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.

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.)

Season Concludes with Devil’s Night Frenzy

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Haunted Farm of Terror, Realm of Darkness, Review, Wyandotte Jaycees with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2015 by bluefall8

In this edition of Hallowblog Flashback, we stir the memory of a chilly, rainswept night that would forever raise the bar for Devil’s Night. Originally posted on Monday, November 2, 2009 this entry detailed our journey through Hellblock 13 in Wyandotte, The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and The Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township.

Despite such an action-packed adventure, none of these haunts would win a Horrorlust Award in 2009 although Hellblock 13 did receive an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Dark Horse Award while The Realm of Darkness was an honorable mention in three categories including Eerie Vibrations, Killer Automatons and Haunt of the Year.  

This would be the final Hallowblog entry for the year 2009.

Strange, the way the eerie magic of the season can twist and distort time into a blurred paradox for it seems as if a month has passed in a brilliant flash but concurrently the genesis of this chapter seems ages ago indeed. Last Friday, October 30th would be the final outing of the 2009 haunt season and it was another memorable entry in the history of the Haunt Trinity.

Jason, Disco, and Richard arrived at my apartment just prior to 7 o’clock and after we gorged ourselves on pizza, pop, and snacks we slipped out into the velvety night and drove the short distance to Wyandotte’s Hellblock 13. Hallowblog readers may remember that we attempted to visit this attraction on October 2nd but when we arrived we were told that it would not open for another week. We weren’t sure at the time if we’d have a chance to return but as it turned out fate would see that we did.

I was confident that the Wyandotte Jaycees could bounce back from a lackluster effort in 2008 and I am happy to report that my confidence was not misplaced. The haunt started a bit slow and it was far from perfect but in the end we had the pleasure of surviving the trench warfare that powered this gritty haunt.

As with 2007’s Hell’s Hospital, Hellblock 13 uses classic haunt fundamentals to thrill and scare guests. The attraction is well paced featuring very few dead spots or meandering dark halls. Hellblock 13 doesn’t overload haunters with fog, black lights, or strobes but when they are used it is to great effect. The Jaycees has made good use of the building’s one time purpose transforming a court room, locker room, storage facility, and jail cells into a breeding ground for creatures of the night. Midway through the haunt we came upon a large cell that may have been used as an evidence lock up or weapon storage in the past but on this night it held an old friend, Gimpy Anderson. Two years ago Gimpy delighted us with disgusting guttural noises and crude gesticulations while we waited in line at Hell’s Hospital but he wasn’t in a care free or jovial mood anymore. Ole Gimpy had worked himself into an agitated frenzy; he violently slashed a chainsaw against the fenced walls that contained him. When we passed the cell gates he rammed the blade of the saw through the gap in the posts in an attempt to tear our throats; something awful must have befallen Gimpy Anderson to cause him to attack his old friends in such a brutal manner!

Gimpy wasn’t the only entertaining worker though in fact Hellblock 13 was brimming with a legion of deadites. All the help here is volunteer which means that not all the masked assailants are highly trained in the art of the scare. Most of them put forth a good effort which is all you can really ask for from such a crew although there were a few as there usually is that were quite underwhelming. A lot of the workers here where young teenagers whose diminutive frames and squeaky screams invoke anything but fear but that can’t be helped at an all volunteer effort and as I said most of them seemed to give it their best. The females in particular displayed a capacity for ear splitting shrieks, while crossing a bridge several of these sirens emerged from the murky depths below and shook the bridge with ill intent. Later, near the end of the haunt several girls issued blood curdling screams from inside a pitch black room, those screams gave fuel to a distant chainsaw the owner of which we’d meet just before exiting the haunt.

