Archive for the funeral home

Mixed Results at Terrorfied Forest and Manor

Posted in 2013, Review, Terrorfied Forest & Manor with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by bluefall8

We arrived in Pinckney with little time to spare; a full moon was suspended high in the sky as the midnight hour approached. The wooded landscape upon which Terrorfied Forest and Manor resides immediately put me in mind of Krazy Hilda’s Camp of no Return last year in Chelsea.

We sought out the ticket booth where the man who sold the tickets directed us to a Chester Van off to the left where the trail to the manor, began. The man seemed to find a certain humor in our upcoming plight, a point that Cikalo deftly countered with his own brand of perverse and salacious wit.

We hit the trail and began the short trek to the entrance of the manor, as it turned out we did not cross paths with the keeper of the van who was perhaps preoccupied at the moment. We didn’t afford him the opportunity to meet our acquaintance either as we shortly came upon the door step and plunged into the manor.

A MOST MACABRE MANOR

As soon as we crossed the threshold of the manor we were assailed by a musty odor, and this was no manufactured scent, this was the genuine article. The structure resembled that of an old house or cabin and we were allowed to roam through the abode quite freely — it put me in mind of both The Funeral Home in Inkster and The Crypt in Burton.

As we entered into a large room, we heard the roll of thunder and witnessed a simple yet effective lightning effect just outside a series of windows to our right. Posed mannequins were spread throughout the house, one dressed as a cop was beside a casket; his face stoic an expressionless. My mind was brought to select scenes from House of Wax (an underrated horror flick in my opinion). I enjoyed this approach and wouldn’t mind if it were used to even greater effect here or at other attractions. It lent a creepy tension to each scene, it was almost as if we had been pulled into an old photograph. Let’s face it, mannequins — like other inanimate human impostors (such as dolls),  possess an evil quality.

Unfortunately their live counterparts didn’t offer much in the way of vocalization or improvisation, much of what we encountered was poorly timed scares and generic threats. It wasn’t an awful cast by any means but the effort was far from inspired.

Business would soon pick up however as we were shuttled down a long slide into the basement of the manor. I’ve always enjoyed features such as this in haunted attractions; slides are just fun and I’ve never quite seen one used to transport guests from one level of a haunt to another, typically a slide will serve merely as an exit.

The ghouls in this area were more energized than their peers on the first floor. First, a long haired nut in a straight-jacket pursued us with gusto and at the finale of the attraction we were treated to an electrocution. The actor in the chair gave a convincing performance and when we inquired about the contents of his drawers (we had to make sure he was dead) the executioner played along and confirmed that the deceased had indeed soiled his undergarments, which he confirmed with a good old fashioned thumbs up.

The Manor had its moments and certainly has potential to be improved, but there was a lot left on the table both in terms of acting and storytelling. In the end it concluded all too briefly.

Rating: 2.75 stars

MIDNIGHT STROLL THROUGH TERRORFIED FOREST

The natural ambience of a forest walk simply cannot be beaten, the path at Terrorfied Forest offered a half hour of scares through hills, valleys, and various outbuildings. The trip began with a descent into a mine which set us on our path to the forest, a string of dim red lights guided us on our journey.

We traversed a parcel of land that resembled a farm and then passed by an eerily placid body of water, the perfect place for a killer scare or monstrous prop and although we witnessed nothing of the nature, it’s just too perfect an opportunity for the operators to pass up in the future. The wooded path did feature a fair mix of live actors and props; some of the props were even animated such as the miniature wolf boy which gave me a quality startle scare.

Like those inside the Manor, many of the actors along the pathway provided sub par performances — the scares weren’t bad but they did lack a certain passion and creativity. This was no more evident than in one outbuilding where the severed body of a girl lie on a table, her captor was armed with a saw. As we entered, the actor buzzed his saw for just a moment and then placed it on the table and silently approached us. I thought perhaps we had caught him a little off guard so I encouraged him to saw her properly. He obliged as any good scare actor should but as the female actress on the table was just about to reach the peak of her scream, the shriek abruptly ended. She turned to us and snottily snapped, “You can go now.” I can scarcely blame the male actor for breaking character at this point as he was perhaps embarrassed by her unwarranted rudeness, but break character he did by asking if there were any groups behind us.

As a customer at a haunted attraction I expect the actors to be just as engaged in the show as I am, sometimes that requires a little improvisation and creativity. These actors weren’t threatened, we used no profane language, we simply engaged them as the characters they were portraying. This was amateur behavior in what was an otherwise professional haunted attraction and it’s precisely this type of behavior that continues to proliferate negative stereotypes about the haunt industry. I know that if I were the owner of a haunted attraction I would not tolerate an employee who displayed such distain toward paying guests.

