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2011_A

ADRIAN

THE HAUNTING

602 North Dean Street, Adrian, MI at the Lenawee County Fairgrounds

(517) 264-1941 or www.myhaunting.com

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - MIND BENDING HAUNT BY A MASTER OF THE CRAFT.

Ok, THIS is the one. That REALLY delivered some GOTCHA moments for us last night! When you go to as many haunts as we do, it gets harder and harder to TRULY startle us. But these guys did it. A whole bunch of times actually!

Things are not as they appear here. Well, sometimes they are. And sometimes, you'll be left scratching your head with dropped jaw. You'll see. But you won't believe it. You can't trust your eyes anymore. And yet, you JUST saw it. Hey, what's goin' on here anyway?!

When a Master Magician produces a haunted house, watch out! He's literally a professional at fooling people already. Mix in lots of ultra vivid fluorescent 3D paintings, top notch actors and makeup, great lighting and sound throughout and you'll see why this haunt is packing them in.

Have you ever had a nightmare that woke you up in a cold sweat? I used to have a recurring nightmare about being chased by a weirdo. But when I tried to run away, it was like being in a giant vat of Jello! Or have you heard this: supposedly if you have a nightmare about falling off a cliff, you'll die when you reach the bottom!

Nightmares are a part of life. So are haunted houses. DING! A marriage of madness, waiting impatiently to be celebrated by somebody twisted enough to spring this concept on an unsuspecting public. That's you.

But expecting the unexpected becomes second nature for haunt fans. So the best haunt operators have to find new ways every year to freak us out! If you happen to also have a background as a Master Magician, you have a lot of powerful ammunition to work with. Add a big dose of wacky creativity, mix well, and watch as the masses descend each year upon The Haunting!

The new show for 2011 is NIGHTMARES, and explores all kinds of them in dramatic fashion. The visuals here are superior, because they've been fine tuned by a bona fide Master Magician and top artists. They've mastered the art of misdirection to deliver an experience you won't be able to forget!

The most amazing example is their "Vanishing Room" which defies all kinds of natural laws in a flash and leaves you dazzled and dumbfounded, scratching your head and wondering HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Excellent monster interaction cranks up the energy even higher with great makeup and mannerisms and we especially liked the walls that LOOKED for all the world like walls, BUT...

The second part of your journey is the 3D Fear Fest, which is a visual feast of other worldly fantasies come true. The walls will pop out as if they're breathing, but watch out because there are other things breathing here too. Weirdos will appear out of nowhere, and work their haunted voodoo on you when you least expect it!

IMPORTANT TIP: As you leave each room of the 3D Fear Fest, be sure to LOOK BACKWARDS. Due to the amazing depth of the fluorescent paint artwork, you'll see a whole new dimension to dazzle you even more!

This haunt has a unique distinction in that it combines the traditional shock and awe factors with devastatingly effective mind bending techniques. It's a double dose of haunted madness, waiting impatiently for your arrival. GO!!!

ARMADA

BLAKES NIGHTTIME SPOOKY HAYRIDES, 3 LEVEL HAUNTED BARN & SPOOKYLAND

at Blakes Big Apple on North Avenue north of 33 Mile, just south of Armada (586) 784-9710

AMAZING. This place rocks in SO many ways, and is always family friendly too!

As always, the hayride stopped midway and a troop of friendly witches descends with fresh cider and donuts. The cider is a few hours old, donuts probably less than a half hour. Tasty? Think you just might feel compelled to grab some more in their store before you leave?

Pretty clever. We happened to be sitting on the far left of the cart, and leaning forward it looked like a shooting gallery...one by one they willingly accept the tasty bait...there goes another one...and there's even a discount store coupon right on the back of the ticket!

Seriously, one bite...or one sip...and you'll see!

The ever popular barn has been revamped yet again, but some of the best from past years is featured too. And it's GOOD. Still features an excellent black hole at the end with their trademark Star Wars music. We hear lots of different things in black holes, usually hard rock music. And that's cool. But if properly done, the black hole should simulate being in space right? So why not space tunes like Star Wars? It's beautiful music to our ears!