A couple of workers employed the statue technique which lured us shameless rubes as children to chocolate. The first living mannequin was a gruesome ghoul chained to a board who sprung his trap as we exited the room he occupied. We came across a second statuesque creep just outside the row of holding cells. Visible from down the hall as we approached she displayed no sign of life. She wore a sleazy black dress that hugged her figure nicely, her knees bent awkwardly inward. In her right hand was a glistening knife held aloft as if ready to strike down the impure thoughts many haunters surely possessed as they passed. She bore a resemblance to the female spirit in 13 Ghosts although she wasn’t naked nor did she sport heaping bajumbos but these idle facts did little to stem the perverted juices that had formed a puddle beneath our feet. I know in some dark recess of Jason’s mind he wondered just how far he could get before the blade severed him from his manhood but any nefarious fantasies evaporated when she lunged at us with the knife and we were forced to flee down a row of holding cells. Another dark fantasy inducing vixen glared at us from a cell, I knew it wouldn’t be long before my brother succumbed to a fit of primal lust, we had to hurry.

Turning a corner we entered a dark room and were confronted by yet another female ghoul and this one wanted to know my name so being in a mischievous mood I obliged and gave her the Toadsworth treatment which surprisingly is not tantamount to a squibbing. No, the Toadsworth treatment has no sexual connotations what so ever. In a British accent and foppish manner I informed the lass that my name was Toadsworth Merriweather Yorkshire Reginald the III, Esquire (I suspect only my MSB cohorts will appreciate the reference). She stared at me blankly for what else can one do when disarmed by a name so absurd. As we departed the room I turned to her still in character, bowed low and said, “Pleasure to have met your acquaintance.” The haunt concluded shortly thereafter when we were chased off by the aforementioned freak with chainsaw.

The change of scenery helped the Wyandotte Jaycees regain its footing and the new (old) building was used to the fullest. The haunt was surprisingly long featuring a number of false endings in the form of stairwells that wound haunters onto different floors of the attraction. The Jaycees does a lot with a little; I enjoyed the subtle touches as much as anything else. A few specific examples include the deformed saran wrap dummies which either hung from the ceiling or stood eerily in the corners of one room. I also liked the second bridge which lit up from below to reveal a prop ghoul just beneath our feet. That is actually an idea I thought of several years back and it’s the first time I’ve seen it put to use. Let’s hope next years show doesn’t suffer the same sophomore slump that plagued the last location.

Rating: 3 3/4

It was time to hit one of Michigan’s perennial top haunts and one half of Pontiac’s twin terrors, The Realm of Darkness. Strange, watery disasters have haunted ROD for two years now and several paranormal research groups have investigated the occurrences for more details check out the story at Zioptis. It may all be shtick but then again I have heard of the independent organizations that toured the facility, nevertheless the angle added another layer of intrigue to the most immersive of haunted attractions.

Hallowblog readers will be familiar with the Haunt Trinity’s trials and tribulations at Realm of Darkness since 2006 we have hunted the tyrannical wizard who rules this kingdom with an iron fist. In order to find the wizard haunters participate in several games of chance during these games guests can win gems which eventually will be used to gain entry to the wizard’s secret chamber. In years past these gems were exchanged for a push of a button, the more gems you possessed the greater the chance of confronting the wizard. A source informed us that the games of chance had taken on a different twist this season and we hope the added information would give us the edge in our quest to find and defeat the wizard.

While waiting in the entrance lobby haunters are told a ghostly story about a phone booth inside the room, the number displayed at the top of the booth turns out to be the first clue. After traversing a short path we entered the main castle foyer which featured a series of doors and one looked very familiar. It was the same door we’d saw at Terrortown’s Asylum. When the video started the nurse in the room began pleading for help and pressed us to vacate the room but before we could do so a crazed inmate burst forth from some dark corner and harassed guests. The door is a cool prop and I like the fact that ROD took the idea to the next level but it seems quite disjointed with the rest of the theme. After vacating the room the path wound around a corner to a tilting book shelf and then led into the immaculately decorated waiting room.

A single ghoul occupied the room and he relayed the story of the building’s recent paranormal activity to guests. According to him motion sensors had been placed throughout the attraction by the research teams, several rooms had experienced activity including the one we currently occupied. I like the new ripple whether real or imagined it’s another layer of fun to an excellent haunted attraction.

