Archive for the haunting

2009 Haunt Season Preview

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2014 by bluefall8

This entry served as the official kickoff to the 2009 haunt season and was originally posted on Friday, September 11, 2009. The song at the top of this entry is called “Bag- O’-Bones” and was included on a Halloween CD called Moans from the Mausoleum.

This entry briefly summarized the 2008 haunt season, but focused mainly on the attractions we were likely to visit in 2009.

As with many of these Hallowblog entries, many of the links that were included at the time no longer function and thus have been deactivated. 

Well I heard about this Monster Mash dance
bunch of creatures flailing around
Well listen up cause now’s your chance
to get spooky and get down

Do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
Let the skeleton inside you dance around
Do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
Let the skeleton inside you dance around.

Now get up on the bony feet
And give those bony hands a clap
Well then you move those bony knees
And give that funny bone a slap
And that’s the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
That’s the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
Let the skeleton inside you dance around
That’s the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
Let the skeleton inside you dance around.

I think you really outta be knowin’
wherever you might be a goin’
well there’s a skeleton walkin’ round
they ain’t just buried in the ground
Cause you’re a bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
You’re a bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
So let the skeleton inside you dance around
Do the bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
You’re a bag o’ bones (bag o’ bones)
So let the skeleton inside you dance around.

Whoa, you’re so creepy
I think you’re scaring me a little bit now

I saw the first true signs of fall today; a few leaves had fallen from their summer perch. I knew then that the time was ripe for the first edition of Hallowblog 2009. The 2009 haunt season is nearly here and yet the memories of last year are still so fresh in my mind, it’s hard to believe that the annual celebration of all things frightful and mysterious is so close. Ahhhh, a haunting we shall go indeed but first we have much news to discuss.

The 2008 haunt season was unparalled in scope, in fact the season was such a success it will be the focus of an upcoming edition of Hallowblog. Today however we gather here at this hallowed hearth for a glimpse not into the past, no today we look into the creepy things to come.

My fellow haunters will be excited to know that a majority of haunts have already updated their websites for the coming season one of the noteworthy few that has not is TerrorTown. It is with great anticipation that I await an update from those that provided such a memorable experience last year with The House of the Dead.

Like last year Pigman’s Lair in Chelsea will be dark and it doesn’t seem as if the operators have a definitive plan for the future either. You can amuse yourself with the legend of the Pigman though; I think it’s worth a read anyway.

Legend of the Pigman

While driving on Biddle in Wyandotte last week I made a sad discovery: the building that held 2007’s Hell’s Hospital and 2008’s Templin’s Night Terror has been demolished. I have yet to hear where the Wyandotte Jaycees will hold their attraction this year but you can trust that I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.

I don’t know about anyone else but I still long for a return visit to the Nautical Nightmare. The rug was pulled out from beneath us last year and it just wasn’t right my friends. The Haunt Trinity could have been cannibalized by famished hobos! I’ve emailed somebody involved with the restoration of the Ste. Claire regarding the possible return of the water bound haunt but I have yet to receive a response.

Zioptis will apparently initiate a new rating system for haunts this year. It states on their website that too many people were failing to understand the star system or more specifically for example how a mega-haunt such as Erebus could receive the same rating as a locally produced modular haunt. Well Zioptis clearly states that the ratings are a reflection of how well an individual haunt executes what it sets out to do. They are not meant to serve as a comparison from one attraction to the next. I’m not sure how people fail to understand that, retards. Zioptis also claims that the ratings have inadvertently pitted haunts against each other. The site isn’t exactly clear on what this new system will look like but I can assure you that Hallowblog will continue to grade haunts on the star system. I’ve always enjoyed the information that Zioptis displays and I think the star system is a fine way to rate haunts. If Zioptis is guilty of anything it’s granting far too many 5 star ratings. Too often the site fails to give in-depth details of any haunt and has a tendency to give glowing reviews to mediocre attractions.

The Fear Finder may be released as early as next week but realistically I look for it to flood the area the following week. When it does come out I and my fellows haunters will have some tough decisions to make. We visited a lot of great haunts last year but it’ll be near impossible to revisit them all this year if we also plan to hit some new haunts. The 2009 haunt season will have to be the most carefully planned to date if we’re to make this year as successful and entertaining as the last. Let’s take a look at a sampling of possible first time visits then shall we?

The first haunt that jumped out at me this year is The Haunt in Walker. It’s quite a drive from my apartment, clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes so that would obviously be a factor but I encourage all fellow haunters to check out each haunt and bring your own opinions to the table.

