Archive for Research Labs

2016 Haunt Schedule: End of the Line

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2016 by bluefall8

It’s been a number of years since I approached the haunt season armed with the knowledge that I’d be visiting less haunted attractions than the previous year, but such is the case in 2016. I’m at peace with that. The decision to tour less haunted attractions in 2016 was made for two reasons — the most prominent being my involvement with the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House, SIN. The other reason for the reduction is simply that I’ve been fortunate to visit so many haunted houses over the last decade; the State of Michigan is running low on spooky places I haven’t witnessed.

Another change this year is that I’ve ranked the nights below in order of importance. In an effort to tour new attractions I’ve prioritized those trips. There are of course other factors as well such as proximity to other haunts and that is reflected as well. The haunt season does of course offer surprises every season and for that reason the list below, although ranked in order of importance, does not necessarily represent a chronological order of events. Nor is this list meant to suggest that I’ll manage to get to each of these places. I’ve done this long enough to know that each Halloween season is a unique, wild creature.

THE HAUNTED OPEN ROAD

Night #1 – Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson), Awaken (Leslie) & Shawhaven Haunted Farm (Mason)

Notes: Shawhaven Haunted Farm has been on my radar for the last couple of seasons but the clock has always seemed run out on the season before a trip could manifest. It’s an hour and a half from my home but when Awaken recently opened in nearby Leslie, I knew it was finally time to make Shawhaven a priority. Then I realized that our route would take us right by Jackson’s Underworld, a haunt we haven’t visited since 2013. This was a harmonic convergence of direction and distance as each haunt is roughly 15 – 20 minutes apart from the last.

Night #2 – Bloodview (Broadview Heights, OH.) & Carnival of Horrors (Cuyahoga Falls, OH.)

Notes: An every other year pattern is emerging with Bloodview; frequent readers may remember that Bloodview is staffed by The Legion of Terror an improvisational group that showcases a new theme every weekend. We witnessed Zombie Apocalypse in 2012 and Witch Trials in 2014. This year I want to experience the Sinister Sideshow which will be held the weekend of October 7 – 9. Carnival of Horrors is located in Cuyahoga Falls, roughly 30 minutes from Bloodview in Broadview Heights. The distance itself isn’t prohibitive but the Carnival of Horrors does host four attractions and that could prove problematic if lines are long. Luckily, this region of Ohio boasts a number of haunted attractions that can serve as an alternate if need be.

Night #3 – Haunted Elementary (Bridgeport) & Bates Haunted Saw Mill (Millington)

Notes: Haunted Elementary is now enveloped by the Bridgeport Goregrounds and features three haunts including FrightSite (a 3D attraction) and Outbreak (an interactive zombie event). It definitely has the feel of a small Michigan haunt on the upswing. Bates Haunted Saw Mill offers two attractions and touts itself as being “old school creepy.” I do love me some old school. Bridgeport and Millington are just shy of 30 minutes apart although the drive from home will eclipse the 1 hour and 45 minute mark, a pair of new locations that collectively house five attractions seems worth the gamble.

Night #4 – Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood), Psycho Path (Flat Rock) & Hush (Westland)

Notes: Admittedly, these are all attractions I’ve toured before but my last trip through Wood of Darkness came during the 2011 season. Furthermore, the haunted house has been run by an entirely different team the last several seasons which could produce a significantly different experience than when last I came knocking. There was some fear that Psycho Path would cease operations after a crucial member of the team departed during the off-season but that concern was recently laid to rest when I received confirmation that the little gem would indeed be operational in 2016 with a Medieval theme. We have visited Hush three straight years, but off-season circumstances there facilitated a total rebuild that produced an intriguing New Orleans-themed attraction. The other prime factor with this night is the proximity to home which provides a lot of flexibility where dates and times are concerned.

Night #5 – Bonadeo Farms (Highland Township) & Rotten Manor (Holly)

Notes: Rotten Manor was named the 2015 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year and new for 2016 are Rotten Forest and Clown Barn. That’s plenty of intrigue to be sure but in a year with limited dates and an emphasis on new locations, I’m not sure that the haunted corn maze and haunted house at the somewhat obscure Bonadeo Farms is enough of a lure for this night. This has the feel of a wild card so I’ll leave it to the haunt fates.

Night #6 – Panic at Pinestump Hollow (St. Clair) & The Deadland (Warren)

Notes: Panic at Pinestump Hollow is similar to Shawhaven Haunted Farm in that it’s a place with more than one attraction that I’ve desired to visit for a few years now and have failed to get there. So why is it so far down on this list? Well, we’ve already visited everything else within shouting distance. We crossed off Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown in 2013, checked off The Fear Factory last year and toured Haunted Farm of Terror twice. We did visit Scarefest Scream Park in 2012 and only toured two of the four attractions so I suppose that might be an option as well. Had Salem’s Haunted Barn in Capac been operational this year, that pair would’ve moved this outing up two to three places on this list. I had also heard that the House of Fear in Hazel Park was going to reopen this year but the website for that haunt has out of date information. For all of those reasons I’ve paired it with The Deadland which provided a solid opening night show last year.

