Thursday, October 25, 2012

Underworld Haunted House 2012

                Cross the River Styx and join the evil that lies within Underworld Haunted House in Macon, Georgia.  Immerse yourself in scenes where F.E.A.R. takes on a life of its own and attempts to claim you as its next victim.  Though you are told not to run, you may run into some creatures encouraging you to get out.  That's the one thing that really does need to be worked on here, and after we talked with management we got the impression that they might be correcting that problem immediately.  I mean really, who pays to get in somewhere and then doesn't think it ironic that they are constantly screamed at to get out?  With that out of the way you get a great impression of the scenes which have been carefully laid out for you.  Sometimes you need to choose your own path wisely, hoping for the best.  You might end up getting the runs rather than running, in which case there are multiple bathroom stalls from which to choose from.  Just watch out, some of them are already occupied with dwellers who don't like being disturbed while doing their business.  Who does?  We should warn you that when you finally think that you have survived you will find out very shortly how wrong you were.  Diminutive hellions rise from the Underworld to take over and make you into one of them, which is perhaps the most frightening prospect ever to some.  Since it can get a little hot in the Underworld, you might want to keep your eyes open so that you can figure out where all of that heat is coming from.  Check out Underworld Haunted House as we rate them above average with three and a half severed heads out of five.  We see a lot of potential to scare the crap out of some folks, and find additional uses for their multiple bathroom stalls.

Forsyth Fear Factory 2012

                Are you looking for a good haunt to take your children to so that you can find out if they can handle it?  We have just the haunt for you!  Forsyth Fear Factory, in the city of Forsyth, Georgia is located in a Jumping Joey's business that specializes in those inflatable bouncy houses that kids enjoy so much.  On Friday and Saturday nights in October they transform into a haunted house that even includes some pint sized ghouls.  Their ideas are unique in some areas, and we definitely give them credit for reaching outside of the box and trying to put a little twist on some basic haunted house scares.  Even though this was their first year doing a haunt they got creative with it.  We do regret to say that it took them a long time to open and be fully ready for us to enter after their scheduled opening time, but they were polite and apologetic about it.  This isn't the haunt that you go to and expect a scare if you are someone who goes to a lot of haunts and seeks that adrenaline rush, but it is a good place to take your own little ghouls in order to find out if they can handle some startles.  Since this isn't our usual type of haunt we have to be honest and state that it scores about one and a half severed heads out of five on our scale, and that's mainly because of a certain low profile startle that we simply weren't expecting from them.  Take your kids trick-or-treating and maybe even call to see if they would be allowed to go through in their costumes.  As an adult you might enjoy shooting at some zombies once the kids have had their fun (for an additional cost, of course).


Guest Review: Trail of Terror in Suwannee, GA 2012

As a member of the Haunt Industry it’s very difficult to scare me. I tend to go through haunts with a jaundiced eye. That being said, overall I was pleased with the experience we had at Trail of Terror in Suwanee Georgia.

This haunt is a two attraction event on the grounds of an historic Schoolhouse. I haven’t been able to find much info on the school but it’s an old (early 1900’s) building that makes a wonderful visual set piece. Unfortunately, due to damage the owners of the Haunt are unable to utilize the space for guests but it’s a great back drop and a spooky “character” to the Haunt proper.

The Haunt is divided into two attractions: Asylum and Zombie Outbreak.

Zombie Outbreak is an interactive attraction. We went through this haunt alone (just the two of us) so I didn’t get a chance to watch other guests reactions, which would have been a nice litmus test. We stepped into the outdoor maze and were outfitted with authentic looking SWAT gear with a “zombie virus” scope…that only affects the zombies.
J We were given the standard haunt rules and then set loose to bag some infected creatures.

The Actors at Trail of Terror are primarily volunteers and the energy these young people exhibited was evident and “infectious”. They were fast and on us constantly. We got a lot of good target practice and on several occasions I had to leap over a fallen “walker”. The maze was not ornate…black walls, industrial type oil barrel, simple hiding spots…but the actors made it a fun experience. The simplicity of set was made up for by the exuberant zombies. I only wish I could have kept a head or two for over my fireplace. This is a maze that could take as long as you were willing to shoot, but we moved through it in about 10 minutes.

We then moved on to Asylum. We were lucky because we went through with a group of three, two men and a woman. We let them go ahead so that I could gauge their reactions. This is also an outdoor trail that utilized some of the ambient buildings on the property as well as sets built out of found items. It gave the impression of a broken down compound of battered buildings and nicely done. “Old Sparky” made an appearance as well as some very convincing mental patients. Within the barn setting there was a scene that displayed the victim/attacker scenario quite well and I found out later that the female actor was very new to the Haunt world. Kudos!

Again, these mostly volunteer actors displayed an amazing amount of energy and excitement. Some of them truly seemed on the unstable side…and I loved that. The actors would show up, disappear, and then reappear further down the trail. My hat is off to them as working an outdoor haunt is sometimes very difficult. The other woman in our group was startled quite a few times and laughed and squealed quite a lot. Clearly, the group had a good time. This attraction is a guided tour and took about 15 minutes to traverse.

The drawbacks to Trail of Terror are few:
During the Asylum portion I had one actor do something that I believe was a mistake due to lack of experience. He walked up behind me and screamed directly into my ear. I know that when a fellow haunter comes through actors are inclined to amp it up to try and scare us (which is practically impossible) and it’s frustrating for them not to get a reaction, so I give him the benefit of the doubt on that.
The street presence is very minimal. We actually drove past the entrance the first time and had to make a U-turn. We were unsure exactly where to go once we parked, but finally found that there were torches further up the dirt road that let us know we were headed in the right direction. It would be nice to have an actor or a plain clothes employee there just to let you know you’re headed the right way.
Finally, I would love it if the Asylum portion could be actor driven rather than guided. There is something about walking through the woods towards the mystery of the haunt that can be quite scary. Having the Creatures propel you from behind and to the side rather than the guide leading you would be creepy.

The price was reasonable for a Date Night– $13 for Asylum, $10 for Zombie Outbreak or a Combo Ticket for $20.

