Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Haunted Theatre on Hill Street, Griffin, GA 2015

               The Haunted Theatre on Hill Street is located in the small town of Griffin, Georgia.  This event is limited to approximately six nights each haunt season and is held to benefit the Griffin Ballet Theatre.  The group responsible for this haunt is a tightknit group of people who are passionate about the arts an about haunting.  They love what they do and are all volunteers, even the management.  Each year they choose two of their nights to break from whatever theme that they have chosen to present and do special events.  One night will have a unique theme change.  In the past that particular night has been zombie night, vampire night, and carnival night.  Each of those takes its own special twist upon whatever they are already presenting.  Their other special event night is a tradition for them and still manages to use their yearly theme.  They present one night in which all of the lights within the haunt are turned out.  On this particular night you traverse the basement haunt in complete darkness…well, maybe not complete, they might give you a glow stick or the world’s worst flashlight if they have any available.  This year we have learned of an upcharge choice that you could also make.  The regular admission is $7, but if you want to pay $10 you can go in alone and leave your friends behind to fend for themselves.

               The location of the haunt is a wonder in and of itself.  The event is held in the basement of Studio D Dance on Hill Street in downtown Griffin.  The aged location adds a lot of character to the event itself, but them you add to it the ideas which are created within the space and it can become quite spooky.  The space is normally used as costume and prop storage for the ballet, however for a short time each year the haunt team is permitted to move things around and get creative.  They have constructed walls and sets to make the environment as different from its normal life as possible, though it is not entirely able to hide what lies beyond.  In some cases, what you may see past their sets might be creepier than what you would expect to find there, and this could be a good thing.

               Many years they have guests who pay for their tickets and still can’t quite seem to make it to the actual haunt.  This could be owed to the long and narrow hallway which you must walk down before opening the basement door to the stairs.  When you see the stairs you can understand why others may have backed out and forfeited the cost of their admission.  The walls are pealing and crumbling, the ceiling is sloping down, and the stairs make an abrupt left turn which prevents you from knowing anything at all about what you are going to walk into.   The unknown is often a huge fear for guests, and this alone can be enough to stop them in their tracks.  If you go, don’t be surprised to find people exiting through the entrance who can’t bring themselves to make that one turn.

               The actual haunt is very short, but for $7 and for charity you really can’t expect more.  Their space is limited and provided to them freely, so again, beggars can’t be choosers.  There are usually anywhere from six to ten rooms or unique spaces within the event, and they encompass a variety of scenes are scares.

               This year their theme was Bayou in the Basement.  With this concept they attempted to bring the swamp and its inhabitants to Griffin for a visit.  In doing so you may encounter fiercely protective Cajun families, swamp monsters, voodoo priestesses, mausoleum maniacs, and redneck friends.  The characters are often well planned and thought out.  The gentlemen who greeted us when we entered what appeared to be his bayou home did so with a rifle and a little attitude.  He maintained his character and was so good at his acting that we might easily have been convinced that he would use that gun on us if we had been the general public.  At some points we questioned whether the gun was there to scare us out or to protect him from what else lay beyond his home.

               Within the swamp there are trees, creatures, and people who will interact with you.  The floor beneath your feet even changes as you enter and exit the swamp, so be aware that things are not always as they appear.  You will need to able to handle at least two sets of stairs and a long alley which may hold your doom if you choose to enter this haunt, so be forewarned about what physical expectations are made upon you when you enter.  Nothing is dangerous about it, but it certainly helps to know that stairs are involved and there is no way to avoid them.

               When you meet the country man’s daughters please feel free to get to know them if you dare.  They are highly interactive and will try to keep you around if they can persuade you to stay.  They may have a little something they want to sell you, but sometimes you just have to make the best out of a crappy situation (and they are sure trying to). 

               There are a lot of great things which can be said about this haunt and we encourage everyone to visit (we saw that Leonard Pickel recently visited!).   Every cent that they raise through this event is for a good cause and their actors are well aware of the need to scare or entertain so that you get your money’s worth out of the experience.  We rate The Haunted Theatre on Hill Street 3.25 severed heads out of a possible five and wish them much luck in their fundraising this year and in the future.