OHIO VALLEY HAUNTS
Ohio Valley Haunts Full Moon
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- 2007 -
2007 Official Haunt Awards
Sadly, it's that time again - time to wrap up another season of haunted festivities.  We appropriately closed out 2007 with one final visit
to The Haunted Castle in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  This was the last in the 28 year storied history of the attraction, as it's being forced to
relocate due to area development.  What a treasure to the industry it truly was, and what better way to honor its longevity than by bidding
farewell to the season while commemorating its existence.  It now joins the ranks of other gone but not forgotten "oldies but goodies."
We'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all the hard work that goes into making the haunted house business successful.
A tip of the hat is in order to all the owners, workers, and sponsors for their sometimes thankless efforts that make the season what it is,
and for all the fun, surprises and scares 2007 brought to us all.  We very much enjoyed seeing our old friends again, and making some
new acquaintances along the way.  It was another record breaking year for Ohio Valley Haunts, and we're already looking ahead to 2008!
Sincere thanks for everybody's gracious hospitality, and most of all, for  some of the finest entertainment the season has to offer!
Here's wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a peaceful and prosperous Holiday Season!  See you all next year!
- Gary (Founder) and Jim (Webmaster) - Ohio Valley Haunts -
2007 HAUNTED HOUSE REVIEWS
Link directly to specific reviews by clicking on the alphabetical HAUNT listings below, or scroll down the page to compare rankings of all featured haunts:
Absolutely Deranged Haunted Hollow Ride (Wilmington) Rage in the Cage (Haunted Hydro)
Baxter Avenue Morgue (Louisville, KY) Haunted Hotel (Louisville, KY) Red Beard's Revenge (Kings Island)
Black Bog (Bull Run Farm) Haunted Hydro (Freemont, OH) Riverside Jaycees Haunted House
Black Forest (at Haunted Castle/Fort Wayne, IN) Haunted Jail (Columbia City, IN) St. Rita Haunted House
CarnEVIL (Kings Island) The Haunted River Banks Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride
The Cemetery (Kings Island) Haunted Spook Coop Screamers
Chambers of Horror (Middletown) Haunted Swamp Scream on Shortridge
Club Blood (Kings Island) House of Nightmares Slaughter Hotel (at Haunted Hollow)
Cornstalkers (Kings Island) Hustead House of Horror Spinetinglers
Culbertson Mansion Haunted House (New Albany, IN) Industrial Nightmare (Jeffersonville, IN) Springboro Haunted Hayride (Bull Run Farm)
Dark Pumpkin - Invasion Jamestown Haunted Woods Temple of Terror (Land of Illusion)
Dead Acres Killer Klowns (Land of Illusion) Terror Maze
Dead Awakening (Kings Island) Krueger's Korn Maze (Panic Box) Terror on the Lakes (at Mayhem Mansion)
Death Row (Kings Island) Land of Illusion Terror Park
Dementions (Industrial Nightmare/Indiana) Massacre Manor (Kings Island) Terror Within Zombie Island
Dent Schoolhouse (WEBN) Mayhem Mansion Tombstone Terror-tory (Kings Island)
Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate (Land of Illusion) Middletown Haunted Trail (Land of Illusion) Torture Chamber (Kings Island)
Dungeons of Delhi Mt. Healthy Haunted Hall Train of Terror
Elvira's Superstition (Kings Island) Night Fright Haunted Trail at Silver Lake Beach Trail of Terror (Kings Island)
Fear Factory (Findlay, OH) Nightmare at the Mall Undead Haunted Experience
Fear Fair (Seymour, IN) Nightmare on Valley Street USS Nightmare
Fright Manor (Indianapolis, IN) Nightmare Penitentiary (at Haunted Hollow) Verona Field of Screams
Ghostly Manor (Sandusky, OH) Ohio State Reformatory (Mansfield Prison) Verona Fire and EMS Haunted House
Halloween Haunt (Kings Island) Panic Box Spookhouse Walk of Terror
Hamilton Haunted Hayride Pitch Black (Industrial Nightmare/Indiana) Waverly Hills Sanatorium  (Louisville, KY)
Haunted Castle (Fort Wayne, IN) Psychomanthium (Fright Manor/Indianapolis) The Worksite (Kings Island)
Haunted Cave at Lewisburg Psycho Path (Xenia) See you in 2008!

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HAUNTED ATTRACTION REVIEW
INDUSTRIAL NIGHTMARE
835 Spring St.
Jeffersonville, IN  47131
$17 for Ind. Nightmare and Dementions
$15 for Pitch Black (includes Cage Maze)
$24 Combo Ticket (includes ALL Haunts)
Industrial Nightmare
click logo to visit their we site
RATING:
Reviewed  9/29/07
Revisited  10/11/07
INDUSTRIAL NIGHTMARE: The Haunt offers a comparable beginning to past years, with a short, dark maze leading to the queue line area.  Housed in a museum-like environment, authentic recreations from various horror movies feature realistic likenesses of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Frankenstein, etc. Count Dracula's red eyes illuminate signaling your imminent entrance through the double doors, and into Industrial Nightmare.  First up is a mad scientist's laboratory, adorned with every electronic gadget imaginable.  Strapped to an operating table of sorts, "Frankenstein" begins thrashing about violently, setting up a startling surprise!   Similarities to past seasons end here, as from this point forward, basically the entire haunt has been rebuilt with fresh, new, scarier scenes!  Presumably dead bodies shake, and emit smoke, a headless torso convulses in agony from its recent decapitation, while other corpses suddenly sit up on their own.  Toxic waste barrels, and a regurgitation scene line the narrowed corridors, and a bathroom stall encounter delivers a horrific surprise!  In the bowels of the facility resides an enormous, animated, Impaler-like swamp monster, and another creature attacking from the surrounding waters.  The SURPRISE OF THE YEAR lies just ahead in the Industrial Nightmare swamp!  Exiting the quagmire leads to convincing reconstructions from various horror movies.  The theme from Halloween creepily sets the stage for Michael Myers to unleash an attack from inside a legitimate looking wood cabin.  Sparks, lasers, air gun blasts, and plentiful characters are still to come, one of whom profoundly shouts nerve-racking warnings like, "You're gonna die!!!"  An interactive feature waits just ahead, as ringing the doorbell outside another genuine structure produces an added surprise, then step inside for an up close and personal confrontation with the ax wielding Jason Voorhees!  Additional silver screen rendezvous involve Freddie Krueger in a realistically fabricated boiler room, and Pinhead near the escape from Industrial Nightmare.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9, Stopped the clock a little past the 15 minute mark.  Experience seemed to last a little longer.
ACTORS - 9½, Energy levels are way up in comparison to just a few years ago, which is the Haunted Network style.
SCARINESS - 9+, Substantially scarier than ever before.  Obviously, horror film reenactments have been done previously, but never quite like this.  The structures are precise replicas from the films themselves, right down to their meticulous detailing.  Characters too look as though they stepped directly off the set.  Multiple surprises go without saying.  Soundtrack could be a little louder in spots, and the finish isn't strong enough.  Rabid cast will tear you to shreads!
DESIGN - 9½, Considerably different this season, with pleasant abandonment of the industrial theme taking place as the haunt progresses.  Retaining the maze entrance to the museum housed queue line is appropriate, and relating those scenes to realistic recreations in the haunt itself is a nice touch, and exemplifies great creative effort on the part of the new (as of '06) owners.  Surprise of the year is awesomely impressive, and a credit to their ingenuity!  The finish lacks an exhilarating climax.
PROPS - 9½, Lots of animated mechanical scares.  Surprise of the year is by far the best.  Movie scene structures are equally as impressive.
VALUE - 9+, $17on it's own makes it one of the highest priced attractions around, but includes Dementions as an added bonus, so not all that unreasonable.  Take advantage of the combo ticket, or coupon whenever possible.
RATING:  9½, Refreshingly different, and containing numerous surprises you're unlikely to experience anyplace else.  One can only imagine where they go from here, as The Mother of all Haunts is about to blast the shot heard round the world... or at least througho
ut the industry.  Ohio Valley Haunts has never awarded a perfect 10, but if the 2008 season began tomorrow, we wouldn't be surprised if history were made here!   If you've soured on Industrial Nightmare from past experiences, give it another shot.  You won't be disappointed!

DEMENTIONS at
 INDUSTRIAL NIGHTMARE COMPLEX
835 Spring St.
Jeffersonville, IN  47131
$17 for Ind. Nightmare and Dementions
$15 for Pitch Black (includes Cage Maze)
$24 Combo Ticket (includes ALL Haunts)
Dementions
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 9+
Reviewed  9/29/07
Revisited  10/11/07
DEMENTIONSCompletely rebuilt from scratch, Dementions' new location is directly alongside Industrial Nightmare, and is included with paid admission to the aforementioned attraction.  Clowns and red-eyed skeletons initiate you into the deranged experience, where a terrifying engagement with The Puppet Master from the Saw movies unexpectedly sends you plunging "downward" in an intensified, music blaring, prolonged elevator entrapment that persists until the doors finally open, sending you into "The Ring of Fire" - a fast spinning vortex.  Distraught happenings continue when walls come crashing in around you, and lead to a double MAJOR surprise, followed by an encounter with a twisted Pig Butcher, who's just slaughtered a couple of humans, and hung their carved up torsos from meat hooks!  Scary music, mazes, chainsaws, and caskets introduce another demented adventure, haunted by a maniacal gravedigger, who suddenly appears out of nowhere!  An abominable, blood soaked Christmas scene sheds new light on the holidays, as the celebration showcases an evil, ax wielding Santa, in the presence of falling snow.  Rudolph's been massacred, and his stuffed head now hangs on display like a trophy above the corrupt Claus' fireplace!  Sing along with the carolers, "That's the way the old s*it happens!  Fa, la, la, la, laaaa, la, la, la, la!!!"  Think you've seen it all?  Not quite, as evil clowns, a sexy bathtub scene, tortures and executions all deliver their own brands of demented horrors, building up to a multiple chain-saw chase out of Dementions.

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 9, 15 minutes plus. 
ACTORS - 9+, A little slow early on, but great intensity and uniqueness from Saw on.  Chainsaw madmen are aggressively relentless, making it seem like there's a dozen or so of 'em!
SCARINESS - 9+, Scenes are appallingly fearsome, in a sick, demented way.  Accompanying soundtrack is loud, and compliments the various abominations perfectly. 
DESIGN - 9½, Moved out of the basement to its new home neighboring Industrial Nightmare.  Completely redone, with newer, ghastlier scenes, and many more characters than ever before.
PROPS - 9+, Good mix of static and mechanical props.  Elevator and MAJOR surprises stand above the rest. 
VALUE - 10, Included free of charge with paid admission to Industrial Nightmare
RATING:  9+, Great compliment to the Industrial Nightmare complex.  Very aptly named, as the horrors presented here are, in a word Demented

PITCH BLACK (with CAGE MAZE) at
INDUSTRIAL NIGHTMARE COMPLEX
835 Spring St.
Jeffersonville, IN  47131
$17 for Ind. Nightmare and Dementions
$15 for Pitch Black (includes Cage Maze)
$24 Combo Ticket (includes ALL Haunts)
Pitch Black
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 9
Reviewed  9/29/07
Revisited  10/11/07
PITCH BLACK (includes CAGE MAZE)As its name implies, Pitch Black is a totally dark maze featuring numerous, deep dead ends, and shocking surprises - literally!  Relocated to the basement of the Industrial Nightmare complex, the mazes have been completely rebuilt this year, with a mysterious entrance that descends into the depths of the facility  Emotions spiral to near fever pitch, as you wander around aimlessly in the darkness.  Accompanying sounds are deafening at times, and hardly noticeable at others, which only adds to your discomfort.  With only faint glimpses of light here and there, all you can do is feel your way along.  Meanwhile, monsters grab at your legs, and serve up random startles without warning, and you never know where they come from because you simply cannot see!  Nervousness sets in almost immediately, then increases in intensity, and finally soars to near panic levels the longer you're lost in the maze.  Several unexpected happenings accompany the futility of your efforts in the form of spraying mist, last season's SURPRISE OF THE YEAR, and another NEW surprise you gotta see to believe!  Eventually progressing to the one and only exit of Pitch Black leads directly into Cage Maze, a fog-filled, fence entanglement, also consisting of a multitude of dead ends, as well as loops.  Highly agitated characters energetically leap and climb on the fences, all the while taunting,  "You ain't leavin' here!" and, "You ain't gettin' outta here...EVER!  I promise you, you'll never make it out!"  Their distractions, along with bumping into other lost souls, and combined with your own emotional unrest don't make things any easier.  Maybe they're right.  Perhaps you won't ever make it out of Cage Maze - alive!

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 10, Upwards of 30 minutes, and easily longer depending on how lucky you are navigating the mazes.  One group reported being "in there" for 45 minutes!
ACTORS - 9, Not many in Pitch Black, but not totally fair to hold that tremendously against them since its an extended elaboration of the dark maze concept.  Cage Maze fiends are simply out of this world, and the ranting, taunting lunatic outshines them all!
SCARINESS - 9+, It's your own emotions that provide most of the scares.  The characters, mazes, and sounds just help them along. 
DESIGN - 9½, Completely redone, and only one way out of Pitch BlackCage Maze seemed a little foggier last year.  Can't get much better than this though, but trust me, they will!
PROPS - N/A, They're mazes, thus contain few props by design. 
VALUE - 8, A bit on the expensive side at $15, unless you look at it from the standpoint of two separate attractions (Pitch Black and Cage Maze), and a $3 price increase from '06.  Take advantage of the coupon or combo ticket if you can.
RATING:  9, A long, unique attraction, designed and brought to you by the one and only Haunted Network - as if I had to tell you!

Industrial Nightmare
OVERALL RATING:
INDUSTRIAL NIGHTMARE COMPLEX - OVERALL EXPERIENCEA lot of hard work evidenced here, as all three haunts have either been completely or partially moved or redesigned.  Combining Industrial Nightmare & Dementions would result in near perfection.  Some of the most ingenious ideas of the season rest inside these walls, as some of the latest technology is carried one step further, and used in ways even their developers could never have imagined!  Congregating all these brilliant attractions at a single location positively impacts its overall performance.   Make sure you schedule a visit to Industrial Nightmare this Halloween season!
OVERALL RATING:  9½
OHIO STATE REFORMATORY
HAUNTED PRISON
- The Night They Came Home -
100 Reformatory Rd.
Mansfield, Ohio  44905
(419) 461-0120 or (419) 360-5689
$15 - must be 13 or older!!
-
click logo above to visit their website
Ohio State Reformatory
RATING:
Reviewed  10/25/07
Ohio State ReformatoryOHIO STATE REFORMATORY HAUNTED PRISON EXPERIENCEQuite possibly the most intimidating haunt around from a visualization standpoint.  A video trailer from the movie Fallen Angels, filmed at The Reformatory accompanies the queue line.  Ascending a spooky looking staircase, where paint etches of the walls introduces this years Haunted Prison Experience, billed as The Night They Came Home.  Overwhelmingly loud sounds and music last the duration of the adventure.  Endless mechanical surprises, and irate monsters begin to descend upon you from all directions.  Sparks begin flying, and chainsaws rev up as the all out assault grabs onto you and won’t let go!  Death row inmates suffer the fate of an electric chair, while other desperate convicts come crawling out of darkened corners on all fours in search of any possible means of escape.  Deafening alarms lead through a lightless, body bag maze, and downstairs, where a vicious fiend armed with a power tool lurks in the shadows, and an onslaught of knife-packing, wickedly laughing killer clowns are anxious to pick up wherever he leaves off.  Blinding strobes, powerful blasts of air, and more sinister sounds drag you through a torture room, where death fills the air, and into the cellblocks themselves.  Row after row, story upon story, of awe inspiring confinements dominate your surroundings.  Whispers in your ears totally destroy whatever sense of emotional stability you happen to have left, inviting you to stay, or begging you not to leave as you progress through the unseen spirits, astonishing terror and unexpected surprises unleashed from behind the rusty iron bars that once housed the states most wanted criminals.  Corridors of moving skeletons, rocking walkways, a zip-line Grim Reaper and a claustrophobic surprise deliver you to another spark emitting confrontation with a crazed captive, who breaks free of his confinement, and charges up behind you.  Authentic metal stairs aid navigation between floors, into previously unexplored areas of the basement, and past countless cells – through solitary confinement, and more vicious attacks courtesy of resident Big House felons, building to an eventual run-in with Michael Myers, and a double Jason Voorhees chainsaw chase-out of the Ohio State Reformatory’s Haunted Prison Experience entitled The Night They Came Home!

Analysis:
LENGTH – 10, Over 30 minutes!
ACTORS – 9+, Well-hidden, and aggressive in nature.  Subtlety of whispered scares is most unnerving.  Good use of make-up, and a greater density of characters in the cellblock areas that play perfectly off the numerous distractions.  Do miss the cry of “Vampires!” echoing and reverberating off those sky-high ceilings throughout the cellblocks present one year ago.
SCARINESS – 10, The customary assault on the senses we’ve come to expect, and like unto no other!  Arguably the most legitimately intimidating facility in the business, its authenticity plays enormously toward that achievement.  Loudest sounds, shrieking alarms, and the creepiest music you'll find in any haunted house. 
DESIGN – 9½, The expedition encompasses a much larger area of the structure itself, including various levels, multiple wings of cellblocks, and even the dungy, old basement.  Scenes are vastly intensified, and much more developed in comparison to past renditions.  Abandoned office settings have been replaced by much more frightening counterparts, and while Clowns, Michael or Jason ordinarily might not fit the environment, this year's exposé allows them to take part.  The haunt’s theme is changed each and every year, while retaining its scary motif.
PROPS – 9, The best to date featuring scenes, more frightening in nature, and complimented by the most animatronics ever exhibited on the site.  Addition of some of the year’s best technological advances helps the cause. 
VALUE – 9½ Cost of admission is up a dollar this year, and $2 over the course of the past two seasons, but the duration is longer, and consists of more scares than ever before.
RATING – 9½ , The Prison is the best it’s ever been!  Making its strongest bid ever for our coveted HAUNT OF THE YEAR Award, this place will absolutely make your skin crawl via masterful exploitation of your nerves!  We’d suggest arriving early, as lines are reflective of the quality of the attraction. They’re waiting just for you… They roam the halls and cells of The Prison – this Hell on Earth.  They’re forever a part of the walls, the shadows, the very essence of this horrific place. They walk with you, beside you, behind you and whisper in your ear. They’ll take the form of your fear, your phobia, your nightmares. They know what scares you…  The Night THEY came home… Only at The Ohio State Reformatory Haunted Prison Experience!

DEAD ACRES
13861 Broad St. SW
Pataskala, OH  43062
- 5 miles east of Columbus -
(740) 927-3568
$15 ($25 VIP) + $2 parking
Dead Acres
click logo to visit their web site
RATING:
Reviewed  10/18/07
DEAD ACRESRanked among the best haunted houses in the country by Hauntworld Magazine, Yahoo.com, and others, Dead Acres is an experience you have to see to believe!  Huge silos guard the queue line area, belching flames skyward alongside arguably the most impressive haunted attraction in the country.  Right away, an absolutely horrific surprise, and an all out chainsaw assault wait just inside the doors of the attraction also known as the Haunted Hoochie.  Caskets give up the undead, gigantic vampire bats flap their enormous wings, and a multitude of irate monsters burst through previously closed doors, and lunge out of drop down windows and wall panels, grabbing and clawing at all who dare enter.  Hallways appear to be on fire, as flames shoot up from windows, and the corridor begins to fill with smoke!  From there, a butchered pig maze leads to skeletons, clowns, a giant mechanical serpent that springs to life right before your very eyes, and a most impressive encounter with an animated headless horseman, that comes alive as you approach defying your progression onward.  Practically non-stop startles, both human and pneumatic wreck havoc on your emotions.  Highly aggressive characters play off the numerous distractions springing forth from more secret panels, and grabbing at you from the rafters overhead.  Escaping to an outdoor area provokes a number of fiends armed with various weapons including chainsaws that actually come in contact with your legs, and maybe a few other body parts!  Fleeing into a cabin finds caged spooks desperately attempting to escape their incarceration, and a darkened maze that yields to a plethora of sparks and chainsaws!  Skeleton lined walls, and overwhelming loud music give way to thrashing, inverted bodies suspended by chains from the ceiling, and a bed whose sheet covered occupant convulses up and down.  An absolute barrage of animated surprises yield to sprays of mist, blasts of air, a near miss from a hit and run driver, and another abominable surprise taking the form of an induced labor, demonic childbirth, courtesy of a demented OBGYN, and his oversized hammer!  A brief darkened entrapment awaits your emergence from a spinning vortex, where a crazed, chain-saw madman suddenly appears out of the lightlessness, turning the power tool on a helpless, chained-up victim who suffers the obscene fate of having the front of his face and torso ripped open by the loudly revving device, before exiting into a cage maze, and your eventual freedom from Dead Acres.

Analysis
LENGTH - 9, Right on 20 minutes.
ACTORS - 10, Quite a bit of aggressive intensity from continues grabbing, hands reaching out towards your face, and the numerous weapons arming much of the crew.  Chainsaw lunatics actually rubbing their gas guzzling noisemakers up against you is beyond comparison! 
SCARINESS - 9½, Numerous distractions provided by a boat load of animated props, perfectly capitalized upon by the energetic cast.  Very little in the form traditionally spooky music, but the soundtrack is designed to compliment the intense nature of the haunt, which it accomplishes dramatically. 
DESIGN - 9½, Major surprises are new, but otherwise similar to last year.  Cabin and other authentic structures are outstanding. Clown confinement has been eliminated, thereby reducing the possibility of groups bunching together.  That still occurs as a result of the surprise entrapment, but it’s near the release into the maze finish, which is intentionally chaotic anyway given the dead ends, and vicious monsters it contains.  The maze itself isn't all that difficult, but is created that way in order to assist crowd flow, and still provides numerous opportunities for "too close for comfort" confrontations with more of the attraction's savages.   Mechanical props provide plenty of scares, which set up the large cast of dejected actors, who are well concealed and anxious to pounce!  The only negative results from the popularity of the venue itself, which attracts long, early arriving lines, which in turn increases group size, thus dampening the experience. 
PROPS - 9½, An overwhelming number of animated scares, some of which could possibly be missed by larger groups.  Once they get you inside, someone, or someTHING is interacting with you practically throughout.  A few noticeable eliminations (animated gravesite skeleton beginning, and Impaler), and none of the season's newest technological advances have taken their place, which allows the pursuing competition to close the gap a bit.
VALUE - 9½, A little on the expensive side, and a parking surcharge, but no increase from a season ago, and quite possibly the best haunted attraction around.
RATING:  9½, The most action packed adventure in the state of Ohio, featuring impressive animatronics, and some of the most highly motivated characters around.  This powerful combination makes for an absolutly overwhelming experience that’s not to be missed!  Ohio Valley Haunts’ 2006 HAUNT OF THE YEAR picks up right where it left off last season!  Get to Dead Acres for the haunted house experience of a lifetime!

THE HAUNTED HOTEL
3000 S. 4th St.
Louisville, KY
(502) 634-4478
$15 - ($2 discount coupon on web site)
coupon valid Thursdays & Sundays only
The Haunted Hotel
click logo above to visit their web site
The Haunted Hotel.Bloody Cook
RATING:
Reviewed  9/29/07
Revisited  10/11/07
THE HAUNTED HOTELNo vacancies as usual, and they certainly will NOT leave the light on for you!  The action-packed adventure begins in a rickety, old elevator, where a devious looking attendant, his head wrapped in barbed wire, selects your floor, and you're on your way.  There's no escape, as the run-down hoist begins violently shaking and thrashing about, and its panel board lights begin to flicker off and on.  A sudden power failure leaves you stranded in total darkness before bringing your ride to a screeching halt.  A few terrorizing surprises later, and you've reached your destination.  Exiting the elevator, the intense experience continues, as you stumble upon a caged girl being held captive by a wickedly laughing, spark emitting fiend.  Blood-spattered rooms, and vicious maniacs give rise to terrifying attacks.  A barbaric beheading takes place at the bottom of a staircase, where some unfortunate soul has his head ripped from his body by some sort of torturous contraption.  Bloody handprints belonging to previous Hotel guests adorn the walls, as you ascend upstairs.  Subtle music gives way to all-out assault, as "Rock-a-bye baby" succumbs to heavy metal!  Floors move, mist sprays, and air guns blast as the onslaught of strobes, sparks, shock walls, and unimaginable persecution continues.  Meet up with Chuckles the clown armed with a baseball bat, and the signature bathroom scene of a "naked" girl behind a shower curtain that delivers yet another startling surprise, while unforeseen mechanical bombshells take dead aim on the unsuspecting.  Pursuit by more relentlessly deranged savages, each equipped with their own murderous weapon of choice, eventually leads outdoors to a spinning vortex, double MAJOR surprise containing blackened maze, convict electrocution, and multiple chainsaw, surprise including chase-out of The Haunted Hotel.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9, slightly more than 15 minutes.
ACTORS - 10, As is customary, all characters are aggressively intense and covered with blood!  The most threatening crew in the business is most convincing in making you believe they're really going to kill you!  Few haunts even begin to compete with the Haunted Network brand
SCARINESS - 9½, Numerous surprises and intimidating, "in your face" acting sends chills up your spine. 
DESIGN - 9+, Several alterations are on tap for '07.  Change is good, but occasionally results in the loss of favorite "trademark" scenes, which is the case this year, with elimination of the multiple surprise bedroom incident.  Continued attention to the outdoor maze is evident, with the introduction of the "double MAJOR surprise" that you'll have to see for yourself.  Blinding fog adds to the maze entrapment, and increases the fear induced by the chainsaw madmen.  Excellent complimentary sounds, although a few areas seem a little quieter than usual (deafening alarm accompanying maze electrocution present one year ago was a conspicuous absence).
PROPS - 9½, Numerous animatronics delivering the best timed scares in the business, perfectly setting up the cast of overzealous killers.  However, they did seem slightly fewer in number with the loss of the bedroom scene, and blood squirting corpse, as well as opening and closing kitchen cabinet doors had also been removed, or were malfunctioning. 
VALUE - 9, $15 ($2 coupon valid on Thursdays and Sundays).  Up a dollar from '06, but some of the most intense scares around!
RATING:  9½, Never a dull moment at The Hotel!  Additions to the outdoor maze are outstanding, and group size is kept to a minimum in order to insure that everyone gets to experience all the surprises equally.  This perennial HAUNT OF THE YEAR contender once again stamps its patented brand of intensity and excellence on the haunted house industry for all to see.  Plan a visit to Louisville and check into The Haunted Hotel.

LEWISBURG HAUNTED CAVE
4392 Swishers Mill Rd.
Lewisburg, Ohio
(937) 962-5602
$10.00 ($5 for children 10 and under)
$1 discount coupon on their website
Haunted Cave
click logo above to visit their web site
RATING: 9+
Reviewed  10/13/07
Cave Entrance
view more photos taken inside the cave
THE HAUNTED CAVE:  A pair of cemetery plots rest quietly alongside the decent down the steep hill towards the entrance to Lewisburg's Haunted Cave.  Buried a hundred feet beneath the ground in an abandoned old limestone mine lies one of the most frightening haunts on the face of the Earth!  A Gatekeeper guards the entrance to the intimidating subterranean, while an astounding Mortician politely offers his services just in case some members of your group don't survive the experience!  While waiting to enter, an apparent electrical malfunction briefly interrupts power to the lights, until a maintenance technician equipped with a fire extinguisher comes to the rescue!  Navigating a wooden bridge-like walkway leads deep into the darkened cavern, where lightning flashes, thunder clasps, and sudden surprises emerge from the surrounding waters.  Hidden ghouls reach out and gently touch and grab at you as the intimidating journey forces you to fight your way through brush that's overgrown the walkway.  Mystifying fog, and flames highlight a visit to a spooky old graveyard, where coffins deliver more surprises, spooks reach down grasping at you from above, a near collision with a hit and run driver is narrowly avoided, and illuminated jack-o-lanterns light the way.  Irate monsters, skeletons and flying ghosts haunt the eerie boneyard, where an undead soul is propelled forward out of an upright casket, and screams bloody murder as she's projected practically directly into your path!  Coffins mysteriously open and close on their own, gravediggers loudly slam down their shovels, gunshots ring out from a disgruntled Undertaker, upset that you're trespassing on his hallowed ground, and a victim runs past screaming in agony because his hands have been set on fire!!  Caged prisoners desperately plea for help, while a Jailer-like character attempts to bag and capture a member of your group, intending to incarcerate him with the other hostages.  Living walls are encountered through a darkened maze that yields to another of the fence-like variety.  A crazed loony repeatedly misdirects you into several fog-filled dead ends, until the one and only escape delivers you into the presence of The Devil himself, seated on an elevated throne amid powerful blasts of fire shooting up all around him!  The Demon King's voice amplifies and echoes throughout the cave, as The Prince of Darkness happily welcomes you to Hell, and introduces you to four possible paths of escape.   One leads to a successful getaway, providing you can locate an obscured route, while others return you back to Lucifer's abode, where the Fallen Archangel wickedly laughs and taunts at your predicament, and leads you into more temptation!  Wire mazes, strobes, unnerving sounds, and more fog confuse and disorient the bravest of souls, while intimidating chainsaws, sparks, a spinning vortex, and a multitude of surprises overwhelm your emotions, as you desperately seek to uncover that lone beaten path that allows you to escape Satan's abomination, and The Lewisburg Haunted Cave!

