Archive for purgatory’s revenge

Sinister Sidelined

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2014 by bluefall8

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A mere two days ago I reported that Purgatory’s Revenge would not be open during the 2014 haunt season. Unfortunately, today I bring news of yet another closure. I spoke to Steve Czapiewski via email recently, Steve is the Advertising Director at Sinister, and he ended a fair amount of speculation by confirming that Sinister will not operate this Halloween season.

The dark status of Sinister is a serious blow to the Michigan haunt scene. Sinister employed an in-your-face, improvisational style which created a fresh and exhilarating haunted house romp. It featured a rock solid cast who pushed haunt etiquette to the edge and defied guests not to relish the experience. Owner Larry Black seemed to view Sinister as a haunted sand box, and within those walls, cast and customers alike could engage in a choose-your-own-adventure-story.

In 2012 Sinister snatched both the Horrorlust Monster Award and Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. In 2013 Sinister claimed the Horrolust Monster once more and in the process became the first haunt to win an award in back-to-back years since Deadly Intentions clutched the Monster Award in 2008 and 2009.

It’s also worth mention that Larry and many of his miscreants were responsible for the unforgettable show we witnessed in 2009 at Haunted Hollows in Armada. Bowbee’s Nightmare garnered three awards that fall which included Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder and Haunt of the Year. That single season trifecta is topped only by the four-award effort Darksyde Acres pulled off in 2011 when The Catacombs & Rusthole secured the Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Monster and Haunt of the Year Awards.

Steve did note that Sinister may return in time for the 2015 or 2016 haunt season and also stated that much of the cast will ply their craft as members of the Realm of Darkness this year. That is a veritable windfall for The Realm of Darkness which had a lack of quality actors in 2013. I wish all parties involved the best throughout the 2014 haunt season and into the future.

Read up on our adventures at Sinister here:

2012 – Sinister Jolts the Night with Surprise Twist

2013 – Improvisation & Intensity Forge Sinister Synergy 

The Gates of Purgatory will be Sealed in 2014

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2014 by bluefall8

I spoke with Keri Kazz recently and he regretfully informed me that Purgatory’s Revenge will not be open for business this fall. He and his team had originally planned to open the gates to Purgatory once more but other commitments forced his hand. Keri is also a magician and it just so happens that he is currently on tour with The Danger Circus.

In 2013, Purgatory’s Revenge, along with Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown, won the Horrorlust Samhain Award which recognizes the most enjoyable night of haunting in a given season. Purgatory’s Revenge was also named the honorable mention to the Pulse Pounder Award which was ultimately given to St. Charles Village of the Living Dead. The Pulse Pounder Award recognizes the most intense or frightening haunted attraction of the season.

Although Purgatory’s Revenge will be missed during the 2014 haunt season, Keri did assure me that the haunt will return in 2015 at a new location with an all new show. For more details on The Danger Circus check out the troupe’s Facebook page.

And of course you can read the 2013 review of Purgatory’s Revenge right here: Bound in Purgatory

Or read a full list of 2013 award winners here: 2013 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

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 Horrorlust Haunt Award Nominations

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2014 by bluefall8

As the Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show rolls on in St. Louis; the time as come to recognize the best haunted offerings of the 2013 season. We here at Horrorlust present nine dreadful categories , the original seven include: Monster, Killer Automatons, Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Dark Horse, Rotten Pumpkin and finally, Haunt of the Year. In 2011 we added the Prop Master and Samhain Awards.

Below are descriptions for each category accompanied by this years’ nominees. All cities listed in parenthesis are located in the State of Michigan unless otherwise noted.

