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HAUNTED HOUSE REVIEWS
2010 & 2011 HAUNT OF THE YEAR!
HAUNTED CAVE AT LEWISBURG
Ohio Valley Haunts
RATING:
Reviewed 10/13/12
Haunted Cave
LOCATION & ADMISSION INFO:
4392 Swishers Mill Rd.
Lewisburg, Ohio  45338
Fri/Sat 7 PM - Midnight
$15 ($5 for children 10 and under)
($1 discount coupon on their website)
$4 non-scary historic bat tour option
click logo at left to visit their website
REVIEW
Haunted CaveTHE HAUNTED CAVE  Spooky music plays, blood runs down the hillside, and fortune teller Madam Macabre conducts mysterious palm readings along the 80 foot descent into the bowels of the Earth where Lewisburg's Haunted Cave lies buried in an abandoned old limestone mine.  Capturing the prestigious Haunt of the Year award from Ohio Valley Haunts the past two seasons, The Cave is indisputably one of the most impressively authentic haunts in the entire world!  A dedicated attendant, dressed in miner's attire recites warnings about endangered bats that reside within, only to be interrupted by an apparent electrical failure that deprives the queue line of lights, and leaves patrons hopelessly stranded in total darkness until restoration of power initiates the actual exploration.  Frightening music, clasps of thunder, intermittent lightning strikes, and pitch blackness initiate the adventure across a lengthy wooden plank-like walkway, where sudden surprises begin to emerge from surrounding underground lakes courtesy of unseen, amphibious Water Monsters splashing around in their subterranean lagoon, grabbing at the legs of passersby, and tugging them closer and closer toward their aquatic abode!  Dense fog engulfs the ambience as lightlessness fades, the storm subsides, and audio enhancement assumes a more sinister tone in accordance with a piercing alarm that summons undead zombies out of an overgrown area of vegetation that overspreads the course, and a ferocious mechanical dinosaur unleashes a space invading attack that pins patrons up against a trailing restraint!  Firecrackers encourage continuance onto a blood-spattering CGI surprise that exits past a double-team skeleton tug-of-war with an innocent victim, a succession of animated startles, and incinerating flames into an eerily lit swamp that invites multi-sided invasions out of the encompassing murk!  Drudging forward through the ensnaring quagmire eventually leads to higher ground, where a proliferation of spider webs protect chained, rattling caskets that vibrate of their own accord in accompaniment to hands reaching down from above; a talking skull conveying a blessing or curse; and more upright, thrashing coffins that guide the way beyond a hanged body, and through an actual iron gate to a bone-chilling, candle lit cemetery!  An abandoned, old shack finds rats, majestic monuments, and rocking tombstones, saluting the arrival into the clutches of a desolate, Latin-speaking priest, whose unrighteous ceremony condemns visitors to "the damnation of the fires of Hell!"  Bones and human remains are strewn about the abundance of eternal tombs and gravestones, as ungodly music exposes a pair of forsaken gravediggers promising to "take your soul!"  Out of the shadows comes a skirmish with a disarrayed ghillie monster; haunting, hovering ghosts; an astonishing overhead grim reaper zip-line surprise; a run-in with Dr. Hoot that witnesses him shooting a corpse attempting to escape a grave; hissing snakes; and a bilateral casket interaction on behalf of a couple of frantic necros upset that their mortality is being defiled by infesting worms!  A multitude of mechanical surprises chaperone the path into a mausoleum of death showcasing a drop down panel that gives rise to a most contemptible animated contortion, then it's onto a wicked laboratory of glass enclosed specimens, sheets covering the deceased, lifeless body bags, and an abhorrent witch-doctor-like prop regurgitating blood!  A carnivorous mad scientist nauseatingly consumes the intestines of an agonizing gal that orders her predator "Get off me!"  Then a gurney is encircled to observe another researcher's latest invention that quickly deteriorates into another devastating surprise!  Living walls, and more sliding panels guard the transition into a lengthy prison experience that commences with being searched and frisked for weapons, then proceeds into a jail cell that accesses a torture chamber/asylum-like wing of cell blocks where inmates are straight-jacketed, shocked, and incarcerated against their will!  Individuals are handcuffed by Officer Badd and her accomplices, then hurried into a police dog assault that ushers in a brutal altercation with an oversized, bloody-mouthed, axe wielding escapee that erupts into machine gun crossfire from a near miss hit-and-run!  Departure through a darkened maze elicits whispers of "you're gonna die!" and "see you in the afterlife!" as the route forges onward to the scene of a car crash, and a rope climbing gargoyle/bat-like creature with a death grip on some human prey!  Freddie Kruegger commandeers a school bus that's traversed én route to a skeleton/corpse-like piggy back ride that stands to commemorate a memorable OVH tumble!  