HOUSE OF FEAR
620 Woodward Heights, Hazel Park, MI
(248) 546-4093 or (248) 546-4092
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - ILLOGICAL VISIONS SPRING TO LIFE IN STRONG PERFORMANCE
There's all kinds of wild mix-ups here. And all kinds of things that shouldn't, and couldn't happen, do. Love it!
The show starts outside the building, where we heard screaming fans still inside the haunt and cool water music outside on excellent all-weather speakers.
The inside waiting area has fun audio pranks to entertain you until you begin your well-paced journey.
A brief illusion of serenity from flowing water projections gives way to bedlam in short order, and a crazy cast of highly enthusiastic characters stages all sorts of wild encounters. One of our favorites involves a baby carriage unlike any you've seen at Aunt Martha's house in Bellport!
Also features an excellent star room, and we absolutely loved the bleach-blond nurse girl with her bloody face. At first, you hardly notice her because she's curled up in a corner.
She seems more suited to be a patient in a psychiatric hospital than a nurse. She reveals her true self when she matter-of-factly states that "The voices won't stop!" Obviously, she totally believes it too because she's written it on the wall in blood!
Another dude in a straitjacket makes his appearance, but he seems quite sane compared to the supposed nurse!
This haunt has never failed to impress us, and word is spreading fast about this fabulous all-volunteer haunt that gives back big time.
HAUNTED FUNERAL HOME
3880 Inkster Road, Inkster, MI 48141
(734) 956-2101 or www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001614513583
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - THE LITTLE HAUNT THAT COULD AND DID
"I think I can, I think I can..." is what The Little Engine That Could says in a famous children's story I'm thinking of.
A small train has an enormous task to accomplish with limited resources, so it has to do the best it can with what it has right at that moment.
Just change the word "train" to "haunt," and you've got the big picture here. The train/haunt HAS to believe to BE ABLE to achieve.
What this haunt lacks in expensive or elaborate props is more than made up for by delivering what haunted houses ultimately are all about anyway...a whacked out, crazy experience that only can come from highly spirited performers who will stop at nothing short of laryngitis to achieve the enormous task of surviving in the highly competitive haunt market of Southeast Michigan!
This building was indeed a funeral home once-upon-a-time, but it looks like some automotive work has been done here too. Some of the artifacts will jettison some of you on a trip down Memory Lane!
But our favorite room is still the organ room. Back in the day, funeral homes all had these cheesy electronic organs that had a distinctive generic sound. A live "musician" would play songs like Ava Maria and Amazing Grace.
So in keeping with that proud tradition, this funeral home has an organist too. The tonal characteristics of the organ were just right. What the organist played was just wrong.
He's in a daze...is he drooling? That melody he's playing...it doesn't make sense...but not making sense is his job and he does it well!
1318 Wildwood Avenue, Jackson, MI 49202
(517) 936-5834 or www.jxunderworld.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - NOSTALGIC EUPHORIA / CONTAGIOUS DARKNESS
It's not fair. To other haunts that is!
This haunt has a built in advantage. The building itself is super creepy to begin with! A behemoth constructed to last in 1919, it's been a tractor seat manufacturing plant and later a furniture store. It's not quite as big, but it sure reminds us of the old HUDSON'S STORE IN DOWNTOWN DETROIT once-upon-a-time...
The moment you arrive, it's clear this is a wild haunted house! The spooky music is loud and clear, and big strobe lights are facing up the walls.
The waiting area has a cool Alice Cooper animatronic that reminds us of Alice's magic shows during his concerts. Very cool.
The haunt mixes it up a lot, and often nearly convinces you it's still many moons ago with great authentic props. Some of our favorites were an ancient telephone and a piano.
The thick walls afford good sound isolation between rooms, even when the volume reaches thunderous levels! The music/sound effects shift gears quickly, matching the feels needed for each gag. Some of our favorites were a bone-rattling buzzer, and the circus music with the giant Jack-In-The-Box.
Eventually, the pathway dumps you in the basement where the old feel is the most intense. And what was probably the loading ramp spits you out of the rear of the building completing your journey here.
