Saturday, September 29, 2012

Camp Blood 2012

                It's time for a walk on the wild side, on the woody side of things.  Taking a walk through the haunted attractions at Camp Blood is always a good way to pass the time.  We decided to take our chances in the forest on Friday, September 28, 2012.  You certainly can't create ambiance like that found at Camp Blood in Carrollton, Georgia.  Nature itself has its own amazing creepiness factor when you cover it with fog and loneliness in the dark.  If you are afraid of what goes bump in the night, then wait until you hear what else happens out there.

                Prepare yourself for a lot of walking, starting from your parking spot to the ticket plaza and continuing for the rest of the night.  If you feel the need to run in fear at some point please think again, it really is in the woods and wouldn't be smart to give the monsters the advantage of your inability to see a rock or a tree root.  Uneven surfaces aren't just for dirt trails anymore and can be found within built up sets as well, so tennis shoes are a must for anyone hoping to escape unscathed.

                Camp Blood has three attractions to fear, though they are all a part of one continuous walk through.  One extra event includes a Zombie Paintball shoot that is an additional fee.  We didn't check out the paintball, but another group that was there seemed to have highly enjoyed themselves.  One of the zombies did escape from the enclosure and set out to terrorize more victims in the waiting area.  He aimed a couple of good bite attempts at us, but we managed to escape without becoming infected.  Amazing characters such as this one make the drive well worth it.  The owner of Camp Blood and his acting coordinator work very hard with their staff to ensure proper training and a high level experience for each guest.  They are always open to hearing your feedback, rather it is positive or not.  We think that they especially love to hear what you would like to see and didn't, since that gives them even more ideas to work with.  Changes can happen at any time, so don't assume that one experience there will be just the same as another. 

                Camp Blood has experienced some definite growth and improvement over the past few years.  There are always areas for haunts to show improvements in.  We would have liked it if their Claustrophobia haunt had been pitch black, rather than just dark.  Feedback such as this is much appreciated at this attraction.  They are also the type of business that works well to cross-promote with other attractions in both Georgia and Alabama.  Seeing that type of courtesy and concern for one another within the haunt industry is a wonderful thing and we hope that more attractions will take on a similar attitude.  One other way that they are working well with other haunts is in how they partnered with a company to produce a custom fog juice that is named Hog Fog.  It remains thick and consistent within the attraction, while still spreading out to cover a good deal of space.  They have other haunters using this at their businesses and they listen to their responses to the product to keep continuous improvements in mind.

                Be sure to enjoy the redneck fortune teller, carnival games, projected movie, and the gift shop while you are visiting Camp Blood.  Don't get too tied up when you go through the Asylum section this year, though you might find it difficult to leave without going crazy yourself.  When you do make it into the camp section be sure to watch out for the Boogeyman, who could be lurking anywhere.  If you make it into Claustrophobia be sure to suck it all in and watch those sharp turns.  Completing your journey will land you at the gift shop where you can check out their t-shirts and grab a cold Monster Energy Drink to keep your energy level high for the drive home.  Walking back to your car is another adventure that you still have to complete before you can really be done with the world in the woods that is Camp Blood.  It is all worth it and we hope that survival is in the cards for you.

                Camp Blood is a better than average haunted attraction that is constantly striving to give the guests exactly what they want, even if it isn't quite what they expect.  Their location is in a remote area, which is great for scares and horrible for navigation.  The searching and following of signs will all be worth it when you arrive.  We have given Camp Blood a well deserved rating of 3.75 severed heads.  We hope that you'll lose your head over them and let us know all about your experience.


Supernatural 2012

                Supernatural is a haunt in Villa Rica, Georgia that we attended on Friday, September 28, 2012.  This was their opening night and their first year (sort of).  Let's be clear, this really isn't their first year in our opinion.  Supernatural may be in its first year, but it has earlier incarnations which were known as Psycho Shack and Psycho 13.  The owners also did some previous work with Six Flags for Fright Fest.  After our experience we want to point out that our newest pet peeve is haunts that change locations and names, but are still essentially running from the premise of their previously existing haunt.  When we entered Supernatural we kept looking at each other and thinking that this felt very familiar to us.  Once we spoke with the owners we realized exactly why it felt so familiar.  We have attended this haunt in its previous forms and we were sorely disappointed.  It was our decision not to go back to it again, but we were tricked this time since the name and location were different.  Trying not to hold this against them was somewhat of a challenge.  Had we not had the special rate that they offered for their opening experience we might not have been as okay with things as we were.

