|CULBERTSON MANSION HAUNTED HOUSE:
28th season's reign of terror begins with a stoic caretaker chaperoning
the approach to a rusty, old iron gate that protects the Culbertson
Mansion cemetery. As the overseer removes the lock, entrance
is gained to the antiquated boneyard that houses a mysterious gravedigger,
numerous caskets, and majestic tombstones. Howling winds awaken the
dead, and they stalk progression to the carriage house where a flight
of weathered steps accesses a ouiji room. Blood streams down walls
in accompaniment to voice enhanced chanting from a seemingly possessed
gorilla, and girls dressed in white pace circles around groups gathered
in the center of the room. Sealing our fate with the phrase "Klaatu
barada nikto," brings the ape to life in a cymbal clashing fit of rage
that sends the course through a bloody, barb-wired bathroom, and into a
laughing clown engagement of drop-down panels and a large jack-in-the-box
surprise. Continuance finds a young girl reciting the alphabet with
misguided rhymes associated with each letter, then through a claustrophobic
tunnel and sheet maze to a sewing room where human skin is stitched to
fabric in advance of a gathering of hysterically laughing children that
takes the adventure upstairs to the glowing, spider web covered domain
of a ranting fiend serenaded by loud, spooky music. Descending back
down to the subsequent levels discovers a lady in black mourning the death
of an infant in a crib, skeleton lined hallways, a broken pipe that exposes
bare electrical wires arcing current, and a deplorable medical story of
insane zombie-like nurses attending to a frantic new mama giving birth
to a demonic baby! A dark, shock wall containing maze is still to
come, as is a child's doll room én route to the instilling figure
of a hooded executioner proclaiming "the end of the line" as he introduces
a special box that adheres to a buried alive surprise! Another playroom
awaits the “last ride” in advance of a baby faced chainsaw chase-out of
Culbertson Mansion Haunted House!
LENGTH - 7, 12 minutes to complete the course, or become
another statistic on their blackboard of pukers, quitters, wetters, crappers
and other non survivors.
ACTORS - 8½, Good costuming and make-up throughout
and an enormous cast size for a haunt of this duration. Standouts include
possessed ape, alphabet girl, upstairs fiend, zombie nurses,
demon birth girl, and Spot the friendly zombie. Dialogue is
limited from the rest. Blood drooler, priest, possessed girl,
and carnivore devouring the intestines of a disemboweled victim are sorely
missed. Total Characters = 42.
SCARINESS - 8½, Downstairs segments encompass
the best frights highlighted by a demon birth, the ever-impressive casket
ride, and the baby faced chase-out. Upstairs segment exhibits improvement
mainly because of deafening music and the actor. Soundtrack seems
louder at other locations as well. The category suffers mainly due
to the loss of the memorable exorcism, and scenes experiencing a reduction
of gore in favor of playfulness.
DESIGN - 8, A customary high-impact beginning in the
cemetery sets the stage for the strong, voice enhanced ouji board initiation
into the house. Alphabet girl gives people the creeps, and the demon
birth leaves a lasting impression as well. Casket ride remains classic,
and a chainsaw chase-out delivers a powerful, although expected finish.
Clever positioning of shock skins on the corners of the maze practically
insure that people will touch them! On the down side, too many dolls,
playrooms, and children in general are involved in this year's presentation
as hinted at above. Séance has been removed, as has impressive
sights of blood drooler, and intestine eater mentioned above. Another
unfortunate loss is the powerful exorcism scene involving a priest imploring
evil spirits to leave the body of a possessed girl climbing the walls!
The latter was arguably the most impressive scare ever witnessed at Culbertson,
and while change is good, its elimination is a costly error. Duration
of the course is another limiting factor.
PROPS - 8½, Rooms are adequately adorned, and
the course is aided by shock skins and claustrophobia. Blood wall,
voice enhancement, and short circuit are notable compliments. Additional
mechanical scares would impress, and up the score, but the haunt uses everything
they have to their advantage.
VALUE - 8½, Culbertson retains its $13
cost of admission for the third consecutive year, while many others in
the area continue to raise their prices. The exchange of a few really good
scenes for less impressive ones holds back the score.
RATING: 8, This annual Haunted House fundraiser
always delivers good scares and unique surprises. Changes are made on an
annual basis, so there are always fresh scenes to enjoy. Literally
a Haunted House is operated entirely by volunteers that deserve a pat on
the back for their inspired performances and dedication. Proceeds benefit
the restoration of the historic Culbertson Mansion.