Archive for The CikNis

Absinthe & Automatonophobia

Posted in News with tags , , , on October 2, 2015 by bluefall8

All of a sudden it is in the air and all around — the magic of the fall season has regained that familiar foothold. Through ritual and routine we revisit all that we experience in this life and for me that is a comfort. Today, I stepped outside to find a crispness in the air and witnessed a hint of nature’s eternal paintbrush. I traveled down London Street in Lincoln Park, my childhood home. As each blocked rolled by my window in a blur of shapes and colors I realized it was here that a love of Halloween was first imprinted on my soul. In many ways that stretch of London Street is the very essence of Halloween for me.

I ventured out today to discuss ideas for a Horrorlust logo with my friend, Stefani Lawrence. She was the artist who created some perfectly spooky heads for The CikNis last year, a home haunt that I helped produce. It was a joy to thumb through some of her past work which included self-portraits, shadow boxes and oil pastels that depicted eerie subject matter. I know that Stefani is the perfect person to translate the dark imaginings of my mind into tangible art work; I can’t wait to see what beautifully nightmarish sketches she will create.

Indeed, fall has descended once more; with wind in hair and wrapped in flannel I raise a glass to another season of screams.

It is here that I am at peace.


Artistry Most Wicked


Horrorlust Radio Episode #009

2015 Haunt Schedule: Never is Enough

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2015 by bluefall8

The haunt schedule can be a restless beast — there are time restraints, geographic considerations, unexpected vehicle maintenance and of course the threat of inclement weather. The 2014 schedule was made all the more problematic when some friends and I decided to produce a home haunt for a Halloween party. The CikNis was held on Saturday, October 25, 2014 but the build began in early September and as it was quite an undertaking, the project limited the number of haunts I visited that month to exactly one.

In addition I acted in the Wyandotte Jaycees haunted house on three or four nights in late October and unfortunately several of my Friday nights were effectively wiped out because I was needed at work. Don’t get me wrong, both The CikNis and the opportunity to act with the Wyandotte Jaycees were worthwhile and fruitful experiences but my participation in each did eliminate potential nights from the road schedule.

This year there is no home haunt to consider and I have yet to determine whether or not I’ll reprise my role as the irrepressible Gerkins with the Wyandotte Jaycees, so with that said the haunt schedule will feature more flexibility this fall. Although, a number of my Fridays will once again be hampered by work responsibilities. But, over the years I’ve learned to roll with the punches and leave it in the hands of the haunt fates.

Below, in no particular order, are possible outings for the 2015 haunt season.


Night #1 – The Deadland (Warren), Fear Factory (Mt. Clemens) & Panic at Pine Stump Hollow (St. Clair)

Night #2 – The Dark Box (Pinckney) & The Boneyard (Stockbridge)

Night #3 – Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson) & Shawhaven Haunted Farm (Mason)

Night #4 – Heck of A Haunted Barn (Monroe) & Haunted Hydro (Fremont, OH.)

Night #5 – Past Tense After Dark (Lapeer), Scott’s Rooms of Terror (Oxford) & Tunnel of Terror (Rochester)

Night #6 – Haunted Elementary (Bridgeport), Clio Manor (Clio) & Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

Night #7 – Wiard’s Night Terrors (Ypsilanti)

Night #8 – Rotten Manor (Holly), Bonadeo Farms (Highland) & Dark Legacy (Wixom)

Night #9 – Abandon (Melvindale), Hush (Westland) & Krazy Hilda’s (Ypsilanti)

Night #10 – Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood), Psycho Path (Flat Rock) & Delirium (Wyandotte)

Night #11 – Slaughtered at Sundown (Armada), Haunted Farm of Terror (Lenox Township) & Scarefest Scream Park (New Haven)

I paid special attention this season to attractions that Horrorlust has never toured; there’s 13 listed and Krazy Hilda’s has relocated since our last visit in 2012. Once I identified some fresh blood I sprinkled in some old favorites that we haven’t patronized in a few years. I like that there’s wiggle room in the schedule to allow for unexpected circumstances, for instance, we could easily slot Shawhaven Haunted Farm alongside The Dark Box if need be.

