PAPP PARK HAYRIDE & TERRORZONE
In Papp Park, 1/2 mile west of Telegraph off of Wick Road.
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - MR. MAYOR'S GHASTLY LITTLE SECRET
This hayride totally rocks! They did away with their advertising years ago, yet packed in over 1,200 hayride patrons in just one weekend this year. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful advertising of all, and when a haunt is this good for a modest price it spreads quickly.
This year's theme involves a recent "heated Mayoral election" that may have left the mayor himself dead in the woods you're about to enter.
The hayride host makes himself dictator-of-the-day and barks out his own rules, starting with "NO touching the monsters, they WILL touch you!"
He warns that monsters will be all over the hayride, and "guarantees" that at least 2 or 3 of us will be missing on the way back! Needless to say, they make good on their wicked promise...and then some. SCREAM-O-RIFIC!
A wide variety of staged scenes is accented by a custom made soundtrack, played on board the cart with a giant boom box.
Lighting duties are effectively largely handled by the driver himself, and two helpers from the rear of the cart! The driver wields a POWERFUL STROBE LED FLASHLIGHT, which he occasionally uses to illuminate scenes & actors. He also uses it on the audience to CRANK THE CONFUSIONÂ and misdirects hapless haunters easily on cue.
At the rear of the cart, a girl uses a standard steady beam LED flashlight in various ways. She can use it as a spotlight on subjects or props, and also as a moonflower projector of sorts. She swirls it around to create a visually stimulated motion sensation, similar to the principal that makes the Black Hole work.
Another helper at the rear occasionally uses a high powered LED flashlight that emits a SINGLE FLASH at a time.
The ease of operation of LED flashlights also makes precise, coordinated blackouts a breeze. SMART & THRIFTY.
A nice dose of humor balances out the hideous nature of the depictions.Â GOOD STORYTELLING.
We loved theÂ Baby Changing Station, where some Powerhouse Pintsized Surprises take charge, and the prim-and-proper Mayor makes his first stand, revealing his true nature. The juxtaposition of this image is GREAT!
He has a finely tailored suit and tie on, and an exaggerated giant grin on his face as he wields a chainsaw up REAL close and REAL personal. He has a score to settle, and he doesn't care about voters rights anymore!
We also really liked the Friar Tuck-like dude, the guys with the white clean-suits and gas masks, and the guy who lost his head and isn't letting it stop him!
Another excellent sequence shows a small dog creature gnawing on someone, then joins a girl asleep on a picnic table-turned bed. Her initial appearance says "human," but she seems to have the DNA of an insect.
She awakens and springs to life, and gets out of bed. But she supports herself as an insect with 4 limbs would, and she looks like a giant inverted letter U! The highly acrobatic actress finally adopts a human stance, affording her the chance to scope out everybody REALLY CLOSE.
The Grand Finale is a great blend of old and new. A humongous Jack-In-The-Box is accented with strobes as well as red & green laser beams facing the display.
They play the song "Pop Goes The Weasal," so you're expecting the lid to pop open on the final "Pop" in the lyrics. Yes, you get the big pop-out you're expecting...but that's just to throw you off track while the REAL pint-sized surprises hit you in a way that you won't believe!
TERRORZONE is the walk thru trailer haunt here, and gives the same crew lots more chances to work their weirdness from even more angles and locations. This is Old School big time, but it still works just as it did when haunts like Mutilation Mansion were all the rage. Bigger does NOT always mean better!
This haunt benefits the local Little League Baseball program, but don't let that guilt-you into going...just GO because THIS HAUNT DELIVERS THE GOODS.
THE SCREAM MACHINE
21207 Eureka, Taylor, MI 48180
(734) 309-0756 or www.thescreammachine.net
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - NEW HOME FOR LONGTIME DOWNRIVER FAVORITE
SINISTER HAUNTED HOUSE
6991 Auburn Road, Utica, MI 48317
(586) 405-7660 or www.sinisterhauntedhouse.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - SECRET MIND CONTROL TECHNIQUES DISGUISED AS ENTERTAINMENT IN RENEGADE HAUNTED HOUSE!