I’m basing my score on the average of 5 criteria with a maximum of 5 points each: Actors, Sets, Scares, Value & Ease in Finding the Haunt. Therefore, I’m giving Trail of Terror 4 severed heads out of 5.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Review: Haunted Forest at Bufford Corn Maze 2012

     I went thru the Haunted Forest opening weekend and completely agreed with your review. You are so right about the hayride, best part out there. Went thru again with my fiance for date night and what a change from opening weekend.
      Sadly they have now watered the best part, the house, down making the whole thing suitable for middle schoolers. Let's start from the beginning. As you walk thru the entrance you notice you now walk thru black plastic curtains darkening your fiance didn't go last time and I told her what a great touch but that is where it has ended. The first scene had an original character in the scare, it was great. That has now been reduced to a classic movie character. Gone are the creepy cemetary girls that were a great element.
      Next is the house, gone is the green fog at the entrance and the jack o lantern face lit up that you could see thru the fog. The front is now completely covered in store bought web thus losing the appeal of a creepy looking house. Inside- the first room unchanged, the next room the strobes not pulsing fast at all. Losing the look it once had. The next room had crying sounds and a widow in black, she wasn't there. The next room has a mannequin right at eye level of a ten year old perhaps. It is the first thing you see when you walk in, this was the room with blacklight. It is placed right in front of a bookshelf so it can't be missed. There is also a light shining thru the floor so the room isn't as dark to make the blacklight really pop. This light coming up from the floor is in the next room as well. I understand this is a family friendly corn maze and atmosphere but perhaps the phrase, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" doesn't apply here.
      There is an elementary school across the street so I guess they needed to make adjustments.
I would now lower this haunt to two stars if adults are going, my advice get on the hayride. Sorry haunted forest is was way creepier opening weekend.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Guest Review: Terror Train at Six Flags Over Georgia 2012

      My daughter who is 16 and myself went to opening preview night for Six Flags Frightfest for season passholders. Last year was the first year for Terror Train and it was awful, one head out of five would have been generous. This year I had no intention of going until I saw one word on the poster- reimagined. I view haunts in terms of scare, detail, and value. Terror Train is an additional fee of $10, was it worth a second trip out of the station?
     This year when you purchase your ticket they ask you to select a time in which to line up to ride. I thought a little odd but there is a reason. When our time approaches we get to the station. They check your time and have all with the same time come in and up to the gate to enter the train. The conductor comes out and tells a story about the town we are about to travel thru and one we will have to go around. It is a little long of a story but it is a nice set up.
      There are two conductors and our storyteller does most of the narration. Of course the tracks have been messed up and we head to Bloodtown, the town we were supposed to go around. Quickly you learn this is not last years ride. This was unbelievable. The sets were very well done, the actors are right on their marks. Last year the train stopped at the next station, bonus- it is now round trip! The actors come to the train, walk along with the train, perhaps get on the train and chase the train which was unexpected. The story line is very complete from start to finish. There are two surprise to keep the momentum moving.
     This trip was very well thought out, I can say the best Six Flags Over Georgia has offered in recent years. Even when you get off the train officers are waiting with clipboards asking if you would provide a statement of what you saw. It is all in the details folks that sets a haunt apart from others. Absolutely worth ten dollars instead of a funnel cake. Value, yes- entertaining, definitely- details yes, scary- not for my daughter and I, but we have been doing this a long time. However, people on this train were screaming and one scene shocked a bunch of people. This train trip is very memorable where you would recommend to others and talk about. Out of five heads, this train ride I am giving four heads.

- Rock

Guest Review: Paranoia 2012

Review of Paranoia, by Suzan and Joe B.

We found that Paranoia is in Alpharetta/Roswell area concealed in a strip mall. Since we knew nothing of this Haunt, we looked at their website for information on the type of house or story line to have something to go by when visiting. Unfortunately there is no synopsis, no hint as what the back story is. You do see the two House names, "Trauma Center" and "The Darkside".

Upon finding the location there were several Arrows pointing around back to an ally and Box Trailer with video/slide show on the side and Music playing very loud as if there were hundreds of people there to play over the noise. There were only 5 of us outside. Picking up our tickets was quick and the very nice ghoul behind the counter was very helpful with information. We moved on to get in line to enter "Trauma Center", when we climbed to the top of the steps just outside the door we found a few people in line before us and waited for our turn to enter the building. Fifteen minutes later we found out the real line was inside as we got our chance to enter through the doors, which is where there was large group of people in the waiting area and on a big screen was a classic Slasher movie playing to keep you entertained as you wait for your group to enter. The Hostess was doing a good job of keeping the guest interested and setting up anticipation of the scares to come. Fifteen minutes more flown by and our chance to enter has come. Anticipation of the first scare was building as we wound our way through the corridors to find the not so enthusiastic creature there waiting.

This is a very large space in which so much could be done, but if it weren't for the name "Trauma Center" you really wouldn't have known what you were walking through. There were lots of large sets that seem to be underdressed and not enough light to really get an idea of whose scaring you and why they would be. The Volunteer Actors were really sparse and far apart, therefore it was hard for them to really work a proper scare for each guest coming through, lots of missed opportunities and it did seem at times they didn't even want to get off the floor for an attempt. This house has great potential if they had more actors and interaction in the hallways instead of just the constant winding around. The best room is where the girl bends over backwards and flails about, very creepy, and she stayed with you as you walked through never giving up the character. the Finale was missed completely, all the sudden your just at the end.

"The Darkside" is in the ally, you actually pass by it to get to the main ticket counter and "Trauma Center", a Gypsy like Woman was working the door, a little on the docile side and could have been more animated and vocal. Here we entered, starting off in darkness with just a wisp of light to give you the general Idea of direction. You can hear voices but they were far away, opportunities to work with night vision to get close to the guest and whisper in their ears would have seriously increased the fright. As the light vanished we were winding our way around the maze holding on to a rope to show us the way, there were again missed opportunities for shock and scares, everything seemed far away and not focused.

Overall not impressive, but it could be. Plenty of potential. I give this house 3 out of 5 severed heads

