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Newbie Review Crew Member

Bob (louiscyphre)

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Previous Reviews: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

2010 Reviews

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

Schuster's Haunted Forest

by louiscyphre (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 23, 2010 at about 3 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review

Schuster's is a great nighttime-on-a-spooky-working-farm haunt, with much to keep you occupied and setting a monstrously good mood that one only gets in the wonderfully isolated wilds of Wisconsin -- Shadowy Wisconsin Farms In the Middle of the Night, we salute thee!.  


Signage / Visibility / Location


Very easy to find, follow Google, right off the main highway.  If you're coming from Madison and you get to Deerfield proper, you've gone too far.  Be warned, though, it's out there on it's own, you are really stranded in the middle of nowhere, nestled within spooky undulating cornfields and rolling hills....oh, and parking is on a huge grass lot, so be prepared if it's been raining, I could see this getting messy.  

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


These guys do a bang-up job, we waited literally about 1.5 hours, and it went by fast; there are two waits before you get to the haunt proper, but because it's all spaced out (and there's a hair-raising ride in a filthy cattle pen/cage thingy in the middle of one of them, more on that later), it seems like not a lot of time has passed. 

There are all kinds of things to do while waiting in the first line, there's a bakery barn where they sell pumpkin baked goods and cookies and fudge and some other kinds of stuff like pumpkin carving kits, and there's also a food stand where you can get stuff like burgers and popcorn, oh and they sell fresh kettle corn, which appears to excite many people.  There's also a corn maze (that I think you can wander around in after dark, too) and there appeared to be lots of things for kids to do, but they seemed to be closing by the time we got there, so be warned.  They also have the original Children of the Corn movie projected onto the side of one of the barns while you're waiting patiently, nicely adding to the mood; nothing like a 20 foot tall closeup of Malachi's screaming face to get you all revved up for some corn-fed horror!

Second wait is different, you're dropped off at the edge of a dark forest and have to find your way up a path to a leaning, fire-lit cabin, and there's nothing connected to the "real world" anymore, so take those potty breaks and fill those tummies before stepping foot in the cattle pen, people!  They rev up the terror at the final wait, with an awesome chainsaw guy at one point who literally split the line down the middle with his swingin' chainsaw.  Also, be warned, shots will be fired at one point, so pack your kevlar, although they appeared to be shooting into the air while we were there.  Maybe we got lucky.  

Actors' Performance


Consistently most excellent -- ghouls are obviously thinking about their roles here and some have clearly developed little patters or styles; love that sometimes they approach you and try to talk to you or warn you, other times they walk around and make unsettling noises, other times they just stand or lay there, other times they just want you to come up and see them.  Shout out to the hordes of clowns this haunt apparently employs, and to one of the best things in the whole haunt, the creepy creepy creepy little old lady with the hands of a man, who does announcements and drives the cattle-pen-pulling tractor, she is one awesome spook; nothing like watching an old lady in a headscarf hang off the side of a cattle pen turning her head awkwardly and silently up toward the stars, and then suddenly jumping over the cage wall and trying to grab the waiting patrons!  This guy deserves something for this performance, and damn, he's freaking funny, too.  That quivering voice, yeesh....

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Setting is terrific, and, as above, they do a wonderful job of setting the mood, with loud and unexpected sounds and a general atmosphere of isolated rural creepiness.  I mean, how can you not start to feel something when you're loaded into a rusting cattle pen dragged behind a speeding tractor driven by some crazy old lady who was just a few minutes ago trying to grab people?  And man, that lady has one hell of a lead foot!  

Within the haunt proper, you're basically wandering up and down this hillside in a dark forest and coming upon scenes, sometimes in little houses or structures, sometimes just outside under the moon.  There appears to be a little story playing out at times, I think you're told the basis for it by the Little Old Lady's Animatronic Sister, but we weren't able to hear it due to some annoying tweens talking about important issues that apparently concern them more than listening to the story they just paid $12 for!  I think the story has to do with a Family Stew or something, I would advise listening more closely to this, I think it puts some things in the haunt into a clearer context.

Schuster's also plays with your senses, smells and sounds and physicality (not to give it away, but claustrophobics  might want to pack a little extra valium for the hanging hemp rope scene (I think it might have been a mine, but am unsure).  There is also precious little animatronic stuff in this haunt, praise Satan, and more emphasis on the little scenes and ghoulwork; people come at you from all angles, and not always just to yell loudly in your ear, sometimes they just want to be of assistance...assisting you right into a trap! 

