Newbie Review Crew Member

Bob (louiscyphre)

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Previous Reviews: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

2008 Reviews

Please note: this review is for the 2008 season rather than the current season.

Burial Chamber Haunted House Complex

by louiscyphre (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 18, 2008 at about 2 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: High

Review

A lot of fun, though suffers occasionally from an apparent issue some haunts are having, with multiple houses at one location leading to a dilution of scares.  These guys do get points for having one of the haunts be an outside walk through a haunted woods (inexplicably named "Phobia"), which was incredibly, pants-wettingly scary.  Man, if you're scared of zombies, you're basically toast here -- best damn zombies this reviewer has ever seen; my scalp is off to the actors out there in the cold dark woods, shuffling along behind or toward us, contorting their bodies, dragging their busted leg behind them....  Oy Vey.  And I like how they just let the dark woods be the dark woods, and then something would come lurching out from behind the trees...

So, three haunts to go through, and also a little burial simulator, where you get put in a coffin, and then you go through a whole Disney-Haunted-Mansion's-trashier-cousin thing where you're "lowered" into the grave and someone is talking about how you're going to an "Underworld of Doom" (are there other kinds of Underworlds?) where your soul will something something something...I will say, though, being put in a coffin has its own disturbing "is there enough oxygen in here" sense to it.

Ghouls in this haunt also seemed a bit more on point about performance; there's a disturbing "bikini wax" offered, a cool and confusing Autopsy Room, and a child's room where we're still not sure who was a mannequin and who wasn't.  Another really cool point -- the ghouls in these haunts don't just
menace you by growling or saying something threatening, they're also
making weird little noises, like clicking or sniffling or snorting or
whining or rattling something in their throat.  I liked that they
really seemed to be trying to unnerve you on multiple levels.  And boy,
that haunted woods.


And for all those Allie McBeal fans out there (anyone?), get ready for a Dancing Baby of a very different order....

Signage / Visibility / Location


Very easy to find; just off the main highway, it's a whole complex with a parking lot in front and very clearly marked (how could it not be, I suppose), with a blazing searchlight over the whole thing. 

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


We got there right when they opened, so didn't wait in line very much, thank Satan, 'cause the lines when we left at 8:30 were wrapping around the buildings, so get there early.  There are huge video screens which were showing Rob Zombie videos (appropro), but then sometimes would show footage of stand-up comedians and SNL and dance videos.  I didn't really understand.  They also have a huge tent and a well-stocked concessions stand, including mini-donuts, which are kind of the (un)holy grail of concessions to this writer.  And, again, points for them; the guy cooking Brats on a grill also had bloody body parts on the grill, in case you were into something more exotic, I suppose. 

Actors' Performance


Im-freakin-pressive, there is a giant Dancing Baby who danced us out of his room (very cool idea, guys), the autopsy room doctors click and swing a mean scalpel, and there is a really really cool leaf monster in the Haunted Woods (I'm sorry, "Phobia") who came out of a pile of leaves and crawled along the ground and kept following us while making weird hard-to-pin-down noises.  I can't tell you how disturbing it is to have something emerging from the bank of a body of water and just make weird noises and crawl after you in the dark woods.  And, as above, awesome awesome zombies.  Oh, and we llked the vampire lady who does crowd control at the front of one of the haunts.  I wonder if they have a group of college theatre people helping out or something -- ghouls seemed like they gave it kind of an extra something. 

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Good stuff; really cool underground tunnel look at one point, some elaborate sets, spooky outhouses, but a little too much dark hallways.  Maybe the dark hallways are one way to space out groups; I don't know. 

Length


Very good -- each haunt took about 20 minutes to go through, and then you wait in line for the next one.  I bet this could get kind of ponderous if there are lots and lots of people, though, so get there early.  But I guess you could enjoy some delicious mini-donuts while you're waiting, so it's not all that bad. 

Crowd Control


As above, there's a huge tent and concessions.  You line up outside whichever haunt you want to go through and get to watch videos. 

Most Memorable Moment


Dancing Baby Dancing Baby Dancing Baby.  And pretty much all the ghouls and zombies in the Haunted Woods (You too, Leaf Monster!). 

Summary

A very enjoyable haunt experience, though I could see it being even better if there were less haunts to go through overall, and they correspondingly upped the quality of remaining scenes; really, one does get kind of numb after traipsing through three haunts in the course of 1.5 hours.  Impressive actors who seemed to really get into it, and I bet think up new ways to disturb people on a regular basis; whoever came up with the "clicking"/other weird noises idea should get a gold star (if ghouls do indeed value gold stars).  I got the impression the people doing this are enjoying themselves, and it showed.  Recommended. 