Analysis:
LENGTH - 10, 30 minutes, and possibly more depending on the amount of time required to complete the various entrapments.
ACTORS - 9+, Just a tremendous job by the entire cast, featuring energetically loud screams, and interacting dialogue throughout.  Adding the dimension of touch makes the experience that much more realistic.  Actually being contacted by some of the characters totally destroys one's already frail sense of stability.  Increased aggressiveness in the right spots could raise the score even higher, although they'd have to be careful not to go overboard when nudging someone in order not to offend, or provoke a retaliatory response.  Devil is by far the best. 
SCARINESS - 9+, Quite an intense atmosphere in a legitimately spooky environment.  Bewildering strobes; loud, frightening music, sounds, and screams; agitated creatures, and subtle touching, combine to assault all your senses.
DESIGN - 9½, Lengthy, dark, and genuinely scary, except for one failed attempt at humor (selling body parts for $1.99/lb) that seems to be the downfall of more and more otherwise frightening attractions.  Queue line activities are a nice addition.  Particularly like the maze that repeatedly results in multiple confrontations with possibly the best climax in the business - that ungodly encounter with Satan The Devil
PROPS - 9, Cemeteries are magnificent with a nice compliment of animatronics.  Use of fire is most effective, and realistically impressive.
VALUE - 9+, A $1 price increase from a year ago, raises the cost of admission to $9 with their website coupon.  For that investment, you're treated to one of the region's finest haunts.
RATING:  9+, The Cave has become one of the best, most unique haunted attractions in the State of Ohio!  Introduction of some of this year's most impressive technological advances (shock walls, claustrophobia) could possibly solidify Lewisburg's Cave as our HAUNT OF THE YEAR!  If you plan on visiting only a handful of haunts this season, or haven't been there in a few years, don't miss The Haunted Cave!  Getting in is easy, getting out may KILL you!

HAUNTED SPOOK COOP
4753 E. Lower Springboro Rd.
Waynesville, Ohio
(937) 603-5228
$10 + $ 2 parking 
($2 off coupon at Scary Ohio.)
Haunted Spook Coop
click logo to visit their web site
RATING: 9+
Reviewed  10/5/07
HAUNTED SPOOK COOP:  Outside  The Haunted Spook Coop, a great hidden surprise makes its return engagement!  Not all patrons will get to experience the surprise, but if you happen to be one of the lucky ones, you’ll certainly know it!  Entering into the foyer, one of The Coop’s discontented inhabitants madly pounds on the walls demanding, “Bring them to me!” while we’re detained for the house rules, then sent into a totally dark maze.  Dead ends and uneven floors are the rule, rather than the exception, as the journey into fear continues through the tight, blinding, air blasting, spark emitting entrapment that finally gives way to a fog-filled cemetery.  Ghosts fly about, haunting the spooky looking graveyard, where irritable vampires reside, and animated corpses leave their entombment, projecting directly into your path!  Legitimately built structures conceal a plethora of villains and surprises, one so unexpectedly shocking you absolutely MUST see it for yourselves!  Now that your group size has been reduced by one, it’s onto a multitude of mechanical assaults, a brief entrapment in a room of doors, and a demented execution that claims the lives of a priest and nun, as they meet their untimely demise in smoke-belching electric chairs, courtesy of the Devil himself, who still isn’t satisfied with his actions, and demands OUR very souls!!  Still more violations result from encounters with bats, spiders, The Ring Girl, clowns buried beneath plastic balls, and a second maze that all lead up to another brilliant surprise, a spinning vortex, “gunshot” attack, and chainsaw chase-out of The Haunted Spook Coop

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 9, Approaching 20 minutes 
ACTORS - 9½, Outstanding performances on the part of the entire crew!  Highly aggressive, loaded with dialogue filled interactions, and more make-up than ever before.  Arming more of them with noisemaking weapons could elevate this category to near perfection. 
SCARINESS - 9+, Quite intimidating throughout, courtesy of the numerous animated surprises, and believable, energetic characters.  Score impacted slightly by minor staff use of a flashlight inside the blackened maze. 
DESIGN - 9+, Challenging maze, authentic structures, and some downright terrifying scenes.  Return of the ghosts flying about the cemetery is fantastic!  Anxiety inducing maze would be even better without the occasional flashes of light.  Second maze is a great idea, as it reminds you of all the unpleasant experiences associated with the first go round!  These dark entanglements would be the perfect location for the addition of some of the newer, technological advances, like shock walls along a section of the first one, and “claustrophobia” which would work well in the second, since it’s a little shorter..
PROPS - 9+, Realistic décor, and great pneumatics provide infinite scares, and set the stage for hell-bent characters to exploit your fears.  A few of the newer, awe-inspiring animatronics would be a fabulous addition. 
VALUE - 10, Only $8 with the Scary Ohio coupon.  Although they charge $2 for parking, it benefits the Waynesville Police Explorers. 
RATING:  9+:, Annually one of the best haunts in the neighborhood, this year’s Spook Coop is the best it’s ever been, establishing itself among the annual HAUNT OF THE YEAR contenders!  Head on out to Waynesville for one of the most intensified attractions in the area! 

FEAR FAIR
800 A Ave. East
Seymour, IN
(in Freeman Field)
Adults $10 / $15 Speed Pass
12 and under $8 / $13 Speed Passs
$1 Fri./Sat.; $2 Sun. coupon on web site
Fear Fair
click logo above to visit their web site
RATING: 9+
Reviewed  10/12/07
Fear Fair - Reno's Revenge
FEAR FAIRThe queue line encompasses the old western ghost town of Rockford - original population 368, but that's been crossed out in blood, and reduced to 17!  Journey past the General Store and other village businesses, as well as a spooky old water tower en route to a scenic view of the area that eventually leads to the entrance of Fear Fair.  The official welcome takes place inside The Winscott Saloon, decorated with an old player piano, and spider web covered bottles of booze.  From there it’s onto the now deserted Sheriff’s Office, where the skeletal remains of a long forgotten prisoner is all that remains, and corpses propel forward out of upright coffins.  Justice prevailed in this once thriving town, evidenced by the hanging of a would be horse thief, convulsing in agony from the noose around his neck, as his life is snuffed out in the gallows.  The venture continues upstairs where a napping cowboy, sleeping with his trusty rifle delivers a startling surprise, and more skeletal gunslingers go on the offensive.  Passageways are narrow and confining, forcing you to duck down at times, as your navigation takes you across Bells Ford Bridge, where another unexpected surprise takes place, while a werewolf unleashes an attack from out of the darkness.  The smell of popcorn is a reassuring scent, as you escape into the “safety” of the Vondee Theater, only to discover a horror movie marathon in progress, and its seats occupied by the dead, or perhaps the undead, whichever the case may be.  The cinema scene foreshadows an upcoming series of authentic structures that feature realistic recreations from the silver screen including, Michael Myers (Halloween); Frankenstein; Scream; Hellraiser, where Pinhead lurks amongst the décor of chains; a cabin at Friday the 13th's Camp Crystal Lake that offers a horrifying encounter with Jason Voorhees; and Nightmare on Elm Street, featuring original street signs, Freddy's face materializing through the wall a la Dream Warrior, and a legitimate looking furnace that smokes and actually gives off heat!  An amazing surprise stems from The Entity revisitation, complete with impressive electrical arcs that radiate toward you from the output of a Tesla coil!!!  These movie replications eventually give way to another big surprise, more extraordinarily cramped corridors, an assault by a disgruntled Indian, a double encounter with an impressive waterfall scene, and a Leatherface chainsaw chase-out of Fear Fair.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8½, addition of the upstairs exploration extends the event to 15 minutes.
ACTORS - 9+, All were well hidden, and delivered frightening performances.  Horror characters bore striking resemblances to their infamous counterparts.  Dr. Frankenstein and Freddy deliver the best dialogue, Pinhead's voice is mysteriously amplified/distorted, Leatherface is the most aggressive, and Jason looks like he stepped right off the set! 
SCARINESS - 9, The authenticity of the various structures is remarkably believable.  Numerous startles originate not only from the energetic cast, but from the nice compliment of animated devices as well.  You wouldn’t think the western, cowboy themed beginning would be all that scary, but they make it work very well.
DESIGN - 9½, One of the most realistically designed haunts the industry has to offer.  The Theater setting and various movie scenes are constructed with authentic looking entrances, intricately detailed with actual doors that must be opened in order to progress from place to place.  Seeing the "smoke", and feeling the heat from the "flames" in Freddy's boiler room are indescribable!  Scenes are kept close together, with less frightening ones (Earl’s Outhouse and Bubba’s Barn) removed in favor of more powerful replacements (waterfall and big surprise)!  Theater does an outstanding job connecting the movie reenactments to remainder of the theme.  The only negative occurs early on, where you actually pass back by the noise and confusion of the queue line.  The course has been expanded this year to include a portion of the second floor.  Use caution on the stairs, as some are not all that well lit.
PROPS – 9½, Great original detailing throughout. Waterfall is quite dramatic.  Tesla coil is unique, and beyond comparison!
VALUE - 10, Less than $10 with their internet coupon earns you the right to enjoy one of the best, most realistic haunted attractions around.
RATING:  9+, Can't stress enough how well the various reconstructions lend realism to the scenes, thus making them even more frightening.  2007 marked only our second visit to Fear Fair, and it’s even better than last year!  This is an upper echelon attraction - a definite must see event, and legitimate HAUNT OF THE YEAR contender.  Don’t miss the ghosts of Frank, Simeon, William and John Reno exacting revenge in some of the most realistically unique scares the season has to offer, proudly displayed at Fear Fair!

BAXTER AVENUE MORGUE
451 Baxter Ave.
Louisville, KY  40204
(502) 589-0959
$15 / $25 VIP Express
$5 THURS. ONLY coupon on website
(coupon not valid on VIP admission)
Baxter Avenue Morgue
click logo above to visit their web site
RATING: 9+
Reviewed  10/11/07
BAXTER AVENUE MORGUE: The Baxter Avenue adventure gets underway with a nerve wrecking seclusion of your group in a quiet funeral parlor, alongside an open, skeleton containing casket.  Articles and photographs of The Morgue’s “history” adorn the walls, and prepare you to set foot inside an intimidating iron door into the presence of mortician Warren Vanderdark.  Following a few words of encouragement, he releases you into the facility.  Masterful lighting effects bring scenes to life as you approach, then find them disappearing back into darkness again as you walk away.  Subtle scares come from the grasp of hands tugging at your leg, or on the back of your shirt as you progress through darkened corridors, and from scene to scene.  Unsettling music and wicked laughter accompany the journey through the macabre world of hospital gurneys and realistic body bags, and into an atrocious kitchen scene, where a deranged character slams a freezer door shut, trapping his unfortunate victim inside, as she desperately screams for help!  Blood soaked walls, and mutilated dolls decorate a little girl’s room, as the progression through various scenes of death continues.  Clowns impede your progress, as does an irate, bloody mouthed, human arm eating, hunchbacked creature, who stubbornly blocks the path, and adamantly refuses to let you pass.  A spooky cemetery scene where some ungodly ceremony restores life to a blood thirsty corpse leads to a ghost apparition of a surgeon operating on a distraught patient, a short trap door maze, and a surprise encounter with a blonde girl “innocently” admiring herself in the mirror.  Body vaults open and close of their own volition, as you pass through an upright coffin, to a confrontation with a spark emitting fiend en route to a double chainsaw, false finish including, chase-out of The Baxter Avenue Morgue.

Analysis
LENGTH - 8½, Approaching 15 minutes 
ACTORS - 9, Outstanding make-up creates some uniquely grotesque characters. A variety of characters, some really intense (arm eating hunchback, and cemetery ghoul restored to life), while a few others passed right on by nearly unnoticed.  Actually being touched or gently grabbed at by the cast is a great aspect, and adds a degree of legitimacy.  Loss of Grave Digger and Spider Boy are unfortunate.  Good riddance to Crazy Ernie selling casketd, but joking clowns are just as out of place in The Morgue as he was.  Warren's introduction is classic.
SCARINESS - 9½, Darkness gives way to chilling scenes that wreck havoc on your emotions.  Having the actors occasionally come in contact with you in order to instill additional fear is outstanding, and done in a tasteful way not to offend.  The Morgue setting is tremendous, and makes your skin crawl practically from the beginning.  Playful clowns are a detriment to the unnerving experience. 
DESIGN - 9½, The Morgue theme, along with the ever present feeling of death holds practically throughout, except for Diedra, mirror surprise, and clowns.  Not much has changed, and the course is practically the same as last year, with only a few minor alterations.  False finish is an unexptcted twist.
PROPS - 9½, Amazingly realistic décor, along with some nicely located animatronics.  Blood spewing forth from a “corpse” was eliminated and Spider Boy’s rails are still un place, but occupied by a skeleton.  Not much in the way of additions, and none of the year's latest technology.
VALUE - 9, $15 makes it one of the most expensive attractions around, but certainly a very intimidating scare. 
RATING:  9+, This former "HAUNT OF THE YEAR is still one of the most fear instilling experiences around!  Just entertaining the notion of entering into a Morgue is too much for some to handle.  What an ideal place for a scary Halloween attraction!  Folks are dying to get into The Baxter Avenue Morgue!

USS NIGHTMARE
101 Riverboat Row
Newport, Kentucky  41071
(behind Newport on the Levy)
(859) 261-8500
$15 Admission
$20 RIP pass (no line) & $5 re-entry
$20 w/Pickle Brothers Freak Show
($4 off discount coupon on web site
(coupon valid Weds./Thurs./Sun only)
click logo above to visit their web site
view photos taken aboard USS Nightmare
USS Nightmare
RATING: 9+
Reviewed  10/3/07
USS NightmareUSS NIGHTMARE: A brand new beginning for 2007 is waiting aboard America's renowned Haunted Steamboat, formerly known as the William S. Mitchell.  Gather your group in the designated Mitchell museum area for a seasonal photo opportunity that soon takes a wicked detour, and unleashes a startling surprise.  Once the picture taking is over, it's time to get reacquainted with the Captain, his hideous looking crew, and trademark Rat Girl character.  The first of three encounters with a giant Impaler (13 foot tall animated, growling monster) finds the beast resting quietly in his favorite section of the wrecked ship.  Next time, you're not quite so lucky as the dejected behemoth has awakened, ferociously snarling, and waving a deadly spear in one hand, while clutching the torso of a recent victim's body in the other!  Fantastic, startling sounds accompany the numerous unexpected events that take place on board The Nightmare.  Bodies spin, roast over an open coal fire, and spring forth out of caskets as the adventure continues through the bowels of the old wounded vessel.  Chained lockers shake and vibrate on their own, as irate crewmen dangle from overhead pipes, and crawl along the decks shouting warnings pertaining to their devious commander, and pointing out what he's already done to them.  Iron gratings are utilized to navigate between levels of the battered old paddlewheeler, exposing you to outdoor elements, where a glance down reveals the unmistakable sight of the muddy waters of the mighty Ohio River down below!  Traverse the kitchen area, where freezers are stocked with body bags, and enraged butchers are more than willing to "chop you up," en route to a third and final encounter with the notorious Impaler, that finds him madder and hungrier than ever!  An extravagant, mind-boggling SURPRISE is about to unfold!  Will you become his next victim?  If you're fortunate enough to escape, you'll meet The Captain's daughter Anna, Clowns, Mummies, Vampires, a fog spraying exterminator-like villain, and a fiend wearing a miner's helmet, that blinds you with its bright, glaring beam!  Experiences include a spinning vortex, floors that "crunch" beneath your feet, undead corpses rising up off of gurneys, an interactive Dreamalator segment, and two more huge, new SURPRISES building up to a chainsaw chase-out of USS Nightmare.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9½, Just over 20 minutes.
ACTORS - 9, Great interaction and dialogue from much of the cast, although some of the characters are encountered on multiple occasions.  Don't think there's hardly enough since the course is one of the longer ones in existence, and some rooms and areas remain unoccupied.  Impressive make-up, and costuming creates unique "undead" crewmen.  Would like to see their aggressiveness pushed to the extreme by arming them with some noise making "weapons."  Freezer character, overhead Dangler, and Chainsaw madman are the most intense of the bunch.  Anna's dialogue is good, but delivery is weak, hillbilly girl doesn't belong,and clowns are playful, not evil, thus practically useless.
SCARINESS - 9+, Background music and assaulting sounds that accompany the vast array of surprises are fabulous.  The new surprises add an all new dimension to the condemned craft, which  itself provides an unsurpassed atmosphere with its cramped passageways, and authentic steamboat equipment (valves, pipes, boilers, etc.).
DESIGN - 9+, Huge and Extravagant surprises are most notable, and awesome additions to an already strong exhibition.  Transforming playful clowns into vicious, weapon toting "killers" would be a vast improvement, and set up an intensified, supplemented finish.  Groups were somewhat bunching together on a night of light attendance.
PROPS - 9½, Outstanding legitimate decor - always something to look at.  While there are some missed opportunities, numerous, well-timed animatronics provide unexpected startles, setting up plenty of chances for actors to feed off of and exploit to deliver scares. Inpaler and new surprises are most memorable.
VALUE - 9+, No price increase in comparison to '06.  Still, it's one of the more expensive attractions around, but one of the most prolific as well.  Visit on coupon days whenever possible.
RATING:  9+, Now in it's 16th year, USS Nightmare is ranked among the 13 best haunted attractions in the country by Hauntworld magazine.  You can't possibly see all it has to offer the first time through, so take advantage of the $5 re-entry offer, and be prepared to have the ship scared out of you!!

PICKLED BROTHERS FREAK SHOWAn added attraction outside USS Nightmare displaying strange occurrences in the animal world, and featuring nightly performances of oddities such as, sword swallowing, weapon juggling, walking on glass, the dreaded bed of nails, and a person hammering a nail into his nose! Cost is $6, or $5 in combination with USS NIGHTMARE.
MIDDLETOWN'S LAND OF ILLUSION
featuring
MIDDLETOWN HAUNTED TRAIL
Land of Illusion
(4 haunts in 1)
8762 Thomas Rd
Middletown, Ohio
(513) 423-9960
$30 for all 4 - plus $2 parking
click logo above to visit their website
OVERALL RATING: 9+
Reviewed  9/14/07
Be afraid, be very afraid!
Middletown Haunted TrailTHE MIDDLETOWN HAUNTED TRAILAn all new trail is on tap for 2007.  Many memorable scenes have been retained including favorites like Slaughterhouse where bodies are dismembered by a giant table saw, while a chainsaw packing lunatic picks up any leftovers, Witches tending to their bubbling cauldrons, and that awesome encounter with The Headless Horseman!  Complementing these is the addition of Area 49 - an action zone nearly beyond description, but consisting of overwhelming sounds and alarms, and featuring attacks by several animated monsters, an alligator, and an additional surprise you'll have to discover for yourselves!  Stay alert while exiting the barracks to avoid stepping in the path of the blinding headlights belonging to a crazed car, blasting its horn, as it nearly runs you over!  The woods are inhabited by fiends wearing gas masks, another shooting flames from a blowtorch, and we all know the theme from Halloween can mean only one thing - Michael Myersis about to claim another victim!  On the horizon lies a spooky cemetery inhabited by a madman foaming at the mouth, then a picket fence-like maze, and a pair of darkened school buses, filled with death and evil. You'll also encounter an insane woman proudly displaying the head of recent victim like it's her most prized trophy,  a creepy junkyard (a.k.a. auto graveyard), a spinning vortex, and an intense scene of blinding strobes and deafening music, highlighted by a bloody-mouthed, flesh-eating creature devouring a corpse near the exit of this one mile of night terrors known better as The Middletown Haunted Trail.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9½, 20-25 mins.
ACTORS - 8½, Standouts are the bloodthirsty flesh-eater, the loony carrying the head, Slaughterhouse chainsaw maniac, and the brute with the blowtorch!  Could benefit from a bit more dialogue, and interaction with the group, as well as increased numbers early on.  Could also stand to be a bit more aggressive.
SCARINESS - 8½,  The natural darkness of the outdoors only adds to the typically foggy trail, which combines to provide ample hiding places for the various characters to unleash their terror.
DESIGN - 9, Completely made-over this year.  A little slow at the beginning, with a few dead spots, but once things get going, watch out!  Area 49 is a work unto itself.  The Horseman is perfectly placed, and a sight to behold!  Fantastic sounds and "mood music."  Rob Zombie, while most effective in building the climax, might be a bit overused elsewhere.
PROPS - 9+, Plenty of animatronics.  Area 49 is most impressive, and the Headless Horseman is classic!
VALUE - 10, A little pricey on it's own ($14), but $7.50 on the Killer Combo ticket for a lengthy trail?  Can't be beat!
RATING:  9. The feature attraction at LOI has been completely revamped, and showcases some of the most sophisticated props in existence.  Pay attention to the elaborate soundtrack as you make your way through.  You won't be disappointed!

MIDDLETOWN'S LAND OF ILLUSION
featuring
MIDDLETOWN HAUNTED TRAIL
Land of Illusion
(4 haunts in 1)
8762 Thomas Rd
Middletown, Ohio
(513) 423-9960
$30 for all 4 - plus $2 parking
click logo above to view their website
OVERALL RATING: 9+
Reviewed  9/14/07
Be afraid, be very afraid!
Dr. Psycho's Haunted EstateDR. PSYCHO'S HAUNTED ESTATE:  The estate is simply magnificent!  Once again, our favorite Haunt at The Land of Illusion!  The assault begins as you approach the Haunted Estate, and doesn't let up!  The old house illuminates with flashes of lightning as you make your way through an intimidating cemetery.   Of course, the journey is accompanied by just the right music, as if the setting itself isn't unnerving enough!  Skeletons make use of a hearse to deliver another casket to its final resting place, while the poor undead soul inside struggles to free himself before he's buried alive!  Bodies escape their graves, while more chained coffins shake and vibrate vigorously on their own!  Animated corpses spring to life, a gravedigger prepares another earthen tomb, and a recently hanged victim thrashes about in the trees above, a noose clutching at his throat and choking the life right out of him!  More animated creatures, as well as a chainsaw wielding madman descend upon you from all directions!  Just loads of surprises already, and you've yet to enter the Estate itself!  As you finally make your way inside, meticulously decorated rooms are just jammed with still more shocking surprises and scares, most notably one so perfectly timed you'll just have to experience it for yourselves!  Various rooms of the spooky old manner are visited, including the kitchen, dining room, laboratory, and bedroom complete with a levitating bed and a skeleton being propelled from a wheelchair!  Werewolves howl, giant, caged rats struggle for their freedom, and then, of course there's Dr. Psycho himself !  In addition to this mad scientise's diabolical experiments, you'll encounter a light vortex, and a locked cellar door that restrains some long forgotten soul, trapped for eternity inside Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8, Between 10 and 15 mins.
ACTORS - 8½,  Numerous and impressive animatronics provide plenty of distractions, the deceptions from which allow the rabid actors to pounce on you at just the right time!  But, can't say any of the characters were nearly as memorable as their mechanical counterparts.  Need a few standouts to score higher.
SCARINESS - 9½, Tons and tons of well timed traditional, and technological scares!
DESIGN - 9½, OUTSTANDING!  Just wish it was a little longer!  Graveyard beginning leading up to the Estate is unsurpassed!  Once again, the audio track is second to none.  You can actually feel the wooden floor vibrate beneath your feet as it accompanies the sound of a beating heart!  Could stand a more climactic finish, but otherwise unbelievable!
PROPS - 9½,  From start to finish, just filled with overwhelming props and loads of animatronics!
VALUE -10, For $7.50 as part of the Killer Combo ticket, this haunt is the greatest bargain in town!
RATING:  9+,  This is what Halloween's all about!  It's scary, and action packed from start to finish.  Don't miss it!

MIDDLETOWN'S LAND OF ILLUSION
featuring
MIDDLETOWN HAUNTED TRAIL
Land of Illusion
(4 haunts in 1)
8762 Thomas Rd
Middletown, Ohio
(513) 423-9960
$30 for all 4 - plus $2 parking
click logo above to view their website
OVERALL RATING: 9+
Reviewed  9/14/07
Be afraid, be very afraid!
Temple of TerrorTEMPLE OF TERROR:  A mysterious door, covered with ancient Egyptian markings slides open allowing entrance into the Temple of Terror.  Out of the darkness, surprises begin the moment you step inside!  Quite a few species reside in the Temple - mummified bodies, some still clinging to life, and the largest bats known to man, seen hanging upside down, violently flapping their enormous wings.  Creatures whiz by overhead, and a huge, bloody-mouthed impaler springs to life right before your very eyes, clutching his spear in one hand, and his most recent victim in his other!  Which member of your group will be next?  Navigation is difficult across a wooden sway bridge, and through a spinning vortex.  Witness the tortured remains of a skeletal victim thrashing violently on a bed of nails, and other wicked monsters that readily terrorize you while inside the tomb.  Skeletons, chained behind bars come to life and grab at you, while deadly cobras protect these evil catacombs, spraying their tragically poisonous venom at all who dare to invade the Temple of Terror

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8,  10 to 15 mins.
ACTORS - 8½, Quite an enthusiastic bunch, but they don't quite compare to the elaborate animatronics.  Need to see some live mummies, with interacting dialogue in order to leave a more lasting impression.
SCARINESS - 8½, Many startles and unexpected things happening inside the tomb.  Fantastic sound effects, with dripping water being most unnerving and noticeable.
PROPS - 9, Plenty of astonishing animatronics on display - keep an out out overhead!
DESIGN - 8½, A little short, but action-packed for the most part while it lasts.  A few undeveloped areas exist where darkness combines with masterful audio enhancement to make your skin crawl! 
VALUE - 9½, Only $7.50 on the Killer Comboticket - well worth the price of admission!
RATING:  8½, Another intense, top-notch attraction at LOI.  Don't blink, or you'll miss something! 

MIDDLETOWN'S LAND OF ILLUSION
featuring
MIDDLETOWN HAUNTED TRAIL
Land of Illusion
(4 haunts in 1)
8762 Thomas Rd
Middletown, Ohio
(513) 423-9960
$30 for all 4 - plus $2 parking
click logo above to view their website
OVERALL RATING: 9+
Reviewed  9/14/07
Be afraid, be very afraid!
Killer KlownsKILLER KLOWNS:  The name here says it all.  If coulrophobia (an extreme fear of clowns) is among your phobias, this isn't the place for you.  Clowns, clowns and more clowns attempt to engage you in various activities.  Some offer invitations to play games with them, or threaten to "get you," while others just seem mesmerized by your presence.  One "Killer klown" pops up seemingly out of nowhere through a trap door in the floor!  Circus music fills the air as these carnival crazies make fools of us all.  Disorienting strobes, and a spinning vortex or two disrupt your equilibrium, and prepare you for a most confusing chain link fence maze filled with deceptive dead ends.  More of these festival freaks occupy the corridors of this labyrinth, creating distractions, that serve to further the entrapment.  One climbs up on top of the cage, while more joking jesters  wickedly laugh and taunt at our predicament.  Another offers to share a secret, but I wouldn't be too eager to take him up on that offer if I were you!  Beyond the maze lies a "play room" filled with plastic balls and more hidden hooligans, then a curtain maze, Jack in the Box, a shrinking hallway, and one final SURPRISE just as you think you've safely escaped all the Killer Klowns!

