ST. CHARLES VILLAGE OF THE LIVING DEAD
400 E. Water Street, St. Charles, MI 48655
(989) 928-8865 or www.stchauntedhouse.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - Sadly this review was lost in the Feb. 13, 2015 crash we are still trying to recover from. But this is a cool haunt with an EXCELLENT PHYSICAL THRILL FACTOR - we had a blast here!
And there's a GIANT WATER TOWER behind the place you may not see at first. If not, be sure to explore the area until it looms above you!
5010 Green Road, Stockbridge, MI 49285
(517) 937-4606 or www.BoneYardHaunt.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - THE NATURAL!
There's just something about an outdoor haunt in farmland that you can't exactly put your finger on...but you sure know it when you feel it.
NO BIG CITY HAUNT can achieve an ambience like that, as the atmospheric feel is already off the charts on its' own.
Now throw in the right amount of brick-and-mortar in the right spots, establish the visitors traffic flow, mix in a giant crew of fanatical haunt staff and crew, start a bonfire and set up a ticket booth.
That's all they had to do here, and they had a successful haunt.
BURNING THE BLUEPRINTS...AND MORE
But instead, they scrubbed the whole setup and started over from scratch!
And when we got here this year, the only things we recognized were the bonfire and ticket booth.
There is still a cart ride which has a surprise innovation we haven't seen anywhere else, but now it's the last part of your journey here which will take at least an hour. We went on a very busy Saturday night (Oct. 25) and had a little more than TWO HOURS OF FABULOUS FUN!
Now you start by walking into DEADWOOD FOREST...just remember that you did so under your own free will. There's lots of bizarre and wild stuff lurking, and you can hear the echoes of others ahead who failed to not enter this MADHOUSE OF A FOREST! Excellent surprises and interaction throughout.
THE FLAMIN' GROOVIES - FEEL THE HEAT!
Many haunted attraction personnel also have the dreaded "DAY JOB" that fills in the time waiting for the next haunt season, and this haunt is no exception.
But it just so happens that one of the "DAY JOB" duties of the operator here also gives him the knowledge and skill to safely produce GIANT CONTROLLED BLASTS OF FIRE THATGASPED! EVERYBODY HERE.
The gags are safely distanced from the haunters, but you still feel the giant wave of heat from sudden giant columns of fire in various dramatic stunts that are one-of-a-kind because they're customed engineered on premise.
SPOT THE OWNER
Usually when we've gone to this haunt, we haven't actually talked to the owner (like we usually do) because every time we arrived, he was ACTING IN THE HAUNT ITSELF...in full costume and exquisite makeup of course...so several times we saw him clearly but had no idea it was him!
So we started a game...let's see if we can pick out which weirdo in the haunt is the main dude at BONEYARD...
A SURE WINNER
A really good boy loves his mommy.
And some boys love their mommies so much they end up INFLICTING BODY MARKINGS ON THEMSELVES CONTAINING THE WORD "MOM."
So right now you're probably thinking...oh yeah like the sailor man who pulls up his T-shirt to reveal a big tattoo on his chest...or maybe a big tat on a bicep...
Nope, it's the haunt owner himself...and he's sporting a "MOM" body marking on his forehead...but it's NOT a tattoo...in fact it's all horribly bloody and infected...he's used like a rusty knife to carve the word MOM into his forehead!
His character is SO HAPPY AND PROUD, and clearly has NO idea just how creepy this all is...but after all, this part of the haunt is called THE FREAK'S SHOW!
STORIES FROM INSIDE A TEN-GALLON HAT
We happened to meet some people waiting in line here that were from Texas. They did have good things to say about the HAUNTS IN TEXAS, and we would love to check them out someday ourselves...and yet here they were in Michigan at THE BONEYARD in STOCKBRIDGE...looks like you don't have any excuse NOT to go here if you're in Michigan!
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ROAD
2020 Elm Road, Webberville, MI
(810) 429-9362 or www.nightmareonelmrd.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - STRICTLY NON-COMMERCIAL HAUNT DELIVERS THE GOODS!
Talk about being off-the-beaten path, but straight into your psyche...
There are no searchlights, but the STARS EXPLODE IN THE SKY and can be your guide! (or Mapquest of course)
After you arrive it's just a short walk along a farmer's field...up ahead in the woods...WOW, it's a hillbilly-like makeshift house and it'sĀ SUPER WIDE...way past just your basic Double Wide!
