Archive for toledo

Jason’s Curse, Ohio Haunts Highlight Night

Posted in 2009, Hallowblog, Haunted Hydro, Review, Terror Town with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2015 by bluefall8

In this edition of Hallowblog Flashback, we relive a notable night of haunting in the Buckeye State. Originally posted on Sunday, October 25, 2009 this entry documented a rather interesting and amusing excursion to Terror Town in Maumee and The Haunted Hydro in Fremont.

Terror Town’s House of the Dead would go on to win the 2009 Horrorlust Killer Automatons Award, an award the vaunted haunt would claim four consecutive seasons from 2009-2012. 

To this day my brother, Jason, is still ridiculed for the events of this night and I suspect it ‘ll be some years yet before the rest of us let him live it down.  

Our haunt excursion on Friday the 16th was a memorable experience but perhaps just as memorable as the haunts was the dilemma in which we found ourselves that jeopardized the entire night. Jason, in keeping with his rich tradition of procrastination and tardiness, once again delayed the start of our night. However that would turn out to be the least of his infractions on this night. While driving La Pleasance Road en route to southbound I-75, Jason debated aloud the pros and cons of stopping for gas at the present or putting off the menial task for some time later in the night. Prone as he is to laziness and indifference Jason nonchalantly proclaimed that later suited him just fine.

Twenty minutes later the car began to decelerate and within a minute we were at a crawl and out of gas. I am convinced that the man is cursed. Richard and I decided to jump out and began to push the vehicle while we still had some momentum. So there we were, a couple of jackasses pushing a car down US-25 in Toledo several miles from the nearest gas station. Jason relieved Richard of pushing duties after a quarter mile at which time Richard thought it pertinent to document the proceedings by snapping a few pictures. We’d gone about a half mile when a car pulled up behind us, a bearded man asked if we needed gas; somewhere in the distance I swear I heard a banjo. Thankfully he had a gas can and even more than that nobody was raped or maimed; many thanks to Beardo the Kind. We proceeded to the nearest gas station which likely would have taken well over an hour to reach had it not been for the kind stranger. The night was back on track and Terrortown was in our sights.

Last year Terrortown’s House of the Dead earned the Haunt Trinity’s top honor as Haunt of the Year and so it was with great excitement that we returned to this location. This year the offerings at Terrortown include Toxic Terror in 3D, The Asylum, and of course the incomparable House of the Dead. After purchasing our tickets we headed to the entrance for the 3D attraction. It was evident upon entering the haunt that something was amiss as nothing about it appeared in 3D, in fact the structure was completely dark. We wandered about the maze like interior for a couple of minutes amusing ourselves before making our exit. Given the situation I don’t feel that it would be fair or accurate to rate this particular attraction.

We jumped in line for The Asylum next, held in the same building that housed Slaughterhouse in 2008. Asylum offers haunters a very unique feature at the beginning of the attraction. We entered the lobby and stood before a steel door, in the middle of the door was a window which flickered and revealed its true face as a video screen. A short video began; a woman in a white dress with long, greasy black hair stalked a row of abandoned prison cells. She dragged an ax at her side and her intentions became clear. She battered the window with the ax and the door began to dent as if something would shortly break down the door. We’ve never witnessed an effect quite like this anywhere else. I could only guess at the cost of such a prop. The only downside was the fact that the door was apparently not functional because no actor erupted from the door which would have set the tone nicely.

Asylum wasn’t a lengthy attraction but it accomplished quite well what it set out to do. The haunt was comprised almost entirely of dark, maze like passages which were periodically streaked with the flash of a strobe light. A series of highly creepy full size props ward haunters away from various dead ends and I do mean highly creepy. The props looked identical to the girl from the video, each of them armed with an ax. Due to the realism of the dummies we initially mistook them for live actors but even after concluding that they were props nobody wanted to get too close to these fierce bitches. It turned out that The Asylum was actually light on genuine fleshies which definitely would have helped push this attraction to the next level. Those that were present weren’t bad but they certainly weren’t great either. However, this attraction will without a doubt raise some goose bumps on every visitor, if the props and ghouls don’t do it the cold air certainly will. The building is very cold which is no doubt done on purpose as the operators at Terrortown are known for their penchant to assail the senses in nontraditional ways. It was an effective maneuver, by the time we exited the haunt our hands were like ice; an interesting ripple to a solid dark maze. The haunt concludes with the largest vortex tunnel you’re likely to see anywhere. Last season it stood as a solo attraction titled The Beast but it works much better in a complimentary fashion paired with The Asylum.

