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Newbie Review Crew Member

Justin (DarkWolf1088)

Photo of Justin

October and Halloween are not just my favorite month and holiday because I was born during that time, but I have always enjoyed the happenings during this time of the year. From fall festivals that serve delicious apple cider to TV horror specials and to the haunted attractions across the state, I love everything that October has to offer. I loved this time of year, especially the ‘scary’ part, so much that beginning in high school I started working on an entertainment farm and also worked for their haunted hayride, as an actor, that they put on every October.

As such I have 3 years experience as an actor for a haunted attractions and 2 years experience as a supervising actor for the same haunt. Thus, when I go to haunted attractions there are two big categories I look for. These categories include Experience and Scares. When I talk about 'experience' I am talking about how well the haunted attraction immersed you into 'their world' and how well the haunt spaces groups. If I can tell that I am in a semi-trailer, there is a problem. In terms of the scares, I look for good ambush and sudden scares that have a powerful presentation behind them. It is not fun to come to haunt where all the actors do is go "boo" nor is it any more fun to go to one that is making their actors try too hard to convey a storyline. Thus if the experience is excellent and the scares are solid, that is a solid haunt in my book.

Previous Reviews: 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

2010 Reviews

Please note: this review is for the 2010 season rather than the current season.

Mars Haunted House - CLOSED-

by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 22, 2010 at about 4 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review


Well all I can say is WOW! This haunt is branded as the best in Milwaukee and now I have seen that not only is this true but why it deserves this title. I have to tell you now that I had to go through this haunt TWICE in order to take in all the work that this haunt has put into its house. I was amazed.



I was most impressed that this haunt really relies on its actors. I have seen too many haunts that have turned to relying on animatronics and not on actors that to see what the Mars actors were capable of was extremely refreshing. I spoke with the manager of the haunt who you could tell is proud of his actors, as he should be. These actors will absolutely blow your mind!



Next to the actors the haunt's scenes and sets were just as impressive. You really could not tell that you were in an old office building. The sets were so expansive and well made that it was hard to focus on anything else. I sometimes found myself just starring at the scenes and of course the actors used this time to their advantage.



A lot of hard work was put into this haunt. Everything looks as if it was done for a Hollywood horror movie...the makeup, the sets, the lighting...everything. Needless to say I really enjoyed this haunt.



The level of passion that those who work this haunt is really admirable. They really help to set the tone of the haunt. Depending on the person this passion is going to build up sweet anticipation or dread of what is to come. Either way it is quite a thrill.



Simply put these guys go all out and it provides for one heck of a ride!

Signage / Visibility / Location


You cannot miss the location of this haunt. No matter what direction you are coming from once you are on Historic Mitchell Street just look for the hearse, with smoke coming out of it, parked in front of a liquor store. Further you will definitely see the creeps and ghouls from the haunt waiting outside for you! If you miss it you probably need your vision checked :p

Note: Do not worry about parking. There are ample places to park including the street. You will see parking meters but those only run up to 6PM on any given night so no need to worry about spare change.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Although the line was not incredibly long when I arrived the haunt had a system set-up to control the line's movement. The haunt also had a few of its creeps and ghouls out and about taunting and teasing those awaiting entrance. For most it was entertaining and for others it was freaking them out...which was also enjoyable. Finally the haunt moved people through very quickly. I got in line and only ended up waiting about 4 minutes. Thus, this haunt is one of the few where the wait, itself, is also entertaining.

Actors' Performance


One word...AMAZING! The actors at Mars really put their all into their performance. They really got into character. Both my dad and I spoke with actors and they only replied as their character would let them. If their character could speak then they only replied with how their type of character could reply. It really was like watching a movie.

Further these men and women NEVER faltered or got tired. Even my second time through...30 minutes later...these guys were still going at it strong. These actors are dedicated! It was the actors that made the haunt. The sets and scenes only complimented their actions...which is how it should be.

As I already mentioned the best part with these actors is that you could interact with them which pulled you even further into the experience. If there was an Oscar Award Show for haunted houses I would give each of these actors an Oscar. It was just that amazing. You have to go and check these guys out. You will be impressed.

Finally these actors know how to scare. They know when to jump out and they know when hide in the shadows. These actors are good!

Also I have to give a shout out to two female actors that really stuck with their roles. The girl playing the statue and the girl playing the crawler. Excellent job!

