Archive for the crypt

2011 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2012 by bluefall8

As we get ready to set off on the first big haunted house outing of the season, we take a few moments to reflect on the best that last season had to offer. The Haunt Trinity recognizes nine dreadful categories, two of which are new this year. Our traditional seven categories include: Monster, Killer Automatons, Eerie Vibrations, Pulse Pounder, Dark Horse, Rotten Pumpkin, and of course, Haunt of the Year. Our newest awards are Prop Master and Samhain, descriptions precede each award.

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.

2011 Rotten Pumpkin: Anxiety Alley

Dishonorable Mention: Big Top Terror (Terror Town)

It was sad to see the modular haunt of my childhood fall to such an abysmal low but that was the show we were presented. The scares were non existent and the few scenes that were featured were entirely uninspiring. The whole operation was poorly managed, very poorly managed.

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.

2011 Eerie Vibrations: Darksyde Acres

Honorable Mention: The Funeral Home

Strangely void of any other guests when we arrived, the silence permeating the grounds of this former pig farm spoke volumes. Stranger still was the surreal cyberpunk-thrash metal-hardcore haunting vibe that oozed throughout the main attraction. I couldn’t help but feel like we’d stepped into some kind of 70’s snuff film…and that was a good thing.

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 Haunt Trinity’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2011 Dark Horse: Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom

Honorable Mention: Realm of Haunted Minds

An all volunteer effort steeped in the fundamentals of haunting, Krazy Hilda’s featured a cast of lovable ghouls (but not too lovable) who enjoyed scaring us and making us laugh. This, coupled with some unique room design and a good length made Krazy Hilda’s the obvious pick for this award.

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.

2011 Killer Automatons: House of the Dead (Terror Town)

Honorable Mention: Chelsea Feargrounds

Although several of Terror Town’s demonic denizens weren’t functioning properly those that were secured this award for a second consecutive year. Admittedly, some of the animatronics are accompanied by few set pieces and are simply meant to wow guests with sheer size. However, those that are truly impressive are the electronic entities that have been integrated seamlessly into a larger theme — such as the giant hand in the twisted nursery. It’s those moments that allow House of the Dead to claim this award once more.

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.

2011 Monster: Darksyde Acres

Honorable Mention: The Haunting

The odd, perverted, and sultry band of ghouls at Darksyde Acres was truly what set this attraction apart from all others in 2011. They were completely committed to scaring guests or grossing them out or even kissing them if such would be required. Some may say the actors at Darksyde are less thespians than they are deranged masochists playing out their sick and twisted fantasies — and that’s alright by me.

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.

2011 Prop Master: Tent of Terror (The Boneyard)

Honorable Mention: The Deadland

The main attraction at the Boneyard burst at the seams with props, but it wasn’t just the sheer quantity that helped Tent of Terror snag this award. Rather it was the placement of said props in appropriately themed settings, underscored by the workers who interacted with the props in various creative and entertaining ways.

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.

2011 Pulse Pounder: Darksyde Acres

Honorable Mention: Tent of Terror (The Boneyard)

Our journey through Darksyde Acres sparked within me that primal fear that can only be stirred by the threat of the dark unknown. It seems to happen less and less as we visit more haunted attractions and therefore this award was well deserved.

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.

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

Honorable Mention: October 31, 2011 (St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum, 13 Feet Under, The Crypt)

On this date we made haunting an all night affair and oh what a fling it was! We began the night at Krazy Hilda’s where we witnessed the best overall volunteer effort in our haunting history. Next, we had all our senses assailed at the high-energy, mad house known as Chelsea Feargrounds. Finally, we burned the midnight oil with three substantial attractions at The Boneyard.

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.

2011 Haunt of the Year: Darksyde Acres

Honorable Mention: Chelsea Feargrounds

It was early in the haunting season when we paid a visit to Darksyde Acres but it certainly left a lasting impression. If the cast wasn’t firing on all cylinders that night I can’t wait to return during the prime of this season of screams. The usual haunt etiquette was discarded with wanton recklessness and the result was a stroke of awe inspiring giddiness.

Haunting By Numbers: 2011 Haunt Season

Posted in Haunting By Numbers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2012 by bluefall8

With the 2011 haunt season firmly in the rearview mirror, it is time to reflect on the pertinent numbers from the latest season of screams.

