.)

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

22. The Dark Abyss – 2.75 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

23. Fō-bē-ə – 2.75 (Wyandotte, MI.)

24. The Haunted Funeral Home – 1.25 (Inkster, MI.)

Jason’s Curse, Ohio Haunts Highlight Night

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Haunted Hydro, Review, Terror Town with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2015 by bluefall8

In this edition of Hallowblog Flashback, we relive a notable night of haunting in the Buckeye State. Originally posted on Sunday, October 25, 2009 this entry documented a rather interesting and amusing excursion to Terror Town in Maumee and The Haunted Hydro in Fremont.

Terror Town’s House of the Dead would go on to win the 2009 Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award, an award the vaunted haunt would claim four consecutive seasons from 2009-2012. 

To this day my brother, Jason, is still ridiculed for the events of this night and I suspect it ‘ll be some years yet before the rest of us let him live it down.  

Our haunt excursion on Friday the 16th was a memorable experience but perhaps just as memorable as the haunts was the dilemma in which we found ourselves that jeopardized the entire night. Jason, in keeping with his rich tradition of procrastination and tardiness, once again delayed the start of our night. However that would turn out to be the least of his infractions on this night. While driving La Pleasance Road en route to southbound I-75, Jason debated aloud the pros and cons of stopping for gas at the present or putting off the menial task for some time later in the night. Prone as he is to laziness and indifference Jason nonchalantly proclaimed that later suited him just fine.

Twenty minutes later the car began to decelerate and within a minute we were at a crawl and out of gas. I am convinced that the man is cursed. Richard and I decided to jump out and began to push the vehicle while we still had some momentum. So there we were, a couple of jackasses pushing a car down US-25 in Toledo several miles from the nearest gas station. Jason relieved Richard of pushing duties after a quarter mile at which time Richard thought it pertinent to document the proceedings by snapping a few pictures. We’d gone about a half mile when a car pulled up behind us, a bearded man asked if we needed gas; somewhere in the distance I swear I heard a banjo. Thankfully he had a gas can and even more than that nobody was raped or maimed; many thanks to Beardo the Kind. We proceeded to the nearest gas station which likely would have taken well over an hour to reach had it not been for the kind stranger. The night was back on track and Terrortown was in our sights.

Last year Terrortown’s House of the Dead earned the Haunt Trinity’s top honor as Haunt of the Year and so it was with great excitement that we returned to this location. This year the offerings at Terrortown include Toxic Terror in 3D, The Asylum, and of course the incomparable House of the Dead. After purchasing our tickets we headed to the entrance for the 3D attraction. It was evident upon entering the haunt that something was amiss as nothing about it appeared in 3D, in fact the structure was completely dark. We wandered about the maze like interior for a couple of minutes amusing ourselves before making our exit. Given the situation I don’t feel that it would be fair or accurate to rate this particular attraction.

We jumped in line for The Asylum next, held in the same building that housed Slaughterhouse in 2008. Asylum offers haunters a very unique feature at the beginning of the attraction. We entered the lobby and stood before a steel door, in the middle of the door was a window which flickered and revealed its true face as a video screen. A short video began; a woman in a white dress with long, greasy black hair stalked a row of abandoned prison cells. She dragged an ax at her side and her intentions became clear. She battered the window with the ax and the door began to dent as if something would shortly break down the door. We’ve never witnessed an effect quite like this anywhere else. I could only guess at the cost of such a prop. The only downside was the fact that the door was apparently not functional because no actor erupted from the door which would have set the tone nicely.

Asylum wasn’t a lengthy attraction but it accomplished quite well what it set out to do. The haunt was comprised almost entirely of dark, maze like passages which were periodically streaked with the flash of a strobe light. A series of highly creepy full size props ward haunters away from various dead ends and I do mean highly creepy. The props looked identical to the girl from the video, each of them armed with an ax. Due to the realism of the dummies we initially mistook them for live actors but even after concluding that they were props nobody wanted to get too close to these fierce bitches. It turned out that The Asylum was actually light on genuine fleshies which definitely would have helped push this attraction to the next level. Those that were present weren’t bad but they certainly weren’t great either. However, this attraction will without a doubt raise some goose bumps on every visitor, if the props and ghouls don’t do it the cold air certainly will. The building is very cold which is no doubt done on purpose as the operators at Terrortown are known for their penchant to assail the senses in nontraditional ways. It was an effective maneuver, by the time we exited the haunt our hands were like ice; an interesting ripple to a solid dark maze. The haunt concludes with the largest vortex tunnel you’re likely to see anywhere. Last season it stood as a solo attraction titled The Beast but it works much better in a complimentary fashion paired with The Asylum.