This is a GIANT building, and lots of it remains unused. But next year that could all change with the addition of another full floor of this behemoth if all goes according to plan! Stay tuned....
11735 Rowe Road, Jonesville, MI
(517) 549-5100 or www.darksydeacres.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - BIG DREAMS COMING INTO FOCUS
Wow. The sky's the limit here, and this haunt knows it.
They've expanded yet again, but still with amazing future potential because this place is ridiculously giant! New this year is a hayride and an outdoor maze without maize, unless you bring your own corn!
So it's a maze with lots of scary stuff, but it's not a corn maze. Huh? Just try it...if you're feeling invincible.
The walk thru haunt is a triple threat feature that just keeps going and going and going...about a mile of fun-filled haunt magic!
One of the buildings they use features a hallway that seems to extend forever! As soon as you enter, you can see all the way to the exit...and this is a massive building, You walk through the center of the building all the way, leaving yourself prey to countless gags and goons to the left and right of the long path you must follow through many rooms.
All sorts of wild stuff happens in these rooms, hey but what do you expect when the first song you hear is "Psycho Killer" by The Talking Heads?!
The music and sound effects change frequently, and we really liked the scantily clad girl in the "High Voltage Testing Area" and a very strange dude who is pregnant! Great stuff.
This used to be a pig farm, but there's no bacon and you won't miss it at all! The giant fans on the side of the building are decorated very effectively with different colored flashing lights.
THE SKY IS THE LIMIT HERE, AND THEIR FUTURE IS LOOKING VERY BRIGHT!
SCAREFEST SCREAM PARK - HAYRIDE OF DOOM
61288 Gratiot at 28 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 749-6666 or www.scarefestscreampark.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - JOY RIOT BREAKS OUT AT HAYRIDE OF DOOM!
Have you ever done something dumb, and had someone tease you about it in a playful, clever way that made you actually laugh at yourself?
Now that's funny, the kind of joke that can make you laugh despite yourself! The hayride tour guide here found his first victim of this kind almost immediately, when he spotted a girl who was TEXT MESSAGING DURING THE HAYRIDE! She instantly became the broad side of a barn. You can't miss, it's an easy target that's irresistible.
Our tour guide was both a great storyteller and comedian, delivering one zinger after another to the point where people were doubling over in laughter!
But don't worry, this hayride has lots of cool surprises and close-up monster action too all accentuated by synchronized strobe lights mounted below the riding area.
The strobelight flash speed rate varies occasionally to accommodate the actors/scenes. Stutter-motion or freeze-frame? Only your haunt guide knows for sure, but all you need to do is sit back and relax on their comfortable carts and take in the beautiful forest and the wacky weirdness!
¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ***********SPOILER ALERT!!!*************
Our policy in general is to not reveal specific major gags at haunts, but this is a special exception cleared personally with the haunt operator! It's SO major that word-of-mouth has already revealed this to many.
When we first saw this haunt operator do this, it was at the old Johnnie Appleseed's in Washington Twp. and we had no idea what was coming so it was WAY dramatic! It quickly became a flagship feature for this veteran of the haunt scene, and we have never seen this at any other haunt!
Enough already, it's called "The Charge," and it can only happen once per night. Just before the first hayride cart runs, and before the haunted forest opens, ALL of the monsters appearing that night burst into the main area in a wild rampage of enthusiastic off-the-hook energy!
The buildup to the big moment varies, but when it hits ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE in a feeding frenzy of fear. For shear WOW FACTOR at a haunt, this is as big as it gets!
SCAREFEST SCREAM PARK - CASTLE OF THE DEAD
61288 Gratiot at 28 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 749-6666 or www.scarefestscreampark.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - MADNESS DELUXE-STYLE, REINCARNATED
This haunt is one of the attractions at SCAREFEST SCREAM PARK and has an amazing history of its own, but never mind all that. The important part is you'll have a cool haunt experience here! You need good actors and makeup for starters, and this haunt has both in spades.
