HAUNTS – The Scream Machine – MI

THE SCREAM MACHINE

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 3.38.38 PM.png

The Scream Machine is a scary fun haunted attraction located in Taylor Michigan. It’s located in a mall which allows for easy parking and space for an indoor line queue. This attraction is wheelchair accessible. It takes about 20 minutes or so to go through the attraction. They also have two mini escape rooms at the end for a small up charge.

The Scream Machine does a great job of keeping you on your toes. They don’t really give you any time to relax, it’s constant scare after scare. The actors work really hard! I was also impressed by the staff here, especially when I realized the person I had been in contact with about visiting was not only running the door but also helping guests with frightened children so that the kids wouldn’t have to go inside. I love the sense of community. The Scream Machine does a good job with sets, props and costumes. They purge the line well so you don’t end up stuck in a conga line. I had a lot of fun going through. I also really enjoyed the escape rooms. I found the carnival themed game especially entertaining and clever.

Overall it’s a very fun way to enjoy the Halloween season! Thank you for inviting me out to experience it. I had a frighteningly fun time!

HAUNTS – Rotten Manor – MI

ROTTEN MANOR

Rotten Manor had incredible potential, but was one of the experiences I’ve had at a haunted attraction.

There were a few great actors, beautiful sets and some cool moments. The actress in the gingerbread house and the actor with the pig mask that did the countdown were awesome! The gingerbread house scene was actually my favorite moment in the entire event. The set, scents, props, lighting and actress were all top notch. The payoff of the oven was lacking though…we expected something, anything in that moment but nothing happened. The foam rooms were creative, but there could’ve been fewer. The dark tunnels and tight spaces moments were great the first few times but did get a bit overused. The facades were gorgeous!!! We did meet a few very competent and kind staff members that seemed passionate about the haunt and customer service.

However, Rotten Manor had some of the worst crowd control I’ve ever seen at a haunted attraction. I’ve seen crowds with similar energy at haunts like Haunted Hoochie or House of Shock except at those events the cast and crew are able to keep the crowd in check. Unfortunately this staff and cast didn’t have the same expertise.

A few moments really stood out as disappointing. I asked the staff member that let us into the trail what the rules of the haunt were and he replied, “There are no rules” which seemed to be the major issue. We had an actress say ,”sorry I broke character” and then continue to talk about how hot the guys in front of us were instead of scaring us. The guys in front of us on the trail managed to hide away in the crypt and proceed to jump out and attempt to scare my husband and I but no one stopped them even though we waited and tried to stay far behind them we’d catch up to them harassing actors or making what appeared to be tiktok videos on different sets (with actors watching them do it). One of the actors just blew directly in my face as a “scare”, which isn’t scary but probably going to lead to me catching a cold. Inside the manor an actor separated my husband and I, which we’ve seen done effectively in other haunts, however there was no purpose or payoff we just ended up not being able to enjoy the haunt together. It was so packed we were often standing around waiting to move, I stood trapped in an airbag for a really long time due to lack of purging the line properly. I had strangers grabbing me and running into me through the majority of the dark sections because we were crowded in the space and couldn’t see.

There was a large crowd out, so lines were long. It was mostly frustrating because the people in front of us chained smoked even while standing in front of the NO SMOKING sign. Security appeared to say something to them but instead of putting out their cigarette they passed it around and tried to finish it then lit up again as soon as he walked away. It seemed security didn’t want to eject anyone even if they clearly were breaking the rules.

Overall the haunt has massive potential, but lacks tremendously in skilled actors and an overall effective staff. It seems a bit of training might change this from a hot mess to one of the nation’s top haunts. Unfortunately at the moment they are just a hot mess.

HAUNTS – Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2017 – California

QUEEN MARY’S DARK HARBOR


You don’t get much scarier than a haunted attraction in an actual haunted location, for that reason Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is a must see event. The mazes are fun and the actors work hard to create jump scares, but this attraction has a built in creep factor that can’t be created by the best designers in the business…it has real ghosts! I know because I saw one here years ago and didn’t even realize it until I talked to the staff later.  (I thought it was just an elaborate special effect they had added to the pool area, but it was actually the little girl.) Now every time I walk through the ship I keep my eyes open.


Whether or not you personally encounter an actual ghost, you will have a spooktacular time at Dark Harbor. This year they have 7 mazes with 4 of them on the ship. One of my favorite things about Dark Harbor is how they theme the mazes after real ghost stories from the ship. Lullaby & B340 are definitely favorites as far as story and creep factor because of the real stories they are based on. I really enjoyed the opening scene of Soulmate this year as well. The new ship maze, Feast, is innovative and fun especially when part of the audience is made to crawl into an oven while the rest pass by looking in on them. Dark Harbor also stepped up their interaction with guests in Circus this year by adding a few alternate paths where chosen guests may go through a ball pit or be invited into a secret bar within the maze. Deadrise is as scary as ever with it’s agile, hardworking actors popping out from every direction. Intrepid is really the only maze at the event that seemed a bit out of place to me. It didn’t tell a clear story and seemed a bit thrown together, but the actors still did a great job. (The ship’s captain explained Intrepid to me after I’d gone through it and apparently it has a clear story, it just isn’t conveyed as well as the rest.) There are also multiple entertainment stages, slider shows, walk around entertainment and monsters, multiple bars, food vendors, a souvenir shop, and a VIP area. The entertainment schedule was impressive. You would need to attend multiple nights to see all of the entertainment.


