1318 Wildwood Avenue, Jackson, MI 49202
(517) 936-5834 or www.jxunderworld.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - JUST A LITTLE OFF THE TOP / AT THE EDGE OF INSANITY
There's only one more floor that hasn't been used yet at this behemoth of an amazing old building to use for a haunt. There's a whopping 97,000 SQUARE FEET TOTAL in this FOUR-STORY MONSTER! Now that's big.
ARE YOU AFRAID OF HEIGHTS?
No...there's NO WAY...they wouldn't dare...or would they?
They opened up a lot more of the building this season, and also created a NEW BRIDGE that's WAAAAAY up there to walk across, creating the ULTIMATE HEIGHT SENSATION we've yet seen at a haunt!
The waiting area has been expanded and re-vamped big time, with a new recessed display of DISTORTION'S FIGURES and a unique photo op that has you in the clutches of a giant weirdo!
The house photographer is on hand to snap shots for you on your smartphone or camera - it's not a come on to get more money from you. He composes the shot for you and snaps a few (in case someone blinks), then hands your device right back to you. Here's the pics we got during this visit: www.flickr.com/photos/45316911@N03/albums/72157650409 830035
The Alice Cooper animatronic is still in place, as it should be because it's one-of-a-kind and WAY cool!
HAUNTED FARM OF TERROR
28405 26 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 203-7222 or www.HauntedFarmOfTerror.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - SPECIAL TASTE OF MADNESS
This haunt shifts gears so fast your head will spin!
We suggest you start with the walk through haunt, and then crank it to eleven with THE MOST INTENSE HAYRIDE YOU CAN IMAGINE!
LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR
The hayride host dude literally explodes all over the cart, dancing and gyrating while telling his insanely wicked tales.
Ever go to summer camp, where the counselor told ghost stories around the campfire about madmen that died in the woods there?
Well, put that on a triple-dose of steroids and add a Whirling Dervish of a hayride host dude that also DJ's this ghastly party...and you'll start to understand what's in store for you on the hayride!
One trademark feature we love at this haunt is something you won't see anywhere else, and shows both amazing ingenuity and artistic flair. A series of custom decorations and props, ranging from small to ENORMOUS, are strategically placed throughout the farm.
But here's the really cool part - ALL of these creations are made from old farm implements of various sorts so each and every one of them is one-of-a-kind! Our favorite is a GIANT METALLIC MONSTER you'll see in the hayride when the music switches to MISTER ROBOTO. WOWSER!
SCAREFEST SCREAM PARK
61288 Gratiot at 28 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 749-6666 or www.ScarefestScreamPark.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN!
One trademark feature we love at this haunt is something you won't see anywhere else around! But you'll need to get here BEFORE the first shows of the night, because this GRANDIOSE GAG by its' very nature can only be done once a night.
The first time we saw this (at Johnny Appleseed's) we totally freaked!
SPOILER ALERT...do not read if going to this haunt first.
BLAZING OUT OF THE STARTING GATE
It's aptly called THE CHARGE, and starts innocently enough with a movie being shown on a big white screen. But then the screen is totally destroyed, as AN ARMY OF MONSTERS breaks through it running full speed to "attack" the crowd, picking out vulnerable victims along the way! WOWSER.
But don't worry if you can't get here soon enough for THE CHARGE, as there's so much else here to do it will make your head spin!
A familiar name is back as THE CASTLE OF THE DEAD makes a triumphant return, but you won't even recognize most of it anymore! The facade is brand new, and looks like a castle from long ago when dragons ruled and TYVEK was nowhere to be seen.
GREEN CURVES AND HAM
Ever see the STAR TREK episode where Captain Kirk gets the red hot alien chick with green skin?
Well, the hayride hostess could be her sister because she too is red hot with green skin! And her voice has a strange personality all its own, absolutely perfect for this part!
SHAWHAVEN HAUNTED FARM
1826 Rolfe Road, Mason, MI 48854
(517) 676-1649 or www.ShawhavenHauntedFarm.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - COOL HAUNT IS A GIANT PARTY!
Follow the SKY HIGH LIT PUMPKIN to this haunted oasis that never fails to deliver the goods!
There’s something for everyone here, from walk thru haunts, a hayride, and even a PINK CADILLAC!
This is a family farm that doubles as a FUN FACTORY DELUXE.
MAUMEE, OHIO (TOLEDO AREA)
at Lucas County Fairgrounds, 1406 Key Street, Maumee, OH
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - WILD MULTI-SENSORY BLAST FEATURES ANIMATRONICS FROM BEYOND!