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8, Around 10 mins. but can be much longer depending on the amount of time spent lost in the maze.
ACTORS - 8½, These actors have the most difficult job at LOI because they don't have the volume of expensive props at their disposal to rely on.  Much improved from a year ago.  Lots of intimidating, misleading Killers chuckling throughout..
SCARINESS - 8, More so if you dislike clowns.  The cage maze can easily become quite frustrating.
PROPS - 8, Not as exciting in comparison to the other 3 haunts.  Favorites are maze, spinning vortex, and a few surprises we choose not to give away!
DESIGN -8, Somewhat short, and nothing all that unexpected.  The Klowns are the stars of this show, and rightfully so.
VALUE - 9,  If you're going to skip one, this might be it.  But, still just $7.50 on the Killer Combo ticket, and many people are downright terrified of clowns.
RATING : 8, Easily the most improved of the 4 attractions at LOI.  The $30 combo ticket is unquestionably the way to go.

MIDDLETOWN'S LAND OF ILLUSION
featuring
MIDDLETOWN HAUNTED TRAIL
Land of Illusion
(4 haunts in 1)
8762 Thomas Rd
Middletown, Ohio
(513) 423-9960
$30 for all 4 - plus $2 parking
click logo above to view their website
OVERALL RATING: 9+
Reviewed  9/14/07
Be afraid, be very afraid!
LAND OF ILLUSION - OVERALL EXPERIENCE The Land of Illusion is everything you'd want in Halloween entertainment and more!  $30 gets you four of the most impressive haunts around, each uniquely themed, and reasonably priced at only $7.50 each!!!  Elaborate, animated props, too numerous to count are featured throughout, and complemented with fantastic soundtracks and lighting effects that challenge all the senses.  Bring a date, bring mom and dad, bring the kids, bring the whole family and feel the warmth of the bonfire and enjoy a snack from the Creepy Cafe while you wait to enter the attractions.  Visit the gift shop, or let your friends hear what they're missing during the live radio broadcasts!   In addition to the unmatched 4-venue haunt, Land of Illusion has created quite a unique atmosphere for people to come and just have fun.  Not only do you get to experience all the traditional scares presented in a most professional manner, but it's a great place to just hang out with friends!  As is customary, many of the profits from past years have been reinvested in the haunts themselves.  As a result, they're bigger and better than ever!  The Trail and Haunted Estate are still our personal favorites, but improvements across the board are evident.  Even if you've been here before, you'll find plenty of new surprises ready to scare the pants off of you!  Where else can you find this much to do all at the same location?  One can only admire the efficiency with which LOI handles such large crowds, and the energy level maintained by their actors, who tirelessly repeat their performances basically non-stop over a four hour period.  Waiting areas are sheltered from the weather, and feature entertainment in the form of various horror segments broadcast on several TV's.  It's all designed to make the time spent waiting in line more enjoyable, and each one is personalized to its individual haunt.  So what are you waiting for?  Join the crowd at Middletown's Land of Illusion!  HINT:  Ohio Valley Haunts recommends arriving early, visiting on Friday nights when crowds are a little smaller, and suggests hitting the trail first as the line forms early and gets longer as the night goes on.  If you do happen to run out of time, tickets are honored throughout the season, so take advantage of the savings by purchasing the 4-Haunt Killer Combo ticket. 

Overall Analysis:
Kudos to all the actors.  We don't envy their task of maintaining their enthusiasm while endlessly performing their entertaining tasks for so many people, and such extended periods of time.  The creation and development of a few more signature characters would elevate their score.  LOI maintains an extreme level of frightfulness throughout the differently themed attractions, utilizing unmatched animatronics that deliver excellently timed scares that perfectly set the stage for the actors to do their jobs.  A few of the haunts are a little on the short side, but bombard you with eye candy the whole time you're there.  $30 sounds like a lot, but only $7.50 per attraction as part of their Killer Combo package is a very reasonable amount considering the quality of scares to be had. 
OVERALL RATING  9+, The event achieves it's score by collectively gathering an impressive assembly of so many outstanding attractions located at the same venue. Thus, the LOI experience rates slightly higher in unison than some of its component haunts considered individually. Be sure to spend an evening this Halloween season at LOI.  Be afraid, be very afraid!
Note:  Parking proceeds benefit the Madison Music Boosters.

THE DENT SCHOOLHOUSE
5963 Harrison Ave.
Dent, Ohio  45248
(513) 598-4600
$12 ($18 Fast Pass Option)
$2 coupon on website valid in Sept., &
Sundays and Halloween night in Oct.
The Dent Schoolhouse
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 9+
Reviewed 9/22/07
Revisited 10/14/07
view photos taken at The Dent Schoolhouse
THE DENT SCHOOLHOUSE:  Intimidation begins the second you first lay eyes on the The Dent Schoolhouse.  Broken windows and doors of the old building are boarded up, and a lone school bus stands guard in the courtyard just outside, it's warning lights eerily blinking and flashing in the night.  The adventure begins in a dark, spooky graveyard inhabited by Damien Reaper, who derives great pleasure in burying people alive!  Rest in Peace!  Leaving the cemetery leads to an up close and personal look at Dent District school bus 1031, then into the facility itself, where vice principal Pruitt registers you for class, and explains the rules and regulations.  From there, it's onto the school nurse, who's busy tending to a severely injured student.  She unleashes the first of many surprises you're about to experience, before sending you on.  Mild locker and bookcase mazes foreshadow a much wickeder, more unnerving counterpart that's yet to come.  Visits to classrooms, the science lab, library, kitchen and cafeteria contain personalized scares, and give rise to various encounters with diabolical members of the school staff.  Chained cabinets, and pots and pans jiggle about of their own volition, and bookcases appear to be falling over on top of  you.  The basement plays host to Doctor Carver's shop class, displaying the gruesome sight of a girl whose head and legs still move about even though her midsection's been bisected by the still turning blade of the treacherous teacher's table saw!  The school theme continues in the downstairs quarters with the debut of a brand new prom dance scene, and a couple of confrontations with The Janitor!  "Exiting" the school into a wooded area exposes you to more dangers in the form of hungry werewolves, a zombie infested funeral parlor, and a schizo imprisoned psych ward, featuring a double surprise, as well as an electrocution.  Other scenes of death.follow, including skeletons, a vampiress, a morgue that delivers a haunting surprise from a sheet covered corpse lying on a gurney, and a coffin bound with chains, inside of which some undead soul struggles to break free! Bloodzo's Funhouse, also starring Fatso the clown is back for an encore performance, that gives way to a darkened hallway containing a huge surprise, and the aforementioned claustrophobic maze, en route to a spinning vortex, hillbilly chainsaw false finish, and air gun shoot-out of The Dent Schoolhouse.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9, More or less 20 minutes. 
ACTORS - 9, Interactive dialogue, and hideous laughter from fairly intense, original characters, and hardly any observable masks (except for werewolf), however a few were in costume alone, with little to no make-up.  Noticeably fewer in number, and slightly less aggressive in comparison to one year ago.   Repeatedly running into Charlie The Janitor terrorizing multiple areas of the basement is a plus, as is Damien's relocation, but unoccupied school bus, and loss of last year's standouts, like straightjacket schizo in the psych ward, and bloody kitchen worker, are not, especially since their toned down replacements are nowhere near as memorable.
SCARINESS - 9+, Startling, talkative characters, deceptive animatronics, spooky lighting, and a fantastic complimentary soundtrack throughout.  Downsizing and softening characters is a step in the wrong direction.  The house itself is more frightening than ever, but scare factor takes a slight hit as a result of diminished live performers.
DESIGN - 9½, No stone is left unturned, from the cemetery to the shoot-out, as scenes and rooms exhibit unsurpassed detailing.  Connecting corridors along the progression of rooms are short and equally as well decorated.  School theme has been extended throughout the basement.  Non-related scenes have been relocated, or entirely eliminated in favor of fresh, more relative ones, and the course has been lengthened. Prom Dance is quite elaborate and impressive, but somewhat anticlimactic.  "Huge surprise" and claustrophobic maze are tremendous additions, even though they may create a bottleneck of sorts.  At last!! The Janitor is in the basement!  GREAT!  And way overdue!  The "false ending" is unique, and a credit to their ingenuity, but would still like to see one final extreme encounter involving Charlie as the culminating climax.
PROPS - 9½, Good balance between those of technological and more traditional varieties.  Infinite scares provide clever distractions that serve to captivate the audience, and allow the various characters abundant opportunities on which to capitalize.  Would really benefit from a few high-end, impressive, "jaw-dropping" mechanical animatronics strategically located near the finish. 
VALUE - 9, Annually, among the elite haunted houses in the tri-state region, $12 seems like a fair rate by today's standards.  NOTE:  Discount coupon is valid only on specified dates.
RATING:  9+, The tradition continues as the '06 restoration exhibits continued expansion.  A reduction in the acting department workforce leaves a few areas without a signature character, while multiple encounters with The Janitor INSIDE the school is a welcomed addition.  When planning your Halloween activities, be sure to schedule a visit to Cincinnati's Frightful Favorite - the 'ebn sponsored icon known as THE DENT SCHOOLHOUSE!
NOTE:  Upon revisiting, bus is now occupied, and actors were noticeably more intense and comfortable in their roles.

THE HAUNTED CASTLE
& BLACK FOREST
8965 Auburn Road
Fort Wayne, IN
(260) 489-1763
$8 each - $14 Combo Ticket
$5 V.I.P. Pass Option per Attraction
$1 discount coupon on their website
The Haunted Castle
click logo to visit their web site
CASTLE RATING: 9+
Reviewed 11/3/07
Haunted Castle
THE HAUNTED CASTLE: As pictured above, The Castle rests right beside an actual cemetery, and is guarded by a shrouded figure carrying a mysterious-looking staff.  Up the steps and through the double door entrance, a skeleton relates the story of The Black Knight, as a chandelier flickers, and a bookcase swings open revealing a secret passage into a hidden room.  There, a ghoul speaking with voice amplification offers some last minute instructions, then following a startling surprise, the official journey through The Haunted Castle gets underway through the front of a Grandfather clock.  Narrowly tight, darkened corridors, creaking floors, and low ceilings that at times force you to duck down in order to proceed characterize the adventure.  Caged prisoners struggle to gain their freedom, while laboratories conjure up a variety of evil spirits.  Upstairs, downstairs, up spooky old circular staircases, down a trifecta of slides, through shrinking hallways, low ceilings, and slanted mazes, various levels of the old Castle are explored one by one.  Moans, groans, and other frighteningly loud sounds accompany numerous surprises, including a body springing forth out of a casket, a skeleton popping through window shutters directly into your path, and a zombie-like corpse swinging around and banging loudly on a glass panel that illuminates right before your face as you approach.  Snakes hiss and lunge forward out of skulls, a lizard charges out of hiding, and monsters attack from out of nowhere.  A disorienting mirror maze leads to more mechanical surprises shooting out of beds, and from underneath tables.  A button on the wall is accompanied by a sign warning against pushing it.  Whatever you do, resist temptation and DON’T PUSH THAT BUTTON!  Chained caskets thrash about on their own, as whoever or WHATEVER’s inside desperately attempts to escape, en route to a light vortex that connects a couple of major surprises, courtesy of actually being placed inside coffins prior to escaping The Haunted Castle.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9½, In excess of 20 minutes.
ACTORS - 8, The weakest aspect of the haunt.  Could benefit from additional adult characters, and some dialogue, although the overall design is so entertaining, that it compensates tremendously for the deficiency of the cast to such an extent that the lack of intense acting is hardly missed.
SCARINESS - 9, Great soundtrack throughout.  Cramped corridors and challenging navigation gets downright intimidating at times.  Startling animatronics provide numerous unexpected surprises, while actually being placed inside coffins is an experience like no other.  Confrontations with more aggressive characters would raise the fright level even more.
DESIGN - 10, Methods of navigation are unequalled, featuring intimidating, barely manageable stairs, hallways, ramps, and numerous slides.  Slanted maze is one of a kind.  Might be able to add to the décor in places, but for the most part, every inch of space is utilized to its maximum potential, and every nook and cranny of the Castle is explored in one way or another.
PROPS – 9+, Coffins and slides are fantastic, and accompanied by a nice compliment of animatronics.  Replacing some of the reptilian scenes with more traditionally scary counterparts would be a bonus.  Supplementing them with some of the latest technology would also be an attribute.
VALUE – 10, Quite a bargain by today’s standards, especially as part of the combo ticket.
RATING:  9+, Sadly, the 2007 season closes the final chapter in the 28 year history of this really fun haunted house.  We can't overemphasize just how good and unique the design really is.  Development and construction is forcing the attraction to relocate down the street for 2008 and beyond in a brand new facility.  It's most popular features will surely be retained in the new building, but the authenticity can never be duplicated or replaced.  The spirit and charm of the original Castle will live forever in the hearts of all who ever visited perhaps the most entertaining haunted house of all time.  Be sure to grab a slice of delicious pizza, or a chili dog when visiting the new Haunted Castle, and pick up a souvenir from Lynn and Jerry in The Goblin ShopIn Memorium:  HAUNTED CASTLE 1980 - 2007.

BLACK FOREST
at THE HAUNTED CASTLE
8965 Auburn Road
Fort Wayne, IN
(260) 489-1763
$8 each - $14 Combo Ticket
$5 V.I.P. Pass Option per Attraction
$1 discount coupon on their website
Black Forest
click logo to visit their web site
BLACK FOREST RATING: 8
Reviewed 11/3/07
BLACK FORESTEntering through an old wooden gate, a deafening horn sounds as blinding lights limit your ability to see, while seting you up to embark upon the darkened journey through The Black Forest .  Lots of monsters inhabit the woods, and wait to unleash their surprising tactics as you make your way past.  Some attack from above, armed with knives and alternate weapons of choice, while others emit sparks, and rev up chainsaws as you trek deeper into the isolated woods.  Low-lying fog fills the area, and illuminated eyes stare you down as the adventure continue through bloody sheets, and into a short maze containing secret drop down panels that hide wickedly laughing ghouls, their voices amplified throughout the surroundings.  Eerie, disorienting sounds accompany navigation through a spinning vortex, en route to cemeteries, more chainsaws, and encounters with a pirate-like ghost ship christened The Black Pearl; a barn containing a giant spider; a skeleton riding a white horse in a Dodge City saloon, an ore car rolling towards you out of a mine; The Graveyard Express train blasting fire from it’s smokestack alongside Deadman’s Depot; and The Black Forest’s trademark Super Maze, that offers an easy path for "chickens," and another “fun” route that contains numerous loops and dead ends, misdirecting signs, as well as a secluded area labeled, “Perfect make-out spot,” that brings back memories of a previous visit with an ex-girlfriend!  Successful navigation leads to escape from the maze, and into a slanted room, then a funeral scene that delivers a few surprises just prior to the exit of The Black Forest

Analysis:
LENGTH - 10, 34 minutes, give or take a few minutes depending on your success with The Super Maze, or perhaps the lack thereof!
ACTORS - 7, Some unique characters, including one riding a dragon, but could still benefit from an increased workforce, some dialogue, and a little aggressiveness.
SCARINESS - 8, Fog provides quite a mysterious look to the woods, and accompanying sounds set a fabulous mood.  Additional confrontations with more threatening characters would elevate the score.
DESIGN - 8, A lengthy trail, but a bit sparse early on from a decoration standpoint.  Detailing picks up as the trail progresses, with some unusually unique scenes.  Mine and train are favorites.
PROPS - 8, Could stand to increase the density on the beginning sections of the trail.  Train is a nice addition since we last visited in ’05.
VALUE - 10, Can’t beat the price as part of the Castle combo ticket.
BLACK FOREST RATING:  8, The secondary attraction at the site serves as a nice compliment to the main event, and is certainly worth a look when visiting The Haunted Castle.

HALLOWEEN HAUNT AT KINGS ISLAND
Exit 25 off  I-71
Mason, Ohio
$19.95 Friday Night Admission
$24.95 Saturday
(includes all day Park admission)
Halloween Haunt at Kings Island
click logo above to visit their web site
RATING: 9
Reviewed 9/28/07
view photos from Halloween Haunt & Fearfest
Massacre ManorMASSACRE MANOR: One of the more popular attractions has a fresh coat of blood...er... paint on the walls and is back for a return engagement!  Take the six minute tour of the ruined mansion and encounter the evil that lies within.  Search for its previous occupants, and take precautions to avoid Emily, a former resident responsible for the torturous acts that are still taking place here.  Beware of monster-lined walls that impede your navigation by closing in from both sides of a clothes closet.  Meet the unbalanced cook in her blood-spattered kitchen, and witness an amazing bed levitation in a treacherous bedroom, where demented children have altered the words to innocent nursery rhymes, metamorphosing some well known text into devious counterparts like, "Mary had a little lamb, it's fleece was red as blood!"  Extremely intense characters rule the murderous, gothic estate, where bodies are torn in half by powerful table saws, and fry in electric chairs as you come face to face with Emily herself at CONEY MAUL's Massacre Manor!
Club BloodCLUB BLOOD: New for '07, the promiscuous Club Blood looks like a scene straight out of the movie Dusk to Dawn!  Intensity levels are high, as blood-thirsty vampires attack from darkened surroundings, while exotic, fanged dancers perform in elevated cages, dancing to music spun by an intensely wicked DJ.  Take part in a mirror maze, and witness some really demented sights, including a deranged nurse cannibalizing her victim, painful childbirth, mechanical surprises springing forth from beds and caskets, and a grotesque bathroom scene all housed inside the 5 minute visit to this popular nightclub.  Outstanding make-up, and energetic characters throughout.  Bikers and ghouls alike, have your id checked and paint the town red at ACTION ZONE's Club Blood!  Come in for a bite!
Death Row DEATH ROW: CONEY MAUL’s renamed Asylum features an unnerving, fog-filled, chain-link fence maze, inhabited by convicted prisoners waiting to meet their ultimate demise, and eager for revenge.  Deafening sirens blare, and blinding strobes flash as various forms of executions are carried out, one courtesy of an electric chair, and another more auspicious condemnation, where an inmate’s upper torso has had its flesh torn away, exposing his spine, yet he’s still quite ALIVE!  Intensity approaches near panic levels, as confusion and disorientation give way to entrapment in this seven minute sanatorium of torture and slaughter known as Death Row.
Red Beard's Revenge RED BEARD'S REVENGEVenture into this box maze of fortune and lost treasure as you tour below the decks of a cursed ship, encountering evil, skeletal pirates that emerge from hidden panels, a sultry lady of the night soliciting action in the world’s oldest profession, and ultimately Captain Red Beard himself.  Swab the deck, and meet up with beheaded shipmates in the bowels of this ill-fated vessel. Dead men tell no tales in Halloween Haunt’s six minute swashbuckling RIVERTOWN endeavor better known as Red Beard’s Revenge.
Trail of Terror TRAIL OF TERROR: The dark, fog-filled woods is the primary scare of the trail, where scarecrows come to life, and other hideous creatures lurk in the shadows.  A fork in the road separates the men from the boys, or in this case the brave from the chickens, as courageous travelers must crawl on their hands and knees through a pair of coupled sewer pipes, while the timid or physically challenged ones can simply bypass the scene and walk around.  A huge, appalling surprise soon awaits, emanating from a portable toilet, as  Hanged bodies convulse from trees, and hideous looking zombies, in advance stages of decay leave their earthen tombs en route to a double chainsaw chase-out of CONEY MAUL’s 15 minute path of mind-bending terror also known as the Trail of Terror
Tombstone Terror-tory TOMBSTONE TERROR-TORYSit back, relax, and enjoy a spooky ghost story while riding the train, well…, until something goes terribly wrong.  The old iron horse breaks down in the middle of nowhere and riders must disembark, and hike back to civilization on foot.  Darkness abounds, and gives rise to encounters with undead zombies and corrupt cowboys as you make your way across covered bridges, through the foggy terrain, and eventually back to the safety of RIVERTOWN, in this wild-west style train ride adventure called Tombstone Terror-tory.
CarnEVIL CARNEVIL: Put on your 3-D glasses and join these jovial jokesters in their house of fun and games.  The three dimensional special effects add a degree of depth perception that really brings the scenes to life.  Clowns unleash their startling surprises by appearing from behind secret, drop-down wall panels, and springing up out of oversized children’s building blocks.  In addition to the vast array of carnival crazies, you’ll meet up with a few of their sideshow co-workers, like Fortune Teller Madam Olga, and a snake charmer, along with her pet python Precious.  A corridor of inanimate clown figures serves up a surprise of its own, when the walls unexpectedly close in from both sides, propelling the masked masters of mayhem directly into your path!  Then, it’s onto a spinning vortex, and a series of multiple dressing room doors belonging to some well known circus performers, as well as horror movie stars, ranging in variety from The Bearded Lady, to Frankenstein, Freddie, and Jason.  Selecting the correct one ends the brief entrapment, and leads to freedom from this dangerous, fright-fest under the big top called CarnEVIL.
The Cemetery Dead Awakening
Cornstalkers Torture Chamber
The Worksite Elvira's Superstition
Fear ZonesFEAR ZONESNot as enduring as the actual mazes, but much more so than in years past, are all located along INTERNATIONAL STREET.  These short, few minute walks are still well worth mentioning. The Cemetery is somewhat self-explanatory, consisting of, tombstones, crypts, monuments, fog, and undead corpses.  Cornstalkers is mostly an intimidating walk through a darkened cornfield connecting to RIVERTOWN that's overrun with evil, killer scarecrows, who have come to life, and leave their posts in order to protect their premises.  The Worksite revisits a long forgotten construction project where something once went terribly wrong, resulting in site abandonment.  The wreckage shows skeletal remains of many of the workers, who were still on the job operating various pieces of equipment when the disaster originally occurred many years ago.  Access to certain areas of the catastrophe have been restricted with caution tape and orange barrels, and give rise to deadly encounters with various undead members of the work force along the closed road.  Hard hats, the construction trailer, and portable toilets, exemplify the meticulous detailing that has gone into creating these Fear Zones, which to reiterate, are much more complex this season, and inhabited by numerous creatures of the night.
AttractionsATTRACTIONS: Dead Awakening debuts it's live, adult-oriented musical performance at the SHOWPLACE THEATRE, that features provocative song and dance, and culminates with an innocent young lady's brutal murder. Torture Chamber at PARAMOUNT THEATRE showcases The Great Baldini engaging in various "freak show" style acts, including walking on glass, and lying on a bed of nails. Elvira's Superstition returns for a spooky, simulated roller coaster ride through a variety of ghastly sights with everybody's favorite Mistress of the Dark.

 
HALLOWEEN HAUNT AT KINGS ISLAND
Exit 25 off  I-71
Mason, Ohio
$19.95 Friday Night Admission
$24.95 Saturday
(includes all day Park admission)
Halloween Haunt at Kings Island
click logo above to visit their web site
RATING: 9
Reviewed  9/28/07
view photos from Halloween Haunt & Fearfest
HALLOWEEN HAUNT - OVERALL EXPERIENCE: The Halloween Haunt scares begin as you approach the main gates.  The eerily lit exterior is decorated with tombstones, and skeletons occupy cars from some of the Park's thrill rides.  Hundreds of monsters gather opposite the turnstiles and dare you to enter Kings Island's annual Halloween extravaganza.  Once inside, greetings are extended from an Undertaker, standing beneath a giant, red-eyed skull, and shadowed by hearses.  His amplified voice booms taunts through the speaker system, as various roaming monsters begin to notice your presence!  Tremendous amounts of fog obscure the view down International Street toward the Eiffel Tower!   Just an awesome beginning!  Walks and paths between attractions are elaborately decorated with chilling sights of cemeteries and skeletons.  Fog is everywhere, and becomes thicker, and even more intimidating as the night wears on.  Well hidden creatures don't stay that way for long, and come crawling, sliding, and roaming from all directions at the most unexpected moments!  Eight uniquely haunted Mazes, three differently themed Fear Zones, and three more live Attractions, combined with nearly a dozen of the world's best thrill rides, result in an entire night of Halloween entertainment that's possibly unsurpassed.  The haunts themselves may not be overly impressive in the sense of outlandish animatronics, and certainly aren't the longest, but they're still scary and intimidating, feature outlandish characters,and are designed to accommodate enormous amounts of guests.  Subsequently, the event itself scores much higher as a whole, than any of the individual attractions otherwise would if considered independently.  One could easily spend $20 to $25 at just one or two haunted houses that would be over with in 10 or 20 minutes, if you're lucky.  For the same investment, the fun at Halloween Haunt lasts all night!  How can you top that? 

Overall Event Analysis: 
LENGTH - 10, Everyone's DYING to get in, and the fun lasts all night!  Unmatched from an entertainment perspective.
ACTORS - 8½, Costuming is first rate.  The characters are much more intense than in years past.  This amped-up atmosphere is most noticeable in Club Blood and Massacre Manor, and to a slightly lesser extent in Death Row and RedBeard's Revenge.  Maintaining this high energy level through numerous performances in front of thousands of patrons is a remarkable accomplishment.  A dominance of professional theatrical make-up creates numerous original monsters - overpoweringly bloody and gory in appearance, and not easily forgotten.  Masks in Red Beard's Revenge are almost equally as impressive.  Performers along the Trail, and in CarnEVIL aren’t as intense, and there aren’t enough in Tombstone Terror-tory to cover the dead spots.
SCARINESS - 9, The Park itself offers much more throughout than ever before - more decor, more monsters, and as a result more SCARES!  Excellent soundtracks and lighting compliment the haunts, making them that much more terrifying, and the use of fog is unsurpassed.  Notice the way it envelopes the entire Park while enjoying one of the Thrill Rides.
DESIGN - 9, The transformation from fun-filled amusement park, to demented Halloween Haunt is masterful.  Creepiness abounds, in a traditional Halloween sense, and each haunt, has its own unique theme.  Classical scares are delivered along the Trail of Terror, and in Massacre Manor, while more modern frights come from CarnEVIL.  Terror takes the form of a variety of creatures and characters, ranging from undead vampires to villainous convicts, evil clowns and vindictive pirates.  Tombstone Terror-tory is one of the weaker, most underutilized attractions, which is most unfortunate considering it spotlights the incomparable Miami Valley Railroad, a feature unavailable elsewhere.  Would like to see more focus on the train itself, perhaps in the form of an old-fashioned, or at least attempted hijacking, sabotage, zombies leaving their graves and roaming the tracks, thus stopping the train, then relentlessly pursuing riders back to RIVERTOWN, or something of the like.  The return of the Bravery/Chicken option to the Trail is a welcomed site.  Club Blood is cutting edge!
PROPS - 8, Some of the haunts themselves could be better detailed, especially Tombstone Terror-tory and Trail of Terror.  Bed levitation and body sawed in half inside Massacre Manor are most impressive.  Addition of impressive animatronics would be a major attribute. 
VALUE - 10, An entire evening of entertainment costs only $19.95 for Friday nights, and $24.95 on Saturdays when purchased online.  Saturday's ticket includes all day Park admission.
OVERALL RATING:  9, Massacre Manor and Club Blood are a notch or two above the rest. Death Row is quite intense, and Red Beard's Revenge makes a strong debut.  Trail of Terror, Tombstone Terror-tory and CarnEVIL remain the weakest links.  Even though it's the longest haunt at Kings Island duration wise, the Trail requires much more detailing in the sense of props, and many more characters in order to begin to compare with other area trails.  The train ride needs to become more the center of attention, as it's a shame to underutilize that locomotive and railroad in general with such an unadventurous walk back through the woods. CarnEVIL's clowns simply aren't nearly aggressive, or vicious enough.  Although individually, the haunts themselves aren't overwhelmingly impressive, the conjunctive event is arguably unequalled.  Elvira's back for another year, tolerance to self-inflicted pain is dementedly showcased in Torture Chamber, while a Broadway style stage dramatization entertains and horrifiess with hourly performances of  the racy Dead Awakening.  Nothing is off limits, as the dead run rampant at Halloween Haunt until 10/31/07.  Hours of operation have been extended in efforts to combat the lengthy lines that must be endured prior to gaining entrance to the haunted attractions, and provide additional opportunities for visitors to experience all the event has to offer on a single visit.  Friday nights, as well as early season dates are likely the best times to visit, as there'll be fewer BODIES in your way! 
WARNING:  Not recommended for young children! Halloween Haunt includes graphic scenes, suggestive themes and intense imagery that is intended for mature audiences.  For a more family-friendly event, please visit during daytime hours on Saturday's and Sundays for Nick or Treat, an attraction featuring pumpkin patches, magic shows, candy, and mch more, all designed for the little ones!

