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Ohio Valley Haunts
Middletown Haunted Trail
Category:  Professional Venue
Reviewed 9/18/15
RATING: 9
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LENGTH: - Duration 25 Minutes 9
ACTORS: - # 34 (down 7) 8
- Costuming 9
- Dialogue 9+
- Interaction 9+
- Intensity/Delivery
SCARINESS: - Ambience 9
- Fearfulness 9
DESIGN: - Concept 9
- Flow 8
- Lighting
- Soundtrack 9+
- Changes 8
PROPS: - Quality 9+
- Quantity/Density 9+
VALUE: - Cost (unlimited access) $34.99 10
Middletown Haunted TrailANALYSIS: The seven-time OVH Haunted Trail of the Year annually sets the standard by which all other outdoor excursions are measured, and 2015 certainly is no exception.  A variety of settings are visited during this lengthy exploration, including the action-packed Area 49, revamped cemetery, and a new underground Zombie Research Facility that witnesses the transformation of an imprisoned captive from human being to undead walker right before your very eyes!  Spooky scenes, eerie lighting, a loud complimentary soundtrack, and lots of fog comprise the environment that showcases intensified acting this season.  Characters aggressively interact with groups utilizing meaningful dialogue, and are intimidating in appearance.  Crawlers scamper across the ground growling and biting at customers' legs, and villainous brutes deliver frightening confrontations threatening to, "Chop you up into little teeny tiny pieces; feast on your flesh; bathe in your blood," and promise that, "You're not gettin' out of here alive!"  They're armed and dangerous, from the blood-soaked butcher wielding a meat hook to the chainsaw goons delivering relentless pursuits!  Costuming is top notch throughout, highlighted by a fiend having spikes protruding from his shoulders, and an awe-inspiring enforcer ensnared in Jackal-like, metal cage headgear!  Impressive props are everywhere, including a conveyer belt moving body parts, deafening air raid sirens, animated albino gators, etc. that spring to life inside Area 49, and even The Headless Horseman!  Attention is paid to even the smallest details, evidenced by the witch's cauldron bubbling; chained morgue drawers vibrating; floors oscillating; fenced-in entrapment topped with barbed wire to further prevent escape; double vortex spinning in opposite directions; and swinging commercial service doors accessing the butcher shop, covered with blood, of course!

In addition to their talkative nature, characters do their utmost best to legitimize their conflicts by making as much noise as possible - slamming their weapons on adjacent tables or walls, dragging metal buckets around, and so on.  Above-mentioned zombie outbreak is a much stronger, higher impact scare (in addition to being more timely) than last year's medical trauma center it replaces, although several additional zombies are needed to bring that zone to its fullest potential.  Blowtorch savage and caged prisoners are unfortunately absent from detention center, bus is unoccupied, Myers still needs to claim a victim (cast member), and Hillbillies need to provoke some sort of terror if they're planning to stick around.  Closing scenes are a bit too random in nature, and a much more memorable finish is needed in order for this attraction to reach the next level, perhaps involving some sort of brutality courtesy of the butcher or his talkative assistant, or some mechanical monsters (animatronics/actortronics).

Ohio Valley Haunts
Temple of Terror
Category:  Professional Venue
Reviewed 9/18/15
RATING:
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LENGTH: - Duration 7½ Minutes 5
ACTORS: - # 11
- Costuming
- Dialogue
- Interaction 9
- Intensity/Delivery 9
SCARINESS: - Ambience
- Fearfulness 9
DESIGN: - Concept
- Flow
- Lighting
- Soundtrack
- Changes 6
PROPS: - Quality
- Quantity/Density
VALUE: - Cost (unlimited access) $34.99 10
Temple of TerrorANALYSIS: The Temple of Terror begins with an immediate entrapment, then punishes those that dare violate the sacred chamber's sanctity for the duration of the course.  Claustrophobic passages invite progression into the ancient world of upright coffins, skeleton-lined walls, moving floors, falling ceilings, and prison cells whose bars shake and rattle of their own accord!  Wicked sounds accompany the torch-lit journey that occasionally fades into pitch-black darkness, , accompanied by aggressive, intense, interactive acting that spawns auspicious proclamations like, "You're all gonna die down here," and "It's time for a sacrifice!"  The horrific catacombs are home to mummified corpses, and irate monsters including hovering bats, and a dejected Impaler that awakens to confront transgressions.  An unseen altercation arises from within a nearby sarcophagus, while another witnesses a raging antagonist seizing an innocent girl, and viciously throwing her to the ground, then charging towards the sway-bridge that crosses cascading water, upon which we stand!

Dialogue is good for the most part, but "Stay for dinner" is among the occasional stumbles that don't correlate at all with the theme.  Many cast members wear hooded attire, which is fine, but it would also be nice to see a handful of mummies as well.   Multiple run-ins with the same characters are also present, and the visually impressive sight of a forsaken victim being violently thrust upon a bed of nails has unfortunately been removed, while nothing of interest has come along to take its place.  Mechanical monsters, opening chamber, moving floors, inverted vampire bats, imprisoned skeletons, claustrophobic passage, bridge and collapsing ceiling are greatly appreciated, and make for a rather action-packed adventure.