Oh, and for those of you who love a carnival, you'll be happy to know you've been taken into account here and the joy and wonder of a carnival is hereby corrupted quite nicely.  

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS:

At one point, apparently broken down en route to clown college (or more likely the clown penitentiary), you have to walk through an abandoned school bus....filled with delightful clowns who are not particularly helpful, let me tell you.  Awesome clownwork here, people!  Also love the military mannequin, and the troll around the bridge with the long long nose and the unsettling approach and retreat.  Oh, and try the Ghoul Aid, it's quite...surprising.  

Length


Took about a half hour to get through, just right.  Also felt that they do such a good job with the lead-up to the haunt while you're waiting that that's actually part of the fun.  Plenty of entertainment here.  

Crowd Control


Good job, never ran into another group, they space you out in groups and are willing to be flexible to accommodate people; we had a really large group and they offered to let us all go in together, but we decided to split it up, which worked nicely.  Too large of a group = too many people who don't get the full scare.  

Most Memorable Moment


--Little Old Lady with the Man Hands
--So many wonderful clowns

Summary

Most excellent haunt of the kind one only gets in Wisconsin, this is part of why I love living here.  I suspect Schuster's has been doing this for a long time, and it shows; they seem to have things down to a science and it's got a great home-grown feel to it.  No fancy flashing store/convention-bought horrors here, my children, just a bunch of imaginative people and a dark forest and an urge to scare the crap outta ya.  

One tip, though, we thought we were being all cool and went on the night of a full moon, and this both added to the fun, in that it's cool looking out over the hills or up past the trees in the creeping moonlight, and detracted from it, in that we could see things a little too clearly sometimes, and so some of the scares weren't as effective as they could have been.  I would advise attending on the darker evenings, if possible, if you want the full effect.  Whatever the case, though, it's a thoroughly enjoyable haunt that has a lot going for it -- you can make a whole night of this one if you want, and you'll definitely get your money's worth.  

View all Schuster's Haunted Forest reviews

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

Haunted Cornfield at Meadowbrook Pumpkin Farm

by louiscyphre (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at about 2:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review


Freakin' Exhaustin'! This is one haunt you want to set aside the whole night for, 'cause it's going to put you through the ringer and back again. Sweet satan, it's a 45 minute hike through a maze of the tallest corn this reviewer and companions have ever seen, they grow 'em big up there in West Bend, maybe it's something in the water, something like...Evil! You're literally wandering through corridors of corn here, it must have been 15 feet high, I kid you not, constant reader, twice the height of a normal person. There's a nice mix of animatronic and live actors sprinkled throughout the haunt, as well as various scenes and little buildings placed at spots in the maze to keep your interest up. You're literally trapped in some of the scenes, too, which is wonderfully unsettling, we ended up banging on walls at one place to try to find an exit, of which there turned out to be none -- these ghouls don't screw around!

Signage / Visibility / Location


Follow directions from Google, very easy to find, it's on a working farm that appears to have the farmer's house right smack in the middle of all the action, that must be very sweet as they lay their sleepy heads down upon their pillows and fall asleep to the screams of terror emanating over their rolling hills and pastures.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment



As I said, it's a working farm, and there are a bunch of things to do, like shop in the little store (lots of Halloween stuff and craft stuff in several rooms), and you can get stuff to eat at a little stand that gives its money to a German Shepherd rescue organization; it has things like hamburgers and brats and popcorn and candy bars and there are a bunch of picnic tables at the bonfire that you can go eat at. You buy your tickets at the store checkout counter, and then get a bracelet with a number on it. They have an LED sign system with several locations on the farm, so you can wander around a little and watch for your number to be called; they call numbers in groups of 50, and then you go line up and wait to get let into the haunt. There's also a "quickline" ticket that allows you to get directly in line without waiting.



