Sunday, October 16, 2011

Things get wicKED at the Backwoods Haunted House!


   Of the four local haunts on my tour of terror for 2011, Backwoods has been the most anticipated for me. The whole event is a unique experience from start to finish as this insane family, that lives in the haunted barn and attached slaughter house, invite you in for supper. You just never know if you are a guest or the first course. I had huge expectations for this privately run haunt, tucked deep in the back woods of Dryden, and they lived up to them.
   The location itself is somewhat of a double edged sword.  On the one hand, it is a bit hard to find being in the Backwoods (hence the name) of Dryden. That same isolated location also instills a sense of foreboding and dread as you travel deeper into the pitch black roads to the haunt. I have had many of my passengers complain that this would be the perfect place for a bunch of crazies to kill and hide their bodies. They worry that even I may be taking them in the middle of nowhere to kill them myself. That is part of the horror this haunt has. It starts on you before you even get there.
   This local legend of a haunt has really seen tremendous growth over the years of it's existence. Through it's Facebook page, word of mouth advertising, and the newly opened website, the public is finding out about this horror gem in the middle of nowhere. This was very apparent when we arrived at 9:30 pm to find a HUGE line running down the hillside away from the haunted barn. A line is a great thing for an attraction, but this is the first time I have ever seen this turnout for Backwoods. I was very happy for the haunter but they may be feeling the growing pains of fame. Cars were lined up and down the gravel road leading up to the haunt, but they have good people there to help you park. Our wait was 2 hours to go through this  wretched barn and slaughter house, so be ready to wait your turn to be subjected to the horrors that lie within. Also, with no public restrooms, you either need to go before you come, or be one with nature (if you catch my drift). Dress warmly too as it was a chilly night when we went.
   These are all things that the creators of Backwoods Haunted House are going to have to consider in years to come. Now that they are running with the big dogs of haunting and they have a huge following of fans, they may have to make some changes to the way they think about haunts going forward. Parking, restrooms, and  seating to keep customers happy while they wait in line to hand over cold hard cash for the thrill of the Halloween season.
   They do have the creepiest ticket booth of all the local haunts.


   This just lends to the atmosphere of the place. Here you are, standing in line in the middle of the woods, in front of a haunted barn, with nothing but torches for light and one of the best made crank ghosts I have ever seen hovering over the barn.

This picture is completely untouched. That was our view as we waited in line.
   You just know that any haunt with a fully functional, hand made crank ghost is gonna be something special.

   Even though there was a long wait, the crew of Backwoods kept the crowds entertained and on their toes. Evil faces grinned at us through cracks in the barn. Hands reached from the dark windows. Things screamed, scratched and banged on the walls the whole night. We even saw a butcher and a clown come out to make sure they had a good supply of victims waiting.
   They did a good job at keeping groups small (5 and under), but were only getting about 4 groups through an hour. Logistics and the mechanics of the tour is another thing this group will have to consider if they continue to grow as they are.
   Finally, we made it to the door. Our group was next. The entire time we waited, things were knocking on that door. Hands were coming out of the shadows. Things moaned at us and faces appeared in cracks. There was so many sinister things going on that one young girl in our group was almost too afraid to enter.
   At last, the door flew open and we were greeted by a swirling green vortex of laser light and fog. In the center of it all was the iconic tour guide that always leads the groups of victims thought this hillbilly horror story. That's when the young girls in our group started screaming.... and they did not stop till the end.
   Now comes the review. Without giving away all the horror that waits inside for you, here is the good and the not so good of Backwoods:

GOOD
  • Isolated location creeps you out on the way.
  • The atmosphere of a old haunted barn in the backwoods of nowhere is perfect to set the mind on edge.
  • Friendly helpers to get your vehicles parked and then get you out in a timely manner (actually all the staff are super friendly and helpful).
  • We were met by a scarecrow as we got out of the car. The scarecrow had warning of terrible things to come.
  • Great job of keeping waiting customers entertained by periodically sending actors out, scratching the walls of the barn, and just keeping everybody on their toes with extremely creepy actions.
  • Sound effects were good and localized to the rooms for maximum effect.
  • Our tour took exactly 13 (weird huh) minutes from start to finish.
  • The guide plays the part of a backwoods hillbilly mutant zombie freak perfectly. He is one of the biggest stars of the show. I am not sure the haunt would ever be the same without this element.

  • The interior designs and decorations are just plain damn awful! I mean that in a good way too. You won't find Spirit Halloween Props or cheap Walmart gimmicks inside. This is all hand made horror from the bloody mess on the walls to the high flying crank ghost outside (I have serious ghost envy).
  • The old barn seems to be falling apart. If your guide warns you to watch your head, make sure you listen (very cool effect).
  • Disturbing items everywhere like the broken toilet, ancient seats and tables, screen doors that have seen better days, and wheel chairs to just name a few.

  • They have a clown room. The clowns are insane. The room is almost pitch black with the only light coming from a small rainbow projector. There are so many clowns!

  • Great use of staff. Many monsters had multiple roles. This give the illusion of this barn being overrun with backwoods boogers!
  • Very good, original costumes and masks.