Monday, October 15, 2012

Guest Review: Paranoia 2012

      Friday night a friend and I took a visit to Paranoia in Roswell, Georgia. When I go thru a haunt I view it in terms of scare, details and value. Paranoia is $22 a person for two haunts. I look at it as $50 for date night if you include gas to get there. If you visit their facebook page or view their posters the graphics are great. It really gets you pumped about what may be taking place or about to view if you go, or does it?
      Upon arrival, we walk to the ticket booth. Take note, there is a sandwich board with an arrow pointing the way to the ticket booth and entrance. The ticket area sets the mood. Dimly lit, blacklights, even our ticket person had glow in the dark nail polish, a nice touch. When you get your tickets you have two haunts to choose from, Trauma and The Darkside. We chose Trauma first. You walk up and enter a holding area as you wait for you party to go thru. They had a horror movie playing while you wait and an actor walk the line. This actor also checked your tickets. A big thing for me is to stay in character, which he constantly went in and out of character. He would have his stare down pat until asked a question and come out of it, answer, and go back into it causing people to laugh who were waiting in line. The doors open and it was our group's turn to go in.
     The rooms were well thought out decor wise. This house has a lot of space, you know this because you constantly are walking down a lot of dark halls until you get to your next scene. The actors timing was way off. My friend and I were in the front of the line and missed a lot. The scare or act would take place for the back of our group. Many times I had to slow down, stop, or even turn around completely in hopes of seeing a scene play out. I perhaps would have enjoyed Trauma a lot more if you subtracted all the dark corridors/hallways. This would have kept you in perspective of being in a Trauma center the whole time yet then it may have been a ten minute haunt. The finale of this room, I waited, I walked slow, very slow to the exit you can clearly see and nothing. Perhaps they were on a break.
      Darkside- Your hostess stays in character and tells you not to run as she checks your ticket. No smiles coming out of her as she leads you in. The actress in this first scene was incredible. It was different, well thought out, creepy, this woman deserves a raise. There is a slight mistep in the production of this scene on exactly when you are to move forward but very well done. Her last words to you set up for a great storyline. However it is sadly not followed through. Your next room is another dark hallway. This time you hear voices in the darkness instruct you what to do. I love this idea and continue. You enter the next room and once again the timing is so off we missed probably the second best scene in this haunt. The party we were paired with had to tell us what happened. The instructions we were given in the room before only lasted two rooms. They could have ran with a great opportunity and lost it. More dark hallways, this place loves dark hallways. Towards the end I made a wrong turn and entered their back area. I turn around to what will be our final room. The main actor in here was fixated on a blond woman in our group and taunted her until we exited never causing a rise out of her or paying attention to the rest of us.
      The Darkside had so much potential, if they would have stuck with the introduction storyline this could have been incredible. Did I ever see what was in their advertising? Sadly I did not, not even close. Paranoia has potential, but right now it is average. I would give Paranoia 3.25 heads out of five.
- "Rock"

Scarowinds at Carowinds Amusement Park 2012

                Three years ago we decided to take a weekend and go visit some haunts around the area of Charlotte, North Carolina.  On that trip we did the VIP experience for Scarowinds at Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte.  On THAT trip we had a great time and really enjoyed the food and fun with some of the characters.  So, you noticed how I said "THAT trip" did you?  Well, we went again this year.  On Friday, October 12, 2012 we thought it would be a wonderful idea to go back to a haunted attraction where we had experienced a good time in the past. see....Okay, there's no getting around it.  It may not have been the best idea that we have ever had, but you can judge that for yourself. 

                Scarowinds is broken down into multiple experiences which are themed differently.  There were four scarezones throughout the park and another eight mazes.  They also have three shows that are designed to match the evening's festivities.  It should be noted that Carowinds sells two different tickets at this time of year and they do clear out the park from the daytime customers before switching over to the scarier side of things.  This year we did go through every single option that was offered at Scarowinds, and we can give you our thoughts on them as well as our overall experience.

                Let's start with the hotel. The Quality Inn that is across the street from the entrance to Carowinds was great.  Their complimentary breakfast included items such as bacon, eggs (scrambled or hard boiled), cereals, oatmeals, biscuits, sausage gravy, and you could make your own waffles.  There was more than that, but it already sounds great for a hotel breakfast, right?  The beds were comfortable and everything was clean.  The wi-fi was reliable, as well.  We highly recommend them for your trip there if you need a hotel.

                We are happy to report that Carowinds has fixed the parking issues that were apparent three years ago when we visited, so we give them credit for that.  Exiting at the end of the night still seemed to need a little work, but we were going so close that it didn't bother us.  Ticket scanning and security were top notch and courteous.  We could tell that they were trying to ensure you had a pleasant start to your evening, or at least lulled you into a false sense of security about what was to come later.

                If you want to be there when the park opens be prepared to stand around after you get through the ticket plaza.  You'll get some quality time with the cast of characters, which is the best experience you will have seeing them all night.  There is a small introduction when they prepare to let you proceed into the park, but we keep missing seeing it from the front since we are usually on the edge of the crowd just chomping at the bit to get inside and get going (last time we missed it because we were VIP and got dinner and early admission into three haunts before they opened the gates for others).  It's not that important, and can easily be overlooked, as we seem to.  We did notice that the crowds seemed to be heavier on this trip than they were three years ago at the same time of year, so we can anticipate that they will continue to grow throughout the season and be larger this time of year next season.

                The park was very clean and the general decorations were very good.  We were saddened that we couldn't find an offering in advance for the same VIP package which we had purchased before, so we roamed with the crowds who were waiting to run in and get started.  Sorry, we don't run.  We'll get there and get in line when we get there.  It'll all still be in the same spot once we get there.  It's not as though we'll have to wait in line, since it seems that almost every haunt they do is running what looks like a conga line through it.  Yes, that's right.  We weren't really going in small groups through most of the haunts, and that drastically impacts the experience.  There was one that was amazing with the group size and timing, but we will talk about that one more during its moment in the spotlight.

                We had heard somewhere that the new management for Carowinds was trying to improve things to be somewhat more "Disney like" for service.  They are headed in the right direction with this.  The cleanliness of the park, the friendly customer service, and the free small cups of ice water available anywhere that serves beverages are some of the little touches that make you feel more valued as a customer, and we applaud them for their efforts to improve their park for the patrons.

                Now, let's get down to what you really want to know about.  After all, it has taken long enough to get to this point.  Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first.  They have three "shows" for you to attend at Scarowinds.  No, we didn't say enjoy, sit, or see.  We were carefully choosing our words for a reason.  The first of the shows is located right at the front after you enter.  It is Creatures of the Night.  This is a singing show without a storyline.  The singing really isn't even that good.  It's a very small venue outside with benches to sit on if you are among the few who get there while seats are available.  We don't think that finding a seat will be a problem if you want to see it, since we saw a lot of people get up and leave once the singing started.  It was disappointing and we don't recommend starting your visit with it.  If you want to sit down later in the night and rest, then by all means grab a bench and listen for a bit.

                If you want something a little more involved you could go to the back side of the park and see Blood Drums.  This musical review is aiming for something similar to the Broadway production by the name of Stomp, but it is missing something.  There was canned music playing behind the percussion, which made it hard to tell if the musicians on stage were actually performing much of the music or not.  They did have an eclectic use of materials to create their percussion sounds with, however all of the drummers were playing identical parts rather than creating more of an experience by taking on different parts of the song so that each one was more individualized.  Since there was nowhere to sit most people stood around for a song and then just kept on walking.  Enjoy it if you like as you pass, but you won't miss anything by continuing to walk.

                The final of the three "shows" is the only indoor performance event.  Eternal Jamnation is in the Theater and is basically a T&A show (if you don't know what that is, then you don't belong in the audience for it anyway).  It's more music and no evident storyline again, so there really isn't a show for Scarowinds this year in our opinion.  It was massively loud inside the theater and there were some performers who were definitely more on key and skilled than others.  The songs didn't seem to have a clear connection to Halloween and scaring, though they were songs most people know and are enjoyable.  They used a casket, a metal table, and a rolling chair as the large props on stage and they rolled them around a little.  There was a lot more that they could have done with this, and it made us miss the prom themed performance of three years ago.