Rating: 3 1/4 stars

After staggering out of the vortex we headed to the entrance of the main event, House of the Dead. We must have caught Terrortown on a slow night because there was absolutely no wait for the feature presentation in contrast we waited well over an hour last year to gain entry. We stood in the lobby and were shortly greeted by the same middle aged creep that welcomed us to Dead House last year. He received us warmly and seemed to be genuinely thrilled that we’d come to “play with his children” as he put it. I like this character and I enjoy the demented patriarch shtick he runs, it’s a fun way to start the haunt. We packed into an elevator and descended into the bowels of the rotting estate. I will not mince words, House of the Dead just wasn’t quite the acid trip induced wet dream that we experienced last year, it’s still a fine haunt that much should not be questioned but the wicked juices that fueled last year’s mind fuck have abated a bit. The attraction is notably shorter and the infamous room of killer babies has been omitted which left us particularly disappointed.

Last year one of our few criticisms of this attraction was the lack of live actors, there are many more live actors this year but unfortunately most of them have less personality than most of the animatronics. But oh, how awesome these animatronics are! The first room of the haunt held about five animatronics alone, one man had a stream of blood issuing from his stomach while another struggled futilely against the restraints that held him aloft. We were attacked by an alligator and witnessed the aftermath of a gruesome slaughter of a unicorn by a pack of burly wolves.

One of my favorite scenes involved a prop I’ve come to call the Goliath Man, a massive crucified ghoul who lunges at haunters from his post. We came upon a hallway which had a long mirror on the wall to the left, a mixture of eeriness and vanity drew our gaze and then Goliath Man struck from the other side when a partition dropped out of the wall. Pay attention folks because this is a great blend of an old school technique (misdirection) and modern technology. Another great scene involving a member of Terrortown’s automated army came in the form of a feasting alien devouring the half eaten carcass of a young girl, classy.

Another aspect of House of the Dead that scores well with the Haunt Trinity is the attraction’s attention to detail. The operators play up the House angle well sending guests through a series of narrow passages and rooms designed to look just like somebody’s home, a deranged nutter’s home yes, but a home nonetheless. The hallways are decorated with freakish family portraits and the various rooms nearly all feature still props that could just as well be the stuffed remains of family members, I especially enjoyed the sinister looking children.

House of the Dead also commands recognition for its implementation of innovative techniques such as the use of holographic projections. Also of note are unique set pieces like the stairs that break under the weight of an unseen presence. And of course any mention of all things strange and bizarre at House of the Dead would not be complete without calling attention to the odorous decay that seems to permeate the walls within the manor. The foul smell nearly overwhelmed us when we entered a room full of dead animals. Thankfully this was a small room and before we could contribute to the overall stench of the place by unleashing the contents of our stomachs we entered an adjacent meat cooler. Inside the cooler hung the bodies of many a victim but we had no time for sorrow because the keeper of the shop had arrived with a chainsaw. During the ensuing melee I heard squealing and I thought that was an odd thing to hear in a room full of dead humans. It was then that I looked about and realized that the bodies hanging from the ceiling weren’t exactly human…they were some sort of pig people hybrid! The monstrosity nearest me was squealing incessantly and arching his freakish head toward my calf. We fled the meat cooler content in the knowledge that those pig people would soon be bacon on some lucky fellow’s plate.

House of the Dead is indeed an interesting and rare piece of work. Last year the attraction was an absolute hit with hardly any live actors at all and this year Dead House seemed to gain success in spite of the lackluster performance of said actors. I don’t believe we’ve ever come across any place or situation quite like this. I would obviously like to see the haunt return to its 2008 length but I dare say it seems counter intuitive to suggest that the operators scale back the number of live performers, but perhaps House of the Dead would be at its best with a few well placed warm bodies. The animatronics are simply the best we’ve witnessed; some really seem to take on a life of their own. The unique oddities inherent to this attraction add a layer to the experience and atmosphere that a lot of haunts just can’t touch. I hope the brain trust at Terrortown continue to evolve the idea of homestead gone bad because it has a lot of fun possibilities I’d love to see brought to life.

Rating: 3 3/4

We departed the Lucas County Fairgrounds and nearly forty minutes later arrived just in time to purchase our tickets at the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Ohio. The adventure marked our first visit to this attraction and as with all first time trips we were eager to sample the offerings. There are two primary attractions here the crown jewel and namesake, Haunted Hydro and Industrial Mayhem; an outdoor attraction that truly exceeded all expectations.