GHOSTLY MANOR
$11 Adults / $6 Children 9 and under
XD 3D THEATER - $6
3319 Milan Rd.
Sandusky, OH
(419) 626 - 4467
Ghostly Manor
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 9
Reviewed  10/6/07
view photos taken at Ghostly Manor
GHOSTLY MANOR From the moment you first step inside this high-startle complex, there's not a single minute’s peace from assaulting animatronics, and gruesome, stalking monsters!  Frightening music welcomes you through the front door, where Fluffy the dog naps quietly in his doghouse, and the first of an infinite number of sudden, unexpected surprises catches you completely off guard!  Strange, unexplained happenings have already begun to unfold.  Shutters bang loudly, doors open and close on their own, and cabinets follow suit.  Mechanical skeletons and other creatures, both living and dead, spring to life from underneath chairs, out of suitcases, behind window shutters, beneath the satin linings of caskets, and just about every place imaginable!  Even the walls come to life!  This place really IS haunted!  Innocent portraits, and secret wall panels yield to horrific surprises, with more of the same from bedrooms, bathrooms, and nurseries.  Skulls and skeletons shoot up from beds and bassinets, and a giant rat twitches its tail, as it gobbles up whatever crumbs, leftovers and body parts it can find on a kitchen countertop!  Metal floors violently vibrate beneath your feet, bookcases move and shake on their own, and an onslaught of spooks spring forth from closets, out of refrigerators, and every dark corner known to man!  An enormous, caged Impaler (13’ tall, bellowing animated monster!) resides in the depths of The Manor, clutching the torn remnants of his latest victim in his hands, and dangling the lifeless body above the bones of those that preceded him.  Gigantic bats, body bags, tight corridors lined with moving skeletons that reach out and grab at you, and chained, thrashing coffins, lead to a morgue, and ultimately, a confrontation with Pinhead, who guards the one and only escape from the evil spirits that dwell inside this haunted estate, known as Ghostly Manor.

Analysis
LENGTH - 7½, Between 10 and 15 minutes. 
ACTORS - 9, Fantastic make-up resulting in the creation of some uniquely appalling characters.  Crew could stand to be a bit more aggressive.  Energy is high, screams are loud and frightening, but would benefit from some closer, more intimidating encounters.
SCARINESS - 9½, Traditionally spooky (and loud) soundtrack, "haunted" doors and shutters, etc., and tons of mechanical surprises have maximized their input.  Rest is up to the actors. 
DESIGN - 9, Meticulously decorated rooms - precisely what you'd expect to discover in a genuine haunted house!  Great while it lasts, just a little on the short side.  On the down side, nothing much has changed, and not too much has been added.  Pinhead finish is somewhat anticlimactic.
PROPS - 10, An overwhelming number of perfectly placed animatronics delivering plenty of face to face encounters, complimented by appropriately scary static décor.  Detailing of rooms is remarkable!  Timing was slightly off on a few of the pneumatics, while a couple of others were malfunctioning, or not working at all, but a handful out of hundreds is pretty impressive. 
VALUE - 9, Simply an awesome attraction, limited only by its short duration.
RATING:  9, One of the best Haunted Houses in existence ANYPLACE, showcasing state of the art technology, and fully accessible to the handicapped!  You owe it to yourself to experience Ghostly Manor live, and in person!

XD 3D THEATERXD 3D is a reastically vivid roller coaster simulator attraction similar to what one might expect to find at an amusement park. Patrons are seated at a large projection screen in one of 8 "simulators" which, move around a bit to create the effect of riding an actual coaster.  Special 3D glasses are worn to bring the entire video experience to life.  "Haunted Mine" is one of three themed options available to choose from.  Hold on tight, as your mine car rides the rails through the ancient gold mine!  Beware of bats, ghost apparitions, huge boulders speeding down the tracks that might impact the mine car, and other obstacles that are encountered along the journey.  XD 3D is fun and entertaining, but not a "haunt" per se, and therefore has not been rated in this review.  Be sure and check it out when visiting Ghostly Manor.
CHAMBERS OF HORROR
1601 S. University Blvd
Middletown, Ohio
$9 - ($1 off with canned good)
Chambers of Horror
click photo to view their website
RATING: 9
Reviewed  9/15/07
CHAMBERS OF HORRORVarious creatures of the night lurk in the darkness outside this year's Chambers of Horror.  New for '07 are television monitors entertaining the waiting area, playing a smorgasbord of horror flicks.  "Wanna play a game?"  If those words are familiar to you, then you'll better appreciate the queue line video that introduces the house rules of The Chambers. (Puppet master from the movie Saw)  When he finishes, the door flies open, and a ghoul butler leads you inside to the ticket area, where the seller too is dressed in full costume!  Tension builds from here, as creepy music begins to work on your nerves, and the butler character delivers his masterful performance, before sending you through the Dead End Cemetery, where graves readily surrender their undead corpses from their earthen tombs.  Then it's into the 30 plus Chambers, characterized by dim lighting, uneven floors, secret passages, some of the most intense actors in the business, and nearly 100 doors, many of which conceal vicious monsters, are booby trapped with dead ends, or false exits, or simply refuse to open at all!  Walls close in, and ceilings come crashing down as you desperately try to overcome confusion, and find the correct path.  Numerous entrapments are encountered as your emotions continue on a downward spiral!  Take an unnerving walk through an upright casket into Count Dracula's Chamber, or a ride in the Hellivator.  It can ascend to Heaven, or plunge you into the depths of Hell.  Why aren't we surprised when it takes us in a downward direction?  In some of the other Chambers you'll meet up with Jason, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Leatherface, a mad doctor offering a meal of human fingers, ears, and other body parts, a live, bodiless head resting on a table, and, two of The Chambers signature characters - the maniacal, bloody butchers, who lock you in their freezers, and fully intend on you staying for dinner, although perhaps not in the normal capacity!  They'll chop you up, cook you till you're done, and serve you to the monsters that inhabit The Chambers of Horror.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9½, Easily over 20 minutes, and perhaps much longer depending on the various entrapments.
ACTORS - 9, Some of the most intimidating characters around - aggressive and downright hardcore!  Many converse with you, as opposed to simply yelling or growling.  Freddy, for example, demands to know where we're going as we pass through his boiler room, and another warns, "Time to die!" just as the walls of a corridor come crashing in on us.  Still a lot of masks, but more make-up than in years past.  Butler, butchers, Leatherface, and mad doctor are most memorable.
SCARINESS - 9, As intense as ever!  We questioned twenty or so patrons as they exited on the night of our visit, and each and every one told us "it was "good!"
DESIGN - 9, More Chambers, a longer path, and enhanced entrapments (doubling up on the room of doors) are among the improvements.  Passageways are extremely narrow and quite capable of inducing some claustrophobic anxiety!  Combine that with unsure footing (unevenness of the floors), and those relentless monsters, and it's pretty easy to suffer an emotional meltdown!
PROPS - 8½, Not a lot to look at through many of the hallways, but ceiling and wall surprises are the best you'll see.
VALUE - 9½, One of the most reasonably priced haunts around, yet one of the all-time best.  Very patron friendly at $9 per person.  Bring a can of food and receive a dollar discount, reducing the cost of admission to only $8!
RATING:  9, What The Chambers of Horror may lack in the extravagant prop department, they more than make up for in a traditional sense.  In a day and age where many haunts are relying more on expensive, technological methods of delivering surprises, these guys know how to scare you!  It all begins with the wait in the front foyer of The Chambers, and builds throughout.  They solicit your fears by playing on your emotions, and then masterfully exploit them to the fullest extreme.  If you're looking for an old-fashioned, affordable haunted house, here it is.  Ohio Valley Haunts encourages a trip to Middletown's Chambers of Horror

WAVERLY HILLS SANATORIUM
4400 Paralee Ln.
Louisville, KY
(502) 933-2142
$20 + $2 parking
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
click photo above to visit their web site.
RATING: 9
Reviewed  9/29/07
WAVERLY HILLS SANATORIUM: Built in the 1920's to house tuberculosis patients, The Sanatorium is purported to be among the most legitimately haunted places in the world!  An all new beginning is on tap for '07 when the big wooden door gently swings open on its own, and you enter into a face to face confrontation with a devilish figure seated on a thrown, that's guarded by a 7' tall skeleton-like being.  Without speaking, they direct you onward, and eventually into a minor entrapment in a room of "infamous" doors - one, 1408 (the movie: 1 + 4 + 0 + 8 = 13), another 502 (the room at Waverly where a nurse once killed herself)!  Selecting the correct one leads deeper into the haunted house, where clasps of thunder and flashes of lightning accompany your progression through the old, darkened hospital.  Multiple encounters with death and evil lie ahead in the form of werewolves, clowns, Freddie, Michael Myers, Pinhead and many others.  Witness an Exorcist-like levitation scene, and the creation of a monster in a wicked laboratory that even Dr. Frankenstein himself would be envious of!  Explore the dilemma of a prisoner shackled in a rubber room, traverse the Asylum of the Damned, and challenge a spinning vortex en route to a Leatherface chainsaw cemetery chase-out of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9, Nearly 20 minutes.
ACTORS - 9, No shortage of characters as every room was occupied by various creatures, cleverly hidden in the darkness, and ready to pounce.  Good costuming and intensity, but not a great deal of dialogue, thus no one really stands out.  Introduction to the house would be so much more intimidating if the creatures had something interesting to say, rather than just point you in the right direction.  Some characters, clowns for example, seem misplaced at Waverly.
SCARINESS - 9½, The authenticity of the facility itself provides a remarkable atmosphere.  Soundtrack is loud, and most effective, while darkness takes its toll on the emotions. 
DESIGN - 8, Eliminating the guided tour segment from a year ago is a plus, and the course displays significant change, beginning in the grand lobby and extending to the end of the north wing.  Although the tour encompasses the morgue area, it's not capitalized upon, nor utilized for what it once was, and most people don't even know they're there. The bed levitation scene is outstanding, but other popular scenes have been replaced with less memorable ones, upstairs floors are left unexplored, and the overall length remains unchanged.  Gone are the wake service and cadaver/saw scenes, as well as the spark emitting electro-shock patient.  The rubber room incident is weaker, as the would be suicidal maniac no longer breaks free of his chains to surprise and attack. 
PROPS - 9, Comparable to years past.
VALUE - 7½, Awesome attraction, but $20 is an awful lot to pay for any 20 minute experience, and hurts the overall score.
RATING:  9, The Waverly Hills Sanatorium is a highly intense adventure located in an original structure that's just loaded with history.  Proclamations that it's really haunted only adds to the experience.  Look for the Sci-Fi Channel's Ghost Hunters Live broadcast from Waverly on Halloween night!

THE HUSTEAD HOUSE OF HORROR
- A CARNIVAL OF KILLER CLOWNS -
2592 Hustead Rd.
Springfield, OH  45502
$10 Admission
$1 off coupon on their website
Hustead House of Horror
click above to view their website
RATING: 9
Reviewed  10/13/07
HUSTEAD HOUSE OF HORROR:  The minute you first lay eyes on this old Haunted House you know right away that you're in for something special.  Its boarded up windows, and unkept landscaping present such an intimidating sight, that some are just too terrified to enter.  Groups are momentarily seated in a foyer-like area where a relentless onslaught, courtesy of this family of kooky clowns immediately gets underway.  Loud, aggressive pounding welcomes you inside, so intense you can feel the walls vibrate behind your back!  Upon being released into the remainder of the house, the experience consists of blood stained scenes, overwhelmingly loud carnival music, and the stars of the show themselves - these over anxious, maniacal clowns!  Festival freaks accompany you every step of the way, taunting, and wickedly laughing right in your face, as they mislead you into dead end containing mazes.  Some of the evil jokesters fall in behind grabbing at you, and endlessly teasing with remarks such as, "Where are you going???!!"  like you had a clue to begin with!  Upstairs, downstairs, through darkness and fog, and a twisting slide, the uproarious atmosphere continues. As if the overload of carnival crazies wasn't enough, The Puppet Master from the Saw movies also resides in the house, and can't wait to instill even more fear into those brave enough to enter. Desperate screams, and pleas for help ring out of the darkness, and amid fog-filled corridors, but seeing isn't an option, and any efforts of assistance are futile, and such notions are immediately dispelled with the initiation of a ferocious chainsaw chase-out of the house itself!  But the assault isn't quite over just yet, as the demented jesters haven't given up, and follow you right on out into a cornfield, where an unfortunate girl's torso has been ripped away by some sort of flesh eater, while she screams in agony.  You're trapped, and there seems to be no way out, as hell-bent, chainsaw revving sideshow lunatics, and even Freddy Krueger begin to close in on you!  Don't give up!  Keep searching, for a hidden, secret exit does exist, but you'll have to find it in time to escape the wrath of the Hustead House of Horror

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8, Approaching 15 minutes depending on the various entrapments.
ACTORS - 10, Multiple encounters with a highly energetic group of characters, enriched with interacting dialogue.  Intimidating clowns latch onto you, and don't let up until the very end.  Their persistence is remarkable, and the fact that they'll actually touch you at times adds to the legitimacy of the experience.  Freddy doesn't really belong.
SCARINESS - 9, A most unnerving experience.  Fog and darkness are utilized to instill fear of the unknown, and complimented with loud pounding and other appropriate sound effects.  Characters display all out aggressiveness.  Although not traditionally scary, the environment is quite intense, and emotionally destructive.
DESIGN - 9½, Every inch floor space is utilized to its fullest potential, even incorporating a twisting slide to maneuver between the three floors of insane clowns.  The indoor mazes seemed a little easier than last year, which could be an intentional effort to aid with crowd flow.  The cornfield confinement is new this season, and a great way to extend the experience.  The well-concealed exit is difficult to locate, especially with all the disturbances going on around you, and they'll keep you there until they're ready for you to leave!
PROPS - 7, This is still the weakest aspect of the haunt. Slide of Death is best, and there are some other additions, but could still benefit from additional decor.
VALUE - 9, A $2 price hike this year, but to their credit, they kept the cost down for last season's inaugural appearance, which really helped them establish a fan base judging from the size of the crowd.  The price accurately reflects the going rate in the area.
RATING:  9, The Springfield area has become a "hotbed" for haunted houses!  Hustead's debut a season ago really raised the bar, forcing the competition to step up.  The winners here are the patrons - haunted attraction goers who are being treated to improved scenes, and better performances. The Hustead House of Horror is one of the most unique, intense attractions, not only in Springfield, but in the entire tri-state region!  They remain open until 12:30 a.m., thus capitalizing on the overflow from other area haunts that shut their doors at midnight. Even if you don't particularly like clowns, you'll enjoy The Hustead House of Horror.  Pay to get in, PRAY to get out!

WILMINGTON HAUNTED HOLLOW RIDE
Fire Breathing Semis
FEATURING
SLAUGHTER HOTEL &
NIGHTMARE PENITENTIARY
1261 W. Dalton Rd.
Wilmington, OH  45177
(937) 382-6147
$10 per Attraction
$15 for 2, or $20 for all 3
Wilmington Haunted Hollow Ride
click logo above to visit their website
RATING: 9
Reviewed  10/19/07
WILMINGTON HAUNTED HOLLOW RIDE:  Open-air buses, having their tops removed serve as transportation into Wilmington’s Haunted Hollow.  Appropriately named Undertaker, Gravedigger, Widowmaker, etc., these man-made convertibles speed into the spook infested woods, where witches, chainsaws, an animated dragon, bulldozers, and of course the patented flame-throwing, horn blasting semis wait to claim their next victims!  The monsters are armed and dangerous, and the fields of Clinton County come alive with surprises.  You’ll make it in, the question is, will the fire breathing behemoths allow you to survive Dead Man’s Curve, and make it out of the Wilmington Haunted Hollow?

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8, approaching15 minutes.
ACTORS - 8, Very little dialogue, and a lot of masks, but an incredible number of highly energetic, weapon and chainsaw wielding crazies!
SCARINESS - 9, Repeated run-ins with various motorized vehicles instill plenty of fear, supplemented by aggressive monsters, both on and off the bus.
DESIGN - 9, One of the most unique haunts around.  Scenes have been added, and the course extended.  Transition zones between scenes are covered by busses increasing their speed, and countless interactions with various creatures.  It’s so different from all the rest, you’re just never ready for it to end!
PROPS - 9, Trucks, bulldozer, and substantial use of fire are impressive standouts.  Scenes could stand additional detailing, although progress has been made in comparison to last year’s effort.
VALUE - 9½, $10 as a stand-alone feature attraction, but less when purchased as part of a two, or three haunt combo deal with the complimentary haunts making their debuts at the site. 
RATING:  9 Without question, the most unique haunt around.  The addition of a pair of smaller attractions discussed below, only adds to the already action packed adventure.  Lots to do at the Wilmington Haunted Hollow.  But you better get there early, as lines get longer as the night goes on.

WILMINGTON HAUNTED HOLLOW RIDE
SLAUGHTER HOTEL 
Slaughter Hotel
click logo above to visit their website
SLAUGHTER HOTEL:  Check into the once glamorous, Hotel that's now in a state of disrepair.  Climb aboard the late Samuel Slaughter's surprise containing elevator, and ride down "twelve stories beneath the ground!"  Explore his quest for a bride, while searching for the secret "floor" that hides his eccentric laboratory, as well as the bridal suite - room 1313 that the rich developer designed in preparation for that one special night!  Darkness rules in the depths of The Hotel, where irate beings have taken up residence, and aren't too pleased that you've invaded their home!  Wicked sounds, apparitions, and a secret door maze, haunt the experience, and the only way out is to climb the steep ramps that lead back "above ground" and out of The Slaughter Hotel.

Analysis: A little under 10 minutes in duration, but great while it lasts.  Assaulting sounds and surprising characters unnerve your progression through lightless, previously unexplored areas of the "13th floor!"  At less than $7 a head as part of the multi-haunt combo package, Slaughter Hotel brings a more traditional haunted house themed event to the Wilmington Haunted Hollow site.  Obviously, it's not really 13 stories beneath the Earth, but it makes for a good tale!  If you get too scared, don't bother calling out for help, because underground, no one can hear you scream!

WILMINGTON HAUNTED HOLLOW RIDE
NIGHTMARE PENITENTIARY
Nightmare Penitentiary
click logo above to visit their website
NIGHTMARE PENITENTIARY: Disorienting sirens and alarms, maniacal chainsaws, and crazed, imprisoned convicts rule the barbec-wire fence enclosed Nightmare Pen.  Explore the foggy maze and entrapments that arise from jail cells of the undead.  Once they get you locked in, you may never get out of Nightmare Penitentiary!

Analysis:  Only about 5 minutes long, but filled with fierce intensity.  Enraged prisoners struggle to cope with their destiny, and take desperate measures to seek freedom.  Although the experience is limited by it's length, it's non-stop action from the moment you first step inside, until you finally break free.  Scenes are continuous, and authentically decorated.  Costing less than $7 as part of the 3-haunt combo ticket, Nightmare Penitentiary is an all-out assault!  What more would you expect from Wilmington's Haunted Hollow?

NOTE: The Wilmington Haunted Hollow attractions are reviewed as such, because we were asked not to give away very many details of their design or scares.   The real value lies in the 3-haunt discount ticket, as the uniquely themed complimentary haunts wouldn't score high on their own as primary attractions, but nicely support the venue's main event.
BULL RUN FARMS
HAUNTED HAYRIDE & BLACK BOG
6070 Springboro Rd.
Lebanon , Ohio
(937) 748-2272
$12 Hay Ride / $8 Black Bog
$15 for Combo Ticket
($1 off coupon at Scary Ohio)
Bull Run Farms Haunted Hayride
Bull Run Farms Haunted Hayride
click logo to visit their web site
RATING: 9
Reviewed  10/5/07
Bull Run Farms Haunted Hayride and Black Bog
SPRINGBORO HAUNTED HAYRIDE:  This classic hayride gets underway with the tractor driving through one of the Bull Run barns, where a demented surgeon mutilates and dismembers his unfortunate patient, before turning his attention on you!  Without pausing, the wagon proceeds into the darkened woods, where The Headless Horseman soon comes riding out of the shadows, grabbing at those on board!  Irate spooks charge out of the trees and climb aboard, as the Hayride passes the gallows, where an execution recently took place.  One of the ghouls can hardly catch up, but grasps onto the wagon, and is dragged along from behind, until he eventually gives up, relinquishes his grip, and the tractor pulls you away to safety.  Nicely done!  A wicked looking, amber light flashing, siren piercing, pig-headed pick-up truck suddenly thunders onto the scene, it’s powerful engine revving and blasting as it pulls alongside attempting to run you off the road!  Similar encounters ensue a short time later, first in the form of mad “monster“ truck, then again from a bladeless, old combine, each re-enacting the truck’s performance!  A "hot-rod" hearse, sits angrily off to the side, it too boasting a loud, impressive motor, and hoping to get a turn pursuing the Hayride!   Ignoring signs that the bridge is out ahead, the tractor continues onward past a ghost infested cemetery, and right through the drive-in movie screening of Killer Klowns from Outer Space, culminating in a multiple, on board maniacal chainsaw chase-out of the Springboro Haunted Hayride.

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 9, About 20 minutes 
ACTORS - 8, Headless Horseman is awesome!  Others were much more energetic in comparison to a year ago.  Additional interacting dialogue wouldn’t hurt.
SCARINESS - 8½, An action packed adventure featuring plenty of legitimate, motorized scares.  Improvement in the acting catagory would elevate the fright value
DESIGN - 9½, Tractor maintains a good pace which practically eliminates dead spots.  Only one noticeably calm area, but it occurs right before the climax, and helps add suspense to the assault.  Pick-up chase is outstanding, but can’t help wishing that same classic confrontation came from that spooky, old hearse, as is the Bull Run tradition! 
PROPS - 9, Mostly attributable to the vast variety of actual vehicles that relentlessly terrorize the hay wagon. 
VALUE - 9, A $2 price increase to $12.00 this year, but cost remains unchanged for the Bog combo ticket ($15). 
RATING:  9, Annually, the best hayride around! 

BULL RUN FARMS
HAUNTED HAYRIDE & BLACK BOG
6070 Springboro Rd.
Lebanon , Ohio
(937) 748-2272
$12 Hay Ride / $8 Black Bog
$15 for Combo Ticket
($1 off coupon at Scary Ohio)
The Black Bog at Bull Run Farms
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 7
Reviewed  10/5/07
THE BLACK BOG:  The foggy Bog gets underway in a carnival type setting, where the funhouse barker leads you to a kissing booth.  Luckily, we had Dawn with us, but I don’t even want to think about the experience that all male group of cb’ers must’ve had!  One little smooch, and a few clowns later, we were on our way again, where it’s onto a little girl’s room, decorated with mutilated dolls, and stuffed animals that deliver an unexpected surprise.  Back out to the marshlands, where thickening fog conceals several monsters that you don’t even see until you’re practically looking them in the eye!  A spooky cemetery, gravedigger and chainsaw wielding maniac stand as obstacles along the path, while a deranged loony surrounded by body bags hopes to add to his collection!  Hillbillies extend dinner invitations, while Jerry’s old junkyard houses an old hearse, a broken down school bus that must be boarded, and a few other surprises en route to a spinning vortex finish to The Bull Run Farm Black Bog

Analysis
LENGTH - 8½, Just over 15 minutes. 
ACTORS - 6½, Over 30 characters, but few were energetic enough to warrant remembering.  Gravedigger was back to dragging his shovel noisily along the wooden path, but would be much better digging a grave in the cemetery, or threatening to “bury you alive!” Junkyard Jerry remains one of the few who offers any sort of dialogue at all, and is the most intense, while Big Papa’s appearance was more interesting than anything he had to say, and the Hillbillies still aren’t scary.  Undertaker, measuring you for a new suit of burial clothes is best addition.
SCARINESS - 7, The foggy valley’s an impressive sight, but crying out for better acting.  Elimination of certain scenes (discussed below) hurts the fear factor. 
PROPS - 6½, Similar to '06, except they did away with the best one of all, - the shaking, vibrating elevator. 
DESIGN - 6½, Tremendous amounts of fog roll through the wetlands area encompassing Bull Run Farms.  They changed things up this year, by reversing the direction of the path, which works for the most part, except the spooky, fog-filled cemetery is now somewhat behind you, rather than an intimidating sight ahead.  Some sort of soundtrack aboard the bus would be beneficial.  Removal of the Elevator to Hell is a significant negative, as is the loss of the bloody butchers, and the maze climax, and made even worse since it comes on the heels of dropping Freddie’s room and the sewer pipe tunnel the previous year.  Replacements are sub par to say the least. 
VALUE - 8, Grab the combo ticket if you plan to go.  It includes THE BOG for just $3 more than the hayride itself.
RATING:  7, Change is good, but eliminating some of the better scenes hurts a lot.  The Bog's still a mystifying walk with all that fog rolling through the field, but nowhere near as strong as the main event Hayride.

THE HAUNTED JAIL
611 E. Market St.
Columbia City, IN
Regular Admission $9/V.I.P. $13
Haunted Jail
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  11/3/07
THE HAUNTED JAIL:  An evil clown, dragging a genuine, bloodstained axe stalks the queue line area outside The Haunted Jail.  The sounding of a jailbreak siren signals the beginning of festivities.  Alarming sounds lure you inside the doors, where ghouls follow you up a spooky old staircase, into spider web covered rooms, and through darkened corridors.  Loud pounding on the walls gives way to multiple confrontations with wickedly laughing monsters armed with knives.  More intense pounding leads to rooms decorated with the bloody handprints of former prisoners, and visitors that preceded you.  Blood-curdling screams, deafening horns, and more assaulting sounds accompany a visit to a demented laboratory, and encounters with a vicious nurse, and a fiend loudly banging his large, metal meat cleaver as he chops up body parts.  Descending a flight of stairs delivers you to the authentic cellblock area that hides discontented inmates, hangings, electrocutions, and other startling surprises.  Down more steps, and across uneven floors and ramps takes you through some sort of medical facility, adorned with corpses on gurneys, and highlighted by victims rising up from their beds, and confrontations with more devilish spooks coming from all directions imaginable - even from the pipes and rafters up above!  On into the depths of the old jailhouse, the adventure entails a journey through a frightening cemetery, past an animated gravedigger, and through the creepy, stone walled, sandy floored catacombs.  Surviving brings you back up an old wooden staircase and back into another holding area of the old dilapidated prison, attacks from ghoulish, undead creatures, and more unexpected happenings arising from the darkened incarceration chambers.  Floors vibrate, and a giant, winged mechanical dragon springs to life and unleashes an attack, en route to a realistic, fog-filled, surprise containing morgue that gives way to a graveyard maze containing a spooky old, grim reaper driven carriage pulled by a skeletal horse, and a Leatherface chainsaw chase-out of The Haunted Jail.

