I take a stroll outside. It’s a overcast day, cold and wet, and the wind blows right through me. Almost unexpectedly, I realize that the sun has gone down. Something rustles in a nearby bush; a squirrel, or other small creature, surely. The dried up carcasses of withered leaves crackle beneath my stride. The air smells crisp, but with a hint of something old. Inevitable. Death, perhaps?
A smile crosses my face. Halloween is coming.
If you’re a horror nerd like myself, Halloween is Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years rolled into one. My festivities usually begin in mid-to-late September, and continue up through October 31st. And even, on occasion, slightly beyond that.
I’ve got my traditions, and one of the mainstays is Haunted Houses. So what better way to kick off the holiday season, than to go to the world’s largest walk-through Haunted House?
Erebus, the house in question, is located in Pontiac, Michigan. The Guinness World Record holder is a whopping 4 story monstrosity, which I’m estimating takes about 20 to 30 minutes to get through. Since first going there around 6 or 7 years back, I’ve made it an annual trip, The fx are top notch, whether it’s makeup, animatronics or giant costumes. It’s scary, but there’s always a great sense of fun to everything. Most haunted houses make the mistake of being super serious and dour, but at Erebus you scream, then laugh. . . and while you’re caught off guard, they make you scream even louder.
I went to Erebus this last Friday night with my lady, and we had a great time. First, they gave us a free t-shirt each. Then, a couple of the fx were down, so they were giving everyone half-off admission. Sweet! The cast, who are always excellent, really stepped up their game this year. I found myself jumping in every room, often more than once. At one point, you’re “buried alive”; they put you in a tiny, enclosed room, and fill it to the top with “rocks” dropped from the ceiling. Even knowing it’s a simulation, that was pretty freaky. This place actually tops Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion as my favorite Haunted House I’ve been in (And I fucking love Haunted Mansion!).
The next day we went to Cedar Point, the amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio (Is the location listing unnecessary? Do people outside of the midwest know about this wonderful place?!). From Mid-September through Mid-October, they put on Halloweekends, a ghoulish redecoration of everything in the park. This was my first time for the event, and I was impressed. There are haunted houses, and even outdoor areas where ghosts and ghouls roam freely. There are singing skeleton barbershop quartets, pumpkins lining the outside of rides, and comical tombstones everywhere.
Upon seeing the Top Thrill Dragster, a 420 foot tall beast that launches you up into the sky going 120mph, Anna proclaimed “I have to go on that!”, which was followed by me saying “There’s no way in hell you’re getting me on that thing.”. Ten minutes later, I’m in line for it. Hoo, boy; that one’s a doozy. I think there’s only so much height that the human mind can comprehend dropping from, and Dragster has managed to succeed it, so when I try to remember the ride, all I can see are clips from The Dick Van Dyke Show. We did a few other classics, from the extremely tame Iron Dragon to the body bruising Magnum. The Gemini is still my favorite; I love the idea of racing coasters, and I haven’t been on anything yet that matches the feeling that first hill gives me in my gut. Since we’re old fuddy-duddies, we also went on the train ride and the gondolas. The broken gondola car laying on the ground with the number 13 on it’s side was a nice touch, guys!
The “Fright Zones” and Haunted Houses were lots of fun, if not terribly scary. This is, after all, a family friendly park, and I wasn’t expecting them to get too extreme. That being said, the design work is fantastic, and there was excellent use of fog machines and lights to completely disorient you. Terror Island was my favorite, with all sorts of Pirate themed monsters.
We capped the weekend off with The Haunting in Adrian, MI, which I went to either last year or the year before, and found it quite charming, despite it’s meager budget. It’s really slid downhill since then. The charm is still there, I suppose, but the presentation is lackluster. Uninspired actors, and almost no scares. Meh.
That’s all for this weekend, but I’m glad to be off to a good start!