We decided to split our party in order to double our chances of finding the wizard, Jason and Disco entered through the Realm’s trademark fireplace first, several minutes later Richard and I embarked on our journey. It was Richard’s first trip to Realm of Darkness and I defied him not to be impressed by its intricate details, inventive scenes, and interactive characters; despite his usual cynicism I believe even he enjoyed the experience.

The Realm of Darkness truly is like no other haunted attraction you’re likely to visit. Each room is amazingly detailed many even feature true to life antiques, it’s easy to forget that you’re inside a simple modern building because the dark paths and highly detailed scenes are that engrossing, it’s a darkly beautiful work of art. Haunters won’t grow bored by a series of monotonous scenes as they will at some attractions, ROD features an array of creative settings. The upside down room may seem like a simple idea but it’s quite unique and the visual effect sends a small but enjoying blip of information to the brain; I’d like to see more attractions distort perception in this manner. The cave setting is as impressive as usual featuring humid air, low ceilings, and a functioning pond; a raging dinosaur also jabs haunters into a wall by means of a primal head butt. I’m also a big fan of the hall of mirrors which presents guests with the task of navigating a series of passages inlaid with full length mirrors; you just might grow to fear your own reflection.

Realm of Darkness features several check points woven nearly seamlessly into the attraction. These check points serve two purposes acting first as an area to ensure the separation of various parties and second as a chance to further enhance the story of the wizard. At the first check point your party is engaged by a demented executioner outside his dungeon the torso of a woman bobs lifelessly inside a tank of green water. The executioner beckons haunters into his ghastly chamber and verbally berates the group. He is the wizard’s hatchet man and he’s proud of that fact. Richard and I defiantly insisted that we would find and overthrow the wizard which prompted the twisted bastard to cut the guts out of a nearby victim long deceased.

The second check point occurs as your party emerges from the dank recesses of the oppressive cave, a flight of wooden steps lead to the entrance of a rickety shack. A beastly shotgun toting she-man patrols the premises and holds the group at bay for several moments, the shack quakes with mild tremors.

Other areas of interest include a supremely fogged crypt which is home to a threatening creep who led us to a door at the end of a hall lined with spooky monks. There is also a scene dominated by a massive animatronic werewolf snacking upon a rigid corpse. And there was the doll room, yes Realm of Darkness had ripped another page out of Terrortown’s playbook and I was delighted. All around us was an army of miniature sadists apparently awaiting the instructions of their dear mother. A disheveled, rotting face had been tacked to the wall, the matriarch. No sooner had we entered the room she ordered the children to kill us and I of course anticipated the slaughter with glee for I knew the hilarious spectacle that was set to attack us. A lunatic baby emerged from a shadowed corner and began slashing at our ankles just as one had last year at House of the Dead. Richard and I laughed as we pointed at our pint-sized attacker who swiped at us with adolescent madness. The scene made my night.

As we neared the end of the beleaguered kingdom we came upon the awe inspiring ghost ship. The ship rose high above us our eyes attracted to the lit captain’s quarters, bodies clung helplessly to the ship’s side. We crossed a short bridge and entered the ship where a Davy Joneseque creature made unintelligible sounds. The massive tentacles of a giant squid had broken through the wooden planks in several locations, a nice touch indeed. After leaving the ship we were intercepted by a ghoul who demanded to know the name of the ship’s captain. We were told the name rhymed with rage, we were allowed to pass after answering but were given no gem as we assumed we would’ve procured if we had answered correctly.

We descended a flight of stairs into a treasure trove; a wench greeted us kindly and instructed us to pick a gem from one of the treasure chests. She also told us that we would shortly come upon a Sea Hag to whom we would give our gems. A short while later we encountered the Sea Hag who yelled at us fiercely before demanding our gems. She then insisted that we fall to our knees and beg that our gems were magical, they were not which meant we wouldn’t meet the wizard but that didn’t stop Richard and I from making an outrageous spectacle of ourselves. We begged for all we were worth and profanely professed our desire to defeat the wizard and attempted to flatter the sea hag with increasingly ridiculous remarks. Eventually her serious demeanor was betrayed by a smirk and that I decided was good enough consolation for me. We left the Sea Hag and any thoughts of gaining unwarranted entry to the wizard’s lair were chased away by a chainsaw wielding pirate.

