13245 Dixie Highway, Holly Michigan 48442
(248) 894-6558 or www.RottenManor.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2015 - SURPRISE BREAKOUT FIRST YEAR HAUNT!
You won't believe what this place looks like! The FABULOUS FACADE reminds us of like The Addams Family or The Munster's houses but on serious steroids!
First we saw a nun standing on a box, rotating back and forth mechanically in a tightly defined repeating pattern. But she turns out to be real, and warns not to enter this evil place where thousands of souls have been trapped in the hollowed out corpses of puppets and dolls!
The whole building appears to be breathing, thanks to some special lighting projectors.
This is ONE GIANT MANSION, so it's a long journey to explore it all!
Good ominous music and sound effects throughout, and we really liked a big surprise with the bloody faced dolly girl with pigtails and her prim-and-proper long white dress. GOTCHA!
Two other standout actors are the alien-like creature that is all black with no facial features in the mannequin room, and the super acrobatic girl in a doll room. She walks on all fours, but bent over backwards...then she scoots over and looks you right in the eye!
This is a very strange mansion, with even stranger metallic tunnels that conjure up intense industrial imagery and op-art like symmetry at the same time. We've NEVER seen this done at any haunt before.
The longest of these crazy tunnels is 90 feet long! The resulting natural reverberations are stunning, both from the monster action and the shrieks of delight from happy haunters like us!
After you escape the mansion and its strange paths and infrastructure, a cool forest walk follows to round out the experience with that special ambience that ONLY actually being in the woods can give.
MOVE OVER, RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL...THE NEW KID IS IN TOWN AND IS ROTTEN TO THE CORE!
1318 Wildwood Avenue, Jackson, MI 49202
(517) 936-5834 or www.jxunderworld.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2015 BIGGER...BADDER...BETTER THAN EVER!
There are TWO big additions for 2015 - a brand new adventure called "JACKSON'S UNDERGROUND" and the 4th floor has been opened up.
The entry points for both parts of the haunt are now all the way upstairs, right next to each other. The main waiting area broke out into an all-out dance party while we were there, thanks to some cool jams the on-site DJ was spinning. He also played the fight songs for both U of M and MSU, because of a big upcoming football game and the crowd went wild!
When we heard the 4th floor was now open, the first thing we wanted to know is if the bridge would now go across that much higher than last year?
Moot question really, cuz we already know this haunt operator goes by the philosophy of GO BIG OR GO HOME and GO ALL THE WAY OR NOT AT ALL and sure enough we found ourselves with a hostess on the bridge that seems A MILE HIGH! AWESOME.
The haunt is still way loud and crazy, yet with excellent sound isolation between rooms and high quality sound reproduction without distortion even at extreme sound pressure levels. That only comes from using large pro audio power amplifiers, such as Crown or QSC brands for example.
Totally new this year is the ultra dark and ultra scary JACKSON'S UNDERGROUND. They give your group leader a red glow stick, supposedly to help you find you way in the darkness that's ahead.
But the place is SO dark the glow stick's main purpose becomes serving as a homing beacon for the monsters-in-hiding to pinpoint your location. They can play you in a cat and mouse game at will, and they always win!
You WILL get lost here, as we did many times, but there's select lit scenes too like our favorite featuring GIANT BIGGER-THAN-LIFE SIZE CREEPY DOLLS.
THE BEHEMOUTH IN JACKSON GETS BIGGER AND WAAAY MORE SCARY FOR 2015!
HAUNTED FARM OF TERROR
28405 26 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 203-7222 or www.HauntedFarmOfTerror.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2015 - PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER ON TAP AT FARM FAVORITE
There's some twisted intellect that we absolutely loved in the walk thru haunt this year at HAUNTED FARM OF TERROR!
They throw so many wild seemingly on-the-fly concepts at you with amazing delivery - there's no masks to cover up the all-telling facial expressions of the goons and weirdos here!
My partner's favorite of the crew was "Ricky," who she fell in love with instantly! Remember guys...attraction is not a choice that girls make. It can NOT be induced by physical compliments or fancy dinners and such...it's triggered by emotions created by flipping the right psychological switches in a girls's mind.
And "Ricky" tripped all the right switches so fast her head was swimming! He even got to the point where he could playfully hold his chain around her neck - AND SHE LOVED IT! GREAT STUFF.
Another stand-out favorite actor was the girl with highly colorful makeup, who also is an expert at tripping switches...in GUYS! BINGO.
One thing that really blew us away was a large circular gas chamberyou are placed into, which sounds horrible but ends up being A TOTAL GAS!
The hayride delivers high intensity thrills like no other, starting with an amazing acrobatic move from an actor who does a flying reverse body flip and then leaps onto the cart!
From there a forest full of monsters in hiding takes over, and an enthusiastic team on the cart keeps the adrenaline pumping.