An Ohio haunt that has hit the Haunt Trinity radar is The Haunted Hydro. This haunt is located in Fremont which is approximately 30 minutes south of TerrorTown in Maumee. This pair of haunts could make for an adventurous night in the Buckeye State.

In Michigan I discovered a brand new haunt in Jackson called Jackson’s Underworld. I first came across this while looking at the Homer Mill’s myspace page, I’m unsure as to whether it’s operated by the same people or if the two haunts have simply formed an alliance. One thing is for certain if the folks at the Homer Mill are either endorsing or producing this new locale it’s worth checking out.

Also in Michigan is Darksyde Acres in Jonesville. Darksyde Acres features a number of attractions and is produced by Bodybag Entertainment, the same company that was supposed to produce the Nautical Nightmare last year. The sheer size of this place and the ambition of those involved makes this location intriguing but last years disappearing act at Hart Plaza, while not totally the fault of Bodybag Entertainment, has left a bad taste in my mouth. For the time being we’ll place this one in the wild card category.

And there’s plenty of potential first time haunts that we simply didn’t make it to last year like Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township and it’s nearby neighbors Slaughtered at Sundown and Blake’s in Armada. There are also dark horse contenders to consider like The Deadland Haunted House in Davison, The Crypt in Burton, or St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum in Grand Blanc.

And then the waters really get muddied when you start to consider which of our favorite mainstays will have to sit on the sidelines during the 2009 season. Last year we opted not to visit The Scream Machine in Taylor or The Lab in Grosse Ile but where will the axe fall this year? I’d like to visit The Scream Machine this year although The Lab is up for debate. The Lab is changing things up a bit this year offering guests an opportunity to traverse the haunt in total darkness with nothing to guide your party but a single glow stick. This “Lights Out” feature will run at midnight every Friday and Saturday.

It has been suggested that perhaps we skip Pontiac’s twin terrors this season: Erebus and The Realm of Darkness. These two haunts have served as our biggest night out the last three seasons and excluding them borders on sacrilege…but if we are to maximize both our time and dollar it may have to be a sacrifice we’re willing to make.

One place that I definitely want to return to is Deadly Intentions in Warren. This haunt scorched our frontal lobes last Halloween and the recently released 2009 theme has set my horror juices a’ bubbling: City of the Living Dead. I don’t think I have to say any more than that to those who witnessed this balls out effort last year. Jason and Disco I ask you this, can the dynamics we experienced at this haunt last year coupled with the excitement of an apocalyptic zombie theme result in anything less than an all time classic? This is a dark alchemy not soon to be forgotten.

Nor can we simply forget about Extreme Scream in Taylor or The Realm of Haunted Minds in Romulus both put forth worthy efforts last year and we’d be remiss to dismiss them so easily. And there’s also Chainsaw Creek in Toledo which delighted us last season with a slew of tasteless characters. It also remains to be known whether or not Adrian’s The Haunting deserves a second chance after a relatively disappointing visit in 2007. I would also like to propose a possible visit to Cedar Point HalloWeekends which features two new attractions this year, one of which is called Happy Jack’s Toy Factory. Can you think of a more devilishly fun theme for a haunted attraction than that?! It’ll be like Chucky, Puppetmaster, and Goosebumps all rolled into one!

We have many decisions to make this season my haunt brethren, let us choose wisely.

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Official Launch of the 2008 Haunt Season

Posted in Hallowblog, Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2014 by bluefall8

This flashback erupted into existence on Saturday, September 27, 2008. For a few years I enjoyed this style of entry as a way to provide highlights of the previous season at the cusp of the latest season of screams. It’s an idea I’ve considered resurrecting and honestly it brings back a lot of good memories. Here I provided snippets from reviews of all the haunted attractions we visited in 2007 and also touched on our then impending visit to the Homer Mill. 

Bring out your dead, bring out your dead! Tonight the haunt season blasts off with a visit to the Homer Mill. Jason and Disco will arrive at my apartment at approximately 7 p.m. The estimated drive time to the village of Homer is 1 hour and 45 minutes and I suspect, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, “This shall be a night to remember.” As we kick off another wonderful season of tricks and treats I suggest we step into a portal and experience once more the magic that thrilled us in 2007.

Last year Hallowblog became the forum in which I chronicled all things Halloween, throughout the season many memorable moments were enshrined in Hallowblog lore, here’s a look back at the best of the best.