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Again...excellent. The sets, scenes, props, and effects used in this haunt all appeared as if they were out of Hollywood. The haunt really knows how to immerse you into their world. Finally they know how use their sets to foster the best scare possible.

All I will leave you with is that there are PLENTY of places for actors to pop out of and hide in.

Length


The length was great. The whole thing took about 30 minutes. You really do get the bang for your buck with this haunt.

Crowd Control


No problems here. The haunt had a ropes cordoning off where to stand. Further a Milwaukee police officer was on hand to assure that everyone had a good time.

Most Memorable Moment


Easily the most memorable moment is my first interaction with an actor. I cannot say enough about how good the Mars actors are. You can really interact with them and the interaction will always be different. It really makes for quite an experience.

Summary

From beginning to end this haunt immerses you into their world. I promise you that even when the haunt is over you will likely find one last scare to be had. This haunt is definitely the best in Milwaukee. A 5 out 5 across the board. If you are out to go to a haunted house this Halloween you have to make Mars Haunted House one of your stops.

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Please note: this review is for the 2010 season rather than the current season.

Elements of Fear

by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 22, 2010 at about 3 p.m.

Fun Factor: Low Fear Factor: Low

Review


I'll be upfront. This is not the type of haunt for those that really seek to be scared. It appears that the haunt was more focused on younger viewers or those that want an entertainment only haunt. To sum it up in one word, it was, simple. This is not an entirely bad thing, however. It provided a few effects that I actually have not seen in a long time. As a whole, though, the haunt left a lot to be desired.



When my father and I arrived at the haunt we were required to take a number and wait in a small room that left little in ways of entertainment. The idea of taking a number would not have been so bad if there actually appeared that there was a line.



When we were finally called we had another wait outside the doors to the haunt. One time I actually entered early as the actors were re-setting due to the lack of instruction. After we were finally admitted we were quickly whisked away to a room where they had a séance (I was able to really "take in the first scene".) The whole experience of the séance would have been a lot more enjoyable if I had not heard all the actors talking and coughing in the background.



This interference was so bad that the actor who was doing the séance was required to improvise with "what the spirits were saying." I will say, however, that I saw some neat effects in the room but they just could not make me forget about the interference.



From there we were moved out of the room by the unrested spirits and through the rest of the haunt. Again some pretty cool effects but a lot was left to be desired. Decorations, and scenes were minimal. Further as we walked along I caught several actors that were late in their scares or that were not ready.



All in all it was an interesting haunt and for a charitable purpose had a good cause and provided a, however short, form of Halloween entertainment.

Signage / Visibility / Location


The visibility was not an issue. The haunt has a large marquee sign with flashing lights that directs you into their parking lot. It took awhile to find the signs that directed us to the ticket booth but once we did it was easy to find out where to go. A word of caution...the sign comes up fast and you are driving on a thoroughfare so watch for that sign and gradually slow down.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Both wait areas...the one adjacent to the ticket booth and the one right outside the haunt's doors provided little in the form of entertainment. The one near the ticket booth only provided refreshments and snacks and a showing of the movie "The Sixth Sense". Outside the haunt doors all you have is a list of rules to read and nothing else. Again (so you do not make the same mistake I did) wait at the front doors of the old church until you are called. In the end the wait time was much longer than the actual haunt itself so be prepared for that.

Actors' Performance


For actors who are volunteering their time, the performance of the actors' was okay. I would have liked to hear less chatting from behind the scenes and more scares (by actors) that did not rely on screaming but with volunteers this is understandable. The actors' performance was still enjoyable though, especially those that were working in the "medical wing" of the haunt.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


The sets and scenes were definitely minimal. I saw little in the way of setting a scene. In most parts of the haunt I could still see the floor and walls of the recreational center we were in. This minor detail, however, was overshadowed by the simple yet cool effects the haunt used. The type of effects used, such as a rocking chair that rocks by itself, were old school but still so awesome. I have to say that I have missed those type of effects as haunted attractions have become more technologically advanced. Bravo to this haunt for using those effects and using them well. Go and check them out. You will probably enjoy them as well.

Length


Unfortunately the length was disappointing. About 5-8 minutes in length. Even if you wanted to slow down to take in the sets or get that extra actor to pop out at you, you would not have been able to as the actors prevented you from doing so. Even when I thought there was more I was disappointed to find out the door I had opened was an employee access path and the door next to it was the exit. I would have really liked to seen more.