New out this time is SPOOKYLAND which is geared towards kids with a tamer approach. There are various animals here too, all trying to be cuter than the kids that come to Blake's every year! What a show, bring your camera to grab some awesome memories.

One odd looking structure grabbed our attention. There's a small enclosed pathway that goes higher and higher...a weird ladder of sorts...nothing in it...what's the deal? Later while in line for the barn we found out.

Looking off to the right, we detected some commotion that sounded as if coming from the sky. Turns out they've got live goats there, and what do goats naturally love to do? They want to CLIMB. And that's exactly what they do in this strange looking structure, which is in fact their own private observation post.

You always know somebody, or something is watching you the moment you walk out of your house like Google Earth, right? But here, it's GOATS WATCHING YOU...SO BEHAVE KIDS.

There are just so many photo opportunities with things that move and things that don't so make sure to bring your camera! One of our favorites was the giant creatures made from hay bales.

After all the adventures you'll have here, there's a good chance you'll get hungry. Stroll into the store at the front of the lot, and get ready for oodles of gourmet choices to tempt you and please you!

When I was there, I saw a guy that looked like he was from downtown Detroit pick up a jar of Apple Butter. I could not help myself...before he could even look at the label I excitedly told him what to do: "Oh man...THAT stuff...my buddies back in high school taught me this...take the Apple Butter and then DIP YOUR DONUTS IN IT." Being a man of vision, he grabbed a second jar and headed to the checkout.

That's smart. And you can be too. Go to Blake's. Do everything. Smile a lot. It will be easy.

ARMADA

HAUNTED HOLLOWS

21855 32 Mile, Armada, MI 48005

(586) 651-1957 or www.haunted-hollows.com

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - PRANKSTER PARADISE EXPOSES THE SQUEAMISH

Every haunt hopes to have a totally unique shtick that will set them apart, and make people remember them long after the last pumpkin has been smashed on Halloween.

It's not going to be something that was bought from the Scare Factory or any of the other high quality haunt suppliers. Those products are valid, but ultimately IDEAS form the basis of the BEST haunt gags.

This haunt has at least two such memorable moments to savor.

One is an amazing actor that plays some grandiose pranks that will have you howling with laughter!

Another is an orphan waif like girl that came crawling up thru the mud with tattered clothes and no shoes. She has horribly ugly scars, and is a bloody mess.

She looks pathetically helpless, so I asked "Did you get lost, little girl?" That just sets her off, and it gets ugly. Real fast. Real intense. Real messy. Trying to calm her down only makes it worse.

The noises she emits are other worldly. When asked her name she freaks out, but we finally play a sort of charades with her. She's got lots of scars, and there's been some serious bloodletting going on...her name is SCARLETT.

DOUBLE ULTRA CREEPY - THIS IS JUST WRONG...on so many levels for so many reasons! But therein lays its value for a haunted attraction. 

The hayride doesn't actually use hay. They have carts that are caged in, with comfortable seating for all. Features the largest drive thru vortex (aka black hole) anywhere to our knowledge!

Many haunts feature insane butcher scenes, which lend themselves to some particularly graphic displays of stuff you hope to never see for real. Well, throw that out with the kitchen sink and the baby in the bath water. This haunt pushes the envelope and changes all that in a wink. That's about as long as it takes for IT to happen.

So, what is IT? We never give away too much here, so we'll just say this for now: NO HUMANS WERE HARMED IN THE CREATION OF THIS GAG.

ATTENTION GIRLS: Do you suspect that your supposedly impervious he-man, strong guy boyfriend is secretly hiding an insecure scardy cat persona? Bring him here and the truth WILL be revealed.

WARNING - NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH!!!

ARMADA

SLAUGHTERED AT SUNDOWN

71800 Romeo Plank Road, Armada

Take M-53 to 32 Mile Road, go east 2 miles to Romeo Plank, turn left and go 1 1/5 miles - haunt is on right.