It was last year on this very weekend that we visited The Haunting in Adrian. The trip was detailed in a September 29th edition of Hallowblog entitled, Haunting Season Begins.

On the Haunting’s main attraction, The 13th Floor

“The remainder of the attraction was less than stellar but the fat lady with the butcher knife managed to elicit some laughs when she leapt at us and proclaimed, “Meat! I looooove meat!””

“The last item of interest was an immensely large man who sat upon a bed gnawing at a brain. I wasn’t quite sure why anyone would fear this as I harbored serious doubts that he could so much as heave his gelatinous form from the space he occupied.”

On The Haunting’s Manic Maze

“Absent were any actors or props but the maze did give us the opportunity to run around like idiots attempting to frighten other, unsuspecting guests.”

Friday, October 12th marked our next outing. On this night we targeted three downriver haunts, The Lab in Grosse Ile, The Scream Machine in Taylor, and finally Hell’s Hospital in Wyandotte. The shenanigans from this trip were recorded in Hallowblog the following day in an entry titled Downriver Haunt Review.

On The Lab

“I waited for his infected ass to leap at us and beg for help but it turned out to be simply a prop after all.”

“There was a hefty chainsaw wielding fellow who played his role well, trapping us against a wall while repeatedly asking for Amanda’s eyes with apparent sexual zest.”

“I however thought the keycard was a cool souvenir and therefore stowed it in my back pocket and proceeded to inform the guard that I had lost it.”

On The Scream Machine and The Carnevil of Lost Souls in 3D

“I just have to meet Chunk the Clown who happens to reside somewhere in the mysterious annuls of the 3D realm.”

“After The Scream Machine McCreary professed that she had pissed her pants and thus departed.”

On Hell’s Hospital

“While you wait in line a gimpy little fellow entertains the masses with a combination of guttural sounds and questionable gestures.”

The final edition of Hallowblog was posted on October 21st and recounted our visit to two kings of the haunt industry: The Realm of Darkness and Erebus. The entry was entitled Haunt Season Home Stretch.

On the Realm of Darkness

“Our first stop was The Realm of Darkness where I looked to avenge last year’s defeat to the elusive Wizard.”

“A few that stood out include the screaming girl in the swinging cage, the massive demon, the clown that stood stock still in the black light lit tunnel, and the man on stilts who would not relent in terrorizing Jason until I yelled rape.”

“The fucking wizard eluded us once more and I was left to curse his wretched name for another year.”

On Erebus

“I like Erebus, I like it a lot but for me it has less of a feel of a traditional haunted house and more of a funhouse on crack.”

Ahhh, memories! The 2007 haunt season was indeed memorable, in fact I visited more haunts last year than in any other past year. If you count my stint working at Pumpkin Forest Hayrides last years’ visited haunts total eight. But last season was hampered by a severe lack of funds on my behalf and a failure to organize an outing past October 19th. I should avoid those pitfalls this year as I’ve been planning like a manic lunatic and working many hours between two jobs. I want this to be the best haunt season I’ve ever experienced and part of that is smashing to bits the record amount of haunts we visited last year.

I’m very excited for tonight’s visit to the Homer Mill. Last year our trip to The Haunting in Adrian required a relatively lengthy drive but that jaunt through small towns and farm country added a layer of mystery, intrigue, and fright to our adventure. The trip to the village of Homer will be nearly double the length of the route to Adrian and I’m hoping that this year’s season opener will find us on a route of similar eeriness. The fact that Homer is a village has me dreaming up scenes of wild-eyed locals chasing us down a deserted country road with pitchforks and flaming torches while the haunt trinity flees the mob while bellowing a spirited “Aweeeeeeeeeeeeel!”

Haunt Updates, Haunted Dreams & Haunting Films

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2014 by bluefall8

In this entry, from Monday, September 8, 2008, I recall a vibrant dream about the Fear Finder newspaper. In the years since I have had several similar dreams in which I get a nocturnal sneak peek at the seasonal treasure; my brother believes that it may be an indication of an unhealthy obsession.

There’s also a few tidbits regarding various haunts contained in the second half of this post; originally I provided several links to the websites of a few attractions but those for the Homer Mill and The Haunting no longer function and thus the links have been removed.

The Homer Mill was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of May 16, 2010. The Haunting, which was held at the Lenawee County Fairgrounds, entertained the public for 18 Halloween seasons. The Adrian mainstay closed up shop following the 2011 haunt season; owner and magician Stuart MacDonald now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina where he works for a television station.