Night #7 – The Haunted Hydro (Fremont, OH.)

Notes: I last toured The Haunted Hydro six years ago in 2010. I love the place, it has atmosphere in spades. It has stood for 27 years, is operated by passionate professionals and is a true child of Halloween. But since the closure of Terror Town last year I’ve been unable to find anything to pair with The Haunted Hydro. It’s roughly an hour and half from my area and that’s something to consider for just one location; even one as excellent as The Haunted Hydro. I’m open to suggestions should anyone know of another haunt around the Fremont region.

OTHER HAUNTS OF INTEREST: THE TWISTED SIX

Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – Made a good first impression in 2014 and I have a feeling the gang here is capable of even better. It’ll be an ideal substitute should one of the haunts fall through on Night #1. Plus it’s a barn haunt. I love barn haunts.

The Dent Schoolhouse – Been pining to visit for a good five years now, would require an overnight trip. On the plus side, the Cincinnati region has several other haunted attractions that would compliment The Dent Schoolhouse quite nicely. I’m so very tempted to move this one onto the main list.

Darksyde Acres – Toured this unique locale from 2011 – 2014; one year layoff has me itching to get back. One of those post-Halloween 18+ Nights would work perfectly for me but a glance at the calendar suggests that isn’t likely this season.

Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Research Labs was without question one of the most unusual haunted attractions I’ve ever toured and last year the operators even did a glow stick event which is hard for me to even comprehend at this haunt. I’d love to experience that myself but the routes outlined above make it unlikely.

Haunting in the Hills – A new haunt located in Onsted with three attractions, the most interesting of which is called Train Car of Terror. It’s kind of in no man’s land but might be worth checking out if something funky happens to the schedule and I suddenly have a free day. In fact, it wouldn’t pair up badly with Corpse Barn Shock Haunt or Darksyde Acres.

Slaughter House – Last visited in 2013, nobody mixes humor and illusion like Slaughter House. I liked what I read last year regarding several scene updates and a Purge theme for 2016 should keep things interesting. It could be paired with Trail of Terror at Bestmaze Corn Maze in Williamston or possibly something from Night #1 if the schedule goes wonky.

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2015 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2016 by bluefall8

2015-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.

2015 Rotten Pumpkin: Scarecrow Hollow (The Boneyard)

Scarecrow Hollow had potential but it was squandered early and often; a couple of would-be standout moments felt clunky and incomplete. A few actors delivered average performances while the rest of the cast was unmotivated and uninspired.

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.

2015 Eerie Vibrations: Terrorfied Forest (Terrorfied Forest & Manor)

Honorable Mention: The Dark Box

After receiving an honorable mention in this category two years ago, the namesake of Terrorfied Forest & Manor snagged the prize in 2015. It’s hard to beat the natural ambience of the Terrorfied Forest, a half hour trek through ghoul infested woods.

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.

2015 Dark Horse: Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors

Honorable Mention: Psycho Path

Krazy Hilda’s is the quintessential feel good story and embodies the true spirit of the little haunt that could. Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors recaptured that classic Halloween feeling in 2015 with a show that could be enjoyed by people of all ages. This is the second time that Krazy Hilda’s has earned the Dark Horse Award, the first came during the 2011 season at the Barn of Doom when the old witch was stationed in Saline.

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.

2015 Killer Automatons: Dark Legacy

Honorable Mention: Rotten Manor

Dark Legacy built on the success of the 2014 season with a superior second act in 2015. This attraction gives visitors a little bit of everything and after securing this award two years running, it’s clear that automated monstrosities are a big part of the game plan for Dark Legacy.

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.

2015 Monster: Hush

Honorable Mention: Clio Manor

This was the award that I grappled with the most because 2015 offered up a serious field of haunted houses that featured talented and diverse casts. After much consideration Hush locked down the Monster Award in 2015 with a loaded back half that just wouldn’t be denied. This marks back-to-back Monster Awards for Hush.

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.

2015 Prop Master: Research Labs (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Honorable Mention: The Freak’s Show (The Boneyard)

Research Labs was so completely littered with household items and all sorts of common (and uncommon) junk that one might surmise it was actually occupied by the world’s most slovenly family. There was a level of authenticity here that most haunted attractions never approach.

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.

2015 Pulse Pounder: Abandon

Honorable Mention: The Dark Box

Heart-racing and hair-raising, Abandon was one of the most purely frightening haunted attractions I’ve ever visited. There was tension here fueled by a basic psychological, primal fear of the dark.

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.

2015 Samhain: Saturday, October 24, 2016 (Clio Manor, Exit 13, Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Honorable Mention: Saturday, October 31, 2016 (Rotten Manor, Abandon)

The immediate reaction from Saturday, October 24, 2016 was that it was one of the best overall nights we’d ever experienced. It was the kind of outing that leaves one exhausted and in need of a day of rest and reflection.

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.

2015 Haunt of the Year: Rotten Manor

Honorable Mention: Research Labs (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison)

Rotten Manor burst onto the scene out of nowhere in 2015. On Halloween, Rotten Manor put the pedal to the metal and never blinked. The facade is second to none, the attention to detail among the best and the scares a jumble of fright that kept us guessing with every step.

