Archive for realm of darkness

Five Nights Etched in Time

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2015 by bluefall8

I’m often asked which haunted house is my favorite and the honest answer is that I don’t have just one favorite. Haunted attractions come in all shapes and sizes and employ a wide range of themes, narratives and scare tactics to deliver a memorable experience. While I certainly do have my preferences, my favorites are a collection of diverse attractions. As the list below examines, some of the my most treasured haunted adventures were not limited to a single haunted house but encompassed an entire evening of haunting.

The outings below are not ranked in any way other than chronological. Trips made during the 2015 haunt season did not qualify for consideration as the season is, as of the time of this writing, in progress.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It will demand further investigation but if memory serves this was the first instance in which we toured three separate haunted attractions on a single night. 2008 was a momentous season in which we visited nine total locations, our personal best at the time. Without a doubt the best of the year was saved for Halloween when we raced against the clock to tour Deadly Intentions in Warren and then Realm of Darkness and Erebus both in Pontiac. Deadly Intentions claimed the 2008 Horrorlust Monster Award while Erebus gobbled up the 2008 Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award.

Fun Fact: The avatar used to identify myself here on Horrorlust was snapped that night.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Erebus, The Realm of Darkness & Deadly Intentions Electrify Halloween Night

Friday, October 30, 2009

Devil’s Night was raucous and windswept; large crowds and an impending storm only added to the pandemonium. We began the evening with a romp through Hellblock 13 which was held in the former Wyandotte police station and ended the night with a wild, rain-soaked hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror; sandwiched between the two was a visit to The Realm of Darkness. This night didn’t capture any awards (although had the Horrorlust Samhain Award existed at the time it would likely have been awarded to this night) but The Realm of Darkness and Hellblock 13 did combine for four honorable mentions.

Fun Fact: While on the hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror, I narrowly avoided being struck square in the face by a large, runaway prop.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Season Concludes with Devil’s Night Frenzy

Friday, October 14, 2011

This was an insanely fun night of haunting in which we witnessed three awesome, albeit different shows. Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom had style and substance while Chelsea Feargrounds boasted flash and excitement around every corner and finally The Bone Yard served up a trio of fun-filled attractions. Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom grabbed the 2011 Horrorlust Dark Horse Award, Tent of Terror (The Bone Yard) became the inaugural recipient of the Horrorlust Prop Master Award and unsurprisingly the whole night was recognized with the then brand new Horrorlust Samhain Award. Furthermore, Tent of Terror and Chelsea Feargrounds combined for three honorable mentions in other award categories.

Fun Fact: The Chelsea Feargrounds offered a unique photo-op in which small, alien creatures were made to look as if they’d burst from the subject’s chest.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Thrills & Chills Dominated Hilda’s, Feargrounds & The Bone Yard

Friday, October 5, 2012

Threaten as it did to thwart our plans, the weather was no match for the spirit of the season on this night. It was a trip filled with laughter, illusion and effective, low budget haunting. Barn of Horrors at Erwin Orchards won the 2012 Horrorlust Prop Master Award while Slaughter House collected the 2012 Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award. Like the previous entry, this night too claimed the Horrorlust Samhain Award.

Fun Fact: Ken Evans, one of the organizers of Slaugher House, happened to be conducting some quality control when we toured the barn and asked our opinion of the place once we’d exited the haunt. We got to talking and hit it off — later that year the website for Slaughter House would feature some quotes from the review I posted to Horrorlust. To the best of my knowledge that was the first instance of a haunt using my words to promote their attraction and I thought that was awesome. 

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Elements Conspire but Erwin, Slaugher House Persevere

Saturday, October 20, 2012

This overnight trip to Ohio had a big time feel as we visited two haunts with a lot of history — Bloodview in Broadview Heights and Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory in Akron. Bloodview ensnared the 2012 Horrorlust Eerie Vibrations Award and together with Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory scored a slew of honorable mentions.

Fun Fact: It was on this trip that I first enjoyed the little known, gem of a horror film called Stake Land.

RELIVE THE NIGHT!

Haunted Schoolhouse has Presence, lacks Punch

Laboratory Mirrors Successes, Shortcomings of Haunted Schoolhouse

Legion of Terror Breathes Life into Bloodview

Sinister Infusion Fuels Resurgent Realm of Darkness

Posted in 2014, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 16, 2015 by bluefall8

The midnight hour loomed large as we approached the entrance for The Realm of Darkness and the cold air seemed to bite down into our very bones. This would be our seventh trip through the wizard’s dominion and the final haunted attraction of the 2014 Halloween season.

Realm-of-Darkness

BOWBEE COME TO DWELL INSIDE HOUSE OF NIGHTMARES 3D

Our first order of business was to tour the 3D haunted attraction known as House of Nightmares which was also featured at this location in 2013 when it was called Carnevil 3D. With the name change I expected also a shift in theme but to my delight it remained that of a twisted carnival — one of my very favorite settings.

The 3D attraction seemed to have been expanded since 2013 and unlike most haunted attractions of this nature, the 3D artwork splashed throughout House of Nightmares really popped off the walls. Huge spiders dangled from webs, skulls floated through starlit space and neon-colored liquid even oozed from leaky pipes. This was easily the most impressive 3D artwork we’d witnessed inside a haunted attraction.

A few additional well-placed characters would improve the overall experience as the haunt was light on actors, but we were highly amused by a short female clown armed with a raspy voice who demonstrated the timeless classic known as the Truffle Shuffle.

As we neared the conclusion of House of Nightmares 3D, we were startled by a rotten torso that suddenly dropped from above the frame of a door and hung upside down just above our heads. It was a well-timed and effective use of an animatronic. It wasn’t long thereafter that we came to a brightly lit quarter of ultra-violence where Bowbee the Clown claimed another pound of flesh in a dramatic flourish.

