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Ohio Valley Haunts
The Dent Schoolhouse
Category:  Professional Venue
Reviewed 9/26 & 10/22/15
Photos: 2015 2014 2013 2012 Classic
LENGTH: - Duration 16½ Minutes
ACTORS: - # 39
- Costuming 10
- Dialogue 9
- Interaction
- Intensity/Delivery 10
SCARINESS: - Ambience 10
- Fearfulness
DESIGN: - Concept 10
- Flow
- Lighting 10
- Soundtrack 10
- Changes
PROPS: - Quality
- Quantity/Density 10
VALUE: - Cost $20 10
ANALYSIS: This year's Dent Schoolhouse experience begins in the queue line area just inside the picket fence, where a brand new Fall Festival has come to town featuring a seasonal photo-op, and booths offering various carnival-like activities including pumpkin carving, costume contests, and live stage shows during the month of October.  Cornstalks and scarecrows comprise the surroundings that contain more than 100 uniquely carved jack-o-lanterns, some of which are arranged to participate in a computerized light show.  Pumpkin-headed Kurbis Geister, of German Halloween folklore fame is on hand to avenge atrocities inflicted against Cucurbita everywhere, and he's joined by a talkative, all-knowing witch named Agatha, and a Trick-or-Treating Ghost entertaining the wait prior to entering the haunt. 

Strolling past the flashing caution lights of an abandoned school bus, spooky sounds invite entrance into the attraction itself, 2-time OVH Haunt of the Year, The Dent Schoolhouse!  Wrecked desks, surprise emitting lockers, and a teacher (nun) hanged from the ceiling above are among early horrors as the adventure interrupts human dissections in a barbaric science lab, then explores additional ghastly classrooms before delving into the deplorable basement, where monstrosities peak in the domain of the attraction's notorious villain Charlie the Janitor, and his cohorts of deadly fiends.  Bloody, murdered children, suspended by chains clutching onto their wrists dangle as obstructions in the path ahead that visits new scenes including a radioactive fallout shelter, where flesh has been completely consumed to a degree resembling the consequences of air-borne contaminants; a majestic archway "maze" that provides the first glimpse of Charlie standing behind imprisoning bars before turning the bend lands the course in the midst of his treacherous grasp; and a torturous experimental lab, complete with test monkeys that proves lethal for human victims whose corpses are stored in a dismal room full of stacked, chained coffins, or become zombified as members of the living dead!  Oversized carnivorous insects swallow people whole, like a snake devouring prey in advance of a succession of school-related encroachments that climax beyond a broadside giant rat attack; a second rodent infringement out of the back of a bus; and an ultimate chainsaw chase-out.

Professional lighting, scene-specific soundtracks, theatrical makeup, and elaborate costumes made on-site that include a number of custom-designed full or partial prosthetic masks are utilized at Dent, separating them from most of the competition.  Attention is paid to the slightest details, evidenced by shop class aggressor having a sawblade protruding from his skull, an upstairs instructor with crayons sticking out of her head, hanged teacher convulsing, the presence of gears and chains for transporting coffins and maneuvering them around a store room, and actual running water in the shower scene, where it even smells like a high school locker room.   Interactions are fierce, and dialogue has improved from the nurse stabbing her, "Bad Dolly," to the science teacher wickedly proclaiming, "I can make them better!"   Props are too numerous to mention, but most visually effective include  zombie doors, flickering lights, sparking circuit boxes, live subjects being victimized in shop class, monster bursting through a "REDRUM" chalk board, animatronic and actor-tronic rats, TV room displaying the presence of Charlie even though he isn't there, infinite locker hallway, buses with running engines, decaying pumpkins, etc. Archway "maze" is cleverly designed to first tease the sight of Charlie (and clown-masked, ax-toting Trick-or-Treater) by having them standing directly in the line of sight before the route loops around and places you within their reach.  However, not witnessing Charlie actually claiming a victim somewhat lessens his effect, table saw would sell a more convincing scare with a spinning blade, and saw sounds, and exchanging playground for new Fall Festival reduces overall duration of the haunt.  And while they're not necessarily connected with the theme, loss of victimizing incinerator, recently excavated casket, and especially green monster bursting through a brick wall alongside a cesspool of spewing water are unfortunate, especially when weaker scenes (library, locker room, etc.) have been retained.  That said, the basement of The Dent Schoolhouse is more frightening than ever before, and even more so when Kurbis is seen avenging his jack-o-lantern ancestry as opposed to terrorizing the queue line.  Dent "cheer" from aboard the bus makes a sinister promise gloating that, "Charlie's going to kill you!"  Background music elicits greater intimidation, scenes are more atrocious in nature, actor-induced scares are on the rise, and instead of just seeing Charlie's victims off to the side of the path, progression now mandates walking right through them!  A lengthier, more threatening chainsaw chase-out would rev-up the finish and extend overall endurance.  Cost of admission remains constant.