Rating: 3 1/4 stars

After staggering out of the vortex we headed to the entrance of the main event, House of the Dead. We must have caught Terrortown on a slow night because there was absolutely no wait for the feature presentation in contrast we waited well over an hour last year to gain entry. We stood in the lobby and were shortly greeted by the same middle aged creep that welcomed us to Dead House last year. He received us warmly and seemed to be genuinely thrilled that we’d come to “play with his children” as he put it. I like this character and I enjoy the demented patriarch shtick he runs, it’s a fun way to start the haunt. We packed into an elevator and descended into the bowels of the rotting estate. I will not mince words, House of the Dead just wasn’t quite the acid trip induced wet dream that we experienced last year, it’s still a fine haunt that much should not be questioned but the wicked juices that fueled last year’s mind fuck have abated a bit. The attraction is notably shorter and the infamous room of killer babies has been omitted which left us particularly disappointed.

Last year one of our few criticisms of this attraction was the lack of live actors, there are many more live actors this year but unfortunately most of them have less personality than most of the animatronics. But oh, how awesome these animatronics are! The first room of the haunt held about five animatronics alone, one man had a stream of blood issuing from his stomach while another struggled futilely against the restraints that held him aloft. We were attacked by an alligator and witnessed the aftermath of a gruesome slaughter of a unicorn by a pack of burly wolves.

One of my favorite scenes involved a prop I’ve come to call the Goliath Man, a massive crucified ghoul who lunges at haunters from his post. We came upon a hallway which had a long mirror on the wall to the left, a mixture of eeriness and vanity drew our gaze and then Goliath Man struck from the other side when a partition dropped out of the wall. Pay attention folks because this is a great blend of an old school technique (misdirection) and modern technology. Another great scene involving a member of Terrortown’s automated army came in the form of a feasting alien devouring the half eaten carcass of a young girl, classy.

Another aspect of House of the Dead that scores well with the Haunt Trinity is the attraction’s attention to detail. The operators play up the House angle well sending guests through a series of narrow passages and rooms designed to look just like somebody’s home, a deranged nutter’s home yes, but a home nonetheless. The hallways are decorated with freakish family portraits and the various rooms nearly all feature still props that could just as well be the stuffed remains of family members, I especially enjoyed the sinister looking children.

House of the Dead also commands recognition for its implementation of innovative techniques such as the use of holographic projections. Also of note are unique set pieces like the stairs that break under the weight of an unseen presence. And of course any mention of all things strange and bizarre at House of the Dead would not be complete without calling attention to the odorous decay that seems to permeate the walls within the manor. The foul smell nearly overwhelmed us when we entered a room full of dead animals. Thankfully this was a small room and before we could contribute to the overall stench of the place by unleashing the contents of our stomachs we entered an adjacent meat cooler. Inside the cooler hung the bodies of many a victim but we had no time for sorrow because the keeper of the shop had arrived with a chainsaw. During the ensuing melee I heard squealing and I thought that was an odd thing to hear in a room full of dead humans. It was then that I looked about and realized that the bodies hanging from the ceiling weren’t exactly human…they were some sort of pig people hybrid! The monstrosity nearest me was squealing incessantly and arching his freakish head toward my calf. We fled the meat cooler content in the knowledge that those pig people would soon be bacon on some lucky fellow’s plate.

House of the Dead is indeed an interesting and rare piece of work. Last year the attraction was an absolute hit with hardly any live actors at all and this year Dead House seemed to gain success in spite of the lackluster performance of said actors. I don’t believe we’ve ever come across any place or situation quite like this. I would obviously like to see the haunt return to its 2008 length but I dare say it seems counter intuitive to suggest that the operators scale back the number of live performers, but perhaps House of the Dead would be at its best with a few well placed warm bodies. The animatronics are simply the best we’ve witnessed; some really seem to take on a life of their own. The unique oddities inherent to this attraction add a layer to the experience and atmosphere that a lot of haunts just can’t touch. I hope the brain trust at Terrortown continue to evolve the idea of homestead gone bad because it has a lot of fun possibilities I’d love to see brought to life.

Rating: 3 3/4

We departed the Lucas County Fairgrounds and nearly forty minutes later arrived just in time to purchase our tickets at the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Ohio. The adventure marked our first visit to this attraction and as with all first time trips we were eager to sample the offerings. There are two primary attractions here the crown jewel and namesake, Haunted Hydro and Industrial Mayhem; an outdoor attraction that truly exceeded all expectations.

Industrial Mayhem forces haunters through a long series of narrow paths bordered on both sides by chain linked fence. The attraction features a differently themed creature of the night each weekend; thus far it had been home to demons and nightmarish clowns but as fortune would have it our visit coincided with an outbreak of the living dead. Zombies littered the grounds and their jaws were a’ gnashing. The workers featured elaborately gruesome make up and some even donned those twisted contacts that warp the eyes. The actors were hard working and refused to be content with a single scare, several hungry ghouls stalked us through the gritty path and attacked us three or four times each. Much of the cast added to the genuine zombie appeal by refusing to break character responding to our usual hijinx with garbled grows and menacing snarls; these flesh eaters meant business.