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 Nominees: 

3-Story Haunted Barn (Blake’s – Armada)

Realm of Darkness (Pontiac)

Scream Machine (Taylor)

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 Nominees:

Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Terrorfied Forest (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney)

Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles)

Dark Horse – The Dark Horse award is given to the haunt considered to have the most potential for growth. Criteria for this award include the ability to deliver an entertaining show at a relatively small venue and at a reduced rate. Think of the Dark Horse award as our way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2013 Dark Horse Nominees:

Bloodbath on Biddle (Wyandotte)

Hillside Mortuary (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney)

Realm of Haunted Minds (Romulus)

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 Nominees:

Erebus (Pontiac)

Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson)

Realm of Darkness (Pontiac)

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 Nominees:

Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Hush (Westland)

Sinister (Utica)

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 Nominees:

Bloodbath on Biddle (Wyandotte)

Slaughter House (Slaughter House Adventure – Fowlerville)

Hillside Mortuary (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney)

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 Nominees:

Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Purgatory’s Revenge (New Haven)

Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles)

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 Nominees:

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

October 30, 2013 (Bloodbath on Biddle, Hush, Scream Machine)

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

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 Nominees:

Erebus (Pontiac)

Hush (Westland)

Village of the Living Dead (St. Charles)

For awards from 2010-2012 consult the “Awards” category listed in the sidebar to the right. A comprehensive list of past winners will be posted mid-week with the 2013 winners being released one week from today.

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.)

Bound in Purgatory

Posted in 2013, Purgatory's Revenge, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2013 by bluefall8

It was by a considerable amount of chance that we came to visit Purgatory’s Revenge in New Haven on October 25th. Originally, John and I had planned to visit House of Fear in Hazel Park but we discovered that Purgatory’s Revenge worked much better with our route for the night which included stops at Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown in Armada. As we are always on the lookout for new attractions, it seemed like a natural fit.

In several ways Purgatory’s Revenge put me in mind of Sinister in Utica, it’s constructed outside and must be completely dismantled once the haunt season has concluded. Secondly, it featured a dedicated, in-your-face cast. Several of the standouts prowled the grounds, stirring up scares. The ring leader was a strange creature indeed and can best be described as the result of a demon who had possessed the corpse of a deer. He may have walked upright but the creature displayed a marked animalistic instinct, his speech and actions were certainly something other than human.

The entrance of the attraction is well detailed and created the sensation that haunters had entered into a tomb. We would find out soon enough that Purgatory’s Revenge prided itself on basic haunt fundamentals, a strategy that served this location well. Thick patches of fog swept throughout many areas of the haunt and when coupled with strobe lights, created a highly disorienting effect that had us groping the air as we searched for a path — easy prey for any lurking deadites.

The haunt also utilized a good mix of pitch black hallways, an increasingly underutilized element in haunted attractions. Such perfect dark can wreck havoc on the psyche and has the added benefit of providing fertile ground for opportunities to launch a scare. In one such hall I received one of the best jolts of the season. As I blindly fumbled in the dark I was surprised when I felt my hand come in contact with some sort of barrier — mesh, perhaps fencing? Immediately an unseen actor lunged from within the structure and provided a quality startle.

The use of tactile sensation was yet another fundamental technique put to good use. In the area above, there was merely a change in the texture of the wall and as soon as my mind began to process that information the trap had been set. This tactic worked in rooms with greater visibility as well, for instance, one narrow path forced us to claw our way through a series of thick spider webs. As another example, various areas had thin veils that hung at odd angles from the ceiling — these too we had to push aside. Additionally, the veils served to block our line of sight which in turn created a mild sensation of misdirection; all of this forced us to carefully concentrate on the path.

All of this talk of tactile sensation, misdirection, and darkness may not sound too impressive but when used correctly these old school techniques will enhance any haunted attraction. Sure, a particular haunt may succeed in spite of such attributes — for instance, a great cast may collectively steal the show — but why deny such a cast the opportunity to ply their craft on an ideal canvas? The proper application of haunt fundamentals will always enhance the experience.

The final room of the haunted attraction also played upon such fundamentals, although here it was accomplished when those principles were turned on ear. Generally, haunted attractions will send guests through a series of tight passes which is a great method used to heighten a condition like claustrophobia, but what would happen if those same people were suddenly thrust into a very large space?

