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Ohio Valley Haunts
Reviewed 10/23/13
Fright Manor
click logo above to visit their website
2909 S. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN   46225
(317) 883-7666
Sept 27 - Nov 2
Fri/Sat 7:30 PM-Midnight &
7:30-9:30 Oct 17,23,24,27,28,29,30 & 31
$20 Admission (5 Haunts)
$2 coupon on website
Speed Pass available
Fright ManorFRIGHT MANOR: This year’s Fright Manor experience begins in last season's Abandonment, which has now been converted into Zombie Alley.  One member of each group is chosen, and armed with a pop-gun that must be used to fend off all the stalking attacks, and safely escort everyone through the opening segment of the attraction.  Stacks of tires and wooden crates are noticed upon entering the dimly-lit area that immediately finds trash cans cascading down among warnings that an infested site has been entered.  Spooky music fills the air as undead walkers begin to descend out of hiding, and barrels come tumbling down as the course progresses past a convulsing corpse, hanged from the ceiling above with a noose clutching at his throat, and into an zone compromised by high voltage that energizes a metallic floor causing it to vibrate madly as patrons make their way across.  Mechanical surprises compromise navigation, while additional flesh-eaters emerge from beyond the darkness.  Warding off their assaults, and relinquishing the gun transfers the path into 13 Nightmares.

The second leg of the 5-themed adventure commences in the presence of demented dentist Dr. Root Canal, who seizes a customer, and begins viciously drilling into her mouth!  Upon completion of his procedure, continuance through an entanglement of snakes, and into a confrontational run-in with a rabid dog leads through a swamp-like passage into the waiting arms of Chuckles the Clown emitting sparks off of long, sharp knives.  Skeletons and hovering ghosts categorize décor through a frightening cemetery that bends into a battle with a treacherous fiend blasting more sparks skyward with a grinder applied to water heaters.  Chained cadavers thrash about as the route forges onward through the blood splattered walls of an ice-cold freezer storing a variety of severed human limbs.  The Cleveland, OH kidnapping is next explored highlighted by restrained hostages, and the appearance of kidnapper Ariel Castro.  Prison cells occupied by incarcerated jailbirds must be avoided as flashing strobes point the way through a brief fence maze, and into a morgue of dissected bodies that gives way to a room of glowing hockey masks that soon incites the wrath of Jason Voorhees!  Eluding the infamous slasher leads through caskets, and over a bridge into another graveyard wrapping up 13 Nightmares

The next segment, entitled The Butcher Shop, begins in the midst of slaughtered pigs, then connects through a corridor of body bags to 11732 Sunnybrook Dr., the home of Jeffery Dahmer!  Dismembered appendages and decapitated heads litter the surroundings; what's left of a once thriving human being is now strung up, and drips blood into a bathtub; and similar atrocities are revealed via a "window" that peers into an adjacent room!  Fleeing into the woods provokes a mechanical werewolf startle, and round two with Jason prior to embarking into Camp Crystal Lake for more visions of death, a few unexpected surprises, and the relentless pursuit of Voorhees himself!  "Firecrackers" chaperone persistence through complete darkness, and into a duck-down predicament that dumps into the autopsy room of Dr. Thor Massacre Riley, MD, enforcing the "Obama Health Care Plan" with a sledgehammer!  Prison cells contain an inmate's violent electric chair execution, along with the sight of various other acts of capital punishment that yields through a claustrophobic squeeze into more lightlessness concluding part three, and shifting focus to Southside Sanitarium.

