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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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Terror Town, Barn of Blood Highlight Weekend of Haunting

Posted in 2008, Barn of Blood, Hallowblog, Review, Terror Town with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2014 by bluefall8

This review was originally posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2008; it details one memorable weekend from late October 2008. It was that fall that we first visited Terror Town in Maumee, Ohio and experienced House of the Dead.

I have often considered compiling a list of my top five or ten most memorable haunted attractions and without hesitation I can say that our maiden voyage through the dank, rotting depths of Terror Town’s House of the Dead would easily make any such list. House of the Dead went on to become Horrorlust’s Haunt of the Year in 2008.

The following day, my wife and I went to Apple Charlie’s in New Boston which packed a lot of haunt goodness into a very small amount of time and space. I need more weekends like this magical ride now six years past. 

The last weekend prior to Halloween was a big one for the Haunt Trinity. On Saturday, October 25 we were once again joined by Cherette for a trip to TerrorTown in Maumee, Ohio. Then on Sunday Missy and I visited Apple Charlie’s in New Boston where for just $5 I entered the Barn of Blood. It was quite a whirlwind weekend of haunting and that’s just the way I like it.

I’ve longed to visit TerrorTown for several seasons now but until this year we had never made time for this particular haunt. Mayor Wormface had beckoned to me from the pages of the Fear Finder on many occasions and it was time to take him up on his delightfully dreadful offer.

TerrorTown features four attractions: The Freak Show, Slaughter House, The Beast, and House of the Dead. After buying our tickets we made our way to the entrance of a uniquely lit graveyard, to our left atop a structure a massive skull peered down with a single glowing eyeball that shifted from side to side. We shuffled excitedly through the cemetery lit be a series of large, black light bulbs positioned on top of fence posts; a skeletal horse stalked the grounds. The path lead us to the line for the Freak Show where we were entertained by a one of TerrorTown’s resident ghouls, a tall, red creature with a talent for swallowing fire.

After about half an hour wait we entered Freak Show and witnessed an eclectic and interesting array of oddities. Each item was accompanied by newspaper articles or plaques providing insight into the displayed piece. The entire room was bathed in the glow of black lights which provided the usual eerie effect. My personal favorites included a fetus in a jar that sported a curious tail as well as the dried and rotting Fiji Mermaid. Freak Show was very cool but it was incredibly short and this fact was very disappointing. I remarked to Jason that had I known it was so short I would have taken more time with each display. Alas it was too late as we found ourselves in line for Slaughter House. Given the nature of the Freak Show attraction I don’t feel it would be fair to assign a rating, it isn’t a haunted house and is by all intents purely a side show.

Slightly disappointed, as I think we all were, we soldiered on to Slaughter House which I was quite curious about. I had read on TerrorTown’s website that guests are given a flashlight upon entering this particular haunt but there was a catch, the operators controlled the flashlight. I thought that this unique twist could provide for an interesting and exciting haunt experience. Slaughter House had the look and feel of an old school haunt but failed to utilize those elements that make this genre so effective, instead the haunt featured a number of amusing and gory animatronics. Animatronics are great but I’m of the belief that an inanimate object can only invoke so much fear, they work best in conjunction with live actors and Slaughter House was terribly short on the latter. The flashlight idea was great in concept but in practice turned out to be ill timed seemingly going off at random. I had thought that perhaps the flashlights would abruptly cut off after patrons were allowed a brief glimpse of a stampeding, chainsaw-wielding maniac but it seemed that perhaps every group’s flashlight simply went out at the same time. One wonderful feature of Slaughter House was an enormous pig head that attacks guests and squeals incessantly, you can imagine the jokes this particular scene invoked. Overall Slaugher House wasn’t bad but it did leave a lot to be desired, what was most disappointing to me was that it had potential to be so much more and really with a few minor tweaks it could have been very good.