Ohio Valley Haunts
Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate
Category:  Professional Venue
Reviewed 9/18/15
RATING:
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LENGTH: - Duration 13½ Minutes
ACTORS: - # 14 7
- Costuming 8
- Dialogue
- Interaction 9+
- Intensity/Delivery 9
SCARINESS: - Ambience
- Fearfulness
DESIGN: - Concept
- Flow
- Lighting
- Soundtrack
- Changes 8
PROPS: - Quality 9+
- Quantity/Density 9+
VALUE: - Cost (unlimited access) $34.99 10
Dr. Psycho's Haunted EstateANALYSIS: Of all the Land of Illusion attractions, Dr. Psycho's is the most traditionally scary haunted house, with its frightening cemeteries; skeletal remains; funeral wakes; spooky, old hearse; and chained coffins rattling about under their own power as whatever evil entity that's trapped against its will within desperately seeks to free itself from eternal damnation.  The frenzied atmosphere that exists inside the house itself  is prefaced by a discontented gravedigger and his mechanical counterpart, along with pneumatic corpses propelling from caskets, a body hanged from a nearby tree, and a number of other animated encroachments.  An awesome new scene that witnesses a helpless victim meeting her demise at the hands of a murderous table saw welcomes visitors into the fog-filled Haunted Estate that's also home to a deranged dentist torturing a restrained patient with his merciless drill; a distraught martyr whose head is wrapped in bloody gauze; and a face-to-face conflict with Dr. Psycho himself that finds the diabolic, discontented physician throwing a lifeless cadaver off an autopsy table, then going absolutely berserk directing his fit of rage at incoming groups demanding to know, "Why are you still alive?"  Other impressive sights include severed human appendages hanging from rotating meat hooks, and a cold, walk-in freezer that must be traversed that's just perfect for preserving the human flesh contained in suspended body bags.  The adventure also visits an upstairs psycho ward and flaming, downstairs crematorium before exiting through a foggy cistern of toxic sewer pipes. 

Actor intensity is up yet again in comparison to seasons past, and it's especially nice to see Dr. Psycho finally become a more dominant personality via his vile misconduct!  The attraction bears his name, thus he deserves to be the star of the show!

On the down side, the presence of hillbillies distracts from the frightening atmosphere associated with an attraction of this nature, and don't belong at Dr. Psycho's, although a bit of humor is appreciated when one of the hayseeds compares his moonshine to saline!  2014's shirtless character that had his throat slit is missed, crematorium is underutilized, a few characters were encountered on multiple occasions, and while table saw makes for a fantastic new scare, it re-invents a similar scene located along the trail.

Ohio Valley Haunts
Killer Klowns
Category:  Professional Venue
Reviewed 9/18/15
RATING: 8
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LENGTH: - Duration 13 Minutes
ACTORS: - # 15
- Costuming
- Dialogue 10
- Interaction
- Intensity/Delivery
SCARINESS: - Ambience
- Fearfulness 8
DESIGN: - Concept 9
- Flow 9
- Lighting 9
- Soundtrack 9
- Changes 8
PROPS: - Quality 6
- Quantity/Density 8
VALUE: - Cost (unlimited access) $34.99 10
Killer KlownsANALYSIS: This annual exploitation of coulrophobia (extreme fear of clowns) returns last season's darkened, more sinister atmosphere via dimmed lighting, which sets the stage for what's become the best clown-themed haunt in existence!  These jokers earn their reputation as killers with their threatening dispositions, and non-stop interactions.  Fog, claustrophobic passages, and Big Top style games compliment the expedition that finds attackers running directly toward you midway through a spinning vortex, or initially standing stoically still upon entrance to a room, only to come charging up from behind moments later!  Traditional carnival music gives way to a more intimidating, unnerving beat inside the newly revised, strobe-lit chain-link maze, where pranksters further complicate confusion by unleashing vicious chainsaw skirmishes, and violently pounding on steel barrel lids with a Louisville Slugger, and even sneaking up and whispering in your ear amongst all the chaos!  Eventual extrication leads to multiple strifes threatening to, "Rip your hearts out, and hang you from my ceiling and start throwing knives at you, then as the blood drips... let it fall over top of me and drink it," and "Rip your little arms off, eat 'em, and vomit them back down your throat!"  There's even a girl gagster bridging backwards a la Bray Wyatt forcing scare seekers to crawl beneath her in order to escape!  Exiting finds one last rival waiting in the wings armed with a cinder block on a pole demanding to know, "Whose skull can I crush," and begging, "Come on, put your face on the pavement!  Let me smash your head in!"

Overall, an outstanding performance from this year's Killer Klowns!  Maze is much more difficult to figure out, and the use of meaningful dialogue as recapped above, separates this PROFESSIONAL venue from ordinary "rah's" heard practically everywhere else!  Improving upon the quality of props, and the introduction of some animatronics and/or actor-tronics would make a huge difference.

