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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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February 25th, 2021 4:47 p.m. CST 13.5