Overall Dark Harbor is a well run, professional, fun event at a truly haunted location. It is also a very popular event so arrive early and consider a front of the line pass as it can get very very crowded. Leave time for traffic and parking. There is onsite parking for a fee. Check their website for details on parking and other things to know before you go.


*VIDEOS BELOW ARE COMPLETE MAZE WALK THROUGHS CONTAINING SPOILERS*

 

 

 

HAUNTS – Factory of Terror – Ohio

FACTORY OF TERROR


Factory of Terror is a good standard haunted attraction. It makes a lot of top haunt lists, but I wouldn’t say it’s really worth a special trip. It’s got some great visual moments and really elaborate puppets, set and tech at points and then there are large sections lacking creativity.


I did enjoy the mirror maze and some of the moving floor and wall effects. I felt the use of vertigo tunnels and airbags was excessive and ineffective. There were A LOT of very loud sounds throughout that eventually became less of a jump scare and more of a headache.


Factory of Terror claims to be one of the longest haunted houses so we expected much more, but it was simply multiple small haunts. One of the most frustrating things about the event was the theming inside each walkthrough. It was very difficult to figure out what was going on because they were divided up as if to have distinct themes but once inside each maze seemed to change within itself as if they didn’t really know what story they were telling. Stronger theming within each maze could help the actors make stronger character choices.


There were a handful of very talented actors, but overall most had no idea what they were doing. It really felt that they lacked proper training. One entire walkthrough was basically growling. The maze with the large gargoyles in front had some of the best actors and one incredibly unprofessional actor (the first scare when you walk in) was literally playing on her cell phone and looked up annoyed when we stared at her waiting for her to do something and then waved at us as if to say, “move along, stop bothering me.”


Overall Factory Of Terror seemed to be run by nice people that have a passion for haunting, but need some tweaking and the actors need training. If you’re in the area definitely check it out, but I wouldn’t drive far out of your way to see it.

HAUNTS – Lewisburg Haunted Cave – Ohio

LEWISBURG HAUNTED CAVE


Imagine walking along a bridge over water inside a cave in darkness and feeling something grab your ankle. I don’t have to imagine it, it happened tonight at Lewisburg Haunted Cave. That was the beginning of a very exciting adventure through this one of a kind, truly scary haunted attraction in Lewisburg Ohio.


I have experienced many amazing haunts around the nation from Hollywood style makeup and sets to immersive storytelling to extreme individual experiences, but it’s rare I am actually scared in a haunted attraction. Lewisburg Haunted Cave is genuinely scary and thrilling in a way I’ve rarely experienced. It’s a perfect balance of “fun fear” meets “real fear”. There were moments I legitimately screamed. The unusual underground setting with it’s uneven wet ground, bridges and, claustrophobic nature play a big role. The unexpected moments with perfectly placed pyrotechnics are stunning. The full sized vehicles were impressive. I think the standout scene with Satan giving you actual choices is one of the very special ways this haunted attraction shines above the rest. I mean how unnerving is it to know you have to choose correctly or you could get lost wandering around inside for who knows how long? Honestly though the truck was the moment that made me hit the ground with tears in my eyes. I don’t want to spoil the moment here, but if you’ve been there, then you know the moment I’m talking about. It was such a well done scare that it took a moment for my reality to catch back up to me and remind me that it was a haunted house and I was safe. (They got me good.)


This was about an hour experience because we didn’t get lost. It can take longer. It is dark and the ground is uneven. Please wear sturdy shoes that you won’t care about getting dirty. I wouldn’t recommend this for young children or anyone with health issues that could be aggravated by stress.


It is an impressive combination of genuinely creepy atmosphere, effective actors, awe inspiring animatronics, top notch sound and lighting design, physical and mental stimulation that attacks all of your senses and even pyrotechnics inside one of the most unique venues I’ve encountered. Basically what I’m saying is…it’s amazing!!! Don’t be mislead by the inexpensive ticket price, it’s worth much more for this experience. *They also have a historical tour type hayride that is more family friendly as well as entertinament and concessions. I highly recommend Lewisburg Haunted Cave.

*Due to time constraints we were unable to ride through the family friendly attraction.

HAUNTS – Into the Black 2017 – California

 

INTO THE BLACK


https://youtu.be/tOUlyPR6Wwk

Have you ever wondered how you would react if you were the character walking through the spooky house alone in a horror flick? Now you have the chance feel what that is like. Into the Black at the Los Angeles Fairgrounds in Pomona California is a new Halloween event for 2017. It is a three part adventure in that there is a short movie, VR experience and walk through haunted house that all work together to tell the story. You can watch the movie on YouTube before attending the event. The VR experience is a fun short adventure into the past to meet the characters of the home and find out a little more of the history of the house and it’s former residents. The haunted house is an individual experience inside the house which we have now gotten quite familiar with. Overall, it’s a creative, fun and unique event.


The haunted house is beautifully designed and truly feels like it’s own character. One of my favorite things about the design is the use of space. I enjoyed the large room scenes in combination with the claustrophobic hallways. I also love that there are choices to make within the path. The make-up is amazing, of course. Afterall, Larry Bones (Boneyard Effects) is an incredible make-up creator. The hardworking actors are perfectly placed to build tension and then pounce. The sound design is also wonderfully done. I loved the moment when I was following the sound, but could barely see anything. Everything works together so well to create a fresh style of psychologically thrilling experience.


You can more of my thoughts in the YouTube video below along with my husband and short interview with Larry Bones.