23: Total number of haunted attractions visited last fall at 18 separate locations, smashing the previous record of 12 first set in 2009 and then matched in 2010.

10:  Fright filled nights spent on the road searching for that next haunt fix, the most nights out of any previous season.

9: New, never before visited haunts, yet another one season record.

9: The number of counties we traveled to on various haunt expeditions, a single season record. Those counties included Wayne, Lenawee, Hillsdale, Macomb, Washtenaw, Ingham, Genesee, Monroe, and Lucas County in Ohio.

210: Dollars spent on haunted attractions – this figure does not include food and gas.

729: Miles traveled driving to and from Michigan’s scariest places.

78: Number of miles traveled (one way) to The Crypt in Burton, Michigan –the most distantly located haunt of the season.

5: Consecutive years that we have visited the Wyandotte Jaycees haunted attraction, currently the longest such streak.

6: Number of visits to The Scream Machine over the years, the most among all attractions.

2011 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by bluefall8

As my small but faithful group of readers know I write a review for each haunt that I visit during the fall. In addition to that at the end of the review I assign the attraction a 1-5 star rating. It’s just my way of summing up the overall effectiveness/enjoyability of that particular haunted attraction. I take a lot of factors into consideration when I determine the rating things like — actors, theme, props, special effects, originality, and level of excitement — just to name a few but at the end of the night the rating comes down to my raw gut feeling for the overall experience. Below is a complete list of the haunted attractions I visited during the 2011 Halloween season ranked by their corresponding star rating. It’s important to note that the star rating isn’t meant to serve as a way to compare one attraction to another rather it’s a reflection of how well each individual haunt executed what it set out to accomplish.

A quick aside before we get to all those goodies though — once more I’ve had a dream about haunted attractions and the beloved Fear Finder. In this dream I was riding around Lincoln Park in a car with my dad and my two sisters when I suddenly realized that it was Halloween. I began to sweat knowing that I hadn’t yet participated in any seasonal activities and then I reached a full blown panic when it dawned on me that it wasn’t just October 31 but also kids were out trick r’ treating! My sisters were dropped off at a friend’s house or something else similarly boring. I apparently was going to do something with my dad (unrelated to Halloween) and that simply could not stand. My dad tried to calm me down but his words mattered not! How in the blue hell had I forgotten about Halloween?! I opened the door to the car, jumped from the vehicle, and ran into the night in search of Halloween fun.

Next thing I knew I had entered the lobby of a haunt which was strangely situated on the grassy median of what seemed to be Electric Street. I found a stack of Fear Finder and greedily thumbed through one to see what haunts I could possibly hit. I quickly decided their was no time for such planning, I would merely run about feverishly looking for the next available haunt once I’d finished at my current location. On the cover of the Fear Finder was a depiction of a hooded character similar to Ghostface from Scream. The hooded phantom had strings attached to its’ fingers as if it were puppeteering the letters that comprised the phrase ‘Fear Finder’ below. The background of the cover was strikingly designed as stained glass windows; all things considered I think something in this vein would make a pretty damn cool cover for the actual Fear Finder.

Suddenly I was joined by my fellow haunters, John and Jason but before we could enter the attraction I wandered into a bathroom. The walls separating the stalls were comically short and in no way provided a sense of privacy. The stall next to me was completely filthy with feces and toilet paper spilling over the sides of the porcelain throne. I ignored the mess and began to urinate and then I noticed a large window in front of me. I peered out the window and discovered the turret of a castle mere yards from my current position. I took it to be a second haunted attraction and for the first time in this dream I started to feel as if I could salvage the night. I was brought out of my reverie by the arrival of my cohorts and a man I assumed ran the haunted attraction. He made some comment about the filthy stall next to me and then proceeded to jam his hands into the disgusting mess. He yanked a jagged block of ice out of toilet — excrement and used toilet paper jutted out at odd angles. As John and Jason stood by watching the man then acted as if he was going to heave frozen fecal bomb in my direction. After a few moments of  anger and disgust the man relented and began to laugh, turned out that the turdsicle was merely a prank he used to rile up haunters. An odd and tasteless tactic perhaps but now I was excited to see what this haunt had to offer to its customers.

