FALLS ON ASYLUM: A chained, bloody zombie
named Precious terrorizes the queue line as a cemetery caretaker
announces the rules for the embarking on the journey known as Darkness
Falls On Asylum haunted trail. Entrance into a castle-like structure
finds bloody walls, moving floors, straight-jacketed loonies prancing about
in a domain for the insane, and an immediate chainsaw initiation.
One of the crazies announces "It's all in my head!" as the path heads back
outside, and through a sheet maze leading through a graveyard of caskets
and an abandoned hearse where a cantankerous gravedigger threatens with
a shovel, and then a doll-faced tormenter lurks along with cross-dressing
freaks ushering the group into a shack where dinner is being served, and
another chainsaw assault waits in the wings! Entering another rundown tool
shed-like building uncovers saws, picks, and barrels being profusely displayed,
along with a villain sharpening a sickle on a grinding wheel! The
reemergence of Precious chases everyone into a holiday massacre
of air-blown decorations covered in blood, and guarded by the Easter Bunny
and joining forces with a killer elf. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer's
head hangs like a trophy beside Jolly Ol' St. Nick, who's wielding a cleaver
guiding everyone through a lengthy claustrophobic tunnel that dumps through
a green laser into an abandoned campground scene where tourists have mysteriously
vanished, skeletons occupy picnic tables, and bodies roast on barbecue
grills. Another nutcase in a straight-jacket precedes traversing a wooden
bridge, and arriving in an arena that two hillbillies named Bubba and Cletus
call home. The rednecks speak of “UFOS” and “probing” in the presence
of crop circles on the ground, and a flying saucer-like spaceship hovering
overhead. A rapidly moving vortex shifts the mood via an oversized
clown head into a carnivalistic atmosphere that's complimented by loud
metal music (Marilyn Manson This is Halloween cover), and features
lights blinking off and on, and a secret hidden door escape route.
A second clown encounter is still to come through a barrel-lined walkway,
and a Happy Birthday slaughter-fest with stalk-abouts charging down a hill!
Choosing between two different slides shoots everyone into a foam pit of
“kryptonite,” then another stalk-about surprise, and a one by one cross
over a swaying rope suspension bridge. Frantic female victims scream
for assistance, and beg us not to proceed because “He's in there!” Forging
through a subsequent maze with several chainsaw assaults exits through
spider webs into a gas-masked Ratscum stalked field adorned with
wooden crosses, then into the clutches of an evil, inarticulate physician
in search of a new victim that gives rise to a final chainsaw chase-out
of Darkness Falls on Asylum.
LENGTH - 9+, 22½ mins.
ACTORS - 8½, Costuming is good, and much of the
crew is fairly intense in their delivery. Cast size grew, and dialogue
was attempted, although it still requires attention, and useless comedy
needs to be abandoned. Standout characters include Precious,
"It's all in my head" girl, stalk-abouts, straight-jacketed crazies, victims,
and intense chainsaw fiends. Total Characters =38 actors (up from
24 last year).
SCARINESS - 8, More utilization of chainsaws and actor
dialogue solidify the score, but the trail still fails to have a soundtrack
(music is only heard in 4 scenes), and quite a few dead zones still exist,
although cast tries to cover some of them the best they can..
DESIGN - 7, There were various changes in comparison
to last year, mostly in the first half of the trail prior to the clown
encounters. Slides are cleverly incorporated into the path once again,
as well as the creaking, swaying bridge. Secret door remains an appreciated
novelty, and stalk-abouts are a pleasant addition as well. Scene
with wooden crosses is visually impressive, but the theme from Halloween
and there's no Myers. On the downside, mortuary, embalming
room, crematorium, giant tombstones, and animated grim reaper are all missing
from cemetery. Crawling roaches, vibrating barrels, railroad ties,
sparks, zip line, refrigerator hiding a chainsaw chase, and skull mouth
entrance into asylum are absent as well. Alien invasion debuts, and
hopefully departs, or experiences a make-over as it isn't scary in its
present state, and the attempted comedy fell flat based on the looks of
boredom on patrons' faces. This leg of the attraction needs to concentrate
on providing quality scares.
PROPS - 7, Scenes are adequately detailed, but woods
are mostly quiet and undecorated. Moving floors, slides, vortex,
UFO, holiday inflatables, and claustrophobia are among the most memorable.
Lots was missing this season, much of which is listed in design above.
VALUE - 7, $20 admission is just to much, but that reduces
to $15 when purchased online as a package with Zombie City.
Thankfully, no price increase was implemented for 2012. Keep an eye
on their Facebook page for coupons and special offers, and by all means
utilize online ticketing whenever possible to save yourself some money.
RATING: 7½, While it's yet to realize
its fullest potential,
Darkness Falls on Asylum is the most popular
attraction at Asylum Haunted Scream Park. Where your FEARS
come to life after dark!
CITY: DOOMSDAY: A revisit to Blackwood
City serves as a reminder that a year and a half ago, the zombie outbreak
occurred as a consequence of contracting a deadly, airborne disease known
as Rage. The Doomsday experience gets underway with groups
being ushered into an army tent by an appointed science officer.