Rating: 4 stars

REALM OF DARKNESS REIMAGINED, REINVIGORATED

The Realm of Darkness was as detailed and immersive as ever and while a small army of animatronics remained, it was the actors who stole the show and delivered a not soon too be forgotten experience.

We had barely entered the attraction when a mist of simulated zombie brains sprayed me directly in the face; to my right John shook with laughter. Once I had wiped the moisture from my face and eyes we plunged deeper into the haunt and soon found ourselves navigating a room stuffed with all manner of dolls. One in particular caught my attention, it was several feet tall with a bulbous, unnaturally large head, a rictus grin and bore more than a passing resemblance to Howdy Doody. I fixed the doll with a penetrating glare until we were clear of the room for there was malice in his eyes.

Soon we entered a cluttered kitchen which was inhabited by two of our old acquaintances — Bizarro Laura Ingalls and the hefty Squalaha. Bizarro Laura Ingalls was a frenzied ball of energy and as usual it was difficult to discern through her babble whether she was angry, amused or aroused. Meanwhile, Squalaha made his intentions perfectly clear despite the fact that he too possessed no ability to speak English; it would seem that no translation is required in the language of love. When the big guy wasn’t busy shoving me into a refrigerator Squalaha was found making overt sexual gestures in John’s direction. When John merely laughed off the offers Squalaha vigorously demonstrated his skills on an enormous, rampaging gargoyle.

Yes, the crazies had been unleashed upon The Realm of Darkness and if we were to survive the night we would simply have to play along with all of their twisted games and entertain their delusions.

Near the half-way point of our journey we were approached by an abnormally tall lady who wore an old fashioned white dress and donned a plain jabberwocky mask. Her gangly frame, swift mannerisms and high-pitched voice made for an unsettling combination. She seemed to flirt with me for a moment but I was suspicious that this trickster wasn’t what she claimed to be. When I voiced my suspicion that she was actually a he, the odd lady challenged me to prove my theory. I playfully began to lift the end of her dress and had my hand quickly swatted away. “I’m a lady,” shouted the character in mock offense. The exchange was a good bit of improvisation and the slap of the hand was well executed; the whole scene gave John and I a good laugh.

We ventured forward and were forced to play a game of blood-soaked Tic-Tac-Toe with a strange and hideous creature. When I defeated the lowly monster he seemed to grow agitated so we took our leave of him only to be confronted by a guy who claimed to be a doctor. The particular branch of medicine that he practiced was never made clear to us but he was adamant that a man named Ken (who neither John or myself could see) was an unrepentant asshole. I tried to reason with the animated medicine man and when that failed I thought I’d lighten the mood with a few jokes but that only caused the doctor to make crude, albeit humorous, sexual remarks before he ultimately brought the conversation back to the invisible Ken.

Onward we pushed and encountered a fidgety girl who brandished implements of torture but before her exact intentions were revealed a weird, human-sized rabbit entered the scene holding a knife. The rabbit just sort of stood in the corner and cocked its head from side to side as it considered us. The Realm of Darkness was definitely approaching a threshold of strangeness most can scarcely imagine.

We left the pair to their own devices and soon squeezed through an area that featured a conveyor belt of torsos. Did one of those torsos belong to Ken the Asshole? Elsewhere, we witnessed the electrocution of a gaunt, skeletal creature and were surprised when the wretch made a last minute dash for us just as we exited the room — the latest example of the burgeoning practice of the so called actor-matronics.

Our fun was almost at an end but not before we were accosted by the crotchety skeletal pirate known as Captain Sage who pursued haunters straight out of The Realm of Darkness with an impressive rendition of sea legs in which the angst-ridden Captain propelled himself using only his upper body strength whilst his legs dragged behind him as if lifeless.

Rating: 4 stars

Sinister Sidelined

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

sinister_haunted_house___2012_promo_art_by_thenegativespace-d59n9sa

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 

Official Launch of the 2008 Haunt Season

Posted in Hallowblog, Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2014 by bluefall8

This flashback erupted into existence on Saturday, September 27, 2008. For a few years I enjoyed this style of entry as a way to provide highlights of the previous season at the cusp of the latest season of screams. It’s an idea I’ve considered resurrecting and honestly it brings back a lot of good memories. Here I provided snippets from reviews of all the haunted attractions we visited in 2007 and also touched on our then impending visit to the Homer Mill. 

Bring out your dead, bring out your dead! Tonight the haunt season blasts off with a visit to the Homer Mill. Jason and Disco will arrive at my apartment at approximately 7 p.m. The estimated drive time to the village of Homer is 1 hour and 45 minutes and I suspect, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, “This shall be a night to remember.” As we kick off another wonderful season of tricks and treats I suggest we step into a portal and experience once more the magic that thrilled us in 2007.

Last year Hallowblog became the forum in which I chronicled all things Halloween, throughout the season many memorable moments were enshrined in Hallowblog lore, here’s a look back at the best of the best.

It was last year on this very weekend that we visited The Haunting in Adrian. The trip was detailed in a September 29th edition of Hallowblog entitled, Haunting Season Begins.

On the Haunting’s main attraction, The 13th Floor

“The remainder of the attraction was less than stellar but the fat lady with the butcher knife managed to elicit some laughs when she leapt at us and proclaimed, “Meat! I looooove meat!””

“The last item of interest was an immensely large man who sat upon a bed gnawing at a brain. I wasn’t quite sure why anyone would fear this as I harbored serious doubts that he could so much as heave his gelatinous form from the space he occupied.”