This haunt has it all - excellent actors, great sets, and animatronics you won't see anywhere else that are to die for fabulous!
The big suppliers like Scare Factory certainly have excellent products - don't get me wrong - but the owner of TERRORTOWN had his own primo twisted concepts and he relentlessly pursued bringing them to life.
Two large buildings form the main haunt, connected with an awesome graveyard between the two. A zigzagging pathway makes maximum use of the area, with all kinds of displays and of course super silly headstones.
But best of all, the graveyard is where you'll see some absolute gems of animatronics genius that are exclusive to TERRORTOWN. Our favorite is the last one that leads you into the second building, featuring a wind machine added for yet another excellent multi-sensory blast!
SPOILER ALERT - The ending of the show in the main haunt features the most amazing truck accident gag ever! It's made totally from REAL truck components so the scale is real life exact.
A secondary, smaller haunt is also on the grounds in a long curved building with silly circus music playing to lure you in.
This is another county fairgrounds location haunt, Lucas County in this case. It can be confusing for Michiganders, but just think Toledo-area and get down there for a great time!
This haunt has become a MUST SEE for us every year!
TERRORFIED FOREST & HILLSIDE MORTUARY
245 Swarthout Road, Pinckney, MI 48169
(734) 878-3737 or www.terrorfied.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - THE ABE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD...OR AT LEAST THE FUTURE OF HAUNT ADVERTISING!
Got an abe in your wallet?
FIVE BUCKS IS ALL IT TOOK.
This haunt operator used a five dollar addition to a non-moving prop, and turned it into an ADVERTISING GOLD MINE SECOND TO NONE.
INCREDIBLY EASY & DEVASTATINGLY EFFECTIVE!
We saw it in action...a geometrically expanding phenomenon that you won't believe.
And it's so simple that you won't believe you didn't do this yourself, if you're a haunt operator that just happens to be reading this.
Oh, so what is this miracle of the modern advertising age?
Whoops...cat got my tongue...you'll have to go there yourself...sorry...these beans are too big to spill!
Sorry, I digress...we walked the forest here last year but only had time for HILLSIDE MORTUARY on this visit.
The plush carpeting is the cleanest and softest we've ever felt at a haunt. The value of tactile stimulation can not be underestimated!
The authentic feeling is also complemented by lots of fine furniture in perfect condition, and authentic accessories of all sorts.
The actors were spot-on, in perfect character in their various roles as "employees" at this very MACBRE MORTUARY OF MAYHEM AND MADNESS!
THE REALM OF DARKNESS
37 Turk Street, Pontiac, MI 48341
(248) 338-0029 or www.TheRealmOfDarkness.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
We think we figured out one of the NEW POWERHOUSE WEAPONS THE REALM OF DARKNESS has this year, and it couldn't be better...
We've often said that actors can MAKE OR BREAK a haunt in short order, but where do haunts go to get REALLY KILLER ACTORS THAT DELIVER THE GOODS? Back to that shortly, but first let's get started with the new show!
ELECTRIC EYE CANDY
First we went to the circus in NIGHTMARES IN 3D, which features stunning blacklight artwork that pops out big time! The super-bright, vibrant colors are truly beautiful. That's what we call the WOW FACTOR.
But it's the actors that deliver the THRILL FACTOR at a haunt, and REALM has it covered in spades.
The first clown to greet us was somebody we're pretty sure we saw last year at another totally killer haunt that went bust. He has a very special friend, "Stitches" who will put YOU in stitches!
Another stand out actor you can't miss has dreadlocks...except it's not quite human hair...it's chains. This guy is one of the most energetic and insane actors we've ever seen at a haunt!
THE HUMAN BOWLING BALL
This guy slides across the floor like greased lightning! He explodes all over the room with off-the-hook spastic energy...it's like somebody just injected you with a double shot of Powerhouse Espresso when this guy suddenly ZAPS INTO YOUR ZONE!
NOT LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO
Another favorite of ours was the giant bunny rabbit, who threatens some hideous stuff. What a great mix-up of emotions...the cutesy bunny rabbit and bloody death all wrapped up into one convenient character. STORY TELLING SO POWERFUL, NO WORDS ARE NEEDED
The main haunt is expanded yet again! The picture frame video stories are Hollywood grade mini-productions with amazing audio of course too. Virtually the entire public is now used to hearing world class audio anywhere sound reinforcement is used, so haunts need to have it too...and the¬ REALM NAILS THAT COFFIN SHUT!