Analysis:
LENGTH – 9, 18 minutes in duration.
ACTORS – 9, Not much in the way of dialogue, and mostly masks, but quite aggressive in nature, suddenly appearing out of secluded areas, and grabbing and clawing at you throughout.
SCARINESS – 9, Quite an intense atmosphere.  A variety of assaulting sounds and noises accompany the entire experience.  Extreme darkness amplifies your fears.
DESIGN – 8½, The authenticity of the structure is outstanding, and many floors and levels of the old building are explored.  The only real flaw arises from backtracking through some of the same doorways that are divided by ropes, which results in passing other groups headed in the opposite direction.  Erecting some sort of dividers would overcome this distraction.  Also, spacing of groups could stand some adjusting, as we caught up with those in front of us, while others who followed us in caught up with us as well. 
PROPS – 8, Good scary décor, and a few animatronics decorate the facility.  Some are a little difficult to see, and might benefit from some strategically placed lighting.  Vibrating floor and dragon are most memorable.
VALUE – 9, A highly intense scare costing only $9 ($13 for V.I.P.).  The value is made even better when visiting on “discount nights” where prices are reduced even more for those who might otherwise be unable to attend.
RATING:  8½, A scary environment, frightening actors, and the legitimacy of the structure itself makes for a great night of seasonal entertainment.  From the tormented clown terrorizing the queue line, all the way to the Leatherface chase-out, The Haunted Jail certainly gives visitors their money’s worth, and then some, while earning a high endorsement from Ohio Valley Haunts.  Go by and pay them a visit.

THE HAUNTED HYDRO
1333 Tiffin St.
Freemont, OH
(419) 332-7380
$10 / $15 Combo
Haunted Hydro
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  10/6/07
HAUNTED HYDRO:  A spooky, old hearse waits just inside the entrance to Freemont’s Haunted Hydro.  Climb aboard for a surprising scare, and crawl your way on through as the All Fired Up experience begins. The Hydroitself is a unique, intimidating structure, loaded with clowns, and consisting of uneven floors, shrinking hallways, and an iron bar maze that once housed an area hydroelectric power plant plant.  Vampire torsos decorate its walls; animated creatures move about on their own attempting to escape their cages, and all sorts of psychotic, ghoulish fiends just can’t wait to discover the identity of their next victims!  Visit cemeteries, a mortuary, and Granite’s Tomb.  Fight your way through the fog-filled area, and uncover the vast array of demonic surprises trapped within!  Walkways are bounded by wooden, picket fences, and house a variety of wicked encounters.  Meet up with a frenzied character selling body parts, who’s desperately seeking a liver to add to his collection, or stop by the Hydro barbershop for a “trim,” but be forewarned that the deranged coiffeur‘s definition may not fit your own, as his shop is equipped with instruments like a guillotine, and his shelves are stocked with the heads of his previous customers!  If you make it out with yours still intact, it’s onto a wickedly laughing “Doctor,” who takes his show on the road, practicing his demented form of medicine out of a self-explanatory old carriage he calls Rat Catcher.  The aforementioned maze, a preposterous encounter with a bizarre little girl insisting on playing patty cake, and several more downright crazy characters, lead to skeletons, coffins, catacombs and mummies, a hanging, a loony with a knife in his head, and some unexpected surprises as The Haunted Hydro literally turns your world upside down!

Analysis:
LENGTH - 7½, About 12 minutes. 
ACTORS - 9+, Lots of make-up, tons of energy, and engaging dialogue, but not overly aggressive.  Barber, Doctor, and body part “Salesman” are among the best, although Patty-Cake Girl left the most lasting impression.
SCARINESS - 8, While the haunt is a lot of fun, it’s not overwhelmingly scary.  Intimidating actors do a good job making you feel uneasy.  Unfortunately, we visited on "Clown Night" and the jokesters were more playful, than evil.
PROPS - 9, Great scenes, some animatronics, and the actors all have unique items to work with.
DESIGN - 9+, Could stand to be a bit longer, but never a dull moment!  The legitimacy of the facility is a tremendous asset, while a scarier theme would score significantly higher, given the atmosphere.   Different themes are conducted throughout the season, with performances of Vampire, Zombie, and Clown nights.
VALUE - 9, Just $10 as a stand-alone event, or $7.50 as part of the Rage in the Cage combo.
RATING:  8½, Haunted Hydro is the largest and longest running haunted house in northwest Ohio, and was awarded the 2007 Best Cast Award from Tourist Attractions and Parks magazine.  Door Characters interact with groups setting them up to enter the haunts themselves, and various creatures roam the Twilight Zone area that features Crazy Bob's Ghoulish Gift Shop, as well as several other complimentary activities including, Tarot card readings, and Wheel of Fortune/Misfortune.  You can also bash a "Haunted Hooptie" with a sledgehammer and support the Humane Society's fundraiser, where procedes benefit the Wood and Huron County shelters.  There's plenty to do, and lots of fun to be had at The Hydro, but remember, NEVER COME ALONE!

THE HAUNTED HYDRO
- RAGE IN THE CAGE -
1333 Tiffin St.
Freemont, OH
(419) 332-7380
$10 / $15 Combo
Rage in the Cage
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 7
Reviewed  10/6/07
RAGE IN THE CAGE New for ’07, Rage in the Cage is a secondary haunt at The Hydro Complex, consisting of an enormously foggy, chain-link fence maze that features flashing strobes, honking horns, laughing, disorienting characters, and the like.  A series of doors helps to provide one of several surprises you’ll encounter along the way.  Just when you think you’ve completed the course and reached the safety of the outdoors, a talkative girl-ghoul named “Dementia” chaperones you through a few more horrific scenes, then back into The Cage!  The second go-round is similar to the first, and eventually leads to an encounter with Dr. Iffems, demanding one of your body parts before he’ll allow you to escape Rage in the Cage.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 7, Less than ten minutes.
ACTORS - 7½, Not that many, but those present climb on the fences, wickedly laugh, and help provide distractions. Dementia is best.
SCARINESS - 7, Fog, strobes and the resulting disorientation are the primary scares.
PROPS - N/A, Although some are present, it’s always difficult to do much with this type of infrastructure, therefore this category doesn’t apply to mazes.
DESIGN - 7, The course is just too simple.  Not enough loops or dead-ends to score any higher.  Leaving the Cage, then re-entering for a second time is most unexpected, as well as the best aspect of the entrapment.  Experience would benefit from some type of warning siren, or other assaulting sounds to accompany the journey through the fog-filled maze.
VALUE - 8, Best when purchased as part of the 2-haunt combo.
RATING:  7, A twisting, turning adventure through foggy, fence enclosed surroundings, Rage in the Cage serves as a nice compliment to Haunted Hydro.

ST  RITA HAUNTED HOUSE
1720 Glendale-Milford Rd
Cincinnati, Ohio
(513) 771-1060
$10 per skeleton!
($3 discount coupon on web site)
St. Rita Haunted House
click logo above to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  10/4/07
St. Rita Haunted House
ST RITA HAUNTED HOUSECount Dracula bids you welcome into the St. Rita Haunted House!  After stalking for some "fresh blood," he beckons you up a spooky old staircase, where dimly lit rooms are adorned with traditionally scary decor.  Coffins, skeletons, gothic candelabras, flickering chandeliers, and scary music captivate your attention, as monsters and their potential victims appear from out of darkened corners.  Loud screams ring out, as doors slam shut behind you!  A see through floor suddenly illuminate beneath your feet, and secret wall panels suddenly drop down revealing hideous looking creatures, and other surprises.  Undead bodies rise up out of caskets, and rocking chairs begin swaying back and forth on their own as you approach.  Multiple floors of the old Haunted House are explored, leading to confrontations with Pirates protecting their treasure, an irate brute adamantly blocking the path, a caged, spark-emitting lunatic, and a huge, unexpected surprise!  Skeletons, and other frightening objects spring up out of nowhere, a spinning vortex must be traversed, and a half-baked body pops out of a cremator, still smoking from its incinerating inferno!  Outside the house, an old wooden bridge, overgrown with shrubs and trees takes you to a cemetery, and a surprise Michael Myers finish to the 2007 installment of the St. Rita Haunted House.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 7, A little over 10 minutes.
ACTORS - 8, Last year's trend continues, as actors are much more convincing in comparison to just a few years ago.  They're well hidden, energy and intensity levels are up again, and make-up use is abundant. Several characters interact with groups offering dialogue, not just "growls," screams are loud and blood curdling, and attackers are much more terrorizing.  "Big Brute" gets the actor of the night award for his relentless intensity.  Count Dracula, a longstanding trademark at St. Rita's, is showcased in the "reVAMPed" (pun intended) beginning.  A few actors broke character before we exited their room.
SCARINESS - 9, The house itself is practically a masterpiece, and as scary as ever with its dim lighting, spooky staircases, creaking floors, and meticulous detailing.  Scary music and accompany soundtrack is loud and intimidating.  Cast is the strongest in years.
DESIGN - 9, The course is re-worked each season, but this year's is by far the best in recent memory, originating with (our favorite) main entrance beginning, and climaxing across the dilapidated, old bridge.  The house itself is fantastic.  The finish is a little weak, and would benefit tremendously from better utilization of the graveyard scene, perhaps with the simple addition of some roaming zombies or vampires.
PROPS - 9, Traditionally adorned with scary decor, featuring coffins, skeletons, flickering lights, and other gothic decor.  Pneumatic animatronics are more plentiful, provide some good scares on their own, and set up distractions for the actors to capitalize upon - which they do!
VALUE - 9½, Regular admission is $10, but only $7 per skeleton when taking advantage of the coupon available on their web site.  That's a dollar more than last year (with the coupon), but an unheard of bargain by today's standards, and the Haunted House itself is outstanding.
RATING:  8½, Produced by the Greater Springdale Jaycees, the old house has been treating Cincinnatians to scares for over 30 years!  It's different every year, but seems extra special this season - the best it's been in quite some time, and we can't wait to go back!  We visited on opening night, and they were more than ready for us.  That's a tremendous compliment, and a credit to their experience and professionalism, as many haunts aren't nearly as well organized, or prepared on the nights of their seasonal debuts.  Don't forget to include this Queen City haunt icon on your list again this year for some spooky Halloween fun.  We're fortunate to live in an area with so many quality haunted houses to visit, and St. Rita's is one you never grow tired of!  As is our annual tradition, we'll be back on Halloween night, just after Trick or Treat!
NOTE:  On October 27th and 28th, St. Rita's will be offering lights-on, children's matinees from 3 to 5 p.m. for just $2 per admission!  Take the little ones!

NIGHT FRIGHT HAUNTED TRAIL
at SILVER LAKE BEACH
4720 Scarff Rd.
New Carlisle, OH  45344
(937) 845-8311
$10 ($1 off coupon on their website)
Night Fright Haunted Trail
click logo above to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  9/21/07
NIGHT FRIGHT HAUNTED TRAIL AT SILVER LAKE BEACHThe Night Fright Haunted Trail originates with the descent of a steep, spooky hill, guarded by witches and skeletons, and where thunder clasps ring out in the otherwise stillness of the night, and lightning flashes illuminate the twilit sky, casting unnerving shadows in the surrounding trees.  Midway down the incline sits an electric chair that challenges you to risk having a seat unless "fear is the factor."  Accepting this frightening proposition results in an immediate surprise - one you'll have to test out yourselves in order to learn the outcome!  Don't let your guard down as reach the valley below, for the woods are inhabited by vicious maniacs, just waiting to unleash more horrific surprises on the unsuspecting.  Care to climb aboard a dilapidated, old school bus?  If so, you'll discover it to be infested with sadistic clowns springing to life from all directions!  One's concealed in the most perfect hiding place, and makes his presence known at just the right time!  More monsters come at you from inside coffins and behind secret panels, while setting the stage for a fantastic interactive feature that dares you to pull a chain in a scene where a guillotine is the star of the show.  Need we say more?  Accept the invitation of an enormous Grim Reaper to visit the gas chamber and witness jailed inmates pleading for their freedom, followed by a death row convict meeting his convulsing demise in a sparking electric chair.  Flying ghosts haunt a creepy hillside cemetery that gives rise to Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and others who have no intention of allowing anyone to pass through unscathed.  Ceilings come crashing down, walls of ghouls close in unexpectedly, and various surprises wait on the opposite sides of a series of doors, only one of which permits progression through spider webs and barbed wire, then into a dark maze and the eventual escape of the Night Fright Haunted Trail at Silver Lake Beach.

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 9½, Nearly 25 min. with the addition of a few more twists and turns, and perhaps even longer depending on your success (or lack thereof) with the maze. 
ACTORS - 7½, Somewhat average at times, although some characters leave a more lasting impression, while mechanical assistants serve well in helping the others achieve adequate scares.  A few more intimidating personalities would be a major attribute.  A little more make-up than in the past, and some dialogue as well, but still could stand to be a little more intense.  Would benefit from more memorable characters like the ghoul in the coffin, and the clown seated on the bus, both of whom are startling, then  relentless with their pursuit.
SCARINESS -8½, Plenty of sudden happenings throughout with scary background music, and an ample number of characters and props.
DESIGN - 9, Everything flows really well from scene to scene with hardly any dead spots - a characteristic uncommon with most trails.  This is achieved by keeping the distance between scenes at a minimum, and covering transition areas with startling props and well hidden characters.
PROPS - 9, Those of the animated variety seem a bit more abundant this year, and are timed to deliver excellent scares, and most importantly compliment the actors through deception.
VALUE - 9, Boasting a half mile of bone chilling terror, this lengthy trail offers up numerous surprises, and abundant scares all at a reasonable price (just $9 with coupon). 
RATING: 8 ½, This trail caught our fancy the first time we visited, and just gets more enjoyable with each passing year.  Annually one of the best trails around, even without one of the largest budgets, the folks at Silver Lake Beach provide lots of entertaining and impressive scares through inventiveness, clever ingenuity, and downright hard work.  As Halloween draws near, gather some friends and take part in some seasonal entertainment by enjoying a haunting good time at the Night Fright Haunted Trail!

CULBERTSON MANSION
HAUNTED HOUSE
914 East Main Street
New Albany, IN 
(812) 944-9600
$10
Culbertson Mansion Haunted House
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  9/29/07
CULBERTSON MANSION HAUNTED HOUSEA new beginning to the haunted house this year gathers your group momentarily in the midst of a scientific delemma, as experts attempt to figure out why power is shorting out, leaving lights off in the house, and distributing high voltage through metal fences and surrounding areas.  Following warnings to avoid touching anything that could possibly expose you to the dangerous current, you're sent onward through a horrific cemetery, where hordes of undead zombies leave their coffins and graves to aggressively pursue you towards the Carriage House.  Up the old, rusty staircase, a MAJOR double surprise is immediately encountered!  The search for a missing little girl reveals a secret passageway that leads to a ghastly confrontation with a mad dentist, bodies being transfused with blood, and a gruesome monster baby childbirth!  Your Final Destination lies just ahead in the form of an open casket, and the 2006 award winning SCARE OF THE YEAR awaits at the Culbertson Mansion Haunted House

Analysis:
LENGTH - 7½, Nearly 15 minutes if you're lucky enough to escape!  If not, you're just another statistic on their blackboard of quitters, pukers, and other non-survivors!
ACTORS - 8½, Zombie attack outside the haunt is outstanding!  Fantastic make-up, and some pretty unique characters.  More dialogue inside the house would lengthen the event, and raise the score.
SCARINESS - 9, Cemetery, surprises, and finish rank higher.  Need additional, high-impact scares to up the ante. 
DESIGN - 8½, Beginning is a little weak, but sets up the major double surprise perfectly!  Zombie graveyard attack, and secret passage are fantastic, while monster childbirth is quite unique.  One of a kind ending is classic, and serves as the ultimate climax of the experience, although it happens to be a bit weaker this year due to the replacement of surprising, maniacal, chainsaw packing fiend with Michael Myers. Could stand to be a bit longer.  Would've been nice to have somehow kept last year's intimidating séance ceremony intact, and just moved it upstairs (attic?), as that area is just too calm, and hurts the overall score.
PROPS - 8½, Could use more in the way of animatronics.
VALUE - 9, $10, Very reasonably priced considering what other haunts in the area expect.
RATING:  8½, We can always count on The Culbertson Mansion Haunted House for some unique surprises, and this year is no exception!  This season's additions greatly improve the scariness of the attraction.  The surprise finish is most memorable, although last year's chase-out added to its intensity.  Literally a Haunted House is operated entirely by volunteers, and all proceeds benefit the restoration of the historic Culbertson Mansion.  Pay them a visit for the "ride of your life!"

NIGHTMARE ON VALLEY STREET
4355 Valley Street (near Harshman Rd.)
Dayton, Ohio  45424
(937) 39-SCARE 
$10 - ($1 off coupon on web site)
$15 VIP Express entrance
Nightmare on Valley Street
click photo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  9/21/07
NIGHTMARE ON VALLEY STREETAn elaborate, black-lit hearse stands guard just outside the entrance to the Nightmare.  Relentless chainsaw wielding madmen immediately initiate you into the Valley Street trail, where trademark bloodstained crosses, and severed body parts are strewn about the area.  From behind, a voice beckons, "Hey boys, look back here!"  Upon compliance with the request, a loud gunshot rings out, and you're shocked to actually witness the flash from the report of the deadly weapon aiming directly at you!  Run for your very lives, and encounter ghosts moving about in the trees, enormous grim reapers, Michael Myers attacking from the woods, and ghouls, previously concealed by darkness, zipping past overhead, and descending upon you out of the trees, as you fight your way along the winding path.  Flying sparks, strobes, and excellent scary sounds and music join forces to accent the terrifying experience.  More chainsaws, clowns, a bloody bride, and a demented car crash scene give rise to more surprises, as they build up to an extreme quad chase, followed by a pitch black maze finish to Nightmare on Valley Street.

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 9, Between 20 and 25 minutes. 
ACTORS - 8, Some of the most unstable characters around - intense whith the execution of their roles, but not a tremendous amount of dialogue.  A little more make-up than in years past, but still a huge reliance on masks.  Nice to see the return of the gigantic Grim Reaper!  Tree ghouls, and "zip line" character deliver astonishing scares.
SCARINESS - 9, Non-stop persistence on the part of the chainsaw packing lunatics, and a surplus of surprises coming from ALL directions!  Clever utilization of motorized vehicles provides legitimate, heart-pounding scares.  Low hanging branches illuminating from the bouncing light of numerous strobes adds to the mystique, and combines with outstanding sound effects, including the high-pitched shrieks of nearby bats! 
DESIGN - 9, A lengthier course, and a pitch black maze finish are among the additions.  The twelve-foot tall Grim Reaper, conspicuous by his absence one year ago, makes his triumphant return and brings a friend with him!  Strategically placed signs assist with navigation. 
PROPS - 8, Not an abundance of high-tech props, but no noticeable dead spots either.  You're always under siege from someone, or someTHING.  Alternate methods of providing scares are employed to near perfection. 
VALUE - 8½, Only $9 with their website coupon gains admission to an extreme haunt, and arguably the scariest trail around. 
RATING:  8½, The insanity continues at Nightmare on Valley Street.  In a hurry?  Bypass the crowd by taking advantage of the new VIP Express line for only $5 extra, and GET THE YELL SCARED OUT OF YOU!

TERROR MAZE
6997 Springfield-Jamestown Rd. (Rte. 72)
Springfield, Ohio
(937) - 215-2905
$10 - ($1 off coupon on web site)
Terror Maze
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  9/21/07
TERROR MAZE: The all new Terror Maze gets underway with an awesome captivation reenactment from the movie Saw, and of course, climaxes with  tragic consequences.  Pay particular attention to the subject's identity.  Game on!  Additional recreations are soon experienced, and performed with shocking realism.  Abhorrent murders, tortures, and mutilation scenes, 'so real you'll think you're in the movies' (as advertised)!  Some amazing stuff!  You'll meet The Reaper, Michael Myers, clowns, a demented doctor, and many others as you twist and turn your way through the spine tingling darkness, and gruesome settings of hangings, beheadings and cemeteries.  A recently butchered hog convulses about in agony, while another pig-faced creature, has assumed human form, and is intent on revenge!  Visit some old favorites like Spike-Man, resting quietly on a bed of nails, but not for long, and the patented chainsaw entrapment, from which there appears to be no escape!  Blood curdling screams, unnerving alarms, and other deafening noises, along with a most intimidating passage through an actual hearse combine with these wickedly real scenes to expose your deepest fears - all part of the Terror Maze experience.

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 9, 21 mins. and easily longer depending on the entrapment. 
ACTORS - 8½,  Good balance between make-up and masks.  Intensity is good, but leaves room for improvement in order to keep pace with the ghastly scenes displayed at Terror Maze.  Initial Saw scene, the diabolical, bloody doctor, and Michael Myers finish leave the most lasting impressions.  Chainsaw fiends also receive honorable mention.
SCARINESS - 9, Sound effects, strobes illuminating the trees, and some really intimidating scenes provide a legitimately intense atmosphere. 
DESIGN - 8½, A new course this year, and although entrapment, and reenactments are tremendous, they just never quite measure up to that unbelievable beginning.
PROPS - 7½,  Good use of mechanical props, but could benefit from additional decor and fewer tarps. 
VALUE - 9, Only $9 with the discount coupon available on their website grants access to some of the most horrific scenes and surprises around.
RATING: 8 ½, Terror Maze has really progressed through the years.  Springfield's longest running haunt really delivers some intense scares this season.  Although a portion of the attraction takes place outdoors, they expect to remain open even if it's raining, as paths are covered with sawdust, eliminating puddles and keeping them mud free.  Even if you've been here before, there's plenty of new and unsettling scenes to warrant a return visit.  Don't forget to include Terror Maze among your Halloween activities.

FRIGHT MANOR
350 Anniston Dr.
Southport, IN   46227
(317) 767-7540
$15 / $25 Speed Pass
$1 off coupon on their web site
Fright Manor
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  10/12/07
Fright Manor
The House - Fright ManorFRIGHT MANORFrightening music invites you into the living room of The Manor.  Scares commense almost immediately from the likes of Michael Myers; caged skeletons that shake and move about on their own; and a vibrating casket encased behind an iron fence, and guarded by an enormous bat suspended directly above!  Dining rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms of the old Haunted House are visited, each containing their own brand of fear inducing surprises.  The creepy old estate also houses an execution chamber, where an electrocution is in progress, and chained prisoners lunge forth as you pass them by.  Then it's onto the medical wing, where bodies propel off of gurneys, while an insane doctor treats himself to some human delicacies, and the only escape is found by crawling through a morgue's body vault!  Secret wall panels yield to more surprises, as ceilings shrink, floors vibrate, and another unexpected occurrence takes place as you're forced to crawl your way to "safety" once again.  Another big surprise lies ahead, as you progress to a grotesque meal being served in the restroom of the Happy Time Nursing Home, then make your way to Old Man Grizzly's Woods, and a multiple chainsaw chase-out of Fright Manor.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 7½, Under 15 minutes. 
ACTORS - 8, Well hidden throughout, but seemed as though the cast was downsized in comparison to last year.  Loss of Grinner and his trusty barbed wire covered baseball bat is most unfortunate.  Still some pretty good interaction and intensity, but pales in comparison to the lengthier, ’06 installment. 
SCARIENSS - 9, Spooky music is simply fantastic.  Crawl through the body vault is most intimidating, as is the “big surprise.”  Darkness and other loud sound effects set the stage for a multitude of startles delivered by vast array of mechanical props.  Decline in the acting department impacts the scare factor.
DESIGN - 8, The Manor is stocked full of scenes one on top of the other, many of which are at first obscured by the dark surroundings, then suddenly illuminate right before your eyes.  Cemetery scene is a bit weaker without the earth moving, buried alive scene, and decreasing the overall course length hurts the score.
PROPS - 9, Good detailing of rooms, including many well-timed animatronical surprises that produce abundant startles, and ample opportunities for the crew to capitalize upon.
VALUE - 8½, Price remains constant, and delivers two haunts for the price of one, although basically it’s Fright Manor split up into both attractions.
RATING:  8½, Still a great haunt, but much better under a single roof.  Future diversification will hopefully take the form of uniquely themed, stand alone events, and the restoration of Fright Manor into the powerhouse feature attraction it’s always been.  As stated below, this is unquestionably the best haunt in Indy.  Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!

PSYCHOMANTHIUM
at FRIGHT MANOR
350 Anniston Dr.
Southport, IN   46227
(317) 767-7540
$15 / $25 Speed Pass
$1 off coupon on their web site
Psychomanthium at Fright Manor
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 7
Reviewed  10/12/07
PSYCHOMANTHIUM: Scary music welcomes you into the new, secondary attraction at Fright Manor known as Psychomanthium.  Sights of headless bodies, clowns, animated skeletons, and witches stirring their brew await your entrance.  Thunder, lightning, and a piercing alarm accompanies the journey to ElmStreet, and an intimidating encounter with a spark-emitting Freddy.  Decrepit scenes of surgeries and funerals give rise to attacks by ghouls armed with power saws.  Confrontations with a variety of characters ranging from scarecrows to Jason Voorhees deliver you to a fork in the road where you're forced to "pick your poison" by choosing the Jason path, or the Vampire route.  Different surprises emerge depending on which course you select.  A visit to the Butcher Shop concludes with an assault by a bloody, apron wearing, chainsaw wieldingPig, who's roasting the heads of humans, and dicing others up.  Emerging from that crisis lands you in The Fright Manor Cemetery, which leads to a bubbling, toxic waste scenario that introduces an all out Leatherface and Jason maze chase-out of Psychomanthium.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 6½, Only 7 to 8 minutes long.
ACTORS - 8, Could stand some additions to the cast, but those present are quite an overactive bunch.  Not much dialogue, except for FreddyLeatherface, and Chainsaw Jason are the most aggressive.  Pig Butcher is a classic!
SCARINESS - 7, Fantastic soundtrack, and good scares while it lasts, but limited by its short duration.
DESIGN - 6, Again, the haunt is somewhat on the short side.  Originating as an attempt to host multiple haunts at the Fright Manor location, the introduction of this similarly themed attraction takes away from the main event.  Encountering Jason PRIOR to selecting HIS path at the fork in the road doesn’t make sense.  Psychomanthium, by definition implies the use of mirrors to set up communication with the spiritual realm, and that’s simply not present.  This adventure would be best suited annexed back onto Fright Manor, with additional, future haunts acquiring their own unique identities.  Given its unique name, a combination of a dark, fence, cage, and MIRROR maze would work well here.
PROPS - 8, Some nice animatronics, décor, and well timed scares, but not as numerous as in the Manor itself.
VALUE - 8, Only $7.50 when considered as part of a two haunt combo ticket, but not lengthy enough to rank higher. 
RATING:  7, Although Psychomanthium is a nice compliment to the main attraction, it just doesn’t have the potential to compete with Fright Manor, nor would you want it to.  Their combined effort as a single haunt annually achieved a score in the 9 to 9+ range, but separating them does damage to both.  It’s understandable that the owners wish to branch out into a multi-haunt facility, given the success of other, less frightening venues in the area, but uniquely themed haunts is the way to go.  Fright Manor is by far the scariest, and most elaborate haunted house in the Indianapolis area!  If you can't handle the fear, don't enter here!