On The Haunting’s Manic Maze

“Absent were any actors or props but the maze did give us the opportunity to run around like idiots attempting to frighten other, unsuspecting guests.”

Friday, October 12th marked our next outing. On this night we targeted three downriver haunts, The Lab in Grosse Ile, The Scream Machine in Taylor, and finally Hell’s Hospital in Wyandotte. The shenanigans from this trip were recorded in Hallowblog the following day in an entry titled Downriver Haunt Review.

On The Lab

“I waited for his infected ass to leap at us and beg for help but it turned out to be simply a prop after all.”

“There was a hefty chainsaw wielding fellow who played his role well, trapping us against a wall while repeatedly asking for Amanda’s eyes with apparent sexual zest.”

“I however thought the keycard was a cool souvenir and therefore stowed it in my back pocket and proceeded to inform the guard that I had lost it.”

On The Scream Machine and The Carnevil of Lost Souls in 3D

“I just have to meet Chunk the Clown who happens to reside somewhere in the mysterious annuls of the 3D realm.”

“After The Scream Machine McCreary professed that she had pissed her pants and thus departed.”

On Hell’s Hospital

“While you wait in line a gimpy little fellow entertains the masses with a combination of guttural sounds and questionable gestures.”

The final edition of Hallowblog was posted on October 21st and recounted our visit to two kings of the haunt industry: The Realm of Darkness and Erebus. The entry was entitled Haunt Season Home Stretch.

On the Realm of Darkness

“Our first stop was The Realm of Darkness where I looked to avenge last year’s defeat to the elusive Wizard.”

“A few that stood out include the screaming girl in the swinging cage, the massive demon, the clown that stood stock still in the black light lit tunnel, and the man on stilts who would not relent in terrorizing Jason until I yelled rape.”

“The fucking wizard eluded us once more and I was left to curse his wretched name for another year.”

On Erebus

“I like Erebus, I like it a lot but for me it has less of a feel of a traditional haunted house and more of a funhouse on crack.”

Ahhh, memories! The 2007 haunt season was indeed memorable, in fact I visited more haunts last year than in any other past year. If you count my stint working at Pumpkin Forest Hayrides last years’ visited haunts total eight. But last season was hampered by a severe lack of funds on my behalf and a failure to organize an outing past October 19th. I should avoid those pitfalls this year as I’ve been planning like a manic lunatic and working many hours between two jobs. I want this to be the best haunt season I’ve ever experienced and part of that is smashing to bits the record amount of haunts we visited last year.

I’m very excited for tonight’s visit to the Homer Mill. Last year our trip to The Haunting in Adrian required a relatively lengthy drive but that jaunt through small towns and farm country added a layer of mystery, intrigue, and fright to our adventure. The trip to the village of Homer will be nearly double the length of the route to Adrian and I’m hoping that this year’s season opener will find us on a route of similar eeriness. The fact that Homer is a village has me dreaming up scenes of wild-eyed locals chasing us down a deserted country road with pitchforks and flaming torches while the haunt trinity flees the mob while bellowing a spirited “Aweeeeeeeeeeeeel!”

Fear is Here

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by bluefall8

This is something of a follow-up to the previous Hallowblog entry and was originally written Saturday, September 20, 2008. In this one I wrote about finding the 2008 Fear Finder and kicked around possible haunt visits.

After several dreams about the seasonal rag I do indeed now possess the 2008 Fear Finder. Last weekend Jason called me and proceeded to taunt me with the news that Disco had procured a Fear Finder from a small restaurant in Monroe. I frantically searched my usual online haunts for any information that would confirm such news and each came back without fruit. Zioptis had not a post about the Fear Finder’s release; furthermore FearFinder.com itself had yet to be updated. Next I called local carriers to check if their supply had yet arrived but again I was left at a dead end without the coveted Fear Finder. I wanted to believe that Jason and John were full of shit but their voices held no syllable of deceit and alas I was left with no alternative than to accept the truth.

While at work on Tuesday I began talking about haunted houses with my co-worker and he also mentioned that he had already obtained a Fear Finder, I was beginning to feel insulted. We happened to be parked directly across from a CVS and, now on a mission, I marched right over and there it was…I eagerly snatched up a copy and felt both excited and relieved. And now that it’s here we shall get down to some fine haunting business.

First I need to amend a few of my previous statements from an earlier edition of Hallowblog, it seems some of the information I obtained last month was incorrect. I cited a freep.com article that listed prices at a few haunts, one of those was Erebus which the article claimed would charge guests a $19 admission, the actual price as listed in the Fear Finder is $20. The same article also incorrectly stated that the Realm of Darkness would charge haunters $18 for admission when in fact the price will be $20.

Jason, Disco, and I have selected the Homer Mill as our first haunt of the season. Like last year we decided to kick the season off with a haunt none of us has previously visited. The Homer Mill is located in the village of Homer and will take us roughly two hours to reach. It’s a long drive but we’re hoping it’s worth it. We’re also interested in the bar/restaurant connected to the haunt which, according to Zioptis, exudes a Halloween-like atmosphere.

We have a lot of haunts in mind that we’d like to visit but as of now the rest of the haunt season schedule has yet to be determined. It’s probably a safe bet that a trip to Erebus and the Realm of Darkness will manifest in fact Jason and Disco should note that the infamous B. Mo has expressed interest in joining us on such a trip. We’ll also surely make a return to the much ballyhooed Nautical Nightmare which has returned to the Detroit area for the 2008 season. In 2005 we were so impressed with the Nautical Nightmare that it was without a doubt the haunt of the year and in my mind it ranks as one of the very best haunting experiences I’ve ever had. It was so original, the ambience so eerily natural, that I don’t hesitate when I say that this endeavor was as memorable as my first trip to Erebus or our visit to the Realm of Darkness last year. If you’re a casual haunter be sure that the Nautical Nightmare is on your short list. The recent history of the boat suggests that it may not be in the area next year; the owners of the boat didn’t originally buy it to make a haunted attraction out of it so you never know when they might decide to stop.

