Welcome back, Creeps, Fiends, and Ghouls! It’s been a while since we posted anything new on this Little Blog Of Horrors. We’ve been busy celebrating the holidays, changing jobs, getting engaged, making ends meet, and other mundane things that real life forces us all to deal with. As a result, we’ve had very little time to focus on the blog and bring you, our Faithful Freaks, any new updates. For that we apologize and pledge to double our efforts! We’ve even added some new blood to our talent pool to help bring you the best in local horror and haunt news. So, without further mildew, here’s a quick look at the highlights from this past year’s haunt season! We here at Little Blog Of Horrors hope everyone had a safe, fun, and scary Halloween, and a great Holiday Season!
The 2012 Haunt Season went very well, with Southern Oregon having more haunted attractions happening than we had time (or funds) to visit. Darkwing Manor and Circus Of Screams, both located in the Medford area, again proved that they are the undisputed kings of local haunts, but a fair amount of smaller attractions caught our attention as well. Just Scream!, of Medford, was a small production in comparison but we were all impressed by the passion put into the haunt and the amount of fun we had. It was a short haunt, but great use of space and a wide assortment of maniacal monsters made the attraction seem much longer. Their enthusiasm showed through, from their props and actors to the Fiends working outside, it seemed like everyone was enjoying the scariest of seasons to the fullest. ShriektoberFest’s Lair Of The Zombies was also a highlight of the season. Organized and performed by the Randall Theater Company, Lair Of The Zombies started with a short film explaining to guests how the undead infection began and spread before sending them into a maze full of ghouls, hungry and eager to rip, tear, and eat the flesh of the audience. Although promoted as an all-dark experience (guests were permitted to use their cell phones as makeshift flashlights if needed), our band of Night Stalkers had no problems seeing in the low-light situation. It was a very fun attraction, and we hope that the Company puts on a show of equal caliber next year.
Gold Hill, Oregon transformed its local museum into a haunted attraction for the Halloween season, bringing a small-town sensibility to its scares. Aimed mostly at younger children, it was still a lot of fun and reminded us of Halloween in simpler, homier times. Guests tour the small museum, with props, actors, and tamer scares along the way. Once out of the museum, they’re treated to an old-fashioned baked goods and crafts sale, along with a neat yard haunt display. Very Americana and lots of fun! As a side note, while all the bigger attractions we visited this last season were great, this author didn’t jump once at a scare from them. Yet at the Gold Hill Museum, a teenaged girl behind a false wall gave me a start with a simple jump scare. This grizzled horror veteran was startled by a kid in a costume at an event for children! I haven’t lived it down since.
The next haunt on our list is an unnamed attraction in Grants Pass, Oregon. It’s an upstart haunt, this year being its first, with a lot of (evil) spirit. Another small haunt, it was held in an old DMV building, but they made great use of the limited space. With a mini-mirror maze, creepy-good actors, and creative use of everyday props, it was an impressive new haunt, and we’re eager to see what the coming years will bring for these guys.
Mr. Brown’s Haunted Field was old-school Halloween fun as well. Held on a massive farm in Central Point, Oregon, it was a quiet, creepy haunted field tour. The natural ambiance of the surroundings on a cold, October night really adds to heighten the senses and provides a sense of cool dread to the attraction. It was an all-ages event, with do-it-yourself scarecrow building kits for the kids preceding each tour. I hope that it continues each year, as it kicked off our haunt season with an old-timey Halloween celebration. My only gripe about the haunted field was that it could’ve used one last scare at the end. It ends by bringing the story of Mr. Brown, told by the actors in rhyme and riddle, to a “fooled-ya!” conclusion, taking away the sense of walking away from the attraction excited by that one, final fright. Again, only a small disappointment about an otherwise excellent haunt.
Now onto the Big Boys of our local haunt circuit…
Circus Of Screams, located in Eagle Point, Oregon, is a themed haunt with a new-school horror aesthetic centered around, you guessed it, a circus full of insane clowns and psychotic killers. This last years’ attraction was a 3-D experience where the guests wore glasses and the walls and costuming of the haunt were decorated in very disorientating 3-D and blacklight paints, which only added to the insanity. Clowns, murderers, insane asylum patients, and maniacal monsters filled the dayglow-colored maze awaiting new victims to add to the body count. Being a horror and Halloween prop collector, a particular highlight for me was a sort of “hall of infamy”, where standing life-size figures of some of my favorite horror villains (Freddy Krueger, Pinhead, Jason Vorhees, and Chucky) and posters from some classic films (Hellraiser, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) were on display. You hardly had time to look at them, though, because you were being chased through the room by some of the Circus’ psycho denizens! By the time guests exited the maze-like haunt they felt like they had gone through and survived a mini-horror film, and the experience was an absolute blast! If time had permitted, I would have jumped back in line to go through it all again because Circus Of Screams delivered on the, well, screams.
Darkwing Manor & Morguetorium Museum, of Medford, Oregon, is an annual haunt that never ceases to amaze the unsuspecting guests and ghouls who pass through its doors to enter a realm of old-school spooky fun. While waiting in line to get in, visitors are treated to various displays and sideshows to set the mood and pace for the thrills and chills to follow. Fire dancers, ghostly figures appearing in the distance, and a video introduction to the Manor and its history all help to keep guests entertained before entering the actual building. As its name suggests, part of Darkwing Manor is dedicated to showcasing morbid artifacts surrounding death rituals and burials. As guests enter the Manor, they are greeted and given a brief tour of the Morguetorium part of the haunt, where some of the items on display are explained and a brief history lesson on funeral rituals is given. Guests are then led into the actual haunt. Darkwing is very vampire-centric, from the ambiance of the Manor to the costuming of the actors all the way to the creepy fog hanging low to the ground, guests feel like they’ve been transported to the Old World and have been immersed in a realm of vampires, dark sorcery, demons, and undead ghostlies! The haunt doesn’t end in the actual Manor, however. The grounds surrounding the old Manor is host to a legion of undead pirates, classic monsters, demonic souls, and zombies- all in themed, atmospheric displays that suit the characters themselves. A much longer haunt than most, guests certainly get their money’s worth of scares and jumps as they brave the maze leading out of the attraction. By the time you leave, you will be amazed and inspired. Darkwing Manor & Morguetorium has received national attention for the quality of their haunt, and have been featured in magazines and podcasts in recent years, proving that they’re the champions of Halloween fright in the Rogue Valley! As an amateur make-up FX artist, I was impressed by the quality of the mostly home-made props and scenery, the level of detail in the costumes and character make-up, and the authenticity of the whole attraction. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I will be back next year, and hopefully for many years to come!
Most of the haunts that I discussed in this article use their proceeds to raise money for various charities, and I urge people who are interested to visit all of them this next Halloween Season! If you’re looking to have some unforgettable experiences for Halloween 2014, make sure you at least visit Darkwing Manor and Circus Of Screams. Both will win you over with their production values and passion for haunting, and the memories of what lurks within their walls will linger in your nightmares for months, perhaps years, to come…
We at Little Blog Of Horrors are already busy preparing our haunt schedule for this next year, and can’t wait to see what all of these attractions have brewing for us this Fall. We’ll be posting schedules for local haunts as they become available, so please check back often or, even better, subscribe to Little Blog Of Horrors and never miss out on our ravenous ramblings!
A big “thank you” to all who organized, hosted, sponsored, and participated in the above mentioned haunts last year- your efforts and enthusiasm keep us inspired, entertained, and always dreaming of the time of year where the veil between the world of the living and the land of the dead is lifted… “Bonfires burning bright, pumpkin faces in the night, I remember Halloween.”