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Please note: this review is for the 2008 season rather than the current season.

Wisconsin Feargrounds

by louiscyphre (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 17, 2008 at about 3:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

Geez, I was just a little disappointed; I mean, obviously they've worked very hard on their haunt again this year, and maybe we were there on an off-night, but...having attended Morgan Manor two years ago and being impressed with the imagination, characterization, and overall creativity and execution of the place, I had high expectations for the three haunted houses of Wisconsin Feargrounds...and they were good, but just not mind-blowingly cool.  There are three houses in all, including a 3-D Funhouse where you have to wear 3-D glasses to get the full effect, which sounds really cool, is really cool at first, but by the end, just kind of cool.  It feels to me like they were trying to do too much this time, and stretched the contents of one Grade-A+ Haunted House into three Grade-B+ Haunts.  So, I guess, it takes more time to cover the whole thing, but the effect is eventually diluted, and, to be honest, I was kind of tired of it all by the end of the third haunt.  It also felt like stretching the haunts out over three locations led to less ghouls, as we noticed a number of the same ghouls having to cut through and be used in multiple rooms and scenes.  I dunno, It felt like there were some budget cuts or something, less ghouls ultimately doing more work; maybe they should unionize. 

Actually, I hope all that doesn't sound too negative; we did have a really good time overall, and there are some scenes in here which are amazing -- one in particular, involving having to work your way through an increasingly narrowing rubbery space, with the walls and ceiling actually drooping down onto you more and more as you advance and it seems to be getting harder to breathe and which actually kind of panicked several members of our group, was an incredibly original scene; everyone in my group talked this up for the 45 minute ride home, so hats off to whoever thought that up -- we need more of you!  Oh, and there is a potted plant that isn't what it seems...and some of the 3-D illustrations in the Funhouse were super-cool.  I mean, a 3-D painting of a malevolent Winnie the Pooh holding a bloody butcher's knife aloft is in its own orbit of cool. 

Signage / Visibility / Location


Very easy to find, just follow directions on the website, right off 90/94, in the Waukesha Fairgrounds (hence the pun).  Tons of parking, including actual restrooms and not just porta-potties, which was a big hit with the ladies.  The Haunt is in several buildings on the grounds. 

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Very efficient, they line you up in various columns and let subsequent groups in individually.  There's a lot to do while waiting, they have various crowd-distractor games to watch or participate in like that Gladiator thing where two opponents stand on padded posts and try to knock each other off with padded Darth Maulish double-sided sticks.  And it looked like they had some kind of bouncy-boxing thing, too; I wasn't sure if these cost money to do or not (it got kind of confusing).  There were some nicely-made-up ghouls walking around menacing the people in line.  Oh, and the waiting area is in a heated tent, so it was quite comfortable. 

Actors' Performance


Performances were good, some scenes had some really great little storylines developing (shout out due to the Librarian Ghoul!), and there was one ragged-y guy wandering around who kept yelling that he "just wants to see (my) wife and children!" who was really great, 'cause that's a very different approach to unnerving the customers; someone should ask him what happened....  I also liked the clown who was looking for "Chuckie!" in the 3-D Funhouse; sometimes you would hear him calling this out from other rooms and it would rhythmically line up with the weird music in the Funhouse for a cool effect.  I also liked that the urinator on the toilet apologizes for peeing on you (!).  It doesn't cost anything to be polite. 

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Well, there's a lot of hanging stuff that you have to duck, and lots and lots of smelly hemp rope used.  Actually, there's a space where there are all these human heads (severed human heads!) hanging all over and blocking your way, and when you knock into one, it hits a bunch of the others, and then you've got yourself a hallway of swinging human heads on strings to get through, which is even more awkward than it sounds.  There is also lots of fog and strobes and lasers in various rooms, used to varying effect.  And, as above, the 3-D Funhouse is quite cool, but seemed a little lacking in ghouls and scares when we went through; can I just put in another call to stop over-monsterizing clowns?  A clown is creepy and scary all by itself, people, it doesn't need blood-red eyes and dripping fangs and a hook hand and bat wings and a stupid chainsaw.  Just make it a clown!

The giant 3-D illustrations on the walls of the 3-D Funhouse are pretty much a must-see, though they range from boring, overly-fangy horror movie stereotypes ( see above) to cool and creative perversions of childhood iconography. 

Length


Excellent, each house took about 15-20 minutes to go through, and we never ran into other groups, so pacing was really good. 

Crowd Control


As above, very well-done, you wait in columns and they let you in a column at a time.  They also sold concessions outside near the ticket space. 