A number of haunts open this weekend but the vast majority will hold their premiere opening next weekend. My fellow haunters should keep up to date with Hallowblog posts as I’ll post important information which will help us craft our haunting schedule as we go forward.

On a final note I found it to be extremely disappointing that the Scream Machine hiked their admission from $12 to $15! I enjoy the Scream Machine but let’s face the facts, aside from the introduction of the Hellevator TSM has been putting on a very similar show year after year. Unless they’ve made some significant additions then the price jump is quite unwarranted. Nor does TSM plan to offer a special preview weekend as they did last year. Last year haunters could visit TSM on the last weekend in September or November 1-4 and pay just $10 for both attractions, the second attraction being of course the 3D exhibit The Carnevil of Lost Souls. These moves are distinctly lame.

Haunt Updates, Haunted Dreams & Haunting Films

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2014 by bluefall8

In this entry, from Monday, September 8, 2008, I recall a vibrant dream about the Fear Finder newspaper. In the years since I have had several similar dreams in which I get a nocturnal sneak peek at the seasonal treasure; my brother believes that it may be an indication of an unhealthy obsession.

There’s also a few tidbits regarding various haunts contained in the second half of this post; originally I provided several links to the websites of a few attractions but those for the Homer Mill and The Haunting no longer function and thus the links have been removed.

The Homer Mill was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of May 16, 2010. The Haunting, which was held at the Lenawee County Fairgrounds, entertained the public for 18 Halloween seasons. The Adrian mainstay closed up shop following the 2011 haunt season; owner and magician Stuart MacDonald now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina where he works for a television station.

Terror Town is still going strong, although the link below will actually take you to an old version of the attraction’s website. I think it’s an interesting bit of Internet archeology.

Last week I had a very lucid dream in which me and Cikalo were gleefully rampaging through the streets of Lincoln Park. We drove recklessly, attempted to exploit ignorant youths by selling them over-priced stolen goods, and utterly neglected the duties of the classroom in which we were both substituting. It was great fun and some would suggest that’s it’s not too far off the antics that will some day undoubtedly be printed in my autobiography.

So after all these shenanigans we found ourselves at some type of strip mall. At this point I lost track of Jason and while I stood against a wall I noticed a man walk by me holding the 2008 edition of the Fear Finder. I suppose some may view this as an unhealthy obsession with Halloween and perhaps if I wasn’t so amused and intrigued by the nocturnal meanderings of my subconscious, I’d be concerned too. But to hell with that, check out what the latest version of the Fear Finder apparently looks like in some deep recess of my brain.

It happened very quickly, some non-descript, average Joe walks by nonchalantly and unfurls the Fear Finder. The paper resembles less its usual magazine style and appears more like an actual newspaper. I have an unhindered view of the entire front page which features a brightly colored backdrop; swirls of blue, red, green, yellow, and orange spring from the page. In the foreground and this is most peculiar, stands a leprechaun sporting a maniacal grin with his arm spread wide aloft his head. Yeah, I also got the sense that it was indeed the evil leprechaun from the series of Leprechaun movies. Fairly wacky stuff. Of course from here I embark on an epic quest to obtain a Fear Finder but just as I spot a CVS (a supplier of the FF) I’m intercepted by some former Borders co-workers. I awoke shortly after, having never obtained the prized haunt guide and reflected on what a truly bizarre dream it was.

In the waking world the 2008 Fear Finder has yet to be released but as one of the operators of the Scream Machine informed me, it should find a Taco Bell near you around the third week of September. Yeah that’s right, I sometimes call haunt operators. What? I also learned that the Screamatorium will not be operating this year and that it was indeed a one time shot in 2006.

I also called the Realm of Darkness where an up beat man ensured me that the show will indeed be under way this season. It’s all new and features over 30 rooms.

It seems every store I enter now has Halloween supplies on display; this makes my ghoulish heart smile. The Halloween USA located on the corner of Dix and Eureka in Southgate is also open and hopefully I’ll be working there part time again this season.

Zioptis has begun posting updates and recently visited the Homer Mill in Homer, Michigan. The haunt has garnered some glowing reviews and certainly sounds appealing. Apparently there is a Halloween themed bar and restaurant attached to the old mill that has a great natural ambience. This past weekend marked the haunt’s grand opening and it seems to be a frontrunner for an early season visit. Tickets are $15 during the month of September and then $20 throughout October. My fellow haunters would do well to check out the Homer Mill website here: The Homer Mill Extreme Haunted House

A few additional haunts have updated their websites, most notably TerrorTown in Maumee, Ohio and The Haunting in Adrian, Michigan. Interested parties can view those pages at the links below:

TerrorTown

The Haunting

I finally watched Romero’s Diary of the Dead and I very much enjoyed the style of his latest project. It’s an obvious departure from the style of each of his previous entries in the Dead series but the desired effect is achieved. It’s a fun, engaging story highlighted by some creative shots, inventive deaths, and a few truly grisly visuals. One unforgettable tidbit is Samuel, an elderly, deaf Amish man who doesn’t put up with zombie bullshit; he’s the kindest, cut throat bad ass ever. There are a number of striking visuals as well, my personal favorite may be the pool laden with the living dead.