However, as is the case with cool dreams, that’s when I woke up. Does anybody find it strange that as a grown man I’m having a recurring nightmare about missing out on the haunt season? What an awful prospect that would be!

2011 STAR RATINGS

Krazy Hilda’s Barn of Doom – 4.25 (Saline, MI.)

The Catacombs/Rusthole – 4 (Darksyde Acres/Jonesville, MI.)

Chelsea Feargrounds – 4 (Chelsea, MI.)

Tent of Terror – 4 (The Boneyard/Stockbridge, MI.)

13 Feet Under – 4 (Grand Blanc, MI.)

The Haunting – 3.75 (Adrian, MI.)

The Deadland – 3.75 (Warren, MI.)

House of the Dead – 3.75 (Terror Town/Maumee, OH.)

St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum – 3.75 (Grand Blanc, MI.)

The Crypt – 3.75 (Burton, MI.)

Realm of Haunted Minds – 3.25 (Romulus, MI.)

The Dark Abyss – 3.25 (Darksyde Acres/Jonesville, MI.)

Scarecrow Hollow – 3 (The Boneyard/Stockbridge, MI.)

Barn of Blood -3 (New Boston, MI.)

Scream Machine – 2.75 (Taylor, MI.)

Deadwood Forest – 2.75 (The Boneyard/Stockbridge, MI.)

Papp Park Trailer – 2.75 (Taylor, MI.)

The Funeral Home – 2.5 (Inkster, MI.)

Woods of Darkness – 2.25 (South Rockwood, MI.)

Lockdown – 2.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

Papp Park Hayride – 2.25 (Taylor, MI.)

Big Top Terror – 1.5 (Terror Town/Maumee, OH.)

Anxiety Alley – 1 (Lincoln Park, MI.)

Haunt Trinity Burns Midnight Oil at St. Lucifer’s and The Crypt

Posted in 2011, Review, St. Lucifer's, The Crypt with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by bluefall8


Halloween. The night that spawned countless scary stories, local legends, and all of our favorite horror icons. The founding members of The Haunt Trinity struck out into the night to celebrate the holiday with a visit to some fresh haunts.

The open road beckoned us, but before we hit the expressway we zig-zagged through the neighborhood of our youth reliving memories imprinted in time. When the sweet buzz of nostalgia had faded we found ourselves on I-75 barreling toward our destination — first the city of Grandblanc and then if we were lucky, the neighboring Burton.

DOUBLE FEATURE AT PLAYLAND PARK

Our first stop brought us to Playland Park, a family fun center any other time of the year but druing the season of ghosts it plays host to twin terrors headlined by St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum and rounded out by the zombie beleaguered 13 Feet Under.

The fun began before we were even able to find a parking spot. Ghouls of various sorts roamed the grounds freely — a particularly emaciated zombie followed our car gnashing at me through the back window. True to the habits of his rotting kinfolk, he peeled off and chased after the next thing to move when my tender flesh proved too elusive. While we waited in line to enter St. Lucifer’s a band of committed haunters entertained the throngs of visitors. One radical dead head zipped about on a pair of roller blades, a swamp creature slunk around the ankles of patrons, and the star of the show — a portly, middle aged woman with uneven patches of hair delighted the crowed by clucking and strutting like a chicken whilst making playfully crude remarks.

When we finally entered St. Lucifer’s we were shortly loaded into an elevator or as they’re generally referred to in the haunt biz — a hellivator. An increasing number of haunts have implemented these in recent years, the first time we experienced one was at the Scream Machine in 2006 and then again the following year at The Haunting. Terror Town’s House of the Dead also features a bumpy ride to parts unknown. However, St. Lucifer’s had a few surprises in store for us. The elevator rumbled to life and quite quickly came a most curious sound. Was that laughter? The mentally deranged held at St. Lucifer’s had broken loose and seemed to be rocking our carriage from the outside! As the elevator shook a cacophony of voices echoed through the box, combining to form a collective insanity that sounded amused, excited, and angry all at the same time. The wild ride came to a sudden halt and just when we thought we were safe the floor beneath our feet dropped! Okay, it merely dropped a few inches but it was entirely unexpected and something new to The Haunt Trinity. All in all St. Lucifer’s was off to a rollicking start.