WHAT A FABULOUS FACADE. They made it themselves...totally one-of-a-kind.
The ambience here is off-the-hook to begin with, as there's no other businesses in the vicinity.
This year's new feature is THE STALKER, who makes his presence known in many ominous ways in this CRAZY LABYRINTH OF A DARK MAZE!
You'll hear HIM...taunting you incessently...suddenly tapping on the wood...here, there, everywhere...playing with you like a cat about to eat his mouse.
HE obviously knows HIS way around this OFTEN-DARK MADHOUSE but you are guaranteed to get lost...and real quick too! GREAT STUFF, CLASSIC OLD SCHOOL HAUNTING.
The main attraction is THE NIGHTMARE, freshly expanded for your haunting pleasure! This is an indoor / outdoor haunt, and because of the setup it's a piece of cake to expand both areas.
You start indoors...or at least TRY to...with all sorts of crazy door confusion until finally a surprise entrance plunges you into total darkness...LOVE IT!
Tricky passageways (some with uneven floors), excellent surprises from all over, ominous music that builds, and we really liked the really strange girl who you first see crawling on the ground. She uses ZOMBIE SPEAK to communicate her insidious message, as she rises to show off her beautiful blood-stained white dress. GREAT STUFF!
ELVIS HAS LEFT THE HOUSE
Then you're outdoors, and a different ambience flies off the charts as you enter a graveyard complete with a guillotine and a piece of rock and roll history. Yup, sure enough...right there...it's ELVIS' HEADSTONE!
Now throw in a few more wacky buildings to go through, tons of awesome chainsaw attacks, lots of both slow and fast strobe lighting, and even FLOOD LIGHTING where needed for safe passage and you've got the basic idea here
There's actually one more thing that we absolutely love about this haunt that the general public will never know, and that we've seen at only a few super-primo haunts like THE HAUNTING in ADRIAN*...THE OWNER IS ALSO A LEAD ACTOR INSIDE THE HAUNT ITSELF!
Three years ago, we canceled some Big City Haunt plans to come here ON HALLOWEEN INSTEAD. And guess what? We ended up doing the exact same thing last year, but just couldn't wait that long this season and we went on Sept. 25, 2014!
* THE HAUNTING in ADRIAN is now defunct - see the first listing on the "Closed" section. Usually, we do not mention TWO haunts in one review...but in this case I have a feeling they won't mind at all...
34043 Ford Road, Westland, MI 48185
(734) 502-6026 or www.HushDetroit.com or www.facebook.com/hushdetroit
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - ALL IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE AND P-H-U-N!
Don't be afraid.
It's just science.
Science is good, right?
Not so fast... don't trust science or anybody or anything here.
It looks like a real scientific experimental laboratory.
There's an official looking logo. Must be real.
Lots of impressive old and new electronic equipment looks safe enough...but later we saw ”SPARKS” EXPLODING from an open electrical junction box!
This dynamic, young haunt has TRIPLED in size since last year and has an exclusive HOT NEW GAG THAT'S TOTALLY SMOKIN'! This same gag was actually used in the MTV Music Awards Show when Katy Perry did her thing, but you won't see any pretty divas here.
Another thing YOU WILL NOT SEE AT HUSH IS MASKS...with just one very notable exception. Great makeup and stories told with facial expressions!
After the prim and proper Dr. Phineas PHUN gives the opening spiel, he brings you into a space age-looking reception area of sorts where a girl with a WILD BLUE FACE and very natural-looking MAGENTA HAIRĀ preps you in lab protocol.
But there's something wrong with her...she speaks just like a human female...hair is nicely combed and shower-fresh...but her head rotates on a swivel-support it seems...an android would move like that actually we're thinking...what ARE they doing here?
It's too late. You're in.
THE MUTATION YOU MUST NOT SEE
Some disturbing imagery is more disturbing than others...and when lab experiments are run by madmen and psycho-girls things are bound to go wrong...it's wrong...it's WRONG...it's so horribly wrong...what that girl in the white behind the thick plexiglas on the left is doing to her sweet, loveable, cuddly, fluffy, tender Teddy Bear.
WARNING: Once you have Seen The Teddy Bear, it's too late.The only way you could have prevented it is if they had not shown it to you.