Grab Bag of Oddments

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2014 by bluefall8

Originally posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2008 it is hard for me to believe that this entry is nearly six years old. The 2008 haunt season was a memorable one for so many reasons and remains one of my favorites to date. I’ve always enjoyed collecting information on the upcoming haunt season and little posts such as this remain very enjoyable to craft; already I look forward to ruminations about the 2014 season.

I’ll admit that even I never expected to post an edition of Hallowblog during August; wait at least until September I told myself, you must pace yourself man! But I have so much news to share I just couldn’t bear keeping it to myself any longer.

I was at Aco Hardware a week ago and it made me smile to see that the Halloween merchandise has already arrived. It’s a testament to the growing popularity of the holiday that stores now begin stocking props and supplies a whole two months in advance. I haven’t visited any of the major retailers just yet but I did stop by Walgreen’s today and I enjoyed the entire aisle worth of Halloween items the store had to offer. I’ve also noticed that the quality of the props at the drug store chains has improved. It used to be that all the drug stores had to offer was cheap novelty items but now they’re stocked with certified animatronics and detailed foam latex dummies. Halloween enthusiasts can find some decent deals on merchandise if willing to devote a little time at the drug store scene.

I also have some new information regarding several area haunts. My fellow haunters and I have discussed hitting a few new haunts this year and Jason in particular has displayed a fondness for Pigman’s Lair which is held at the Chelsea Fairgrounds. I did a bit of digging and was disappointed to learn that Pigman’s Lair will not be operating this season.

I found an article at freep.com that lists information on area haunts and was pleased to see that the Extreme Scream in Taylor is indeed back for the ’08 season. I called the operator last season who told me the haunt would return this year and I’m happy to see that he was true to his word. In 2004 Branden, Pudge, and Disco joined me on a trip to the Extreme Scream that was quite memorable. I recall that the haunt relied heavily on long, dark hallways, an effect that was complimented well by the running sound effects. The highlight of the haunt involved a shrinking path in which one must nearly crawl through the dark only to be loaded into a small, cage-like cart that is then detached from the path and wheeled about wildly before being reconnected elsewhere. It was a good time and I look forward to visiting it this year.

This same freep.com article also listed the price of many haunts and if it’s correct then a number of them have slightly reduced rates. Erebus scaled back admission $1 matching the price of $19 featured in 2006. The Realm of Darkness has followed suit and slashed a $1 per guest as well reducing admission to $18 a ticket. I did call the Realm of Darkness and talked to someone who assured me that the show will indeed be ready to go for the Halloween season. As the undisputed top haunt last year it will be interesting to see what type of show the Realm of Darkness will put together after last winter’s flood destroyed most of the haunt. The Lab’s Myspace page has been updated and admission remains at last year’s rate of $12.

I’m checking the Fear Finder website daily, as soon as it’s available I’ll download the online version of the 2008 FF and see what’s in store for haunt enthusiasts this season.

I had an interesting experience at work today. I began a new job with the city of Lincoln Park on Monday and today I discovered the storage area for Anxiety Alley. I’ve often wondered where the city kept the modular haunt during the off season and the answer is the DPS building on Southfield next to Kentucky Fried Chicken. There’s a large open area behind the building which I don’t believe is visible anywhere from the road, I’ve never noticed it anyway. My co-worker and I were dropping off some garbage when something out the driver side window caught my eye. It was the demonic face featured on the side of Anxiety Alley. The trailers are set in a row against the tree line. Now I’m wondering if the rooms and props are haphazardously displayed in the trailers year round. I may just tempt myself into finding out.

Haunt Season Home Stretch

Posted in 2007, Erebus, Hallowblog, Realm of Darkness, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2014 by bluefall8

This post comes to us from Sunday, October 21, 2007 and as you’ll read, it chronicles an outing to Pontiac’s twin terrors — Erebus and The Realm of Darkness. We have visited the acclaimed pair six times each over the years; that total trails only the Wyandotte Jaycees (7) and the current leader, The Scream Machine (8).

Last Friday was a big haunt night as I joined the usual tandem in a return to Pontiac. Last year the three of us hit The Realm of Darkness and Erebus on Halloween night and having never previously visited these haunts I came away from the experience delighted. Needless to say I was ecstatic for the return as I viewed the trip as the likely pinnacle of the haunting season. Our first stop was The Realm of Darkness where I looked to avenge last year’s defeat to the elusive Wizard.

There isn’t much to criticize at The Realm of Darkness; the haunt delivers on all fronts. The attention to detail is amazing, each room is elaborately decorated which creates a unique atmosphere absent from many other haunts. The video that precedes the haunt has been vastly improved and the large fireplace remains a fun way to enter the haunt. The live actors are the best I’ve encountered at a haunt this season. These people are committed to the act and several of them unleash some shockingly loud screams. A few that stood out include the screaming girl in the swinging cage, the massive demon, the clown that stood stock still in the black light lit tunnel, and the man on stilts who would not relent in terrorizing Jason until I yelled rape.

The props too are first rate and utilized very effectively. Most haunts do a half-assed job when propelling a puppet in the guests’ direction but ROD pulled it off expertly on numerous occasions. Visual diversions and timing are the crucial elements when springing these traps and I’ll be damned if ROD doesn’t have it down. Another wonderful prop, perhaps my favorite, occurs immediately upon exit from the room with the dropping spiked ceiling. Actually, to be entirely accurate, the guests don’t even exit the room when the door springs open and a gigantic, stampeding gargoyle charges forward. It’s an impressive sight and if it fails to elicit a scream it’s only because the rubes will be to busy shouting “Holy shit!”

