Archive for Total Blackout

2015 Haunt Season Rewind

Posted in Haunt Season Rewind with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2016 by bluefall8

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Late September has crept up awfully quickly and many haunted attractions have already opened their doors to customers. 2016 is going to be a pivotal season here at Horrorlust for several reasons, but before any of that fun can begin we must pause and peer into the rear view mirror for a glimpse of the year that was — submitted for your approval, here are some of the most memorable moments from the 2015 haunt season as recorded here on Horrorlust.

On an overly-friendly character at The Deadland, 9/17/15

“Mr. Snuggles was a clown — at least I think that’s what he was. He looked like a clown but he made a few comments that led me to believe that perhaps the face was not his own. Yeah, we’re talking some freaky skin suit stuff here.”

On an unexpected bit of interaction at The Deadland, 9/17/15

“However, our absolute favorite was Mikey’s birthday party where we sung a boisterous rendition of Happy Birthday at the insistence of the dead boy’s busty mother.”

On a curious ringmaster at the Haunted Farm of Terror, 9/17/15

“Rigby stood head and shoulders above the fairgoers and seemed to have pilfered his outfit from Uncle Sam. One side of his face sported a nasty burn but the disfigurement did nothing to stem his voice which boomed theatrically through a mega phone.”

On a bizarre yet humorous broadcast at the Haunted Farm of Terror, 9/17/15

“Transfixed, we stood and listened to the queer tale that was being broadcast — some weird business about a degenerate rabbit.”

On the charged finale at Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors, 9/26/15

“The air suddenly felt electric, pregnant with anticipation. For a moment time stood still and then like a phantom in the night Junior answered his mother’s call…”

On a tough and unlikely decision at The Dark Box, 10/03/15

“It was a testament to the raw weirdness of the odd ghoul that we accepted the word of the pig-man.”

On the panic-inducing conclusion of The Dark Box, 10/03/15

“Further investigation would reveal the existence of a peculiar path, a path that at least one of our group members refused to travel. Needless to say, it proved to be a harrowing, heart-racing and claustrophobic road to freedom.”

On the importance of good banter at The Bone Yard, 10/03/15

“As we stood at the threshold for The Freak’s Show there was talk of pickled punks and the potential existence of a woman with the rare condition of a double uterus — never let anybody tell you that the person who acts as gatekeeper isn’t a vital part of the haunted attraction.”

On a lost youth inside the Cornmaze of Fear at Past Tense After Dark, 10/10/15

“I like to think that Tiffany will be among the scarecrows next year.”

On a riveting scene inside House of Horrors at Past Tense After Dark, 10/10/15

“The heads were talking, possibly plotting and they were all around us! Neither John nor myself had any desire to become one of their legion, so with our own heads on a swivel we ducked and dodged our way out of that most macabre menagerie.”

On unforgettable actors at Psycho Path, 10/16/15

“In one memorable passage a group of animate dolls, in various states of disrepair and degradation, begged for our assistance. One twitched in robotic spasms while she meekly pleaded for help, another, scarcely more than a torso with a head, merely seemed confused by the state of her sad existence.”

On a scene at Hallowe’en Nights reminiscent of an episode of The Twilight Zone, 10/22/15

“Old-fashioned music drifted across the intersection of Christie and Main Street while the carousel spun haunting rotations as if propelled by a ghostly hand.”

On a dedicated actress at Clio Manor, 10/24/15

“In one room a randy temptress tried to lure us onto her bed which was occupied by the body of her former lover, some poor bastard named Sammy. The temptress shamelessly mounted the corpse and began to grind her hips.”

On a near tranny hookup at Exit 13, 10/24/15

“While my companions howled with laughter, Francine was denied the kiss she so desired by the timely magic of a hidden door that whisked me into darkness and away from her eager, puckered lips.”

On a horrifying clown outside Total Blackout at Exit 13, 10/24/15

“It was as if two separate entities had decided to take up residence in the same body and I got the distinct impression that at least one, if not both, of those personalities had some molester tendencies.”

On Simple, a unique character on the Proving Grounds Trail at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison, 10/24/15

“When we inquired about his state he indicated that he was both “special” and intoxicated; indeed all signs suggested that both were true.”

On the sheer fun inside Zombie Sniper Arena at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison, 10/24/15

“After some initial confusion in which my gun seemed to jam, Steve, John and I fired upon the undead menace with wild abandon that I daresay bordered on glee.”

