Archive for the realm of darkness

Turf Wars

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by bluefall8

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Monday, October 17, 2016 marked the end of the Michigan Haunters Association Haunt Swap and it was time for SIN to play host. All in all it wasn’t a bad showing as groups from Clio Manor, Exit 13, Hush, The Realm of Darkness, Rotten Manor and The Scream Machine each paid us a visit.

It was certainly a different vibe than an ordinary night of operation, after all haunters are a different breed. A couple of visitors even opted to remain in character just as they had been presented at their respective events; some balanced that approach better than others and it was a bit tricky finding the right chord with those individuals.

The folks from The Scream Machine had the largest contingent are were my favorite group with which to interact. They went back and forth with Vermin on all matters taboo and delighted in an exchange of sexual innuendo. Three young ladies even presented Vermin with snipped lockets of hair — what a sexy treat that was!

Jaycee alum, Blue-eyed Clyde made an appearance and had his prized head tossed around.

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Rotten Manor Howls at Halloween Moon

Posted in 2015, Review, Rotten Manor with tags , , , , , , on September 13, 2016 by bluefall8

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John and I arrived at Rotten Manor last year at the end of a very long and exhausting season. It was Halloween and although the weather mocked us with rain and chill, Rotten Manor stood tall and undaunted. The enormous facade erupted from the landscape like a nightmare mansion from a classic horror flick. It was hands down the most impressive structure of its kind that we’ve witnessed in all of our years of haunting. Although the rain and wind refused to relent so too did the presence of Rotten Manor. There was an aura about the place and quite soon, John and I were set to experience a haunted house for the ages.

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF ROTTEN

We crossed the threshold of Rotten Manor and were greeted by a ghoulish butler who regaled us with the tale of Mr. & Mrs. Rotten whose tortured children still dwelt inside the decaying estate. Once the brooding monologue had concluded, we departed the main foyer and plunged into the dank halls of Rotten Manor.

We were immediately struck by the level of detail throughout the attraction which put us in mind of another Michigan haunt, The Realm of Darkness. In one room we encountered a creepy collection of dolls or were these perhaps the lingering children of the Rotten legacy? In another area we walked down the center aisle of an all too ominous church. We were then confronted with a series of doors, each armed with a different shocking surprise.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that Rotten Manor had a little bit of everything from passionate actors to convincing props to well-timed animatronics; the minds behind the madness even took care to challenge guests with various transitions like a fireplace, bedroom closets and a shower with a hole in the wall. Indeed, all senses were engaged and all manner of scare tactics employed as we navigated the winding halls of Rotten Manor.

We were spooked by a mechanized mannequin and caught off guard by a flayed corpse who laid contorted inside of a bath tub. We also encountered a kid named Billy who possessed an unsettling, gravely voice, exercised the odd skill of scaling walls and seemed for all the world to have been recently unearthed from Pet Cemetery.

There was also a nasty kitchen scene in which a robed woman ignored our presence and meticulously hammered something on the counter top with a determined fixation. As if all of that wasn’t unsettling enough, we soon found ourselves inside of a walk through cooler when a heap of plastic wrap located on the floor began to shuffle and squirm — something inside pleaded with us to end the suffering.

However, perhaps the most unnerving aspect of Rotten Manor was the ubiquitous Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist dummy who could be found glowering at us from every shadow. In one room he might be found perched upon a shelf and then in another seated in a chair and in yet another he was in a different position entirely. Yes, the little wooden bastard was omnipresent and there was a cold malevolence in his dead eyes.

TO HELL AND BACK

A devilish figure welcomed us to the Gateway to Hell and without hesitation we plunged into a dark and cavernous tunnel; this would merely be the first in a series of fog-filled, laser-lite passages. The low-ceiling forced our heads down, the low visibility created the sensation that perhaps the portal stretched into infinity, odd echoes drifted past our ears.

When the hellish tunnels finally relented we found ourselves crammed into a blackout maze with slanted walls that made progress a slow go. It was then while pinned between walls and bodies, the dreadful chatter of a chainsaw could be heard.