                Moving on, Scarowinds has four different areas that are called scarezones around the park.  These are little walk-through experiences that are designed around particular themes.  The first of the four was The Playground.  This area had fewer characters than we had experienced there in the past.  Three years ago we took a ton of pictures with characters in this area and posted them on our Haunt Review Facebook page.  This year we didn't feel as though any characters wanted to be immortalized in photos.  There was just less personal attention given to us by the roaming playground kiddies, and we simply felt sad for the poor guy who was obviously the victim of an age old bully prank that is known for being quite painful.  Not only did we feel as though there were less people to play with here, but we also felt as though there was less equipment around to play on.  We wanted to go back and play on the playground from three years ago, but we could easily sit under a tree and read a book instead of playing with the other kids this year.

                After The Playground we pretty much walked straight into Mass Acres.  This was a cemetery type setting with large monuments and a pretty cool Grim Reaper if you looked up to find him.  They had lots of fog in this area, so there may have been some things that we missed.  Hopefully the fog was hiding some of the people who should have been roaming Mass Acres, since we barely saw anyone around.  The highlight of this scarezone was the beautiful glass casket/hearses on display.  We wanted to see so much more out of this space, and we were left wanting it.  There is another scarezone with a similar purpose and we feel that maybe they should just be combined into one to make it better.

                The Cemetery is another scarezone, which is a bit more character driven experience than Mass Acres was.  The dead are waiting around every corner to welcome you to their new homes.  Some of the set pieces needed a bit more lighting in order to show their details for the crowds, and we did see some staff trying to figure out how to rectify this for one specific piece that wasn't getting the attention it deserved.  There were only a few of the dead greeting us in the cemetery, and one of them had brought her wheelchair with her into the afterlife (nice touch that she could do this job with skill, and actually freaked out a few people that we saw).  It was definitely hard to tell which direction we needed to go in once we reached the exit of the maze, even when we tried to use the map.  If this area were combined with Mass Acres in a different part of the park it might make for an amazing scarezone. 

                The last of the scarezones this year was Feeding Frenzy.  This wasn't open when we first entered the park, and we had to be routed around it.  That's sort of frustrating to get there and expect them to be ready to go when they are open, especially since it isn't their first weekend being open, and they have obvious difficulties.  When we finally did go through it there was a huge amount of characters within this zone, though they probably didn't need all of them in such a small location.  There was also so much trapped fog within the tent that it was hard at times to tell if you were about to run into a monster or run over another guest heading in the opposite direction.  Though we are pretty sure this was meant to be a vampire themed zone, we found it to be an environment that was more of a post-apocalyptic road warrior space.  It just seemed a little confusing, though they very obviously did some serious work on this zone.

                It's now time for the most important information, what you have been waiting for (assuming that you are still reading, which it seems that you are...yay!).  There are eight haunted houses, known as mazes at Scarowinds this year.  As we said earlier, most of these are mazes where you are sent through in either such large groups or with such a small amount of time between groups, that you end up in what we are calling a conga line.  One of us actually started doing the Conga as we went through one of the haunts that was like this.  It is the most effective way to get a lot of people through an attraction, but that doesn't meant that it will give the best experience.  We do understand that they have to push through an astounding number of victims for the haunts each night, and need to have a way to do this.  Having said that, we still hate the conga line entrance into a haunt.  Going through in a large group like that could easily evoke the old adage of "safety in numbers."  Who is going to get really, honestly afraid when they are surrounded by others?  Not us.

                Camp Killauee is...well, when you go in there's....umm...okay, it's forgettable.  Yep, it's that simple.  There are tents where there would normally be cabins at this type of a camp. The sets seem random.  Three years ago they used a large bus as a great piece for a creepy interaction, now it just sat in the background taking up space that didn't contribute to the experience at all.  We even walked around a corner into a space where a group of staff members were actively working on a bungie type scare.  So much for that being scary if it isn't even ready.  There really wasn't a big ending, and we just walked out confused.  Not one of our favorites of the night.

                On a different note there was Last Laff 3-D.  This is their clown haunt, which is definitely going to have the last laugh on you if they do you the same way that they did us. This was that one amazing haunt that managed to get the timing and size of groups going in just right.  They found that magic combination that made paying the extra dollar for the 3-D glasses worth it.  We even managed to lose each other for a little bit inside of this one!  That never happens.  When you can't see another person in the haunt it definitely will start to mess with your mind and intensify your experience.  While we could see each other one of us actually jumped from a scare, which is another amazing thing.  Their staff knew what they were doing.  Their positions within the haunt and their timing with the guests was immaculate.  Not to mention how hard the mirror maze is when you are wearing the 3-D glasses!  It was our favorite haunt of the night and saved Scarowinds in so many ways. 

                Since our hotel was so nice outside of the park we just had to check out the hotel inside of the park: Dead Inn.  We went through it earlier in the evening, and then went back before we left to verify what we were thinking.  The actors actually tried harder the first time we went through, and their characters seemed a little tired and defeated when we went through later in the evening.  Though there are some classic tricks in this haunt, along with a mirror or two that aren't really mirrors, there are still some things missing.  We sort of felt as though we saw more of the black plastic strips hanging between sets than we saw of the actual sets.  On both trips we somehow managed to miss the big guy who was supposed to be the big ending scare, which we still can't figure out how we missed his scare twice.  When we left there were three staff members taking notes outside of the exit. Of course, you know it, we went over and said hi.  We even made a few suggestions for their notes, though it didn't really seem as though they were taking us seriously.  Their loss, taking us seriously could have led to better comments here for them, but as it is you now know about it and can make your own decisions.

                The first haunt that we went through was actually Silver Scream Sinema, though we are just now getting to it on our list.  It really is a long walk to get so little out of it.  They do sell the classic souvenir photos at this event, though they scare you before it when they should do it during the picture to really have an impact.   They do have some high quality prop pieces in the sets, but the overall scenes aren't high enough quality to live up to the few pieces.  It really did feel as though they used strobe lights to hide their flaws, which shouldn't be necessary in any haunt.  We recognized a few classic horror movies trying to reach through the fumbled sets to let us know that they were represented at the movies, however there was something missing.  This was more apparent that ever when we went through the actual cinema set and saw ourselves being projected onto the big screen.  We only saw ourselves for a moment and didn't get the big scare that this space was desperately screaming out for.  It would have been perfect to have had us on camera for longer and gotten a great scare in while we were on camera.  They could then have snatched a still from that for the souvenir photo ops idea.  I might actually have considered buying that if they could have scared me.