Permanent psychological damage may occur after only one viewingĀ of this sweet, loveable, cuddly, fluffy, tender, cross-species genetic nightmare Teddy Bear.
And of course, as usual per the written notice upon entry: THEY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE. It's your fault, you should know better than to go to a mad scientist's laboratory cleverly disguised as a "Haunted House."
AndĀ double shame on you...if you live anywhere near this MODERN MONTROSITY and don't go...but don't tell anybody we said so...just...HUSH...
BESTMAZE & TRAIL OF TERROR
3803 Noble Road, Williamston, MI 48895
(517) 521-2378 or www.BestMaze.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - THE CONFUSION CONTINUES / DEVIOUS SCIENCE AT ITS' BEST
HOORAY, WE FINALLY WENT INTO THE MAZE HERE!
So many times we have to skip mazes at haunts, but we made a special effort to allow time for it this trip and got the CORN MAZE CRASH COURSE DELUXE.
They've actually got it down to a science, but they're not blinded by it like Thomas Dolby.
THE PATH LESS TAKEN...OR SO YOU'D THINK
These guys have figured out the pathway structures most likely to be chosen based on human psychology, and use that knowledge to guarantee TONS OF BEWILDERED HAUNTERS that come back year-after-year to BESTMAZE!
BUT DON'T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT.
Already this year, haunters have come to BESTMAZE from as far away as THAILAND! And another troop of HAUNTERS FROM WISCONSIN travels here every year, passing almost 20 other corn mazes on the way!
The maze here is in fact a GIANT ART PIECE, so aerial pictures are proudly displayed to give a snapshot view of this massive creation every year!
The maze is NOT haunted, so it's perfect for the whole family including toddlers. A unique-to-the-industry drainage system ensures MUD FREE OPERATION RAIN-OR-SHINE!
Thanks to five observation towers, you can spend as much or as little time as you're comfortable with here. Despite the giant scale, the observation towers are never far away, along with help to find a nearby exit should you need it.
Large school groups can quickly find the occasional Lost Johnny,usually in less than a minute.
CLARIFICATION DISCLAIMER: Last year, IN NEW JERSEY, some people got "trapped" in a corn maze that had closed, and the MEDIA WENT INTO A FEEDING FRENZY with much impassioned bleating about how irresponsible mazes can be and such. BUT ONCE AGAIN, PLEASE REMEMBER:
Regardless of any story you may have heard, the maze where people got trapped in was IN NEW JERSEY...NOT MICHIGAN!!
FAMILY FRIENDLY OR FREAKED-OUT FRENZY / THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
TRAIL OF TERROR is the HAUNTED part of this attraction, and it truly lives up to its' name IN SPADES. It also takes good advantage of the corn they grow here, but in totally different ways.
It still starts with the same cool BLACK HOLE as last year, and the next room has 2 things from before, but after that THE HAUNT IS 100% NEW.
We really liked the Egyptian Room, with its authentic looking hieroglyphics and metallic-looking creature with green glowing eyes.
The tall corn surrounding the pathway perfectly hides monsters that you will never see, until the MAGIC GOTCHA MOMENT!
On the other hand, lots of things are not hiding because they're JUST WAY TOO BIG AND NOT SUPPOSED TO ANYWAY...and those were some of the most effective GOTCHA GAGS.
In classic Haunt Tradition, TRAIL OF TERROR ends with anĀ AWESOME MASSIVE BANG!
It was so cool...we just had to hide near the end to see other haunters reactions and EVERY SINGLE ONE TOTALLY JUMPED OUT OF THEIR PANTS. Now THAT'S what we want to see at a haunt!!!
YOUR OWN PRIVATE "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE"
But there's even more, as you can role-play like you're a secret agent as you make your way through a special room booby trapped with laser beams you must evade in THE VAULT LASER CHALLENGE. GREAT FOR GAMERS!
2133 Wixom Road, Wixom, MI 48393
(800) 219-0294 or www.MichigansBestHaunt.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - WILD AND SCARY!
First, a confession: We did NOT come up with the above flashy headline. We're still reeling, and trying to sift through it all...the dust had barely settled when we arrived at this BRAND NEW HAUNT TO HIT THE SCENE!
We went to DARK LEGACY on Saturday night...then the next morning at church...talking with some women after service...and one says her son just went to DARK LEGACY...we just LOVE asking the "man-on-the-street" about haunts and WILD AND SCARY is how he described it!