                We love haunted houses and we want to help anyone who wants to hear our feedback as customers.  No, we aren't experts on haunted houses, and this isn't even a job for us.  We have a passion for attending haunts, which carries over into this hobby (okay, it's an obsession).  It is always our intent to help haunts grow and become better, though sometimes we find it hard to figure out what exactly to say.  In this case it is hard to decide how to discuss Supernatural without letting our prior bias against them have an impact, so we will just be straightforward and tell you that it is an issue. 

                When we entered the haunt we met the initial character whose job it appeared to be to attempt to scare us and perhaps tease us about it.  After his first attempt he commented, "That didn't scare you?"  We promptly said no and moved on.  Upon his second attempt was unsuccessful he again asked, "That didn't scare you either?" and we looked at him as if he were crazy.  He then called out to the other actor nearby, "This one's going to be hard to scare."  Seriously?  Did he really just say that?  Yes, he did.  Right in front of us and completely out of any character.  Someone needs to pull him aside and explain haunt acting to him...soon.  We are sure that there were some quality characters within Supernatural, but the sad part of it is that they do not stand out as memorable to us.  There was even a specific actor at the entrance who came up to a window and yelled out to us, "Get out of my house."  Sadly, we hadn't even entered the house part yet, so his attempt made no sense.  There was even a need for us to be bitten by the vampire at the door, and this doesn't make any sense with the story of the house.  There is nothing in the story that we heard about vampires, so biting us was bizarre to say the very least.  Yes, she is "biting" you in some way that is meant to leave marks from a stamp or something on you for some unknown purpose.

                The theme throughout the haunted attraction was sparse.  We can say that it was okay, but not quite good and certainly not great.   We had seen many of the set pieces before and in one case we actually walked into a room with only a set and no actor or scare.  That is always a difficult disappointment to mask.  Their work is definitely steps above black plastic sheeting walls, but it isn't fully fleshed out to keep the guest in the world that they are trying to create for them.  The storyline that goes with the haunt is also not fully matched with the sets inside of the haunt.  If they actually are, and we missed something somewhere, then it must not be well enough. 

                The best parts of this haunt involved a confusing situation with a rather confused bride, who could have waited a little longer before helping us out of our predicament.  They also have found some great ways to do dark.  Supernatural has several areas that use the absence of all light to their fullest advantage.  This is a difficult skill for many haunts, and we would love to see them capitalize on their success in this arena.  Though there were certainly areas that could be improved upon, we hope that they are going to work on them as the season progresses so that they can redeem themselves. 

                It really doesn't matter if a haunt scares you or not, so long as it entertains you.  If you aren't screaming OR laughing then you have to wonder what happened.  In this situation we were neither laughing nor screaming when we exited Supernatural.  It is possible that we were just too accustomed to the types of things that they were doing, but we have a feeling that they just have a lot of room for growth.  We have decided to rate Supernatural with 1 and 3/4 severed heads.  We hope that they will use the room which they have to grow in wisely and that we will hear wonderful things from other visitors who attend later in the season and see the changes that are made.


Netherworld 2012

                On Friday, September 28, 2012 we ventured to the Netherworld Haunted House opening night extravaganza in Norcross, Georgia.  This is one haunt that is always ready to serve you the perfect level of terror even if you are their first victims of the season.  Their new store is open on site and contains a wide variety of reasonably priced memorabilia items to remind you of the fear you felt and the laughs you shared.  With the movement of the store location into the previous stereo store location Netherworld has gained more haunt space.  This space has been well used!  This year's two haunts are Banshee and The Hive.  Though both of these are high quality haunts there is a certain extra something that Banshee brings to the table which separates it from The Hive.

                If you want to do the haunts in an order that will allow you to be amazed by each one on a similar level then start with The Hive and move on to Banshee.  However, if time is a concern for you, then we recommend trying to get in at the front of the line for Banshee and complete it before standing in the shorter line for The Hive.  Even with us being the first visitors in line for Banshee it still took us about an hour and a half to complete both attractions at Netherworld.  The line for Banshee grows quickly and should not be underestimated.  Even a line that looks reasonably short is actually substantially longer.  The renovations have added a new indoor que area before Banshee.  The line space wraps around the store and is used to display props and other items that reflect the history and style of Netherworld.  Standing in this line could never be boring.  You can move forward at your own pace and choose to allow others to pass you as you attempt, in vane, to absorb everything that is on display.  We were told by a staff member that this indoor line area can hold approximately four hundred guests, which means if you see the line outside of the building at all then you are in for quite a bit longer of a wait that you might anticipate.   Everything at Netherworld is worth the wait, so find time to take things in and see if you can survive.