I also wanted to be sure to hit each of the sponsors for Horrorlust Radio and furthermore limited the number of locations toured on any given night to just three. John and I did manage to hit four separate locations on November 1st last year but it was a breakneck pace that did suck some of the enjoyment out of the experience. Admittedly, some of the haunts listed are wild cards but we’ve gambled before and come away with enjoyable experiences.


Bloodview – One of my all-time favorite places. A different theme each weekend is a tempting prospect indeed. I wish it weren’t so damn far from my home.

Bates Haunted Saw Mill & JC’s Axe House – If Haunted Elementary or Clio Manor don’t pan out for any reason this Millington haunt could fit the bill.

Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – Enjoyed it last year, confident an even better show is possible. Plus, it’s hard to pass up if we’re near Jackson.

Darksyde Acres – The old pig farm has become a staple in recent years and it’s hard to resist that wild, unpredictable cast. It’s a haul though without much else in the area.

Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Might be placed into rotation during trip to Past Tense After Dark if limited dates render lesser knowns unlikely.

The Haunt – I was once told by a veteran haunted house owner that, “If you haven’t been to The Haunt, you haven’t been anywhere.”

Realm of Haunted Minds – It’s close to home and has a throwback charm; I like to visit every couple of years.

7 Floors of Hell – That’s a lot of floors and I need that much haunting in my life. Plus, I love my overnight Ohio trips; especially those that give me an excuse to hit Bloodview.

Horrorlust Radio Episode #007

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by bluefall8

In episode #007 of Horrorlust Radio I’m joined by my frequent partner in crime, Mud Puppet Ryan. Ryan and I will discuss comedy in horror and also relive some of our most cherished, and not so cherished, Halloween memories.

Also in this episode of Horrorlust Radio we have new entries for the segments Cauldron Questions and Nightmare Fuel. In the former Ryan and I will answer three burning questions and then during the latter Ryan will recount a personal tale of the macabre, strange and surreal.

We’ll also discuss the results of the garage haunt, The CikNis and then detail my involvement with the Wyandotte Jaycees 2014 haunted house, Fo-be-e.

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:

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



The Great Horrorlust Sharing was mentioned several times during this podcast; this Facebook event is to promote the Horrorlust page on the social network. You can view the event here: The Great Horrorlust Sharing.

You can even share the event itself or invite your own circle of friends which is great, but the end game to all of this is to direct folks to the Horrorlust Facebook page so that they too can like and share it. So, here’s the link, like and share away: Horrorlust on Facebook

Below is the VHS cover art for the 1990 film Troll 2 — nothing I can type here can accurately summarize this film. Stop reading. Go watch Troll 2.

Even the VHS cover art struggled with continuity -- that's a werewolf on the box art of a film called Troll 2 which featured goblins...not trolls.

Even the VHS cover art struggled with continuity — that’s a werewolf on the box art of a film called Troll 2 which featured goblins…not trolls.

One of the most entertaining documentaries ever produced; Best Worst Movie highlights the oddball cast and crew who brought Troll 2 into its now infamous existence and chronicles the cult following this cinematic train wreck has inspired.

A truer title the world does not know.

A truer title the world does not know.

In this podcast Ryan and I discussed at length our sketch comedy troupe the Mud Puppets. Primarily, we produce videos on YouTube but also have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and WordPress. Last spring we began a comedy based podcast as well. The best starting point for all things Mud Puppets is our website: The Mud Puppets

Our channel features over 130 videos including all of the horror and Halloween themed sketches and specials discussed in the podcast such as 2012’s Our Muddy Nightmare and our recent public access episode Cabinet of Curiosities.