The journey here starts in a "bomb shelter that didn't work," with your hostess who has excellent diction and a casual demeanor that starkly contrasts some ghastly government work gone wrong she describes.
There's a "government conspiracy zombie containment unit, an abandoned hospital where the virus got out but the patients did NOT, and the cemetery..."
The custom-fabricated walls are part science, and part dungeon with giant appendages of various sorts to set the stage for lots of SCIENCE GONE HORRIBLY WRONG.
ZOMBIES AND SCIENCE can make for a dangerous mix, and you're thrust into a series of questionable-at-best experiments with cool sounding names but whose primary purpose seems to be FREAKING OUT THE VISITORS!
The hostess that preps you is pleasant enough, with excellent delivery and diction. But that's just to give you a false sense of security as you soon enough discover!
The music and sound effects are superb, and dramatically set various "feels" as your journey continues. Atmosphere is everything in haunting, and a good soundtrack is crucial!
TIP OF THE ICEBERG
This haunt has substantial resources, yet to be unleashed in the future and some custom pro audio equipment on order that we're anxious to check out!
FO - BE - E, WYANDOTTE JAYCEES
4560 Biddle Avenue, Wyandotte, MI 48192
(734) 284-3861 or www.wyandottejaycees.org/hh
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
What a nice problem to have! This haunt has no choice but to totally switch it up every year, because they have a unique partnership with the CITY OF WYANDOTTE, which allows them to use a building slated for demolition soon!
For example they used the old Wyandotte Theater before it met the wrecking ball a few years ago, but they kept as much of the original stuff for its' last hurrah as a haunted house instead of a theater!
Sometimes they get a list to choose from, and sometimes only one is available. This year's choice was the former SHOTS UP bar, and they've used the building efficiently and with proper haunt bravado.
The lead performer is a bundle of boundless nervous energy that introduces herself as A - L - I - C - E !
ANOTHER WACKY SHOW FROM THE JAYCEES.
KRAZY HILDA'S TRAIL OF TERRORS
10340 Ford Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48198
(734) 550-2001 or www.KrazyHildas.com
At Panama Hills Farm for 2014!
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2014 - TESTING FATES WATERS AND COMING UP A WINNER / NEW DIGS FOR LONG-TIME HAUNT MAKES THE SKY THE LIMIT
It never fails.
EVERY time we arrive at a haunt and find a Hearse Club there, IT'S KILLER!
This time it was members of the awesomely named HEARSIN' AROUND that we met at KRAZY HILDA'S...there's just something strange-creepy-wonderful about arriving at a haunt with these wild cadaver carriers on site!
MASTERS OF METAL / HILDA'S NAILS IT!
No, not Black Sabbath.
It's something new at Hilda's this year...A SURE WINNER...you WILL know when you see it!!!
One thing you will not see however is one of the best parts of this haunt.
It's the secret cues the actors are set up to get from each other as they use a tag-team approach for giving you WHAM BAM MULTIPLE EXTENDO SCARES, instead of isolated Gotcha-Moments!
A great soundtrack goes a long way towards CRANKING THE CREEP too and bringing strange emotions into play, especially in a wilderness setting with high quality sound equipment which you also never see. GREAT JOB, HILDA!
KRAZY HILDA'S took some chances this year.
For starters, they skipped advertising in the majors this time.
That's taking a big chance with the very future of your business...or is it?
Word-of-mouth can cancel out all the fancy advertising in the world in the flash of a Twitter send...OR...it can pack out a haunt that has ZERO advertising budget.
IT'S ALL IN THE PERFORMANCE, which includes proper pacing so there's no bottlenecking that can turn fans into fiends quickly.
So what did HILDA'S get instead of advertising?
There are some KILLER ACTORS for starters...wait...that's pretty much the MAIN THING you'll ever need for any great haunt...OK what else too?
How about some lucrative options from a super easy-going land owner (with over 100 acres!!!), who would LOVE nothing more than to see this place turn into a BRAND NEW HAUNT MECCA WITH HAYRIDES & ALL KINDS OF FAMILY FUN?
And Krazy Hilda's has taken another big step this year too, in their first year as consultants for other haunts. We won't name names, but one of them is in the Michigan city famous for being the place where everybody is a "WINNER-WINNER CHICKEN DINNER."
The journey of a lifetime starts with a single step, and this haunt could just end up running right past the pack...who did advertise this year.