Terror Town is still going strong, although the link below will actually take you to an old version of the attraction’s website. I think it’s an interesting bit of Internet archeology.

Last week I had a very lucid dream in which me and Cikalo were gleefully rampaging through the streets of Lincoln Park. We drove recklessly, attempted to exploit ignorant youths by selling them over-priced stolen goods, and utterly neglected the duties of the classroom in which we were both substituting. It was great fun and some would suggest that’s it’s not too far off the antics that will some day undoubtedly be printed in my autobiography.

So after all these shenanigans we found ourselves at some type of strip mall. At this point I lost track of Jason and while I stood against a wall I noticed a man walk by me holding the 2008 edition of the Fear Finder. I suppose some may view this as an unhealthy obsession with Halloween and perhaps if I wasn’t so amused and intrigued by the nocturnal meanderings of my subconscious, I’d be concerned too. But to hell with that, check out what the latest version of the Fear Finder apparently looks like in some deep recess of my brain.

It happened very quickly, some non-descript, average Joe walks by nonchalantly and unfurls the Fear Finder. The paper resembles less its usual magazine style and appears more like an actual newspaper. I have an unhindered view of the entire front page which features a brightly colored backdrop; swirls of blue, red, green, yellow, and orange spring from the page. In the foreground and this is most peculiar, stands a leprechaun sporting a maniacal grin with his arm spread wide aloft his head. Yeah, I also got the sense that it was indeed the evil leprechaun from the series of Leprechaun movies. Fairly wacky stuff. Of course from here I embark on an epic quest to obtain a Fear Finder but just as I spot a CVS (a supplier of the FF) I’m intercepted by some former Borders co-workers. I awoke shortly after, having never obtained the prized haunt guide and reflected on what a truly bizarre dream it was.

In the waking world the 2008 Fear Finder has yet to be released but as one of the operators of the Scream Machine informed me, it should find a Taco Bell near you around the third week of September. Yeah that’s right, I sometimes call haunt operators. What? I also learned that the Screamatorium will not be operating this year and that it was indeed a one time shot in 2006.

I also called the Realm of Darkness where an up beat man ensured me that the show will indeed be under way this season. It’s all new and features over 30 rooms.

It seems every store I enter now has Halloween supplies on display; this makes my ghoulish heart smile. The Halloween USA located on the corner of Dix and Eureka in Southgate is also open and hopefully I’ll be working there part time again this season.

Zioptis has begun posting updates and recently visited the Homer Mill in Homer, Michigan. The haunt has garnered some glowing reviews and certainly sounds appealing. Apparently there is a Halloween themed bar and restaurant attached to the old mill that has a great natural ambience. This past weekend marked the haunt’s grand opening and it seems to be a frontrunner for an early season visit. Tickets are $15 during the month of September and then $20 throughout October. My fellow haunters would do well to check out the Homer Mill website here: The Homer Mill Extreme Haunted House

A few additional haunts have updated their websites, most notably TerrorTown in Maumee, Ohio and The Haunting in Adrian, Michigan. Interested parties can view those pages at the links below:

TerrorTown

The Haunting

I finally watched Romero’s Diary of the Dead and I very much enjoyed the style of his latest project. It’s an obvious departure from the style of each of his previous entries in the Dead series but the desired effect is achieved. It’s a fun, engaging story highlighted by some creative shots, inventive deaths, and a few truly grisly visuals. One unforgettable tidbit is Samuel, an elderly, deaf Amish man who doesn’t put up with zombie bullshit; he’s the kindest, cut throat bad ass ever. There are a number of striking visuals as well, my personal favorite may be the pool laden with the living dead.

Haunting Season Begins

Posted in 2007, Hallowblog, Review, The Haunting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2014 by bluefall8

This was originally written September 29, 2007 and was the first official entry under the Hallowblog banner. In it, I waxed over film, television, and general haunt news but the bulk of the text covered a visit to The Haunting in Adrian, Michigan. This entry has particular importance to me; to the best of my knowledge this is the first full-length review that I ever wrote for a haunted attraction. This trip as you will soon read, also marked the beginning of a long running joke after my brother, Jason, made a rather tactless and dubious observation.

Fall has arrived with all its radiant majesty and for us Halloween enthusiasts the magic of the season is poised to erupt. I have a multitude of topics I’d like to cover in this inaugural issue and I’d appreciate, no prefer, feedback.