As discussed above, significant changes have taken place again this year at The Dent Schoolhouse, which strengthens its annual performance!  The new, outdoor Fall Festival is quite unique, and unlike anything seen elsewhere! It's appreciated not only for its seasonal activities, but for the presence of live characters,  especially Witch Agatha, who remembered our names upon a return visit and even inquired about the missing presence of a third group member, and the cute, trick-or-treating Ghost, who will steal your heart with her cheerful, enthusiastic begging that quickly turns to disappointment if you don't bring candy with you to give her while waiting in line! (Hint:  She doesn't like chocolate, so pick something else!).  Carved pumpkins, the new outdoor/queue line entertainment, etc. reinforce 2015's effort to bring Halloween back to the haunt, because after all, that's what the season is all about. 

Ohio Valley Haunts
Queen City Slaughter Yard
Category:  Secondary Attraction
Reviewed 9/26/15
LENGTH: - Duration 6 Minutes 4
ACTORS: - # 8 N/R
- Costuming N/R
- Dialogue N/R
- Interaction N/R
- Intensity/Delivery N/R
SCARINESS: - Ambience N/R
- Fearfulness N/R
DESIGN: - Concept N/R
- Flow N/R
- Lighting N/R
- Soundtrack N/R
- Changes N/R
PROPS: - Quality N/R
- Quantity/Density N/R
VALUE: - Cost Free w/admission to Dent 10
Queen City Slaughter YardANALYSIS: Queen City Slaughter Yard is a non-stop adrenalin rush through a winding, stockade-like wooden maze, sometimes contained by ribbed, aluminum, barnyard-like walls characterized by dismembered human appendages dangling into the course from above, the sound of squealing hogs, and ever-present, pig-faced chainsaw-packing assailants, one of whom is missing an ear!  Extremely dense fog and flickering lights inhibit navigation that's further compromised by a yellow-eyed monster, and additional swine-faced aggressors tormenting intruders calling them "piggies," threatening with hatchets, and giving chase into a butchering area, where an enormous portable saw wreaks havoc overtop a pile of ground-up bones.  Corralled individuals scream bloody murder while awaiting their impending demise in the midst of severed human heads and freshly splayed cadavers still dripping blood before the event climaxes through a smokehouse stockpiled with soon to be processed meats. 

Duration is brief, but the atmosphere is frenzied from start to finish.  Characters are all energetic in nature, intent on delivering realistic scares, and attired in excellent costumes consistent with Dent's m.o.  Pursuits are relentless, accompanying sounds complimentary, and some impressive props (portable saw and yellow-eyed monster) are present as well.  The event is designed as a secondary attraction, and admission is included free of charge with the purchase of tickets to The Dent Schoolhouse, therefore it has not been rated. 

The Dent Schoolhouse
5963 Harrison Ave, Dent, Ohio  45248
(513) 598-4600
Fri - Sun beginning Sept 11th (except 9/13 & 11/1); also open Thursdays in October
Fri/Sat 7:30 PM - Midnight (7:30-10 PM Sun/Thurs)
$20 ($30 Fast Pass Option/$40 Front of the line) 
click logo at left to visit their website
The Dent Schoolhouse - 2013 HAUNT OF THE YEAR The Dent Schoolhouse - 2012 HAUNT OF THE YEAR
2013 & 2012 HAUNT OF THE YEAR!
The Dent Schoolhouse