Remnants of fur from a previous capture lead onto a bridge evoking battles with a colossal, big-toothed monster, and a huge mechanical bat sporting an enormous wing span!  Furtherance is compromised by a treacherous, path blocking stalk-about that springs to life as sudden buzzing prompts oscillating floors, a covert arachnid incursion, a defiant crimson-eyed encroachment, and riotous muggings at the hands of  hooded cretins armed with taser-like boomsticks!  Unsure footing, a tumbling barrel maze, deafening horns, and gunshots herald the unveiling of an axe toting girl unleashing a murderous attack to the accompaniment of another CGI surprise that yields through darkness, supplemental grasps from bound detainees, and forceful blasts from air cannons into a fog-filled fence maze entrapment illuminated only by flickering strobes!  Characterized by limited visibility, numerous loops and limitless dead ends where "Left is always right, and right is never wrong," the fatal labyrinth provides residence to lethal, misdirecting fiends with red, laser-like projections emitting from their fingertips that further confuse navigation.  Wavering sirens, alerts, and alarms fill the air while wandering about aimlessly for what seems like forever eventually uncovers an obscure passage that dumps into the depths of Hell!  Verbal, voice enhanced threats ensue from the mighty Lucifer and his flaming-handed Soulburner as they defiantly condemn those whose sins above have caused them to fall below for all eternity!  "Burn in Hell!" mobilizes a sparking chainsaw aggression that unites with scorching flames that rocket skyward inaugurating a challenging excursion through persecuting paths of dead ends and claustrophobic loops through Anguish, 666, Anxiety, 7, and Exit? in search of a lone escape route hindered by darkness, flashing lights, spongy floors, sparks, more chainsaws, and multiple suffering encounters with The Prince of Darkness and his band of demonic followers!  A second centralized room of subsequent paths is finally revealed, and the hopeless exercise in futility continues into Suffering, Absolution, Diabolical, and Torment as probing a ghost apparition; more firecrackers and claustrophobic traps; rabid dogs; a squeeze wall; and a myriad of fuming villains confound the entanglement through Desolution and Despair until eventual redemption to freedom is ultimately divulged in parallel with some hapless, subdued stooge suffering the catastrophic fate of being chainsawed in half, in advance of a spinning vortex send-off from The Lewisburg Haunted Cave!

Analysis:
LENGTH - 10, Easily in excess of an hour!  (Officially, our time was 1:00 on the nose!)
ACTORS - 9+, Cast size is unmatched!  Better acting, dialogue, and taunting antics from Devil and SoulBurner debuted last season, and continue into 2012!  Their make-up is the best it's ever been, which is representative of an across the board improvement for the most part.  Actor interaction is on the rise, which is good. Lit Maze actors did a much better job asserting non-stop misdirection, calling us all by name, and offering to show us a "shortcut!"  Latin speaking Priest is fantastic, and cleverly foreshadows the deliverance to Hell! Madame Macabre's performance is outstanding, and Water Monster engagements are as unseen, intimidating and threatening in nature.  Whispers of "you're gonna die/afterlife" in the dark, Gravedigger's promise to "take your soul," CGI axe girl deciding "you deserve to die!" and so on are extreme positives!  Jail crew remains strong too, although Law is awol, and Lewis Deburg is conspicuous by his absence outside the attraction as well.  On the down side, some of the remaining dialogue continues to be fairly week.  Give them credit for trying, but "Alright, I need you to stop right here for a minute" at first CGI then repeating "alright" twice more should be replaced by some sort of action, physical accost, or intense command to pay attention to what's about to transpire.  The placement of a barricade or actor at that particular location is vital in order that patrons stop to watch the CGI, but the engagement needs to become more sinister, not comedic, and it's followed by someone trying to deliver a scare in street clothes without so much as a costume or make-up.  "What are you doing in my graveyard/hospital?" etc., "Don't pollute my cave!" are all lackluster and meaningless.  These and similar clichés are far too common in haunts, as is "stay and play, " which thankfully wasn't heard in The CaveLab victim (that called it a hospital) gave an otherwise enthusiastic performance.  Encircling the wagon so to speak is a novel idea in the lab, but shouting a group "hello" serves no purpose, and the scene also utilizes a child actor, which is never scary. Axe girl wardrobe miscue from a year ago has been corrected (she's now clad in white to match her CGI counterpart), and the element of touch legitimizes the overall experience making it that much more realistic.  Continued costume improvements will be beneficial, and more violent conflicts like the jail search would up the score.  Total Characters = 81 (down from 111 a season ago), but still an overwhelming number!