                There is another haunt that reminded us of a really horrible Christmas morning for some poor little girl.  Defex seems to be where bad toys go to serve their purpose of instilling fear into naughty little children.  Sometimes a teddy bear just isn't a cute little teddy bear anymore.  Those adorable little rosy cheeked dolls can get quite evil as well.  The toy factory did seem to have some interesting twists and turns.  We do wonder how the toys managed to get the staff all wrapped up and hanging, but we didn't want to hang around long enough to end up in the same predicament.  We sort of felt as though there was a mad toy or maker every ten feet, and they at least were asking us to play or help rather than doing the old annoying stand-by of screaming for no reason.  There's room to grow here, but it was one of the haunts that was headed in the right direction.

                The most confusing maze of the entire evening has to be Fury.  We thought about it, talked about it, went back to it later on in discussion, and still couldn't quite figure out what they were aiming for.  With a name such as Fury your mind pulls up some images that are possibly going to be involved, however you can delete those files since they probably won't be relevant at all.  When you are in the queue line you will see a video that seems to be very official and government related.  It seems to have something to do with a pharmaceutical experiment/program gone wrong for the government.  So, are you conjuring those images mentally yet?  Okay, now delete those as well since they probably won't match what you are going to walk through either.  We don't know why, but it just didn't seem to match the name or the video introduction.  Maybe it really did and we were just clueless and missed the big picture, but I swear we were trying to figure this out for you and for us.  Once we got inside there was a lot of loud music and it seemed sort of like an industrial wasteland that was somewhat post-apocalyptic in nature.  There was even a big monster at the end that we heard another group talking about when we left.  They weren't saying what you hoped, but rather that it made them laugh instead of scream.  You'll have to see for yourself why that's the case.  Our visit really made us miss the Slaughter House maze that was in this location three years ago.  It was better than Fury, in our opinion.  Fine, it at least had a haunt that matched the name and image that was given to it in advance.

                The traditional October corn maze gets a twist with CornStalkers maze.  I know that when I have gone to actual corn mazes they start to lose some stalks as the season moves forward and plants die off.  People cut new paths through that shouldn't be there, and you find the gaps to be confusing.  You don't expect that when you are going through a prepared maze where the corn stalks have been placed with intention in their spots.  If they were placed as carefully as they should have been then there wouldn't have been gaps on the walls of the maze where we could see large patches of black vinyl.  We regret to inform you that the scariest part was at the end when a guy yelled out "Hey" which was probably really "Hay" since that was the other item dominating the scenes in this maze.  Sure, there was some times that the kids and mom ahead of us jumped, but only for loud noises.  It had so much more potential from what we had remembered of our last trip.

                The last of the mazes was The Asylum, which had some of the more likeable experiences of the evening for us.  There was a great old ambulance and some antique medical props outside of the haunt, which got the crowd into the atmosphere of what was coming.  We noticed that the actors were very conscious of their tasks to scare you and one even had a rather lengthy interaction with us who told us his character name and proceeded to follow us for a while asking where his dragon was, until we told him that it was back where we had already been and he went to search for it.  He seemed as though he would have stuck to us if we hadn't had a good response to get rid of him, which is great.  The atmosphere was only marred by a couple of things though.  There was a narrow bridge in one scene, which was supposed to be over an eternity flooring.  The problem here was that the mirror was so dirty it no longer seemed to go on forever.  There was also a lot of loud music in this maze, which didn't quite make sense.  The screaming in a psych ward haunt would definitely make sense, so we will let that one go as logical for the theme.  It was a conga line, for certain, but they did seem to do the best that they could with it.

                Sure, we've had our ups and downs through this review, but now it's time to cut to the chase and talk ratings.  We really missed the Scarowinds of three years ago.  Maybe it was the VIP experience with the meal, hanging out with characters, and getting in early.  We think that it had more to do with this year having conga lines through haunts causing us to miss scare after scare.  Actors frequently tried to act out something, when they were in an environment that was more conducive to a quick scare and retreat strategy.  After averaging our personal ratings we ended up with 2.75 severed heads.  It was almost an average haunt experience, but it missed by a little bit.  We would, however, like to point out that Last Laff 3-D would have received an individual rating of 4 out of 5 severed heads.  Perhaps they should consider what they have going right in that maze and look to incorporate those things in other ways throughout the park.  It certainly couldn't hurt.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Emailing Us

For some reason our email address is currently not showing up anywhere on our blog.  Boooo!  So, here it is:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Guest Review: Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream 2012

Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream: The Dark Side of the Gardens

On Thursday, October 11, 2012 my wife (Mandy), my father-in-law (Bill), and myself (Robert) went to Howl-O-Screams. This is our second time going to the event, the last time being two years ago. We enjoyed it then, liking it much more than Halloween Horror Nights due to, in our opinion, better acted haunted houses and the fact that the longest wait we had was 20 minutes, rather than the 2 hours for one Halloween Horror Nights house the previous year.

This year, at the insistence of a friend, we decided to go early and try their Fright Feast deal, so we'll begin with that.

Fright Feast (A+)
--This is the way to go. For little over $20 per person, you get an all you can eat buffet, 30 minutes in the park early, plus an hour front of line pass. It's a great deal. The food was great. The highlights of the buffet were the chicken nuggets and the pasta, but the real winners were the desserts. I was partial to the pumpkin cheesecake, where as my wife and father-in-law loved the bread pudding. All of us agreed that the desserts were worth the price by themselves.

Fiends (Show) (C)
--As part of the Fright Feast, we also were entertained by their show, Fiends, which featured Dr. Freakenstein and his naughty nurses. It was a musical review with lots of good music. However, we all kind of agree, while the music and dancing was fun, the character Igor was over the top raunchy, and it just took us by surprise at how over the top he would get with his comments and actions. Outside of him, it was a fun show.

Zombie Mortuary (House) (A+)
--The first haunt was basically a funeral home that has become infested with zombies. While the house itself had a few good set pieces, it was the cast that made this house a hard act to follow. All three of us agreed that this was the best house of the entire night. The cast is probably one of the best overall casts I've seen in a haunted house, and I've seen a lot. They were coming out of every angle. Left, right, back, front, top, bottom, and in some areas, all at the same time. There wasn't once single actor in this house that was just calling it in, as their energy level was extremely high. It really was a great overall house, because of that.

Roaming Sliders Hoarde (Scarezone) (A)
--Sliders always impress the hell out of me, because I know, I could never do it. These guys used their environment (at the entrance to Timbuktu) to their advantage, but at the same time, used great teamwork in order to get the maximum scare. One would be the distraction, while another would come from a hiding place on the side. They were getting people left and right. Not to mention, they would slide, and then run, and by the time you turned around, you would have no idea where they went to. They were like sliding ninjas.