You'll twist and turn thru this veteran of the haunt scene, featuring a wide variety of scenes including a hyper-realistic decapitation scene that blows away the majority of them we've seen thru the years.
Excellent actors and makeup complete the package, and the exit leads to an inflatable maze that keeps you guessing and wondering what's around the next turn!
HAUNTED FARM OF TERROR
28405 26 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 203-7222 or www.hauntedfarmofterror.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - MR. WIZARD'S WACKY HAYRIDE TO NEVER-NEVER LAND
This year's hayride features a bona-fide Wizard, the likes of which we've never seen before! He assists the hayride tour guide with all kinds of silly shenanigans, and busts-a-move big time with great dancing and infectious quirky mannerisms.
The Wizard and the tour guide both wield special LED flashlights that double as HIGH INTENSITY STROBE LIGHTS. At times, they use the flashlights as bright spotlights to illuminate various props and scenes with excellent clarity. In the strobelight mode, they often waved the flashlights in various patterns that simulated moonflower projectors. VERY CLEVER!
PASSIONATE INTENSITY CRANKED TO ELEVEN!
This haunt firmly believes in the adage, "Go all out, or don't go at all!" Giant scale gags galore occur on both sides of the cart; nobody misses out.
High intensity high wire flying antics can be tricky to pull off, but their precision timed show was flawless and the impact was devastating!
The music changed often, and at times gave a dance club party feel that had the whole cart literally shaking to the beat of the music! The music cues are handled on-the-fly by the host for well-defined transitions of scenes and story lines.
The walk thru haunt is a tour de force on its own, with great actors, interaction, scenes/props, and music/sound effects.
A strange menu printed on the wall contains disturbing concoctions, and we opted to eat at the Road Kill Cafe instead. The "Taco in a Bag" is awesome.
CHOW DOWN & GET YOUR FREAK-ON AT THE FARM OF TERROR!
MAUMEE, OHIO (TOLEDO AREA)
at Lucas County Fairgrounds, 1406 Key Street, Maumee, OH
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - CALL OF THE WILD & CRAZY BUCKEYE
Heed the call. It's not that far from Detroit. They've been there FOREVER...there MUST be a reason.
The reasons will hit you fast and furious at this haunted playground!
SPLENDID MADNESS, AN INCONVIENIENT TRUTH BECKONS FROM TERRORTOWN
Most of you reading this have seen, and experienced the so-called BLACK HOLE a.k.a. THE VORTEX. Essentially, you walk THRU a large spinning fabric tube that's painted with fluorescent paint and lit with blacklights.
You feel like you're spinning, but close your eyes and the sensation stops immediately. It's a GIANT OPTICAL ILLUSION, and the industry standard is for it to be 20 feet long.
For most haunts, that's good enough. Not here. This haunt has NEVER done anything with going all out!
So they put SIX BLACK HOLES end-to-end and the result is a galaxy of spinning madness that will trip you out like no other black hole anywhere!
This haunt makes their own animatronics, so you won't see them anywhere else. Their all out attitude literally screams from them!
There's lots more here, but just one last thing for now. It's the very last room of the main haunt, an incredible ending gag we know you've seen before...but NOT like this! It's the ONLY one of its kind anywhere, and it is undoubtedly the BIGGEST, BADDEST, AND BEST WE'VE EVER SEEN!
DIMENSIONS OF DARKNESS
2523 Parkway Place
Maumee, OH 43537
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - DARK SHADOWS, DEEP THRILLS
Every haunt looks for something totally unique¬ only they¬ can have to really knock-your-socks-off. Better still, that "something" is a group of actors to which haunting comes as naturally as bats hanging upside down in a dark cave.
Dark. Scary. Intense.
This haunt found the actors to deliver...BIG TIME.
How did they do it? You could say they lucked out, or that it was meant to be.
Either way, the result is the same...KILLER! This haunt latched on to a local GOTH GROUP, and they have a special intensity you seldom find at a haunted attraction!
COOPERATIVE SHADOWS - SHROUDED NOTHINGNESS
This production is more old school than Hollywood, and purists out there will howl with joy at the moon when they experience this haunt!