Realm of Darkness is nothing if not consistent, entertaining haunters with a great show year after year. The subtle season by season tweaks keep the theme from growing stagnant and the lure of the wizard ensures that many an aspiring hero will return each October. The only knock we have against ROD is the relative lack of live workers but those that do stalk the various scenes of this hellish dimension play the role well. Realm of Darkness is a perennial favorite of ours and you’re only doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t been there.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

The night was growing late and we desperately wanted to hit one more haunted attraction before the season was done so we made a few calls and decided it was time to visit the Haunted Farm of Terror. The sky was threatening to pour down buckets as we raced an impending storm to Lenox Township. When we arrived we parked in a mud splattered field and proceeded to buy our tickets. Haunted Farm of Terror features a haunted house as well as a haunted hayride. We headed to the entrance of the haunted house first as the Disco Devil did not desire to partake in the hayride owing to the adverse weather.

The front of the attraction was made to resemble an old cabin which I suppose is not out of place on an old fashioned farm. The haunted house consisted of a hodge podge of rooms resembling some horrific hillbilly haven. The house itself is relatively short and not particularly scary but it is a bit of fun. One of the highlights for us during the first leg of the haunt was an apparently lobotomized, wheel chair bound man. He comically pursued us in his chair and babbled nonsense; we always appreciate a good taboo. One interesting room welcomed us with a chorus of clanking pots and pans which also alerted the hungry creeps lurking within the walls to our presence. We left this room behind and exited to a path outside a massive canine protruded from a dog house and aimed it’s enormous teeth at the entire party. We walked through a corn stalk strewn path as the weather started to enhance the atmosphere. Wind howled down the path as the air grew heavy with rain. We entered another structure which featured an interesting checkered room as well as a pair of deranged clowns. The haunt soon wound a path outside once more and again we wound our way through a corn maze with hidden creeps.

The haunted house was far from great but it did feature plenty of live workers, the connecting corn maze passages were also enjoyable. There is potential here but the operators need to make a decision on the mood of the haunt. As of now it has the rare distinction of playing second fiddle to a haunted hayride and as you’ll soon find out that is no insult to the wagon bound feature at Haunted Farm of Terror.

Rating: 3 stars

Having now experienced the much heralded hayride at Haunted Farm of Terror I can say that it definitely serves as the main event. The lengthy trip through a cursed forest is punctuated by the narration of an on board host. As the wagon pulls haunters through the various scenes the host recounts the story of Lazarus, a 19th century Undertaker and one time resident who once conducted grisly experiments that have plagued the farm and surrounding woods ever since (for more details visit Haunted Farm of Terror). The narration was a lot of fun although it would have been slightly better had the tour guide appeared in costume.

The hayride also features musical accompaniment, a mix of Halloween favorites and rock music compliment many scenes along the route. For example when a horde of zombies attack the wagon, Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” blares from on board speakers. Later when passing a church haunters learn of Lazarus’ bid for redemption while Gary Jules’ “Mad World” weaves a melancholy thread through this horror rich tapestry.

The beginning of the ride features a pair of mechanized menaces that will dare even the bravest of haunters not to flinch. We sat on the right side of the wagon which meant that we’d have the pleasure of dealing with a soaring phantom. As the wagon passed a small shack the structure’s doors sprung open revealing a huge ghoul attached to a sliding track. The shrouded phantom raced toward our party and did not stop when it reached our position! I was forced to quickly flatten myself or else the streaking skull would have pummeled me square in the face. If I was amused (and I was) then Richard was positively giddy. I believe watching me nearly get clobbered by a runaway ghoul was his favorite moment of the entire haunt season. Just up the path it was time for the other side of the wagon to test their reflexes. A semi-truck was trudging our way with a blaring horn and blazing headlights. It rumbled forward rather slowly giving a false impression of safety; it then violently plowed through several stacks of barrels which lurched toward the wagon before being jerked back just as quickly.