Industrial Mayhem forces haunters through a long series of narrow paths bordered on both sides by chain linked fence. The attraction features a differently themed creature of the night each weekend; thus far it had been home to demons and nightmarish clowns but as fortune would have it our visit coincided with an outbreak of the living dead. Zombies littered the grounds and their jaws were a’ gnashing. The workers featured elaborately gruesome make up and some even donned those twisted contacts that warp the eyes. The actors were hard working and refused to be content with a single scare, several hungry ghouls stalked us through the gritty path and attacked us three or four times each. Much of the cast added to the genuine zombie appeal by refusing to break character responding to our usual hijinx with garbled grows and menacing snarls; these flesh eaters meant business.

The haunt featured two set pieces in particular which ensured that the repetitious setting did not become monotonous. The first was a boat and as we passed a starving zombie crawled from beneath the watercraft and began thrashing at our legs. Later the path led directly into the back of a hearse through which we were made to crawl. Midway through the dreary mobile a portion of the floor lights up, a ghoul trapped beneath a pane of glass pounds frantically in an attempt to procure the just out of reach delicacies.

Near the end of the attraction we came across a small junk yard that housed a hungry female zombie who was currently gorging herself on the neck of a once proud but now dead, stallion. She glared at us greedily as if the hardy meal she had already won wasn’t enough. The glint in her glossy eyes told us she had a zest for man flesh. Jason appeared a little too eager to oblige so we quickly pushed forward before he made a fatally embarrassing mistake. We wound our way into a burnt out dump, a revolting mutant wandered amidst the rubble. He wore construction gear and had a face that looked as if it had been washed in an acid bath. His skin was raw and tinged red, it looked like a lump of bloody hamburger. He entered a shack with shelves lined with grim trinkets; on one shelf a jar filled with orange slime contained a multitude of eye balls. He began pouring muddy, waste water from one barrel to the next offering us a drink as he did so. He also engaged us in a bit of tasteless humor involving one of our mothers.

We rounded the shack and attempted to exit Industrial Mayhem but we were chased away from the double doors by a deranged man who was very concerned about the damage we may cause his doors. Jason managed to escape on the first attempt barreling through the flimsy doors with wanton disregard. We had to retreat several times behind the mutant’s shack before making a run for it and escaping one by one. I was the last to breach the threshold; the little, angry man was still shouting about his doors.

Rating: 4 1/4 stars

We crossed the court yard and made our way to the entrance of the Haunted Hydro where the eccentric owner, Crazy Bob was entertaining some female patrons. Ole Bob rambled on for a bit about never forgetting a face and tried rather futilely to rattle Disco. Crazy Bob shortly relented and allowed us to enter the old hydro dam now home to a soggy army of ghouls and weirdoes. The building is an impressive sight to behold featuring a ceiling that towers far above the heads of its guests. We enjoyed Haunted Hydro but the haunt lacked a cohesive theme and that was disappointing because the structure would be quite believable as a medieval castle.

The first two scenes were highly detailed and would have felt at home at The Realm of Darkness. The first was a bedroom scene and the second a dining room, the latter scene offered up a hilarious worker who really pushed the envelope. After leaping out of a chair the portly ghoul offered us what he referred to as eyeball soup and then suggested that he add a special ingredient. He squatted slightly and began rubbing his hand on his ass; he then brought his hand to the bowl and proclaimed that the secret ingredient was “brown sugar.” We of course responded with bales of laughter and our sides nearly split when this repugnant wretch gyrated his hips and rubbed the personal concoction on his nipple. He responded promptly to our ribbing by wiping his fingers on my nipple which was actually quite surprising because haunt workers are not supposed to touch guests but I found the whole scene to be ludicrous and took no offense. Brown Sugar Man, I salute you!

We were lead shortly through a narrow hall filled with various clown props; the passage was lit by black lights and concluded when a simpering French clown provided a mild scare. The path took several more turns and we ended up in a security room, the walls lined with monitors, a woman occupied the chair behind the desk and our presence clearly disturbed her. She rose from the chair with great jerky movements and stalked our party to the end of the room.