As it were the pace was kept up fairly well as St. Lucifer’s featured a quality blend of workers and props, maintained a delicate balance of indoor and outdoor, and supported a solid lighting scheme by utilizing powerful strobe lights for thrilling scenes and plain old darkness for just enough psychological pull.

St. Lucifer’s stuck with the insane asylum theme well but didn’t limit itself to padded cells and dark hallways — we witnessed a variety of rooms including a dental area, a classroom, sleeping quarters, and a morgue. Each area included unique features or characters beginning with the dentist who displayed what can kindly be described as a less than gentle touch. In the classroom we encountered Sister Mary Clearance, a mountain of a man dressed as a nun complete with a sweet, Southernly voice that belied a firm hand. We discovered just how firm that hand could be when the good Sister reprimanded us for being late by whipping our asses with a yard stick.

The finale of the attraction made use of heavy fog and unrelenting strobe lights, a ghoul named Jimmy stalked us from the shrouded mist. We raced toward a choke point — a Womb of Doom — as it would turn out it was the most suffocating one of its kind. Jason and I broke through to the other end and waited for John to emerge…and waited…and waited. Had the Womb of Doom ensnared the Disco Devil? Perhaps Jimmy of the Mist had caught up with him? Had John been sucked into a some sort of Halloween time warp? Questions abound but one thing was for certain, we would not abandon our friend to haunt purgatory. Our decision was made, we had to reenter the Womb! Just as we were about to take the plunge Disco sprung forth from the inky black void like a monstrous feline — proving to me that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed messing with friends during the ultimate season of practical jokes.

St. Lucifer’s was overwhelmingly enjoyable. The workers exhibited good to great acting and the attraction itself was constructed well and was of fair length. The characters were bizarre, grotesque, and humorous — we watched one disheveled lunatic lick a pane of glass in an apparent attempt to express his desire for us. Elsewhere a mentally stunted nun babbled nonsense whilst mistreating a patient. There were also cool structural features such as the aforementioned elevator but also a set of old freezer doors used to simulate entering a morgue. We were even treated to a highly realistic dummy of a midget, and boy do I enjoy that sort of thing.

Rating: 3.75 stars

13 FEET UNDER UNEARTHS A GEM

13 Feet Under is the second house at this location but unlike so many other haunts that feature multiple attractions this is no side show, rather it’s a full blown haunt in its own right. 13 Feet Under was in a sentence — interesting and different with a dash of gloom and fun. Much like St. Lucifer’s, 13 Feet Under employed a design that left many areas open overhead — a feature that lent an authentic feel to the ravaged cityscape the theme suggested. I felt like Jill Valentine dodging Nemesis through back alleys and fire escapes in Resident Evil 3…minus the boobs of course. I was also reminded of Deadly Intensions’ City of the Dead from 2009.

There were some truly neat design features within the haunt such as descending bridges and sewer passages built from large construction tubing — the latter an excellent choice in terms of creativity to transition from one area to another and too also provide haunters with an unfamiliar environment with which to interact.

The first quarter of the haunt was thin on actors but this didn’t detract from the experience in fact it seemed to set the mood well. The first character of note we came across was a walker bound granny who made a bit of small talk before dropping her robe to reveal a pair of comically saggy breasts complete with nipple tassels. She gyrated and danced much to our delight, tassels cutting circles in the October air. When she had finished her geriatric thrusting it was clear we were meant to be on our way but intent on getting the maximum bang for our buck, we attempted to goad ole granny into an encore performance but alas we had received all we would get. That was definitely one of the most outright hilarious moments we’ve ever experienced while haunting.

Further into the haunt we came across three young lasses who had each been trapped in a cage. They begged for our help but as usual all we could do was ogle. We did a fair bit of ogling later on as well when we witnessed a genuine amputee performing in a scene of torture and mutilation. Sex and violence peddled in its basest forms can usually enhance any haunted attraction.

Midway through the attraction we traversed a room full of body bags each stuffed with an occupant. The scene had been designed to look as if the corpses had been disposed of in an alley or area for trash collection. It was wonderfully reminiscent of what I like to call the “Pit of Dead” scene from Dawn of the Dead — needless to say I found it to be a very nice touch.