I’m of the opinion that any good slasher flick that takes place in the woods must feature the hot silhouette of a naked chick cast against a tent and apparently the team at Haunted Farm of Terror shares the sentiment. The shapely silhouette of an erotically posed woman drew the gaze of all on board and in this moment no man aboard had a mind for any misfortune that the treacherous woods had to offer. It was an alluring sight highlighted by the shamelessly protruding nipples that could have carved a pumpkin. A single weirdo stumbled forth from somewhere nearby and broke the spell of our collective and wanton lust. The scene wasn’t frightening in the least but it was quite original and did provide a good laugh.

Near the end of the trail our wagon pulled us through an area that used to serve as a drive-in theater, broken down cars littered the landscape. It was while in the middle of the car strewn path that a blinding mass of headlights flooded the wagon and we were temporarily without sight. A mass of ghouls seized the opportunity to attack us helpless fleshies and the result was a wild one indeed. After escaping the old drive-in we were informed by our host that a particularly vicious zombie stalked the area we were entering, his name was Ferby. This demonic being charged at our wagon and terrorized those aboard but when we came across a shanty serving as a barber shop Ferby’s attention shifted to the building. Inside a girl was strapped to a chair and she was screaming for all that she was worth, Eminem’s “Hi…My Name Is” mocked her lament. The host informed us that Ferby had captured her from a previous group of haunters but we could free her with an act of mercy. A vote was held and it seemed that half of the wagon wanted Ferby to free her while the other half wanted blood! The host further informed us that setting her free meant a damsel from our wagon would have to take her place and that information quickly sealed the poor girl’s fate. A strobe effect cast a chaotic light on the barber shop and Ferby roughly grabbed the girl by her hair, threw her onto her back, and began to swing his blade. As we pulled away the girl lay still while Ferby produced a severed head that he proudly held aloft; what a scene!

As we headed back to the muddy parking lot a vast array of creeps and freaks attacked the wagon, one stood atop a pillar nearly ten feet off the ground, he seemed to be acting as some sort of gatekeeper. Drunk on the essence of the season and riled up from a fun-filled night of haunting, I loudly encouraged the mutant to jump and to my great surprise and amusement he did; these fools were out to please.

It had begun to rain in earnest as we came to the end of the ride and the end of the haunt season. Before we departed Richard and I ran about and snapped a few pictures and then navigated the muddy pit of a parking lot over to Disco and Jason who were waiting in the comfort of John’s car.

Rating: 4 3/4 stars

“You think if Siamese twins went to a haunted house they’d have to pay twice?”

-Richard, great philosopher of our time.

“Come on asshole! Come on! Rot in Hell!!!

-John, berating a slow-moving motorist, his voice inflection and tone were impeccable.

Chaos at Deadly, Serendipitous Rain

Posted in 2009, Deadly Intentions, Hallowblog, Haunted Hollows, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2015 by bluefall8

This edition of Hallowblog Flashback was originally posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 and chronicled a most memorable night of haunting at two Michigan attractions. Deadly Intentions would go on to win the 2009 Horrorlust Monster Award and also received an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award.

It was Bowbee’s Nightmare at Haunted Hollows, the other attraction we visited on the night in question, that actually snagged the 2009 Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award along with the Horrorlust Eerie Vibrations Award and Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. The cast at Bowbee’s Nightmare also received an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Monster Award that season.

Sadly, the barn that housed Bowbee’s Nightmare burned to the ground one December morning in 2009. Haunted Hollows continued to produce various haunted attractions through 2012 but has been dark since that time. In 2011, much of the diehard cast followed Larry Black to Pontiac when Sinister haunted house ran alongside The Realm of Darkness. In 2012 and 2013 Sinister was stationed in Utica and then last year with Sinister closed Larry led the core of his crazies back to The Realm of Darkness where their storied history continued.