Near the conclusion of the attraction haunters are treated to display both rare and bizarre in nature. A brightly colored, old fashioned puppet booth stood before us standing in surreal contrast to the dimly lit and grimy surroundings. A scrawny, high pitched male appears from behind the curtains holding a dirty teddy bear in his left hand. The bear would like to sing us a song and of course we agree to witness this odd side show. The puppeteer disappears behind the curtains and shakes the teddy bear about as he sings a dark rhyme about death. At one point the bear disappears behind the curtains and a large, clawed hand shoots quickly toward the guests functioning as a dovetail for the lyrics. When the song concludes the slimy puppet master cheers his own depraved lyrics and encourages us to do the same, we happily offer a round of applause and exit the scene.

We headed up an inclined path; a large shadow could be seen high upon a wall in the distance, another neat feature. The path turned and took us into a room with a deep pit, several nutters patrolled the room including a manic judge but to my disappointment the pit of despair held no captives. The path briefly led outside which afforded us the opportunity to appreciate the exterior of the Hydro. When we reentered we soon came to the conclusion of the haunt, a large graveyard setting that featured either a hopelessly drunk or helplessly insane pirate who blathered nonsense and begged us not to leave him.

The haunt concluded on a some what lackluster note but it did feature a lot of live actors most of which were quite good at what they set out to do. The unique features mentioned above were all welcome surprises and something I’d like to see the haunt build on. We had a lot of fun at the Haunted Hydro and I’d like to plan a return trip in a future season.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

“Oh, I hope they’re not too old.”

-Richard responding to the House of the Dead patriarch’s enthusiasm when he expressed delight that we had come to play with his children

“(Strangled laughter) Your mother…(more strangled laughter)…douche.”

-The reaction of the construction mutant when I suggested that his filthy, barrel water had been used as a douche by Richard’s mom

Bloodview Burns White Hot with Witch Trials

Posted in 2014, Bloodview, Review with tags , , , , , , on January 8, 2015 by bluefall8

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Our return to Bloodview Haunted House last October felt, in some ways, like a homecoming. Just two years prior we had embarked on our maiden sojourn to the Butcher of Broadview Heights and had come away spellbound. This time around we found ourselves at the threshold of terror on a cold and wet Friday night. As we passed through the gates of Bloodview that unmistakable and unique aura of horror permeated the air.

BEST QUEUE LINE ENTERTAINMENT IN THE BUSINESS

Zealous preachers barked hellfire and brimstone from all corners of the land while angry townsfolk demanded confessions and repentance from the poor souls who found themselves in the middle of a war between the righteous and the wicked. As John and I entered the queue line a scrawny man with an unkempt beard was engaged in an act of self-flaggellation. He wandered the area and muttered to himself, his eyes a matching set of vacant pools as he lashed his scarred back.

Elsewhere in line, some menacing witch hunters questioned and harassed a group of squeamish teenagers. A burly male hunter with long, dark hair rubbed his blade over the hair of one female guest who visibly shook with fright and then expressed concern that she would both wet herself and vomit from the fear of it all. I was convinced by her body language that her statements weren’t merely for dramatic flair and I thus stepped back a few paces in order to avoid the splashback from any potential spew.

GRISSLY GORE HOUSE

The first leg of Bloodview sent us through the small but powerful Gore House where an overpowering scent invaded our nostrils and set the stage for the foulness to follow. Almost immediately we were confronted by an imposing figure who wielded a blade and wore what looked to be a crown of thorns. I wasn’t sure if he was aligned with the holy rollers or a practitioner of witchcraft; whatever the case his eyes gleamed with malevolent triumph.

He dubbed me “Bigguns” and proceded to make a series of ominously suggestive remarks. Big Boy, as I referred to him in my private thoughts, had a coarse laugh and seemed to get great enjoyment from his interaction with John and I. Soon thereafter, inside of a room filled with hanging corpses, we encountered a special friend of Big Boy’s — a drooling husk of flesh caught somewhere between zombie and mongoloid. This deranged creature followed us for a spell and as he stumbled forward a gossamer of saliva hung from his mouth and then splattered onto the floor.

The Gore House was a galleria of gross-outs and no trip is complete without passage through the one-of-a-kind vortex tunnel near the end of the structure, a vortex tunnel with the color and consistency of molten flesh. John and I crossed the sickly threshold and emerged from the Gore House and descended a ramp to an earthen path that led to the eerie landscape known as Baby Doll Island.

ISLE OF THE DAMNED

Baby Doll Island is a wooded area littered with out-buildings, a small maze and a recently added cemetery; like the queue line it too was populated by those embroiled in the ongoing witch trials. I was impressed by the number of characters that had been dedicated to Baby Doll Island and noted that the actor’s enthusiasm hadn’t been sapped by the cold or rain.

