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.
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.
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.
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.
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.