Archive for the boneyard

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.

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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.)

Mass Exodus

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2016 by bluefall8

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While the cover art of the 2016 edition of the Fear Finder dazzled, the content inside the treasured seasonal publication left me yearning for more. Very few new haunts were featured, in fact, if you exclude the returning Scream Machine, there was just one new entry — Haunting in the Hills. Haunting in the Hills will include an outdoor trail of sorts, a haunted hayride and Train Car of Terror. This event will be held in Onsted, Michigan at the Stagecoach Stop Western Resort.

BLOODLETTING

So, who’s not in the Fear Finder this fall? Quite a number of places, actually. Below, I’ve highlighted some notable omissions.

Abandon, Bonadeo Farms, Exit 13, Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village, Haunted Elementary, St. Charles’ Village of the Living Dead and A Terror in Townsend Forest are not listed in the Fear Finder for 2016 but each of these attractions will be open and are advertised elsewhere.

WAITING GAME

Also missing in action are Erwin Orchards as well as Krazy Hilda’s; no word yet whether these haunts will be open or closed this season.

SHUTTERED

The Boneyard in Stockbridge announced several months ago that it would not be operational in 2016 so that particular vanishing act came as no surprise. Also dark for 2016 is Heck of a Haunted Barn in Monroe.

The big shock however was the announcement just days ago that Dark Legacy in Wixom would be closed. Dark Legacy is a powerhouse and had advertised everywhere since exploding on the scene in 2014, no specifics are known as to why it will be closed this season.

The biggest disappointment was word that The Dark Box will not be open after an intriguing rookie season. According to the folks there, the City of Pinckney took issue with the physicality employed at The Dark Box.

Wanted Dead or Alive: The Freak’s Show, Deadwood Forest Lasso Victims at The Bone Yard

Posted in 2015, Review, The Boneyard with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by bluefall8

Logo2014In terms of weather it wasn’t an ideal night to tour The Bone Yard which featured four haunted attractions, three of which were located outdoors. But we decided to brave the elements and were soon headed in the direction of Deadwood Forest. We would later discover that we had taken a wrong turn and bypassed Scarecrow Hollow which is now the first stop at The Bone Yard. Luckily, we happened upon Randy (Bone Yard head honcho) who pointed us in the right direction before we departed. But at the time we were unaware of our foible and strode headlong to the gates of Deadwood Forest.

DeadwoodForrestOLD WEST GHOST TOWN

Deadwood Forest is an ideal setting for a ghost town and appropriately sported a series of sizable structures that fit the old west theme. My only wish was that the various buildings were incorporated more thoroughly into the attraction; for the most part guests stick to the path while the intriguing wooden store fronts loom intermittently on either side of the trail.

The Lucky Saloon in particular would’ve made for an ideal scene for substantial interaction — perhaps a gun fight were staged or a buxom wench attempted to woe your party into an illegal game of cards? Absent such immersion and with a scarcity of live bodies, much of what we saw in Deadwood Forest was solely scenery and very good scenery at that. Just beyond the Lucky Saloon a corpse swung from the hangman’s noose.

The quiet ghost town did offer a few solid startle scares by way of chainsaw and one falling ceiling that crashed loudly just above our heads. We experienced a surreal moment while we traversed a swath of forest bathed in eerie blue ovals that resembled peacock eyes. Later, we squeezed through a narrow cave passage.

There was also an excellent junkyard scene near the end of Deadwood Forest where a torso had been roasted on a spit. Not far from there a snarling creature had contorted its body into a back bend and dashed toward us on all fours — perhaps he was saving the charred remains over the grill for a midnight snack.

Rating: 3 stars

route666ROUTE 666 IN SEARCH OF EVIL

We emerged from Deadwood Forest and walked a short way into the corn where we found a gathering of people around a bonfire. We were almost immediately loaded onto a wagon with high, metal framework on either side. It was a cool look and different than any other wagon I’d previously ridden.

The hayride featured very few actors although one strange ghoul who boarded the wagon did serve up some laughs when he oddly panhandled for food. There was a trailer scene with potential as well as a lone foreboding statue that put me in mind of the grotesque idol from The Shrine.

I can appreciate that The Boneyard offered an alternative to walking the distance to the next attraction and I understand that, as Randy explained the hayride was missing a key component, but Route 666 was abbreviated for a standard hayride and failed to engage those aboard.

Rating: 1.25 stars

theFreakShowTHE FREAK’S SHOW A GRAB BAG OF SIGHTS & SOUNDS

As we stood at the threshold for The Freak’s Show there was talk of pickled punks and the potential existence of a woman with the rare condition of a double uterus — never let anybody tell you that the person who acts as gatekeeper isn’t a vital part of the haunted attraction.

The Freak’s Show, The Bone Yard’s signature attraction, was home to a large, vocal cast who relied on jump scares and the occasional use of profanity to elicit screams. The halls of The Freak’s Show were filled with laser lights, a haunted photograph that appeared to be alive and one vibrating section of floor; we were twisted and turned in every direction.

The haunt was superbly detailed and had enough eye candy to induce an instant sugar coma — there was a doll room with a message scrawled on a dusty mirror, a rotten Christmas scene and elsewhere a carnival food vendor who had corn dogs gouged into his eye sockets!

We were made to crawl through a miniature womb of doom, pursued by a fat, mute dolly boy and blasted with some sort of fanciful air canon. There was even a clown who convinced one guest to enter a closet only to make a cheap crack about his sexuality once said guest had complied.

