Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Haunting on Wood Avenue gets a wicKED review!

   We decided to circle back around and hit A Haunting on Wood Avenue  for our Saturday Scare-tainment. This is a haunt being put on by the Big Stone Gap Volunteer Fire Department who has decades of haunting experience in this town. I was mighty impressed when we went through as invited guest for their practice run. I had high hopes for this haunt when it was up and running at full power.... and they delivered. This is one of my favorite haunts this year for so many reasons.
   When we arrived at the haunt there was a good sized line. A line is a good sign for the haunt. It means there is something good waiting at the end of it, but I don't know anybody who actually enjoys standing in one. A Haunting on Wood Avenue realizes that and has taken their show on the road... so to speak. This haunting group will ensure you are entertained from the first minute you stand in line to the last seconds as you run for your life.
     First, they are serving refreshments right by the line. The smell of hot buttered popcorn was a pleasant distraction while we waited. The second evil entertainment comes from this guy:


   The enigmatic Skeletal Pirate. This guy was well worth the wait in line. He ran up and down the street with his grave digging shovel dragging behind. He threw sparks off the asphalt with his spade, he hooped, he hollered, he creeped and screamed. He was gruesomely good entertainment as he struck terror in the hearts of the kids in line... you would not believe the screams!

   When my girlfriend asked him if we could have a picture with him, she gave him permission to "act like he was killing her". I don't think he was acting!

   This old pirate was the star of the show that night as he entertained the crowd and got everybody in the mindset of terror.
   That is what I love about the BSG Fire Dept running a haunt. They have been doing it for so many years, they have learned the subtleties to keeping customers happy , scared, and returning!


   With our outdoor entertainment, the wait went by pretty fast and soon we were back in the haunt itself. I had been told by one of the workers that they kept changing it up to keep it interesting. He was right, and it was a change for the better. I had no camera or video equipment with me. I was there as a customer so I could review and rank the haunt.
   Without giving away all their secrets here is the Good and the Not so Good of A Haunting on Wood Avenue.



GOOD
  • Refreshments and skeletal entertainment while waiting in line. 
  • Keeping small groups for maximum scare.
  • Great location, parking, and a covered awning over the line in case of weather.
  • Good use of completely darkened rooms and lighting effects to make ghosts appear or disappear right in front of you. 
  • Sound effects were targeted and very good.
  • The actors in the haunt would scare the people in front, in the middle, and the end of the group. So often you see a haunt just go for the one shot and done attack. These guys delivered and kept it going for the whole group.
  • Highly interactive entertainment with the group. The things that dwell inside are curious about the normal people walking through their haunt... be ready to answer them.
  • Eager actors that throw in a bunch of enthusiasm to their roles.
  • Great masks and costumes. 
  • Action. Lots of it. Right in your face. All around you! We lost one of our guides as she was brutally murdered.
  • Electric chair scene was still a big hit. Highly interactive and brutal! Hope you like the action up close and personal for this one!

  • The funeral parlor with the overly eager mortician... some of his customers were fresh... very fresh! As in they were still breathing and dying to get out of the custom made coffins.


  • The special effects were really improved! Most notably with the hanging scene... it was pretty graphic!
  • The doctor's lab was vile. Various fluids flew through the air as hearts were torn from the bodies of previous customers. Hope you you don't mind dodging flying organs dripping with gore! Somebody should tell the doc not to play with liquids and electricity.


  • One of my biggest let downs from the practice run was no grave yard, but they added one! Very over grown with vines and things crawling through the leaves.
  • I am not a big fan of small children working in haunts, but these guys pulled it off. There is something very creepy about tiny ghosts, all crying and moaning in a swamp.
  • The maze was just as good, and more confusing than ever. Especially since every time you took a wrong turn there were several haunted miners waiting for you (that's what I called them... gas masks, hard hats, and a bad attitude when you took a wrong turn!). This is one area that kept our little group screaming.
  • Clowns! Big, small, short and tall. They were everywhere. Had to be at least 6 or 7 of them whirling around us and one had a chainsaw!

  • The little girl singing the Freddy Krueger lullaby in a rocking chair by the fireplace was really creepy. She met a horrific and violent end... poor child was tossed around like a sack of potatoes. This was one of the highly interactive parts.

  • The very end was super confusing and highly effective at throwing some terror in your step! Fog, strobe lights, feeling your way through small opening with slimy things brushing against your arms and face. The skeletal thing with the chainsaw has to be seen to be believed. chains and charms and bone.... did I mention he had a chainsaw? He is somewhere in this confusing environment where you can barely see your hand in front of your face. Strangely, this "thing" has no problem locating you!