The haunt featured two set pieces in particular which ensured that the repetitious setting did not become monotonous. The first was a boat and as we passed a starving zombie crawled from beneath the watercraft and began thrashing at our legs. Later the path led directly into the back of a hearse through which we were made to crawl. Midway through the dreary mobile a portion of the floor lights up, a ghoul trapped beneath a pane of glass pounds frantically in an attempt to procure the just out of reach delicacies.

Near the end of the attraction we came across a small junk yard that housed a hungry female zombie who was currently gorging herself on the neck of a once proud but now dead, stallion. She glared at us greedily as if the hardy meal she had already won wasn’t enough. The glint in her glossy eyes told us she had a zest for man flesh. Jason appeared a little too eager to oblige so we quickly pushed forward before he made a fatally embarrassing mistake. We wound our way into a burnt out dump, a revolting mutant wandered amidst the rubble. He wore construction gear and had a face that looked as if it had been washed in an acid bath. His skin was raw and tinged red, it looked like a lump of bloody hamburger. He entered a shack with shelves lined with grim trinkets; on one shelf a jar filled with orange slime contained a multitude of eye balls. He began pouring muddy, waste water from one barrel to the next offering us a drink as he did so. He also engaged us in a bit of tasteless humor involving one of our mothers.

We rounded the shack and attempted to exit Industrial Mayhem but we were chased away from the double doors by a deranged man who was very concerned about the damage we may cause his doors. Jason managed to escape on the first attempt barreling through the flimsy doors with wanton disregard. We had to retreat several times behind the mutant’s shack before making a run for it and escaping one by one. I was the last to breach the threshold; the little, angry man was still shouting about his doors.

Rating: 4 1/4 stars

We crossed the court yard and made our way to the entrance of the Haunted Hydro where the eccentric owner, Crazy Bob was entertaining some female patrons. Ole Bob rambled on for a bit about never forgetting a face and tried rather futilely to rattle Disco. Crazy Bob shortly relented and allowed us to enter the old hydro dam now home to a soggy army of ghouls and weirdoes. The building is an impressive sight to behold featuring a ceiling that towers far above the heads of its guests. We enjoyed Haunted Hydro but the haunt lacked a cohesive theme and that was disappointing because the structure would be quite believable as a medieval castle.

The first two scenes were highly detailed and would have felt at home at The Realm of Darkness. The first was a bedroom scene and the second a dining room, the latter scene offered up a hilarious worker who really pushed the envelope. After leaping out of a chair the portly ghoul offered us what he referred to as eyeball soup and then suggested that he add a special ingredient. He squatted slightly and began rubbing his hand on his ass; he then brought his hand to the bowl and proclaimed that the secret ingredient was “brown sugar.” We of course responded with bales of laughter and our sides nearly split when this repugnant wretch gyrated his hips and rubbed the personal concoction on his nipple. He responded promptly to our ribbing by wiping his fingers on my nipple which was actually quite surprising because haunt workers are not supposed to touch guests but I found the whole scene to be ludicrous and took no offense. Brown Sugar Man, I salute you!

We were lead shortly through a narrow hall filled with various clown props; the passage was lit by black lights and concluded when a simpering French clown provided a mild scare. The path took several more turns and we ended up in a security room, the walls lined with monitors, a woman occupied the chair behind the desk and our presence clearly disturbed her. She rose from the chair with great jerky movements and stalked our party to the end of the room.

Near the conclusion of the attraction haunters are treated to display both rare and bizarre in nature. A brightly colored, old fashioned puppet booth stood before us standing in surreal contrast to the dimly lit and grimy surroundings. A scrawny, high pitched male appears from behind the curtains holding a dirty teddy bear in his left hand. The bear would like to sing us a song and of course we agree to witness this odd side show. The puppeteer disappears behind the curtains and shakes the teddy bear about as he sings a dark rhyme about death. At one point the bear disappears behind the curtains and a large, clawed hand shoots quickly toward the guests functioning as a dovetail for the lyrics. When the song concludes the slimy puppet master cheers his own depraved lyrics and encourages us to do the same, we happily offer a round of applause and exit the scene.

We headed up an inclined path; a large shadow could be seen high upon a wall in the distance, another neat feature. The path turned and took us into a room with a deep pit, several nutters patrolled the room including a manic judge but to my disappointment the pit of despair held no captives. The path briefly led outside which afforded us the opportunity to appreciate the exterior of the Hydro. When we reentered we soon came to the conclusion of the haunt, a large graveyard setting that featured either a hopelessly drunk or helplessly insane pirate who blathered nonsense and begged us not to leave him.