(586) 752-7669 or www.slaughteredatsundown.net

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - STRANGE ENERGY SOURCE PERMEATES PREMISES AT LONG RUNNING HAUNT

As soon as you get out of your car, you'll notice it. There's some strange low frequency rumbling sounds you can't quite identify coming from the walk thru haunt building. It never stops. It sounds bizarre. It must be a tape recording. Nope.

When you finally see what's responsible for all this sonic mayhem, you'll freak! It's the highlight of this haunt, but you'll have to wait until the end to see it. This haunt totally gets the old Hollywood axiom, "Leave 'em wanting more!"

Your journey getting there has lots of goodies to offer. First you'll get your 3D glasses, and then promptly get lost in the dark. Hmmm...why the glasses?  Then...COOL!

"Do you want to play?" There's something wrong with the girl who keeps insisting it's playtime. And...WHOA...there's something wrong with the floor now too. Back and forth we wander, wondering what's coming and how we'll be different after we get out of this!

And all the while, a hideous alien cave creature or something is making the most intense grumbling, rumbling sounds from beyond.

Excellent variety of spooked out weirdos, and good sensory stimulation including smelling. We especially liked the bridge scene, with its old musty feel and low lying fog trolls love to hide in!

Pro lighting suppliers actually have special fog juice available designed to hug the floor. Certain scenes benefit greatly from the fog staying close to the ground, like this bridge sequence. The savvy haunt operator knows how and when to use this powerful effect. It's a gold star on their forehead for this one!

Then the feel changes again along with the aromas, and it's like you're in mud and sand

Then comes a whole new smell and feeling...whoa it's SO dark...it's like we're in a cave somewhere thousands of feet below the surface. But still, some kind of gurgling weirdo alien cave creature is speaking some strange jive. It's not English, or any language we've heard before!

Finally, you'll come face to face with IT. Don't quite know what to call it, but it's definitely male. Human? Hardly. Maybe it once was, because we can see a face, a head, and he still has arms and hands. But most of all, we see his MOUTH. Turns out, this ONE mouth is the source of most of the crazy sounds you heard your entire time here!

Good thing he's behind that display raised up high; it's almost as if they had to isolate him so he can't leap down and absorb you. But you WILL be affected by the vocal tour de force delivered non-stop by this ONE ACTOR. Impressive.

That's not to say this haunt is a "one trick pony." Not by a long shot. But it's certainly the cohesive glue that ties it all together, and is this haunt's unique signature creation. And it's one autograph you'll want to have in your diary of haunted dreams. No Sharpie required.

ASHLEY

TERROR ON 27

8691 South Bagley, Ashley, MI

(989) 838-2562 or www.terroron27.com

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - HIGHWAY OF MADNESS LEADS TO DOUBLE TROUBLE IN ASHLEY

It all depends on your point of view. Ever heard that? One meaning is that if you're crazy, it seems to you the REST of the world is wrong. Like the guy who met us here with a burlap sack over his head. He's saying some weird stuff, but it's apparent he really believes it because...well, he's got a BAG on his head...this guy is seriously mixed up!

But they DID warn us after all, with a sign at the entrance proclaiming "ENTER INSANITY." We always ignore those silly warnings. Sometimes that gets us in trouble. We love trouble.

This sounds like some very delicious trouble. The story on the wall warns of various animals that have been found to be roaming the area. And the guy greeting us has his ZZ Top beard; is that supposed to reassure us and make us believe all this craziness is harmless?

As usual, we ignored common sense and proceeded without caution. We were quickly rewarded...or punished...it all depends on your point of view, right? Hmmm...the point of view of the dolls on the wall whose heads are turning must be wild! And anytime you start hearing hysterical laughter you should be wary.

Ever heard the German word "schadenfreude"? It means to take delight in the misfortune of others. Even Lisa Simpson makes reference to this word in an episode of The Simpsons. The monsters here take this concept to extremes, and take great delight in hideous behavior that would get you banished from even the sleaziest establishments on 8 Mile Road in Detroit! Great stuff.