I am a big fan of interactive haunts and ROD does this well allowing guests the chance to collect jewels from ghoulies. These jewels of course tie into the greater theme of the haunt which is the defeat of the vaunted wizard. Speaking of the wizard, well I wish I had a daring tale of peril and triumph to share but I don’t. The fucking wizard eluded us once more and I was left to curse his wretched name for another year.

There is one last part of the haunt that I would like to share before I bring this review to a conclusion. Just prior to meeting the “Black light Clown” guests are forced to cross a drawbridge which happens to be home to an ax-wielding zombie. I like when haunts use the rare actor like this essentially turning the haunting adage on its head. It’s a different kind of fear and suspense when you are forced to cross the unknown willingly as opposed to being repeatedly surprised. It was truly a nice touch and a spot that will stand out as one of the most unique of the season for me.

The Realm of Darkness misses not a beat and annually visitors will only be disappointed at the slightly familiar layout. I’m finding that to be a theme at haunts and it can be a major detraction. Familiarity breeds a sense of direction which can lead to comfort and that is a nasty formula for attractions that thrive on the unknown.

Rating: 5 Stars
Following the festivities at The Realm of Darkness we made the very short drive to Erebus. Last year Erebus made Halloween and I was looking forward to a repeat performance but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being slightly disappointed. Yes, you read that right, the vaunted Erebus was disappointing. Now don’t go nuts with that statement, Erebus remains one hell of an impressive haunted attraction, the experience simply wasn’t the same as it was last year. This could be due to various factors the most uncontrollable of which may have been the fact that the excitement of Halloween night added to the adventure one year ago. But there were plenty of tangible signs of slippage readily available in the haunt itself.

The swamp that Erebus features toward the end of the haunt is quite innovative creating a sensation of both claustrophobia and suffocation achieved through a combination of fog, inflatables, and a steadily steeping path. The effect proved wonderful last year but this time around left something to be desired. The fog was too thin allowing guests not only a better view of the room at large but also the oppressive inflatables pressing in from either side. It is crucial to the success of such an effect that the ability to see is kept to a minimum.

The ball chamber, which was a highlight of the season last year, has been omitted and that was a serious detraction for me personally. The structure of the haunt itself was varied in a number of spots but the majority of the layout is similar or the same and just as it did at ROD the sense of familiarity detracts from the sensation of fear and suspense.

The actors at Erebus are good but there is room for improvement and it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more live actors, particularly in the swamp. The back story of Erebus adds an interesting layer not emphasized at most haunted attractions. The introductory video was a great touch this year especially the climax at which a giant insect burst trough the screen and hovers mere feet above the guests.

I like Erebus, I like it a lot but for me it has less of a feel of a traditional haunted house and more of a funhouse on crack. The puppets and animatronics are no doubt the best I’ve witnessed at any attraction but an inanimate object can only invoke so much fear.

Erebus is a lot of fun but this most recent show left me in reveries about how good it was last year.

Rating: 4 ½ stars

The Haunt List

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2014 by bluefall8

As you’ll shortly read, I was still toying with an alternate name for Hallowblog when this was first written; however the name would ultimately stick.

I suppose this can be viewed as my own pared down version of the Fear Finder; over the years I did end up visiting the majority of these haunted attractions. As of 2013, 15 of the 22 attractions listed remained in operation in some form.

The curtain fell on Deadly Intentions in 2012 although The Deadland currently uses the same building. The Lab and Chainsaw Creek last ran in 2009. To the best of my knowledge, Scare Grounds at the Fairgrounds closed up after 2008 and  Death Sentence, Motor City Massacre and Nox were open only during the 2007 season. This was originally posted October 4, 2007.

I’ve compiled a list of haunted attractions I’d like to visit this season, I realize it is quite unlikely that I make it to each of these but this list is simply meant to serve as a general guideline. If any of these sound interesting just let me know and we’ll make the trek you rotten bastards. Jason and Disco have served as my fellow haunt-goers the last three years but we wouldn’t mind a few new faces.

In other Halloween news, I’ve decided against running the companion blog to the Halloween themed Word of the Week. No worries though, I have plenty other Halloween content to provide and it is quite likely that anything that would have appeared in the companion blog will simply be infused into this column, Hallowblog. And that brings me to my next point; I’ve received no suggestions for an alternate blog title so that means I’ll pick one of my own making in the coming days.

If you’re looking for on-screen horror check out Flight of the Living Dead which was released on DVD October 2. No, I haven’t watched it but c’mon it’s got zombies. 28 Weeks Later will also be available on DVD October 9. At theatres horror fans can watch Resident Evil: Extinction, Saw IV premiering October 26, or the vampire thriller 30 Days of Night beginning October 19.

That’s all the news I have for now so look over the list below and tell me what strikes your haunting fancy.

In no particular order:

The Scream Machine & Carnevil of Lost Souls

Taylor, MI./$12 for Scream Machine or $16 for both

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/27-11/4

The Lab

Grosse Ile, MI./$12

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/28-10/31

Anxiety Alley

Lincoln Park, MI./$6

Hours: 7-11

Run Dates: 10/12-13, 19-21, 26-30

Erebus

Pontiac, MI./$20

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri: 7-1, Sat: 6-1

Run Dates: 9/28-11/3

The Realm of Darkness

Pontiac, MI./$19

Hours: Sun-Thurs: Tix on sale @ 7:30, Fri-Sat: Tix on sale @ 7

Run Dates: 9/21-23, 28-30, 10/5-7, 11-14, 18-31

Terrortown

Maumee, OH./$10 for main attraction or $16 for three

Hours: Sun: 7:30-10, Fri-Sat: 7:30-Midnight, Halloween: 7:30-10

Run Dates: Fri, Sat, Sun starting 9/28-10/28, also 10/31

Chainsaw Creek

Toledo, OH./$10 per house or $20 for all four

Hours: Sun-Thurs: Dark-11, Fri-Sat: Dark-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/28-10/15 (Thurs-Sun), 10/18-10/31