This is a unique and super effective approach to haunting.
It's a well known fact that people are more susceptible to unusual suggestions while they're laughing their butt off! And as Mae West said, "Get a girl to laugh, and she'll do anything."
This haunt puts that principal to work effectively, and you are putty in their capable hands! SKILLFUL & SILLY.
You're told up front the weirdos inside will ask you to join them in playing certain games, but you don't have to if you'd rather not.
CHOOSING YOUR OWN LEVEL OF INSANITY & FUN!
It's a challenge few can resist, and goading people into questionable at best activities by calling it a game is hilarious! These wacky actors pull it off smoothly, but that's no surprise because they're clearly insane. Or cannibals. Or both.
One animal actor offers a piece of edible meat (NOT kidding) from his own species! It was delicious. So he's a cannibal...AND insane.
The energy here is already off-the-charts throughout, and then flies right through the roof in the last scene that will knock your socks off!
We stood outside the exit door to see if other people were as freaked out as us...and ALL of them had that wild look that only comes from a TOP NOTCH HAUNT EXPERIENCE! THAT is why you go to haunt, and THAT is what they deliver here!
DEADLAND HAUNTED HOUSE
20900 Dequindre Road, Warren, MI
(248) 808-2463 or www.thedeadland.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - NEW KID IN TOWN RIPS IT UP!
This haunt has changed completely since last year!
A brand new owner and crew have taken the helm at the familiar corner of 8 Mile & Dequindre, and they're on a mission.
They had a "hard act to follow" for sure, taking over from the outrageous Deadly Intentions which may have raised a few too many eyebrows!
The opening scene transition is super effective. It's very dark, and the only sound effect is of water dripping slowly. Then, suddenly a very deep voice says "Welcome to the Deadlands" and starts to laugh menacingly. At the exact same moment, spectacular sounding pipe organ music starts to play loudly but with no distortion. GREAT FEEL.
The gags and surprises hit fast and furious with excellent monster interaction, mannerisms, and accents throughout.
We really liked the guy who dropped in for dinner, some unusual doggie creatures hanging around, and the super close-up weirdo in the disgusting kitchen.
A strange canine sub-plot gets really weird, when the redneck guy holding a big bone yells, "Do you want me to get my dog on you?" Meanwhile, another weirdo seems to believe that HE is the dog and starts barking and growling as if a guard dog on the prowl for intruders...like YOU.
Also features a pig creature we totally loved with lungs of steel! This prize porker let out an incredible pig squeal longer than any other we can remember.
Country bumpkin types freely roam here, with convincing vocals like the guy who asks, "Where's the BORAX?"
The props are accented by products from by-gone eras for an authentic retro feel. We really liked the telephone so old it has no dial and an old record player, complete with a record on it ready to play.
Other highlights were an excellent scarecrow creature, and the guy whose hand appears from nowhere as he states "Be my friend!"
But our favorite character of all was the abusive doctor who wields an LED strobelight flashlight. His bedside manner is seriously lacking, as he hurls insults like "Which one of you is the smart one of the bunch?"
His LED strobelight flashlight serves several purposes. And he even finds a way to berate you with it, as he scolds you for a particularly nasty lack of personal toilet hygiene!
When a new owner takes over any business, it's natural to be concerned how it's going to go. But after seeing the new crew in action, we breathed a big SIGH of relief...secure in the knowledge that the New Kid on the Block has things under control...in spades!
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ROAD
2020 Elm Road, Webberville, MI
(810) 429-9362 or www.nightmareonelmrd.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - HIDDEN TREASURE AWAITS YOU
We just love the setup here at this indoor/outdoor haunt. The ticket booth greets you just past the parking lot, and then a short walk across the edge of a field reveals an excellent dilapidated house facade that extends a long way!
2013 is their 6th year, and the new show is "THE 13th HOUR."