The haunt concluded on a some what lackluster note but it did feature a lot of live actors most of which were quite good at what they set out to do. The unique features mentioned above were all welcome surprises and something I’d like to see the haunt build on. We had a lot of fun at the Haunted Hydro and I’d like to plan a return trip in a future season.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

“Oh, I hope they’re not too old.”

-Richard responding to the House of the Dead patriarch’s enthusiasm when he expressed delight that we had come to play with his children

“(Strangled laughter) Your mother…(more strangled laughter)…douche.”

-The reaction of the construction mutant when I suggested that his filthy, barrel water had been used as a douche by Richard’s mom

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2008 Numbers & Awards

Posted in Awards, Hallowblog, Haunting By Numbers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2014 by bluefall8

2008 marked the first season that I compiled numbers such as those listed below; it was also the first year that I assigned awards on such a scale.

On occasion I will look back over past awards and wonder if perhaps I didn’t shortchange a haunted attraction in a particular category; I bring this up now because in 2008 I gave a lot of thought to the Pulse Pounder and Killer Automatons Awards. Those awards would be won by County Morgue (Chainsaw Creek) and Erebus respectively, but there was spirited debate amongst myself and fellow haunters both during and after the fact.

There was certainly a case to be made for House of the Dead (Terror Town) with respect to the Killer Automatons Award and both John and Jason told me that they felt Deadly Intentions deserved the edge where the Pulse Pounder Award was concerned.

Situations such as those would, in future seasons, lead me to name not just the award winner but also an honorable mention; which is a system I prefer as I feel it provides a more complete picture for each award.

This entry was originally posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009.

The 2008 haunt season was full of unprecedented fun and fright. In order to put things into perspective I’ve compiled the following numbers.

10: The number of Hallowblog entries posted throughout the season, the most since its inception in 2006.

9: The number of haunts visited by the Haunt Trinity, a one year record.

136: The amount of money each of us spent on those nine haunted attractions.

6: The number of nights we set out to visit haunted attractions.

2: The number of states we traversed on our quest for Halloween fun (Michigan and Ohio).

96: Miles traveled to the Homer Mill, the furthest haunt of the 2008 season.

446: The total number of miles we traveled throughout the haunt season.

If all goes as planned many of those numbers will be surpassed this season, what is less certain however is the performance and subsequent rating of the haunted attractions. Let’s take a look back at last year’s noteworthy performances. Presented here in Hallowblog for the first time are the 2008 haunt awards as chosen by the Haunt Trinity.

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 during the 2008 season.

2008 Rotten Pumpkin: Templin’s Night Terror

The Haunt Trinity had high expectations after experiencing a superb, old school experience at Hell’s Hospital in 2007 but the Wyandotte Jaycees wasn’t able to recapture the magic. It wasn’t just that a number of actors were undisciplined and ineffective or that their less than whispered conversations were clearly audible over an oddly mute sound system, no more than anything the largest detraction of the Jaycees’ 2008 effort was that it felt like a bad imitation of its usual product.

Eerie Vibrations: The Eerie Vibrations award is given to the haunt considered to exude the best overall atmosphere. Atmosphere can be defined by the mood of the haunt itself but can also be fostered by immediate grounds or even the surrounding area.

2008 Eerie Vibrations: Homer Mill

A lot of haunted attractions possess a great atmosphere but in the end it was the Homer Mill that jumped out at us the most. Homer Mill is like no other haunt we’ve ever visited, as if the structure of an old mill adapted to a haunt isn’t a unique enough atmosphere for you then consider the Halloween themed restaurant and bar connected to the haunt. The seemingly opposing but strangely complimentary buildings forge a rare synergy that creates a comfy, fun atmosphere whether you’re traversing the haunt or enjoying a bite to eat and all the while you can hear screams of fun or fright as it may be heralding from the other side.

Dark Horse: The Dark Horse award is given to the haunt considered to have the most potential for improvement. Criteria for this award include the ability to deliver an entertaining show at a relatively small venue and at a reduced rate. Think of the Dark Horse award as the Haunt Trinity’s way of recognizing the little haunt that could.

2008 Dark Horse: Realm of Haunted Minds

Realm of Haunted Minds is located at the Huron Turkey Farm and is one of those haunts that is fun for all ages, it’s not too intense but it isn’t geared toward children either. There’s room to expand here and the haunt benefits from a semi-rural locale which by night creates a creepy small town farm 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.

2008 Killer Automatons: Erebus

A number of mega haunts have awesome animatronics these days but nowhere are they put to greater use than at Pontiac’s four story monster. The integration of animatronics at Erebus is impressive, the willingness of the operators to push the envelope with robots that literally attack patrons shows a commitment to fright that warrants high scores in my book.