On a threatening actor at Hush, 10/30/15

“A physically imposing, snarling nihilist fervently pursued us spewing graphic rhetoric on the meaninglessness of life itself.”

On an effective, psychological scare at Dark Legacy, 10/30/15

“What? That doesn’t sound hair-raising to you? Have you ever been followed by a hobo with a shopping cart in the dark?! It’s unsettling stuff.”

On a child-actor at Rotten Manor, 10/31/15

“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.”

On the genuine terror of Abandon, 10/31/15

“My heart raced like it had not raced in a good many years while inside a haunted attraction. I turned to John and inquired about his own state, his heart too threatened to beat straight out of his chest.”

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2015 Star Ratings

Posted in Star Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by bluefall8

This list is not meant 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 those attractions are listed 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.

2015 STAR RATINGS

1. Rotten Manor – 4.75 (Holly, MI.)

2. Research Labs – 4.5 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

3. Clio Manor – 4.25 (Clio, MI.)

4. Dark Legacy – 4.25 (Wixom, MI.)

5. Exit 13 – 4.25 (Mt. Morris, MI.)

6. Hallowe’en Nights at Greenfield Village – 4.25 (Dearborn, MI.)

7. Abandon – 4 (Melvindale, MI.)

8. House of Horrors – 4 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

9. Hush – 4 (Westland, MI.)

10. Krazy Hilda’s Trail of Terrors – 4 (Ypsilanti, MI.)

11. Zombie Sniper Arena – 4 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

12. The Deadland – 3.75 (Warren, MI.)

13. Haunted House – 3.75 (Haunted Farm of Terror – Lenox Township, MI.)

14. The Dark Box – 3.5 (Pinckney, MI.)

15. Haunted Hayride – 3.5 (Haunted Farm of Terror, Lenox Township, MI.)

16. Proving Grounds Trail – 3.5 (Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Davison, MI.)

17. Psycho Path – 3.5 (Flat Rock, MI.)

18. Terror on the Blvd. – 3.5 (Lincoln Park, MI.)

19. The Freak’s Show – 3.25 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

20. Terrorfied Forest – 3.25 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor – Pinckney, MI.)

21. Cornmaze of Fear – 3 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

22. Deadwood Forest – 3 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

23. Fear Factory – 3 (Mt. Clemens, MI.)

24. Hayride of Despair – 3 (Past Tense After Dark – Lapeer, MI.)

25. Realm of Haunted Minds – 3 (Romulus, MI.)

26. Tunnel of Terror – 3 (Rochester, MI.)

27. Total Blackout – 2.75 (Exit 13 – Mt. Morris, MI.)

28. Bubbles’ Fun House – 2.5 (Terrorfied Forest & Manor, Pinckney, MI.)

29. Delirium – 2.25 (Wyandotte, MI.)

30. Scarecrow Hollow – 1.75 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

31. Route 666 – 1.25 (The Boneyard – Stockbridge, MI.)

Exit 13 a Livewire of Horror

Posted in 2015, Exit 13, Review with tags , , on June 28, 2016 by bluefall8

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It isn’t easy for a haunted attraction to continually improve from season to season, in fact, it’s hard. John and I have found that repeated trips to the same attraction year after year without a break can render even our favorite places a bit stale. 2015 marked the fourth consecutive year that John and I had visited Exit 13 but there was no sign of fatigue; the brazen barbarians who call this place home are determined to rewrite the rule book.

In 2014, Exit 13 was crowned the Horrorlust Haunt of the Year and I had no doubt that the psycho-charged cast would do their utmost to defend that title. We pulled into a packed parking lot and saw a long, winding line of eager faces who had also come to experience Exit 13. Along with John and I was Steve an Exit 13 virgin. No worries though, the freaks inside are expert in the art of popping haunt cherries!

ROCK’EM SOCK’EM HALLOWEEN SPOOKS

Exit 13 was it’s usual self, that is to say, a bad ass blend of in-your-face antics and old school minimalism — no place does it better. The textured walls and expansive environment psyche you out and keep one guessing throughout the dark, winding journey. And then, all of a sudden — you aren’t alone anymore. Dinner is served with a promise of dessert from a southern belle transsexual named Francine and Francine isn’t a shy lass. It’s said that a man’s stomach is the way to his heart and this is true, but I can’t be bought so cheaply (I mean, a single meal? Come on!). While my companions howled with laughter, Francine was denied the kiss she so desired by the timely magic of a hidden door that whisked me into darkness and away from her eager, puckered lips.