SCARINESS - 10, The Cave is arguably the most legitimately spooky environment in the industry!  The authenticity of the setting is second to none, as is the duration of the experience!  Music is creepy, and sets an appropriate mood.  Touching unsuspecting customers is the ultimate invasion, and coming face to face with The Devil himself is an unsurpassable scare.
DESIGN - 9½, The actual layout of the course hasn't changed significantly, but practically each and every defect discussed in this section last year has received attention!  The attraction is genuinely scary and intense from start to finish, and length is second to none.  Cemeteries are exquisite, jail is active, and Devil and his Demonic Soulburner among others acknowledged above are well versed.  Sacrificial Ceremony has been lost, but its replacement (Priest condemning you to "the damnation of the fires of Hell") is arguably more powerful, and certainly more unsettling!  Water monsters provide more than a memorable beginning, live zombie attack is perfectly placed directly in advance of a similarly themed CGI, actors that accompany CGI's are appropriately dressed, and Hell has been expanded to encompass five initial passageways that appropriately serve to dash hopes of achieving success!  Soundtrack is nightmarish throughout - spooky at the start (although still a little shy on volume), disorienting in the devil maze, abominably unnerving (and loud) in the cemetery, and disturbingly intimidating in the light maze featuring a creepy rendition of Ring Around the Rosie!  Visibility there is practically nonexistent due to fog density and strobes, and only flaw resulted from group separation, which is a good thing at first, but needs to be resolved prior to moving onto the next scene, which it was not.  Misdirecting fence maze crew properly insure that all the dead ends and loops are explored, sometimes more than once, before permitting groups to succeed, and masked chainsaw fiend gave a dominant performance defying anyone to make their way out of Hell!  Theme interruptions present in 2011 (Naughty school bus, rock-n-roll infirmary, and fence maze beggar) have been ousted, (to repeat, futile attempts at humor don't belong in this attraction!)  Sound leakage from jail into fence maze entrance seems to have been addressed as well.  Having a gravedigger named Dr. Hoot doesn't make sense, nor does group "hello," which serves no purpose (as already mentioned).  Entrance to swamp is extremely slick, and the airbags were a little on the loose side.  An interactive feature that actually gets customers involved in a scare or two (moreso than jail/asylum) would be an interesting addition.  The attraction continues to begin in subtle darkness, and climax in utter chaos with the only potential shortcoming arising from anyone that's left in the mazes too long and wears out their welcome. 
PROPS - 10, Latest technological advances and scares are always on display in The Cave, and new mechanical monsters have arrived for 2012 including a a dinosaur that invades the path as people walk by!  Tug-of-war is new too, as are multiple drop-down panels and their coinciding surprises.  Shack is an impressive sight, but underutilized.  Laser gloves are unique, and an awesome asset to the fence maze.  Thunder and Lightning remains quite complimentary, vibrating floor is relentless, sparking chainsaw is one-of-a-kind, swamp is unforgettable, and soundtrack in general is fabulous and scary!  Electrical firecrackers are used profusely, and their presence is especially appreciated as reflections to the supposed short-circuit that befell the beginning.  Several cars, and a real school bus are also present, lab prop regurgitating blood is memorable, and fire is effectively used on a couple of occasions, and is realistically impressive.   Smoking jailbreak CGI has been removed from bridge, but it's not really missed.
VALUE - 10, A $2 price increase has been implemented this season, but cost is still a bargain by today's standards - only  $14 with their website coupon, which grants access to a 60+ minute excursion through one of the region's best haunted attractions! 
RATING:  9½ (9.75), Consecutively winning Ohio Valley's Haunt of the Year in 2010 and 2011, The Cave returns to defend its crown once again with a course formerly recognized by Guinness as the "Longest walk-through horror house" in existence.  Legitimacy and authenticity are unmatched making this a must see attraction!  Spooky scares, challenging mazes, and an ultimate climax with The Devil in Hell make the The Cave nearly impossible to beat when it comes to value, and annual top honors! The "bang for your buck you get here is second to none!  When visiting, don't forget to stop by and pick up some inexpensive snacks from "Mama Cat" at the concession stand before leaving The Haunted Cave, where getting in is easy, but getting out may KILL you!

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