There darkness was so complete that it was impossible to see the attack coming, someone whistled threateningly in the distance. When we did escape the maze it was only to find ourselves enveloped by a total whiteout. We groped our way through dense fog and with a little luck and by keeping our wits were able to emerge into the night air.

But, we hadn’t quite survived just yet, another whacko with a chainsaw had emerged and forced us into a forest where we were pursued by zombies and rednecks for a spell. Once that ordeal had passed we had officially survived a half hour trek through Rotten Manor.

Rating: 4.75 stars

“I wanna hang your skin on the wall.”

-Stated breathlessly and as a matter of fact by one creepy, crawling chick who invaded my personal space.

The Haunt Guide: 2016 Edition

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2016 by bluefall8

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The 2016 version of The Haunt Guide is now available to view and download at the Michigan Haunters Association website. Long time readers may notice that the cover art has changed, gone is the self-reflexive skeleton who was pictured reading a copy of The Haunt Guide. As you can see above, the cover page now features a cemetery scene set beneath an inky night sky — there’s even a tombstone shaped like the Wolverine State.

Most of the haunted attractions advertised inside The Haunt Guide have become mainstays with that publication in recent years but there are a handful of interesting entries to note. The most prominent news is the addition of a third attraction, called Dead Souls Corral, at The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac. No word on whether the new attraction is an indoor or outdoor event or exactly how it might, if at all, interact with the other attractions there.

It’s good to see that a pair of first year hits will return for a second season — Abandon at Play Atlantis in Melvindale and Rotten Manor in Holly. The team at Rotten Manor does not appear content to rest on the laurels of 2015 having added Rotten Forest and a third attraction ominously dubbed, Clown Barn.

I was very excited to see a new haunt by the name of Awaken located in the small town of Leslie, Michigan which is a mere 15 minutes south of Mason, home to Shawhaven Haunted Farm. Also new to The Haunt Guide is Wicked Woods of Terror in Caro, Michigan which isn’t terribly far from Haunted Elementary in Bridgeport. Haunted Elementary is now under the umbrella known as Bridgeport Goregrounds which also boasts a 3D attraction called FrightSite and a third known as Outbreak.

Lastly, after two years in the dark, The Scream Machine will whir to life once more — this time at a new location in Taylor on Ecorse Road. I sincerely hope the one-time Downriver staple can reinvent itself and rise from the ashes of a dismal 2013 but I do have reservations. The ad featured inside The Haunt Guide is strikingly similar if not identical to the one that was used during the last few years of The Scream Machine’s initial run. It doesn’t help matters that, as of the time of this writing, the ad also includes a web address that doesn’t work.

The Freaks are Due on Devil’s Night

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2015 by bluefall8

Haunting on Devil’s Night is something of a tradition here at Horrorlust; regular readers of the blog know this to be true. It may not be the magical night itself when the veil between worlds is thinnest but Devil’s Night has a special aura all its own.

The much ballyhooed Devil’s Night 2009 is the stuff of Horrorlust legend and was just this week enshrined as one of the five greatest nights in our haunted history. On that date we famously survived Hellblock 13 by the Wyandotte Jaycees, The Realm of Darkness (the final year of it’s original location) and finished the night with a maiden voyage to Haunted Farm of Terror!

In 2013 the Wyandotte Jaycees helped us kick off another memorable Devil’s Night with Bloodbath on Biddle which would go on to win the Horrorlust Dark Horse Award that season. That evening would also mark our first exposure to a rookie by the name of Hush which absolutely wowed us and subsequently claimed the Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. The night did end with a historic dud in what would become known as the death knell for the Scream Machine, that shocking turn-of-events earned Scream Machine the Horrorlust Rotten Pumpkin Award and in the process made Devil’s Night 2013 all the more memorable.

Last year we ventured first to Dark Legacy and were impressed with the scale and scope of the new attraction — it garnered the Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award. We then returned to Hush where we were once again blown away by a sterling performance that earned the then sophomore haunt the Horrorlust Monster Award.