Francine wouldn’t be the last femme fatale who took a shine to yours truly, approximately midway through the haunt I was held captive by another woman. This one had a thick eastern European accent and she brandished a bone. I was ordered behind a counter where a second much taller woman stood. My friends were ordered to leave the room which they did without much resistance, traitors.

Meanwhile, Helga and her pet giantess formed a human barrier around me. The giantess was silent but I feared she would be quick to anger and thus I didn’t dare risk rousing her temper with my usual sarcastic comments. Helga, however, spoke at length in that ominous, old world accent. It seemed she had plans for one hell of a soup and she fancied me as the main ingredient. Thankfully, Helga had a change of heart and decided perhaps I was too sweet for her soup. Helga ordered me out of her kitchen. I glanced over my shoulder once more at the mute giantess, she didn’t flinch, she only glowered. I dashed from the pair with expediency on a mission to reunite with my party, but alas, Helga had held me in her clammy clutches for too long. I had no choice but to continue the treacherous trek through Exit 13, alone.

As I navigated the dark passages, I encountered a dead end which had been fitted with a full-length mirror which provided an unexpected startle when a strobe light revealed my own face — it was a serious moment of disassociation that made me feel oddly uncomfortable. Further on ahead I entered an elaborate cemetery and was forced to crawl through a hole in the wall of a mausoleum. On hands and knees, I gingerly progressed through the narrow shaft and all the while I had visions of decomposed hands clutching at my flesh.

Free of the cemetery, I found myself in yet another dark passage when a long-haired patient, atop a gurney, propelled the contraption in my direction. I dodged it but not by much and as a reward for that feat of dexterity I would shortly be roughed up by a pair of malevolent clowns who sent me tumbling through the exit where I was finally reunited with John and Steve.

Rating: 4.25 stars

TOTAL BLACKOUT TRUE TO ITS NAME

Exit 13 had added a second attraction in 2015 — a no frills, blackout maze that was indeed devoid of almost all light. We were greeted at the entrance by a sizable clown who had the curious habit of speaking in two completely different voices. It was as if two separate entities had decided to take up residence in the same body and I got the distinct impression that at least one, if not both, of those personalities had some molester tendencies.

Once he had finished horrifying us into a collective coma, the harlequin slunk off to do what I’m sure were perverse things. We entered Total Blackout and spend a fair amount of time trudging through the blackened halls. There was one point where my hand touched something damp and furry attached to a wall, a conversation about wet, fuzzy muffs ensued briefly. The back-and-forth upset the locals as unseen forces could be heard growling at us from the dark.

Total Blackout has potential to expand and evolve; it can be a great experimental attraction for Exit 13 going forward. Here’s to future zaniness!

Rating: 2.75 stars

Clio Manor, Exit 13 & Dreadlands Haunt of Davison Spawn Nightmare Fuel

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by bluefall8

I woke up with a headache this morning which was really no surprise when you stop to consider that last night I got absolutely drunk on haunts. I can say without exaggeration or hyperbole that last night was one for the record books, an evening that rocketed up the list of best outings ever.

Clio Manor exceeded my expectations with a fusion of unique characters, substantial interaction and a physical cast that exercised a certain subversive element. Many of the scenes were visually compelling while the scares possessed a creative flair that kept us guessing. Furthermore, Clio Manor was exceptionally paced and offered some serious bang-for-the-buck as it clocked in at more than twenty minutes.

Exit 13 was rockin’ n rollin’ as usual and continued to solidify itself as one of the best haunted houses in the entire state of Michigan. The actors were as in-your-face as ever — my chin was stroked, my hair petted; I was manhandled by a clown and propositioned for a kiss by a transsexual named Francine! The level of detail throughout Exit 13 and all of its various scenes was impressive to say the least. Like Clio Manor, Exit 13 ensnared guests in excess of twenty minutes and there was even a second attraction — Total Blackout!