                The Hive is the smaller of the two haunted attractions at Netherworld.  There have been more detailed spaces within this haunt in the past, but this year it felt as though it wasn't as complete as we have seen it before.  It seemed as though there were more strobe lights within this haunt than we are used to, which can detract from the sets and either lessen or heighten the experience.  A few times we came across spaces that felt as though they were still blank canvases awaiting their terrifying makeover.  The Hive is very familiar feeling if you are a Netherworld fan, and it is a great time to enjoy a fewer number of characters in a smaller space.  Going with friends really helps to make the situation even more entertaining than it already is.

                Banshee is the primary haunt for the 2012 season at Netherworld.  It is extremely detailed with highly realistic sets and characters.  You become a part of their world from the moment you walk through the entrance and they never want to let you go.  They want to give you a big hand in feeling as though you really belong within their environment and there are many opportunities to get pinned into position and stay with them.  It is quite possible that you will experience such a variety of scares while on this journey that you won't know which way is up and which way is down, perhaps even finding yourself beginning to wonder how you can move forward through certain spaces which seem impossible to navigate.  You never know what you will find around the next corner, and sometimes you don't really want to find out.  Your senses may betray you and have you wondering if you have actually entered into their reality rather than your own. 

                Assuming that you survive Banshee and the Hive you will have had some awe inspiring experiences.  If you get to talk to any of the characters that roam the outside of Netherworld get to know them a little.  They may not be as terrifying as they seem.  Some of these wonderful characters may even develop a relationship with the guests and join them through the haunt if they feel moved to do so.  If you see Stitches tell him we said hi (and be sure to read the fine print). 

                Overall it is quite clear that Netherworld Haunted House helps to set the standard very high for themselves as well as for others in the haunt industry.  At this time we have yet to find another haunt that reaches the same level as Netherworld, though we have found several that strive to attain excellence.  We have given Netherworld a score of five severed heads, our highest possible rating.  They are worth the time and expense of visiting and we look forward to many more visits.  They have been in business for sixteen years, which we dearly hope will be followed by many more years of frightful events.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Haunted Forest at The Buford Corn Maze

                On Thursday, September 20, 2012 we joined a group of haunt friends to experience the Haunted Forest at the Buford Corn Maze.  The Buford Corn Maze is located at 4470 Bennett Road in Buford, Georgia.  This location has three available activities: a corn maze, a hayride, and the haunted house.  For a maximum price $18 per person you can enjoy all three activities.  It is a family friendly event, though the haunt itself is certainly not recommended for younger children.

                Early in the day the Facebook page for the event updated their information to reflect that their start time would not be at 8:00 as previously stated.  They included information about how they would start the haunt at 8:20 or dark, since much of it was outside.  It was very nice to notice that they wanted their customers to be aware of the correct information as things evolved.  We continued to experience wonderful customer service throughout our visit at the location.  This made for a very enjoyable evening for us and for our friends (Happy Birthday to Ronnie from The Haunted Theater on Hill Street, Griffin).

                Arriving early was a must for us, so that we could experience as much of the location as possible.  It doesn't seem as though waiting in line would become an inconvenience at Buford Corn Maze.  Rather than stand around and wait for the haunt to open we did the corn maze and even had time for the hayride.  The maze took substantial time to complete and the hayride was rather lengthy.  Our time felt well used, rather than wasted.

                Though our intent is to review haunted attractions we frequently end up getting to experience their partner activities and give feedback regarding them as well.  The Buford Corn Maze was a great length, and we were lucky to visit when the corn was at the optimal height and density for the maze.  They have a rather cute gimmick for you to play along with, so search for the numbered plaques and solve the word puzzle as you go along.  We actually decided to go in at first without using the map and found our way through.  Doing this we ended up only missing two of the signs, so out came the map and back into the corn we went.  It was definitely worth the time and cost to enjoy this bonus while we were waiting for night to fall.

                After our time spent wandering through the corn we went on their hayride.  This was the most worthwhile part of our entire experience.  Let's start by saying that this is not a haunted hayride at this time, so don't go in expecting that.  It starts out innocent enough then proceeds to travel through some very tight woods.  You can't create an environment such as the one for that hayride, which would be perfect to haunt.  There are some surprises on the ride that may unsettle you, but not in a haunted attraction kind of way.  This is a ride through the woods, so do watch your head.  Those low hanging branches will get you if you aren't careful, but then again if you aren't careful you will give those with you something to laugh at.