THE TERROR WITHIN PRESENTS
ZOMBIE ISLAND
320  N. Garver Rd
Monroe, Ohio 45050
$15 per person
Dr. Eastman
click photo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  9/15/07
Revisited  10/20/07
TERROR WITHIN ZOMBIE ISLAND:  Much has changed at this year's Zombie Island, but one thing's for certain - the TERROR found WITHIN this ghastly trail remains.  Victims that have met their grisly deaths courtesy of enormous stakes piercing their bodies still adorn the lakeside area, and serve as a warning to others of the evil that's soon to follow. Dr. Eastman greets your arrival at an old, wooden bridge, then welcomes you into his operating room.  There he devilishly introduces one of the creatures he's CREATED!  Still a work in progress, he cautions that visitors need to avoid coming in contact with their blood, as it happens to be infected with his deadly serum!  His intense performance gives way to the remainder of the trail, where many of The Doctor's "patients" are held captive.  Some plead for help, while other insane souls have gone mad as a result of the psychotic physician's wickedness.  Trespassing onto a local resident's property, we're mistakenly identified (funny, as well as deadly, but I won't spoil the surprise by revealing anymore details).  Just trust me when I say that he doesn't take too kindly to members of our misidentified profession paying him a visit!  Michael Myers, and Eastman's deranged assistants, suspicious of our presence, begin stalking us.  We cross paths with Dr. West eager to test out his reanimation serum on a severed arm, which he restores to life, and Lucifer, a deranged soul rantingly in search of a bride, who orders his "children" to leave their graves and pursue us!  Following his command, undead zombies, no doubt former patients of The Doctor who have long since passed the end stages of his heinous experiments, leave their earthen tombs to come after us!  Several more deranged characters offer various interactions, and the immovable object takes the form of Jason Voorhees, who's most unwilling to allow our passage, then makes us live to regret it!  A brief entrapment comes courtesy of chainsaw packing Bubba, and another fiend armed with a large knife!  Deafening horns and a cornfield inhabited by loudly cawing crows, and a glowing eyed scarecrow lead to realistic body bags blocking the path through a maniacal operating room, where another surreal surgeon gives new meaning to the slang term "sawbones," suddenly metamorphosing into Leatherface, and coming after us with a vicious and relentless chainsaw chase-out, pausing only to victimize the remains of those unfortunate enough to have preceded our journey through Terror Within's Zombie Island.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9½, In excess of 20 minutes now that Too Dark Park has been incorporated into the original haunt.
ACTORS - 9½, Awesome make-up, and original, believable, and intimidatingly INTENSE characters, serving up plenty of dialogue filled interactions, as opposed to typical growling that's all too common elsewhere.  This crew can always be counted on for their theatrics - quite impressive and professional, as we've come to expect from Terror Within.  Brand new characters have replaced some of our old favorites, and as is often the case with change, it's difficult to give them up.  It will certainly be interesting to watch the personalities of the new cast evolve over time.  Can't use enough adjectives to describe their performance.  One of the most realistic Jason's we've seen.  These guys are good!
SCARINESS - 9, As usual, aggressiveness of the actors is responsible for most of the scares, with the dark woods serving as their intimidating stage.  Characters are armed with real knives and weapons, which they slam around making as much noise as possible resulting in numerous threatening encounters. 
DESIGN - 8, Completely redone this year, with a new theme and brand new characters.  Combining the two haunts into one lengthier attraction is definitely a plus, but the new concept, although just as wickedly sadistic, has resulted in the elimination of certain stand-out scenes.  Entrapment is new and quite frightening.  Intensity of chainsaw chase-out has been recaptured from a few years ago.  Don't be surprised if you end up running all the way back to the car, with this lunatic on your heels!  Something tells me his experience using this power tool that's listed on his resume was the deciding factor, and reason he got the job!!! 
PROPS - 7, Once again, the weakest aspect of the trail, except for the authentic weapons utilized by many of the monsters.
VALUE - 7½, The "main event" is longer now that the secondary haunt has been annexed, but the $15, 2-haunt combo price from a year ago has been retained, and is somewhat steep.  The new storyline is now taking shape, showing signs of development, and the quality of acting compensates for some of the trail's shortcomings.
RATING:  8½, Zombie Island annually presents the most demented, diabolical, bloodthirsty haunt in the region.  Acting is second to none, and serves as the critical ingredient in creating their own twisted brand of horror, known as The Terror Within.

SANDYLAND ACRES HAUNTED HAYRIDE
4172 Belleview Road
Petersburg, KY 41080
859-689-4283 or 859-322-0516
Sandyland Acres
Hayride:  $10 / $15 VIP
$5 for Corn Maze
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  10/20/07
Preditor.Preditor Hood
SANDYLAND ACRES HAUNTED HAYRIDE:  Roaming creatures prowl the ticketing and queue line areas alongside the entrance to the Hayride.  A wicked old witch climbs aboard the wagon, stirring up some last minute instructions before Beetlejuice assumes the tractor driver position, and departs into the spook filled woods.  Many realistic horror movie re-creations are experienced at Sandyland Acres.  The tolling of a bell signals the beginning of the journey, and introduces attacks from Those We Don’t Speak of - creatures of the forbidden forest, a la M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 film The Village.  Around the bend, giant silos cage hungry, irate werewolves that soon break free from their confinement, and charge toward the wagon!  Previously darkened scenes illuminate as you approach, including a visit to the gallows, where the floor gives way beneath the feet of a condemned victim, and he falls to a beheading death courtesy of the murderous noose around his neck!  Bat sounds fill the air, as scarecrows leave their cornfield perches to attack the ride!  A wicked tractor chase soon ensues, as the red head-lighted vehicle charges up on the hay wagon from behind blasting its horn!  Clowns and cemeteries deliver more unprovoked assaults, leading up to a relentless pursuit from The Headless Horseman!  Silver Screen reenactments include, Jason Voorhees following up on his mother’s instructions to kill in an authentic skit of Friday the 13th, Michael Myers challenging riders with his sharp metal blade, complimented by the Halloween soundtrack; a demented Exorcist revisitation with a surprise twist, complete with a 360 degree revolving head; Leatherface scaring the daylights out of everyone with his loudly revving co-star from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; and finally The Jigsaw Puppet from the Saw series, instilling his patented, spine-tingling fear, playing games from aboard his tricycle in an ultimate climax surprise finish to the Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride

Analysis:
LENGTH - 10, 30 minutes long, makes it one of the lengthiest attractions around!
ACTORS - 8, More dialogue than last year, but still a lot of growls, and many masks.  Cast could stand to be more aggressive, for example banging various weapons on the wagon.  “Horror stars” are most memorable, although methodical Leatherface present last season was more memorable.  Would still like to see a “plant” aboard each wagon for Jason to drag off and “kill” as per his mom’s command.
SCARINESS – 8½, Again shows marked improvement in comparison to ’06.  Headless Horseman encounter is much more intense, and movie scenes as terrifying as ever.  Clown segment is a little weak, and a few uneventful areas exist along the way. 
DESIGN – 8, Horror movie tributes are quite well done, and feature realistic structures resembling those from the actual films, making them more effective than most.  However, attention is repeatedly drawn to one side of the wagon, and nothing happens from behind which results in some missed opportunities for scares.  Skit soundtracks could be a bit louder to insure it’s audible above crowd noise.  Tractor increases its speed during calmer areas, but could still benefit from additional motorized pursuits to cover some of the transition zones.  Illuminating scenes as the ride approaches is a nice touch. 
PROPS – 8, Gallows, cemetery, and movies are best, and making use of the silos a plus. Could use some high impact props to help fill in the voids, and the clown scene needs attention.
VALUE - 9½, Can’t beat the price given the length, number of scares, and downright enjoyment factor of the ride!
RATING:  8½, This outstanding attraction is a lot of fun, and provides several surprises and scares.  Word is spreading, as Sandyland Acres attracted one of the larger crowds of the night.  Better get there early for the best Haunted Hayride, and perhaps the best outdoor haunt in Kentucky!

NIGHTMARE AT THE MALL
Cincinnati Mills (Forest Fair) Mall
(next to Biggs)
600 Cincinnati Mills Dr.
Cincinnati, OH  45240
Admission $10 (Children $5)
Thursday thru Sunday 8 p.m. till midnight
Nightmare at the Mall
click photo above to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  10/21/07
NIGHTMARE AT THE MALL: An irate Butler waits at the entrance to Nightmare at the Mall, and following some intimidating shouting, permits you pass through a cemetery, and step inside.  Almost immediately, ghouls begin descending upon you from anywhere and everywhere, blocking the path ahead, following from behind, and directing you into several unnerving entrapments.   A spooky looking casket rises upright on its own, and a tall, headless man approaches out of the darkness.  Frightening music, screams and fog fill the air as you become trapped in the first confinement.  Lights begin flashing, and accompanying sounds become more assaulting as The Ring Girl rises out of water, and slowly making her way towards you!  Just in the nick of time, a previously shut escape route is revealed, and you narrowly elude her wrath, but the path ahead proves to be just as dangerous.  Darkness prevails, while blood or some other fluid sprays down from above, and more Mall monsters corner you in an apparent dead end.  For the second straight time, freedom is found right at the last minute, but leads into progressively worse terror, this time taking the form of body bags and the maniacal chainsaw revving Leatherface!  A sudden distraction allows us to barely make it past with our limbs still intact, but leads into another blocked off area, where a panic-stricken girl warns that we’re all about to be killed!  The Halloween theme begins playing, and Michael Myers appears and begins slowly walking toward our desperate situation, his murderous knife raised high in the air!  Once again, a secret passage is discovered, but the situation gets even worse, with the appearance of the SAW Puppet, intent on playing his game that allows just 30 seconds to uncover a way out before some deadly gas is released inside the chamber.  Visibility becomes reduced as the poisonous vapor is released into the room!  Will you be one of the lucky ones to escape, or will you be lost forever inside Nightmare at the Mall??!! 

Analysis:
LENGTH - 6½, 11 minutes, but fantastic while it lasts!
ACTORS - 9, Numerous frightening, dialogue filled confrontations with full-size actors.  The characters have plenty to say!  Along with assistance from the scary environment, and numerous entrapments, the crew totally destroys one’s emotional stability!
SCARINESS - 9, A very legitimately frightening experience.  Sounds and lighting created a fabulous mood that changes pace with the nature of the assaults they accompany.  Most monsters are aggressively intimidating, and readily recognizable as some of the most horrific killers of all time.  Various entrapments culminate with a sense of desperation, resulting in progressively worse fears. 
DESIGN - 9, Butler beginning is quite well done, and initiates the distress that gets increasingly worse throughout, building up to a believable, most terrifying climax!  Multiple unique confinements are fantastic, and each is created with a different method of escape.  Complimenting the above with a few more surprises, perhaps from a few animatronics, would make the experience even better.  Giving Michael his own authentic structure would raise the scene's intensity even more.  A legitimate, stand alone building, as opposed to the mall location would also do wonders for the haunt as a whole, but having a unique outdoor entrance makes the most of the present situation.  Extending the experience time wise would also be a plus.
PROPS - 7½, Adequate, scary décor, but nothing overwhelmingly impressive, and few animated diversions.  Lots of advancement opportunities for upcoming seasons.
VALUE - 8½, $10, and limited only by its short duration.
RATING:  8½, Quite an impressive effort from a first year haunt.  Thus far, Nightmare at the Mall is the best new attraction of the season!  If Death Trap Entertainment plans to be a permanent part of the Cincinnati haunt scene, it might’ve be wiser to discount admission over the course of their debut performance, in order to attract more attention to themselves, and in turn a larger following.  Located right next to Biggs at Cincinnati Mills Mall, The House of Haints has some great seasonal scares waiting for you inside Nightmare at the Mall!

TERROR PARK
 at Cooper Stadium
1155 West Mound Street
Columbus, Ohio  43223
(614) 462 - 5250
$13 ($20 VIP Speedpass) + $3 parking
$2 discount coupon available on website
(cannot be used with VIP Ticket)
Terror Park
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  10/18/07
TERROR PARKMusic and antics provided by a ghoul dj entertains the queue line crowd waiting to enter Terror Park.  The experience cleverly begins up a ramp, and into the dimly lit Cooper Stadium.  Thunder, and unnerving music can be subtly heard as you make your way into a dugout, and the first of several ensuing surprises.  Chills creep up your spine as the path leads across creaking floors, and through a tunnel underneath the bleachers.  The Hall of Screams, Gates of Fear, and Gateway to Fear separate any bunching of groups that may have taken place, and allow access to the remainder of the journey.  Crawling through a spooky old hearse delivers a startling surprise that leads to a claustrophobic entrance into a torture room that houses shackled victims, pleading for help; guillotines; and other pain inducing devices, as well as crazed madmen responsible for this abhorrence, one of whom comes after you with a chainsaw!  Escape takes you to Creep’s Clubhouse, where a horrific surprise awaits, en route to Grovetucky (as play on  Grove City), home to attacks courtesy of Stupid and Fluffy - a pair of oversized, sparking chainsaws, wielded by a big, blood-soaked, cowboy hat wearing brute packing  “Stupid” and his sexily clad counterpart, armed with its feminine, PINK mate “Fluffy!” At one point, navigation is accomplished via a wooden bridge that rocks beneath your feet, and delivers a sudden Ghostrider surprise!  Other scenes include an encounter with a farmer who’s been busy slaughtering hogs, complete with pig sounds, and a hillbilly Laundromat, staffed by his daughters, who’ll wash your “drawers” for a dollar!  Pirates and clowns, coffins and vampires are still to come, as the adventure progresses into a large, frightening cemetery, where zombies escape their graves, a female, shovel-dragging grave digger sets her sights on you, and another chainsaw packing lunatic pursues you through an encounter with an agitated, ax bearing woman searching for her husband, or perhaps a new one, whichever the case may be.  Monsters attack out of darkened corners, and secret drop-down wall panels, as you continue to an interactive clown feature, surprise, blasts from an air gun, and Horrificus chase-out of Terror Park.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 9½, Right around 25 minutes.
ACTORS - 9, Nice costuming and great make-up as always.  Each scene was staffed with characters, sometimes two, three, or more that initiate confrontations the second you enter their scene.  They’re not overly aggressive, but that’s not the Terror Park style.  Could benefit from additional roaming characters to cover the distance between scenes.  Fluffy and Stupid are cleverly unique.
SCARINESS – 8½, Improved from a season ago.  Soundtrack and music changes from scene to scene.  Each is appropriate for its assigned atmosphere, and serves to disrupt emotional stability.  Particular noticeable are dripping water effects that accompany the pirate scene, and the squealing, snorting pigs.  Characters are well hidden, and often deliver their attacks prior to being seen. 
DESIGN - 8, Due to the nature of the course and its surroundings, scenes are quite spread out at times between various areas of the darkened stadium.  Pursuits, and encounters with additional monsters would help to cover some of those dead zones, but immediate encounters with actors once entering the scenes themselves helps.  Maneuvering through various bathrooms is mandated by the nature of the site itself, but those are better utilized this year, as they’re darker, and contain interacting characters.  Black plastic is somewhat overused, but the course is long, and encompasses a trip all the way around the ballpark.  Cemetery scene is also better staffed, although all of the action takes place near its beginning.  Still can’t help miss the Psycho Playland entrapment from a few years back.  Revisiting the dugout, and other “behind the scenes” areas of the stadium is a welcomed return.  Don't particularly care for character identifying Claustrophobia by name.  Would be better as a low key pursuit into brief confinement.  The course cleverly exits into a make-up shop, where seasonal face painting, wounds, and bullet holes, may be purchased for an additional charge. 
PROPS – 8, Scenes are well decorated, but occasionally, extended periods in between don’t provide a lot to look at other than the field itself.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing a time or two, as it provides the opportunity for ones own emotions to instill more fear of the unknown, but the attraction could greatly benefit from attention to those areas.  Hearse is outstanding.  Addition of Claustrophobia is intimidating, scary, and perfectly located.
VALUE - 8, No price increase for at least the second consecutive year, and an overall better experience.  The $3 stadium imposed parking fee hurts the score.
RATING: 8½, The Gateway to Fear experience is vastly improved from a year ago, largely due to the concealment and scares delivered by the voluminous cast.  Last season’s extended length has been perfected upon, and showcases not only the talent of the crew, but the stadium itself.  The opportunity to get in on the spirit of things by having their outstanding make-up crew adorn you with a shocking look is unique and original.  Covered waiting areas provide shelter from inclement weather, and flashlight tours are available for those too scared to enter, but not wanting to miss out on the entertaining scenes and incredible costuming annually displayed at Terror Park.

THE HOUSE OF NIGHTMARES
479 S. Ludlow St.
Columbus, OH  43215
$15 / $8 children 10 and under
 ($5 discount coupon available on their
website good on specific days ONLY)
$20 VIP Pass
The House of Nightmares
click logo above to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  10/18/07
THE HOUSE OF NIGHTMARES:  Now delivering scares for the second consecutive year from Columbus, Ohio, The House of Nightmares welcomes visitors with eerie, suspenseful music that follows you throughout the adventure.  A brief entrapment in the first room yields to a claustrophobic escape route through a darkened maze.  Deafening screams, and blasts of air lead to a variety of spooky scenes, and evil monsters.  Surprises are delayed in order to give you a chance to take in all the décor, then characters spring forth from their concealment, unleashing their startling tactics one by one.  Kitchens, libraries, and labs, of the old estate are visited, each meticulously decorated, and housing a variety of creatures. Leatherface and Freddy are part of the Nightmare, as is a swamp scene that contains a sudden SURPRISE!  A fog filled cemetery gives rise to more attacks, en route to the gallows, where hangings are taking place, as the floor gives way beneath the feet of ill-fated victims, and nooses tighten around their necks.  The execution scene yields to encounters with clowns, and a spinning vortex finish to The House of Nightmares.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8, Exactly15 minutes.
ACTORS - 8, No real standouts.  A loud screaming, somewhat intense cast occupies the premises, but not a great deal of dialogue, and some undersized monsters.  Some actors broke character in order to direct us along the path.  Loss of last year’s most memorable portrayal - the limping doctor in The Happy Hill Insane Asylum hurts, and hasn’t been replaced by anything nearly as memorable.
SCARINESS - 9, The scares are traditional, and accompanied by appropriate mood setting music and sounds, but nothing overwhelmingly impressive, other than the “sudden surprise.”  Startles, and unnerving emotional distress account for a majority of the fear.
PROPS - 8½, Lots of traditionally scary décor, and the addition of claustrophobic walls, but could benefit from additional, impressive pneumatics.  Graveyard exhibits great detailing, while “sudden surprise” is best. 
DESIGN - 8, Well laid out, scary scenes and accompanying music, progression of rooms makes sense, and a slightly longer than average course, but much shorter than its counterpart at the original location.  Rooms are spaced fairly close together, although connecting corridors don’t offer much to see.  Continually drawing comparisons to the Mt. Vernon House isn’t really fair, although difficult for those familiar with its impressiveness to avoid.  Not all that different from last year.
VALUE - 7, $15 and $3 for parking is a lot to pay for ANY 15 minute attraction.  By all means, try to take advantage of the $5 off coupon.
RATING:  8½, Judging from the crowds, this years House is a huge success!  Although not as good as it once was (sorry, Toby), the new House is establishing itself in a highly competitive market.  Although no longer an annual "HAUNT OF THE YEAR" contender, the passion still exists as The House of Nightmares continues delivering good, quality scares for those seeking traditional Halloween entertainment.  A $5 discount coupon is unheard of, so do yourself a favor, and take advantage of the offer if you can.

MT. HEALTHY HAUNTED HALL
7700 Seward Rd.
Mt. Healthy, Ohio
(513) 729-1974
Friday & Saturday 8 - 11 p.m. thru 10/27
Sundays 7 - 9 p.m. - closed 10/28
$10 - ($2 discount with canned good)
$15 Fast Pass (no discount)
Mt. Healthy Haunted Hall
click logo for additional info
RATING: 8
Reviewed  10/7/07
MT. HEALTHY HAUNTED HALL A frightening cemetery is the host for the queue line outside The Haunted Hall.  The old graveyard is home to rats, and an undead body (animation) making one final attempt to escape its earthen tomb, as well as a spooky looking fountain of blood.  A skeletal watchman, guards the premises peering down from an upstairs window with illuminated eyes, and mysteriously waving a lantern back and forth.  Inside The Hall, an ominous looking staircase, shadowed by a flying ghost, leads to an elevator where an agitated attendant orders you to “push the button.”  The doors slide open, and a second, equally irate attendant orders you inside, demanding to know your destination.  The elevator buzzes, and thrashes about, eventually delivering you to some unknown location, characterized by screams, a brief mirror maze, and startles that arise from behind secret panels in the walls!  One of the season’s biggest surprises is about to occur inside The Mount Healthy Haunted Hall!  Actually, a series of surprises, consisting of moving, and spongy floors serving as follow-ups to the "big one" you’re going to have to discover on your own!  The Devil himself must be dealt with, and the adventure wouldn’t be complete without the traditional visit to Dracula’s Chamber, which is accessed through a secret door contained in an upright casket!  One of The Count’s most recent victims lies quietly in her coffin, but is about to deliver yet another shocking surprise as you make your way past, and exit onto the outdoor section of the haunt, where sirens blare, and you pay homage to Norman’s mother at the Bates Motel.  A spinning floor, and vortex lie ahead, as well as an encounter with a wicked teacher, caught in the act of delivering some cruel and unusual punishment to a couple of unruly students at P.S. 666.  Still to come is a showdown with a hooded Executioner, who’s busy consummating an electric chair death sentence, and a hanging, that leads to a horrific “let the bodies hit the floor” confrontation with a chainsaw wielding madman, and the patented maze finish that wraps up the Mt. Healthy Haunted Hall experience.

Analysis
LENGTH - 7½, Difficult to determine a precise time, due to the uncertainty of the maze. 
ACTORS - 8, The elevator crew is good, and there’s better utilization of underage actors.  An increase in make-up use is apparent, and characters interact with groups by engaging them in dialogue, as opposed to brief, growling encounters.  Dracula is an annual favorite.
SCARINESS - 8, Appropriate background music complements the frights.  Actors are well hidden and fairly intense.  Numerous surprises are forthcoming in just about every scene.  Would rate higher if not for the loss of Devil scene discusssed below.
PROPS - 8, Good, scary décor, a few pneumatics, and some unique things you won't see anyplace else.  Drop down wall panels provide three consecutive scares, not just one.  Drac’s casket door, and hidden maze passages are simply fantastic! 
DESIGN - 8½, The house is as good as it’s ever been!  To their credit, they sure make the most out of every inch of space inside The Hall itself, distancing scenes as close together as possible.  Appreciate the way spinning vortex and floor are used to initiate your state of confusion prior to entering the dark maze.  Just wish there was some way to expand the number of indoor scenes, thereby extending the experience.  Loss of the classic Devil scene, a Mt. Healthy tradition, is most unfortunate, as the ’07 encounter isn’t nearly as impressive.
VALUE - 9, A $2 price hike, each of the last two years, but still only $8 with a canned good donation!  Can’t beat the price considering the entertainment value.
RATING:  8, This well kept secret is perhaps the best non-profit haunt in existence – always fun, and annually, one of our local favorites.  If you’ve never been, what are you waiting for?  And if you’ve visited before, you know you want to go back!  Just don’t ask me how to get out of the maze… they’ll change it, and it’ll be different before you can get there!
NOTE:  The Mount Healthy Haunted Hall is sponsored by The Madonna Council Knights of Columbus, and Boy Scout Troops 27 and 393.  Special “Lights up - Lighter scares for the Little Ones” events will be held October 14 and 21 from 3 to 5 p.m.  Cost is $7.

PANIC BOX SPOOKHOUSE
and
KRUEGER'S KORN MAZE
(2 Haunts in 1)
6997 Springfield-Jamestown Rd. (Rte. 72)
Springfield, Oho  45502
(937) 346-2425
$18 for both or $10 each
add $5 for Fast Pass
($1 off coupon on website)
Panic Box Spookhouse and Kruger's Corn Maze
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 8
Reviewed  10/13/07
PANIC BOX SPOOKHOUSE:  Horror movies play on a large, drive-in style screen outside The Panic Box, and go-go girls entertain at the Spook-a-go-go alongside the queue line while you wait to enter the haunts.  Panic begins to set in almost immediately, as you step into confrontations with an irate, squealing Pig, and The Puppet Master from the Saw movies, who comes riding up on a tricycle!  Battle the fog, darkness, strobes, deafening alarms, and disorienting music while you walk, duck down, and even crawl your way past agitated, caged prisoners, loudly pounding on walls, as well as the bars of their cells. Dé·jà vu from the first two characters, then more assaults from blasts of air, and a tricky dark maze, containing dead ends and secret passages.  Relentless attacks from Jason, and other screaming monsters lead to cabinets opening and banging shut on their own, and animated blitzkriegs from every direction imaginable!  Floors rock, and give way beneath your feet en route to the best lit toxic waste scene around, as the barrels actually appear to glow from the radioactive material spewing forth from their containment.  A near miss with a hit and run driver, and a few more surprises, build to a Leatherface chainsaw chase-out of this all out, onslaught barrage courtesy of The Panic Box Spookhouse.

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 7, 10 minutes. 
ACTORS - 9, An energetically intense bunch - continuously yelling, pounding, screaming, getting in your face, and ordering you to, "Get Out!"
SCARINESS - 8½, Actors, sounds, lights, and mechanical props all work together to just overwhelm your senses.  Lengthening the duration would elevate the fright level.
DESIGN - 8, Completely rebuilt for '07, and greatly improved compared to our last visit a few years ago.    Layout features hidden passages, forces you to duck down and crawl, and exits near the queue line for Krueger's Korn Maze.  It's still a little on the short side, and the correct path isn't always easy to determine, which necessitated actors breaking character in order to point us in the right direction.
PROPS - 7½, Some nice animatronics, but could stand a little more decor. 
VALUE - 8, Price is up a few dollars in comparison to a few years ago, but pretty much on equal terms to what other area attractions are asking. 
RATING:  8, One of the most improved attractions of the '07 season to date.  An awesome accomplishment considering everything has been redesigned from scratch.  Rebuilding is responsible for new scares just waiting to be discovered at Panic Box.  Cast is responsible for much of its success.  Adding scenes and decor would lengthen the experience, and raise the rating.  Concession area has some pretty tasty food too!  We recommend the ribbon fries.

KRUEGER'S KORN MAZE
at PANIC BOX SPOOKHOUSE
6997 Springfield-Jamestown Rd. (Rte. 72)
Springfield, Oho  45502
(937) 346-2425
$18 for both or $10 each
add $5 for Fast Pass
($1 off coupon on website)
Krueger's Korn Maze
click Freddy to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed  10/13/07
KRUEGER'S KORN MAZE The Korn Maze gets underway in a realistic old house, occupied by chainsaw wielding lunatics that chase you out the back door, where Michael Myers joins the fray, and the group runs you into the cornfield itself.  The Maze is cut into a field of 7’ tall corn, and features several dead ends, winding loops, disorienting music, fog, a cemetery and quite a few monsters including werewolves, chainsaw packing madmen, and of course the path’s namesake, Freddy Krueger, and climazes with a chainsaw chase-out.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8½, We made it out in 15 minutes, but the experience could easily last longer depending on your success in navigating the maze.
ACTORS - 7, Michael and chainsaw ghouls combine for a memorable beginning.  The cornfield itself hides a variety of masked monsters, that leap out of nowhere, but not hardly enough, and little to no dialogue. Freddy is a standout, as well he should be considering the attraction bears his name.
SCARINESS - 7, The main scares come from the monsters jumping out of the darkened cornfield, and from within as your emotional state begins to deteriorate the longer you’re lost in the Maze, and subjected to all the disorienting distractions.  Can easily rate higher, the longer you remain inside.
DESIGN - 8, Strobes, fog, and heavy metal music combine to add confusion and disorientation to those lost in the Maze.  The cornfield is cut so that it’s not excessively difficult, but not all that simple either, and the course is fairly lengthy.
PROPS – N/A, It’s a maze, therefore this category doesn’t apply.
VALUE – 8, $10 on its own, or $8.50 as part of the two haunt Panic Box combo (with the coupon).
RATING:  7½, The Korn Maze is a lot of fun, and a nice, alternately themed compliment to the main attraction.  Although not overwhelmingly difficult, loops and dead ends do exist, and the more people that become lost or trapped just makes it that much more confusing and enjoyable.