The night concluded at Dreadlands Haunt of Davison and we arrived just in time to buy tickets to this hidden gem of the Michigan haunt scene. The Research Labs were like no haunt we’ve ever seen; it featured a large cast, hidden passages, false endings and multiple levels among so many other goodies! It was the stuff that the best nightmares are made of! The second attraction, Proving Grounds Trail, was fun too and offered moments of humor amidst the scares; the zip line finale was a thrilling first at a haunted attraction. Finally, we stormed Zombie Sniper Arena where we worked in concert to shoot down the undead menace and recovered the anti-virus.

Indeed, it was a night not soon to be forgotten. Many thanks to Justin of Clio Manor, Rebecca of Exit 13 and Royce of Dreadlands for being such gracious and friendly hosts.

Fresh Blood, Current King Forge Nasty Trident

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2015 by bluefall8

Saturdays in late October are always big nights for haunting and that is certainly true of this Saturday. Tonight, we hit the familiar pavement of northbound I-75 en route first to Clio Manor then to Exit 13 and finally Dreadlands Haunt of Davison. This will mark our first visit to both Clio Manor and Dreadlands Haunt of Davison and any time we inject that much new blood into our veins it gets our hearts pumping!

Clio Manor is a two-story haunted house that also boasts Zombie Paint Shoot while Dreadlands Haunt of Davison offers three attractions — Research Labs, Proving Grounds Trail and Zombie Sniper Arena, the latter sounds far more interactive and exciting than your standard paintball fare.

This will be the fourth consecutive season that we have toured Exit 13 which won top honors last year when it claimed the 2014 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award. No haunt has ever claimed that award twice much less in back-to-back years. Will the Exit 13 whack pack make history and in the process mint a new standard bearer?!

PAST REVIEWS OF EXIT 13

2012: Old School Romp at Exit 13

2013: Screwball Cast Ignites Exit 13

2014: Exit 13 Burns Hot during Frostbitten Finale

Haunt Bonanza to Bury 2014 Season

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2014 by bluefall8

In the annals of our haunted history there are good nights and there are bad nights and then there are those nights that live on in legend — instantly enshrined as a classic; memories etched in time. As the clock winds down on the 2014 haunt season perhaps the haunt fates will smile upon our audacious plan and in the process create Horrorlust history.

Tonight, we shall attempt a feat that has alluded us for many moons; a task made near impossible by sheer odds and practicality. I believe in the magic of the season and at this time of year when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest the impossible has a way of being manifest. Tonight there is a keyhole, a harmonic convergence of time and space and if we can navigate our path with precision we can accomplish a feat for the ages and experience a night never to be forgot.

4 locations, 7 haunts.

The night will begin at Exit 13 in Mt. Morris where we have twice witnessed stellar shows fueled by an unpredictable horde of loud n’ proud hellions. In 2012 and 2013 Exit 13 was an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Samhain Award and in 2013 was also an honorable mention for the Horrorlust Monster Award. Is this the night Exit 13 emerges from the shadows and claims a crown of its own? And what kind of an impact will the new attraction Total Blackout make?

On Halloween 2011 we enjoyed an electric night of haunting at St. Lucifer’s, 13 Feet Under and The Crypt — in addition to Exit 13 we’ll pay a return visit to each of these as well. The duo served as an honorable mention that year for the Horrorlust Samhain Award. St. Lucifer’s was packed with unique characters and grizzly scenes while 13 Feet Under wove a tale of terror through the ruined, zombie-infested cityscape. The Crypt presented us with an unsettling claustrophobic, ambiance in what seemed a cross between Hoarders and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What goodies will each of these locations have in store for us tonight?!

Then the flight to the finish will truly be on as we coast down southbound I-75 in pursuit of history and blaze a trail to The Realm of Darkness in Pontiac. We’ve had many enjoyable trips through the vaunted Realm of Darkness and it would seem that a sinister infusion has restored the wizard’s dominion to its former glory. The Realm of Darkness has collected several awards over the years including the 2007 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year Award and the 2010 Horrorlust Monster Award.

And the intrigue doesn’t end with a record shattering night of haunted houses; there is still the matter of the 2014 Haunt of the Year. We have witnessed some worthy contenders thus far this Halloween season but the door is certainly open for a late season contender to secure the top prize.

Happy Haunting.