One-of-a-kind creatures and machines fill the woods, ranging from small to massive. The props are largely made from farm equipment that's been re-purposed to amazing effect!
The hayride host also cues the music with split-second precision. The songs have been selected for lyrics and feelings that match various scenes and/or story lines. SMART MOVE!
There's lots more to do here too! There's a LIVE ZOMBIE SHOOT, or you can dial it down and watch scary movies on a big screen in the theater area with plenty of chairs. If you're hungry, the ROADKILL CAFE will obliterate your hunger pangs with awesome tasty treats!
A GIANT WINNER, FROM START TO FINISH
SCAREFEST SCREAM PARK
61288 Gratiot at 28 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 749-6666 or www.ScarefestScreamPark.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2015 - HAUNT MEGAPLEX HOT SPOT ADDS ALL NIGHTERS TO LINEUP
This is a multi-haunt, with a hayride and several walk thru attractions as well including the historic CASTLE OF THE DEAD which has been re-vamped and upgraded yet again to great effect.
Our hayride cart had the same fabulous actress as last year, but her makeup, persona, and story were completely different. She's WACKY WONDERFUL, yet maintains excellent diction and banters with the crowd with playful teasing that had everyone cracking up! GREAT STUFF.
We didn't have time for the TERROR ZONE HAUNTED MAZE, but we loved the CARNIVAL OF THE DEAD HAUNTED FOREST WALK. It features a new wild giant creature that stages multi-attacks, and is a variation on giant puppets but with an embellishment we've never seen before! WAY COOL JUNIOR.
There's even a bar here, with live music from bands like DIGITAL LOVE and SHORT ON SHAME.
A NEW FRONTIER EMERGING
But perhaps the biggest news here this year is the ADDITION OF HAUNTED CAMPOUTS, which were meticulously planned out to great success on all fronts.
Over 300 HAPPY HAUNT CAMPERS attended this event, which took place completely on the private, patrolled grounds of SCAREFEST SCREAM PARK already in full swing.
This kept things secure and safe, despite the crazy nature of this beast! SMART PLANNING, AS THEY CONSIDERED "HOW IS THIS LIKELY TO END?"
So they scared the crap out of all the campers, then they're off to tell campfire stories before sleeping under the stars in the fresh country air. Then a hearty breakfast to re-start the engines, and you've got lots of happy campers that may just tell their friends they should go too next time!
HAUNTED PRISON EXPERIENCE - SUPERNATURAL III THE WITCHING HOUR
Ohio State Reformatory
100 Reformatory Road, Mansfield, Ohio 44905
(419) 360-5689 or www.hauntedx.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2015 - EXCRUCIATINGLY CREEPY HAUNTED PRISON RE-DEFINES THE TERM "HAUNTED HOUSE"
This one is the REAL DEAL. NOT KIDDING. A bit of history first:
This is the now defunct Mansfield Reformatory.
It's haunted. And get this:
Guinness Book of World Records came calling - THEY TURNED THEM DOWN!
The Travel Channel came calling - THEY TURNED THEM DOWN!
This haunt has absolutely no need for any further recognition than from the many thousands of ecstatic haunters that flood this AMAZING PIECE OF WICKED HISTORY THAT IS ALSO A TRULY BEAUTIFUL BUILDING!
From the outside, that is. The total building size is 255,000 square feet, and it looks like a king's castle with masterful artistic flair. Surely such a wonderful looking palace would be a joy to live in, right?
Wrong. DEAD WRONG.
Local folklore refers to this as DRACULA'S CASTLE, and behind the happy looking facade untold human suffering was endured in tiny prison cells packed like sardines in a parcel of land about the size of a football field.
The cells are stacked 5 and 6 high, and climate control was virtually non-existent. FREEZE OR BURN? It depended on the season, and where in the maze you got stuck.
LIFE'S GIANT LEMON / TURN THE TABLES AND MAKE LEMONADE!
Eventually, the barbaric madness had to end and a GIANT OPPORTUNITY presented itself to a man with a GIANT VISION of taking haunted attractions to a new level that existed so far only in his twisted imagination.
The end result will give you a SUPER CREEPY EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER WE'VE EVER ENCOUNTERED or can imagine ever having again!
At the entrance is a "GHOST CAM" projected on a large screen to the left of the first staircase. A night vision camera has been set up in one of the most paranormal active halls, where a spectral figure is often seen floating. What a fitting start to a journey into what most would describe as the MOST DEEPLY DISTURBING haunt ever!
Fabulous sound throughout, with amazing natural reverberation. A low pitched droning swooosh permeates the area, with thunder and lightning occasionally accented by synchronized bright lights.
When the "lightning" strikes, you clearly see the dilapidated condition of these tiny hell holes of despair and doom.
Most of the haunt is dimly lit by colored incandescent bulbs with metallic reflectors, with strobes and various special effects / gobo projectors thrown in to mix it up at strategic spots.
