Wow. The House of Bathory and Dead by Dawn Productions is my new favorite haunted house in Wisconsin. Most haunts stick to a certain formula, and some have perfected this prototypical attraction better than others. The House of Bathory has a totally different feel to it. It seems as though you are walking through someone's house, and you pretty much are. The creators own both the costume shop downstairs and the apartment directly behind the building so the horrors of the house have been evolving since January 2008. These depraved individuals turn nonthreatening scenes (i.e. Wizard of Ox) into terrifying reality.
Signage / Visibility / Location
Use googlemaps or mapquest whenever you are planning a trip to a haunted attraction.
Wait Area / Line Entertainment
Other than the music playing in front of the entrance there is not much entertainment. I would recommend striking up a conversation with Dawn or one of the other operators. She will be glad to tell you the story of Elizabeth Bathory, the namesake of the house. The line moves very slow, but be patient because this haunt takes its' time and does things right before excreting your lifeless corpse from its' bowels.
There are a lot of people working in this haunt, and almost all of them have very sinister intentions, except Cheech and Chong of course. Some actors have ominous and freaky dialogue, some are loud and surprising, and some are creepy without saying a word. Even the disturbed kids working as slave labor are unsettling. The demons throughout will definitely mess with you and make you uncomfortable so be prepared to be touched and cornered.
Sets Scenes / Props / FX
Every scene that I can remember uses one-off pieces and sets that cannot be purchased at any store, although if there is something you really want you can convince Dawn to let you buy something in hers. Because there is so much detail in most rooms, the actors are able to wait and surprise you, leaving you terrified of which props are real or dead. Without giving more away, the House of Bathory has four essential haunt elements while most have only one: a slide, a claustrophobic room, a vortex tunnel, and glorious chainsaws.
I completely forgot to look at my watch for this one, but I would guess twenty minutes to a half hour. I was honestly pretty dazed and disoriented with all the levels by the end and had trouble remembering all of the individual rooms. Some sort of terror-amnesia brain response maybe?
The operators are really nice people, and can sternly handle security themselves. On our night groups were limited to four or less, but this will increase over the following weekends. Victims are let in at long intervals so that you do not run into the group in front of you and the actors have time to recover.
Most Memorable Moment
A munchkin latching on to my leg and being drug along as I tried to escape.
This haunt was a frightening rush from beginning to end. The best way to get scared is to let yourself go and get caught up in the madness created by these talented actors and designers.