Rating: 3 stars

Next we followed the path through a colossal pair of jaws that led to The Beast. We entered the structure and began down a path of three or four spinning vortex tunnels also commonly referred to as black holes. These structures are fun because not only are they typically lit by black light; but also feature spinning circular walls which cause a sensation that one is falling sideways. Guests make their way across a narrow path and watch in amusement as members of their party struggle to maintain balance. I feel that these particular devices work best when beginning or ending a haunt or when switching from one theme to another.

After walking the length of the massive tunnel we returned outside. Once again I was shocked and disappointed by the length of an attraction. The Freak Show had also been incredibly short, Slaughter House was slightly better than mediocre, and The Beast, which I had thought was a haunted house, was merely a monstrous vortex tunnel. It wasn’t that any of the attractions had been individually bad but collectively I couldn’t help but to be disappointed. I had been expecting so much more from TerrorTown after reading a number of glowing reviews. As with The Freak Show I find it equally unfair and misleading to give The Beast a traditional rating.

We entered the line for House of the Dead where multiple television sets played a horror movie from the 70’s or 80’s, this at least provided some seasonal ambience. As we advanced through the line I thought about how disappointing TerrorTown had been so far and without a monumental effort by the main attraction the whole night was going to go down as perhaps the seasons’ most dismal. We discussed this fact as we neared the entrance and each of us seemed resigned to the fact that barring an October miracle there was little chance that House of the Dead could save TerrorTown from haunting infamy. I suppose there was a sense that we had nothing left to lose and so we entered House of the Dead.

Guests first wait in a foyer, ahead an ominous set of large double doors rest. After a few minutes a slightly crazed, middle-aged man appears (he looks some what like Mayor Wormface) and invites us inside to, “Play with his children”. We enter another waiting area before being loaded onto elevators that will transport us to the bowels of the house. So far House of the Dead is doing things right, building plenty of tension in the foyer and then jolting guests with a wild ride to the basement of dead house. Once out of the elevator hauntgoers wind their way through a plethora of eerie rooms. The haunt appears to be an abandoned house, old fashion pictures adorn the walls, and common household objects such as furniture and childrens toys layer the landscape. I notice that the haunt smells foul and I mean bizarrely foul; I’ve never smelled something like this. Later on I would take a blast of the rotten air straight in the face and I gagged profusely, nearly throwing up. I know what you’re thinking faithful readers, you’re thinking that House of the Dead did indeed cap off a disappointing night…well…not even close!

House of the Dead was just getting started with the Haunt Trinity and before we exited this unique haunt we would come to know precisely why it had been described as, “an assault on the senses”. House of the Dead is part Erebus, part Extreme Scream and blends the two schools of thought into a rare haunting endeavor. The animatronics are over the top and impressive, a number of mutant aliens scurry about the walls assailing guests from all angles. One such alien ventured to get too close to the Haunt Trinity and found out just how amused I was when I gleefully squibbed that ugly face! The haunt also featured painfully detailed, life-sized statues. I exaggerate not one iota when I say that these props were some of the most frightening I’ve ever witnessed.

House of the Dead also features a number of sprayers that blast guests with both air and water. In fact just after the aforementioned squibbing took place I was blasted in the face by a cartoonishly filthy toilet. The haunt also held a number of bizarre scenes and props such as holographic projections and a giant, floating eyeball. After making our way through a macabre forest in which multiple leapers attacked simultaneously we struck forth to the frantic finish. While on an ascending pathway an unseen creature swooped just above our heads causing all of us to duck. We then made our way through a series of rooms that resembled those at the beginning of the haunt.

I was the first to enter a room filled with the remains of dozens of baby dolls and was immediately reminded of Dolls and Puppet Master. Some of the dolls were moving robotically, heads and limbs moving methodically from side to side or up and down, it was wonderfully creepy. Some of them were missing eyeballs and a select few even brandished glowing knives. The rest of the group trailed behind me and upon entering I witnessed something truly bizarre. One of the babies was running at Jason! The little son of a bitch scurried across the floor slashing the air with his miniature knife! It was indeed a strange scene at first but my eyes quickly recognized a black mass materialize behind the doll. A black clad worker was puppeting the doll and as this came into greater focus the whole scene grew even more ludicrous in a sense. The little guy slashed furiously at Jason as I doubled over in laughter and then turned his fury to a shrieking girl in the group behind us. The gag may have been a simple one but it was pulled off to great effect and will surely stand out as one of the highlights of the season.