                Our final adventure of the night was the haunted house, better known as The Haunted Forest.  This name may be slightly misleading, but only slightly.  You will be outside for much of the haunt, though there is a house to go through at one point.  The walls that create the pathways for much of the haunt are created from various tarps and such which were hung.  This is not a problem, especially when you know that these haunters are in their second year at this location and their previous experience is in some form of yard haunting.  Their budget is still working on increasing through profit so that they are able to do more in the future.  Keeping this in mind we noticed that this attraction was what some might refer to as a Heinz 57 Haunt, which has a variety of things going on that are not connected to a common theme.  Some areas of the haunt were definitely more developed than others, and you can avoid the more developed areas if you choose to take the "chicken route."  The house is the area of the haunt with the best, most well defined, set of scenes.  It has some good effects within it that felt as though haunters with more experience had worked on this area than the outside spaces.  It was definitely worth the trip and the cost was extremely reasonable.  They only send in groups of five or less which is a fabulous thing.  Please keep in mind when going that the ground is very uneven, so dress appropriately with tennis shoes.

                After much discussion related to a score we averaged out two opinions together to give The Haunted Forest at the Buford Corn Maze a score of 2.75 Severed Heads.  That's a pretty unusual score for us to give, as we usually try to stick to whole and halved severed heads.  We look at the scoring that we give similarly to grades in a school.  The average student is a C student, so that is around 3 Severed Heads on our scale.  The better that average student is a B student, which is around a 4 for us.  The extremely exceptional student is an A student, equaling a score of 5 from us.  Those that are slightly under average are D students, which seems to be about a 2 on our scale.  Finally those students that have a lot more room for growth and are still trying to catch up from being far behind are those students who score U (what used to be known as an F), and they are the ones that we score around 1 Severed Head.  Our ratings using Severed Heads is strictly our opinion as people who enjoy going to a wide variety of haunts each year.  We hope that you find some haunts out there that you enjoy this season and we look forward to hearing all about them.  Happy haunting...and on to the next!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thirteen Stories Haunted House 2012

{"The trial run had one incident while we were there, but it was taken care of by staff that were amazing. The customer service was exceptional, which is rare and appreciated." (from our 2011 review of Thirteen Stories Haunted House)  Read on to see how much can change in just one year.}

                On Friday, September 7, 2012 we chose to visit Thirteen Stories Haunted House located at 2975 Ring Road in Kennesaw, Georgia.  The location is just outside of Town Center Mall in a partially permanent and partially temporary set of structures.  The benefit to going on this evening was that they were offering admission at a discounted rate of $10 per person while they previewed the attraction in order to prepare for the impending haunt season.  Since this was an unfair situation to review a haunt in we decided to be very open with them when we arrived.  We presented them with our card representing us as Haunt Review and told them to amp it up for us.  Providing them with this information as we purchased our tickets left us with mixed feelings at the end.  We knew that they were aware of our presence, however we felt as though they had not truly taken advantage of this knowledge. 

                First, let us explain about what went on involving the world of technology and the customer service connected with Thirteen Stories.  The events listed online for these preview nights stated that the hours were from 7 - 10 PM on select Friday and Saturday nights in September.  We arrived just after 7:00 to find that the gate to the cue area and ticket office was still closed.  Deciding to use our time wisely we took a trip over to the mall and walked around for a bit.  When we returned to the parking area for the haunt we found that nothing had changed.  After 8 PM they finally opened the gate and let us in to purchase tickets, though they were not ready for admission into the attractions at that time.  While waiting in line we posted on one of our personal Facebook accounts about how their idea of 7:00 PM for opening was just a suggestion.  Someone logged in as Thirteen Stories and commented on the post.  They stated that nowhere did it list their opening time as 7 PM, and that it never had.  They continued on to state that their opening time was clearly listed as DARK.  Unfortunately for them we were there in line with our phones, and since we were bored, surfing Facebook.  We saw their statement and immediately took the phone, with the events pulled up to show that in fact their times did state 7 PM, to the ticket office.  It was our duty as customers to point out that they were presenting a negative attitude towards us and we were there to review them and hopefully provide them with some free positive advertising if we enjoyed their attractions.  They didn't seem too concerned with this, and that is the saddest part of all.  Their customer service created a slight bias against them from the start, and that is something that is difficult to recover from.  This incident created mixed feelings for us, especially since we gave them the advantage by telling them who we were.  We feel that having told them of our attendance in advance may actually have been the only reason that their second haunt seemed as good as it did.