An appalling suicide kicks off this part of the story that investigates blood-splattered dorms of cots, beds, and a few pneumatic surprises that surround a recently killed nurse.  Exiting through a crawl-space finds a caged skeleton rattling the bars of his enclosure, then maneuvers past a chained surprise into a room filled with baby dolls, then into a surgery center where a physician threatens with a circular saw!  From there it's onto shock therapy for some current-induced violations in advance of Smith's Grove Sanitarium that discovers Michael Myers residing within a spark cage, then encouraging advancement into a scene of mass murder that witnesses brain matter spewing from victims' skulls!  The serial killer hall of fame is next up, featuring the likes of  John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, etc., displaying mug-shots, photos, and lists of the names of all their casualties.  Brain therapy is on the horizon stumbling onto a demented doctor treating a patient for a headache, then turning a power saw on passers by, and then it's onto a vicious torture chamber exposing the fate of misfortunate subjects at the hands of various contraptions, and haunted by Limbless Jim making his way about with the aid of a walker as lights flicker off and on fading the exploit into Cousin Jed's Revenge.

Bottles of moonshine, an old "junker" car, wind chimes made from empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, and a "Beware of Wife" sign make up the landscape outside an dilapidated hillbilly shack occupied by a country bumpkin dining on a dead rat, and a talkative redneck gal inviting guests to stay among the clutter of various rooms.  Departing outdoors, and through a run-down garage enlists an obligatory chainsaw-chase out of the 2013 installment of Fright Manor

LENGTH - 10, 31 minutes.
ACTORS - 8½, Cast size is back near 2011 standards.  Adequate costuming is present, although nothing really stands out. Hillbillies offer the most dialogue, but they aren't scary.  Zombies give relentless pursuits.  Headache Doctor provided the best surprise pulling out a hidden saw, and Jason is appreciated for loudly slamming his machete up against the wall, and stalking from behind.  Total Characters = 37 (up from 20 a season ago).
SCARINESS - 8½, Lots of blood and gore comprises many scenes, and are complimented by a greater than average number of mechanical surprises.  Dentist's drill sounds legit, and sparks yield high-impact scares.  Suicide is a quality addition, and gets Southside Sanitarium off to an impressive start.  Audio accompaniment is good in the beginning, as well as in cemeteries, Jed's place, and Jason encounter, but fairly quiet elsewhere.  Improving the soundtrack would elevate fright value. 
DESIGN - 8, This year's attractions segue directly together, thus they're reviewed as a single, lengthy haunt.  A crawl space, vibrating floor, trademark "chained surprise," and visual atrocities are incorporated into the course.  Sunnybrook Dr. mirror cleverly creates the illusion of a similar room of barbaric acts adjacent to the one housing Dahmer's  injustices.  Serial killer Hall of Fame is unique, and Cousin Jed's Revenge is new, although neither threatening, nor frightening in advance of the chainsaw chase-out.  The attraction's main weaknesses continue to be the inclusion of repetitive scenes, and their random placement.  Many similarities exist within the separate attractions as scares are re-invented time and time again via the presence of  multiple bathrooms, refrigerators, washing machines, couches, TV's, etc.  Some of the clutter needs to be cleared out and replaced with fresh, new scares.  Flow of events is better this season overall, although there are still some problematic areas, including scattered medical scenes as opposed to confining them all to The Sanitarium, or transitioning from bloody dorm to jailed skeleton, to baby doll room, to surgery center, to Myers, to serial killers.  Also, encouragement is needed out of the suicide scene, and a more impressive concluding segment would leave customers talking.
PROPS - 8, Appropriate static décor comprises Fright Manor, and numerous mechanical surprises are present as well.  Blood and gore are once again on the rise.  Torso dripping plasma into a bathtub leaves a lasting impression.  Noise making chains restricting a previously unseen captive continue to deliver an excellent scare, and are a Fright Manor trademark.  Claustrophobic air bags, sparks and "firecrackers" compliment the attraction, but "eye catching" animatronics are absent, and would go a long way towards solidifying this category.  Adding vacuform or other detailing to bland corridors would also prove beneficial from a decoration standpoint.
VALUE - 9, Cost of admission is unchanged at $18 when taking advantage of their website coupon.
RATING:  8½, Fright Manor's "old school" methods have been expanded upon yet again for 2013. Zombie Alley has been redefined, and now serves as the opening leg of the experience, which now is marketed as five distinctive themes.  The fact that they've been bringing scares to Indianapolis for 30 plus years is a tribute to their talent and longevity.