With Halloween just around the corner, what better time then to gear up for haunt season. Halloween convention extraordinaire, Midsummer Scream, is known for their superb panels, special guests, as well as a deep love for the horror/haunt community. With that said, one of the best experiences during Midsummer Scream is their Hall of Shadows which features 11 mini-haunts that give guests a preview of what's to come during the best season of the year. The following is my review of each one (except for Dead Zone 805 as it wasn't open when I went through the haunts) with a brief description of what the haunt entails, courtesy of the Midsummer Scream website, and pictures to help get you in the mood for the Halloween season!
Opechee Haunt's Apparition Adventure: Terror Twins
Description: Follow in the footsteps of the Specter Inspectors paranormal investigation team as you venture through the historically haunted Edwards Family Home. There are many secrets in this house; some are meant to be left undiscovered...
Thoughts: This was the first haunt that I went through in the Hall of Shadows, and I must admit, I was pretty impressed with what this home haunt had to offer. Though there were a few technical difficulties in the beginning, the overall experience made up for that snafu. I loved the paranormal theme that was played out from start to finish as well as the detail to the set design. This is one haunt that I am looking forward to visiting this Halloween season.
Mable's 6 Feet Under
Description: Motel 6 Feet Under "Scream Tests" are happening in the Hall of Shadows... Except this year, our little Mable will be waiting for you! Yes, it's true - Mable has taken over the motel. And she is ready to squeeze the life out of the party. It's Mable's Motel now. Check in. Then get lost.
Thoughts: Since living in California I've come to understand that some haunts are staples of the Halloween season, one of those being Mable's 6 Feet Under (formerly known as Motel 6 Feet Under). Though this preview didn't give us too much insight into what they will be showing this Halloween season, it still managed to bring the spirit of the most spookiest time of year. And as always, the haunt preview had a few twists and turns to befuddle all those who entered.
Hyde Street Massacre
Description: The Hyde Street Massacre Haunted House is what your worst nightmares are made of. Go ahead and take a step through the doors of this nightmare-induced fright house... The only question is, will you survive the massacre? You'll quickly realize the challenge you have accepted may be your last. You will then be lost within the haunting walls of Otis Hatcher's killing chambers; a man so obsessed with Halloween, he lost his mind and became an infamous serial killer. It was a very bloody night.
Thoughts: Few haunts have impressed me as much as Hyde Street Massacre in terms of set design and scares. Created by Zach and Jeromy Ball, aka the Bloodshed Brothers, these twins know how to amaze even the most diehard haunt fans. The preview for their newest maze was just as impressive as their haunt last year, and this year we get to experience the continuation of Otis Hatcher's story. This is definitely a haunt you will not want to miss come Halloween season.
Phobia Productions Presents: Grimm's Hallow
Description: Just when you thought it was safe to read old fairy tales... Come face the fears of the Old World. Monster, nightmares, and childhood terrors wait around every corner. Heed what the storyteller says, or you may never return from Grimm's Hallow!
Thoughts: I'm a sucker for Grimm fairytales...the creepier they are the better! I think that Phobia Productions has something quite special with Grimm's Hallow. It's apparent that the owners spent a lot of time on the attention to details that went into creating their haunt. Not only was the set design superb but I loved how the scare actors were costumed so as to blend in with the surroundings.
Immersive Parties' MAC: Mutation Analysis Center
Description: Enter this facility and encounter mutations of the undead. The zombie apocalypse is over, and all that is left are the experimental test subjects that now occupy this bizarre Mutation Analysis Center. Do you dare to enter?
Thoughts: Though this haunt didn't have a lot going for it in terms of scares, I absolutely loved the design all the fluorescent neon lights. This was my first time experiencing this haunt and I think they definitely have something with what they are creating, it just needs to be a bit more fleshed out.
Unhallowed Presents: The Last of Man
Description: Gain access to an abandoned facility that once was home to a government project known as "The Last Man." It is believe that an airborne virus is still trapped inside...
Thoughts: When I walked up to this haunt I was immediately taken by the exterior design of this abandoned facility. It was hands down one of the best exteriors that I saw; however, I wish that had translated more into the interior of the haunt. With that said, I still enjoyed my experience going through this and I'm excited to see what they will bring to the table this Halloween season.
Gorlesque Presents: Peep Show
Description: The twisted minds behind The Weltschmerz Society return to Midsummer Scream with a bizarre showcase featuring the kind of lovelies Dr. Weltschmerz obsessed over. Because of the event's multiple options for each presentation, guests are encouraged to return again and again to see them all!
Thoughts: Gorlesque definitely knows how to put on a show and separate themselves from all other haunts. Last year they introduced us to the Weltschmerz Society and this year their goal is to continue making all those who attend perfect. Their mini-haunt was the only one that had two options - a Rated R experience and a rated PG-13 experience - which I found to be very interesting. I went through the R rated one where audience members got to experience quite the strip tease. I'm not sure what this means for their Halloween haunt, but consider my interests piqued!
Description: It is the year 2320. Welcome aboard the USS Abyssma! As security detail for the Nexus Science Research Station located on Kepler Prime, your journey through interstellar space starts now. Using the Alcubierre warp drive, your trip will take approximately 9 months. 24th century world-class amenities await you, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight!
Thoughts: Out of all the haunts at Midsummer Scream, this was the one that left me a bit confused. In terms of design, there wasn't a lot that was going for it and as far as scare actors, there were none within the haunt. I think with a bit more time put into the design and placement of actors this could be a fun haunt to experience, but as a mini-haunt it didn't really leave a lot to be desired.
Description: The walls of the Higgins estate have grown cold and silent since the disappearance of William P. Higgins III. But evil still resides inside his crumbling manor. There's a suspected traitor...and his vicious henchmen are looking for answers.
Thoughts: At last year's Midsummer Scream, I was blown away by Higgin's Manor, so this mini-haunt was one that I was excited to experience again. Though I felt it didn't live up to my expectations, I still had a great time going through it and interacting with the scare actors. In terms of design, their haunt is one of the best, and they really showed that by building a mini manor for guests to walk through. As the Halloween season approaches, you are going to want to make sure you visit Higgins Manor.
Haunted Rose Presents: The Maritime Horror
Description: The Haunted Rose presents another chapter of H.P. Lovecraft-inspired horror. Enter the seaport village of Innsmouth, where something sinister is lurking beyond the shadows. Discover the long-kept secret of the Marsh family, and see if you can escape its lure.
Thoughts: Anyone that knows me knows I have an obsession with Lovecraftian lore, and Haunted Rose's Maritime Horror is probably one of the best Lovecraft haunts I've ever experienced. Not only do guests get to see terrifying creatures but they also get to find themselves immersed in the town of Innsmouth! Those familiar with Lovecraft's stories will recognize the creature lurking about and the infamous Dagon. I can say with all honesty that this haunt is one of my most anticipated for the season.