We escaped the blood thirsty infant only to be enveloped in fog and green lasers. It was very difficult to determine a path so I took the initiative and began wandering directly into the thickest part of the fog. Just then a massive wolf head lurched forth from the fog; hands outstretched searching for a tasty morsel. Next we turned into a room and ahead I could see a man holding a chainsaw, he was just staring at us. Hauntgoers cross a platform only to have this lunatic charge from behind (a mirror made it appear as if he were in front of the party) and chase them to the exit of House of the Dead.

House of the Dead did indeed save the night for TerrorTown proving to be a wild, haunt riot. A bold combination of old school techniques and flat out, in your face craziness proved to be an unlikely alchemy for success. My only suggestion for the House of the Dead is the inclusion of a few more well placed live actors. We left the now nearly deserted Lucas County fair grounds with riveting moments flitting through our heads, House of the Dead had just saved the night and launched itself into Haunt of the Year contention.

Rating: 5 stars

I did mention that a bit of haunting was also done on Sunday and so let me tell you the tale of the Barn of Blood. Missy opted not to join me inside the Barn and thus I was left to brave the horrors alone. Two things immediately stand out as one enters the barn, the first — it’s extremely quiet, and the second — it’s extremely dark. This is old school haunting reduced to the barest of elements and it reeks havoc on the psyche. A loud blast of fog issues from the left breaking the complete silence and that seems to act as a cue for a sword wielding deadie. The deadie follows me down a dark hallway, slamming the sword against a wall and then onto a metal slab. The ensuing clang is deafening and the sword looks a bit too real for my liking, I don’t like this creep. He departs and I find myself groping about the pitch black hall, shortly sparks fly from the left as some deranged freak thrashes behind wire fencing. Later a ghoulie comes form beneath a wall and desperately claws at my legs. Shortly a gravely voice informs me to, “Enjoy the show,” and as I turn the corner I watch a darkly ironic scene. A man is strapped to an electric chair, basked in red light, as My Chemical Romance’s “Blood” is pumped through speakers. It was a unique infusion of pop culture weaved neatly into a haunted attraction and as a chainsaw wielding Leatherface ushered me from the premises I reflected on what a solid job this small haunt had just completed.

Rating: 4 stars

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.

Horrorlust Haunt Awards: A History

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by bluefall8

The haunt awards, like Horrorlust itself, are the result of an evolution. The 2013 crop will be the sixth annual edition for most of the awards — Rotten Pumpkin, Eerie Vibrations, Dark Horse, Killer Automatons, Pulse Pounder, and Monster all debuted following the 2008 haunt season. The Prop Master and Samhain Awards were both added at the conclusion of the 2011 season, thus making this the third consecutive year for those respective distinctions.

The oldest award that we recognize is of course, Haunt of the Year. This award predates Horrorlust, indeed Haunt of the Year goes back even further than Hallowblog, the predecessor to this blog. Not long before I began chronicling all of these wonderful haunted adventures my merry band of travelers and I would simply agree upon the best attraction of the Halloween season. And so you’ll notice that in the annals of Horrorlust, that the Haunt of the Year Award is officially recognized as having originated in 2005.

As an interesting aside, it’s worth noting that these awards were initially called the Haunt Trinity Haunt Awards. If you delve into the depths of past Horrorlust posts you’re sure to come across such a phrase. The Haunt Trinity was a nickname I fashioned once a upon a time for a frequent trio of haunters. The group was comprised of myself, Jason (my older brother), and our good friend John who is sometimes referred to in these posts as the Disco Devil or simply, Disco.

I used to get a kick out of the name; I even spun spur of the moment rhymes about it and haunted attractions but mostly I think it merely served to annoy everybody else. After a time, it was rarely just the three of us participating in the beloved haunt excursions; a half a dozen or more friends and acquaintances regularly rotated in and out on any given night. My brother began to joke that the nickname Haunt Trinity was a misnomer.