  • Traps, dead ends, and tricks are all waiting for you to discover.
  • The story line, a family of backwoods ghouls, is present throughout the tour. I still haven't figured out if they are supposed to be undead or alive... that is part of the allure. There are some zombies in there... that is for certain!
  • All actors were in great character and kept the timing up perfectly. They also helped out with the ambiance with sound effects once the group had passed.
  • It is an old barn with an attached slaughter house. They keep talking about slaughtering "pigs" although I think the guide was referring to us. This slaughterhouse uses chainsaws.... lots of them.

  • Twisty corridors where things scream, moan, cry, bang, and scratch at you every step of the way.
  • Red glowing eyes in a pitch dark room. At first, I thought it was a prop. Then it moved closer and started screeching at me.

  • The groups were kept to 5 and under (great group size).
  • Actors use every dark corner, hole, or object to jump out at you. 


  • Actors did a great job of scaring all members of the group. They were very aware of everybody in the group.
  • Props set to pop out when you least expect it.
  • There is a small family graveyard you have to walk through to get the the slaughter house and butcher shop. It was outside and looked really scary, but I did not have time to admire it as there were "things" coming out of the wood works to chase us out of the graveyard. 
  • The slaughter house is gruesome, gross, and full of scares. Hope you are ready for it.


NOT SO GOOD
  • Parking was not the greatest.
  • There was a long wait (but that means it is good!). I am sure this haunt will be proactive and make changes in the future to help move groups through efficiently.
  • No public restroom or refreshments. With a 3+ hour wait, that can hurt business. I just hope everybody realizes how good it is and it is so worth the wait this year.
  • Some signs on the highway and twisting roads may be useful to funnel in people that are unfamiliar with the area. A light, torch, or helpful actor at the sign going up the gravel road would be great.
  • A better way of tracking tickets. This has NOTHING at all to do with the customers experience with the haunt, I just fear people are taking advantage of the way tickets are sold and tracked.
  • The lighting in some of the rooms could have been better. I understand completely how a dark room is great for some effects (clown room, TV room), but some of the rooms I could barely catch glimpses of the horrific decor inside. The haunt is scary as heck! Show it off with some well placed mood lighting.
   With all this being said, let's see how Backwoods scored on the wicKED ranking system.




ATMOSPHERE



From the drive to the haunt, to the minute you run screaming for your life, this place drips scary atmosphere. Waiting in line can even be a harrowing experience as the evil within tries to make you uncomfortable outside.

COSTUME


Costumes are good. Masks are great. I saw a few street clothes flubs but they were well hidden and they worked in the theme of the haunt.

SOUND EFFECTS 


The recordings were specialized to the room but the sound effects naturally made by the actors and the environment were much better.

SET DESIGN


Some of the best around. Some of the constructions are up there with the pro circuit.

ORIGINALITY


What could be more original than a backwoods barn and slaughter house run by a family of insane monsters? As Haunted houses go, that is a great theme for this area. If you are a returning fan of Backwoods, then you may have seen a few repeats from years past, but it is always fresh and reworked.

SHOWMANSHIP/ACTING


The haunt group made up characters then breathed life (undeath?) into them. Once they started, they stayed in there.

FEAR FACTOR



As I have said, you tend to start feeling the scare before you even get close. They do a great job keeping you on your toes and dreading the trip in. Once the terror starts, it doesnt stop till you are running for your vehicle (sometimes it doesn't stop there. Make sure you look over your shoulder on the dark walk back to you car).

REVISIT RATING


The only reason I rate this a 4 is due to the long wait. This may turn some people off for a second round, but if you are a true fan of being scared out of your wits, you will come back 3 or 4 times a season. They keep changing things up so it's like a different haunt every time.


 
That gives the Backwoods Haunted House of 2011 a wicKED ranking of 4.25 out of 5 Grimaces!



   This is a great little private haunt that has been around for years. Do yourself a favor and get down to see it before it is too late this year. If you are a fan of horror with a slight twist of humor and a dash of realism, this is the haunt for you! Bring four of your friends for a night of terror you will be talking about till next year!

A little video I complied to document my trip through the haunt.

When you do go, tell them wicKED sent you. I hope to get enough referrals to earn some free meat!




5 comments:

  1. Cool, we have nothing close to that here. Great post!

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  2. Sounds perfectly horrifying. Glad you made it out alive.

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  3. I've heard about this haunt! I think I watched a Youtube video showing parts of it once. The photos you shared are scary enough for me! I'm not really up for seeing these haunted attractions in person, but seeing a review of them online is fun. :)

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  4. Dude in pig mask was unsettling, pigs will eat people if they get them down, I don't like pigs...

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  5. GoneferalinID - Thank you! I am thankful I have a community with so many haunts.

    Vivienne - It was horrifying in a good way. I am glad I made it out as well. I was beginning to wonder....

    Justine - You may have seen a video on them for sure. Glad I could let you live vicariously through me ;)

    Kelly - Indeed! Pigs = bad!

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