Newbie Review Crew Member

Joel (dirkadirka)

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Previous Reviews: 2009 | 2008

2009 Reviews

Please note: this review is for the 2009 season rather than the current season.

Hubertus House of Horror

by dirkadirka (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 23, 2009 at about 3:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

Hubertus House of Horror is as old as me and I am glad we finally met.  This family-friendly haunt has kept victims coming back for 26 years and I have no reason to doubt they will be around 26 more.  Your journey will lead you deep into a decrepit house to experience a mineshaft, crazy clowns, animatronic monsters, a 20+ft. vortex, and general creepiness.

Signage / Visibility / Location


The online directions made finding the haunted house easy.  Despite the rural setting, there are two welcoming bars located on the same corner.  Who’s up for Karaoke!

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


A large school gym has food, movies, video games and music to keep everyone occupied while they wait.  And you probably will have to wait because this is a very popular attraction that fills up fast every weekend in October.

Actors' Performance


The actors were more entertaining than scary but there was a lot of energy in their performance.  Several rooms had extended dialogue that encouraged interaction from the guests.  My favorite actor was the prisoner busting out of his jail cell.  Best scare in the house!  I also liked the hands reaching out in the dark to grab at your feet.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


The haunt starts off with a bus simulator piloted by Freddy Krueger himself.  It was a great concept but like a lot of rooms I felt it was just a few ghouls away from outstanding.  We were confused about the theme in several areas and were unsure of when to move on. 

Most monsters wore some sort of mask or makeup, but don’t expect to see any gore.  This makes Hubertus appropriate for younger children compared to most haunted houses. The feeling you get from walking through a tired old house is awesome although the uneven footing can be treacherous.

Length


Our group took fifteen minutes to get through the house.  Average length I guess.

Crowd Control


Groups of people are combined to form blocks of eight.  This seems pretty high, but Hubertus does a good job of making it work.  We got shuffled in almost every room and rarely left in the order we entered.  This requires you to get pretty cozy with strangers so get ready to make some new friends.  The pacing was very well timed and we never saw the group in front of us.

Most Memorable Moment


I’m not sure why blacklighting, 3-D artwork, and clowns always get thrown together, but it is definitely trippy.  The 3-D glasses heighten that sensation and Hubertus makes these rooms work better than anyone.

Summary

The evil grandmother of haunted houses in the Milwaukee area.  Hubertus House of Horror continues to entertain customers every year because the operators love what they do and are good at it.   This non-profit organization uses 100% of the proceeds to benefit St. Gabriel School.

For a quick detour, stop by Holy Hill on your way to Hubertus.  The impressive church looks incredibly eerie lit up against a misting October sky.

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Please note: this review is for the 2009 season rather than the current season.

Lister F/X Presents Monster Mayhem Haunted Laser Tag (CLOSED)

by dirkadirka (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 23, 2009 at about 6 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

Monster Mayhem is a one-of-a-kind Halloween attraction.   In only its second year of operation it has already become one of the more intriguing haunts in Milwaukee.  The unique theme should appeal to both adults and kids.  Plus, the great location is worth a trip even if you chicken out.  I would especially recommend it to people who are tired of traditional haunted houses and looking for something new. 

I think there may have been a technical problem or some miscommunication because our tour ended rather abruptly after we stumbled into an access hallway for the staff.  One of the actors tried to stay in character as he led us out but he seemed as confused as we were.   I wasn’t upset because this happened towards the end of the haunt and I believe we were the last group of the night.  The worst part was that I never found out how the story ended after being sucked into the entire theme.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


The queue forms in a back stairwell and there was no line entertainment.  That’s okay because we were entering a secret military installation and the screams from the groups ahead kept us on edge. 

Less than 15 people were in line when we got to Monster Mayhem, but I am sure the bar and pizza parlor upstairs make longer waits more enjoyable.  I did not expect to get in so quickly because a quality haunted attraction likes this deserves more customers on a Friday night.