Scare Grounds at the Fairgrounds

Michigan State Fairgrounds/$13

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 10/12-10/31

Hell’s Hospital

Wyandotte, MI./$10

Hours: Sun & Thurs: 7-10, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight, Mon & Wed (Halloween week) 7-10

Run Dates: 10/6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31

Realm of Haunted Minds

Romulus, MI./$10

Hours: 7-10

Run Dates: 10/5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 29-30

The Carn-evil of Fear

Flat Rock, MI./$10

Hours: 8-11

Run Dates: 10/19-20, 26-27

Haunted Hill Acres

Belleville, MI./per event

Hours: Tix on sale @ 7

Dates: Every Thurs-Sun in October

Phantom Forest Hayrides

Grosse Ile, MI./$8

Hours: Fri-Sat: 7-11, Sun: 7-10

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-30

The Pumpkin Factory

Belleville, MI./$6

Hours: Fri-Sat: 7-10, Sun: 7-9

Run Dates: Every Fri-Sun in October

Slaughtered at Sundown

Armada, MI./$12 or $20 for both attractions

Hours: Begins @ 7

Run Dates: 9/28-10/27 (Fri-Sat only), 10/21, 10/28

Blake’s Nighttime Spooky Hayrides

Armada, MI./Call for prices (586) 784-9710

Hours: Dusk-?

Run Dates: 9/28-29, every Fri-Sun in October

Fear Factory

Warren, MI./$17

Hours: 7-?

Run Dates: 9/21-23, 28-30, 10/4-7, 10-14, 17-31

Motor City Massacre

Roseville, MI./$15

Hours: 7-till the Massacre ends

Run Dates: 9/28-29, 10/5-7, 12-14, 18-31

Death Sentence

Waterford, MI./$12 (Sun-Wed), $15 (Thurs-Sat)

Hours: Sun-Wed: 7-11, Thurs-Sat: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-10/31

Nox

Troy, MI./$17

Hours: Weekdays: 7-11, Weekends: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/3-7, 10-14, 17-31

Castle of the Dead

Lenox Township, MI./$16

Hours: Thurs & Sun: 7-11, Fri & Sat: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 25-31

Deadly Intentions

Warren, MI./$13

Hours: Weekdays: 7:30-11, Fri-Sat: 7:30-1

Run Dates: 9/21-30 (Fri-Sun only), 10/4-21 (Thurs-Sun only), 10/25-31

Haunting Season Begins

Posted in 2007, Hallowblog, Review, The Haunting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2014 by bluefall8

This was originally written September 29, 2007 and was the first official entry under the Hallowblog banner. In it, I waxed over film, television, and general haunt news but the bulk of the text covered a visit to The Haunting in Adrian, Michigan. This entry has particular importance to me; to the best of my knowledge this is the first full-length review that I ever wrote for a haunted attraction. This trip as you will soon read, also marked the beginning of a long running joke after my brother, Jason, made a rather tactless and dubious observation.

Fall has arrived with all its radiant majesty and for us Halloween enthusiasts the magic of the season is poised to erupt. I have a multitude of topics I’d like to cover in this inaugural issue and I’d appreciate, no prefer, feedback.

On that note I’d like to state that I’m looking for a more intriguing name to brand this Halloween column with other than the generically crafted Hallowblog. I won’t say I’m holding an open contest (due to the lack of a prize) but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own and if I don’t receive any quality submissions I’ll simply settle with one of those; this is just one small way in which I thought I could make this blog slightly interactive.

The Halloween themed Word of the Week returns this Monday, October 1 and like last year will run the duration of the month of October. Also, like last year, each week’s entry will be accompanied by a companion blog featuring other Halloween related content. Last year’s format was rather simple, each week I featured a monster and a horror film, I also provided a list of Halloween highlights past. I do aim to continue in the same vein this year but new content will also be added.

Yesterday I watched a horror movie called Demonic which really isn’t worth mentioning. Tom Savini played the role of some nutter living in a forest infested with naked female demon types. Yeah, that’s primarily it. The film offered no other redeeming qualities; not exactly a horror classic. What is worth watching however is Dead Like Me. Missy and I have been watching the first season on DVD, it compliments the season well.

To my great delight I obtained a copy of the Fear Finder last Tuesday and plans for the haunting season began to take shape. Each October I excitedly anticipate visiting haunted attractions but it seems that I never make it to enough of them. Last year I didn’t get started until the middle of the month, visiting The Scream Machine and The Screamatorium on the 13th. Jason, Disco, and I next went haunting on Halloween night in Pontiac which was a trip to be remembered as Erebus and the Realm of Darkness proved to be among the best haunts I’ve ever visited. It was the most I’d visited in one season but still I was left unsatisfied. So this year I wanted to be sure to have a plan in place to cover all my haunting desires.

Originally we (Jason, Disco, and I) planned to start the season with a visit to The Scream Machine in Taylor which has become something of a staple over the years. September 27-30 marks the opening weekend for The Scream Machine and tickets are a mere $10 for both attractions. We ended up changing our plans though due to the fact that few attractions have yet opened and as Jason pointed out we could hit downriver haunts anytime. My original plan was to hit The Scream Machine and then head down Dix where we’d explore Anxiety Alley for a mere $5 but Lincoln Park’s annual modular haunt doesn’t open until October 12.