A couple of years ago he found work in a new field and his schedule changed drastically; allowing him to partake in the haunted festivities only a time or two per season. This roughly coincided with the advent of Horrorlust and so it has been since 2011 that the annual awards have shared the namesake of this blog.

Readers, if you need a refresher on any of the awards please refer to the other posts under the “Awards” category, where full descriptions are posted. As a historical footnote, it’s worth mentioning that we began to recognize an honorable mention for each award in 2009 although those are not listed in this post. Interested parties are referred to the aforementioned entries found under the “Awards” category.

Fun Fact: No haunted attraction has ever been named Haunt of the Year on more than one occasion. In fact, there exists just two haunted houses that claimed the same award in multiple years. House of the Dead (Terror Town) won the Killer Automatons Award four consecutive years from 2009-2012. Deadly Intentions secured the Monster Award in back-to-back years during the 2008 and 2009 haunt seasons.

 

Rotten Pumpkin

2008: Templin’s Night Terror (Wyandotte Jaycees)

2009: Jackson’s Underworld

2010: Leo’s House of Horror

2011: Anxiety Alley

2012: Scream Machine

 

Eerie Vibrations

2008: Homer Mill

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: The Haunted Farm

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Bloodview

 

Dark Horse

2008: Realm of Haunted Minds

2009: Extreme Scream

2010: Woods of Darkness

2011: Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom

2012: Dimensions of Darkness

 

Killer Automatons

2008: Erebus

2009: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2010: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2011: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2012: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

 

Pulse Pounder

2008: County Morgue (Chainsaw Creek)

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: Demonic Demons

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Slaughter House (Slaughter House Adventure)

 

Monster

2008: Deadly Intentions

2009: Deadly Intentions

2010: Realm of Darkness

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Sinister

 

Prop Master

2011: Tent of Terror (The Boneyard)

2012: Barn of Horrors (Erwin Orchards)

 

Samhain

2011: October 14, 2011 (Krazy Hilda’s, Chelsea Feargrounds, The Boneyard)

2012: October 12, 2012 (Erwin Orchards, Slaughter House Adventure, A Nightmare on Elm Road)

 

Haunt of the Year

2005: Nautical Nightmare

2006: Erebus

2007: Realm of Darkness

2008: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

2009: Bowbee’s Nightmare (Haunted Hollows)

2010: Demonic Demons

2011: Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

2012: Sinister

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.)

Triple Threat a Real Treat at Slaughter House

Posted in 2013, Review, Slaughter House Adventure with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by bluefall8

If you own a parcel of land in Michigan’s countryside, you already have one of the key elements of a successful haunted attraction — mix in an old barn, cornstalks, and a patch of woods and you have all the right ingredients for a haunting good time. Such is the case is Fowlerville where Slaugher House, Haunted Maze, and Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride comprise “Michigan’s Best Trifecta of Terror!”

The Wolverine State is dotted with a veritable smattering of haunted attractions and this is one location that deserves attention. There are scares to be had here for certain but also plenty of laughter as well as a measure of magic. The pricing is flexible too, allowing guests to participate in one, two, or three attractions — the $30 super combo which allows haunters to experience the haunted hat trick is one of the better bargains we’ve come across.

SLIGHT OF HAND, TWIST OF FATE

Little has changed since last year inside the formidable barn known as Slaughter House, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you consider the fact that the show we were treated to in 2012 was a mile a minute thrill ride. Many of the characters we encountered last year were on hand as well but were portrayed, in many instances, by different actors. The results in this case were varied; some performed admirably, even out doing their predecessors while others left us yearning for the latter. I personally missed the little old lady in the final room the most, she was a breath of fresh air last year.

Billy Wonka and his special son, Billy Jr., were on hand once more and the duo didn’t disappoint with their hilariously tasteless antics. Also of note was the diminutive trickster who played on our sympathies before being cast to the depths of Hell! This technique in particular is something I greatly enjoyed about Slaughter House that I’ve never seen at any other attraction; truly a brilliant storytelling device.