Like Haunted Hollows, Deadly Intentions is also no longer in operation having last run a show in 2012. On the plus side, the building that used to house Deadly Intentions is still active each October as it is now the home of The Deadland.

Try as the weather did last Friday to spoil our night of haunting the effort was as some would say, all for naught. Due to Jason’s usual lazy man shenanigans we didn’t depart from my apartment until 8:45 but we made good time and arrived at Deadly Intentions roughly half an hour later. A slight drizzle misted the air but for the chance to experience City of the Living Dead I would have braved an Indian monsoon. We did have a bit of a wait but that did nothing to diminish our spirits, our admission was paid; we had a one way ticket to a zombie infested Necropolis…I was happy.

The haunt on the whole was very well done but that was to be expected, what really impressed me was the cohesion and flow from one room to the next; the effect of a desolate city was pulled off very nicely. The trip begins in tavern complete with tables, stools, and a fully stocked bar. A visibly shaken bartender intercepted us and began rambling about dead people and infected bites, his breath smells of liquor. He was at a loss as to what he should do and when I attempted to reassure him that we could handle the situation by hurling Molotov cocktails at the zombies he grew agitated, pulled a gun on us, and demanded that we exit his bar. The whole episode put me in mind of that scene at the beginning of Resident Evil 2 when Leon seeks shelter in a gun shop only to stare down the barrel of a shot gun. It was a great scene to watch then and it was a lot of fun to experience first hand as well.

The adjacent room is adorned in the usual trappings of a bar as well: sports memorabilia and beer signs lined the wall while old school video games occupied a corner of the room to the left a bubble hockey table dared me to strike up a game. And I would have challenged one of my mates too if it weren’t for a particularly agile zombie that thrashed about the room lusting for our flesh. He pursued us out of the bar and into a room best described as the area behind the bar. Dumpsters lined the walls and again I was impressed with the creativity of the scenes. We had no time to admire such things though as the bar ghoul still hungered for our warm flesh. A female zombie emerged from the dumpsters and swiped at us viciously. The pair of undead assailants romped about the scene, rapidly dodging around our feet as we attempted to navigate the tight passageway. I must say that I very much admired their commitment to the act; they certainly were not deterred by the threat of bodily harm.

The dumpster area gave way to an alley where a zombie hobo, a dirty zombie hobo had taken up residence. He lovingly gnawed at a severed leg which must have sated his appetite for the time being because he seemed only mildly interested in the ready meal that had so freely wandered into his undead fiefdom. Much to our amusement the scene included a burning barrel and a large cardboard box which contained the half eaten remains of a grisly corpse. Behind us a zombie tussle had begun, the female ghoul from the dumpster area had followed us into the alley and she wrestled Zobo (zombie hobo) for the rights to his meaty snack. We left them to settle their differences and entered into Master Baiter’s Tackle Shop. The store front sign of course elicited a cheap laugh and the decor inside the room was well done but the disfigured heathen behind the counter did his cohorts a disservice by allowing us to traverse the store unharassed.

After exiting the store we entered a short series of alleys, home to a psychotic, bone wielding clown. He circled our party several times, violently swinging his crude weapon, smashing it against the walls. He was murderous but displayed no overt cannibalistic desires and so we passed without further incident.

The chaos continued as we did our best to navigate the ravaged cityscape, ahead we spotted a house, the light of a television flickered behind a curtained window but no refuge would be had as we were chased off by an angry homeowner. Up ahead we came across a deranged girl who seemed to have locked herself in a large cage as a means to protect herself from the undead horde. She shouted at us shrilly and demanded that we leave her alone. We noticed a TV inside the makeshift prison which was currently showing a pornographic film. Try as he might Jason could not contain the gleam of curiosity in his eyes but with a mass of flesh munchers on our trail even he could not justify lingering any longer.

We found ourselves at the front doors of a church, a bloodied nun fled from the building, her arms flailing above her head as she wailed a lament of primal terror. It was apparent from her screams that someone had done something terrible. Inside the church we found the source of all the calamity, a zombified priest stood chained to the wall. His eyes had been artfully gouged from his head and he had indeed slaughtered himself a feast, caked in blood as he was. As we passed I gave him a sporting chance at my hand and to his credit he did not disappoint, I reacted just in time and avoided the deadly chomp.