2015 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by bluefall8

This list is not meant 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 those attractions are listed 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.

2015 STAR RATINGS

1. Rotten Manor – 4.75 (Holly, MI.)

2. Research Labs – 4.5 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

3. Clio Manor – 4.25 (Clio, MI.)

4. Dark Legacy – 4.25 (Wixom, MI.)

5. Exit 13 – 4.25 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

6. Hallowe’en Nights at Greenfield Village – 4.25 (Dearborn, MI.)

7. Abandon – 4 (Melvindale, MI.)

8. House of Horrors – 4 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

9. Hush – 4 (Westland, MI.)

10. Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors – 4 (Ypsilanti, MI.)

11. Zombie Sniper Arena – 4 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

12. The Deadland – 3.75 (Warren, MI.)

13. Haunted House – 3.75 (Haunted Farm of Terror – Lenox Township, MI.)

14. The Dark Box – 3.5 (Pinckney, MI.)

15. Haunted Hayride – 3.5 (Haunted Farm of Terror, Lenox Township, MI.)

16. Proving Grounds Trail – 3.5 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

17. Psycho Path – 3.5 (Flat Rock, MI.)

18. Terror on the Blvd. – 3.5 (Lincoln Park, MI.)

19. The Freak’s Show – 3.25 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

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

21. Cornmaze of Fear – 3 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

22. Deadwood Forest – 3 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

23. Fear Factory – 3 (Mt. Clemens, MI.)

24. Hayride of Despair – 3 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

25. Realm of Haunted Minds – 3 (Romulus, MI.)

26. Tunnel of Terror – 3 (Rochester, MI.)

27. Total Blackout – 2.75 (Exit 13 – Mt. Morris, MI.)

28. Bubbles’ Fun House – 2.5 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor, Pinckney, MI.)

29. Delirium – 2.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

30. Scarecrow Hollow – 1.75 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

31. Route 666 – 1.25 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

Clio Manor, Exit 13 & Dreadlands Haunt of Davison Spawn Nightmare Fuel

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by bluefall8

I woke up with a headache this morning which was really no surprise when you stop to consider that last night I got absolutely drunk on haunts. I can say without exaggeration or hyperbole that last night was one for the record books, an evening that rocketed up the list of best outings ever.

Clio Manor exceeded my expectations with a fusion of unique characters, substantial interaction and a physical cast that exercised a certain subversive element. Many of the scenes were visually compelling while the scares possessed a creative flair that kept us guessing. Furthermore, Clio Manor was exceptionally paced and offered some serious bang-for-the-buck as it clocked in at more than twenty minutes.

Exit 13 was rockin’ n rollin’ as usual and continued to solidify itself as one of the best haunted houses in the entire state of Michigan. The actors were as in-your-face as ever — my chin was stroked, my hair petted; I was manhandled by a clown and propositioned for a kiss by a transsexual named Francine! The level of detail throughout Exit 13 and all of its various scenes was impressive to say the least. Like Clio Manor, Exit 13 ensnared guests in excess of twenty minutes and there was even a second attraction — Total Blackout!

The night concluded at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison and we arrived just in time to buy tickets to this hidden gem of the Michigan haunt scene. The Research Labs were like no haunt we’ve ever seen; it featured a large cast, hidden passages, false endings and multiple levels among so many other goodies! It was the stuff that the best nightmares are made of! The second attraction, Proving Grounds Trail, was fun too and offered moments of humor amidst the scares; the zip line finale was a thrilling first at a haunted attraction. Finally, we stormed Zombie Sniper Arena where we worked in concert to shoot down the undead menace and recovered the anti-virus.

Indeed, it was a night not soon to be forgotten. Many thanks to Justin of Clio Manor, Rebecca of Exit 13 and Royce of Dreadlands for being such gracious and friendly hosts.

Fresh Blood, Current King Forge Nasty Trident

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2015 by bluefall8

Saturdays in late October are always big nights for haunting and that is certainly true of this Saturday. Tonight, we hit the familiar pavement of northbound I-75 en route first to Clio Manor then to Exit 13 and finally Dreadlands Haunt of Davison. This will mark our first visit to both Clio Manor and Dreadlands Haunt of Davison and any time we inject that much new blood into our veins it gets our hearts pumping!

Clio Manor is a two-story haunted house that also boasts Zombie Paint Shoot while Dreadlands Haunt of Davison offers three attractions — Research Labs, Proving Grounds Trail and Zombie Sniper Arena, the latter sounds far more interactive and exciting than your standard paintball fare.

This will be the fourth consecutive season that we have toured Exit 13 which won top honors last year when it claimed the 2014 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. No haunt has ever claimed that award twice much less in back-to-back years. Will the Exit 13 whack pack make history and in the process mint a new standard bearer?!

PAST REVIEWS OF EXIT 13

2012: Old School Romp at Exit 13

2013: Screwball Cast Ignites Exit 13

2014: Exit 13 Burns Hot during Frostbitten Finale