Fortunately, there did happen to be some worthy characters as well such a muscly clown who blocked our path — his frame and chainsaw made for quite the imposing sight. This same area was also home to a few of his harlequin pals — dummies that held ominous signs which read, “This is the last time you’ll see me” and other similarly strange statements.

I particularly liked the sideshow themed area where it looked as if a carnival of old had once broken down on the side of the road and simply decided to stay. It is here that we met Torso Girl and later passed by a colorful wagon which contained a massive gorilla. As we stared through the protective bars the tune of classic circus music began to play, I hoped that upon its’ conclusion the beast would move to attack but it turned out to be a prop. This area concluded with a similarly themed outbuilding — it had both the feel of a fun house and a big top tent. Inside, a costumed actor ran to and fro erratically, his oversized clown arms swung comically. We exchanged pleasantries and even brokered a handshake.

The Terrorfied Forest ended with a trip through a pitch black maze, one of the best such structures we’ve ever encountered. Despite the various shortcomings here, we found it quite enjoyable. With a couple changes in personnel and the addition of a few prime scares, the Terrorfied Forest will send haunters scattering through the woods.

Rating: 3.25 stars

“I sure hope he has big fingers.”

-Cikalo’s jesting exchange with the ticket seller who warned us of Chester the Molester.

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Local Haunts a Welcome Old Hand

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2013 by bluefall8

Another beautiful Friday evening in October is soon to descend upon us and the distinct scent of fun and fright is in the air. I do have a prior obligation to attend first, but once that has concluded I’ll don the old hat and set out into the black night. I’ll be staying close to home tonight, hitting some combination of Realm of Haunted Minds in Romulus, The Funeral Home in Inkster, or The Scream Machine at it’s new location in Taylor.

For those keeping count — I have yet to post my reviews from last Friday’s visits to Slaughter House in Fowlerville and Terrorfied Forest and Manor in Pinckey. Patience kiddies, patience. A complete review of Slaughter House will be posted tomorrow; Terrorfied Forest and Manor will follow shorty thereafter.

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.

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.)

Realm of Haunted Minds and Funeral Home a fitting pair for Windswept Outing

Posted in 2011, Funeral Home, Realm of Haunted Minds, Review with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2011 by bluefall8

The night was chilly, a steady rain fell, the wind reminded us that we were not alone. Our first stop brought us to Realm of Haunted Minds at the Huron Turkey Farm in Romulus. The building adjacent the parking lot is decorated with a variety of illuminated outlines — ghosts, bats, and an assortment of Halloween fixtures welcome you to this enclave of fright. Inside guests purchase tickets amidst a gallery of rogues — full sized replicas of some of Hollywood’s greatest horror icons mingle along side obscure creatures such as one oddly slouched harlequin. As haunters make their way to the main attraction they wind a path through a series of miniature structures, here an old school house, a jail, and even a saloon — this year a swamp creature even lurked the grounds. After some brief exploration we entered the Realm of Haunted Minds.

The front foyer bears resemblance to dungeon has changed slightly since our last visit in 2008. Instead of the house rules being delivered by a creepy animatronic wizard they are now presented to guests by a large Frankenstein monster which partially rises from its slab when addressing guests. Upon finishing his message Frankie falls back into a slumber and a pair of doors open to the left. Realm of Haunted Minds is comprised mostly of black hallways splattered with neon colored paint, a good balance of classic haunt fundamentals mixed with a modern carnivalesque edge. Like a number of Jaycees productions Realm of Haunted Minds isn’t going to blow guests away with sleek animatronics or a slew of gory props but what haunters will enjoy is the creative carpentry that is put to use. A haunted attraction is one of the few forms of entertainment where patrons can actually interact with the environment but if operators fail to implement ways to facilitate this then the show can be diminished. Here guests are confronted with a room full of doors, all of them false save for one. This technique forces haunters to face the mystery of each possibility and in a sense find their own way out. It doesn’t hurt either when the minds behind the show go the extra mile and add a twist like making the doors child sized. I’m also a big fan of ramps and slopes in haunted attractions, part of the success of any haunt is in frightening patrons which can be accomplished in a litany of ways. In the case of ramps or slopes haunters can be thrown off balance or forced to exert themselves more than normal which will in turn require them to be even more aware of their environment. These are subtle strokes but they can make all the difference to a small haunt and Realm of Haunted Minds does these nicely.

Realm of Haunted Minds also uses paint in effective ways. One area of the haunt featured a vortex tunnel, something that a lot of haunts now have (in fact we just saw one last week at the Scream Machine.) What sets this one apart is the paint pattern on the fabric of the tubular wall. Most haunts will give you the star pattern or a similar design but here their were multiple designs with the most prominent being a series of swirling ribbons that coiled the entire length of the tunnel. It was a nice touch that truly enhanced the feeling of traversing a portal. Another area where the paint pattern stood out was located near the middle of the haunt. After rounding a corner we came upon a purple and yellow polka dotted room lit entirely by a black light. The room had a strange glow about it and the light made the dots look almost as if they were floating in mid-air. To our immediate left a small window featured an elaborately painted clown and when we paused for a closer look it disappeared in a blink to reveal a clownish ghoul.