Roaming Kids Hoarde (Scarezone) (B)
--Saw them outside of Circus of Superstition. Kids are generally creepy when you do them up for Halloween, so I was looking forward to this group. Some of them did better than others, as about half the group stuck with the menacing scare of people, however, a few of them interacted with people great. For example, one of them literally got in front of me, and would not let me pass. She mimicked everything I did and everything I said. It was a nice little creepy moment that you can't do with a lot of monsters, but a creepy kid works great for such a scare. There was also a kid on a bike that was using it very similarly to how sliders work, except with a bike. He was great at riding it straight at people, only to stop it on a dime and not take them all out in the process.

Circus of Superstition 3-D (B)
--I've never been a fan of 3D houses. I've done two previously, and didn't enjoy them at all, however, the concept of this one, superstitions mixed with clowns, made for a unique experience. The 3-D glasses are also a nice little momento that you can keep, should you choose to. (I chose to) They had some interesting scares in there, but my favorite was opening up a curtain to reveal a room full of clowns. It is probably the first time I've ever taken a step back from a room.

Blood Asylum (B)
--This house definitely had the impression that gore equals great, but unfortunately, I don't agree with that. Gore is ok, in certain aspects, but I much prefer the psychological aspects of a house. I also didn't get the theme for the house. The description said it was basically a serial killer on the loose in an asylum after a big storm happens, but to me, this was almost as much of a zombie house as Zombie Mortuary was. However, the actors made up for the too much gore factor and the theming issue, including my biggest jump of the entire evening, which came from above, when you didn't see it coming at all. I also am not afraid to admit that I plan on stealing some of these ideas for my own haunted house, as they had some interesting ideas as far as hiding places and things of that nature. I also will comment that Mandy got sprayed by the toilet full on, which was funny.

Nightshade Toy Factory: Mutation (C)
--The last time we were at Howl-O-Scream, this was our favorite haunted house, and this time, it was my least favorite. Not that it was bad, but to me, it just didn't live up to the other haunted houses by comparison. The scares didn't happen as much, although I did get peed on by a baby doll, but that was more of a shock factor than a scare factor. I really don't know what it was. The actors did fine, and the decor was good, but I just came out of the house wanting more, and I didn't get it.

Ultimate Gamble: Condemned (B)
--The theme for this one is vampires have taken over a condemned casino. Dumb concept, right? I would probably agree with you, but they did it so well. This would not win for biggest scare factor, but it was probably my second favorite of the night as far as design. They had all the Vegas staples. Slot machines, a buffet, and a wedding chapel, complete with Elvis marrying two people. This room also probably had the two most unique scares of the night, so kudos for the people who came up with the idea. Once again though, I didn't get the scare points in here like I did some of the other ones, but I loved the set design of this one, so that brings it up a bunch in my mind.

Faded Memories (Scarezone) (C)
--This is Howl-O-Screams 13th year, so this was in honor of previous haunts and themes. One of which is played by a friend of mine. It was great seeing her, and she did a great job, but the rest was just kind of ho hum. Maybe we weren't as invested in the themes from past years, as we've only been to one other one (My Ex), but also the actors didn't really do a great job of getting us, as we saw with the other scarezones. Now I will say that it could have had something to do with the fact that our hour was almost up for the Front of Line pass, and we were trying to make it to our final haunt, so maybe we were just in too big of a hurry to really appreciate this zone.

Nevermore (B+)
--This haunt is based on Edgar Allen Poe, and they did a great job. This is one of those houses that I could have just walked through over and over again, without any one trying to scare me, as it was so beautifully done from start to finish. The acting in some parts was great, while in others, there were a few people that seemed tired and weren't giving it their best. Luckily there weren't many of them. They also had some great effects in here. The beating heart from The Tell-Tale Heart, and the swinging pendulum from The Pit and the Pendulum were so well done and provided a creepy effect as you walked through the rooms.

Roaming Monster Hoarde (Scarezone) (C)
--Fun little roaming band of big monsters. They were fun watching them run around scare everyone, but to me, they lacked the personal touch of some of the other roaming hoardes.

ROaming Cleaner Hoardes (Scarezone) (D)
--Probably my least favorite of the hoardes that I saw. They were basically zombied version of the park janitors. They basically just walked through, and weren't doing much in the way of scares.

Roaming Chainsaw Hoardes (Scarezone) (A)
--Chainsaws don't ever scare me, but they sure are fun watching them go after people. I could have followed them all night, just to watch them get people to scream and run at full speed.

Shovels and Coffins (Scarezone) (A+)
--There were a set of coffins stacked up in one scene, and there were a whole bunch of gravediggers running around with shovels, striking them across the ground, making noise and causing sparks. I've seen this done before, but I don't think I've ever seen it done so well. Very similar to how the sliders worked with each other, one would set a group up, only for someone to come from behind and get them. And there were a lot of them too. They were coming at people from all angles, so this was probably my favorite of the scarezones.

The Garden (Scarezone) (A)
--Statue scares are the ones that almost always get me. Even though I can look them straight in the eye, know that it's a real person, and think to myself, it's a real person...then they move, and I'm like..."CRAP!" They had two great ones in the entrance scarezone to greet people. Plus throw in two roaming people here, that seemed to have a job of pushing them toward the statues, and it was great little thing they had going.

Overall: B+
Comments: Howl-O-Scream does not disappoint, and proves once again why we stopped going to Halloween Horror Nights. The crowd was never overwhelming, and the longest we had to wait on any of the haunted houses was 5 minutes thanks to our Front of Line pass from the Fright Feast. We were done with all the haunts at 8:36PM, about an hour and a half after we got started. Not bad, if I do say so myself. It really was a good time by all three of us, and none of us can wait to do it again next year.

UPDATE: Tickets...for your reviews...GONE!

Today we are offering two pairs of free tickets to Paranoia Haunted House in Roswell, Georgia.
In order to have these tickets waiting for you and your guest you  must agree to write a review about your experience and email is to us.  The first two people to email us that they agree to do this (who have not already received something from our other giveaway) will have their names sent to the box office for their free tickets.

Please remember, as always, that if you do not follow through with completing the review and getting it to us within three days of your visit we will add you to a list of people who are no longer allowed to receive special offers which we may acquire.




One pair are gone!  Congratulations to Richard R. who will be reviewing Paranoia for us.
Who will be next?  One more pair of tickets to go.

Congratulations to Suzan B. who will also be reviewing Paranoia for us.

We look forward to hearing opinions, other than our own, and sharing them with you.

Plantation Blood 2012

                A bloody good time can be had by all at Plantation Blood haunted house in Augusta, Georgia.  We certainly felt our heart pumping a little faster as we traversed their unsettling attraction on Thursday, October 11, 2012.  If an accelerated heart rate will help you burn calories and lose weight then perhaps we should go through a few more times!  It could become a great form of aerobic exercise.  All kidding aside this is a unique haunt, with a lot of space, and many highly skilled staff members.  They really care about what you get from your visit.  Changes are done yearly to make for a better, and uniquely challenging, haunt experience for visitors.