Actors' Performance


All of the actors do a great job of pulling you into the story and making the experience more real.  Brave soldiers sacrifice their lives to keep your group alive and provide safe passage.  Other soldiers and personnel have become infected and hunger for human flesh.   The whole scene is perfectly chaotic as you get whisked from one room to a next.   These actors make this a fantastic haunt.  I promise you will not experience another one like it in the area.  In general, nothing was terrifying but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


I’m guessing the budget is smaller than other haunted houses in Milwaukee.  However, great scene construction and original ideas easily keep it on par with the competition.  Several rooms are worth mentioning but I especially liked the body parts falling down the laundry chute and the zombies devouring a victim on a hospital gurney.

Length


Short but sweet. 15 minutes and I was satisfied.

Most Memorable Moment


It’s called Monster Mayhem for a reason.  This giant beast scared my whole group and I am still not sure how they did it.

Summary

A fully-immersive haunted house and a really cool concept.  Monster Mayhem is one of my favorite two or three haunts this year and I am already excited to see what they come up with next Halloween.

View all Lister F/X Presents Monster Mayhem Haunted Laser Tag (CLOSED) reviews

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Please note: this review is for the 2009 season rather than the current season.

House of Bathory (CLOSED)

by dirkadirka (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 17, 2009 at about 4:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

Dead by Dawn Productions has surprised haunt-goers for years.  The reason for that reaction is not the scares, although there are plenty of those.   Instead, it is the unique take on “traditional haunted houses” that makes House of Bathory stand apart.   It feels as though monsters actually live in the sets they inhabit rather than just visiting for the haunting season.   They also take harmless themes and spin them around with demented glee until they are either funny, scary, or both.


Signage / Visibility / Location


The haunt is located behind a costume shop on South 8th Street in downtown Manitowoc.  I stupidly forgot my directions and cursed Manitowoc’s layout and one-ways, but it shouldn’t have been that hard.  Flashing lights and music from the entrance make the location obvious once you are close.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Lines are miserable under almost any circumstances.  If you are over 21, I would highly recommend buying your ticket and relocating to the Fat Seagull down the block until your number gets called.  Otherwise you are stuck waiting on the street in the cold.  We enjoyed a cozy bar and a beer while listening to live music.  Pretty sweet.

Actors' Performance


The acting in House of Bathory was somewhat spotty.  For every amazing Ronald McDonald and Michael Jackson there were at least as many ghouls who basically stood motionless and stared at you.  This may have been partly due to the number of young children staffing the haunt on our visit. 

Unlike most other haunts, touching is allowed by the monsters.  While surprising, it is not overdone and only helps make the experience more real.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


The House of Bathory has four essential haunt elements while most are happy to have one: a slide, claustrophobic room, vortex tunnel, and chainsaws.  Combine this with sets that range from funny to disturbing, or sometimes both, and it adds up to a very unique attraction.  However, some of the scenes are pretty similar to last year and it would have been nice to see more ghouls in makeup instead of masks. Several rooms could have been filled out more making it easier to understand the intended theme.

Length


It took us 15 minutes.  I wish it had been longer but I am guessing they are already squeezing the most out of the space they have.  Victims navigate through three floors and an outside scene before being released back into reality.

Crowd Control


The staff at the House of Bathory makes pacing a top priority.  Group sizes are small and spaced out with plenty of room in between.  This makes the customer experience better but also helps the actors reset and relax before another crowd comes marching through.  Many other haunted houses have great scenes and scares that miss the mark because the timing is off.  Nothing breaks the mood more than having to wait for the group in front of you to leave a room.

Most Memorable Moment


One room had me pretty worried.  My buddy said he figured it out right away, so maybe I was just too far back in the group.  It was pretty genius either way.  I’ll leave it at that.

Summary

Based on past years, the House of Bathory has set the bar high for itself.   A few minor details kept it from being an A+, but overall I thought it once again delivered a very unique and entertaining experience.

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Please note: this review is for the 2009 season rather than the current season.