It would be Disco who would next be put to the test in this city teeming with the living dead. We had come to a choke point, the perfect place for an ambush, when an excitable butcher appeared and blocked our path. He began sniffing the air and muttered under his breath. He approached Disco, pinned him to the wall, and began sniffing him. Disco did his best to show no fear but it was clear that this creep had unnerved him. “Ohhh, I like this one,” said the butcher with a hint of thinly veiled sexual zest; Richard, Jason, and I could only laugh. The Disco however refused to squeal like a piggy and braved his way past this depraved maniac. The butcher would not be easily deterred and pursued us for some time. He was soon joined by a stocky zombie with a mangled face. The pair lumbered after us as we fled to the outskirts of the infected city. Another zombie joined their ranks and then a lunatic with chainsaw sought to sever anything that so happened to come his way. It was a frenzied atmosphere as we fled our pursuers past the city limits but just when we thought we’d escaped a zombie leaped from a ladder and made sure to hasten our exit.

For the second consecutive year Deadly Intentions delivered a fun and exciting show. I like the fact that City of the Living Dead included survivors who in the spirit of Dead Rising, had broke with reality and become hostile. The theme was awesome and lent itself nicely to some truly creative scenes, especially those at the beginning of the haunt. The actors were once more impressive in every regard displaying a level of intensity and enthusiasm unmatched anywhere else. The show was not without flaw though, for instance a heavy saturation of gore would have been appropriate with this theme. A greater commitment to continuity would have also helped to enhance the theme of the haunt. There were a few scenes that didn’t exactly play to the City of the Living Dead angle as well as others might have, for example, the girl in the cage could have been replaced by a car accident scene where hungry ghouls sucked the marrow from bones.

With that said, Deadly does deserve special recognition for it’s ability to squeeze the most out of its resources. There are no animatronics here nor are there expensive props but there are also no lengthy stretches of pitch black hallways. Deadly Intentions does employ modern lighting and sound techniques which when coupled with a nuts and bolts approach to haunting creates a hybrid between new and old, a neo old school if you will. The bottom line is that Deadly Intentions is a great haunt; it’ll be interesting to see how the brain trust continues to reinvent this rock solid attraction.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Our next stop was the Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township but when we arrived we discovered to our great disappointment that the haunt had closed early do to rain. Perturbed, Richard and I got out of the vehicle with mischief on our minds. Richard decided that he would be justly amused if we were to make some modifications to the haunt’s sign. So it was that as we departed the phrase “open anus” blazed merrily from the signage at the Haunted Farm of Terror.

It was just past 10:30 at this time and we scrambled to find another attraction that would accept our haunt dollars. Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown are both located in nearby Armada but Blake’s too had closed early because of inclement weather and Slaughtered at Sundown was set to cut off ticket sales at 11:00. That left us with just one option, Haunted Hollows also in Armada. Haunted Hollows just opened last year but I’d heard some good things about it so with no other options we embarked on a short journey to the rural barn.

I was not impressed with the scene before us as we pulled into a nearly deserted and muddy parking lot. We exited the vehicle and proceeded to the ticket booth where I reluctantly handed over $15. We walked up a hill lined with cornstalks to the entrance of the barn. We were welcomed by a less than enthused Bride of Frankenstein and a guy dressed up like an old lady. After some corny dialogue from Granny Drag any hope I had for this haunt was quickly evaporating. The attraction only allowed two guests at a time so Jason and Disco entered first followed by Richard and I several minutes later. The haunt started a bit slow and I was convinced that this was going to be a short and pathetic money grab but that was the last negative thought I would have.