SCREAMERS
Post Road Recreation Center
4700 N. Post Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46226
(just south of Pendleton Pike)
(317) 919-8996 or (317) 431-0003
September Admission = $8
Oct.:$12 Adults/$8Children 10 and under
$2 off OCTOBER ONLY coupon on website
Screamers
click photo above to visit their website
RATING: 8
Reviewed 9/7/07
SCREAMERS:  Scary music welcomes you into the old farmhouse that is the Screamers Haunted House.  The demented family that calls this place home has something quite unusual in store for all who dare to visit.  Remnants of dismembered bodies let you know right away that this isn't your typical home sweet home.  Planked boards line many of the walls, as you make your way through the 17 exquisitely detailed rooms.  Perfectly positioned voices unnerve you, echoing warnings that you're being watched every step of the way. An antique radio, and a spooky, old piano is your cue that Grandma lurks somewhere nearby.  A mysterious girl, clad in white grabs your attention at the end of a hallway.  She appears to have no legs, and offers up a surprise as you pass her by.  Continuing on through a mysterious bedroom, where innocent looking furniture, suitcases, and other decor soon reveal themselves to be not so innocent after all.  A blood curdling bathroom, and a hallway featuring the "Faces of Death" also have evil intentions as you continue to progress from one room to another.  "Flesh-eaters," the vicious brothers, wolves, and many others are encountered along the way.  A huge, muscular fiend clutches his next victim, as she desperately attempts to free herself from his grasp. More surprises await as you stoop down to enter a doll house that yields to a clown room.  Skeleton lined walls appear to close in around you, an effect created by strobe lights located in just the right place.  A short maze-like area, composed of white sheets disrupts your path, and offers up some unexpected happenings of its own.  Imprisoned hostages bang loudly on their iron bars, and cry for help as they futiley attempt to escape their incarceration.  Outside the farmhouse lies an eerie cemetery where a ghoul driven, horse drawn coach delivers yet another soon to be buried coffin.  This is where Grandpa secretly disposes of the bones - all the evidence the flesh-eaters have left behind to remember those unfortunate souls that preceded you through the Screamers Haunted House.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 7½, 12 - 14 min.
ACTORS - 8, All are well hidden, and props do a wonderful job creating plenty of diversions, which  enables the actors to deliver their scares at just the right time.  Quite a few kids, but not all that noticeable due to their costumes, positioning, and utilization (like crying for help as a larger character grabs them and whisks them away).  Lots of make-up is a plus.  Would like to see a few more, and additional interacting dialogue.
SCARINESS - 8½, Great soundtrack, plenty of unnerving surprises, and a really creepy atmosphere.  Implementing their planned improvements should easily elevate this catagory to a 9 .
DESIGN - 8½, Open ceilings are a bit of a detraction, and just a little short, but the rooms are well decorated, masterfully deceptive, and almost everything is custom made.  The lack of a highly climactic ending leaves you wanting more.
PROPS - 8, Will definitely deserve more in time, as minor detailing was still in progress.  Uniqueness abounds.  Plans for additional pneumatics will also be beneficial in future visits.
VALUE - 8½, Only $8 in September.  Regular admission $10 with readily available coupons at the door, or on their website.  Additional length, actors, and continued development will raise the score.
RATING:  8, Plenty of traditional scares delivered in a well constructed environment.  Lots of hard work, and hand crafted talent on display here.  Only in their second year at the current location, we're expecting much more in years to come as Screamers continues to grow.  Pay them a visit  for a frightfully good time! 

FEAR FACTORY
260 Pine Ave.
Findlay, OH  45840
$9 Friday & Saturday
$7 Thurs. & Sunday
Fear Factory
click logo above to visit their web site
RATING: 8
Reviewed 10/6/07
FEAR FACTORY (Findlay, OH):  Groups are seated on pews in a waiting area just outside the iron bar protected door that guards the entrance to The Factory.  Horror movies entertain guests who are already having enough trouble building up the nerve to step inside.  Various monsters (a big-headed clown, and an evil scarecrow sporting someone’s bloody foot stuck to his pitchfork) parade past the locked door, as anticipation of the experience begins to build.  Scary music, tight intimidating corridors, secret panels, and blindingly dark mazes characterize the Fear Factory experience.  One by one, scenes of death and evil play on your emotions, instilling fear into the bravest of souls.  A mechanical prisoner propels forward off his bunk in a penitentiary scene, then a deafening siren sounds, signaling the electric chair execution of a cellblock H inmate!  Proceeding onward, another convict asked a female member of our group if she was there for her “conjugal visit,” then delivered a startling surprise just as she approached!  Passing through a funeral parlor, scares are forthcoming first from a body seen thrashing about in its coffin, then an animated startle that springs forth from an innocent looking corpse, lying in a second casket.  Disorienting strobes, and sparks hinder navigation through chain-link fence entanglements.  One of these many mazes delivers you into a room with several arched doorways.  Some are dead ends, loops, or contain other unexpected events, and there’s only one way out!  Narrowing ceilings, a life altering encounter with a semi, and a deranged doctor who utilizes an electric saw to dismember bodies lead to collapsing walls, a fast spinning vortex, an apparent dead end with a secret door, and a maze SURPRISE finish to Fear Factory.

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 8, Just under 15 minutes. 
ACTORS - 7½, Those present do their utmost best to provide scares and offer some dialogue, but could use more.  Escaping prisoner was one of the best. 
SCARINESS - 8, Your own emotions prove to be your worst enemy, as feelings of helplessness arise inside the numerous mazes.
DESIGN - 8, Particularly impressed by the narrowness of the passageways.  Surprise finish serves as a wonderful climax. 
PROPS -7 ½, Interesting rooms, and even some startling animatronics, but perhaps a little too much reliance on darkness. 
VALUE - 9, Up a dollar this year, but still just $7 on Thursdays and Sundays!  Can't beat that!
RATING:  8, This Factory will reach in your mind, and exploit your deepest, darkest fears!  They earned that reputation by placing you in dark, narrow mazes, and exposing you to some terrifying scenes and monsters.  Visitors were screaming for their very lives during the Fear Factory expedition.  Get there this Halloween season for some good old fashioned scares, and support the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northwest Ohio!  Say hello to Skully for us!

PSYCHO PATH
520 South Srtingtown Rd.
Xenia, OH  45385
$10 Path
$5 Mad Clown Maze
$5 Kiddie Pumpkin Patch
Psycho Path Sanitarium
click logo above to visit their website
RATING: 8
Reviewed 10/19/07
view this year's poster
PSYCHO PATH:  A mystifying walk down a steep, eerily lit hill leads to the double door entrance of the Psycho Path Sanitarium.  The theme from Halloween welcomes you into a long, dark tunnel having a full-size mirror at the opposite end.  As you approach, the reflection of Michael Myers can be seen closing in on you from behind!  Through a partially obscured doorway hides a blood-soaked ghoul challenging your progression with a large impressive knife, and from there it’s onto a bedroom decorated with bloody dolls, and occupied by a “little girl” cowering in a corner, clutching a large stuffed bunny rabbit to her face.  As you approach, the innocent “child” renders a sudden, startling surprise!  Her closet serves as the only escape route, and houses another high impact scare, as well as a unique Slinky maze, accompanied by an appropriate soundtrack.  Still to come are encounters with a snorting creature that enjoys smelling fear, and cemeteries, where fog emits from a grave, and monsters noisily knock over monuments, and escape coffins trying to get to at you!  The surprise of the night lies just ahead!  Whoever said cops were your friends?  Dead picnic areas, hysterical clowns, a restricted crawl space, and a tricky door maze lead to experiences with a shovel pounding gravedigger, an execution scene, and an interrupted surgical procedure, where a patient/victim has her chest cavity laid wide open, while her legs and head still move about!  The “big finish” is just ahead, along with one final unexpected surprise courtesy of Psycho Path.

Analysis
LENGTH - 7, A bit on the short side, right around 10 minutes.
ACTORS - 8½, Impressive, energetic acting, and some really gory characters created with excellent use of make-up, as well as some dialogue and interaction.  Noticeably more professional than most, as would be expected from the Blue Jacket crew.
SCARINESS – 7½, Sounds set an appropriate mood throughout.  Loss of the ’05 hanging scene, and last year’s beheading counterpart holds back the fright factor just a bit.
DESIGN - 8, To their credit, it’s different every year, with this season’s rendition being one of their better recent efforts.  Still limited by its short duration, but introduction of door maze is quite effective, and new scenes, while perhaps not as horrific as in the past, deliver unexpected surprises.  Can’t help but miss some of the most impressive scenes from yesteryear. 
PROPS - 8, Detailed rooms, but not much in the way of animatronics on display here.  The quality of acting compensates a good deal for what's missing in the technologically advanced prop department.  Door maze is a great new addition, as is "surprise of the night!" 
VALUE - 8, Still $10, the same it’s been for several years now.  Improved scares, raise the value. 
RATING: 8, This year’s Sanitarium shows significant improvement in comparison to last.  Their 20th season finds Psycho Path on track to achieve all time levels of success, perhaps as early as next year!  It won’t take much, perhaps a longer experience, and additional impressive scares, which could even be accomplished through a Hall of Fame type segment, returning some of their most unique scares from years past.  The theatrical talent of the cast is a major advantage, and the event serves as the annual fundraiser for the non-profit Blue Jacket organization.  Lend them your support, while enjoying some quality seasonal scares.

RIVERSIDE JAYCEES HAUNTED HOUSE
1213 Harshman Rd.
Dayton, OH  45431
(937) 254-2576
$10 for House and Trail
$2 coupon on website/at local businesses
Riverside Jaycees
click photo to visit their web site
RATING:
Reviewed 10/4/07
click to print your $2 discount coupon
RIVERSIDE JAYCEES HAUNTED HOUSE:  Scary music welcomes you into the 2007 Haunted House entitled The Haunted Castle of Carnage.  From out of the darkness, a coffin suddenly appears, and its skeletal, red-eyed occupant rises up to a sitting position, and speaks as you stand watching in amazement.  The Riverside dentist is back for a return engagement, practicing his demented form of health care on a poor, unfortunate, bloody-mouthed patient.  Monsters attack, clowns surround you, a man struggles to escape a straight jacket, and a masked executioner laughs wickedly, while watching his victim fry to his demise in an electric chair!  Upstairs, a mysterious portal projection gives way to expose an ominous black hole (vortex) in a scene reminiscent of the movie Stargate.  Walking through the “vacuum” leads to an innocent looking bed that provides a startling surprise en route to a darkened entrapment, then a maze, and finally out onto the trail for more scares from cemeteries, “empty” graves, werewolves, and a multiple chainsaw chase-out of the Riverside Jaycees Haunted House

Analysis
LENGTH – 7 – A few minutes longer this year with the addition of the trail..
ACTORS - 8½, Pleasantly more intense than would be expected from a haunt this size.  Characters were well hidden throughout, and even the child actors did a good job trying to frighten everyone.  Straightjacket captive, dentist and patient are good.  Executioner is a stand out, and worth the price of admission just to watch him enjoy his work! 
SCARINESS - 8, Great background music and sounds.  Surprises materialize seemingly out of nowhere, as many scenes are first covered by darkness, then illuminate at just the right time.   Actor placement is good both in the house and on the trail, resulting in effective scares.
DESIGN – 7½, House has been changed around quite a bit, and is good and scary while it lasts.  Maze is dark, intimidating and features some dead ends.  Adding the trail onto the end is a clever way to lengthen the overall experience.  The trail itself is dark, winding, and hilly, and hosts several scares, and of course, some customary chainsaws!  It parallels the railroad tracks just to the other side of the trees, and if a train happens to come roaring by (as was the case when we visited) it really adds a shocking effect! Access to the outdoor section of the haunt makes it feel more like two separate, unconnected events, but it's quite well done considering the limited amount of space they have to work with, and compliments the main attraction nicely.  The house is so dark at times that you could easily go the wrong way, if not for the guide that follows you through.
PROPS - 7, Favorite is the “black hole” a.k.a. spinning vortex, especially the manner in which it’s at first concealed from view. Surprising mechanical scares as well.  Would still be nice if more could be done inside the house itself.  What they have works well, and you’re not ready for it to end!
VALUE – 8, A $2 price hike this season, but still just $8 with their coupon for a traditionally scary haunted house. 
RATING:  7½, This is a good, old fashioned haunted house - affordable, and enjoyable.  Extending the duration with a short trail is a nice touch, and provides opportunities for certain types of “scares” that just aren’t possible inside the house itself.  Price increase somewhat counteracts that accomplishment, but still pretty much of a bargain considering today’s going rate.  The Riverside Jaycees Haunted House is celebrating its 21st anniversary, the proceeds from which serve as the annual community fundraiser.  Join them on October 20th for a daylong celebration that includes a children’s matinee, 5k race, and beer garden.  And beware of Jana,  "the scary ticket seller," who just might have a few surprises up her sleeve as well!  Tell her Ohio Valley Haunts sent you for some nice seasonal scares!

SCREAM ON SHORTRIDGE
801 South Shortridge Rd.
Indianapolis, IN  46239
(317) 359-3979
$10 Admission
$1 discount coupon on their web site
Scream on Shortridge
click logo to visit their web site
RATING:
Reviewed 10/12/07
SCREAM ON SHORTRIDGE: Glowing hands reach out from the ticket booth welcoming you to Scream on Shortridge.  A cozy bonfire lies just beyond a cemetery setting alongside the waiting area of the hayride.  Upon boarding the wagon, the journey gets underway with a multiple chainsaw initiation into the isolated woods.  Strobes and fog obscure visibility as the adventure visits scenes of a captivation, and a wrecked wagon from a previous ride.  Numerous masked monsters leap forth out of hiding, pounding on the old wooden coach with pipes and other weapons of choice, while another passes by quickly overhead on a zip line.  The tractor pauses briefly for an electrocution scene that introduces a devastating effect on the wagon, then again for a gruesome, blood spraying beheading courtesy of a wicked Executioner and his murderous guillotine!  A visit into a darkened barn yields a sudden surprise that’s accompanied by the Halloween theme.  Additional startles originate from a hideous outhouse accident, as well as a surgical procedure gone horribly wrong.  A spooky graveyard gives rise to a mechanical skeleton propelling out of an upright coffin, and a cooperative chase by the likes of Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers.  More chainsaws, an attack from a spook catapulting off a platform, and an encounter with last year’s award winning, MOST UNIQUE CHARACTER – a crazed, irate Pig angrily “oinking” in pursuit of the wagon combine to set up an all out, horn blasting, semi-truck assault that serves as a chase-out from Scream on Shortridge

Analysis:
LENGTH - 8½, Right around 15 minutes. 
ACTORS - 7, Very little dialogue throughout.  Catapulting ghoul is most surprising, while mad, oinking Pig is one of the most uniquely memorable characters around!
SCARINESS - 7½, The woods are dark and conceal numerous monsters.  Chainsaws provide the majority of scares early on, while the semi chase-out delivers one of the best climaxes in the business!  This category would benefit from raising the intimidation factor among the characters through some face to face conversations, "These woods are cursed!  GET OUT!!!" and so on.
DESIGN - 8, Although there’s not a lot to look at scenery wise at times, transition zones are covered well by the abundant number of creatures, and onslaught of chainsaws that populate the area.  Tractor brings the ride to complete stop a couple of times in order to insure that no one misses any of the primary scares.  The best is appropriately saved for last, providing a memorable finish to an enjoyable attraction.  Not significantly different from last year, but the layout works well.  Would benefit from appropriate additions.
PROPS - 7½, Beheading and electrocution are the best equipped, and result in some unexpected happenings.  The truck of course is a standout.   Would like to see more in the way of decoration, skits, and scenes, which would also lengthen the experience.
VALUE - 8½, Just $10 per person, and a $1 discount coupon available on their web site. 
RATING: 7½, Now in their fourth year of operation, this fun hayride offers some unique scares that you can't find elsewhere. The truck chase is quite intimidating, especially if you happen to be seated towards the rear of the wagon!  Pay a visit to Scream on Shortridge and enjoy some seasonal scares and entertainment while lending your support to the Lowell Little League baseball team. A low-scare Children's day will be held October 27 from 2 to 5 p.m.

VERONA EMS & FIRE DEPT.
HAUNTED HOUSE
Verona - Mudlick Rd.
Verona, KY
 DATES: Oct. 19, 20, 26 & 27
$7 Admission
Verona Haunted House
RATING:
Reviewed 10/20/07
VERONA EMA & FIRE DEPT. HAUNTED HOUSEA spooky cemetery with freshly dug graves occupies the area next to the old, dilapidated, boarded up haunted house.  A crazed clown awaits your arrival on the front porch, creating quite a disturbance before sending you inside.  Upon entering, screams and spooky organ music fill the air as you meet a couple of ghouls, one cradling their two-headed monster baby in her arms.  That sight gives way to a brutally bloody amputation, where a poor, unfortunate victim has her arm removed by a demented, ranting barber, operating with a power saw, and asking if anyone wants a haircut!  Darkness, powerful blasts of air, body bags, and flying sparks lead you out of the horrifying procedure and into a blood spattered kitchen, where a twisted cook offers to share some goat, and his most recent victim pleas for help.  Exiting the house into a cemetery, gives rise to undead corpses leaving their coffins, and zombies pursuing after you.  Wicked witches, a snorting pig character, and creatures leaping out of trees lead to a confrontation with Michael Myers, and a chainsaw chase that results in a brief entrapment SURPRISE courtesy of the madman’s accomplice prior to exiting the Verona EMS & Fire Dept.'s Haunted House

Analysis:
LENGTH – 5, Less than 10 minutes, which hurts the overall score.
ACTORS – 8½, A highly irate bunch serving up dialogue filled interactions.  Good use of make-up too, created some originally gruesome looking characters.  Quite a large cast as well.  Barber and Clown Greeter are most memorable.
SCARINESS – 8½, Loud, blood curdling screams, spooky music, ghastly sights, and intense, conversing characters
DESIGN – 8, Really well done, and limited only by its short duration.  Unfortunately, the house itself is small, which doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities for scares, but it's utilized to the max, and great while it lasts.  Indoor performances are frightening and gory, while the outside course is creepy, well marked, and leads back into the parking area.  It’s not quite as intense as the house itself, except for the entrapment finish which is excellently done.  Air blasts are up close and personal, as well as powerful.  Adjacent bright safety lights being visible from a portion of the trail is the only negative.  Can’t help but miss the axe-wielding brute in the blood-spattered room from their last rendition, or the sight of an open book resting on a table, its pages turning on their own!  Gravesites located along the queue line are a nice touch.
PROPS – 7½, Obviously nothing on the high-tech end, but rooms are meticulously decorated, and outdoor cemeteries realistic, and well detailed setting up convincing scares.
VALUE – 9, Only $7 for a good old-fashioned Haunted House!
RATING:  7½, It’s been a few years since the Verona Fire Dept. put on its “annual” haunted house, but it’s nice to see they haven’t lost their touch!  These guys really know how to get things done!  There’s something for everyone – demented scares, bloody ones, those of the unnerving variety, and so on.  These quaint little haunts are disappearing from the scene, but have always been some of our favorites.  Hopefully, they won’t keep us waiting another 4 or 5 years, and this will become a yearly fundraiser, for the Verona EMS and Fire Department!  No TRICKS at this haunted house, as always, it's well done, inexpensive, entertaining, and a lot of fun!  Lend them your support, while enjoying the TREAT of some quality seasonal scares.

UNDEAD HAUNTED EXPERIENCE
Richland Mall (old Lazarus Store)
32Corner of Lexington Springmill and 4th St.
Ontario, OH (near Mansfield)
$12 Admission
$2 coupon available on their website
Undead Haunted Experience
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed 10/25/07
UNDEAD HAUNTED EXPERIENCE:  Legend has it that an abandoned government lab where secret experiments were once conducted, and went tragically wrong was located beneath the Richland Mall.  Manifestations resulted in bizarre mutations, most notably creating the desire for human flesh.  Fast forward to the present, where rampaging Zombies, and other creatures of the night now roam the long forgotten facility.  Masks used in zombie films Dawn of the Dead  and House of the Living Dead decorate the queue line area.  Strobes, darkness and loud, scary music begin the Undead Experience.  An animated body shoots out from beneath a desk, and the first of several irritable, grotesque-looking Zombies charges out of hiding.  Loud pounding, vicious sparks, wickedly loud screams, and more assaulting sounds lead through the wooden maze-like structure to encounters with a mechanical beheaded body, and a variety of scientific equipment, labs, and experimentation.  More of The Living Dead attack by climbing the walls around you, and devouring the remnants of victimized corpses, then turn their attention on some poor, unfortunate soul desperately pleading for help.  Vehicles belonging to the Center for Disease Control responding to the fog-filled scene have been commandeered by the relentless creatures, and give rise to some startling surprises.  Cabinet doors bang open and closed on their own, as camouflaged, gas masked characters blast air guns at passersby, and pneumatic monsters spring forth from coffins, and other confinements.  A horrific accident scene involves a self-inflicted gunshot wound, while startling, non-dead beings leave their concealment through secret doors, ambushing with knives, power tools, and other murderous weapons of choice, en route to a chainsaw chase-out of the Undead Haunted Experience

Analysis:
LENGTH - 6, Only 8 minutes in length.
ACTORS - 8, Good use of make-up creates some rather unique looking individuals.  Characters are well hidden, and all work hard to deliver the best possible scares, but could benefit from a larger workforce, and a little more dialogue.  Flesh eating zombie who goes after the girl, and tall, knife-wielding brute are most memorable.
SCARINESS - 8, The zombie theme is legitimately frightening, and well played out.  Great loud sounds accompany the adventure, and it’s quite good while it lasts, but limited by its short duration.
DESIGN - 7½, Frightening in nature, and gory at times.  Scenes flow well, and they make the most of their surroundings, but just too brief to rate higher.
PROPS - 8, Good décor, and a nice compliment of animatronics that deliver long-lasting, up close and personal surprises.
VALUE - 7, $10 with readily available coupon, is pretty much today’s going rate, but a little steep considering it’s a first year haunt lasting under ten minutes.  Still a treat to have another quality attraction in the neighborhood, not only for locals, but especially so for out of town travelers visiting the area’s major player. 
RATING - 7½, A unique theme, and a clever back-story provides plenty to build on in the years to come.  Quite an impressive debut for a first year effort, and conveniently located to catch some overflow traffic from The Mansfield Prison.  When visiting, be sure to keep in mind the three necessary steps to survive zombie infestation – Avoidance, Termination, and Disposal.  It just may save your life!

DUNGEONS OF DELHI
326 Anderson Ferry Rd.
Cincinnati, Ohio
(513) 451 - 7549
$6 ($1 discount with a canned good)
Dungeons of Delhi
click logo to vsit their website
RATING:
Reviewed 10/14/07
DUNGEONS OF DELHI:  A spooky, old cemetery, guarded by a hearse sits just outside The Dungeons of Delhi, where a body lies motionless on the ground.  Is it dead or alive?  You'll find out!  Entering the haunt, an evil desk clerk summons a bloody bell hop (Igor) to deliver us to our rooms.  After leading us down a darkened corridor, he abandons us in the presence of Dracula!  The undead Count requests blood, then pursues us into a room full of mannequins.  Not wishing to meet the same fate,  we depart into a bloody kitchen, then a creepy sitting room, where a corpse dangles from a noose inside an upright casket, while another rests in an old rocking chair that moves back and forth on it's own!  A bathroom with a shower scene is up next, where the shadow of a fiend with an ax can be seen through the curtain!  One, two, you know who resides in the boiler room.  Dark, spongy floored corridors lead to a toxic waste site, where the foggy mist of anthrax fills the air, and gas masked characters suffer the effects of inhaling the deadly germ.  Visit a demented garage occupied by a wicked mechanic searching for new legs to replace those severed from his driver.  Guillotines, crazed clowns, body bags, a demented Saw scene and Michael Myers are yet to be encountered, as you make your way past an electric chair electrocution, through a cemetery, and survive a chainsaw attack!  Confrontations with Jason Voorhees, Dr. Frankenstein, and his created Monster soon follow, as you pass through a darkened hallway that delivers a huge surprise, en route to victims screaming for help, and a spook demanding you leave your soul with him prior to exiting The Dungeons of Delhi.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 6, Just under 10 minutes.
ACTORS - 7, Lots of make-up and quite a bit of interacting dialogue.  Cast is more aggressive than ever, but unfortunately far too many child actors in scare roles.  Even though they're intense, kids were more appropriately utilized last season supporting primary characters like Freddy, as opposed to being placed in lead positions.  They perform their tasks quite well, possibly the best underage actors we've seen, but just aren't as threatening as their larger counterparts.  Not compensating for the loss of adult, signature characters like Fatso the clown and Damien Reaper hurts the score. 
SCARINESS - 7½, Scenes are traditionally scary and unnerving, but diminutive size of the crew limits their ability to frighten you.
DESIGN - 7½, Basically the same course as last year.  Duration is the limiting factor.  Outdoor décor  is  a plesant addition.
PROPS - 8½, Good scenery throughout, but not much new from a decoration standpoint.  Favorites are cemetery and laboratory. Repair shop, also stands out, and the rocking hallway surprise is classic.  Scattered mechanical surprises produce good scares and distractions.
VALUE - 9½, A price cut to only $6 is an unheard of bargain.  Would rate a 10 with a more mature cast.
RATING:  7½, This annual Cincinnati favorite has been delivering scares now for 13 years. Adding additional adult actors would elevate the scares, and thus the rating.  Matinee performances take place Sundays from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. featuring turned down scares, and turned up lights for the enjoyment of little ones, and those faint of heart.  Canned good donations benefit Santa Maria Centers.  Always one of our perennial favorites, plenty of affordable, seasonal scares are waiting just for YOU at The Dungeons of Delhi

HAMILTON HAUNTED HAYRIDE 
450 Beisinger Rd off B-Street 
Hamilton, Ohio  45013
(513) 867-9544
(call ahead in case of rain)
$8 Admission
click logo to visit their website
RATING: 7
Reviewed 10/5/07
HAMILTON HAUNTED HAYRIDE:  Climb aboard, snuggle down, and get ready to enjoy a good old-fashioned hayride through the dark, secluded Hamilton woods.  Gigantic spiders, fog, and loud, scary music, welcome you into the rural countryside, as the exploration gets underway in a lakeside area known as Lost Bye You (Bayou).  Torches and cauldron-like containers blast fire up into the sky, and you're close enough to feel the intensity of the flames!  Spooks begin to descend upon the wagon from both sides, many of whom are armed with various "weapons" - knives, axes, and the like.  Some even go so far as to hop on, and join the ride for a time, all the while terrorizing those on board.  Deeper into the woods, through cemeteries, and the Yard of Terror, a swamp monster bursts out of the trees, undead zombie leave their caskets, and Michael Myers attacks, accompanied by the theme from the movie Halloween.  An onslaught attack of numerous creatures coincides with the approach of Head Hunter - an impressive looking combine having skulls attached to its blades, that emerges out of the brush, and charges up behind the ride.  Its blinding headlights pierce the darkened path, as it follows closely to the rear, blasting its horn, and actually nudging you along a couple of times!  Déjà vu a little later on, occurring with a similar encounter from an engine revving, red headlighted pick-up truck - its fiery exhaust erupting skyward from its loud, powerful engine!  Gunshots, more cemeteries, a funeral scene, Jason claiming another victim, clowns, and a double broadside, horn blaring, near miss collision,  lead up to an awesome overhead surprise, and a multiple, on board, all out chainsaw chase-out on the Hamilton Haunted Hayride.

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 10, One of the longest attraction around, exceeding 35 minutes!
ACTORS - 6½, Plentiful in number, possibly 100 or more, but mostly masks, and little to no dialogue, except for Hillbilly kid attempting to sell moonshine.   Many others broke character prior to our exiting their scenes.  Main intimidation factor arises from the crew actually boarding the wagon, and tormenting riders with up close and personal encounters. 
SCARINESS - 7, The ride through these woods is dark and unnerving to most, readily apparent from the reactions of our co-riders.  "Head Hunter" pursuit is quite fear instilling, as is the truck chase.
DESIGN - 7, Impressive length, and the slow speed of the tractor makes the trip more intense than it otherwise would be.  Some exhibitions were unoccupied, and dead spots, while difficult to avoid, do exist.  New funeral scene is unique, impressive and attention getting, while elimination of burning lake effect is unfortunate, as well as a substantial loss.  Climactic finish is a welcomed addition.  Timing wasn't the greatest, as a group of 5 or 6 monsters chose to board the wagon simultaneous with occurence of the overhead surprise distracting the passengers, thus many of them missed it.  Still miss the '05 lemonade stand that sprayed a mist of "blood" as you rode by.
PROPS - 6½, A few are poorly lit, and the course provides plenty of opportunities throughout the woods to expand the decor.  Flaming pipes and "cauldrons" are best, but losing the burning lake effect hurts the score.
VALUE - 8½, One of the most affordable attractions around, retaining the same $8 fee for at least the fourth consecutive year - practically unheard of these days.
RATING:  7, One of our sentimental favorites, the Hamilton Hayride benefits the non-profit Izaak Walton League of America, and all the ghosts and goblins are volunteers.  Combine and truck chases, and overhead surprise make it worth the price of admission.  It's been so unseasonably warm this year that it hasn't been needed, but as the October nights begin to turn chilly, a cozy bonfire will add a mysterious tone to the overall setting, while accompany the queue line - it's flames lighting the darkened environment, and reassuring guests with warmth and comfort.  The Gatekeeper opens the gate each Friday and Saturday night at 6:30, and closes it promptly at 11.  Children under 3 ride free.