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 at the end of the experience the most important element is the level of one’s own fear.

2008 Pulse Pounder: County Morgue (Chainsaw Creek)

Chainsaw Creek’s crown jewel is not a long or intricate haunt but it is frightening. County Morgue is slim on live actors but those that do inhabit its cold corridors are a credit to their craft. County Morgue is a dark brew of ultra-gory props, ear splitting heavy metal, and mind numbing strobe effects. It might not sound like much but the place brought me to a level of fright I don’t often feel. I was tentative when approaching objects and less than comfortable when turning corners. The fear I felt here brought me back to my youth.

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 a refusal to break character. Also crucial is the ability to improvise lines or actions when adapting to an individual guest or group.

2008 Monster: Deadly Intentions

When you talk about a commitment to scaring guests any conversation that doesn’t include Deadly Intentions is just plain wrong. The collective energy put forth by the staff here in 2008 was unmatched. These people are relentless in their quest to scare you and don’t think you’re going to deter them with sophomoric quips. The group at Deadly Intentions clearly loves what they do. It’s primal, in your face, non-stop insanity.

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 haunt’s ability to leave a lasting experience in the minds of guests.

2008 Haunt of the Year: House of the Dead (TerrorTown)

In a season packed with worthy contenders House of the Dead rose to the top of the corpse pile. An unlikely amalgam of innovative techniques and bizarre visuals propelled this stench laden living tomb to haunt super stardom. It was fun, it was scary. It was a wild, haunt riot that assailed all five senses and had me wishing I’d possessed a sixth for I’m certain it would have been delightfully thrown off kilter. Experiencing House of the Dead isn’t like visiting a haunted attraction it’s more like being ripped from reality only to be dropped in a wacky, bygone era video game world complete with a giant enemy eyeball. If you’ve ever played Monster Party for Nintendo then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what House of the Dead is all about.

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.

Haunt Season Hits Stride at Chainsaw Creek

Posted in 2008, Chainsaw Creek, Hallowblog, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2014 by bluefall8

This entry chronicles a memorable visit to Chainsaw Creek which was located in Toledo, Ohio. It was one of the earliest, if not the first, experience we ever had at a multi-attraction venue. County Morgue, one of the four attractions that was featured, won the 2008 Horrorlust Pulse Pounder Award.

I hold numerous fond memories from this outing and have always considered it a formative event in our haunted history. Sadly, we never returned to Chainsaw Creek. We wanted to embark on a return trip in 2009 but weren’t able to work it into our schedule. The haunt folded after that season and has not returned since. 

This post was originally published on Wednesday, October 22, 2008.

On Saturday, October 18th the Haunt Trinity set out for Ohio with the intent of visiting Chainsaw Creek in Toledo and TerrorTown in Maumee but due to our late start we were only able to visit Chainsaw Creek. Chainsaw Creek features four attractions: County Morgue, Haunted Prison, The Black Swamp, and Carn-Evil. I was some what surprised at the size of the crowd and equally thrown off by the large security presence. Music blared from speakers as elaborately disguised ghouls paraded around the area frightening hauntgoers. I immediately liked the atmosphere of this place, the night had potential.

The four attractions sat in a corner of the Franklin Park Mall parking lot as we approached Carn-Evil was to our left, The Black Swamp and Haunted Prison stood directly before us, and County Morgue was to the right. We bought our tickets and decided to hit County Morgue first as it seemed to be the main attraction. As we waited in line we were entertained by a monster-sized clown with a curiously low set head that bobbed wildly as the creature marched about; I would later get a picture with this freakish being. County Morgue was constructed from a large party tent with a front wall made from wood. It would be easy to write such an appearance off as cheap but the frugal technique worked well here. After watching some idiotic kid fail in an attempt to weasel his way into the attraction it was our time to enter.

County Morgue offers a unique blend of old school and smash mouth haunting. Strobe lights flash throughout the haunt and hard, driving rock music pulses combining to create a disorienting effect all while the adrenaline gets pumping. Upon entering the haunt the first room holds quite a rare sight — an unkempt girl sits in a wheelchair, wearing a helmet. She held her left arm aloft and twiddled her fingers in rapid fashion…and then she spoke and proceeded to warn us of monsters in her own special way. Yeah, I was surprised too. I’ve never before witnessed the mentally retarded reduced to comic fodder for the sake of a haunted attraction. I had to admit, this place had some balls and the effect was nothing short of hilarious if not crass. The very next room did not disappoint either as we approached a doorway a legless, bloodied, zombie-nun crawled from beneath an unidentified structure and began violently gnashing at our legs. This place was crapping on all sorts of taboos! I loved it!