                Now, let's move on from that and delve into the haunted attraction itself.  Where else would you start other than the line, of course?  There are several fantastic line actors who do everything within their power to stay in character, regardless of what sneaky little visitors such as us might try to throw at them to get them off track.  The actors were in fine form.  They did an amazing job of scaring the younger crowd that were prepared to be petrified from the moment they stepped out of their car.  Our only minor complaint about the line actors and entertainment was that one of the silicon masks had a tear located near the mouth.  There are repair kits available to take care of situations such as this, or a little blood gel could camouflage the  flaw.  On a high note, it is always nice to see a smaller haunt demonstrate their skill with monster scares for those waiting to get in.

                When we were finally allowed into the first attraction we were met by a new round of disappointment .  The haunt incorporated a great deal of blacklight 3D paint, though the glasses that you are handed are given to you in a way that doesn't fit with the setting/event that initiates you into the attraction.  Also, one of the sets of 3D glasses was mutilated.  One layer of the cardboard/paper was peeled off and it was making the glasses hang in a bizarre way.  Of course we exchanged those for better ones, but really we should never have been handed those in the first place. 

                There were many dead spaces, which were missed opportunities if you ask us (which you sort of did if you are reading this).  The actors stayed in character well through both haunts, with only one minor exception that took us out of the moment.  The delivery of their lines had many missed opportunities for humor or scare, though it didn't detract from the haunt.  When the group became split into two, with a slight gap, the actors made sure to provide the scares to both parts of the group.  The sets were more detailed in the second haunt than in the first, but there are a few areas within the first attraction that had a great deal of potential to explode into something more with a little more work.   The girl ahead of us in line who had been completely terrified before walking into the first haunt actually came out of it and said, "That was lame."

                If they would sell an individual ticket for their second haunt, or perhaps put all of their effort into the second haunt and do away with the first one, they would do better.  They have ideas, but it feels to us that the temporary structure haunt that starts the experience is a waste of the available skills and funds.  Perhaps if they did this then their finale would exist in the second attraction.  The ending of the second haunt was so non-existent that we ended up going the wrong direction (back stage).  We kept waiting for the big ending and eventually realized that it wasn't coming.  At the exit to the parking lot we met a doll character who interacted with us, but didn't exactly encourage us to move forward.  While she wasn't scaring us forward she was running out of things to say.  We were all just standing there waiting for the "finale" that never happened.

                We rate the haunted attractions that we visit on a scale of 0 - 5 severed heads.  Five severed heads is our highest rating, and we really try not to rate a haunt at lower than one severed head.  After much discussion we were in agreement on this haunt's rating.  Thirteen Stories received two out of five severed heads, though we believe their customer service should drop them down to less than one severed head.  If we take the haunt and rate it without factoring in the service then we can see it as a good experience for people who want a scare, though they don't frequent a lot of haunts each year.  If you are someone who is a huge fan of haunted houses and you visit a lot of them each year, then this one might not provide you with the feeling you are seeking.  We would love to hear your thoughts on this haunt and any other haunt that you visit.  Please feel free to contact us through our blog or our Facebook page.  Happy haunting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A New Season, 2012

It's time for a new haunt season to start shortly. 
Where are we going?  Wouldn't you like to know!
We definitely have plans.  We may reveal some clues as we get closer to certain trips.
It would be wonderful to have some of our followers get to join us as we visit haunts.
Our biggest challenge is that we prefer that haunts not be aware that we are present until we have finished our visit.

What can we tell you?
We will be visiting haunts in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina this year.
Yes, of course Netherworld is on the list....ALWAYS!
We will be visiting some haunts that we have visited before (other than Netherworld).
You can keep up with us on here, as well as on our Facebook page.
Haunt Review on Facebook

Dragon Con 2012

We had a lot of fun at Dragon Con 2012.  For the first time in years Misty didn't have to work as a volunteer, so we took full advantage of our Eternal Memberships.  Here are just a few pictures from our weekend.
Misty had a feeling that RJ Haddy, from Syfy's Face Off Season 2, was holding up bunny ears.  She wasn't right, but he was making faces at the camera to mess with her.  He was a blast to get to know.

Bryan got the great shot with RJ Haddy.  (Misty whines about how unfair that is, but she still loves her picture since it is unique.)

Bryan and Misty with their friends as Secret Service for Kathulu (is that how you spell it?).  Apparently he's running for president since there never seem to be any good candidates.  Loved that we were walking in front of the Netherworld crew.  They were a lot of fun (as always).

Dragon Con brings out the largest crowds.  The parade was enjoyable and we were surprised that our feet weren't killing us afterwards.

Bryan and Misty, ready for the Zombie Prom.

Misty's gradual transition zombie make-up for Dragon Con's Zombie Prom.