On that note I’d like to state that I’m looking for a more intriguing name to brand this Halloween column with other than the generically crafted Hallowblog. I won’t say I’m holding an open contest (due to the lack of a prize) but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own and if I don’t receive any quality submissions I’ll simply settle with one of those; this is just one small way in which I thought I could make this blog slightly interactive.

The Halloween themed Word of the Week returns this Monday, October 1 and like last year will run the duration of the month of October. Also, like last year, each week’s entry will be accompanied by a companion blog featuring other Halloween related content. Last year’s format was rather simple, each week I featured a monster and a horror film, I also provided a list of Halloween highlights past. I do aim to continue in the same vein this year but new content will also be added.

Yesterday I watched a horror movie called Demonic which really isn’t worth mentioning. Tom Savini played the role of some nutter living in a forest infested with naked female demon types. Yeah, that’s primarily it. The film offered no other redeeming qualities; not exactly a horror classic. What is worth watching however is Dead Like Me. Missy and I have been watching the first season on DVD, it compliments the season well.

To my great delight I obtained a copy of the Fear Finder last Tuesday and plans for the haunting season began to take shape. Each October I excitedly anticipate visiting haunted attractions but it seems that I never make it to enough of them. Last year I didn’t get started until the middle of the month, visiting The Scream Machine and The Screamatorium on the 13th. Jason, Disco, and I next went haunting on Halloween night in Pontiac which was a trip to be remembered as Erebus and the Realm of Darkness proved to be among the best haunts I’ve ever visited. It was the most I’d visited in one season but still I was left unsatisfied. So this year I wanted to be sure to have a plan in place to cover all my haunting desires.

Originally we (Jason, Disco, and I) planned to start the season with a visit to The Scream Machine in Taylor which has become something of a staple over the years. September 27-30 marks the opening weekend for The Scream Machine and tickets are a mere $10 for both attractions. We ended up changing our plans though due to the fact that few attractions have yet opened and as Jason pointed out we could hit downriver haunts anytime. My original plan was to hit The Scream Machine and then head down Dix where we’d explore Anxiety Alley for a mere $5 but Lincoln Park’s annual modular haunt doesn’t open until October 12.

The Haunting in Adrian has an enticing full page ad in the Fear Finder and after reading a five star review at Zioptis it seemed that we might start the haunting season off with a bang. Zioptis by the way is a great source for seasonal fun, interested parties can familiarize themselves with Zioptis here: Zioptis Foundation

The Fear Finder ad touted a $20 combo package that included admission to the 13th floor and 3-Dementia haunted houses, ghost tour, manic maze, two items from the concession stand, coupon to the gift shop, an illusion show, and a souvenir photo with a zombie. It seemed a damn good deal for twenty bucks, the photo with a zombie was particularly enticing to me. But we didn’t end up paying $20, nope, Jason spotted a deal on their website, for just $10 one was granted admission to both haunted attractions, the ghost tour, manic maze, and the illusion show. No, it didn’t include the zombie photo but I figured the difference would more than balance out in our favor if indeed we still decided to get a picture with a flesh-eater.

So the trio was off to Adrian, a trip through the sticks that was interesting in and of itself; the small towns we passed on our way there had all the markings of a B-rate horror flick. We arrived at the Lenawee County Fairgrounds and I was surprised by the lack of crowd, lights, and music. I reminded myself that it was early in the season and we were on a rather sizable chunk of land. We made our way to the entrance of the main attraction and still the crowd was sparse, and really that’s how it would remain.

Two zombie-looking chicks with spooky white pupils sat at a bench statuesque holding a guitar, staring resolutely in our direction. They were a nice touch and I’ll admit that they freaked me out a bit. They did such a good job of remaining still that I wasn’t sure if they were props. The Haunting was a bit of a let down, after so much fanfare I expected an attraction on par with the top of the class. It wasn’t necessarily bad but nothing gave it a unique feel. I’m going to give the whole affair the benefit of the doubt and chalk the lowlights up to the fact that they may still be working out the quirks this early in the season.

Although some very elementary mistakes were made, for instance, at several points in the first attraction it seemed that sections of walls had to be missing because we had an unobscured view into the greater building which wasn’t being used for the attractions. At several points I even saw what looked to be members of the technical team just standing in plain view as if they wanted customers to spot them. That nonsense should never happen as it greatly diminishes the haunting experience.