So yeah, Devil’s Night is serious business around these parts and it is with great excitement that we anticipate another evening on the road as mayhem and mischief rule the night! If all goes as planned we will visit four separate haunted houses beginning with Terror on the Boulevard, a home haunt located in Lincoln Park. I actually attempted to visit this haunt on Devil’s Night 2012 but the so-called Frankenstorm that was all the rage at the time thwarted my efforts.

Next, we’ll burn rubber to Westland and tour Hush for a third consecutive year on Devil’s Night — this combination has yielded nothing but magic thus far so we saw no reason to make a change. Furthermore this will be the endgame for the original location as big plans are on the horizon — is this the year that Dr. Phun and the bunch render us a permanent fixture of the haunt?! If we manage to escape it’ll be off to Wixom for the revamped Dark Legacy and then a flight to the finish at the brand new Rotten Manor in Holly.

Methinks this shall be another Devil’s Night to remember for years to come.

Happy Haunting!

2014 Haunt Season Rewind

Posted in Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2015 by bluefall8

We gather here at the genesis of another season of screams; night has descended and the doors to many haunted attractions hungrily await the arrival of eager guests. Accompanied by a rush of excitement and a tinge of dizzied disbelief, the first night of haunting of any season is a special outing. For myself and my faithful cohorts the season will officially commence tomorrow evening although at present we have not yet decided exactly where it is that we’ll be headed. Rest assured that the haunted highway will carry us to a destination where the first memories of the 2015 haunt season will be minted.

As we peer from this precipice with an eye on the immediate future let us pause for a few moments and reflect on the year that was — submitted for your approval here are some of the most memorable moments from the 2014 haunt season as recorded here on Horrorlust.

On the atmosphere of Corpse Barn Shock Haunt, 10/04/14

“The interior of the barn was littered with corpses indeed, it was as if the barn itself had been eviscerated. All about the floor in every direction laid piles of dummies; I wasn’t sure if this was the ritual site for a serial killer or merely the dumping grounds for plague victims, but the bodies were scattered, torn and in abundance.”

On a curiosity spotted in the dark at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“…a strange sight greeted us as we rounded a corner — was that a floating head mere yards in front of us? Indeed, it was floating and glowing a magical shade of green. Wait a second?! Did my eyes deceive me? Was that a second head bobbing beside the first? Did the Gosch Brothers possess siamese twins who were aglow in the gloom like a pair of monstrous stars?!!”

On an oddly comedic character at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“…and were guided by a husky harlequin who was surprisingly spry and had the odd habit of honking his own nose.”

On a wonderfully ridiculous reaction of a party member at Psycho Path, 10/10/14

“One cannot be sure of such things but a member of our group may have possibly fled with arms flailing above head looking all the world like Olive Oyl from Popeye.”

On a striking actor inside District 13 at The Fear Experience, 10/17/14

“In one corner, a frightening mime repeated the same stuttered movements like an animatronic in need of repair — his eyes were cold, lifeless, soul-sucking orbs.”

On a fellow patron who commented that she felt as if she would both urinate and vomit from fear while waiting in line at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“I was convinced by her body language that her statements weren’t merely for dramatic flair and I thus stepped back a few paces in order to avoid the splashback from any potential spew.”

On the overall flavor of the Gore House at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“The Gore House was a galleria of gross-outs and no trip is complete without passage through the one-of-a-kind vortex tunnel near the end of the structure, a vortex tunnel with the color and consistency of molten flesh.”

On an inimitable creep who inhabited Baby Doll Island at Bloodview, 10/17/14

“I couldn’t decide if he was a vampire, demon or merely the town pervert but he elicited a response and looked good doing it.”

On the aftermath of Splattertown at Wiard’s Night Terrors, 10/18/14

“As we exited, I conferred with Maddie and she too had shamelessly peppered the private parts of some dim-witted zombie.”

On an excellent bit of interaction inside the Ultimate Haunted Barn at Wiard’s Night Terrors, 10/18/14

“Curtis spoke rapidly of his vast collection of goods which were displayed throughout the room. He intimated that he had amassed such a treasure trove by less than honest means but in the next breath stated plainly that any accusations of such would not be met with politeness. Curtis spoke with quickness and clarity; his voice possessed a mesmerizing cadence dashed with a pinch of wit.”