Dominion of Terror

by dirkadirka (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 17, 2009 at about 3:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Very High

Review

Always in my top three, this year Dominion of Terror is my favorite haunt in Wisconsin.   This non-profit event never repeats rooms and always has expert set design/construction.  What surprised me this year was the scare factor.   This is easily the most difficult aspect of a haunt to review because there are so many variables that can change an already subjective experience.
  
I was forced to go first and got the initial glance at each room.  Several times I groaned and sincerely dreaded uncovering what horror lay within.  In the worst rooms, (or best depending on how you look at it), we would all get an initial scare, then become disoriented, then frantically look for an exit which was never obvious.  It may sound strange, but this required team work by a group of strangers and there was a sense of relief every time we made it out together.
   
There is a difference between being scared and being fearful.  Big noises, surprises, and shocking gore may scare you, but being terrified requires a human element that monsters and props can’t deliver.  Dominion of Terror was terrifying to me because the actors got in my head and clouded the part of my brain that says, “This isn’t real, just have fun.”  Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that anyone else will have the same experience as me, but in my case it worked.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Day or night, rain or shine, Halloween or not, this hundred year old
warehouse is creepy and the outdoor waiting area sets up the terror to
come perfectly.   From the hearse to the lights flashing through
boarded up windows, the whole scene is appropriately ominous and heavy
metal music does nothing to cover up the roar of a chainsaw that awaits
your group.  Two mental patients roved the snaking line and
relentlessly scared a group of young girls.  Their fake screams turned
very real when they accompanied my buddy and I through the haunt.

Actors' Performance


The sheer number of actors made all the scares more successful.  This allowed these ghouls to come at intruders in waves and keep anybody from getting complacent.  They employed startling, screaming, running, dialogue, moaning, misdirection, chainsaws, you name it.  At one point my friend got separated from our group and the morbid janitor whispered to him, “It’s just you and me now.”  The gate-keeper that greeted us at the entrance to the graveyard unsettled our entire group and set the tone for the rest of the haunt.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Dominion of Terror has a unique way of continuing themes for three or four rooms before transitioning to the next idea.  The school setting was great, but the torture rooms are truly haunting.  We felt sympathy for all the victims and the image of one particular girl with a leg injury will remain burned in my brain.

The attention to detail is fantastic in every room.  This is also true for all actors.  I did not see a single store-bought mask and the gory makeup is almost nauseating, in a good way.

Length


Time stretches depending on how scared you are.  It took us 25 minutes, but seemed to go on forever and a tiny part of me was relieved to be finished.  No comedic or “pop culture” rooms broke up the action and the feeling of being in a horror movie persisted from beginning to end.

Crowd Control


Very good pacing.  We bolted through several rooms trying to get out as quick as possible and still did not run into the group ahead of us until halfway finished.  Some nifty misdirection by an actor allowed us to pass them and we never saw the poor souls again.

Most Memorable Moment


Of all the great actors, my favorite was the zombie in the graveyard.  He nailed his performance and should try out for the next George Romero:  ___-of the Dead movie.

Summary

I can’t guarantee you will be as scared as I was, but the $12 admission goes to a good cause.  The length is above average, the setting is above average, the scenes are above average, and in my opinion the actors are above average.  Might as well go find out for yourself, no?

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Please note: this review is for the 2009 season rather than the current season.

Wisconsin Feargrounds

by dirkadirka (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at about 5:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

The Feargrounds have built a reputation as one of the best Halloween events in Wisconsin.  The praise is well deserved because this big-budget production pays attention to all the details, both big and small.  Find out for yourself why this is the busiest haunt in the Milwaukee area.

Signage / Visibility / Location


Waukesha County Fair Grounds.  Look for the parking area with lots and lots of cars.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Bring warm clothes because although the waiting area is covered it is not heated and lines will get very long closer to Halloween.  A handful of Waukesha police are around every night and security is monitored both inside and outside all three haunts.