                Don't let your guard down when you enter the Plantation, because that will be your fatal mistake.  Yes, we said fatal.  "Watch your step" would be an understatement.  Every step will fall somewhere that you don't expect, and lead you towards things that you can't imagine.  Sure, you'll find moments where you think that you know what's coming.  Absolutely, you'll end up getting a surprise to go with that prediction your mind was making.  Step into the dark and let it engulf you.  Surrender to the fact that you will become confused.  We wish you luck in mentally preparing yourself for the whole experience.

                We highly recommend going on a Friday or Saturday night, since those are the nights when the midway is in full swing.  They have been known to have fortune tellers, palm readers, glass walkers, and fire throwers available to entertain you.  You can enter the midway for only five dollars, without getting a ticket to the haunted house at all.  If you just want to check out the atmosphere, this is worthwhile on a weekend night.  Once you are within their fence you may find that you don't know how to get out without choosing to go through the plantation for the extra $20 admission, which is probably a smart move to escape the monsters that are on the midway.  We all know that when you survive one thing there is always something else waiting around the corner to test you, so it is possible that avoiding one set of monsters will only lead to something more devastating.

                Two major changes that we noticed on this visit were the absence of fog and scents within the haunt.  These detract from the guests ability to become fully immersed in the experience, yet we did find out the logic behind these choices so that we can share the reasoning with you.  The scents have been removed as a trial run to determine if some recently found information is correct.  At a trade event the gentlemen were informed that scents within the enclosed environment can cause visitors with breathing problems, such as asthma, to have respiratory difficulties.  In order to find out if this is true they have removed the scents, and so far they have had no complaints related to breathing.  It seems that this may actually be true, based on their experiment.  The absence of fog is related to a recent local policy adjustment that resulted in Plantation Blood acquiring a sixty-thousand dollar smoke detection system, rather than one for rising heat that many other haunts have.  Smoke detection units will go off and trigger sprinkles if they experience fog, therefore eliminating the ability to use fog in that environment.  They make up for these changes in many other ways, but for us they are noticeable and noteworthy to explain to others.

                As always the staff of Plantation Blood demonstrates a passion and competency for their craft and are more than willing to spend time with patrons in order to discuss their thoughts.  Customer service is a highly valued attribute in any arena, and it adds to experience.  We continue to rate Plantation Blood with four out of a possible five severed heads, which denotes an above average haunt that is ready to scare you.  Let us know your thoughts.  We do post guest reviews which we receive in emails, so please feel free to write to us about your own experiences at this or any other haunt.

Monday, October 8, 2012

EARLY Giveaway!!!!

Would you like two free tickets to Folklore Haunted House in Dallas, Georgia?  Be the first to email us at and agree to write up a review of them after your visit and we will submit your name to Will Call to be able to pick up your free tickets.  Remember, there is a condition: you must write a review for us to use.




Congratulations (already) to Lisa.  We look forward to your review of Folklore.

If there are any other haunts that would like to get in on this please email us.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Folklore Haunted House 2012

                Another year with the creatures of Folklore Haunted House in Dallas, Georgia has come and we can't help but admit that we really looked forward to our visit for quite some time.  We finally arrived on Saturday, October 6, 2012 and admit that we didn't leave until after midnight.  When you are having fun you don't want the fun to stop.  Saying that they were on top of their game during our visit would be putting it lightly.  Their new acting coordinator/trainer has obviously been earning her keep, as we can assess by the hauntingly amazing performances placed by her coral of monsters.  We keep wishing that they could just buy their building and have it as a permanent site, since renters sometimes have to move.  Their site suits them perfectly right now and they are working hard to give their visitors everything they possibly can.  From line actors, to haunters, to the person in the ticket office, they are prepared for you to join them and ready to give you what you paid for and more.

                Every year the sets for the scenes in the maze that is Folklore become more detailed and demonstrate the clear vision of the designers behind it.  Though they could still add smells and scares which are on a lower level, they also are showing off with actors who are falling all over themselves to get to you and make your life a nightmare.  From creepy kids to headless horsemen and even a werewolf, they have what it takes to draw you inside of their imagination and make you wonder how you were drawn into this elaborate folk tale.  Somehow you may find yourself forgetting that you are in an old store located off a main road in Dallas, and believing that you are crossing into a realm where your nightmares have the potential to become reality.

                We hope that Folklore can maintain their acting staff at the high standard which they have set for themselves.  There were approximately fifty actors involved during our visit, which made it very easy to misdirect us and create startling moments that left us surprised and laughing at ourselves for jumping.  A great haunted house will have you jump, scream, and laugh before you leave.  We are hard pressed to scream, but we certainly did jump and laugh during our visit with the creatures of Folklore.

                There were so many small details within the haunt that we found ourselves progressing slowly through it as we tried to simply take it all in.  Not wanting to miss a thing we would turn around within the space and try to see what we might be overlooking if we only walked forward.  We found that the timing of the animatronics, as well as that of the live actors, was almost perfect.  This haunt has something which most other also have, those dropdown spots in the walls for the actors to startle you with.  This cast of characters didn't just drop the panels and scream at you, but rather they practically forced their bodies through the spaces to try to get to you.  It sort of felt as though they wanted you to hang around a while and see if you could become one of them. 

                The owners and managers who work to create Folklore Haunted House have a passion for what they do.  This is something that they love and they make themselves available at every possible moment to speak with guests about their experiences.  They do believe in making changes on the spot so that they can improve the value for their fans.  We have watched them grow over the past few years and can honestly say that the changes which are made are for a reason and are all positive.  Their desire to scare the crap out of you is real, and they hope that they succeed (just without the clean-up).   If you can only check out one haunt on the West side of Atlanta this year then please consider making that stop at Folklore as we are giving them a score of 4.5 severed heads out of 5.  They can't wait for you to drop in, and perhaps pick out a tombstone in the graveyard as your final resting place.

Zombie Village at Powers Pavilion 2012

                Zombies are the hottest thing right now.  From movies to television you can find them everywhere.  There is even a series of children's books based on a zombie theme.  Many haunted houses include zombies within their repertoire of characters.  On Saturday, October 6, 2012 we went to a zombie themed haunted trail known as Zombie Village located at Powers Pavilion in Newnan, Georgia.  For the fun of it we took a friend of ours with us who hasn't been to any type of haunted attraction in eight years, so her opinions were of great use to us in evaluating them.  It can often be helpful to try to view a haunt through someone else's eyes, and this is certainly the case for Zombie Village.