NOT SO GOOD
  • A few of the "actors" were a little out of character. I could tell there were a few role changes that night. (I learned later that some of their higher profile actors were indisposed that evening but would be returning next weekend. They had been forced to replace some key roles).
  • Timing was a bit off for some of the rooms but they still pulled it off.
  • The clown room itself had lost some of that freakish black light creepy factor to it. It seemed (at least to me) it was better on the practice night.
  • The Nightmare on Elm Street room was a double edged sword. While the real live flesh and blood girl singing the lullaby was great, the fact that there were two Freddy Kruegers really let me down. While they were very interactive, and did a great job, the magic that was there from the original walkthrough was gone. I have said before I am not a fan of Freddy IN a haunted house, but they had done something great the first night of practice. Freddy would come in from the left of the room. Say something threatening, then walk back out, only to reappear on the other side of the room like magic. Two Freddy Kruegars in one room at the same time is not my cup of tea.

   Now to see how A Haunting on Wood Avenue scored on the wicKEDly ranKED system:

 

ATMOSPHERE



From the Skeletal Pirate pumping up the crowd to the forboding structure the haunt is housed in. There is a good atmosphere about this place. 


COSTUME


Great masks and costumes were present all through. There may have been a hick up here or there from a replacement person, but there was some good ones.Most notable are the Skele Pirate, The Executioner, The ghost in the first room and the "Thing" at the end.


SOUND EFFECTS


Each room had it's own unique track and the props had highly realistic effects to suit them.

SET DESIGN

 Some of the rooms were a little drab and consisted of only the ever present black plastic. On the other hand, some of the rooms were over the top. Wish the awesome decor was a little more consistent throughout. Some of the best designed rooms were Electric Chair, maze, swamp/graveyard and the exit area. 

ORIGINALITY 


When I think original, I mean in regards to this areas local haunts of the past. While there are things in the haunt that have been done in the past, this group really put an original spin on much of it. Rooms of note : Movie room, Hanging room, Funeral Parlor, Maze.

SHOWMANSHIP/ACTING 


This group has lots of experience, and lots of heart. While they were missing a few key personalities the night we went though, the desire to give everybody a good scare is very apparent!

FEAR FACTOR


From the moment you step in line till the last few seconds of being chased by a chainsaw maniac, this place delivers consistent fright. There are lots of little dark places to hide inside and the haunters make great use of them to spring out on unsuspecting victims. 


REVISIT RATING 


This haunt keeps evolving and changing to meet the fear needs of the public. They have changed things around every week and will continue to do so. This is the kind of haunt you can visit every weekend and find something new and different. Visit often! I will.


This gives A Haunting on Wood Avenue of 2011 a solid wicKED ranking of  4 out of 5 Grimaces!


 

   This small town haunt has the heart to run with the big dogs of horror with bigger budgets. You just can't buy good people with the passion for putting a scare in you!
   If you are into Halloween at all, or just looking for a thrill, you HAVE to come see A Haunting on Wood Avenue. It's in a great location, plenty of parking, great refreshments available, and a covered area to wait in line.
    I was invited back for this Friday and Saturday (14th and 15th). Seems that the haunt will have some seriously evil help coming in and we should see some new creatures and features. I am definitely taking them up on that invite and you should too!

This is the little video a threw together from my visit to their practice run. It does not do them justice now that they are in full swing!

   For a frightful fun night of Halloween entertainment, bring your whole family down to A Haunting on Wood Avenue. Tell the Skeletal Pirate that wicKED sent you and he MIGHT take it easy on you....

10 comments:

  1. another fantastic report! really enjoy these!

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  2. Thanks Pam. Already have another one lined up for next Saturday.

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  3. Great review and format! They should really appreciate all your work!

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  4. Thanks Mark. I hope they do ;)

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  5. That pirate skeleton was scary! There's something about seeing actual human eyes behind a skull... Your poor girlfriend! He had her in a real headlock.

    I just caught up on several of your last blog posts. Great photos! I liked the creepy scarecrow guys in the forest. I'm sure that wandering around a haunted forest is quite an experience!

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  6. Indeed, the Skele was great. Don't worry about her though... she loves to be in the mix of it all. Wandering around any forest this time of year is a super creepy experience.... add haunters and you got an experience!

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  7. Seems like there were more good things than not so good things on this tour and that makes it sound like fun. It sounds like a great haunt!

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  8. There truly was Jessica! It was a great time for sure. Can't wait to hit it again.

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  9. Thanks for the work on our haunt we really appreciate the kind words and we will keep making it better through out the month until Halloween

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  10. I know you guys will... thanks for letting me be a part of it. You all are doing a great job!

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