Actors' Performance


Very good overall.  We especially liked Jasper the goat and the leather trench coat maniac.  His face looked like the doll from Saw and he was all over the place.  Expert room construction allows these monsters to shortcut between rooms and continue the scare.  Having such active ghouls makes it seem as though there are twice as many people out to get you.  However, there were too many times when an actor delivers a line and then proceeds to physically block your path to the next room or tries to corner someone in the group.  This is not scary, just really uncomfortable.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


All three attractions have a different theme and stick to it.  In the manor you wind through the library, dining room, bedroom and hallways of a decrepit and demonically inhabited mansion.  Torment messes with your senses a bit more and sends you through a maze and several dark passageways.  Finally, Unstable makes you aware of fears involving farms and livestock that you didn’t know existed.   The continuity is impressive, but I actually prefer a hodgepodge of ideas and rooms that don’t necessary connect.  Attention to detail and room design is superb from beginning to end including the actors’ makeup.

Length


Morgan Manor was long.  Torment was short.  Unstable was average.  I obviously forgot to look at my watch.

Most Memorable Moment


Waiting in line always sucks, but Morgan Manor made it a bit more fun this year.  A camera is set up inside the haunt and people in the queue can watch each scare on a screen.   I was surprised how many people went limp and fell on the floor when scared…not exactly fight-or-flight.  We tried to guess where the camera was located on our walk-through and failed.

Summary

Morgan Manor will not disappoint but Torment and Unstable are more of the same.  Save the $15 and check out another haunted house in the area.

View all Wisconsin Feargrounds reviews

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Please note: this review is for the 2009 season rather than the current season.

Hauntfest - CLOSED -

by dirkadirka (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at about 4 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review


Although the theme is Neverland, don't expect MJ to make too many appearances at Hauntfest. It is unfortunate because there are some truly terrifying scenes that could have been created from his life.
Push that disappointment aside and enjoy the haunted house for what it is: a series of well done rooms meant to scare and entertain you. What you get is a group of themes that make no sense at all when put together (a disembodied robot Micheal Jackson skull as an example). Why are you
getting into an elevator or traveling through a swamp? Who cares, it's fun!

Signage / Visibility / Location


Hauntfest is located on the State Fair grounds just south of I-94. No, it is not inside the big pumpkin. Keep driving down 84th St. until you see flashing lights and signs. Street parking is available in the adjacent neighborhood, or you can pay to park in the secure lot operated by State Fair personnel.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


We got in right away but the wait area seemed well equipped to handle crowds. Large screens pay tribute to the best videos from the King of Pop and there is a tent equipped with lights and a DJ booth ready to break out a dance party when groups get bigger/wetter. Several ghouls trolled those waiting looking for easy marks to scare.

Actors' Performance


The monsters inhabiting Hauntfest use a number of different tactics to terrorize their victims. Some are quiet and creepy while others will scream your brain fuzzy. It's not overdone, but be prepared to leave with your ears ringing. Scares come from above and below with unsettling dialogue breaking up the usual in-your-face surprises. No particular performances stood out, but the actors were at least average.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Almost all actors had great makeup and unique costumes. Try to notice some of those details before running out of a room. The different scenes try to assault all of your senses during a visit. You will be spun around, lost, disoriented, blinded, squeezed and probably end up on your hands and knees at some point. Trust me; it's better than it sounds. Again, no particular room was groundbreaking but all were well done.

Length


I forgot to check, but it was longer than expected. The entertainment is sustained throughout because there is no wasted space or empty hallways. Most guests went as groups of two, but later in the season expect group size and pacing to increase.

Most Memorable Moment


We briefly ran into the man in charge of Hauntfest who was sporting fangs and creepy contacts. He wasn't doing it to scare guests or staff a particular room. Apparently it pumps him up and helps him get into the spirit of Hauntfest. Those are the types of people you want running a haunted house.

Summary

A "standard" haunted house done really well. After visiting multiple years, it seems that Hauntfest can be a schizophrenic production that has good years and bad years. Luckily, this is a good year.

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April 23rd, 2024 12:23 a.m. CDT 24.01