NOT JUST ANOTHER PRETTY FACE
The variety of scenes and feelings created are breathtaking. The actors are all spot-on, and each scene has been tweaked and re-tweaked until just the right "sweet spot" is found. They control your journey, mixing it up big time to scramble your senses and emotions.
This haunt's reputation is often associated with amazing detailing and ambience technique. And yes, that's still the case. But even more so this year, THE REALM OF DARKNESS is deservedly getting a reputation as a SERIOUSLY BAD ASS HAUNTED HOUSE.
REALM OF HAUNTED MINDS
Huron Turkey Farm
18910 Merriman Road, Romulus, MI 48174 (corner of Sibley, entrance on Sibley)
(734) 753-9187 or www.myspace.com/huronturkeyfarm
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - BURSTING AT THE SEAMS - TURKEY FARM NAILS IT BIG TIME!
This haunt DELIVERS the goods, in so many ways your head will spin!
Start in the ticket building, and make sure everybody goes in! It's also a mini museum of Frankenstein and other famous horror figures. Many of these are full size, and the eyes on the Dracula are SO LIFELIKE you can feel him giving you the once-over for his nefarious motives.
But watch out AGAIN here, because the ticket building will send your nose into the gotta-have-it-now mode with an amazing variety of custom-made cookies, turnovers, donuts and such as well as ultra fresh cider. On the night we went, hundreds of gallons sold out before we even got there!
Your journey from the ticket building to the haunt takes you through a MINIATURE CITY that is fabulous! Just cross the bridge, and take your pick of fantasies to enact like BOARDING A GHOST SHIP for example! It's big enough to get right on it too, and not just a display.
In fact, most of the miniature buildings here are just big enough to actually get into. There's a schoolhouse complete with real desks, but watch out because once you're inside, you're an EASY TARGET for wandering ghouls and monsters!
FANTASY AND FRIGHT = FABULOUS FUN!
The miniature city encourages an interactive mindset, setting the stage for the rest of the experience here in the walk thru haunt and mini-maze afterwards.
The opening sequence is killer! It starts in a room with 3 enormous electric meters with wacky markings and giant control wheels, and you are commanded to stand behind the "BLOOD LINE." A large head suddenly COMES TO LIFE and speaks with an amazing voice!
A double-door flies open, and you're off to a wide variety of thrills and chills...but our hands-down favorite is the ULTRA CREEPY GIRL near the end of the walk thru haunt. Her voice is an amazing blend of bizarre guttural sounds, simultaneously producing multiple tones at once! This is a highly unique vocal skill actually, and very few are capable of doing this.
The exit of the haunt building leads to a mini-maze, which dumps you out next to one of our favorite interactive features here, an impressive train the kids will LOVE! They can even be the train conductor, taking their rightful spot in the driver's seat of the "engine car."
This haunt has expanded yet again, with results that are filling the parking lot to capacity as they're BURSTING AT THE SEAMS!
GHOSTLY MANOR - LAKE EERIE FEARFEST
3319 Milan Road, Sandusky, OH
2.2 miles north of State Route 2
(419) 626-4467 or www.ghostlymanor.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - THANK YOU STUART, WHEREVER YOU ARE IN TV LAND...
Funny thing...a small handful of super incredible must-see haunts on our "short list" are haunts we didn't even know about...but were strongly suggested by other haunt operators. Can you think of any better recommendation?
It's generally against our policy to mention two haunts in one review, but it doesn't matter this time...here we go...
Quick rewind...so we were at THE HAUNTING in ADRIAN long ago (now defunct)...we're talking with the owner Stuart MacDonald * after going through...everybody is scratching their heads...Stuart picks up a flyer and excitedly asks us "HEY, HAVE YOU BEEN TO GHOSTLY MANOR?!"
We had never heard of it, because they're out of the primary target zone of the HAUNT GUIDE and FEAR FINDER and don't advertise there. We went as soon as possible, and we just could not stop gushing about them! (see various previous years reviews)
OK, so we've been going to this place for ages, and did lots of elaborate reviews and such...but never mind all that...at this point...C'MON THERE'S FIVE SEPARATE HAUNTS NOW?...seriously to even try to review this behemoth would be totally pointless.
But that's OK, because just one word says it all: FABULOUS.
* = editor's note: Stuart MacDonald now works in TV production / on-air appearances on the east coast. If you ever saw THE HAUNTING, you were a lucky dog!
Additional editor's note: Apparently, there are some out there still trying to describe GHOSTLY MANOR with mere words. One of them is Forbes Magazine: www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2013/09/20/10-great-hall oween-haunted-house-attractions-across-the-us
¬ www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2013/09/20/10-great-hall oween-haunted-house-attractions-across-the-us/