In 2008 my biggest criticism of Realm of Haunted Minds fell to the actors therein and I’d be lying if I said the criticism is no longer warranted. On the whole the haunt could use more warm bodies, the first half of the attraction in particular was scant of breathing beings. The most glaring examples of squandered opportunities came early, first in a dungeon scene that included a pair of empty stocks and then in the meat locker chucked full of hanging corpses. There can’t be a live actor in each room not every dark hallway has to have a ghoul. Different rooms serve different purposes, a darkened hallway for instance allows a guest’s imagination do the work. The purpose of the scenes described above however build anticipation through visual cues — in these instances the stocks in the dungeon and the bodies hanging from the ceiling in the meat locker — when there’s no payoff such as a screaming ghoulie what anticipation was built is now lost. The second half of the haunt was more accomplished in this area but here often times the delivery of the actors left something to be desired. That’s not to suggest that they were bad, some even managed to deliver mild startles, but as a whole the cast was pedestrian. Few of them offered much else than a scream or a growl and seemed resistant to engage us as individual haunters as opposed to a mindless horde. The best exception to this was of course our favorite ankle sniping dark dame. Three years ago she professed a desire to bite our ankles and her performance didn’t disappoint this year either. She entertained us with on the spot vocalizations and when I let John’s name slip she pounced on the chance to personalize the experience. As we exited her area she gave chase through three other rooms, all while crawling of course.

Near the end of the attraction there are several dead ends (an underutilized trick in my opinion) which eventually lead to the ever enjoyable ‘Womb of Doom’, this year I decided to plant my feet about halfway through the structure and cause what I’m pleased to learn was quite a confusing backup.

Realm of Haunted Minds is a fun, family friendly haunted attraction. There’s a lot of good aspects here grounded in fundamental haunting but there’s also room for improvement most namely the issues concerning placement and delivery of the actors. Undoubtedly though a nice place to have so close to home.

Rating: 3 1/4 stars

“Ohhhh, Johnnyyyyy!”

-Realm of Haunted Minds’ Creepy Crawler, after I let John’s name slip.

“Is there anything down there?”

“No. All I see is Lon Chaney’s face as the Phantom of the Opera painted on the wall.”

-Cikalo and I realizing we’d stumbled upon a dead end.

The second and final stop of the night brought us to Inkster’s Funeral Home. This attraction has only run for a couple of seasons and in all honesty it’s not a place I’ve ever seriously considering visiting, but sometimes half the fun of this whole season is in taking unintended adventures — for proof of that I have no further to look than our 2009 visit to Haunted Hollows in Armada. The Funeral Home is indeed held at a true to life, former funeral parlor — an ideal place for a haunted attraction. The front of the building is garishly trimmed in red and has a large window displaying an array of a dummies. We parked in a lot behind the funeral home where John was the recipient of a ghastly scare before we had even exited the vehicle — more on this later. We proceeded to a small, sliding window on the side of the building from which haunters purchased a ticket. I couldn’t help but wonder what purpose such a window would have served at an actual funeral home. Was this drive-thru urn pick up? Did loved ones of the deceased schedule services this way? Had severed heads been chucked unceremoniously out this window for little more than shits and giggles??!! One can never truly be sure of such things.

After we had our tickets we proceeded to a back door which oddly served as the entrance to the haunted attraction. A man dressed in a suit appeared from behind the door — the funeral director, of course. It’s always a nice touch when the ticket taker is also a character. It’s the same idea behind line entertainment, a chance to engage the guests before entering the attraction itself. This particular doormen was dressed the part but he wasn’t playing the part and that dampened the effect. Once inside the haunt we were treated to a fair effort at a location with promise. I was initially surprised that the haunt was comprised of dark hallways with black flaps hanging above the openings between rooms. I was expecting and hoping for more of a traditional funeral home decor and that is definitely something I think the operators should change going forward. There were a few areas where this was showcased but it wasn’t nearly enough. What good is it to run a haunted attraction out of an old funeral home and not play to that fact heavily. That’s not to say the show was unenjoyable but it was a show that could have been put on in any building. There was a neat scene in one hallway where a narrow strip of floor was actually thick plexiglass. Below a slab was visible, a bloody smock thrown haphazardly across it — and that’s precisely what I would have loved to see more. Send me to the morgue, a room full of caskets, the incinerator!