TERRORFIED FOREST & MANOR
245 Swarthout Road, Pinckney, MI 48169
(734) 878-3737 or www.terrorfied.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - THE ELEGANT TOUCH OF MADNESS
This haunt has class. The carpet is deep plush, and spotless. The furniture is Broyhill-like quality.
But best of all, the scares are classy as well as effective.
This is actually the secondary part of this haunt; unfortunately we were too late to do the forest as well this time. But in past years the forest walk here has blown us away, and we've never seen such elaborate black hole setups outdoors!
THE REALM OF DARKNESS
37 Turk Street, Pontiac, MI 48341
(248) 338-0029 or www.therealmofdarkness.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - NEW DIRECTIONS / DARING ADVOCATES
WOW! There are all kinds of new stuff at REALM, both physical and non-physical.
The first you'll notice is a new mini-maze near the entrance of the main haunt. A variety of live actor's pop out from all over, and the props and scenes all have that distinctive REALM touch.
One of our favorites is an old stage coach that looks very old. There are LOTS of authentic antiques at this haunt, and the stage coach made us remember the early American pioneers setting out to discover their fortunes and destiny.
THE OVERWHELMING PATH / AGGRESSIVELY COMPOSING
The main haunt is both brand new and old. A whopping TWENTY-EIGHT rooms are new, and all the action and intricacies can easily put you into sensory overload as you attempt to absorb it all!
The previous underlying theme still remains however, and for very good reason. THE QUEST TO MEET AND DEFEAT THE WIZARD is still your goal. If you prove yourself worthy and are wise enough to defeat the wizard, YOU WILL RECEIVE DOUBLE YOUR MONEY BACK!
Most of us have heard stories about an elusive haunt that gives you money back, often on a per-room completed basis with each subsequent room increasingly disgusting.
But ALL those stories are ONLY that, urban legends evolving as haunt lines essentially play the "Telephone Game" where one story becomes many others with each new telling of, "Did you hear about the insane haunt where..."
You'll need to pay attention to what the actors say here, and read between-the-lines if you hope to have them PAY YOU BACK DOUBLE TO GO TO THIS HAUNT!
THE DEVIL'S ASYLUM
701 McMorran Arena, Port Huron, MI 48060
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2012 - NEW PLAYER MAKES BIG SPLASH
This haunt invades the scenic Port Huron for the first time in grand style, and with some built-in advantages to boot. It's located inside a premiere convention and arena facility called McMorran Place, so all their amenities go with the haunt too.
For starters, it's the only haunt in Michigan to have a FULL BAR! Comfortable indoor waiting ensures the only chills you get are the spine-tingling kinds that are the bread-and-butter of the industry.
The actual haunt is located in the sports arena section of the complex, which lends itself perfectly to an eerie presence as the various sounds emanating from it reverberate throughout. The first thing we noticed was a machine-like deep rumbling sound. Very ominous, but music to our ears!
The strange girl guarding the entrance holds an old flashlight up to her face. It has that retro look, and the batteries seem to be low because it's rather dim. In a world littered with bright LED flashlights, it's a breath of fresh air!
She sports a stylish nose ring, and has unearthly eyes to probe your soul with.
Giant wooden crosses are hanging, but why is one of them upside down? Oh yeah...we are in the DEVIL'S Asylum, right?
The haunt features excellent dark passageways, lots of strange encounters with creatures with excellent makeup, and we really liked a certain bride you won't be able to miss!
Another standout is their spackled fluorescent paint/blacklight room. It's BRIGHT AND CHEERFUL, not dark and gloomy. Despite that, they succeeded in completely concealing not one but TWO weirdos.
But what impressed us the most about this haunt was a most unique photo opportunity that had us "hook, line, and sinker" instantly! We won't spoil it with details, other than to say a supposed chance encounter with a certain Krazy Kharacter (hint, hint!) results in a multiple-choice decision sure to please even the discerning haunt fan!
A STRONG FIRST TIME EFFORT SURE TO PLEASE!