There was also a bit of old school fundamentals at work inside one room where a series of dummies formed a semi-circle. Intermittent blasts of light from a strobe revealed that all was still. Another flash of light illuminated the room and we were offered a similar sight save for one dummy which remained stock still but had changed position, now with an extended index finger that presumably pointed us in the correct direction. It may not sound like much but in my mind it was an example of classic haunting that utilized anticipation and misdirection.

Unfortunately, there was a malfunction with the mechanism incorporated in the guillotine illusion, and despite a valiant effort there wasn’t much the actor could do to save the scene. Familiarity did sap some of the magic out of the overall effect of the show for us but that obviously won’t be an issue for anybody who has yet to experience Slaughter House. I very much enjoyed the use of comedy employed here — the recurring theme of ordinary people persecuted for minor offenses and then subsequently executed through archaic means created a fun and absurd form of entertainment.

Rating: 3.25 stars

MONSTROUS MAIZE MOST IMPRESSIVE

One of the most striking elements of the haunted corn maze is the maize itself — it’s enormous! We’ve witnessed some monstrous stalks before but the corn here jutted out of the ground and leaped toward the moonlit sky at a height that exceeded thirteen feet; the vast size easily left us at a loss for a sense of direction.

The attraction was of generous length and the path even wound guests through various shacks, silos, and a storage bin that served as a dark maze. The finale featured an interactive carnival of sorts where a clownish host tried his hand at the Hammer Bell before he encouraged me to shoot some electronic sensors. It was all in good fun, and when a zombie burst out of a cellar beneath the firing range, he shot it in the head.

Rating: 3.5 stars

BLOOD BATH & BEYOND TO THE MOON

The Blood Bath & Beyond Hayride is yet another enjoyable attraction here, clocking in at just over thirty minutes it certainly offered haunters a great return on their dollar. Many of the scenes remained the same as last year but there was quite a shake up as well including a comical electrocution and an impressive bit with a scarecrow who was suddenly elevated off of his post and lifted above the corn.

In the woods we encountered an artist of sorts who had the odd hobby of framing the heads of dead relatives — mom and dad had already been framed handsomely and late brother Billy was just about to become the latest member of his macabre collection. One instance of slight of hand later, Billy’s head sat before us and urged his able bodied brother to snatch a good looking lady from the wagon.

Further down the path we drove by the scene of a car accident where the drunkard responsible for the wreck, shambled directionless through the woods while he incredulously insisted that he wasn’t the guilty party. This particular actor was quite the comedic sight both in appearance and delivery; he had made for a very believable drunk.

Later, we drove directly into a blood feud that featured the infamous Hatfield and McCoy families; the sides engaged in a verbal spat which then escalated when octogenarians from each family were brutalized by the other side. Our tractor hastily departed among a hail of threats and gunfire.

Shortly thereafter we came to rest near a cage in the woods, a woman was held captive inside. Outside the structure a mad scientist raved about an elixir of youth that he had created and he was prepared to demonstrate it on the young lady. The scientist attempted to parry favor with those on the wagon by asking who among us wouldn’t pay a steep price for just such a potion, he even went so far as to single out a guest but she didn’t seem eager to play along.

The scientist, however, was the persistent type and pressed further but no answer came and when the silence lingered on the precipice of awkwardness — I threw my voice and bellowed, “Yeah, she could stand to lose a few.” To my great pleasure (and relief) the whole of the wagon roared with laughter and the determined scientist was able to continue with his demonstration which resulted in the woman being transformed into a screaming child.

The finale of the hayride also featured some humor; yet another loose canon scientist had been engaged in experimentation. This fellow had nabbed himself a live alien specimen but his experiment devolved quickly which resulted in the rather abrupt and senseless death of the extraterrestrial being. The scene became even more improbable when the mother ship ascended above his lab with an agenda of revenge!

Rating: 4.25 stars

“Don’t goose a ghost, you’ll end up with a hand full of sheet!”

-Sage wisdom from the woodland drunk.