A giant saw with bloody blades is seen waiting in line and the severed head next to it only hints at the mayhem inside! The hostess sports a shrunken head on a stick too, and says it's from "Angela, who didn't make it through last year."
The video introduction by Freddie is new this year, and shows him reading his new copy of THE HAUNT GUIDE. He talks his jive while the entrance door shakes and quivers...but doesn't open...yet.
Soon enough you're plunged into total blackness, prepping you for big impact on the other side. Excellent vocalizations, strange sounds, and we really liked the redneck that berates you for no reason and threatens you, cocking his rifle menacingly!
The walk thru haunt is followed by a miniature haunted forest of sorts to round out the package, before you're left for dead by the monsters and chainsaws. GREAT STUFF!
34043 Ford Road, Westland, MI 48185
(734) 502-6026 or www.facebook.com/hushdetroit
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - STRONG NEW HAUNT FROM OLD FRIENDS
This is a brand new haunt from some established names in the business, in a market freshly in need of a new haunt! 2 other haunts both in Westland last year are gone now, so the timing couldn't be better!
The facade of the building is excellent, featuring a blend of giant objects and a cool looking alien dude. The alien has his finger in front of his lips, as if commanding you to HUSH up.
"The Mind of a Madman" is the theme here, and the host warns their "survival rate is 30% but we're working hard to make it zero percent!"
But what is a madman? I mean, like if your head is really a television and you find yourself thrashing about and banging your head violently, does that mean you're mad?
The inhabitants here are clearly confused, and they want your help. Could be trouble, but that's why you come to haunts anyway right?!
Loud, crazy action throughout from all live actors. We really liked the mad scientist who ignores electrical codes, and the Uncle Sam dude who mutters prayers in Latin!
Our favorite scene is introduced by an insane carnival barker dude who wants to know if you like clowns. A multi-sensory blast hits you, as they stage a high intensity marionette scene. The girl on the setup is flailing wildly at the whim of a wicked clown creature jerking the strings, while green and red lasers and a slow strobe pour gas on the fire of madness!
Motor City Nightmares has made this haunt their home this year, and has all sorts of cool stuff planned, and earlier in the season a hearse club was there...how cool!
The journey of a lifetime starts with a single step, and you've got to start somewhere...like on Ford Road in Westland where Hush just set up shop!
BESTMAZE & TRAIL OF TERROR
3803 Noble Road, Williamston, MI 48895
(517) 521-2378 or www.bestmaze.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - CRAZY CREATURES OF THE CORN / WHAT'S THAT SMELL?
This is a multi-feature haunt, and unfortunately we only had time for the Trail of Terror. Even though the main attraction here is the maze, the Trail of Terror is so well done it would be worth going for it by itself.
A wide pathway is flanked by tall, thick corn that gives the creatures hiding spaces and secret paths they use to great effect.
Rustling corn stalks can be startling as well as means for misdirection, and they keep you guessing in a series of strange events expertly designed to befuddle and amaze you.
Our favorite was a giant creature getting shocked while upside down, and totally took us by surprise! GOTCHA.
Your nose gets the business here too, as controlled scents permeate certain displays. Adding another sense to brain input cranks the feeling quickly! Our favorites were the rainforest scent in the snake room and the cotton candy scent in the clown room.
Also features a super effective Freddie Krueger, a large animal that should be in an African jungle, an excellent silver bat creature "statue," and we loved the bizarre skull creature embedded into the corn.
We didn't have time for their maze, which changed names at the insistence of customers! Originally called "Maze & Market," the response was overwhelming and at least 15 customers suggested changing the name to BESTMAZE.
They were the first to our knowledge to use a unique self-draining arrangement not only throughout the maze, but in the parking lot too. Thousands upon thousands of drainage tiles are hiding below the surface, thirsty for water that won't have a chance to make patrons slip or get their Nikes muddy.
MAZE INNOVATION? THESE GUYS WROTE THE BOOK, AND THEY'RE NOT DONE YET!