The actors did suffer from a creativity deficit where responses were concerned but balanced that with otherwise active, enthused performances. The Freak’s Show was an odd jumble of scenes at times but to its credit each area was highly decorated and not without some gag or scare. It was an assault on the senses and with some fine tuning can be better yet.

Rating: 3.25 stars

SINFUL SCARECROW HOLLOW

Scarecrow Hollow began with the whispered suggestion of a game — The Bone Yard Game. It was a point that I pondered as we pounded the dirt beneath our feet, my idle thoughts were soon interrupted when a scarecrow sprung to life and jumped from a wooden post.

Scarecrow Hollow did possess a solid amount of actors but few offered substantial interaction while most uttered forgettable one-liners. We did enjoy the hidden creep who amused us with a Yogi Bear routine, the demon too who patrolled the so-called Devil’s Lair put forth a fair performance. However, there would be no further mention of the tantalizing Bone Yard Game.

I regret that we failed to tour Scarecrow Hollow first as was intended — this attraction is not the closer and would’ve certainly serve best as opening act. Stupid wrong turn.

Rating: 1.75 stars

It has been my experience that bad weather and haunted attractions don’t mix well and that is especially true when a venue has outdoor events. The cold and wet sap energy from people, creature and customer alike. It was a concern that John and I discussed as we traveled toward The Bone Yard. True, the skies had never truly opened up with a downpour that day but the cumulative mist and drizzle was enough to dampen the overall effect.

Horrorlust Radio Episode #015

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by bluefall8

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In episode #015 of Horrorlust Radio, I’m joined by fellow haunted attraction enthusiast, Mike Marvel.

In this installment of Horrorlust Radio, Mike and I discussed the highs and lows of the haunt season with particular focus on Mike’s recent trip to The Fear Experience and Bloodview as well as my visits to The Dark Box and The Boneyard. We also chatted about home haunts and explored the daunting task of going pro.

This edition of Horrorlust Radio also featured an installment of Pop Horror which examines the latest horror happenings in film and television.

I’m actively seeking sponsors for Horrorlust Radio, if you own or operate a haunted attraction or are otherwise involved or connected to the haunt industry and are interested in such an opportunity you can contact me at the following email address: horrorlust@bluestarproductions.net

Email any questions or comments to the address above or feel welcome to post any reactions to this podcast in the comments section below.

HORRORLUST RADIO: EPISODE 015

SHOW NOTES

No creepier actors could’ve been cast for the parts of Isaac and Malachai; John Franklin and Courtney Gains’ respective portrayals of violent, child zealots provided serious nightmare fuel when I was a child. To this day I find their mannerisms unsettling and disturbing.

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The songs and audio clips featured in this episode are listed below in chronological order:

“Sally’s Song” by Catherine O’Hara (The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993)

Children of the Corn Theatrical Trailer, 1984

“Cemetery Drive” by My Chemical Romance (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, 2004)

Isaac’s Sermon from Children of the Corn, 1984

“Helena” by My Chemical Romance (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, 2004)

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Omens & Amulets

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2015 by bluefall8

Hurricane Joaquin is dumping buckets on much of the eastern seaboard and here in Michigan a smattering of rain has fallen throughout the day and the forecast indicates that patches of rainfall are likely to continue across the region for much of the night, but this is what divides the weak from the stout of heart.

The game plan has us back on the road to Pinckney where a mysterious object has been found in the woods — The Dark Box. This attraction jumped off the pages of the Fear Finder three weeks ago with a stripped-down presentation and ominous warnings. The following is directly from the website of The Dark Box:

The dark box will be the SCARIEST haunted attraction you will ever attend. This is a real in your face haunt. You will be touched. You will be trapped. You will see what’s in the box?? Ask yourself do I have what it takes to make it through the box??”

I want to know what is in this box. Furthermore, just what is the exact nature of this box? Scariest haunted attraction ever? That is a bold statement and it is one that I intend to put to the test tonight.

The second half of our haunted journey will bring us to nearby Stockbridge where The Boneyard has a quartet of dark attractions — The Freak’s Show, Route 666 Haunted Hayride, Deadwood Forest Haunted Woods and Scarecrow Hollow Corn Maze. We last visited The Boneyard four years ago and absolutely loved the headline feature, Tent of Terror. What horrors will the demented souls who reside at The Boneyard unleash on this night?

2011 Review for The Boneyard

Thrills & Chills Dominate Hilda’s, Feargrounds and The Boneyard!

Pins & Needles

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2015 by bluefall8

I’m putting the finishing touches on plans for the night, we’ll either be heading west to tour The Boneyard and Jackson’s Underworld or shooting north in hopes of visiting The Deadland, Fear Factory and Haunted Farm of Terror.

Our one and only trip to The Boneyard in Stockbridge came during the 2011 season which proved to be an enjoyable night. Twice we’ve toured Jackson’s Underworld, we were disappointed with what we experienced in 2009 but then noted a considerable improvement during our most recent visit in 2013.

We’ve also toured The Deadland just once and that too was during the 2011 season. Despite the fact that it has been in operation for twenty years, this would mark our first journey to The Fear Factory in Mt. Clemens. And of course, how could I forget our excellent Devil’s Night adventure at Haunted Farm of Terror from 2009?

The decision will be made very soon and the open road will be ours. In the mean time, I encourage curious readers to experience all of the journeys mentioned above through the magic of Horrorlust reviews. Use the drop-down window on the right hand side of the screen to search by haunted house or year.