Good dark passageways, variety of soundtracks, weirdos popping out from all over, a black hole, and we really liked the girl freaking out on the floor. She's crawling all over and predicting our eminent demise. WHOA, those bookcases look like they're about to topple over and crush us alive...she just might be right!

Also features some difficult navigating, and a clown room where warnings not to meet Mr. Happy are issued with great urgency. As usual, we once again ignored the warnings only to find ourselves descending a bridge into a forest of densely packed trees we weaved thru as best we could.

After escaping the forest and Mr. Happy, you'll enter the second part of this haunt. After a single strobe flash wows your peepers, you'll be plunged into total darkness! Then it's "Satan's Boneyard" where pint-sized actors deliver the goods before plunging you into another black out.

We could hear real water flowing as if from a waterfall...what the heck is going on here? There's a dirt floor, maybe we're out in another forest somehow...wait...do they have flat beam green lasers out in the forest?

The laser with fog gives a VERY EFFECTIVE LIQUID SKY effect here. But to maximize this awesome eye candy, LOOK BACKWARDS when reaching the end of this room. WOW!

We could hear somebody screaming "Get me out!" and shaking something that seems to be stuck...or LOCKED. Oh no! Here's a really tight "birthing chamber," did someone get swallowed up who's screaming for help?

I guess we'll never know, because we made a B-Line out of here in a hurry. I'm guessing you will too. Wanna make a bet? Sucker!

BELLEVILLE

THE PUMPKIN FACTORY HAYRIDE

48651 Harris Road, Belleville, MI

(734) 461-1835

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - OF PUMPKINS AND STUFFED CABBAGE WE SING OUR PRAISE!

Stuffed cabbage? At the PUMPKIN Factory? Yup, and it was as good as any Polish restaurant we've ever been to.

But we didn't come here to eat Polish food. But since it was there, we just had to try it!

The hayride is a fun mix of monster mayhem and alien encounters, and has been an area favorite for many moons.

But the really big story with this haunt is coming next year, and we can't wait to tell you what it is! However, we can't spill the beans yet. It's a game changer for sure. And you're going to want to get on board, trust us. Stay tuned...

BURTON

THE CRYPT

at CHEMCO, 4247 South Dort Highway, Burton, MI

(810) 742-2260

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - INCREDIBLY CREEPY CRYPT SINKS TO NEW LOWS WHILE SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS!

Only at a haunted attraction could such a headline be a GOOD thing!

Much of this haunt has a natural ambience that screams of antiquity. It looks old. It smells old. It even FEELS old!

A would-be tour guide suddenly abandons you, leaving you to fend for yourself in pitch blackness. Wait, what's that ahead? An empty coffin is beckoning...it looks like it's just your size. What, you're not dead yet? The monsters will try their best to give you a heart attack to speed your transition to the dark side.

One especially rude dude has a totally disgusting problem, and he twists things around to where it's all YOUR fault. So it follows that you should fix the problem, and he's not taking no for an answer! YUCK.

Excellent monster scares and interactions. And we really liked all the ordinary, everyday inanimate objects that suddenly spring to life.

Your senses will be subjected to both deprivation and extreme stimulation. Scrambling your brain and shaking up your emotions and feelings like this is a powerful mix, and THAT is what gives this haunt so many repeat customers!

CHELSEA

CHELSEA FEARGROUNDS

20501 Old US 12 Highway, Chelsea, MI 48118

(734) 224-3845 or www.chelseafeargrounds.com

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - MAD SCIENTIST TAKES OVER, WREAKS HAVOC AT LOCAL HAUNT

The ticket booth starts the show here! A giant creature on top of the booth greets you, and ominous sounds beckon you from a high fidelity sound system.

Many haunts get foggy at times, but at the Feargrounds you'll see it snow instead! Huh?

This haunt uses old analog electronic equipment in a new way that totally floored us! The room full of all those wonderful buttons and dials on the vintage gear also features a most unusual "actor." It's a mad scientist, and he seems to have delusions of grandeur. Some nonsense about creating immortality and such...clearly the ravings of a madman.