Crowd Control


With the separate waiting areas, the number cards, and the walk to and from each area crowd control was good. I never saw a long line waiting or people pushing their way through.

Most Memorable Moment


Although I do not like giving scares away this time I got to. It appears that this haunt actually uses "plants". The first haunt I have EVER been to that does so. What I mean is that they put an actor or actors with your group who are subsequently, later, pulled away by the monsters and freaks. I thought this was awesome and I wish more haunts would do something like this. Definitely a big thumbs up to this haunt for doing this.

Summary

In the end, Elements of Fear, was a short form of Halloween entertainment. For a charitable haunt, I can tell they definitely tried their best. So if you are interested in a quick "haunt jaunt" and seeing some old school effects I would highly suggest checking this place out.

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Please note: this review is for the 2010 season rather than the current season.

Schuster's Haunted Forest

by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 9, 2010 at about 2:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Medium

Review


Ah outdoor haunts...how they have always held a special place in my heart. It takes a special breed of actor to work in and work with the elements to achieve a scare. Schuster's Haunted Forest did not disappoint. First and foremost I have to say that this attraction used strobe lights and darkness amazingly well. If you are expecting to be able to attain your night vision on this outdoor attraction you can just forget about that now.



There has always been something about wandering through the woods, freely, and getting scared that most people enjoy. The Schuster's have set their haunt up for success. When you begin the haunt you really feel as if you have been dropped off in the woods and you are working your way back home. This aspect I really enjoyed.



The haunt had plenty of scare variety. Haunts can get boring if all they are is actors jumping out and screaming. This haunt had a good combination of role playing type scenes and flat out jumping out of the darkness. The one thing I was disappointed in, however, is that there are some spots that are dull due to the lack of scares or scenery.



This minor "hic-up", however, was few and far between. The haunt still did well with keeping the creep factor up. Being in the woods alone (mostly by yourself) is enough to put anyone on a bit of an edge, but the way the haunt moves you around and pinch points that it puts you through it definitely keeps you up on your guard.



Schuster's Haunted Forest is definitely a must for those that want that "Halloween feel". Nothing quite beats woods, creeps, and only moonlight to guide you home.

Signage / Visibility / Location


A bit of a problem. A huge sign but no lights to speak of. You are coming to the haunt off of a highway so if you miss that sign...forget about it. You will definitely have to turn around and come back. There is also a distinct round barn on the property that you might be able to see. Look for that. If you have GPS or you are looking at addresses and the location is getting closer, slow down, and you will be able to see the sign. From there pull in and enjoy!

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


During the day Schuster's is an entertainment farm with plenty to offer. The night is just the same. There is a market where you can buy Halloween goodies and gifts. There are also several concession stands were you can purchase snacks, drinks, and my favorite, kettle corn. There was also a bonfire and other smaller activities that you could do.

Don't have the nerve to be scared but still want to be out on a fall night. The event also offers the ability for visitors to take a night time tour of their corn maze. All in all there is plenty to do before and after the haunted attraction.

Actors' Performance


The actors did a great job, especially those that were in the positions of role playing. I never saw any actors break character and all actors kept to their roles. Further each actor had a unique way of scaring. This is refreshing to see as screaming gets boring and, eventually, annoying. This troop of actors definitely deserves to know that they did a good job.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


All I can say is that there is nothing better than use nature as your set. This may sound easy but to really make this type of attraction work you got to know what you are doing. The scenes fit the set...a mine shaft, a shack, and an old time carnival are all things that fit ones idea of a haunted forest. This definitely helps you feel as if you are in a movie. Finally the props and FX were appropriate as well as simple which was fitting for the landscape. Everything worked together to really create a first class attraction.

Length


The length all together was about an hour. The problem was that half of that hour was spent waiting to board a wagon, waiting to enter the haunt, and then waiting to be taken back to the farm. Granted the farm had a busy night, as they should, but what this means is that the haunt should be longer or a better way to move patrons through should be found. Is the wait worth it...I would say so but just be prepared for such a wait.

Crowd Control


Again another haunt that utilizes our boys in blue to help with crowds, disorderly people, and other trouble makers. Two Dane County deputies were there to assure that everyone behaved. Not one minute did I feel that there was going to be a problem.

Traffic control, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. The event had A LOT of vehicles tightly packed into one parking area with little room to back out and head home (without hitting another vehicle). When I left there was a line of cars jockeying to get into a spot. That is another time you need to factor in.