The Haunting employed a theme centered on the 13th floor of a hotel run afoul. I enjoyed the entrance which included a ghastly looking attendant and the butchered bell hop who directs guests to their rooms. Next patrons are loaded onto The Haunting’s version of the Hellevator which vastly pales in comparison to the one that The Scream Machine used last year. The Haunting blew its load early offering up a scene in which the victim of some terrible medical experiment lies writhing in bed while entrails issue forth from their torso. We’ve witnessed the gag before but it never gets old as the victim pleads for your help. The remainder of the attraction was less than stellar but the fat lady with the butcher knife managed to elicit some laughs when she leapt at us and proclaimed, “Meat! I looooove meat!” I decided against the obvious jokes and continued into a room that resembled a meat cooler full of disembodied human parts. The last item of interest was an immensely large man who sat upon a bed gnawing at a brain. I wasn’t quite sure why anyone would fear this as I harbored serious doubts that he could so much as heave his gelatinous form from the space he occupied. I was brought out of my reverie by would be creepy laughter if only it hadn’t been so seductive. A dead looking chick dressed as a maid emerged from the corner and stalked us from the room. Jason would later make a rather dubious observation regarding this particular incident.

We exited The Haunting shortly and came to the entrance of the 3D attraction known as 3-Dementia. I’ve gone to just one of these prior (The Carnevil of Lost Souls) and I was disappointed then so my expectations weren’t exactly soaring as I entered 3-Dementia. In fairness it was better than The Carnevil of Lost Souls but that isn’t saying much. I think attractions like this have potential and with some time and innovative ideas can serve as a quality side attraction at various haunts. As it stands however they are merely add-on filler.

Well we each openly voiced our disappointment upon exit and soon learned that the photo with a zombie would follow suit. I had hoped for and even expected a live actor but what we saw were two props that could scarcely be called zombies so we declined the photo. We hurried over to the illusion show which was short but did add a nice ripple to the whole experience.

The Ghost Tour was next and was designed to be more campy than scary but the effect was pulled off nicely by the clashing personalities of our tour guides, Gabriel and Gregory. Gabriel played the part of the traditional, spooky tour guide, attempting to instill fear in the guests with ghost stories about the grounds; each story would of course climax in some small scare. Gregory was a slightly hyper ghoul with a penchant for off beat, well timed comedy. The Ghost Tour ended where the Monster Maze picked up. Absent were any actors or props but the maze did give us the opportunity to run around like idiots attempting to frighten other, unsuspecting guests. At one point John and I became separated from Jason and attempted to reunite using our patented “Aweel” call.

Overall I’d give the experience 3 out of 5 stars and am left to believe that The Haunting was firing on all cylinders when Zioptis came calling, otherwise there is no way they would have been awarded a top rating. I wouldn’t mind heading back later in the season to confirm my suspicions but with so many other haunts to visit I doubt we’ll find the time.

It wasn’t a bad start to the haunt season; the atmosphere was rife with the intoxicating scent of fall and that intangible magic unique to the Halloween season.

I plan to post whatever pictures I can from our various visits this season so be sure to check that periodically. Keep in mind that I have to be some what careful when taking these pictures as not all monsters or operators are exactly fond of the practice. I’ll leave you with the following quotes from our endeavor:

“If we get lost out here we might as well rape and murder ourselves…save the locals the trouble.”   -Joel

“Sometimes I just want to grab one of those girl workers. It’s almost like they want you to, do you know what I mean? I mean I would never do it but I think if I did they’d just let me.”   -Jason

Jackson’s Underworld Rising?

Posted in 2013, Jackson's Underworld, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2013 by bluefall8

Jackson’s Underworld certainly had its work cut out for it when we arrived last Friday; it’s no secret that our 2009 visit has been remembered as one of the worst haunted attractions we’d ever paid to see. I can firmly state that our experience of four years ago was not repeated, Jackson’s Underworld has made strides in the right direction but there remains a lot of work to be done in order for it to become one of Michigan’s must see haunted attractions.

The queue line is the same as it was four years ago and this is actually a good thing, as we waited in line during our first visit I can remember thinking that the haunt had promise based on this area. There’s a rather interesting animatronic here, it sat a top a large chair. Periodically it hummed to life as its head was lifted from the rest of its body by a crane, while it hovered midair the head  went over some basic rules of the haunt and also sprinkled in a few veiled threats.