Speaking of dead things, we had finally found some flesh eaters in this ruined city. A tall fence separated our party from them but that wouldn’t stop any brain muncher worth its weight. The pair pushed against the fence which had a surprising amount of give. They may have surprised us with their ferocity but their yellowed teeth remained on the other side of the fence. We hastened our pace for such a commotion had surely alerted others of their kind to our presence. Shortly thereafter we were surprised by the same emaciated cretin who had chased our car earlier in the night. I offered the hungry fellow a few sporting chomps as is my custom but my reflexes were too quick for the wretched rotter.

We neared the end of the haunt as we wound our way through a wrought iron maze of fence. There was a camper visible ahead, it was lit up and decorated as if it were home…to something. We were given no time to soak in the scene, the residents were home and they were pissed. The lady of the land shrieked something about trespassing whilst a pair of weapon clad weirdos hurried toward us hellbent on getting us off of their land. After a few threats from them and a couple of wise cracks from us we did indeed depart their property and in doing so exited 13 Feet Under.

13 Feet Under was an all around solid haunting experience, scoring particularly well in the areas of acting, pace, props, design, and theme. Along with St. Lucifer’s this double bill should find success for many seasons to come.

Rating: 4 stars

BURTON’S CRYPT BLENDS ODD JUMBLE OF SCARES

The silver light of the Halloween Moon acted as a stimulus upon us, the night was growing late but with The Crypt so tantalizingly close it would be nothing short of a crime if we were to fail in our quest of a Samhain trifecta. On this night however fate would smile upon us as we soon found ourselves standing in line for the final haunt of the 2011 season. The Crypt is located in Burton in what appeared to be a vast and bleak postindustrial landscape; it felt as if we were on the outskirts of Midgar.

The Crypt featured a fairly pedestrian façade but seemed to be comprised of a building and various trailers; it seemed to be of decent length but it was difficult to estimate. We were allowed to enter the structure a few minutes sooner than we would have when the couple in front of us comically chickened out – attempting to quiet their nerves no less than three times.

We entered the darkness and were quickly entrenched in an oppressive series of catacombs. Caught up in the euphoria of our final outing I brashly announced the arrival of The Haunt Trinity to any ghouls within earshot, and what do you know, one such ghoul took umbrage to my bravado and offered up a quality first scare. The first half of the haunt was very well done offering an immersive environment that see-sawed surprisingly well between damp crypts and household scenes of horror. Indeed, the most interesting scenes were those that resembled the living quarters of what can only be called a trailer park nightmare. The rooms were immaculately and bizarrely decorated, The Crypt as it turned out was not without some of the flavor of a pair of our all-time favorites –The Realm of Darkness and Armada’s Haunted Hollows. One room featured a curiously shaped fish bowl complete with livestock, another held a wild-eyed, piano playing fleshy, and yet another had a large, redneck man in a shower.

The props in the first half of the haunt were plentiful, creepy, and kitsch – it was easy to imagine that we had wandered stupidly into the dark fantasy of some whacked out and twisted white trash. The haunt stretched on and the scenery and mood shifted dramatically. We walked down a dark passageway and then through a door that led us to a brightly colored room, a clown with ridiculously long legs sat limply in the corner. As we crossed the room Spider Legs sprang to life and proceeded to tower over us looking like a pasty-faced abomination. This room seemed to distinguish the line between the first and second half of the haunted attraction. The latter half of the haunt wasn’t bad but it was relatively disappointing compared to the first half. This second area of the haunt had a much more generic feel and relied much more heavily on animatronics. The haunt felt a bit slapped together toward the end, at times resembling a dungeon but too often it featured rooms and scenes that felt disconnected from one to the next.

Overall, The Crypt was a very enjoyable haunted attraction and not a bad way to conclude the 2011 haunt season. I’d be remiss however if I failed to mention the excellent choice of music throbbing throughout the attraction – first the theme from Halloween and then The Exorcist. I’ve said it before and I ‘ll say it again, when in doubt you just cannot go wrong with either of those tunes scaring up the air molecules inside of a haunted house.

Rating: 3.75 stars