The Haunting in Adrian has an enticing full page ad in the Fear Finder and after reading a five star review at Zioptis it seemed that we might start the haunting season off with a bang. Zioptis by the way is a great source for seasonal fun, interested parties can familiarize themselves with Zioptis here: Zioptis Foundation

The Fear Finder ad touted a $20 combo package that included admission to the 13th floor and 3-Dementia haunted houses, ghost tour, manic maze, two items from the concession stand, coupon to the gift shop, an illusion show, and a souvenir photo with a zombie. It seemed a damn good deal for twenty bucks, the photo with a zombie was particularly enticing to me. But we didn’t end up paying $20, nope, Jason spotted a deal on their website, for just $10 one was granted admission to both haunted attractions, the ghost tour, manic maze, and the illusion show. No, it didn’t include the zombie photo but I figured the difference would more than balance out in our favor if indeed we still decided to get a picture with a flesh-eater.

So the trio was off to Adrian, a trip through the sticks that was interesting in and of itself; the small towns we passed on our way there had all the markings of a B-rate horror flick. We arrived at the Lenawee County Fairgrounds and I was surprised by the lack of crowd, lights, and music. I reminded myself that it was early in the season and we were on a rather sizable chunk of land. We made our way to the entrance of the main attraction and still the crowd was sparse, and really that’s how it would remain.

Two zombie-looking chicks with spooky white pupils sat at a bench statuesque holding a guitar, staring resolutely in our direction. They were a nice touch and I’ll admit that they freaked me out a bit. They did such a good job of remaining still that I wasn’t sure if they were props. The Haunting was a bit of a let down, after so much fanfare I expected an attraction on par with the top of the class. It wasn’t necessarily bad but nothing gave it a unique feel. I’m going to give the whole affair the benefit of the doubt and chalk the lowlights up to the fact that they may still be working out the quirks this early in the season.

Although some very elementary mistakes were made, for instance, at several points in the first attraction it seemed that sections of walls had to be missing because we had an unobscured view into the greater building which wasn’t being used for the attractions. At several points I even saw what looked to be members of the technical team just standing in plain view as if they wanted customers to spot them. That nonsense should never happen as it greatly diminishes the haunting experience.

The Haunting employed a theme centered on the 13th floor of a hotel run afoul. I enjoyed the entrance which included a ghastly looking attendant and the butchered bell hop who directs guests to their rooms. Next patrons are loaded onto The Haunting’s version of the Hellevator which vastly pales in comparison to the one that The Scream Machine used last year. The Haunting blew its load early offering up a scene in which the victim of some terrible medical experiment lies writhing in bed while entrails issue forth from their torso. We’ve witnessed the gag before but it never gets old as the victim pleads for your help. The remainder of the attraction was less than stellar but the fat lady with the butcher knife managed to elicit some laughs when she leapt at us and proclaimed, “Meat! I looooove meat!” I decided against the obvious jokes and continued into a room that resembled a meat cooler full of disembodied human parts. The last item of interest was an immensely large man who sat upon a bed gnawing at a brain. I wasn’t quite sure why anyone would fear this as I harbored serious doubts that he could so much as heave his gelatinous form from the space he occupied. I was brought out of my reverie by would be creepy laughter if only it hadn’t been so seductive. A dead looking chick dressed as a maid emerged from the corner and stalked us from the room. Jason would later make a rather dubious observation regarding this particular incident.

We exited The Haunting shortly and came to the entrance of the 3D attraction known as 3-Dementia. I’ve gone to just one of these prior (The Carnevil of Lost Souls) and I was disappointed then so my expectations weren’t exactly soaring as I entered 3-Dementia. In fairness it was better than The Carnevil of Lost Souls but that isn’t saying much. I think attractions like this have potential and with some time and innovative ideas can serve as a quality side attraction at various haunts. As it stands however they are merely add-on filler.

Well we each openly voiced our disappointment upon exit and soon learned that the photo with a zombie would follow suit. I had hoped for and even expected a live actor but what we saw were two props that could scarcely be called zombies so we declined the photo. We hurried over to the illusion show which was short but did add a nice ripple to the whole experience.

The Ghost Tour was next and was designed to be more campy than scary but the effect was pulled off nicely by the clashing personalities of our tour guides, Gabriel and Gregory. Gabriel played the part of the traditional, spooky tour guide, attempting to instill fear in the guests with ghost stories about the grounds; each story would of course climax in some small scare. Gregory was a slightly hyper ghoul with a penchant for off beat, well timed comedy. The Ghost Tour ended where the Monster Maze picked up. Absent were any actors or props but the maze did give us the opportunity to run around like idiots attempting to frighten other, unsuspecting guests. At one point John and I became separated from Jason and attempted to reunite using our patented “Aweel” call.

Overall I’d give the experience 3 out of 5 stars and am left to believe that The Haunting was firing on all cylinders when Zioptis came calling, otherwise there is no way they would have been awarded a top rating. I wouldn’t mind heading back later in the season to confirm my suspicions but with so many other haunts to visit I doubt we’ll find the time.

It wasn’t a bad start to the haunt season; the atmosphere was rife with the intoxicating scent of fall and that intangible magic unique to the Halloween season.

I plan to post whatever pictures I can from our various visits this season so be sure to check that periodically. Keep in mind that I have to be some what careful when taking these pictures as not all monsters or operators are exactly fond of the practice. I’ll leave you with the following quotes from our endeavor:

“If we get lost out here we might as well rape and murder ourselves…save the locals the trouble.”   -Joel

“Sometimes I just want to grab one of those girl workers. It’s almost like they want you to, do you know what I mean? I mean I would never do it but I think if I did they’d just let me.”   -Jason