On the eye-popping finale of Hush, 10/30/14

“My eyes darted from her to the frosty fellow inside the chamber. Had I just saw it blink? Was the equipment about to malfunction?! Just as she reassured us of the stability of the machinery, the cryogenic freak lurched forward and secured a meaty paw around the throat of our loquacious host.”

On a superb illusion at Dark Legacy, 10/30/14

“Static filled the screen for a moment but then a shape began to emerge from the white noise, a human face forced itself from the snow-driven abyss!”

On a particularly wild scene at Exit 13, 11/01/14

“And most of that took place while we marveled at a hot, sadistic nurse who tortured a wailing amputee! On top of that, we would later discover that the missing leg was no gag.”

On a fearless haunt actress at 13 Feet Under, 11/01/14

“She locked eyes, leaned in slowly, bared her teeth and sunk them straight into my hand.”

On a waltzing weirdo at The Crypt, 11/01/14

“…and in one unforgettable instance, a stout and hairy man confined to an inaccessible room, treated us to the most unsettling dance number since Buffalo Bill cut a rug in The Silence of the Lambs.”

On a large, freakish doll at The Realm of Darkness, 11/01/14

“One in particular caught my attention, it was several feet tall with a bulbous, unnaturally large head, a rictus grin and bore more than a passing resemblance to Howdy Doody.”

2014 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Posted in Awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2015 by bluefall8

2014 Horrorlust Haunt Awards

Rotten Pumpkin – The Rotten Pumpkin award is given to the haunt considered to be the most disappointing of the season. Disappointment may be the result of an over hyped marketing campaign or the failure of the haunt to live up to expectations set forth in previous seasons. Whatever the case may be let there be no doubt that the haunt receiving this unwanted distinction truly dropped the ball, failing to provide a worthwhile show.

2014 Rotten Pumpkin: The Haunted Funeral Home

The Haunted Funeral Home was the first attraction I visited last year, thankfully it was not an indication of things to come. Most of the cast delivered below average performances, several were even caught out of place. That was particularly unforgivable due to the fact that, at the time, we were the only group present. Little to nothing has changed here since an initial visit in 2011; this was uninspired and lazy haunting.

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.

2014 Eerie Vibrations: The Catacombs & The Rusthole (Darksyde Acres)

Honorable Mention: District 13 (The Fear Experience)

The former pig farm has presence and nowhere is it as oppressive as in The Catacombs & The Rusthole. What can I say? The story of a ghoulish spirit and mysterious third floor made an impact when I traversed the attraction all on my lonesome. This is the second time that The Catacombs & The Rusthole has captured the Eerie Vibrations Award; the first was in 2011.

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  Horrorlust’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2014 Dark Horse: Psycho Path

Honorable Mention: Corpse Barn Shock Haunt

For just $10 this hidden gem offered a serious bang-for-your-buck in 2014. The volunteer effort mixed a creative flair with haunted house fundamentals and struck the right balance of fun and fright. The facade was excellent and a surprise, introductory stage show served the narrative well. A brief stroll through the woods beforehand and a wagon ride after the fact further enhanced the atmosphere.

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.

2014 Killer Automatons: Dark Legacy

Honorable Mention: The Realm of Darkness

Dark Legacy had a little bit of everything and in 2014 put to use their electronic baddies better than any other haunt in town. There were caged monkeys, a slick electrocution and even a massive mutation contained inside of a large shipping crate. Several actor-matronics were used to maximum effect as well.

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.

2014 Monster: Hush

Honorable Mention: Bloodview

The core group of characters at Hush are polished, professional and capable of giving the best that we’ve witnessed a run for their money. Led by the inimitable Dr. Phineas Phun, the cast of Hush featured a handful of unforgettable freaks and weirdos — from an android receptionist to the supercharged loonies who went bonkers behind a pane of glass to a lullaby singing doctor and her reanimated specimen. The key players each understood their role which was crucial to the central theme of the attraction.

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.