There are also a bunch of living animals in various fenced-off areas that you can marvel at or bother while you wait, like a donkey (whose braying was pretty creepy), emus (yes, emus), ducks and geese, llamas, goats, and then there was Bunnytown, which has little bunnies all romping about, apparently impervious to the terror being visited on the humans only tens of feet away -- where is your sense of decency, little bunnies? There's also a bonfire you can go sit around; there appeared to be a large man in a black leather hat and coat with a cane tending the bonfire, and I got the impression he may tell spooky stories or something, but we didn't hear any while we were there, though we were there quite early. No ghouls wandering around that we saw, but that was okay, the freakin' haunt is 45 minutes long, and you don't really need any pre-show entertainment.

Actors' Performance


Now, there are a mix of animatronic and real actors in this haunt, sometimes its hard to tell who is who, but the actors we did definitively run into were topnotch and taking their terrorizing (and being terrified, sorry about abandoning you, oh Strung-Up-By-the-Giant-Spiders-Guy!) very seriously. Shout out to the gentleman running the Meat Treats stand and there's a scene where the walls move and you are literally locked in with a bunch of horrifying ghouls who really really really mean business. Also, excellent clownwork, these clowns really know how to work it..."Never trust anything a clown says!"

Sets Scenes / Props / FX



We were impressed. Scenes have clearly been thought out, and the ghouls haunting them are really good, but beware, it's a really long maze, and there will be some lag-time between the more coherent scenes and the things that just sometimes pop out of the corn on hydraulic lifts. This is actually okay, though, there's something really cool about just walking through a literal tunnel of 15-foot high corn and seeing the moon shining down on you as you wait to see what's around the next bend. They obviously really put a lot of time into this and it's clear someone here really really loves Halloween and scaring the peoples. Some of the animatronic stuff is really extremely convincing, there were actually a couple of times in which we were never sure if what was going on was animatronic or a live actor, which is a compliment to the animatronics and not a slam on the excellent actors!



Also ghouls are placed in odd locations, like above you and on the ground level, which makes things even more disorienting and unsettling.



Loved that there were also emergency exits thoughtfully placed throughout the haunt, helpfully marked "Chicken Gate," and just to add a little extra sumthin' sumthin', there appeared to be ghouls lurking just behind the "Chicken Gates!" Perhaps chicken is a favorite delicacy amongst the ghouls, and this ends up acting like a kind of feeding trough.
Oh, there are also lots of strobes and fog machines and stuff, so be ready for that; man, they don't kid around with the strobes, either -- bring your epileptic friends if you want to see a real show! Kidding!



HERE THERE BE SPOILERS:



Excellent excellent excellent op-art house with accompanying op-art clown, and a really cool decaying pirate ship. Very cool webbing area with a screaming web-cocooned man, and one house with the uplifting title of "Welcome to Hell," boasts not only a scene where you're locked in with a bunch of ghouls, but then the ceiling, which has huge spikes in it, starts to slowly lower, and, good lord, there's no door to get out of. There's also a giant octopus, yes, a giant octopus, now how cool is that?

Length


Wait for us was negligible, we were there early, and the haunt itself took 45 minutes or more to get through. It's an entire night's entertainment, you won't need to go to another haunt that night.

Crowd Control


They let you in groups of 4-6, and people are spaced out well, we could hear groups behind us sometimes, but I think the ghouls would try to delay people in order to let other groups get ahead.

Most Memorable Moment



Disorienting House with its Disorienting Accompanying Clown, and Welcome to Hell.



And just to say it again, two words -- Giant Octopus.


Summary

Corn-tastic! The Haunted Cornmaze at Meadowbrook Farms really puts you through your paces, and you get 45 minutes of exercise in, to boot. It's kind of Terror on Rural Street (Hartford)'s country cousin, which is high praise. We had a most excellent time and would recommend this highly.

View all Haunted Cornfield at Meadowbrook Pumpkin Farm reviews

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

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

by louiscyphre (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Sunday, October 10, 2010 at about 2 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: High

Review

An enjoyable storyline-driven haunt in Milwaukee located underneath a fifties-themed working pizza parlor. This is one of those haunts where you're a legitimate part of the story, in that you interact with characters throughout and outcomes are dependent on your participation. It also has a couple of godd**ned scary points where companions and I thought we were going to have heart attacks, which would make for really good publicity for Monster Mayhem, I suppose. Oh, and read the website stuff before you go -- it has some background information on the storyline that will help you put things in context.