As we continued through the haunt I realized that I was starting to feel apprehension at every turn and that is not something easily accomplished on one such as I, this haunt was doing a hell of a job creating suspense like no other haunt this year. Many torsos hung upside down from the ceiling and each was extremely life like some of the props were even equipped with a gruesome twitching effect. Half way through the haunt we were confronted by an impish girl with a gaping head wound who excitedly and repeatedly proclaimed, “Can you help me”, we just laughed which must have rubbed her the wrong way because she then began expressing a desire to munch upon our flesh. We left the jazzed up cannibal to her own devices and were shortly confronted by a man cradling his own entrails. Highly entertained by this point we were almost sad to depart the haunt as a demented doctor pursued us with a chainsaw. At the haunt’s exit Wheelchair Girl bade us a fond farewell with her simply charming smile.

I’m always hesitant to prescribe individual ratings to a haunt with multiple attractions because as a haunt enthusiast I know that a few are there to function as side shows but County Morgue was so good that I feel it’s an insult not to give it its own rating. Truly the only knock against the haunt was that it was short but again that’s to be expected when one haunt, Chainsaw Creek, features four attractions. So now that I’ve spewed forth that tangled mess of metadiscourse…

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Next we headed to Carn-Evil, the 3D haunted attraction at Chainsaw Creek. Twice before the Haunt Trinity has set foot in 3D haunted attractions and on both occasions there was something left to be desired, I was anxious to see what Carn-Evil had to offer. While we waited in line we were entertained by a ghoulish goob who did do his job well but was unfortunately ruled partially a douche due to his ICP hoodie. There was also a behemoth grim reaper type with glowing red eyes who skulked the grounds and pointed a threatening finger at haunters. Thus we entered Carn-Evil and while we certainly weren’t blown away we weren’t disappointed. Carn-Evil was thin on live actors but the few who did populate the haunt did their craft a service and possessed excellent timing. We groped through techni-colored passageways and worked our way through a series of maze-like false walls. Everything here was relatively subtle (aside from the shockingly fluorescent 3D paint of course) but it seemed to balance nicely. The attraction ends when hauntgoers cross a great black hole which pushes the 3D effect to the max. Again, this haunt didn’t light our senses on fire but it did reestablish our faith that the 3D attraction can serve as more than mere filler. Jason, John, and I all agreed that it was the best 3D haunted attraction we had visited.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

The lines were becoming considerably shorter now and after a slightly banal conversation about haunts with a possibly stoned employee at the entrance of The Black Swamp we were granted access into this third attraction. The swamp theme is cool in theory but if it’s not pulled off just right it can become boring and lame. Chainsaw Creek does a pretty good job at creating the illusion of a swamp like atmosphere; typically haunts achieve this through a combination of heavy fog and green lasers. The first turn of the haunt revealed a lunatic clown who laughed joyously as he manically proclaimed, “I want to eat your face!” He delivered the line with such crazed joy and I really appreciated this actor’s effort, sometimes the entire show can live and die by the actors. The Black Swamp was a little light on details but did feature all the right characters for the setting including a Black Lagoon type creature that dashed at us out of the fog from beneath a wall. Like County Morgue it suffered slightly from being too brief.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Upon exiting we joined the line to the final haunted attraction, Haunted Prison. This haunt featured a great animatronic at the entrance, behind a set of bars a man is strapped to an electric chair and is of course repeatedly executed. Once we had entered it became apparent that Haunted Prison was fairly bland. Hauntgoers wind their way through a series of chain linked fence for the majority of the haunt while a fair number of workers provide decent scares. Admittedly I had grown tired by this point of the night and my wits were not very sharp but even with that said there just wasn’t a whole lot to Haunted Prison, it was just a bit too generic.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Chainsaw Creek on the whole scored positive marks and I would consider a return visit during the 2009 haunt season. The atmosphere exudes a wild and fun brand of scares which is underscored by the band of wandering creatures. County Morgue is undeniably the crown jewel; with more room the operators could turn this attraction into a full-fledged haunt itself. Carn-Evil fills the role of solid side show admirably and has some potential to expand as well. While Haunted Prison could use some work The Black Swamp has promise but it’s likely that these two will be altered next year as multi-attraction haunts rarely feature the same line up year to year. The price is right at $20 so if you’re a haunt enthusiast and you have a free Friday or Saturday it’s worth the drive from the greater Detroit area as well. I’m definitely interested to see how Chainsaw Creek evolves for the 2009 season.

Horrorlust Radio Episode #003

Posted in Horrorlust Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2014 by bluefall8

Wrestler, home haunter and haunted attraction enthusiast Mike Marvel serves as co-host for episode #003 of Horrorlust Radio.

In the third episode of Horrorlust Radio, Mike and I discuss the tradition of home haunting in all its various forms and then dig into the pros and cons of multi-attraction venues.