2014 Prop Master: Centralia County Fair (The Fear Experience)

Honorable Mention: Dark Legacy

The scenery inside Centralia County Fair was detailed, thorough and impressive. The abandoned carnival theme was so immersive and striking that it overwhelmed my senses. Keep in mind that this was an attraction that featured relatively few live actors and it excelled in spite of that fact. The scenes and set dressing were so complete it was the one attraction to which I wished I could return for the sole purpose of documenting it through photographs.

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.

2014 Pulse Pounder: The Mind Shaft (Wiard’s Night Terrors)

Honorable Mention: Zombie Uprising at Braxton Estate (The Fear Experience)

The Mind Shaft got the heart racing through expertly tailored sound fx that helped drive the pace of the attraction. Like 13 Feet Under, Mind Shaft made it easy and fun for guests to suspend their disbelief — if a collapsing mine doesn’t put some pep in your step then what the hell will?! The attraction concluded with an exclamation point when a Sasquatch roared out of nowhere and delivered one of the best jump scares of the season.

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.

2014 Samhain: October 18, 2014 (Wiard’s Night Terrors)

Honorable Mention: October 30, 2014 (Dark Legacy, Hush)

2014 delivered a number of great nights of haunting but the plethora of attractions that comprised Wiard’s Night Terrors put it over the top. I was highly amused by the reactions of my sister-in-law, Madison, who provided me with the kind of valuable feedback only a fresh set of eyes can bring. Brandon Wiard was a most gracious host who allowed us the run of the place and engaged in great conversations about the ideas that fueled the haunted houses at Night Terrors.

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.

2014 Haunt of the Year: Exit 13

Honorable Mention: Hush

This was no easy choice; the number of top-notch attractions we toured in 2014 was unprecedented. After garnering several honorable mentions in 2011 and 2012 (in various categories) this is well deserved for the lovable loonies at Exit 13. An ambitious renovation delivered multiple new scenes in 2014 which served as the ideal playground for an in-your-face cast. The haunt utilized a wide array of scare tactics while it pushed the envelope with taboo characters, tasteless humor and physicality.

2014 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2015 by bluefall8

This list is not meant to be used to compare one haunted attraction to another. The star system (1 – 5 stars) is merely meant to reflect how well I felt each individual haunt executed their particular show. Haunted attractions are a unique breed of entertainment and the quality of a show can vary from night to night, hour to hour and guest to guest for a great many reasons.

As you’ll notice, haunts are listed below in descending order. Where there are multiple haunts with the same star rating (and that happened often in 2014) those attractions are listed in alphabetically.

Again, this list should not be used to gauge which haunt is better than another. Primarily, I use these lists for archival purposes so that I can have a record of the haunted houses I visited and how those attractions performed in a given year.

2014 STAR RATINGS

1. Centralia County Fair – 4.5 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

2. Dark Legacy – 4.5 (Wixom, MI.)

3. Exit 13 – 4.5 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

4. Hush – 4.5 (Westland, MI.)

5. Bloodview – 4.25 (Broadview Heights, OH.)

6. Zombie Uprising at Braxton Estate – 4.25 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

7. 13 Feet Under – 4 (Grand Blanc, MI.)

8. The Asylum – 4 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

9. Centralia Mental Facility – 4 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

10. House of Nightmares 3D – 4 (Pontiac, MI.)

11. The Mind Shaft – 4 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

12. Psycho Path – 4 (Flat Rock, MI.)

13. The Realm of Darkness – 4 (Pontiac, MI.)

14. Alien Caged Clowns – 3.75 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

15. Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – 3.75 (Napoleon, MI.)

16. Ultimate Haunted Barn – 3.75 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

17. District 13 – 3.5 (The Fear Experience – Parma, OH.)

18. Hayride of the Lost – 3.5 (Wiard’s Night Terrors – Ypsilanti, MI.)

19. The Crypt – 3.25 (Burton, MI.)

20. St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum – 3.25 (Grand Blanc, MI.)

21. The Catacombs & The Rusthole – 3 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

22. The Dark Abyss – 2.75 (Darksyde Acres – Jonesville, MI.)

23. Fō-bē-ə – 2.75 (Wyandotte, MI.)

24. The Haunted Funeral Home – 1.25 (Inkster, MI.)