JAMESTOWN HAUNTED WOODS
6261 Old U.S. Route 35
Jamestown, Ohio
$10
Castle of Doom at Jamestown Haunted Woods
RATING: 7
Reviewed 10/19/07
JAMESTOWN HAUNTED WOODS:  A DJ entertains the queue line with tunes while waiting to enter the haunt. A fresh, new beginning is on tap for 2007, as the direction of the trail has been reversed.  The adventure through the Jamestown Haunted Woods gets underway through a tunnel-like structure, into a room of very loud music, and an immediate attack from what at first appeared to be a Chucky Doll prop, but turns out to be alive!  Spongy walkways and a simultaneous startle out of the woods lead to a scene of toxic waste, accompanied by mysterious music, and a variety of masked monsters.  Clowns and a wild ape are loose in the woods, and the sight of an illuminated revolving head blocking the path gives way to an intimidating encounter with the Ring Girl, who comes crawling directly at you from out of the darkness.  Other surprises originate from an apparent electric chair electrocution, and a large snake that suddenly falls into your path.  A blinding flash of light takes away your sense of sight the moment you prepare to enter into the first of two darkened mazes.  Working your way through leads to a double chainsaw assault, courtesy of two of the loudest, most deafening power tools you’ll ever hear!  Gunshots, cemeteries, more spongy walkways, a haunted cornfield, falling objects and barrels, a demented surgery, an elaborate funeral scene, a confrontation with a metal sickle carrying Grim Reaper, and even Michael Myers torment the remainder of your journey that climaxes in a blindingly dark, body bag containing maze that conceals a few more creatures and surprises, before exiting across a drawbridge that leads out of The Castle of Doom, and The Jamestown Haunted Woods.

Analysis
LENGTH - 9, Exactly 20 min.
ACTORS - 7½, A few more monsters in the dark, isolated woods in comparison to last season, all doing their best to provide surprising scares, but mostly masks, still very little dialogue, and quite a few undersized actors.  Most surprising encounters occur within The Castle of Doom
SCARINESS - 7, Loud scary music fills much of the trail, although there are some areas that are devoid of sound entirely.  The music from the dj isn’t nearly as audible along the trail as it was a year ago.  Combining this with the additional characters present in the woods this year would ordinarily raise the fright lever, but taking away the multiple chainsaw, caged entrapment is a major negative (discussed below), and holds down the score. 
DESIGN - 7, Reversing the direction of the trail gives it a fresh look, and the maze is just as powerful a finish as it is on the front end, although it sacrifices the Castle of Doom façade.  The path is long, but so is the distance between scenes.  While being left alone in the dark allows one’s nerves to gain an upper hand, repetition results in dead zones which have to be covered by actors, and that's not always the case.  There's more activity in the woods this season, as opposed to last, as well as additional scenes, which again, would be rewarded by raising the rating, if not for doing away with the fenced in, multiple chainsaw entrapment.  It may seem a bit harsh to penalize the attraction for removing a single scene, but it was the most terrifying aspect of the trail.  Eliminating the “hit and run” driver didn’t help matters either, and the loss of such high impact scares needs to be compensated for with more of the same.
PROPS - 7, Barrel toss, and falling panel deliver great surprises, and the yielding ground is a trademark of Jamestown.  Spider surprise is another 2007 absentee.
VALUE - 7½, $10, same as last year earns you a lengthy trip through the dark spooky woods.  A loud, scary soundtrack improves the mood, but losing one of the more startling scenes, and THE most frightening incident hurts this score as well. 
RATING:  7, This enjoyable, adventuresome trail could easily score in the 8's with just a few alterations.  It's already one of the lengthier ones around, provides quite a few unique scares you just don't find elsewhere, and plenty of opportunities for your nerves to get the better of you.  Addressing the sound issue so that dj music can’t be heard throughout the woods is a step in the right direction. The Castle maze surprises, and sinking floors are trademarks of the haunt that give it an identity, which many attractions lack. The Jamestown Haunted Woods can always be counted upon to deliver quality seasonal scares.  Pay them a visit for some good old fashioned Halloween fun! 

ABSOLUTELY DERANGED
2630 State Rt. 72
Springfield, OH
$10 Admission
$1 discount coupon on their website
Absolutely Deranged
click logo above to visit their website
RATING: 7
Reviewed 10/13/07
ABSOLUTELY DERANGEDThe newest haunt in the Springfield area greets visitors with various horror movies playing on a large screen as they drive into the attraction.  Threatening screams ring out as you first set foot inside Absolutely Deranged.  Jungle scenes, and body bags provide a couple of surprises that lead to a dark, dead end containing maze, intense music, and more blood curdling screams.  A fence-like confinement soon follows, where energetic ghouls laugh and taunt at your situation.  Other scenes include more darkened entrapments, and a demented encounter with an allergenic Santa Claus, who delivers one of the most grotesque surprises of all time!  Defying warnings that there’s “no way out,” delivers you into a blood-spattered room that induces a hell-bent, chainsaw chase out of Absolutely Deranged.

Analysis;
LENGTH - 7, 10 minutes.
ACTORS - 8, Loud screams from a fairly intense cast doing their utmost to provide scares, just not a large enough crew to rate higher.
SCARINESS - 7½, Darkness, disorienting music, and lots of startles from overzealous characters.  The experience is just a little too short in duration.  Climax is well done, and preceding disorientation builds up to it nicely.
DESIGN - 7, Not an abundant amount of décor considering the multiple mazes, plus much of the attraction is housed in tents.  Monsters directed us in the proper direction a little too soon, and a little too often while inside the mazes.  The remainder of the course wasn’t as clear as it could’ve been, and characters again were forced to aid navigation.
PROPS - 6½, Could really benefit from additional scenes, and augmenting the décor.
VALUE - 7, $9 with coupon is the going rate in the area, but may be a bit over ambitious for a new haunt trying to attract a fan base.  The venue could become better established at a quicker rate if they discounted admission.
RATING:  7, The best, thus highest rated NEW haunt of the season, to date.  Pretty intense while it lasts, and aptly named for its disorienting, confusing experience.  Would be nice if the length and variety of the mazes could be expanded upon, and if the characters weren’t so eager to point you in the right direction.  With continued improvement, Absolutely Deranged has a lot of potential, and brings a unique theme to its area.

THE HAUNTED SWAMP
Knapke Lane - Behind Village Park
(Just East of Route 503)
Lewisburg, Ohio
937-962-2190 or 4786
$7 / $5 with readily available coupon
The Haunted Swamp
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RATING: 7
Reviewed 10/13/07
THE HAUNTED SWAMP:  A cozy bonfire occupies the waiting area keeping visitors warm until their turn comes to enter The Swamp.  A new beginning is on tap this year, as a warning gate seals off the entrance to the wetlands until the time comes for each group to enter.  The barrier's then raised, and the adventure officially gets underway.  Once inside, barrels of hazardous waste that have washed ashore lie alongside the path.  The poisonous containers leak bubbling fluid, and conceal monsters and mutants that eagerly leave their hiding places to unleash terror on those brave enough to enter.  The sound of a beating heart leads to an encounters with The Witch of Lewisburg , and the murderous Michael Myers.  Scenes of skeletons, coffins, and surgeries gone wrong accompany the journey along the spooky trail.  Spiders have commandeered an entire area of The Haunted Swamp, and deliver a couple of startling surprises as you make your way through.  Visit a torture area, consisting of shackles, an electric chair, and even a guillotine that makes things readily apparent that something is horribly wrong here. The vast wasteland you’re currently exploring is also home to an agitated, caged gorilla that captivates your attention as you enter into a short maze that exits into a surprise ending!  Flames burst forth from the cemetery area outside The Church of the Damned, where a hungry werewolf has taken up residence, and pursues you into Smiley’s Place, and a confrontation with some clowns, and a ghoul armed with a spark-emitting chainsaw who chases you all the way out of The Haunted Swamp!

Analysis
LENGTH - 7½, Between 10 and 15 minutes.
ACTORS - 6, Numerous creatures jumping out of the surrounding brush, the most to date, but many are smaller in stature, and thus not as scary as their adult counterparts.  Michael, chainsaw loony and especially "Wolfie" are standouts.  Still wish they’d capitalize on the adjoining creek area by introducing some sort of Swamp Monster, possibly in a wet suit, given the name of the attraction.
SCARINESS - 7, Spooky music and other sound effects accompany your expedition through the dark, intimidating Swamp.  Concealed ghouls spring forth seemingly out of nowhere.  More adult actors would help immensely.  Would also be more frightening without a guide. 
DESIGN - 7½, Continued additions are having a noticeable impact, although much of the attraction remains unchanged.  This year’s edition is the best yet! 
PROPS - 7, A few extra scenes are filling in dead spots.  Flames and spiders continue to offer some of the haunt’s best surprises.  Spark inducing chainsaw is one of a kind, and something you just won’t see anyplace else! 
VALUE - 10, An unheard of bargain in this day and age, costing only $5 with a readily available coupon.  If you don’t have one, just ask and ye shall receive!
RATING:  7, For the second consecutive year, continued expansion and additional scenes and props are making this fun little trail better than ever before.  The Haunted Swamp carries the most unique name in the industry, but still is in desperate need of a signature creature.  While it may not be the most technologically advanced haunt around, it sure is fun, and one we always look forward to visiting.  The cost is only $5 a head, so how can you go wrong?  Especially since they operate as a non-profit, area fundraiser.

SPINETINGLERS TRAIL OF HORRORS
2363 Dayton Rd.
Springfield, OH
(937) 408 - 9706
$10
Spinetinglers
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RATING: 7
Reviewed 9/21/07
SPINETINGLERS TRAIL OF HORRORSOne of these Spinetingling characters hid behind a car and surprised us before we even got anywhere near the trail itself! Spinetinglers gets underway at the intimidating entrance to an underground mine.  The  mineshaft serves as a unique beginning, and sets up a huge surprise that comes from a gun toting fiend lurking in the darkness just outside.  Then, it's onto what used to be a relaxing campground setting, but something's gone terribly wrong!  A vicious killer's on the loose, and several vacationers have already fallen victim to his ghastly attacks.  Any guesses who's next?  More scares come forth from the foggy surroundings of a spooky cemetery, and a hillbilly family that's all too eager to show how they deal with trespassers.  Perfect sound effects accompany the various scenes, and enhance the overall experience, that continues into a spine-chilling school bus confinement, pitch black maze, and eventually climaxes when an encounter with a crazed, ranting maniac whose enhanced voice amplifies around you, suddenly and unexpectedly turns into a relentless chain-saw chase out of the Spinetinglers Trail of Horrors

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 7½, almost 15 min. 
ACTORS - 8½, Most gave enthusiastic performances in bringing their characters to life, providing startles, and often following close behind us along the trail.  Victims portrayed their roles with believability, desperately calling out for help, or warning us of impending danger.  Crazed, chase-out character gives you something to remember, and the gun toting stalker provides a top notch scare or two.
SCARINESS - 7½, Close proximity of surprises, and the intense actors  are major attributes, but just too many dead spots, especially descending the hill to rate higher.  Expect improvements in this category over time as the haunt continues to expand and grow. 
DESIGN - 7, Beginning and end scenes rank higher.  The extravagant mine entrance that captivates thrillseekers from the get go, and the voice distortion finish are standouts.  Cemetery and other structures are nice, but need many more like them.  Sound effects (dripping water in the mineshaft, scary music in the cemetery, and the voice distorted ending) are most impressive, and strategically located throughout.  The two weakest zones occur just outside the cemetery where highway traffic is noticeably visible through the open field, then the area surrounding the descent down a hillside is too barren, and devoid of props and actors.  A few characters and props here, and possibly some thunder and lightning would have a tremendous impact on this part of the trail.
PROPS - 5, More scenes are required, and dead zones mentioned above are crying out for attention.  A few animatronics would help out immensely.
VALUE - 7, While in their second season, this is the first year at a new location, and $10 seems a bit steep considering the numerous other options in the area, and the fact that they're still working to establish themselves and attract a following.  Perhaps a discount coupon on their website would be a good idea. 
RATING: 7, An encouraging effort considering they were forced to pack up and relocate following their debut season.  Everyone here seems intent on making sure patrons experience their utmost performances.  Actors and mood setting sounds are standouts.  A little more attention to the trail itself will elevate their ranking.  Some good scares and characters have established a good foundation on which to build.  Correcting a few flaws can have a drastic effect on the overall score.  Their goal is to hear people come out saying it was the best time they ever had.  Judging from the energy level of the crew, it will be interesting to watch them strive to achieve their vision..  It's already an enjoyable trail that will continue to get better not only from year to year, but from week to week as well.  When visiting Springboro, don't forget to schedule a visit to Spinetinglers.  And while you're there, be sure to pick up one of their awesome t-shirts - some of the best we've seen.

MAYHEM MANSION
& TERROR ON THE LAKES
Kenton Lakes Sportsplex
13966 DeCoursey Pike
Florence, KY
(859) 359-GAME
$10 for House and Mortified Maze
Mayhem Mansion
click photo above to visit their website
RATING: 7
Reviewed 11/3/07
MAYHEM MANSION: A fountain of blood welcomes you into the “haunted” Mayhem Mansion.  Intimidating sounds and blood-curdling screams lure you into a dark maze, containing frequent dead ends and startling surprises.  Brief subtle touches lead to assaulting attacks with power tools, while an axe-wielding fiend insists what he did to his sister was an “accident.”  The sibling’s throat’s been slit, and she’s covered with blood, but still able to scream bloody murder, and order you out of their house!  An encounter with Grandma results in a brief entrapment, until a secret escape route is finally discovered that returns you to the continuation of the dark maze, more dead ends, misdirection, group separation, and eventually, a chainsaw chase into a surprising secret panel escape from Mayhem Mansion

Analysis:
LENGTH - 6, 8 minutes
ACTORS - 7½, Good use of make-up.  Axe-wielding brute offers best dialogue, and his sister delivers the overall best performance.  Increasing the number of adult characters as well as their aggressiveness, while reassigning child actors to non-primary scare roles would raise the score.
SCARINESS - 7½, Darkness, screams, and entrapments provide the majority of the scares.  Lengthening the experience and raising the confrontational capacity of the actors would be most beneficial.
DESIGN - 7, As mentioned, a bit on the short side.  Dead ends and secret doors are a nice touch, and a solid foundation to build upon, but it’s mostly a maze and needs to take more advantage of the spooky old house by expanding décor, adding scenes, and detailing rooms.  Arming Grandma with some sort of weapon, and introducing changes in sounds and lighting might be a nice touch, and the fountain could be better utilized.
PROPS - 5, The weakest area of the attraction.  Plenty of opportunities exist for future improvement upon expansion into the upstairs floor, and currently unused rooms.
VALUE - 8, Reasonably priced and includes the trail as an added bonus.
RATING:  7, The house really looks “haunted!”  (Check the upstairs window!) The authentic structure could become home to one of the area’s scariest attractions if utilized to its maximum potential, as opposed to just playing host to a maze.  Decorating themed rooms, introducing more entrapments, and expanding on the positives that already exist are on the horizon for 2008, as Mayhem Mansion prepares to make its presence known around the local haunt scene.

TERROR ON THE LAKES: The secondary attraction at Mayhem Mansion consists of a dark woods adventure along a gravel path, highlighted by a cemetery, where ghosts roam the gravesites, and hover above tombstones.  Whispers and other unseen voices warn you to get out, or threaten bodily harm.  Multiple chainsaw pursuits, and apparent gunshots, lead to one final chase that culminates in an alarming, up close and personal surprise finish to Terror on the Lakes.

Analysis:
LENGTH – 6½, a little under 10 minutes long.
ACTORS – 7, Could benefit from a larger cast, and some face to face, threatening encounters to compliment the pursuits.  Good dialogue, and loud screams throughout.
SCARINESS – 7, The journey through the dark, isolated woods is the primary scare, supported by screams, shots, several chainsaws, and the big surprise finish.
DESIGN – 6, The trail isn’t that long, and consists of many unadorned areas.  While such isolation provides ample opportunity for one’s nerves to get the better of them, there simply isn’t near enough scenery along the way, other than the graveyard.  Also, the entrance to the trail is a little out of the way.
PROPS – 4, Even fewer than in the house itself, with the big finish being best and most memorable.  Need to expand the décor along the trail, with additional detailed scenes like the cemetery, and maybe some more surprises in order to eliminate dead spots.
VALUE – 7, A nice compliment to Mayhem Mansion, but weaker on its own.
RATING:  6, The trail scores higher as an added bonus with paid admission to Mayhem Mansion, than it would as a stand alone attraction.  Serving to support the main event as an alternately themed haunt, Terror on the Lakes needs more in the way of scenery, decoration, and monsters in order to take the next step necessary to compete with more established trails.  Expect continued improvement through the upcoming years, as the hosts intend to provide some of the best scares in the area.

NOTEThe haunts are sponsored by Kenton Lakes Sportsplex and the FOP's Kenton Lodge 44 and Boone Lodge 46.  Partial proceeds benefit Shop with A Cop.  Food, snacks, and drinks are available, and located indoors, between attractions.
VERONA FIELD OF SCREAMS
14553 Walton-Verona Rd.
Verona, KY  41094
(859) 643-2315
$10 / ($15 Express)
Verona Field of Screams
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RATING:
Reviewed 10/20/07
VERONA FIELD OF SCREAMS:  Clowns and other monsters stalk the queue line area outside the entrance to the hayride.  A bleeding, sickle carrying, skeleton appears behind the wagon as it departs into the Field, pursues for awhile, then wickedly laughs while warning he’ll be waiting IF we make it back.  A variety of monsters jump out of hiding, and some even climb aboard the ride.  One carries a large axe, and bangs it loudly up against the wagon, while Leatherface and his trusty chainsaw take dead aim on those appearing weak.  A bulldozer attacks with its plow raised high in the air, and continuously banging up and down, as it continues its relentless chase practically all the way into the woods!  More ghouls climb onboard, as you pass by the scene of a car crash, where victims are trapped inside a wrecked automobile.  The crazed creatures disembark the ride, and turn their aggression on the people stuck inside the totaled vehicle.  A "big surprise" is soon encountered, followed by attacks by an evil scarecrow, and a second Leatherface character, who turns his chainsaw on the on the poor, unfortunate straw man.  Still to come are encounters with a disgruntled farmer who shoots at trespassers, a masked fiend riding a black horse, and a cemetery where the undead leave their caskets to pursue the hay wagon.  The ride exits into a fog-filled haunted house, where shackled prisoners plea for help, a demented doctor tortures his patient, Michael Myers appears from out of nowhere, and the original skeleton character waits as promised, as you make your way out of Verona’s Field of Screams.  But is the adventure really over?  You’ll have to visit to find out!

Analysis:
LENGTH – 9½, 25 minutes!
ACTORS – 7, Mostly masks, but some welcomed dialogue.  Monsters did their best to provide scares, but need more to cover dead zones.  Banging their weapons loudly against the wagon is an intimidating touch.
SCARINESS – 7, Bulldozer and surprise are best.  Also like the way characters bang their weapons on the wagon while giving chase or onboard.
DESIGN – 6, A lengthy course, and a novel finish exiting the wagon into a haunted house.  Surprise and bulldozer pursuit are excellently placed, but need many more like them.  Graveyard is about the only detailed area along the way.  Love the pre and post ride antics.  There’s just too many uneventful, undecorated areas to score higher.
PROPS – 5, Other than those already mentioned, there’s not much else to see.  Plenty of opportunities exist to fill in barren areas with some sort of action and/or décor.
VALUE – 7, It’s a fun, lengthy ride, but needs to provide many more scenes and scares to rate higher.  New attractions should hold prices down their first season in order to better establish not only themselves on the haunt scene, but a fan base as well.  Expecting to debut at the average going rate is a tough way to go, and keeps many away.
RATING:  6½, Hayrides are always fun, and this first year haunt is no exception.  Look for them to learn from their first year experiences, and in the meantime, pay them a visit for a seasonal good time!

 WALK OF TERROR
at The Landings
Eureka Dr.
Hamilton, OH  45011
(513) 893 - 5585
$10 Admission
$1 off coupon available at WEBN
Walk of Terror
lick logo to visit their website
RATING: 6
Reviewed 10/5/07
WALK OF TERROR: This first year haunt finds you out walking through the dark, torch lit woods surrounding The Landings Complex, in Hamilton, OH.  Scary Midnight Syndicate music sets the stage for a vast array of masked monsters to spring forth from their secluded hiding places along the trail.  Highlights of the hilly terrain include a bungee surprise from out of the trees, scarecrows leaving their perches to unleash attacks, a quad chase, and ground that gives way beneath your very feet, before climaxing with a relentless, multiple chainsaw chase-out of maybe your last walk ever - The Walk of Terror

Analysis: 
LENGTH - 8, 15 minutes. 
ACTORS - 7, All do their best to promote surprises and startles, but very little dialogue, and mostly masks.  Bungee monster and chainsaw lunatics are best.
SCARINESS - 7, Darkness is the primary fear factor, accompanied by traditionally scary music.  Quad attack from out of the darkness is perhaps the most terrifying.  Need to improve upon the scenes, both in quality and quantity in order to score higher.
DESIGN - 6, A nice trail from a length standpoint, great music, and characters are well hidden in the woods, but just not enough props to score any higher. 
PROPS - 4, Soft ground and bungee attack are most memorable. Plenty of room for improvement in this department as the haunt continues to grow.
VALUE - 5½, $10 is a bit overzealous for a first year haunt, but they do have some unique events taking place, so if you're nearby and looking for some scares, give it a go. 
RATING:  6, Any new undertaking is always difficult, but the trail is in good hands with experienced workers from other local haunts, both past and present.  If you're in the Hamilton area, stop by and visit the friendly folks at The Walk of Terror.  It just may turn out to be your last walk ever!

DARK PUMPKIN HAUNTED TRAIL
"INVASION"
7039 Preble County Line Rd
Germantown, Ohio 45327
$10 Admission + $2 Parking
$1 Friday only coupon on their website
Dark Pumpkin
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RATING: 6
Reviewed 9/14/07
DARK PUMPKIN HAUNTED TRAIL - INVASION:  This dark trail takes you through the consequences of a UFO crash site.  Our government has apparently shot the craft out of the sky for violating our airspace, and the downed saucer still emits smoke from its recent impact with the Earth.  Various characters are encountered along the restricted area, from military personnel, to aliens themselves, who have carried some sort of deadly virus into our atmosphere.  Investigators equip themselves with gas masks as a safety precaution in order to avoid contracting the contagious infection.  But is it too late?  American scientists, doctors and soldiers already appear to be symptomatic, and are being turned into killers.  Remote medical and laboratory facilities, initially set up to treat the injured, both human and alien, are now under the control of these contagious combatants, and provide cover for more scares.  Warnings ring out cautioning of an imminent retaliatory attack, as another UFO appears directly overhead!  Even our beloved American Flag's not safe as Old Glory packs an unexpected surprise of its own as you make your way through the Dark Pumpkin Haunted Trail, to a chainsaw chase-out of Invasion.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 7, Just over 10 min.
ACTORS - 6, Those present did their best to frighten us, but needed many more, especially aliens, and perhaps an as yet uninfected army regimen chasing through the wooded area waving their rifles.
SCARINESS - 6½, Could potentially score higher with  more action from additional characters. 
DESIGN -7, A unique theme sets them apart from traditional haunts.  An original, although unproven concept, and not exactly what one would expect to be associated with Halloween.  Likely to improve over time, as scenes and characters continue to be added.  The chainsaw chase-out doesn't make sense. 
PROPS - 6, Flying saucers are best, and the lab set-up is nice, but could stand quite a bit more, which is sure to come as the haunt continues to grow. 
VALUE - 4, $10 is somewhat overzealous.  Just don't see a family of 4 investing $42, considering their close proximity to much larger, less expensive productions.  Parking proceeds benefit the Gratis Volunteer Fire Department.
RATING:  6, Would recommend adding some government officials early on discussing the situation among themselves in order to better inform patrons of what they're about to witness.   Additional military personnel would also be an attribute, as would the presence of some threatening aliens.  Just about any plausible characters would be beneficial.  This first year haunt is unique, but has a lot of unrecognized potential.  Try to take advantage of the Friday night discount coupon if possible.

THE HAUNTED RIVER BANKS
7842 River Rd./Hebron, KY
(859) 802-5974
$12 + $2 parking
Haunted River Banks
click logo to visit their website
RATING:
Reviewed 10/30/07
THE HAUNTED RIVER BANKS:  A ghost story adventure through the isolated woods along the banks of the Ohio River introduces local folklore legends of evil spirits, malicious murders, and other downright devious acts.  Tales include an area civil war soldier who was beheaded by a confederate mercenary, and still roams the woods in search of his missing skull; the captain of a doomed ship screaming in search of the crew that abandoned him in his time of need; a slave named Jeremiah who donned the clothes of a scarecrow hoping to break away and make a run for freedom, only to be discovered and killed by his disgruntled owner; a witch who cursed the property; a “Priest” who actually turns out to be a messenger of death; The River Hag, Lady in White (Ghost of River Road); and a few others en route to a surprise finish at The Haunted River Banks

Analysis:
LENGTH – 9½, 25 minutes.
ACTORS – 3, The tour guide does a commendable job telling the ghost stories, but others offer little more than a few sudden burst out of the darkness surprises and an occasional “rah!”
SCARINESS – 3, The storytelling is the primary scare, but not overwhelmingly frightening.
DESIGN – 2, A fairly long trail, but unadorned, and devoid of any sort of soundtrack, or supporting substructures.  So much more could be done along the way to compliment the storytelling. 
PROPS – 0, Less than a handful throughout the entire duration of the path.  Scenes reenacting the various recounted events might be a nice touch. 
VALUE – 1, $12 is ridiculously high.  Hearing the ghost stories provides the only value, and they may as well be told around the comfort of a warm campfire, as the trail is undecorated, and provides few other surprises and scares.
RATING:  2½, The attraction itself is unique in the telling of mysterious, spooky ghost stories with a local twist,  but there’s nothing in the way of accompaniment that actually warrants the trek through the woods.  While the narrations are enjoyable, the overall experience might rate higher on the scale of seasonal Halloween entertainment, as opposed to an actual haunted attraction.  The event serves as a fundraiser for the Northern Kentucky Xtreme semi-pro football team, and parking revenues benefit Mikaila Salensky and her family.

TRAIN OF TERROR
Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad
127 S. Mechanic St./ Lebanon, OH
(513) 933-8022 / $12 Admission
The Train of Terror
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RATING: 1
Reviewed 10/26/07
Train of TerrorTRAIN OF TERRORThe experience consists of a dark journey through four passenger cars of the LM & M Railroad.  Spider webs serve as the motif for the first car, while the second houses a nurse holding a demon baby, a doctor armed with some sort of electric saw, heads suspended from above, body bags and parts.  Another car is decorated with balloons, and devoted to a clown theme.  Scary music accompanies the adventure, and a few monsters reach out from beneath the seats, gently brushing up against your legs as you pass through.  The final car exits onto a short trail highlighted by a cemetery, and second encounters with many of the same monsters that inhabit the Train of Terror.

Analysis:
It’s a novel idea, but needs to be tremendously expanded upon to even warrant consideration.  Coming from a rail fan with a high admiration for trains, it pains me to say I’m flabbergasted that someone would ask $12 for such an effortless, 6 minute exhibition – a gesture that’s beyond bad for the entire industry, and tarnishes the reputation of quality haunts.  The actors are all kids, the most memorable of which is the nurse, and she’s not scary.  Each car is dedicated to a unique theme, but the experience is just way too short, and the cemetery is mostly uneventful.  Props consist of spider webs, body parts, and little more.  Touring the vintage passenger cars offers the only value.
RATING:  1

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