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

1. “Halloween” by Aqua (Aquarius, 2000)

2. Trick ‘r Treat Theatrical Trailer, 2007

3. “Astro Zombies” by The Misfits (Walk Among Us, 1982)

4. Halloween Bus Massacre from Trick ‘r Treat, 2007

5. “Halloween” by The Misfits (Legacy of Brutality, 1981)

Fatal CikNis

Posted in CikNis with tags , , , , on October 26, 2014 by bluefall8

The CikNis proved to be a dizzying adrenaline rush of shrieks and laughs. Many of our guests expressed positive thoughts regarding their experience and as a member of the cast I can say that we had just as much fun as our hapless victims.

While I would’ve liked to have had the time to make several tweaks or added a few well-placed props, the rooms were highly detailed and from what I could gather the various design features of the structure produced the desired effect. We did manage to squeeze in one last minute addition that was a boon for the overall experience — a small hatched door leading from the second room of the haunt into the low-ceilinged dead end at the end of The CikNis. It turned out to be a great suggestion by Richard and, in my opinion, increased the interaction factor of the overall adventure.

There was a certain elegance to the simplicity of the sound system which provided an excellent atmosphere for The CikNis — it’s tough to beat a continuous stream of Nox Arcana’s mournful melodies.

The myriad lighting fixtures — from black lights, strobe lights and glow sticks to string lights, colored bulbs, and a police beacon — effectively cast an eerie, foreboding or even whimsical ambience. Once we had powered everything up for show conditions we didn’t experience a single issue with any electrical components and that in and of itself is a small victory for which I was thankful.

By and large, I thought our cast was brimming with energy and held nothing back in terms of vocalization and improvisation. In particular, from my vantage point in the doll room, I was impressed and highly amused by what I could hear coming from the opposite corner of the haunt where my brother, Jason, forcefully portrayed the wayward scientist responsible for the CikNis. I felt Richard, who was in the second room of the attraction, played the very special part of Gerald with equal zest. His bit with George, the hand puppet monkey, was particularly fun to play off of and reference when several groups entered my area with the monkey in tow.

I admit I was especially flattered by the reactions of guests as they entered my room which was filled with an eclectic mix of dolls and plush toys. Some people were tickled by the hanging babies with glowing heads while others seemed to appreciate the totality of the decor and then there were those stopped dead upon entering the room and professed a desire to turn back; the latter were my personal favorites.

It was intoxicating to unleash Gerkins with all of his exaggerated mannerisms, wild stories and creepy demeanor. He engaged guests with stream-of-consciousness dialogue, offered to add men and women alike to his collection of dolls and introduced some folks to Little Gerkins; among other memorable routines.

Another personal highlight for me was the ability of Cikalo and I to surprise guests with an ambush by floating back and forth to our respective areas when the need arose. In one instance a pair of male guests attempted to backtrack into the harvest room when they failed to find the hidden door inside the dead end hallway, but this was something Scarecrow and Gerkins would simply not permit.

There were some hiccups of course — we had to scramble to find a doorman, pace and communication was a work in progress and a few minor details were lost in the shuffle but the driving vibe was one of fun and fright and folks left with smiles on their faces.

Thanks are due to Stefani who whipped up some seriously spooky heads, my sister-in-law Madison (not to be confused with my other sister-in-law of the same name who’s previously been mentioned in Horrorlust) who dutifully controlled traffic flow. Thanks also to The Disco Devil, John, for all of his help during the construction of The CikNis. Many thanks to our cast Jason and Richard and Brian too, who not only acted in the haunt but also contributed several key props. And of course, thanks to Cikalo and Ashley who hosted the party and finally a token of gratitude to everyone who entered and survived The CikNis.

The Strange Case of Gerkins & The CikNis

Posted in CikNis with tags , on October 25, 2014 by bluefall8

Gerkins, horrible Gerkins.

There is a certain nervous excitement that ensnares me whenever I am set to perform and slowly but surely, like an inevitable battle I am all too aware that it is coming. The board is set, the pieces are moving and tonight The CikNis will infect all who enter its cursed walls.