Most Memorable Moment


I would have to say that the most memorable moment, honestly, was the wagon ride to the beginning of the attraction and from the end. The ride really sets the mood and brings the creep factor up. With the design of the wagon and hard core music playing as you are hauled off it really does set the mood.

Summary

Although this haunt has its rough spots it does not hurt the haunt itself. It is still well worth it to come out and brave the woods. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who wants a true Halloween haunt.

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Please note: this review is for the 2010 season rather than the current season.

Terror on Rural Street (CLOSED IN 2020)

by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 8, 2010 at about 3:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review


I have to say that this is the first time that I have visited this haunted house even though that I had great things about this haunt since I was 16. I am happy to say that those excited murmurings proved true.



The event started off slow. I had to wait for my number to be called and then have the rules of the house explained to me by a mad doctor but after that the fun began! The entrance was perfect. A creepy door, slowly opening and fog pouring out. This opening, in one word, was creepy.



The attention to detail and entertainment value only continued. The scares began only seconds after I set foot in the haunt. These guys know how to scare. They used extreme darkness and strobes well. When you expected a scare because of the set-up they didn't scare you. When you passed that point that is when they got you. I loved it. They really had the art of the haunted house down to a science.



I have to be honest, at the beginning I was nervous when I heard this haunt had inventive animatronics. I have often found when haunts start collecting animatronics they start relying WAY too much on the technology and not enough on living and breathing actors. Terror on Rural, however, knew what to do with this technology. They used it to help the actors do what they need to do. This was great to see.



I will touch more on this later but right now I have to say that you can tell that the men and women that run this haunt put their all into making it highly entertaining. The scenes and effects were amazing. They were some of the best that I have seen in a long time.



One of the most interesting aspects of this haunt is that it forced those within the 4 or 5 person group (even if they were strangers) to come together and hold on to each other to get to the next area. Why? This house had some VERY dark areas. We are talking you-cannot-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. So get ready to get close to whoever. That may be the only way to get through without running into a wall.



Quite simply this place was great. Just entertainment value alone makes this event well worth visiting. Terror on Rural Street had no lack of scares, no lack of effects, and no lack of fun.

Signage / Visibility / Location


Easy navigation AND easy to find makes this haunt fast and easy to get to. The haunt did a great job in putting signs where they were visible.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


It appears that this haunt does a great job in moving people through the house. I arrived at 8:30PM, not long after the event had started, and I only had to wait about 6 minutes before my number was called and I was admitted into the house. The waiting area had a concession stand available and had stilt walkers in costume outside for entertainment. All in all a pleasant area while waiting to enter the house.

Actors' Performance


One word...Excellent. I have been in the haunted house industry for over 6 years and I have always stood by that actors are what make or break a haunt. The actors at Terror on Rural Street constantly stayed in character, even if you attempted to have a casual conversation with the spook. The actors were definitely on their toes. Exceptional work on their part.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


The sets and scenes were detailed and fitted the theme. Many sets were interactive where I was squirted with "blood" from an operating table to where I had to push my way through body parts hanging on a rotating and bloody wheel. This really made me feel part of the experience.



The props were also great. The haunt did a great job of making the room look like it is supposed to look. The "operating room" did not just have a table and medical instruments. This haunt's room had everything that you would expect to find in a mad doctor's lab. The effort to pull the person into the scene is obvious and I really enjoyed that effort.



Finally the FX. I won't ruin what you will find in the house but what I will say is that I saw some amazing FX that I have never seen before. The FX were definitely a new way of distorting your concentration and focus. Everything you need to make a good scare. So go and check it out. I think you will be impressed too!

Length


Not including the miniscule wait the whole house took about 35 minutes to get through (and I have to admit I was walking pretty quickly...to the dismay of the two girls behind me). I will add, however, that this haunt did such a good job at distorting your senses and messing with your mind that it felt as if you had been in the house much much longer.

Crowd Control


There was no crowd to control when I arrived but the event had this problem under control (I am sure) with two Washington County deputies being on site and monitoring those that were coming and going.

Most Memorable Moment


I really do not like this part because I do not like giving scares away to those that are heading to the event so this is all I will say...there is no crosswalk to speak of, so watch out for the car. :p

Summary

This haunt had something for everyone. If you do not jump at least once during this haunt there is something wrong with you. Great scenes, great actors, and great fun, this haunt is definitely a 5 out of 5.

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March 7th, 2021 6:10 a.m. CST 13.5