He speaks with remarkable clarity and strange inflections, describing the hideous experiments he's planning on conducting...on YOU. Oh, I forgot...this actor is not human. It's a skeleton that sprang to life, and is on a mission of madness.

Cool makeup, strange and unexpected passageways, an interesting fortune telling machine, and we really liked the super bright strobe room. It's got tons of hanging white cords, and mirrors on all sides for a great infinity effect in any direction!

Another actor we encountered seems to have devolved from human to a giant rock. So now we've got this rock creature following us...and we can't get out! It's getting closer...we're at a dead end...we're trapped...what now? Oh no!

After a surprise getaway, we find ourselves in the distorted perspective of those crazy bended mirrors you see at the circus sideshows. Fat, thin, twisted...everything BUT normal!

You've heard of the famous culinary delight "Leg of Lamb," right? There's some weirdos staring at us, and the actors ahead are laughing hysterically like hyenas and chortling something about preparing "Leg of MAN" for dinner. We just lost our appetite, we won't be staying for dinner!

Conversely, later I actually DID eat something offered to me. And it was excellent. We were offered a tray of some worms, and promised they were fit to eat. Hmmm....Well, the tray they're on looks like sterilized stainless steel and they're carefully arranged. My partner chickened out, but I proceeded without caution and popped one in my mouth. YUM! Real candy from Germany I think, by the Gummi Bear makers.

All in all, this is a STRONG FIRST TIME EFFORT that we look forward to following for years to come! 

CORUNNA

McCURDY'S REVENGE

Inside the heated Commercial Building of McCurdy Park downtown www.mccurdysrevenge.com or  (517) 625- 7207

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - TELL ME A STORY TO TAKE ME AWAY!

Many of the best haunts have a story line, fascinating and captivating. But if they're clever enough, you won't even know it's a story. The best tall tales don't start that way. First there's a reference to a current event, something easily believable including some sort of specific detail.

Like this one we heard recently: "Oh yeah? That's NOTHIN'...I heard about this one haunt ON DORT HIGHWAY IN FLINT that..." The Dort Highway reference implies the subsequent info is correct. It qualifies the statement, even though it doesn't really. It's just the way people are, gullible and wanting to believe amazing stuff only they know.

This haunt exploits this quirk of human nature with devastating precision and realism. Let your hostess be your guide. She tells you a believable story about a sorority that attended their haunt on the previous night. The story ends horribly of course, and you are asked to help them solve their dilemma.

The hostess gives such a casual delivery that we found ourselves almost actually believing what she said! Ok, maybe we just wanted to believe...but it makes for an enhanced experience!

The sign from the "American Dead Cross" is of no reassurance, and the crazy noises we hear are not those of bunny rabbits frolicking in a field. No, it's a lunatic who spins his words and body so fast he confuses even himself and ends up sticking his head thru a hole in the fence.

Now we're traveling into the Egyptian times, and Cleopatra is there to steal your soul and throw it away with the baby and bathwater!

Excellent old feel and smell, a pint sized actor, cool pirate stuff with treasure, and we really liked the swamp creature that succeeded in fooling us totally!

The freaky clown room was a blast, literally! One clown danced around and blasted his squeaky horn over and over while directing us to a black hole, rotating clockwise with mirrors on one end. When we left the black hole, it STOPPED. Hmmm...is this the "power saver" version of the black hole? (aka vortex)

Next we're lost again in the pitch blackness void, but finally make our way to an area with bushes...THAT COME ALIVE! A birthing chamber will swallow you alive, and spit you out into more black passageways until you make it to a black light room where things are not as they seem.

The fabulous Polka Dot Room totally GOT us too, and what's up with the BOAR'S HEAD on the wall? Cool.

The second part of the haunt is the Campgrounds. There are tents, a tire swing, a barbeque pit and all sorts of ordinary everyday stuff. We even saw a box of Lucky Charms brand cereal.