But it's not all doom and gloom, at times getting whimsical like with the CIRCUS ROOM and a special screen tribute to a favorite actor of theirs. SUPER SILLY!
NOT "BUSINESS AS USUAL"
The journey starts in the administration area of this structure, but the offices have been taken over by escaped inmates and goons of all shapes, sorts, and sizes. Lots of staircases and hallways take you exploring a wide variety of rooms which are all done very well, but still pale in comparison to the piece de resistance that awaits...
Any smart show operator saves the best for last, and here it's the actual prison cell block HELL HOLES and finally the basement where thousands of lost souls were forced to endure hideous conditions!
The first thing that hit us when we arrived in the main cell block area was dizziness, looking up at how high the ceilings are!
The exterior wall features beautifully ornate stacked windows, but their beauty only hides the incredible ugliness inside. What little sunlight actually reached the inmates only served as a cruel tease, reminding them of the freedom they exchanged for relentless physical and psychological torture.
Many died horrible deaths here, so paranormal investigators flock to this with mile long waiting lists but summer day time tours are available too.
There are literally thousands of possible hiding places for the actors, including the prison cells themselves which are used to powerful effect.
ZOMBIE HELPER - JUST ADD ELECTRICITY
But with so much area to cover there's no way to have actors throughout, so a small army of surprisingly effective animatronics fills in many gaps to keep the action going. The dim lighting ensures you have no idea you're activating a display that springs to life at just the right moment!
We've been hearing about this haunt for years, and looking back it was on the back burner for waaaaay too long because the HAUNTED PRISON EXPERIENCE re-defines the very thing that defined this website to begin with!
Additional note: The operator of this haunt is also a recognized paranormal book author, and helped Public Broadcasting System (PBS) with documenting this amazing place for a TV show.
ABANDON HAUNTED HOUSE
19400 Allen Road, Melvindale, MI 48122
(734) 686-1884 or www.PlayAtlantis.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2015 - THE STUFF LEGENDS ARE MADE OF
This haunt is only in its first year, and yet already has quite a history that's the stuff goosebumps are made of - FOR REAL.
During the first walk thru in the conception / development stage here, the owner took a video for reference. His concern at the time was logistics as to placement of props, actor pathways and such.
But logic came to a screeching halt, when he reached the highest point and his eyes and video camera clearly caught a BALL OF LIGHT MATERIALIZING and then travelling some impossible routes before exiting through a window.
And get this - the moment it hit the window it again suddenly changed directions and angled UP TO THE STARS IN THE SKY!
We saw the raw video footage of this ourselves, and if you ask nicely they might show this hair-raising stuff to you too.
This is the kind of story that gets told and re-told, potentially becoming a popular new URBAN LEGEND of sorts...
OK, OK...but what about the haunt itself?
We found it to be a well-oiled new machine, with all the placements and cues going off without a hitch.
Timing can make or break a sketch / gag. In the show we saw, there were all hits and no misses!
The haunt stays true to many classic Old School values to powerful effect, with great organ music and loud scary noises both recorded and live.
Much of this is very dark and loud, but they always know right where you're at. So they can easily surprise you themselves, or by localized wall banging and such.
A series of carpeted ramps takes you up and down through the haunt.
Our favorite spot was also the location of the UNKNOWN BALL OF LIGHT mentioned earlier. While ascending a ramp, you see what appears to be a large double window facing the woods. But when you get close you find it's a rear projected zombie movie, and another ramp continues upward again.
Excellent monster interaction throughout, great sound, and we really liked the VERY DARK AND MYSTERIOUS STAR ROOM. NAILED IT!
A BIG FIRST YEAR SPLASH FOR A NEW DOWNRIVER HAUNT
BATE'S HAUNTED SAWMILL AND JC'S AXE HOUSE
7240 State Road, Millington, MI 48746
(989) 860-5257 or www.facebook.com/Bates-Haunted-Sawmill-153544527999712/timelin e/
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2015 - OLD SCHOOL WISDOM STILL A SURE WINNER
There's literally infinite choices to haunt operators as to how to craft a haunt that will genuinely thrill the ever demanding public.
Advanced technology can be impressive, but more than anything else it's PEOPLE THAT SCARE PEOPLE in a haunt.
You can never go wrong getting back to the core basics of haunting - or as many would say "OLD SCHOOL" and that's exactly what BATE'SĀ delivers!
JC'S AXE HOUSE is a total departure from the main haunt, and is very dark and very spooky with lots of fog to further confuse you.
Your only salvation comes from strings of LED lights dimly appearing above. The monsters know precisely where you are, but you're clueless as to what and who is coming next or where!
Animatronics and fancy eye candy displays have their place, but CAN NEVER DELIVER A SCARE like the passionate crew at BATE'S do!