There were a lot of actors in the Funeral Home and some of them were serviceable like the shouting creep who emerged from what looked like a bar? Collectively however the cast was underwhelming. Most of the actors wore masks, masks of horror movie icons to be precise, which can work under certain conditions but certainly there was a better option to fit the theme of this haunt. A large number of the actors lacked the knowledge of a proper scare, for example on several occasions we entered a room and encountered what we believed to be a prop but what was in fact an expertly still actor. In more than one instance I even leaned in for a closer looked and wondered aloud whether it was a prop or not and when nothing happened I proceeded through the room. The actor finally delivered the scare when we began to depart the room. The result was a barely there scare in fact those of us at the front of the line were more confused than anything else. In these instances it would have made much more sense if the actor were to have sprung to life when being inspected. Here I was wondering aloud whether it was a prop, what better set up could you ask for?!

I did take note that the theme from 1978’s Halloween was playing throughout our journey in the Funeral Home and any haunt operator in doubt over music can’t go wrong with that choice. On an amusing note there was a ghoul playing a piano near the end of the attraction, he had his back turned to us as we entered the room and therefore I was not able to immediately peg him for a genuine fleshy. Another rather humorous moment occurred when I spotted a window to my right, what appeared to be a macabre bedroom lie beyond the threshold. I asked a nearby creep if perhaps that was the rape room. Funeral homes have those right? We turned a corner, walked down a hallway and then spotted a door to our right. There was also an apparent path that led straight ahead and for a moment we wondered where we were supposed to go. An actor dressed as Jigsaw’s Puppet from Saw had lurked into the hall as well but he was apparently in no mood to offer assistance.

We decided to go through the door on the right and found ourselves in imminent danger. We had unwittingly waltzed directly into the aforementioned Rape Room! I saw a door at the other end of the room and decided to go through that as well. It lead to another hallway and here there were two doors, one directly in front of us and a second to the left. I tried the one on the left (a bathroom if the sign on the door can be trusted) and called inside but heard nothing in response. I even tried the light switch but nothing so we ventured on. The next door led us to a similar hallway and I was sure we had taken a wrong turn. Why hadn’t that damn overgrown puppet warned us I wondered. Did he want us to go into the Rape Room? We had noticed a doorway that led back into the haunt in the previous hallway, strangely enough this doorway led back to the room on the opposite side of the Rape Room — the room we’d first glimpse the Rape Room. Possessing no desire to be defiled by man-sized puppets (well maybe Alec desired that) we beat a hasty retreat back to the proper path.

The monsters seemed momentarily caught off guard but recovered quickly enough and soon we came to the haunt’s conclusion, yet another point of strangeness. The path turned to what seemed to be a dead end. A new age Michael Myers stood menacing and silent near the only thing that appeared to be a doorway but it wouldn’t budge. I figured we were being held in the room for a moment to deliver a scare so after a couple of attempts at the door Cikalo and I simply plopped down on an old couch. Mr. Myers remained as still as a statue, ignoring our questions just as that pervert of a puppet had earlier. Then suddenly he darted from the room as if he had somewhere better to be. Pounding could be heard from the other side of the door so I thought it was time to give it another try and just then it sprang open and nearly blasted me in the face. An unseen force had propelled the door in my direction but luckily my face was spared a proper smashing. We proceeded into a dark room and for a moment all was silent but then a loud noise jarred the room to life, a red light bathed all, and a large cretin delivered an inspired final scare.

The Funeral Home was enjoyable but the same show that we witnessed could have been held in any old building. This was a funeral home! A FUNERAL HOME!!! The possibilities here are awesome to behold! Here’s my vision: drop the masks entirely and put the cast in face paint, death hues only. Only use the narrow, black hallways as a means to transition from one room to the next and otherwise let the funeral home decor shine. Show me a deranged mortician, a rampaging necrophile, an army or reanimates! Let the haunters participant in a wake only to be chased from the room by grief crazed widows! My mind teems with the possibilities of what could be done with such an attraction. Alas, some day my haunt friends.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

“John, look. There’s genitals on the window.”

-Richard, calling attention to the fact that Cikalo had “brained” the passenger side window.

Altered Realities, Altered Plans

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , on October 1, 2011 by bluefall8

I talked to my contact at the Woods of Darkness just a short while ago and the weather conditions have once again forced them to close up shop for the night. I have been assured however that the attraction will be open tomorrow night. Nothing to fear though for we have found a replacement for tonight in the form of the Funeral Home in Inkster. It’s held in a genuine former funeral home and that at the least is reason to be optimistic. In conjunction we’ll also visit the 2008 Dark Horse Award Winner, the Realm of Haunted Minds at the Huron Turkey Farm in Romulus. I wonder if our creepy, crawling dark dame still inhabits the halls therein? One can only hope.

One last update before we’re off, on a whim I called the folks with Taylor’s Little League that runs the haunted attraction out of Papp Park and it too is open tonight. We’ll keep this in mind for future nights of haunting in our nearby area.