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Ohio Valley Haunts
Reviewed 10/19/2012
Culbertson Mansion Haunted House
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914 East Main Street
New Albany, IN
(812) 944-9600
 Fri/Sat 7 PM - ? Sept 28 - Oct 27
$13 Admission
CULBERTSON MANSION HAUNTED HOUSE: The 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 The 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.