This was exactly what the final room put to the test and the result was a sudden sensation of exposure and vulnerability. Those small, narrow spaces do produce a particular kind of fear and suspense, but in such a limited area the inevitable scare has precious few options from which to originate — in an odd way it can almost begin to feel, safe. A wide open space has the opposite effect, suddenly patrons are naked  in the dark and highly susceptible to attack from all angles.

As I mentioned earlier, Purgatory’s Revenge featured several characters who treated the scare as an art form, and the first one that we encountered was the aforementioned Demon Deer.

When we first entered the haunt a strangled voice used bird calls to attract our attention and then beckoned, “Heeeere humans, heeeere humans.” The nightmarish abomination led us to a vacant church and after he had muttered what seemed to be mindless ravings, we were directed into opposite rooms. One was labeled “Men’s” while the other read “Women’s.” John and I briefly separated before the paths wound back into each other. It was a fun bit of interaction and an idea I’d love to see the operators expand upon in the future.

Another scene of interest was a detailed swamp complete with a bridge. Here, we were introduced to a miniature pet alligator and when I crouched to stroke it’s head, we were blasted by a spray of water. The owner bade us farewell (although he did so rather ominously) and we entered into the next room, a vibrantly painted area flush with disturbing depictions of Barney the Dinosaur aside children who bore, what I can only assume, were drug induced grins. The theme from the once popular television show echoed throughout the room, lending a distinctly perverse quality to our surroundings.

What the hell were we about to witness here? My mind ran wild. Would we find girls bound and gagged (Could we be so lucky)? Was a half naked Barney to be found waltzing with the corpse of Baby Bop? Or would we simply discover the purple dinosaur tweaked out on the floor with a needle in his arm? Yes, these are the things that run through my head; it’s a weird place.

Okay, none of the above came to pass, but we were attacked by a large dog with a purple head which gave John a fright, and a good startle is always worth a mention. Even though the bizarre visions in my head did not manifest, it is precisely these kind of creative ideas that keep us on the road chasing that next great haunt fix. The skewering of pop culture isn’t exclusive to late night comedians, it’s also prepackaged fodder for the haunt industry. When viewed through a particular lens just about anything can become creepy, surreal, or downright horrifying.

2013 was the sophomore season for the folks at Purgatory’s Revenge and it definitely didn’t seem to have suffered any kind of a slump. The team here is led by a mixture of seasoned veterans and bold, new blood. With a solid cast on hand, strong emphasis on haunt fundamentals, and plans to expand, it would seem that Purgatory’s Revenge has many souls yet to ensnare.

Rating: 4 stars

Devil’s Trap

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2013 by bluefall8

When you go haunting as often as we do, there’s bound to be some good nights and there’s bound to be some bad nights. And then there’s nights like tonight; it was interesting to be sure, rare even. Devil’s Night 2013 will go down in the books as a memorable one indeed, for on this night we experienced both extremes of the haunted spectrum — ranging from excellent to awful.

Ironically it was a rookie that exhibited the former and a veteran of the scene, the latter. Hush Haunted House in Westland gobsmacked us from beginning to end with a high intensity show complete with detailed scenes and top notch cast. Shockingly, The Scream Machine, a Downriver staple for more than a decade, sunk to an unbelievable low with what can kindly be called a listless dud.

We also toured Bloodbath on Biddle by the Wyandotte Jaycees and I’m happy to report that the volunteer effort succeeded on many fronts; it was easily the best effort from this group since our 2009 Devil’s Night foray at Hellblock 13.

As always full reviews will be posted and for those keeping track, yes — there’s still full reviews coming for Funeral Home, Purgatory’s Revenge, Blake’s, and Slaughtered at Sundown. Much haunted goodness yet to come from Horrorlust this haunt season.

Happy Halloween.