Ohio Valley Haunts
Voodoo Bayou Shanty
Category:  Professional Venue
Reviewed 9/15/15
RATING:
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LENGTH: - Duration 10 Minutes 6
ACTORS: - # 11 6
- Costuming 8
- Dialogue
- Interaction 7
- Intensity/Delivery 7
SCARINESS: - Ambience 8
- Fearfulness 7
DESIGN: - Concept 8
- Flow
- Lighting 9
- Soundtrack 9
- Changes 8
PROPS: - Quality
- Quantity/Density 7
VALUE: - Cost (unlimited access) $34.99 10
Voodoo Bayou ShantyANALYSIS: Down-home music invites guests into this dilapidated, dimly-lit shack - a relic from Louisiana bayou country.  As fog rolls in out of the swampland, an early conflict presents a reminder that, "Bad things happen in the dark!"  Cheerful bluegrass tunes give way to darker, more sinister sounds, as exploration guides the course through various rooms including a foul-smelling kitchen littered with dirty dishes, and a medical mishap of wheelchairs, countless prescription pill bottles, and a corpse having multiple syringes protruding from its carcass before diverting outdoors to an outhouse vulgarity, then onto a treacherous slaughterhouse characterized by recently splayed "critters," chained, vibrating freezer doors, warnings of "Kill or be Killed" and "Everyone Must Die" written on the walls in blood, and a cantankerous butcher blaming intruders for his most recent atrocity accusingly asking, "Look what you made me do" before climax is achieved in the clutches of a captivating Voodoo Priest mumbling some sort of hexing black magic in advance of a surprise chainsaw chase-out.  Other highlights include a newborn baby being cradled by its mom, umbilical cord still intact; a talkative rube asking if we want to, "see his pig," then ringing a cowbell to summon the assault an oversized, disgruntled porker; and the sight of a blood-soaked, contorted nurse with her head severely tilted to the side maneuvering in a Silent Hill-like manner, and having hypodermic needles sticking out of her body! 

As is the case throughout the park this year, characters emphasize their altercations by slamming weapons on tables and walls, and engaging visitors with meaningful dialogue.  Attention is paid to even the slightest details, exemplified by tree limbs overgrowing the route alongside the outside, the emission of smoke from a camper's outdoor grill, hog-nosed snorting, Voodoo Priest's costume that finds him adorned in a bright orange, Baphomet mask and holding onto a staff (walking stick) with a skull on top of it.

Pig actor-tronic is best new addition by far!  Gator was either missing or not working,  nurse is among the most memorable scares, and Voodoo segment needs to crank up the action with some sort of high-energy ceremony and steal the show!  Threatening confrontation with a villain pointing a crossbow at groups is sadly missed this year.

Zombie Sniper PatrolZOMBIE SNIPER PARTOLThis unique experience gets patrons involved in the action by placing them on one of several customized U.S. Army cargo trucks (Crimson, Reaper, Mimic, and Banshee) that are equipped with rows of paintball gun turrets mounted along both sides of the vehicles.  Scenes have been spruced up for 2015, and now include a grand finale featuring a pair of maneuvering police cruisers giving chase that can be used for target practice!  The zombie population has exploded this year, with many more undead walkers to shoot at.  Reloading is available for a $5 upcharge if you happen to use up all of your "bullets."  The event takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and requires an additional $12.99 ticket, which is a bit on the steep side considering customers have already paid around $35 to get into the park.  It isn't scary per se, and there aren't any significant props other than arbitrary static targets within the various scenes, thus this attraction hasn't been rated as an actual haunt.
LAND OF ILLUSION - OVERALL EXPERIENCE Intensified acting has arrived throughout the park for 2015, and professional lighting and sound accompany each and every scare!  A 40-foot bungee "Demon Drop" freefall is new this season, and there's even a Friday Night concert series featuring performances from national country music acts including Sawyer Brown, Trick Pony, and The Kentucky Headhunters!  A full service bar known as The Voodoo Lounge is also available on site serving adult beverages, snacks are readily available at The Creepy Cafe, and there's always a cozy bonfire burning to keep you warm on cool Autumn nights.  Remember, tickets grant UNLIMITED ADMISSION to ALL haunted attractions (except Zombie Sniper Patrol), and Season's passes are available this year for $99.  There really is something for everyone at this quintessential haunted Scream Park now enjoying its 18th season.  Land of Illusion has it all!
Land of Illusion
LOCATION & ADMISSION INFO:
8762 Thomas Rd. Middletown, OH  45042
(513) 423-9960
Sept 11 - Nov 1
Fri/Sat 8 PM - 2 AM $34.99 ($49.99 VIP)
Sundays in October (trail CLOSED) $24.99 ($34.99 VIP)
Season's Pass $99 - $5 VIP discount on their website
click logo at left to visit their website
Zombie Sniper Patrol
2011 OHIO VALLEY HAUNTS MULTI - VENUE HAUNT OF THE YEAR!
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