Of course there's lots of non-ordinary stuff too. And desperate people. They scream a lot. You would too if you were in their shoes.

Also features an effective car gag, inanimate objects coming to life, tons of cobwebs to get caught up in, and we really liked the girl that disappears into the meat grinder to make fresh sausage. We really like sausage for breakfast, don't you?

Amazing efficient usage of space! There's SO much stuff...GREAT STUFF...packed in so tightly at times it's almost like you're navigating goat trails! But not so close as to trigger claustrophobia attacks, so fret not and be brave my little monkeys.

GET 'YER BUTT OVER HERE AND SEE A GREAT HAUNT!

FLINT

SAINT LUCIFER'S HAUNTED ASYLUM

5290 South Dort Highway, Flint, MI 48507 (at Playland)

(810) 694-4710 or www.michiganhauntedhouse.com

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - THIS PLACE IS A LOONEY BIN ON STEROIDS!

Insanity runs rampant here, but don't even try telling the whackos here that. Thing is, when you're insane you perceive the REST of the world as being crazy! From your point of view, you're fine.

The assaults started before we even got in the haunt. A strange looking lady (?) plops herself on my knee, then announces she has to pee! Yuck...I shoved her away and sure enough, she promptly relieved herself leaving a large puddle of proof she has NO manners. Didn't her mommy teach her proper etiquette? More likely, her mommy abandoned her at the first possible chance.

In the hospital prep room, a wild looking nurse tells us that we are entering a working hospital. We're warned not to mess with the patients. There's no telling what might set them off, and put them many years back in their therapy.

We encountered a wide variety of "patients," who quickly reveal a multitude of serious mental disorders which they are totally unaware of.

One of them seems to be experiencing some intense delusions of grandeur, and is convinced that he is a NUN in a Catholic School. He calls class to order, and makes strange demands of the students.

When I was a kid, my buddies down the block attended a Catholic school. I remember them always trying to skip catechism, eating meat on Friday, and being subjected to abuse at the stern hands of nun teachers. If you were caught chewing gum for example, you got a firm rap on the wrist from a thick plastic ruler. On the ruler were written the words "The Enforcer" with a magic marker. Repeat offenses earned you another whack from the ruler, but on its edge instead.

We're thinking this guy probably repressed memories like this for years, and then saw his big chance for revenge when this haunt was recruiting "actors." But this guy....or whatever it is...doesn't seem to be acting at all. BEWARE!

Another favorite of ours was a pair of pint sized wanna-be choir members. But they only know one song, a nursery rhyme with ghastly connotations. At least they're REALLY LOUD, so we had no problem noticing them.

One innovation we really liked involved a door with a keyhole in it. Have you ever looked thru a keyhole to see what's on the other side? Shame on you! This door turns the tables on you secret peepers, and the keyhole is looking thru at you. What?! You'll see. In fact, you won't be able to miss it, guaranteed.

Excellent sound and lighting throughout, but the biggest impact at this powerhouse haunt comes from its many varied and outstanding actors!

One last thing about this haunt: It could be just an urban legend, like the "Telephone Game" concept on steroids. BUT...rumor has it THE DEVIL HIMSELF WENT INSANE RIGHT HERE AT ST. LUCIFER'S HAUNTED ASYLUM.

Stay away from this wicked place! DON'T GO.

You have now been properly warned. If you should foolishly choose to ignore this prudent advice, you will be subjected to amazing predicaments and PERMANENT PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE.

Legally Binding Disclaimer: WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE.

DON'T BE A FOOL. DON'T BE CAUGHT AT THIS BONA FIDE MADHOUSE OF MAYHEM AND DEEPLY DISTORTED DESIRES.

GRAND RAPIDS

THE HAUNT

2070 Waldorf Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI

www.the-haunt.com

1 mile south of I-96 at exit 28 Walker Avenue

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - WELCOME TO THE MACHINE - A MODERN MASTERPIECE OF MADNESS

Every haunt is a fine tuned machine. Hopefully. It doesn't take much to throw a giant monkey wrench into it and the whole thing comes to a grinding halt.