There, the incident commander goes over some rules, and equips everyone
with mandatory surgical masks to protect them from inhaling contagious
viral antigens. "Talk to the wrong ones... you won't make it through.
Make sure you talk to the right ones, you'll make it through ok." he calmly
explains. A sheriff is introduced whom visitors are told to follow.
As he pledges to get everyone “through the sewers and into the city safely,”
the first encounter with the undead results in the tragic loss of the brave
lawman leaving patrons on their own to fend for themselves. A series
of encounters, and random zombie attacks follow that first involves schizophrenic
John Ranker of Paragon Research Labs working on Project Greenleaf
an all natural pesticide development endeavor that somehow went wrong,
and now he blames himself for the apocalypse due to an "exponential shut
down of synopsis in the pre-frontal cortex." In layman's terms, that
means people lose their minds. Passing through a greenhouse, and
the rest of the research facility introduces Dr. Warden who asks
for the donation of a kidney to save his wife from dying. When no
offers are made, he celebrates, and releases the group into the waiting
arms of bloody walls, specimen jars, x-rays, hard hats, imprisoned captives,
a totally enraged nurse/secretary stressing out over her inability to properly
schedule appointments, and a sudden mechanical surprise. Moving onto
the outdoors, and traversing a wooden bridge uncovers a lone female working
on repairing a satellite signal, and announcing "we've got 'em caged up
like lab rats out here!" From there, it's onto an abandoned militia
fighter informing intruders about the two different types of zombies, "the
slow ones are the ones that have died and reanimated, and the fast ones
are the ones in the last stage of infection before death" As she's
bitten by the incoming prey, fleeing onward leads the course into the shack
of a redneck that becomes interactive when he selects someone at random
and hands him a detonator telling him to use it if he sees a "zAmbie!"
Right on cue, one comes lunging through a window, and we get the pleasure
of blasting the lifeless fiend to oblivion! An unexpected surprise
accompanies the explosion, then it's back onto the trail for engagements
with Erma Blackwood discrediting ol' Mabel that lives down
the holler, another melitia member desperate for fuel for his boats, the
aforementioned Mabel honking a lighted Model-T horn, and grilling
dogs to the tune of Patsy Cline's Walkin' After Midnight.
Finally arriving at the city reveals a military squadron frantically firing
rifles and machine guns, but fighting a losing battle against a multitude
of zAmbies that are coming from everywhere. Maneuvering through a
bus exposes more of the corpsified creatures, as air-raid sirens sound,
cars are overturned, windows, doors, buildings and homes are boarded up,
flames erupt skyward, and renegades make one last futile attempt to rescue
the innocent from Zombie City: Doomsday.
LENGTH - 9+, 23 ½ (up 8 ½ minutes from
ACTORS - 9, Actors are attired in scene adherent costuming,
and cast interacts with groups the entire way through engaging them in
conversation. Drama and theatrics remain strong, however, none of
the conflicts are frightening, and a good bit of this year's dialogue is
meaningless babble as opposed to being of interest to survive the apocalypse.
stands out due to her emotional performance!
Crazies, and Incident
Commander also do a good job, as does
Dr. Ranker, the latter
of which is reminiscent of Exidor from
Mork and Mindy who
sees and hears people and things the rest of us don't, and whom he may
have been cast to resemble. On the downside,
Dr. Warden jokes
and celebrates regarding the imminent death of his wife,
entire rhetoric is nonesense, and there seems to be fewer conflicts with
actual zombies in comparison to last year. Total Characters
SCARINESS - 7, The experience is more theatrical than
frightening. Zombies still reach out and try to grab onto patrons,
but the comedy aspect of some of the townspeople kill the spooky mood.
Music is utilized a little, but could be put to better use. Introduction
and finish are the only parts that are scary. The theme from Superman
accompanies Dr. Ranker.
DESIGN - 8, Zombie City has been revamped for
2012, showing Blackwood City in quarantine 1 ½ years after
being destroyed by the infected. Overall duration has been lengthened,
and the story picks up where last year's left off. The course has
been completely reversed, which results in saving the best for last. Interactive
detonator segment is unique, and complimented with a floor "surprise."
Expectations were high after last year's amazing debut, and perhaps we
over expected a bit. References to the undead didn't identify them as "zAmbies"
nearly as often as last year. It would be nice to see the focus shift
more seriously onto the matter at hand, and away from entertainment.
It gets off to a good start, and Dr. Ranker is ok, but there needs
to be more substance from there on in advance of the powerful finish.
PROPS - 8, Fancy animatronics and traditional décor
don't exist. Scenes are believably decorated, and that's about all you
can ask, but it would still be nice to see some additions. Fire blaster,
cars lining the streets, and bus are most significant.
VALUE - 8½, Cost is $15 as part of the online
combo deal with Darkness Falls on Asylum, and $20 by itself.
It's a different kind of attraction to say the least. The main redeeming
factors about this year’s product are its serious beginning, powerful climax,
and longer length.
RATING: 8, Zombie City showcases some of
the most theatrical acting the haunt industry has to offer. They
have a story to tell, so pay attention, and listen to what's being said,
or you won't understand.