This episode also features the second installment of Lost to Time, a segment that highlights haunts now departed; you’ll also hear the birth of a new segment, Hosts & Hotties where we pay respect to icons of the industry from horror hosts to scream queens and everybody in between. The luscious Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is our inaugural honoree.

Mike and I also banter about the quality of haunted attractions during the month of September and even delve briefly into the crossover elements of professional wrestling and the haunted attraction industry.

I’m actively seeking sponsors for Horrorlust Radio, if you own or operate a haunted attraction or are otherwise involved or connected to the haunt industry and are interested in such an opportunity you can contact me at the following email address: horrorlust@bluestarproductions.net

Email any questions or comments to the address above or feel welcome to post any reactions to this podcast in the comments section below.

HORRORLUST RADIO: EPISODE 003

SHOW NOTES

Mike Marvel isn’t just a wrestler, home haunter and haunted attraction enthusiast, he’s also the man behind the scenes at Michigan Haunt Central on Facebook.

Brandywine Cemetery, the prominent home haunt cited during this episode, is located at 2727 Brandywine St. Ann Arbor, MI. 48104. Brandywine Cemetery will be open Thursday, October 30 and Friday, October 31 in 2014. For more information visit their website here: Brandywine Cemetery

I’ve included a scan of The Lab’s 2009 ad from the Fear Finder. My scanner isn’t quite large enough to capture the entire ad but you can enjoy 95% of this colorful, eye-catching advertisement.

Fear Finder, 2009

Fear Finder, 2009

And for those of you who live under a rock, here’s a picture of the gorgeous Elvira, the first honoree in Hosts & Hotties.

She puts the lust in Horrorlust.

She puts the lust in Horrorlust.

The songs and audio clips featured in this episode are listed below in chronological order:

1. “This is Halloween” by Danny Elfman (The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993)

2. The Return of the Living Dead  Theatrical Trailer, 1985

3. “Living Walls” by Midnight Syndicate (The 13th Hour, 2005)

4. Trash from The Return of the Living Dead, 1985

5. “Born of the Night” by Midnight Syndicate (Born of the Night, 1998)

2014 Haunt Schedule: A Road Map to Horror

Posted in Haunt Schedule with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by bluefall8

Never before has an October been so filled with a litany of events and that fact has made crafting the haunt schedule that much more difficult and tedious. In this never-ending quest to hit as many new haunted attractions as possible, things are set to be shaken up considerably. Below are listed a number of possible outings for the 2014 haunt season, but on which nights will we traverse those listed below? Of course, there’s also room for a wild card or an October surprise — there’s no telling where the haunts fates might take us.

In no particular order…

#1 – Corpse Barn Shock Haunt (Jackson) & Shawhaven Haunted Farm (Mason)

#2 – The Fear Experience (Cleveland) & Bloodview (Broadview Heights)

#3 – Hush (Westland) & Dark Legacy (Wixom)

#4 – Wiard’s Night Terrors (Ypsilanti) & Krazy Hilda’s (Ypsilanti)

#5 – Clio Manor (Flint), St. Lucifer’s (Grand Blanc) & Exit 13 (Mt. Morris)

#6 – Fear Factory (Mt. Clemens) & Salem’s Haunted Village (Capac)

#7 – Psycho Path (Flat Rock), Wyandotte Jaycees’ Fō-bē-ə (Wyandotte) & Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood)

9 of the 16 listed would be firsts for the Horrorlust team and yet old favorites niggle at the back of my mind. After five consecutive years of visiting Terror Town we skipped it last year and our last visit to the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Ohio came some four years ago. Would this formidable duo not make for an enjoyable outing once more? Furthermore, the recent news from a friend regarding The Realm of Darkness has given me pause and now I find myself considering yet another trip to the aforementioned haunt and Pontiac’s other twin terror, Erebus. And what of my zany friends at Darksyde Acres?! It is times like these that I simply wish somebody would make these decisions for me.

The Haunt List

Posted in Hallowblog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2014 by bluefall8

As you’ll shortly read, I was still toying with an alternate name for Hallowblog when this was first written; however the name would ultimately stick.

I suppose this can be viewed as my own pared down version of the Fear Finder; over the years I did end up visiting the majority of these haunted attractions. As of 2013, 15 of the 22 attractions listed remained in operation in some form.

The curtain fell on Deadly Intentions in 2012 although The Deadland currently uses the same building. The Lab and Chainsaw Creek last ran in 2009. To the best of my knowledge, Scare Grounds at the Fairgrounds closed up after 2008 and  Death Sentence, Motor City Massacre and Nox were open only during the 2007 season. This was originally posted October 4, 2007.