Summer Scream More Fun than Fright

Posted in 2014, Erebus, Review with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2014 by bluefall8

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We arrived at Erebus in the late afternoon hours of a sunny summer day and if that didn’t seem strange enough, there in broad daylight was a drooling zombie who worked the queue line that wrapped around the side of the imposing structure. The haunt season had come early and it felt bizarre, surreal and almost as if we had all cheated in some way. The Summer Scream Total Blackout event at Erebus had the feel of a wild card and by the time we had emerged from the haunted edifice it was with a mix of emotions and thoughts on our latest trek through the monster Erebus.

For my stalwart haunted house companion Disco Devil and myself, it was our sixth trip through the 4-story haunted edifice but with us we also brought our friend and Erebus virgin, Cikalo. He’s joined us on a handful of excursions since 2011 and I was very interested to hear his thoughts on Michigan’s most well-known haunted attraction.

Despite a fair crowd our wait to enter wasn’t overly long and we were soon handed glow-in-the-dark necklaces to wear through the haunt — our only apparent means to light the path ahead. I was disappointed with the necklaces because I had hoped for a glow stick so that I could hold it aloft like a torch and light the way as if I was some kind of modern day Indiana Jones. I suppose management felt that a glow stick was much more likely to be dropped and lost than a necklace, and thus my cinematic fantasies were dashed.

Our journey began as all of our trips through Erebus have — first with a brief stop in front of a large video projection and then a few moments locked inside the scanning chamber. Each of these are fun but after so many years something fresh would be a welcome change.

John and I had visited Erebus as recent as last fall, so it was no surprise that the layout of the attraction was relatively unchanged but the operators had implemented various tweaks and twists. A serpent burst forth from the vase near the Snake Charmer, a moving wall threatened to cast us into a bottomless pit, a wrecking ball sprung from the darkness and crashed into our path and we were made to kneel in the buried alive chamber.

Present also was, of course, the usual legion of actor-controlled puppets that I affectionately refer to as lurchers, leapers and grabbers. A number of these puppets were quite aggressive, on several occasions a member of our party found themselves ensnared by their hairy clutches.

Elsewhere in the belly of the beast, a pack of crazed monkeys descended from the ceiling and one of the sneaky simians nearly snatched the hat from my head! Moments later, while we traversed the liquid sky corridor, a strategically placed ghoul popped me right in the face with a bloody stump; who doesn’t like a bloody stump to the mush?

A couple of actors of note included the large fellow who stalked the hall of mirrors, which made for an interesting and eerie setting under the dimly lit conditions, and also Dolly Boy who seemed lost in a fantasy land where toys could speak and was only peripherally aware of our existence.

It was during the early stages of Erebus that I believe the haunt was the darkest and it was at this juncture that we witnessed several solid jump scares, but on the whole the attraction did suffer from subpar acting and an excess of light for an event that was billed as a total blackout. I knew heading into the event that it would be difficult for Erebus to pull off such a feat because the animatronics and various special effects, that indeed make Erebus what it is, are dependent on at least some light. Regardless, I would have personally preferred to have these visual aspects sacrificed in the spirit of the event. The glow necklaces gave off a decent amount of light as it was and alone may just have provided just enough illumination to truly create that lost in the darkness sensation.

The acting as I mentioned left something to be desired; many of the actors didn’t seem equipped to effectively interact with guests once initial contact had been made. The immediate scare wasn’t bad but there wasn’t much there in the way of dialogue or unique mannerisms and often one after another became a generic blur. An army of actors who are essentially little more than worker bees can be pulled off without detracting from the show, in fact we’ve witnessed it on numerous occasions at Erebus, but on this night there simply weren’t enough characters with substance to balance the equation.

In the end, we did enjoy this trek through Erebus but it wasn’t the total blackout we had hoped it would be and because of that we couldn’t help but feel like we’d just traversed Erebus on a night where some of the lights simply weren’t working. With that in mind, Cikalo, who again had never toured Erebus, commented that he would’ve preferred to have seen it all full power. For all of these reasons, I hope that if this event is held again that the operators see fit to take the concept further as to truly differentiate the Summer Scream Total Blackout from the fall production.

The one thought that kept swimming to the surface of my mind was just how strange it felt to be at a haunted attraction in the middle of July, and as I sit here and share my thoughts on that day I’m still struck by that feeling. There’s no doubt that there’s an unmistakable element of magic in the air during the haunt season and for whatever reason it just wasn’t there on that summer day. Now that’s not to see that we didn’t have a good time because we did — I guess it was sort of like eating ice cream in the winter; it was simply out of season.

Rating: 3 stars