There are liars and mad men, creeps and savages who dwell therein and among them is Gerkins, horrible Gerkins. He is a beast unleashed, a one man lunatic asylum; hellbent on horror, mayhem and whimsy. His mind is a tattered tapestry of arcane nostalgia, carnivalesque urges and violent outbursts. He is as enigmatic as he is eccentric but not without a sense of humor. He is as deadly as he is merciful and will turn from friend to foe and back again in the blink of an eye. There is no rhyme or reason; there is only his twisted amusement.

Gerkins is a part of me — a fracture of my mind, a sliver of my personality — the Mr. Hyde to my Dr. Jekyll. His appetite is insatiable, his force inexhaustible and lest he scorch my soul from the inside I must release him for a time, and tonight he will be unbottled.

Gerkins, horrible Gerkins.

Witness the CikNis.

Witness the CikNis.

Artistry Most Wicked

Posted in CikNis with tags , on October 24, 2014 by bluefall8

Another Friday in the great month of October and just one day more until The CikNis will infest the mind, body and soul of all who enter. A number of sources contributed to The CikNis in various ways and today we turn the spotlight to an artist who created a wicked sextet of characters to be featured throughout the poisoned halls of our haunted house.

Stephanie poses with her favorite creation, "Senoirita's Last Tango."

Stefani poses with her favorite creation, “Senoirita’s Last Tango.”

Stefani Lawrence is an artist and a friend I met while working at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Stefani possesses an irreverent wit, a keen intelligence and as I would come to discover uncommon artistic talent — she is a veritable frenzy of creativity. So, when a bag of styrofoam heads was delivered to The CikNis by our favorite junker, I knew just the person to ask to turn these plain, lifeless faces into vibrant creatures of the night.

Stefani didn’t disappoint, she thoughtfully created a gang of ghouls each with their own personality and the end result is a beautiful array of the macabre and eerie which will serve as welcome additions to The CikNis.

In addition to Senoirita’s Last Tango this rouge’s gallery is comprised of Crow-magnum-Man, The Widower’s Bride, Button Eyes, The Doubleheader and the apple of my eye, Lagoon Lady.

The Latest from Horrorlust

Posted in News with tags , , , , on October 3, 2014 by bluefall8

The irrepressible energy of the haunt season is upon us and my head is spinning with frenzied thoughts. Horrorlust Radio is in full swing, now with three episodes released and a fourth to come next Wednesday. The CikNis is churning along as we come  now to the fine detailing and decorating phase. We paid our first visit to a haunt last Saturday when we toured The Haunted Funeral Home in Inkster — a review is in the works for that one. And tomorrow we’ll return to that haunted road to once again seek out Michigan’s scariest places. If the weather cooperates we’ll likely find ourselves at a couple of outdoor venues but if not we’ll reroute to some indoor alternatives. Happy Haunting.

Where the Veil Ends: A Walk in Both Worlds

Posted in CikNis with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2014 by bluefall8

I once half-jokingly suggested to my wife that I didn’t just visit haunted attractions for fun — my nocturnal adventures to all things spooky was, as I told her, research. A lot of truth is said in jest and the truth is that a haunted attraction is something I’ve dreamt about building since I was a boy. My brother and I used to construct crude dummies to sit on our porch and on a few occasions we even talked our sisters into helping us build a miniature haunted house in the basement of our childhood home.

In June , a close friend approached me about doing something different for a Halloween party and by the end of the night we’d drawn up plans to build a haunted house inside of his garage — alcohol might’ve been involved. But it was a solid design that utilized nearly every square inch of space and we decided to go ahead with the idea and I’ve been excited ever since.

We began the build two weeks ago today and have thus far been pleasantly surprised with our progress and the lack of any major issues. I plan to chronicle much of our progress on Horrorlust leading up to the party and then of course share my thoughts on the impending results. There’s so much to consider when laying the framework for a haunted attraction but it’s been fun work. The structure is in place and painted; this weekend we’ll focus on the installation of lighting, sound and even a video element. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to construct a show that will leave our guests feeling just as I have on so many of those October excursions.

Prepare to witness The CikNis.