The doorman was a bit of a character too, talkative and polite enough with guests, he was prone to a little exaggeration as well. When the group behind us began recounting their recent trip to Erebus, a trip they very much enjoyed, the doorman waved a dismissive hand and said, “This blows that away.” Hey, I’m not one to fault somebody for pushing their own product but some comparisons are best left unmade. He did do a fine job of spacing out guests and for that I’ll give him credit, nobody wants to run up on another group while trying to enjoy a haunted house.

Once John and I entered into the guts of Jackson’s Underworld the show began much as it did four years ago — a bit dull and meandering. We traversed a series of rooms with some decent looking props but the environments were far from immersive and we found not a ghoulish soul in sight. A room that featured two caskets contained a pair of oddly animated corpses — this was the highlight of the area.

I began to have an inkling that perhaps Jackson’s Underworld hadn’t changed very much since our last visit; fortunately the ghosts and goblins began to reveal themselves. The interaction was far from great, most of the actors were average at best with only a handful that offered anything more. Too often a creep would appear from behind a drop panel and bellow a generic phrase such as, “Get out of here” or “You’ll never escape alive.” Maybe these phrases worked on haunt goers once a upon a time but those type of vocalizations don’t move the needle anymore; in fact they sound silly and only serve to diminish the effect a haunted attraction is attempting to create.

I mentioned that the monsters frequently appeared from behind drop panels and this was another area of concern. Now, don’t get me wrong — drop panels are a staple of the haunted attraction industry but when not implemented well the gag will become tired and predictable. This was the case at Jackson’s Underworld, the panels were a standard square shape with absolutely no effort made to conceal them. And that’s truly a shame because there’s numerous ways to hide these, a picture frame is a popular option. The Scream Machine in 2009 employed a technique so effective the workers were able to catch us by surprise on multiple occasions.

I did say at the beginning of this review that Jackson’s Underworld had made strides in the right direction and I’d like to talk about some of those now before I become to mired in  the shortcomings here. The owners have taken care to add some fun and flair to the attraction with a flashy vortex tunnel, walls that lurched and shifted, and a laser lit passageway. There was no shortage of animatronics either — a saw blade sliced one man in half, a guillotine decapitated another, and we were even provided an intimate look at an animated electrocution. The attraction also featured a number of sprayers, the most forceful we’ve ever witnessed as a matter of fact. While I admired one of the aforementioned animatronics one of these sprayers positively drenched my pants and left me with the appearance of one who had just wet themselves — it gave John and I a good laugh.

Our favorite areas included a sheet draped maze that featured a wide-eyed crazy who bounded recklessly throughout the landscape while a strobe light impaired our vision. There was also a harlequin hideout that sported a never-before-seen, massive jack-in-the-box. Later we entered a meat locker with an impressive array of cold cuts on display; some of the props here had an unsettling realism. A highly detailed swamp scene near the conclusion of the attraction was well constructed, convincing, and enjoyable.

Unfortunately the moments of magic weren’t enough to gloss over the more glaring weaknesses of Jackson’s Underworld. Another aspect that irked me, as it has at many haunted attractions, is the use of wide hallways and large, open spaces. You don’t have to suffer from claustrophobia to appreciate the effects that small, tight passages inflict on human physiology. As we progressed through the haunted house I noticed just how expansive the hallways were; I even stuck out my arms and was able to easily stretch the entirety of my wingspan. I’m just shy of six feet tall and in my opinion that’s far too much wasted space. Whether it’s a transitional passageway or a key scene, the space occupied should always serve a purpose — it’s up to haunt operators to strike just the right balance.

I was reminded of several other attractions as we traversed Jackson’s Underworld, Adrian’s currently on hiatus The Haunting was one of them, but more than any other I was brought to mind of the sadly departed Homer Mill; fitting of course since the operators here once ran that as well. There was even an area of Jackson’s Underworld that afforded us a glimpse into an exterior courtyard, a scene that evoked a memory from our 2008 trip through the Homer Mill. I looked out upon it and wondered if the crew had done this as a subtle homage.

Jackson’s Underworld seemed to be headed in the right direction but a lot of work remains to be done. I can’t help but wonder if the design of the attraction really fit with the natural structure of the building itself. The owners here have the luxury of a truly imposing and creepy edifice — a man on site told me it was most recently used as a furniture warehouse. Perhaps the attraction is simply experiencing growing pains and will one day play to a theme that is more appropriate for the structure at hand; in the mean time the infusion of additional live actors would flesh out some of the dead areas.

Rating: 2.75 stars

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.