Bowbee’s Nightmare, as the attraction was titled, turned out to be an excellent haunt featuring innovative workers, effective props, and a truly creepy atmosphere. The attraction used no sound system which generally spells doom for a haunt because not only can music set the mood it also conveniently covers any noise hidden actors may unintentionally make. However this did not mean certain doom for Bowbee’s Nightmare quite the opposite was true, the eerie silence seemed to put us on edge and complimented the natural ambiance of the barn in a most frighteningly potent fashion.

The actors are the engine that drives Haunted Hollows and what a terrifyingly strange cast they were. The actors scored high marks on timing, make-up, and intensity but it was an unusual trait that jettisoned this brigade of creepy crawlers into haunt super stardom, the ghouls did not speak English. Many of the actors made guttural noises or menacing growls but those that did speak did so in what sounded like some sort of tribal dialect, the effect was disconcerting; the cast was very well trained. A noteworthy few included a skinny clown who displayed his improvisational skills by mimicking the circus tune that Richard began to sing when the wicked harlequin first assailed us; he bobbed his head from side to side and bounded about with gleeful madness. On the next floor a meaty female built like a bull dog burst from a refrigerator and growled menacingly. Her face was a mass of decay, a large boil protruded from her left cheek; she was a monstrosity to behold.

Richard and I caught up to Jason and Disco at the back end of the haunt and with juvenile delight I did my utmost to make Disco sully his draws. We had a hearty laugh but all the bustle alerted a hunchbacked ghoul to our presence. He was similar in stock to the Bull Dog Woman; I wondered what hideous spawns the pair might produce. The creature possessed surprising agility, leaping from a crouched position he gnashed at our faces. We escaped into the darkness but our reprieve was brief as a pair of nightmarish dames appeared as if born from shadow. One of them had long, blond hair and an appealing figure but even Jason’s perversion was swayed by the blood dripping from her mouth, a mouth lined with razor sharp teeth. She would reappear several times as we navigated the labyrinthine structure. Sometimes she would dart ahead of us and peek around corners and at others here presence was only made known to us by the haunting lament she seemed to enjoy singing, a bizarre combination that sounded like a cross between hiccups and strangled nursery rhymes. She appeared atop a staircase once we’d exited the haunt where she serenely hummed that strange dirge. She even pursued us to the parking lot and when goaded she approached our vehicle and snapped her teeth at my camera; now that’s dedication.

Bowbee’s Nightmare puts to great use an army of props, dummies, and mannequins; the likes of which were among the creepiest we’ve ever witnessed. This barrage of bodies kept our heads on a constant swivel, forever guessing where the next attack would come from. And all of this paid off wonderfully with one well placed actor. At the end of a small passageway a large doll sat atop a dresser limp and lifeless. Her white, expressionless face was in contrast to the black pig tails that fell on either side of her head. Suddenly, just as we were about to turn the corner she rocked forward and simpered darkly. When the gag was run on Jason and Disco, Richard and I could hear their shocked surprise several rooms away.

The haunt also featured a couple of false endings, one in the form of a very tight “Womb of Doom” and the other a fun vortex tunnel in which we snapped a memorable picture. Haunted Hollows also featured one very effective animatronic, an enormous Frankenstein that sprung to life with violent spasms caused by jolts of ear splitting electricity. A lot of haunts have animatronics in spades nowadays but the use of just one went a long way at the deathly quiet Bowbee’s Nightmare. The ending of the haunt was also memorable, after being led by some sort of garbling ghoul Bowbee himself was roused and chased us into a narrow, wooden choke point with the aid of a trusty chainsaw. Before we could race to the end of the passage a second abomination, Bowbee’s apprentice I presumed, forced us backward with a chainsaw of his own. It was a fun, wild end as the two disgruntled freaks pushed the four of us closer together with every swipe of the buzzing chainsaws.

Haunted Hollows’ Bowbee’s Nightmare succeeds by focuses on the fundamentals of haunting and in doing so delivered a unique and ultra creepy experience. The barn itself becomes a character and left us feeling as Disco quipped, feeling as if we’d just had a spell with the mutants from The People Under the Stairs. The barn has the feel of a B-rate slasher flick and that’s a compliment; this place will creep you out.

Rating: 5 stars

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.