                We love to share our experiences with haunted houses so that others can enjoy them, but we also love to talk with haunts about their ideas and share what we have seen in our many visits to other locations.  This would hopefully result in haunts which are constantly evolving and taking in the ideas that their guests share with them so that they become better over time.  Yes, we realize that this doesn't always work and we sometimes don't get to speak with anyone at the site of the attraction so that we can learn more about them and share our thoughts with them.  We aren't experts, not by any stretch of a creative imagination, but we like to think that a great haunt wouldn't care who you are and would listen to every visitor as though they were the most important people to come through all season long.  It is never our desire to discourage visitors from attending a haunt, unless there is a very strong reason (which has only really ever happened once and we didn't release the name of the haunt).  Everything that we say is meant to help better inform visitors to haunts so that they can make wise choices, based on their own needs, as to where to spend their hard earned money.

                Now that our disclaimer of the night has been said let us express that this is what we might consider a starter haunt, sort of like a starter home.  Our friend had an okay time and definitely had a few scares, though she did feel somewhat disappointed in the end.  The three young men who were also with us had a rather skittish member in there group who jumped at anything, sort of like a chihuahua running from a leaf.  We didn't have those experiences ourselves, so it is hard to understand them.  We did encounter a woman who was turning in laser guns as she and what appeared to be her husband and son were leaving.  She said, "It would be worth it if you get a gun."  They do have an additional $5 charge to get a gun so that you can shoot the zombies if you want to.  Her phrase actually made us wonder if it might not be worth it without the gun.  Scary thought.

                There were a couple of things that stood out to us before we even made it past the first scene of the trail.  The staff kept telling people that there was a three minute time between the groups being sent in, but we thought that it seemed longer.  Smart girl that our friend is she suggested timing it on the cell phone to see. Sure enough it was almost always closer to six minutes between groups going in.  When we did enter the first scene we watched a video with some of the rules and it told us not to run, however when the scare for the scene concluded we were yelled at multiple times to run.  Really?  Can we get a decision going here as to what they actually want?  Why not tell us to get out or get a move on, or honestly anything other than run since you told us not to run in the video less than a minute before?  On top of those we also had seen on Facebook where they said that it was about a 45 minute walk through the trail, however we timed that as well (since the timer was there) and found that we were back at our car in under 30 minutes.  That thirty minutes included waiting in two different lines and walking to the parking area afterwards.  These may seem like petty things to point out to some, but to us we see a pattern emerging here and it concerns us.

                We feel that this was a starting point for them to grow from with this having been their first year in business, and we sincerely hope that they do learn and grow.  We expect that they will spend some time training their actors, especially about how to stay in character.  Speaking about the appearance of the actors would be useless, since you are in the dark and really can't see much of their character's look anyway.  It felt as though something were missing for us, but we can sincerely say that there were others who enjoyed themselves.  Our guest reviewer did have fun and jumped several times, as well as tossed out a good scream or two.  She hasn't been to a haunt in years, so this was a good way to get back into the fun of the Halloween season.  Since we can't really rate Zombie Village on anything other than our own opinions we scored them with one severed head out of five.  We welcome your opinions if you go and we wish them the best as they grow and develop more of their haunt over time.

Paranoia Haunted House 2012

                Truly a great thing to see a haunt that we have visited, rated, and spoken with coming back for another year and expanding.  Paranoia Haunted House in Roswell, Georgia has done just that.  Last year we visited them on their opening night and discussed our opinions with them before we left.  We were lucky enough to find the time to return later in the season to see what they had done with their ideas.  It was on that second visit that we rated them at a solid four severed heads.  This year we didn't show up on opening night, though it seems that they were ready and expecting us to be there.  We didn't wait long though, and showed up on their second night.  It is our pleasure to tell you that they didn't disappoint and earned another stellar score from us.

                It is out with the old and in with the new at Paranoia as they enter into a rental agreement for this haunt season in a 40,000 square foot retail space, which they are using 20,000 square feet of in the haunts.  Yes, that's right, they have opened a second attraction for their fans and can't wait for you to walk through their darkened halls and scream.  In keeping with the concept of being paranoid you have to enter the haunt and even purchase your tickets after walking down a dark alley between two buildings in a retail shopping center.  This entrance route is definitely unanticipated and has its own way of messing with your head.  After you purchase your tickets you can go next door to the box office and get in the queue line for their Trauma attraction.  Even the waiting area for your triage is dark and stormy, with thunder and lightning and can jolt even the most fearless of visitors at unexpected moments. 

                It feels as though it is a rare occasion when we visit a haunted attraction that has gone to the trouble of creating original characters, but we found many unique individuals amongst the doctors and patients.  Even during our wait time we encountered some individuals who seemed to have had a rather difficult night and were in need of the doctor's help, or perhaps had already been the victims of horrible malpractice.  Many haunts today seem to choose the classic horror movie characters to haunt their halls, but Paranoia is one of the ones that chooses to stand out as having creativity and passion for their design and theme.

                Paranoia's creators have become skilled at finding ways to let you get to know all of those things that go bump in the night by immersing you in darkness that many other haunts can't achieve.  Most of the time in a haunted house you are placed into dark situations within tight spaces that are designed to terrify you, but Paranoia has decided that sometimes there is a different approach to be taken.  Their unique approach to taking a walk through the dark adds an unexpected twist to your evening and will probably find you taking baby steps as you move forward.  Shadows of dark against dark will mess with your mind as you attempt to figure out where that next step should land.

                Paranoia Haunted House has several staff members who were once a part of Creepers Haunted House, another local haunted attraction.  Though Creepers has been closed for several years now we were pleased to see a small tribute to them in the set of a wooden bridge through a lush green area where rain cascades over the space.  A very similar set once impressed us immensely within Creepers, and we are very pleased to see such a beautiful tribute done for fellow haunters.  Though this doesn't demonstrate how haunts can work together to cross promote and help each other with ideas it does show a caring atmosphere between haunts that is appreciated.

                Without giving anything away we can say that on Friday, October 5, 2012 we witnessed a passion for haunting that those who view it only as a money maker are missing.  The staff at Paranoia longs to leave you with chills and desperately wants to know what you think.  They listen attentively to your thoughts and take them seriously.  You may be surprised at the number of ideas which they later implement based on conversations with visitors.  This year's combination of attractions was so large that we can hardly remember everything that we went through, even though we were taking notes as soon as we hit the parking lot.  We do, however, remember talking with the owners for quite a while after we exited the second haunt.  Their energy and passion for what they do excited us even more about our experience.  We know that Paranoia isn't going to be quite what anyone expects when they go in, but we're confident that you will almost jump out of your skin at some point during your time with them.  We are also confident that they would love to hear about it, and so would we.  This year we are rating Paranoia Haunted House with a bizarre 4.13 severed heads out of a possible five. Why such a crazy number?  Well, this year we are blending the heads to make energy smoothies so that we can keep traveling from haunt to haunt, so you get an average between our two opinions.  Check them out and let both us and them know what you think.