Most Memorable Moment


I have to say, having a whole rubbery passage close in on you while also slowly dropping down on you was a bit like being swallowed; never experienced that before!

Summary

Overall, I had too-high expectations for this one; on its own merits, well-done, but not as creative or engaging as I had seen in the past.  Stretching over three haunts dilutes the overall effect, and I would suggest tightening this up in the future.  Was still a lot of fun, and you should probably see what a 3-D Funhouse looks like, anyway.  And beware the potted plant!

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Please note: this review is for the 2008 season rather than the current season.

The Haunted Barn Stoughton (PERMANENTLY CLOSED)

by louiscyphre (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 11, 2008 at about 4 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

An enjoyable, home-grown haunt, making full use of its farmy-setting to provide victims with several different stages of spookiness, including walking through a haunted barn, then outside up a spooky, moonlit hill, through a forest and graveyard at the top, then down past a cornfield, where you're eventually forced to creep through a schoolbus (perhaps having just unloaded Isaac and Malachi and the rest of the Children -- hey, that's a cool idea!) and back into the barn for a final go.  I really love these outside, nighttime haunts on clear evenings; there were some points where you could look down over the whole farm from the top of the hill and see all the different lights and action and get an idea of scenes to come...chilling and cool. 

This is not a haunt which is telling a story, and is more in the vein of wanting to scare you suddenly rather than break you down with a creeping sense of dread, so if you like your haunts jumpy and "Rargh!"-y, this is for you.  Not as sophisticated as some of the more expensive and professional haunts in the bigger areas, but definitely worth the money, took a nice amount of time to go through, and, as above, had great atmosphere.  A Wisconsin farm on a moonlit night, how can you go wrong?

And, the snackstand had kittens for sale!

Signage / Visibility / Location


It's pretty clear that it's the haunted farm from the highway; coming from the north, just take 51 south through Stoughton, and it's in the country right outside the city.  The farm is all lit up and such, and looks suitably atmospheric. 

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


We had no wait, which was great; attractive little area outside the barn where they sell popcorn and soda, etc, including a little trailer giftshop with cool haunted house supplies and funky halloween black-light esoterica.  Staff was really friendly and seemed to be enjoying themselves  And they had kittens for sale.  Vicious little kittens.

Actors' Performance


Performances were fine, but don't expect a lot of characterization; this isn't a haunted house where they're necessarily telling a story, and they seemed to be more intent on surprising and intimidating you.  We did get chased by a giant-headed grim reaper-type who did a fantastic job of looking inanimate until we had passed him...Oh, and I must give props to the three (two? I got confused, they seemed to multiply) little ghoul kids who out-screamed our little group of Grade-A screamers.  The lung capacity on this generation -- this is how we keep America competitive, people!

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Scenes kind of basic, cemetery, cornfield, etc, but again, really cool atmosphere.  You know what I really liked?  There is some kind of great sound and lighting system all throughout the farm, or maybe just really excellent acoustics, 'cause you could hear all kinds of things, music and thunder and stuff, while walking around outside and then in and outside the barn, so it kind of all hung together and added to the spookiness.  They had the barn rigged for lightning to flash overhead inside every now and then, and a lot of the usual halloween props, like cut-up body parts, etc.  Lightning -- cool.  Cut-up body parts -- not so exciting anymore, but that might just be me being jaded from going to lots of haunted houses over the years.   Anyway, space in the barn is made good use of, and they have a cool vortex at the beginning, which kind of implies that you're going through a portal into another dimension -- of horror!

Really liked the deserted schoolbus, too; where did they get that?

And Freddy Krueger looked like he had real metal knife-fingers; where did they get those?

And they had kittens for sale.  I suppose those came from another cat. 

Length


Very nice length, maybe about 20 minutes, and we kind of moved through it rather quickly after being chased a couple of times. 

Crowd Control


No crowd when we were there, 9 PM on Saturday night (but probably very early in the season).  Looks like it would work fine, though, plenty of parking and wait area was sizeable and offered distractions, like the gift-trailer.  And the kittens. 

Most Memorable Moment


The view from the top of the hill, standing in the cemetery, looking down over the farm and seeing ghouls roaming about, other patrons being terrified and screaming, and knowing we were going to have to eventually start down the hill ourselves...

Summary

Again, a good atmospheric haunt with a genuinely spooky, outside-at-night, moon-shining-over-everything, sense to it; this is the kind of haunt you can only get in places like Wisconsin, with our wide-open farm country and rolling hills and readily-available chainsaws and deserted barns and home-grown, beloved cannibals. 


And did I mention there were kittens for sale?  Mmmmm....delicious kittens. 

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June 16th, 2024 11:44 p.m. CDT 24.08