This haunt uses the miracle of modern technology to eradicate monkey wrenches, and anything else that might stand in the way of a flawless performance. They showed us one of the remote monitoring stations, and it's impressive.

But all the technology in the world ain't worth doodily squat if you don't also have the creativity, drive, and of course awesome actors to make it all come together into a twisted conglomeration that makes fans go "WOW" and "COOOOL!"

WHERE DO YOU GO FROM UP?

This haunt has been a bona fide Mega Haunt from day one! In their very first season, attendance was 30,700. But when you start off that big, can it be sustained over the long run? It's like if your first political office was President of the USA...where can you go from there?

Well, if you're a person of great creativity, conviction, and passion that doesn't even cross your mind. You're too busy keeping up with your wild imagination to worry about things. You concentrate on ideas, and plant the best of them in your brain because in the end you become what you think about.

So what did this guy think about that became reality?

Your first clue starts before you even get in the haunt in the waiting area. A small stage is placed high enough for all to see clearly, and commands your attention at regular intervals when its big doors open to release five female dancers.

Four of them are in black outfits, and one in white. Just as impressive as the clever dance routine is an all original music soundtrack. It's an awesome blend of modern techno grooves and haunted weirdness. One of our favorite sections suddenly finds some of the dancers becoming marionettes while the others don their puppet master roles. The synchronization of the herky jerky motions of the "dolls" with their controllers above was flawless.

But more than that, the dancers radiated a highly dynamic energy that's downright infectious! You'll see...you'll FEEL.

The waiting area remains dark, before and after the show. It almost seems like you're in the woods. That should be a safe place to be. Maybe.

After assessing our group, the guy at the muttered something about "they won't even know you're missing..." Hmmm. Should we chance it?

Can't chicken out now. Don't be a wimp. Wimps don't get the chicks, dude.

An amazing array of strange beings and settings will scramble your senses and leave you wondering what all just happened to you. There's just so much, and it changes gears so fast!

We loved the pint-sized zombies, and we really liked the pipe organ room. But the organist didn't look anything like any church organist we've ever seen!

The "Sweet Dreams Doll Factory" changes gears abruptly again with a wide variety of new creatures, and we really liked one stunt involving a serviceman taking care of business as usual. Sorta.

A return to the marionette theme brings cohesion to the journey, and then comes the PIECE DE RESISTANCE. You think you're entering a black hole as you walk up the familiar inclined entrance ramp. But what you find instead is completely different.

Suddenly you're inside some kind of giant machine contraption, perhaps an alternator? There's giant silver machine parts everywhere, and a weird metal head machine creature is part of the system coming to absorb us it seems. Is this what it feels like to become a robot?

This was probably our personal favorite room this year. But it's hard to say, there's just so much here. It flies by so fast in a whirlwind of sensory stimulation and imagination bending.

At times it seemed we could hear strange sounds from many distant locations. But many scenes had near total isolation of sound within a room, due in some cases no doubt to the "masking" effect. Either way, the effect is the same and highly dramatic.

One oddity we noticed was that we clearly heard the sound produced by a Jacob's Ladder. Remember in the Frankenstein movie how they had the V-shaped metal rods with the spark traveling upwards until it zaps out? That's a Jacob's Ladder. It sure sounded just like the real thing, but somehow we never actually saw it. Perhaps we were Blinded By Science, or just too busy fending off weirdos to notice. By coincidence I actually made my own Jacob's Ladder once with 4 FOOT RODS, then donated it to Maxworld where it was displayed BEHIND thick Plexiglas.

The last part of your journey brings a violent reminder of the recurring marionette theme, as well as excellent wild nature sounds and a superb waterfall scene.

Don't pay attention to the desperate pleas you'll hear from the pathetic excuses for human beings you'll find here. They'll try to win you over to their side. You don't want to be there.

THE HAUNT also features THE DARK MAZE which we didn't have time to try and will be gone next year.

