Sunday, October 14, 2012

Things get wicKED in The Haunted Forest!


 Team wicKED was lucky enough to be present for opening night of Moutain Empire Community College's Haunted Forest. This will be the haunts 16th year I believe and Halloween would not be complete without at least one visit! The haunt is created and ran through the efforts of the Criminal Justice Club and Technology Club at the college. All proceeds from the haunt go to student scholarship and club activities, which is all kinds of awesome in my book of wicKED things. We crawled all over that place armed with cameras and a haunted mindset to get a decent walk through and ranking of this iconic Wise County Haunt.

 I just wanted to give a special thanks again to Cindy Ringley and her haunt crew for having us. You will never meet a more accommodating group of haints and spooks as we did. Thank you all for allowing me and M to run loose in your haunt...completely unsupervised....causing untold havoc.... but I digress! Onto the walk through and the review!

 Driving up to the ample parking lot of this haunt, you could hear screams coming from the darkness of the woods. This was causing quite the panic with the patrons that were standing in line to buy their tickets in the nicely lit and seemingly safe parking area. Once you purchase your ticket, you are instructed to set out into the dark woods with only the occasional torch to light your way. There was more than one person having second thought about heading into the darkness of the Haunted Forest.


 There was quite a line and standing in the darkness of the woods was still unnerving. You could hear things moving, natural and unnatural, in the darkness. Crickets, owls, frogs, even the crunching of leaves underfoot as God knows what sneaks upon you. It all just sets the stage for the actual event.

 I have to say the screams and sound effects coming from The Haunted Forest were over the top! There was a group of 7 that left because the two youngest members could not take the sounds coming from the darkness. 

 When we finally got the go ahead to journey into the breach... we were very pleased. Without giving away all their secrets, here is a breakdown of this years Haunted Forest.


GOOD

  • A human actor going over the "rules" and legends of the haunt. I am so glad they went with a live (undead) person this year. It really beats having to watch a robotic skull talk for 10 minutes. This year the actor was especially animated and eloquent in his speech. Hats off to him!


  • Set designs were even more amazing than they were last year!


  • The quality and consistency of the actors were just perfect. The fun house hawker and the surgeon would not get out of character... even when I would ask them to pose! By the way...the surgeon in the glasses... CREEPY!




  • Costumes were consistently good throughout as well as being imaginative and varied!!



  • Props were outstanding as usual. I am envious of some of them!



  • Attention to detail is really good with these guys.



  • Sound effects and lighting are some of the best around....even comparable to bigger funded haunts like Frightmare and Ripleys. 



  • Some familiar faces showing up is always welcome like the creepy super silent Chucky doll sneaking all over the haunt.


  • Group sizes were kept to six for maximum scare potential. Groups moved through at a good pace also.
  • Actors had communication systems set up to prepare for groups and to even call out specific people in the group. 
  • Actors were not doing the once and done method this year, even going so far as to follow the group for a good distance or continuing to scream and talk to the group as they enter/exit another area. A great example is the screaming woman at the entrance to the old cabin. She warns us if we enter that they "will touch you!" After we entered, you could hear here still asking us outside, "did they find you yet?". Unsettling!
  • Misdirection. I assume this was done on purpose but several times your attention would be drawn to a prop or display only to have the actor come at you from the opposite direction. The multitude of female actors that would just jump out of the dark and throw a blood curdling scream at the group was fantastic and I found myself cursing under my breath on several occasions do to these fem fatales.  Good job ladies! 

NOT SO GOOD

  • As good as 90% of the costumes and makeups were, I did spot the occasional watch, zip up hoody, or cell phone. 
  • There was a good amount of workers this year, but there were a few patches where it would have helped to have a few more. I know how hard this can be for volunteer work to boot!
  • While everybody did a great job in the hidden scare dept. I would love to see more "shock props", hidden scares, and more "got ya" moments. 
  • Having such a huge following, the lines are usually long. More entertainment and "actor shows" to keep the audience in the mood and keep them wanting more. They did not have a projector showing movies this year which is kind of a mixed blessing. It does give the people standing in line something to do, but I think it takes away from the over all spook factor of the woods. If they can get the haints to keep the crowd on their toes....then it would be a perfect storm of terror.
With those details fresh in mind, lets get this haunt wicKEDly ranKED!

ATMOSPHERE


I wish I could give them a 6 on a scale of 5. Not only is the forest creepy on it's own, but they went all out to make it something horrible!

COSTUME

A few flukes kept this from being a perfect score. Makeup was outstanding!

SOUND EFFECTS

Absolutely over the top. Huge Improvement over last year!

SET DESIGN

Lots of work went into the sets this year, You can really tell there had been some work on the pathway pallet walls! Still a few "hokey" scarecrows but they are growing on me. 

ORIGINALITY

Again, some new things, some new faces, but lots of past years sights and sets and lots of standard haunt projects. Not saying that is a bad thing. I rather like familiar things but the category is Originality after all. 

SHOWMANSHIP/ACTING

Superior all the way through. Well done guys!

FEAR FACTOR

The dread creeps into as you step out of your car and does not let up till you are back under lights of the parking lot. I actually overheard a woman walking past my hiding place telling her husband in a hushed tone, "I have peed all over myself... FOR REAL!"

REVISIT RATING

Much better this year. I will personally be going back at least once more. They have huge areas they can swap around and all kinds of corners and nooks that something could be hiding. I had free reign to walk back and forth and still did not get to see every little thing I wanted to. You will want to go back just to see all the details you missed out on before. Also, I heard some of the actors talking about how they were going to change or improve things as the days go on. Great job guys!

That give MECC's Haunted Forest of 2012 a wicKED Ranking of 4.25 grimaces out of 5!


 Once again, I highly recommend you drop by and see this local legend of a haunt. Go a couple of times and bring your friends so that you too can feel your Halloween was complete. To whet your appetite here is the new wicKED walk through of 2012! ENJOY!




6 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the kind words and suggestions!! We really appreciate your time and effort to review our haunt! The photos and video were WICKED! Hope to see you again.
    Ghoul Crew

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    1. Thanks for allowing me to participate in my own small way. You all really pulled out all the stops this year! You will most assuredly be seeing me again this year... you can count on it!

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    2. Mountain Empire Haunted ForestOctober 14, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      I hope so...I always appreciate your imput!

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  2. really enjoy these 'critiques'--and watching the vid and looking at the pics was great. right now, Halloween is the only thing that helps me feel better after losing one of my horses. thanks, Wicked!

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    Replies
    1. Bless your heart Pam...I am glad I helped. Keep that Halloween spirit alive and hang in there woman....you are never alone in the lands of Autumn....

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    2. Mountain Empire Haunted ForestOctober 14, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      So sorry,Pam...Horses have a special place in my heart too! I have 7 and have experienced the loss myself.

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