One peculiar creature drew several laughs from us for his use of raunchy humor and cheap Ray Rice quips. He appeared to be a stout, middle-aged man and his manner of dress was interesting indeed. His fingers either sported long, sharp nails or had been adorned with gothic armor, his mouth featured a frightening array of dagger-shaped teeth and the whole of his being seemed to be filled with a wild, untamable malice. I couldn’t decide if he was a vampire, demon or merely the town pervert but he elicited a response and looked good doing it.

Near the end of the trail we encountered another interesting character who seemed to be out of her mind with paranoid delusions. She was bushy-haired and bespectacled — we could do nothing to ease the pain she obviously felt she had suffered at the hands of some unseen tormentors. Despite our offers of help she believed with all of her will that the world, and all who dwell therein, had betrayed her. We departed the trail and left the sad sack to mope, it was time to face the third leg of the Bloodview experience which just so happened to be the most substantial of our visit.

BURN BLOODVIEW BURN

The key to success for Bloodview’s main attraction is a combination of classic haunted house design infused with the energy of a weird, outlandish and spirited cast. The floor plan wound us through claustrophobic passages and uneven hallways that tilted left and right and up and down. Near the entrance of the haunt we encountered a malicious prankster who worked a lever that caused the floor beneath our feet to lift and lurch forward.

John and I were impressed by the physicality of several actors who pushed past us in narrow halls while they snarled and offered thinly veiled threats. The first occurrence of such happened nearly as soon as we entered the haunt when a foxy creature of the night lured us forward with a game of hide-n-seek. One moment she rushed forward and then slunk back to the shadows only to reappear again to cut off our path. She made sure to display her mouth of razor-sharp teeth several times and ultimately forced us to brush by her which was indeed threatening but not without a touch of eroticism.

There were absurd scenes as well such as a filthy bathroom that featured a thoroughly clogged toilet, a mound of excrement was in danger of eclipsing the rim but this fact did nothing to deter one mute character from mounting the porcelain throne. Elsewhere, within the walls of Bloodview, we interacted with a group of characters who had been trapped in a series of large cages, the largest of which contained several captives.

A diminutive blonde girl crawled forward and offered several meek meows, doe-eyed and adorable I offered her a couple of sympathetic pats on the head, in turn she handed me a small, fluffy fur ball which I would later pawn off on a pair of crazies at a deli counter. Another notable prisoner was a toe-headed youth who wore a pair of shorts and a button-down eagle scout shirt that he had long outgrown. He sat and stared at me as if he was completely content with his exposed pudge and when questioned about his attire he responded that he was forced to dress as such. He reminded me strongly of Chunk from The Goonies and I fought the urge to request a performance of the Truffle Shuffle.

Bloodview aslo featured a blackout maze that functioned both as psychological terror and a great false ending. Next, we roamed a few rooms which might’ve seemed warm and welcoming if not for the homespun horrors that peered at us from every corner and crevice, one such example included a pair of old-fashioned dolls who sat a top a shelf and blankly stared.

As we neared the conclusion of the haunted attraction we walked into an argument in progress as a mother-daughter duo engaged in a heated verbal spat. The source of the family feud was unclear although given the larger situation one might assume that someone was being accused of witchcraft. Our presence did little to stem the angry shouts as the two argued unabated. I did defend the daughter as she seemed the more reasonable of the pair which earned me a brief hug before she launched into another round of shouting with her mother.

The finale of Bloodview presented us with a seasoned witch hunter who sported a large gash on one side of his face which extended from where his eyeball used to be down across his cheek. In a Scottish accent he and an acolyte of sorts urged us to move forward lest we rouse the fury of a warlock the pair held captive. Indeed, along the far wall was chained an imposing figure, head covered by an animal skull. The animated witch hunter warned that this warlock was particularly fierce and indeed was the cause for the severe wound he himself sported. Following some lively debate, angry admonishments from the acolyte and a near escape of the warlock; we exited Bloodview.

Bloodview is a unique stop on the haunted highway and one that holds a special place in my heart. The Legion of Terror is comprised of passionate scareactors whose attention to details such as costuming, make-up, improvisation and even accents did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. This is a great location with some throwback appeal, fleshed out with a versatile cast who love to entertain. Bloodview is home to some true sons and daughters of Halloween.

Rating: 4.25 stars

“I think you’d have an easier time with those girls in front of me.”

“How do you know what I like, Bigguns?”

-An exchange with Big Boy inside the Gore House while he held me at knife point.