We did have time for the other two attractions here, which are sideshow type presentations. TRAPPED will quickly disorient you, and leave you in a thick barrage of hanging strips densely packed. You can't tell where you're going when your sense of direction belongs to some weirdo girl who holds the key to your fate in her greedy little paw!

CLOWN ALLEY 3D is highlighted by strong, hard plastic 3D glasses and a black hole that jump starts the trip. The greeter dude here sounds like he's just sucked in a balloon of Helium, but he didn't seem to notice at all. We did. He's weird. That's a good thing.

Our favorite part of CLOWN ALLEY 3D was the clown dance party. They sure didn't go to Arthur Murray, because they moved in a very slow strange counterclockwise pattern. Weird. Cool.

This haunt doesn't just treat its patrons well. The workers have special rewards coming later, when they rent a theater for a party where they play a blooper type reel of crazy stuff that happened. The public is invited to join in the fun too, as they tag names on photos appearing on Facebook from THE HAUNT.

THE HAUNT is blazing new technology trails in other ways too, yet to be revealed to the public. What new dimensions will define the Next Era of Haunting, and who will do it?

If anybody can do it, it's this guy. We're convinced. You'll see. Why not do it first hand?

GROSSE ILE

PHANTOM FOREST HAYRIDE

21803 West River Road, Grosse Ile, MI

(734) 676-2444 or www.westcroftgardens.com

2011 ZIOPTIS SEZ - STEP INTO THE PAST AT THE OLDEST FARM IN MICHIGAN!

HAZEL PARK

HOUSE OF FEAR

Hazel Park Community Center

620 Woodward Heights, Hazel Park, MI

(9 1/2 Mile and I-75)  (248) 547-5535

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - GREAT VOLUNTEER HAUNT PACKS GREAT BANG-FOR-THE-BUCK!

They finally raised the price here. It was $5. Now it's $6. That's still CHEAP for what you get here.

The show starts as soon as you arrive, with high fidelity spooky music filling the air.

After custom on-the-fly taunting in the waiting area, you'll be subjected to oodles of crazies and questionable circumstances galore!

INKSTER

FUNERAL HOME

3880 Inkster Road, Inkster, MI 48141

Between Van Born & Michigan Avenue

ZIOPTIS SEZ 2011 - NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION

This haunt does not have a budget of $25,000 for the latest and greatest LED and laser lights. But that's OK. They don't need those things.

This haunt does not have amazingly intricate animatronics and fancy props from suppliers like the Scare Factory. But that's OK. They don't need those things either.

What you absolutely DO need to run a good haunt are things like innovation, good actors, and clever usage of what you have to work with. And most of all, you need the spirit and drive to make a haunt worthy of being in the WORLD CAPITAL OF HAUNTED HOUSES. And those are the things they DO have.

It's a tall order to compete in this market, but the FUNERAL HOME has survived its first critical years and continues to evolve again in 2011.

The people that run this young haunt could be your next door neighbors. They seem like ordinary, decent sorts that probably go to church on Sunday and have a golden retriever that wags its tail and gives slobber kisses when they return.

But within the walls of this actual old funeral home, all bets are off and Miss Manners would be horrified at what goes on here. But that's OK.

Their primary purpose here is to shake you up, spin you around, chew you up, and spit you into a very large spittoon. Ok, they don't actually have a spittoon. In fact, like most haunts tobacco is off limits here. But that's OK.

Good intensity and scares, with monsters perched in every possible nook and cranny.

There were two standout favorites of ours here. The first involves music...and we're GIANT music fans. In fact, we feel that music is the most powerful of all the art forms because it speaks directly to the soul of man.

At one point, the Halloween music fades out...what is that crazy, mixed up organ music ahead? Is it being played by an orangutan? Wait, it just changed gears again. Hmmm...it's NOT recorded music...it's a live performance.

The final sequence is a tour de force you won't forget. It happens so fast and furious you'll freak! This is the one that's leaving the hard nosed guys whimpering at the exit to the dismay of their girlfriends! Great stuff.

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