Signage / Visibility / Location


Very easy to find, right off the interstate, Google maps very clearly lays it out, and there are big signs for Paulo's Pizzeria. Lots of parking, big parking lot shared by many businesses, all of whom are unlikely to have visitors at haunt time, I would think. I think there's a bowling alley across the street if you want something else to do post-haunting. There also looks like there's plenty of street parking.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


This is a sweet deal. There's a huge pizza parlor, retro-themed for the fifties, with things like vintage jukeboxes, vintage soda machines, booth-side mini-jukeboxes with fifties and sixties tunes on them, etc. We had dinner there before they opened (their pizza has that really good bubbly-but-crackery-crust pizza that this writer grew up on in Midwestern Illinois) and there are tons of tables and booths. They also appear to have an extensive appetizer menu and there's a whole other barroom and a separate vintage videogame/arcade room for the kiddies or the kids at heart (I have the heart of a small boy myself...in a jar on my desk! Bada Bing! I'll be here all week!), really all that one could ask for as one is waiting to fulfill one's mission to investigate the strange occurrences and disappearances in the basement formerly housing Blazzin' (sic) Lasers (actually, I think that Blazzin' (sic) Lasers is the off-season purpose of the haunt space).


You buy your tickets at the back of the restaurant and there is some kind of projector which may in the future (we were told by the ticket lady) show footage of people in the haunt, which seems like a very very clever idea. Due to the time pressures of having to work the next day, we got there when they opened and were the first guests for the night (I would not recommend this, you want to go later in the evening so the ghouls are all warmed up and hungry for blood, but if you don't want to wait, Sunday night at 7 is a good time), so there wasn't really any wait for us.

They give you wristbands once you've paid, and I think they said they call out numbers for people to get ready and then get in line. The waiting area to get in is a concrete block stairwell, lit with green lights and haunted by a zombie lady and an extra-special surprise we heard about but didn't get to see, as we were lame and went on a Sunday night instead of the more usual times of Friday and Saturday and apparently the extra-special surprise doesn't work on Sunday nights. Ghouls these days! Back in my day, ghouls would walk a mile uphill, with just bloodied stumps for legs and dragging themselves forward with skeletal flaking hands, just to work on a Sunday night. I tells ya, no respect.

Actors' Performance


This was great, even though we were there on a Sunday night (okay, now I will stop saying that), these guys were convincing and obviously really into their storyline, dead serious actors who are intent on drawing you into the unfolding plot. You play an important part at certain points, and they treat you like you have a role to play in the action yourself. Ghouls were good, and there's this cage filled with slavering ghouls in various stages of undress crawling all over each other that seemed just awfully...unsettling.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Fewer scenes than one might get in other haunts, but there's definitely more plot going on than the stereotyped haunted houses of Oh No It's Freddy Krueger, and around that corner, it's Jason! And there's Michael Myers! And a Clown with Big Fangs eating a Baby!


I think they're really trying to give you an adventure here, not just scare you with various disconnected things jumping out of the dark, so, what they lack in cliche, they make up for in interactional opportunities. I love that stuff! We were given a mission by the guy at the front and had to play it out over the course of the haunt, almost like those LARP thingies all the kids are playing these days.


Hot Tip -- they asked for some kind of number code at one point (I think it was four digits), that we hadn't gotten, and so they weren't able to deactivate the bomb and the guy at the end told us we failed our mission (Sorry guys!). So, keep your eyes peeled for a number code or listen more closely to information the characters give you and you might, just might, get to stop the bomb from going off, though I'm not sure why that means you complete your mission. If I had a hoard of zombies and ghouls running amok, I would probably make it my mission to explode a bomb down in there.

Length


Oh, about 15 minutes to get through the haunt, a little short, but that might be because we were there, yes, on a Sunday night. Again, we had no wait, but when we left, a line was already snaking up the stairs and into Paulo's Pizzeria.

Crowd Control


They sent us all in twos, and this was important in the plot, not sure if they do this on the busier nights. It was really fun, much more interaction that way, but also less fun, in that you don't get to go through the whole thing with your friends if you have more than one.

Most Memorable Moment


The cryogenic chamber and its Occupant...

Summary

Enjoyable haunt where you play a more active role in things and all the characters connect up into a grand plot that relies on you to do more than just be scared. In some ways, it kind of made it scarier, in that it seemed, I dunno, more real, and you had to take things a bit more seriously.

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

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March 7th, 2021 6:52 a.m. CST 13.5