Season of Fear Creeps Near

Posted in Haunt Schedule, Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2012 by bluefall8

Today is one of those days when fall and the haunt season feel so tantalizingly close it’s almost painful. By this time next week the Fear Finder may very well be in my greedy little hands! And that is, of course, a very important document for myself and the Haunt Trinity. As much as I try and get an early start on planning our trips, prior to the release of the seasonal newspaper there’s a lot of guesswork. The status of several old favorites and former mainstays remains in question and probably will until I crack open the pages of the Fear Finder.

FIVE HAUNTS IN LIMBO

One haunt shrouded in mystery that we are interested in is Extreme Scream, after moving to Waterford in 2010 the treasured haunt didn’t run last season and unfortunately I’ve yet to see anything that suggests it’ll return in 2012. I don’t know why Extreme Scream didn’t run last Halloween season, but it does cause me to wonder whether or not things went well at the new location in 2010. Formerly located on Telegraph in Taylor, my great hope is that Extreme Scream returns to its roots this year.

Another old favorite that seems to have vanished is The Lab. The operators apparently lost possession of the building after the 2009 season and did not run in 2010. I spoke with somebody involved with the haunt prior to the 2010 season and she said they (the operators) were “optimistic” that the haunted attraction would return in 2011, alas it did not. Just today I discovered that the website has also disappeared. Until further notice I have no choice but to consider The Lab lost to time.

An Ohio haunt that may have experienced a similar fate is Chainsaw Creek. This multi attraction event last ran in 2009 and from what I can tell from their Facebook page it seems as if they had planned to operate in 2010 but for reasons unknown, did not. The website for Chainsaw Creek had vowed to return with a permanent location in 2011. Chainsaw Creek had formerly been located in the immense parking lot of Toledo’s Franklin Park Mall — it’s certainly possible that the relationship between mall management and haunt management went sour but I’m not certain. What I do know is that Chainsaw Creek did not run in 2011 as the website had claimed it would. Currently a very similar message can be found on the Chainsaw Creek homepage in regard to the 2012 haunt season.

Last year we paid our first visit to Krazy Hilda’s and found the experience quite enjoyable. Krazy Hilda’s has called a few places home over the years but in recent years has settled into a location in Saline, Michigan. After our visit last fall I exchanged a few emails with the operator who revealed that the haunt was staffed entirely by volunteers, a fact that impressed me greatly — most volunteer efforts do not display the kind of professionalism that Hilda’s had to offer. Unfortunately, she also informed me that business had been slow and that closing up shop was a very real possibility. I emailed the operator a few weeks ago but have yet to hear back. I hope that this doesn’t spell doom for Krazy Hilda’s.

The final haunt in question is the fabled Demonic Demons. We experienced this haunt just once but it was a trip that will live on in our memories forever. Demonic Demons was housed in a building on Wyoming Street in Detroit and in 2010 Jason, Brad, and I experienced a haunted adventure here straight out of our childhood nightmares. Sadly, when we attempted a return  trip last year it was to find the building foreclosed or condemned or both. According to Zioptis this particular haunted house is infamous for having a spotty history. It seems to pop up one year and then disappear for several only to reappear once more. I am hopeful for a resurrection but as of now no new information is available.

THE OPEN (HAUNTED) ROAD

In 2011 we hit a record nine new locations and in 2012 we’ll look to break that number once more. While this year’s list is not yet complete a few routes have been plotted. Fellow haunt brethren I encourage you to peruse this list and leave me some feedback. With your suggestions and the impending release of the Fear Finder, it is my hope that any voids will soon be filled. Keep in mind that the order in which these outings are listed is not meant to be chronological and in no way does it reflect the date on which we will make the trip — those decisions will be made at the next phase of the process.

Night #1: Erwin’s Orchard (South Lyon) Slaughter House (Fowlerville), A Nightmare on Elm Road (Webberville)

Night #2: Darksyde Acres (Jonesville), Uncle Dickeys Wrong Turn (Hudson), The Haunting (Adrian)

Night #3: Westland Haunted Woods (Westland), Haunted Hallows (Westland), Westland Jaycees (Westland)

Night #4: Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory (Akron, OH), Bloodview (Broadview Heights, OH)

Night #5: Wyandotte Jaycees (Wyandotte), Realm of Haunted Minds (Romulus), Psycho Path (Flat Rock), Scream Machine (Taylor)

Night #5: Deadly Intentions (Warren), House of Fear (Hazel Park)

NIght #6: Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)