I’ve compiled a list of haunted attractions I’d like to visit this season, I realize it is quite unlikely that I make it to each of these but this list is simply meant to serve as a general guideline. If any of these sound interesting just let me know and we’ll make the trek you rotten bastards. Jason and Disco have served as my fellow haunt-goers the last three years but we wouldn’t mind a few new faces.

In other Halloween news, I’ve decided against running the companion blog to the Halloween themed Word of the Week. No worries though, I have plenty other Halloween content to provide and it is quite likely that anything that would have appeared in the companion blog will simply be infused into this column, Hallowblog. And that brings me to my next point; I’ve received no suggestions for an alternate blog title so that means I’ll pick one of my own making in the coming days.

If you’re looking for on-screen horror check out Flight of the Living Dead which was released on DVD October 2. No, I haven’t watched it but c’mon it’s got zombies. 28 Weeks Later will also be available on DVD October 9. At theatres horror fans can watch Resident Evil: Extinction, Saw IV premiering October 26, or the vampire thriller 30 Days of Night beginning October 19.

That’s all the news I have for now so look over the list below and tell me what strikes your haunting fancy.

In no particular order:

The Scream Machine & Carnevil of Lost Souls

Taylor, MI./$12 for Scream Machine or $16 for both

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/27-11/4

The Lab

Grosse Ile, MI./$12

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/28-10/31

Anxiety Alley

Lincoln Park, MI./$6

Hours: 7-11

Run Dates: 10/12-13, 19-21, 26-30

Erebus

Pontiac, MI./$20

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri: 7-1, Sat: 6-1

Run Dates: 9/28-11/3

The Realm of Darkness

Pontiac, MI./$19

Hours: Sun-Thurs: Tix on sale @ 7:30, Fri-Sat: Tix on sale @ 7

Run Dates: 9/21-23, 28-30, 10/5-7, 11-14, 18-31

Terrortown

Maumee, OH./$10 for main attraction or $16 for three

Hours: Sun: 7:30-10, Fri-Sat: 7:30-Midnight, Halloween: 7:30-10

Run Dates: Fri, Sat, Sun starting 9/28-10/28, also 10/31

Chainsaw Creek

Toledo, OH./$10 per house or $20 for all four

Hours: Sun-Thurs: Dark-11, Fri-Sat: Dark-Midnight

Run Dates: 9/28-10/15 (Thurs-Sun), 10/18-10/31

Scare Grounds at the Fairgrounds

Michigan State Fairgrounds/$13

Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7-11, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight

Run Dates: 10/12-10/31

Hell’s Hospital

Wyandotte, MI./$10

Hours: Sun & Thurs: 7-10, Fri-Sat: 7-Midnight, Mon & Wed (Halloween week) 7-10

Run Dates: 10/6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31

Realm of Haunted Minds

Romulus, MI./$10

Hours: 7-10

Run Dates: 10/5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 29-30

The Carn-evil of Fear

Flat Rock, MI./$10

Hours: 8-11

Run Dates: 10/19-20, 26-27

Haunted Hill Acres

Belleville, MI./per event

Hours: Tix on sale @ 7

Dates: Every Thurs-Sun in October

Phantom Forest Hayrides

Grosse Ile, MI./$8

Hours: Fri-Sat: 7-11, Sun: 7-10

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-30

The Pumpkin Factory

Belleville, MI./$6

Hours: Fri-Sat: 7-10, Sun: 7-9

Run Dates: Every Fri-Sun in October

Slaughtered at Sundown

Armada, MI./$12 or $20 for both attractions

Hours: Begins @ 7

Run Dates: 9/28-10/27 (Fri-Sat only), 10/21, 10/28

Blake’s Nighttime Spooky Hayrides

Armada, MI./Call for prices (586) 784-9710

Hours: Dusk-?

Run Dates: 9/28-29, every Fri-Sun in October

Fear Factory

Warren, MI./$17

Hours: 7-?

Run Dates: 9/21-23, 28-30, 10/4-7, 10-14, 17-31

Motor City Massacre

Roseville, MI./$15

Hours: 7-till the Massacre ends

Run Dates: 9/28-29, 10/5-7, 12-14, 18-31

Death Sentence

Waterford, MI./$12 (Sun-Wed), $15 (Thurs-Sat)

Hours: Sun-Wed: 7-11, Thurs-Sat: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-10/31

Nox

Troy, MI./$17

Hours: Weekdays: 7-11, Weekends: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/3-7, 10-14, 17-31

Castle of the Dead

Lenox Township, MI./$16

Hours: Thurs & Sun: 7-11, Fri & Sat: 7-1

Run Dates: 9/28-30, 10/5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 25-31

Deadly Intentions

Warren, MI./$13

Hours: Weekdays: 7:30-11, Fri-Sat: 7:30-1

Run Dates: 9/21-30 (Fri-Sun only), 10/4-21 (Thurs-Sun only), 10/25-31