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Ohio Valley Haunts
Reviewed 10/7/12
Riverside Jaycees Haunted House
click logo above to visit their website
1213 Old Harshman Rd.
Dayton, OH  45431
(937) 254-2576
Fri/Sat Dusk to Midnight
Sun. Dusk - 10 PM
$12 for House and Trail ($5 re-entry)
($2 discount coupon on website)
RIVERSIDE JAYCEES HAUNTED CASTLE OF CARNAGE AND TRAIL A dark carpet maze begins the adventure, and delivers the course into the clutches of a demented dentist randomly drilling on his patient's teeth as she screams bloody murder.  Progression through a room of glowing masks uncovers a sudden surprise, and leads through a secret passage to a deadly electric chair execution sandwiched in between confrontations with an enraged monster, then Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger who caresses the cheeks of one member of our group with his metal, claw-like appendages!  Another representative is restrained for a bit, as continuance upstairs mandates the avoidance of rapid machine gun fire, and a frantic engagement with a pair of crazed prisoners screaming their lungs out, and clawing out at passersby from within the confines of their cells.  Spongy floors, living walls, mystifying lights, and "firecrackers" escort the path into a coffin laden room, where the undead escape graves amid more death defying screams of desperation.  Another lightless corridor gives rise to the emergence of a sudden mechanical surprise, then it's onto rapidly spinning vortex that exits through a claustrophobic escape onto the Trail portion of the attraction.

The outdoor segment begins past a spooky old house that hosts a frightening strobe-lit cemetery in the front yard guarded by the lonely flame of a flickering torch, then around a bend into a "pick a door" segment, one of which diverts traffic across the creek, while the other requires crawling on your hands and knees to eventually make your way into the woods.  Navigation leads past an irate jailbird encased in another cell, and into a fog filled graveyard roamed by zombies and other threatening spooks.  Heading across a rickety, old bridge entices a troll out of hiding, and brings about a witch seeking human ingredients to add to her brew she's stirring in an oversized cauldron.  Enraged ghouls beg us to stay for dinner, and even go so far as to shout, "I'm Hungry!" as we make our way past a sudden startle courtesy, of chained hostage alongside the route, then onto the story of Billy that deteriorates into a relentless chainsaw chase-out of the Riverside Jaycees Haunted Castle of Carnage.

LENGTH - 8, 15 minutes. (8 + 7).
ACTORS - 8, Cast is more intense than would be expected, and adding the element of touch legitimizes certain encounters.  Freddy's touch and crazed loonies are best!  A surplus of younger actors compromise the score, and deafening screams are a bit overdone.  Total Characters = 24 (11 + 13).
SCARINESS - 8, Having the actors grab and touch customers authenticates scares.  But having a guide follow along behind issues instructions as to which way to go dampens the experience.  Background music inside The Castle is barely audible upon entering, and intermittent thereafter, then completely absent from the trail segment. 
DESIGN - 7½, House annually changes its course, but is limited by its short 8 minute duration, which is the main reason for having the trail.  The event cleverly combines indoor scares with an outdoor segment and is the originator in that particular aspect of its design, which is still rarely encountered elsewhere, but can cause a delay as was the case on the night we visited, which created a 3 minute pause (deducted from overall time).  Scenes often materialize seemingly out of nowhere as they're first covered by darkness, then illuminate at just the right time.  Soundtrack issue discussed above requires attention.  Having the vortex exit into claustrophobia is most unique, although a ramp might prove beneficial to avoid the possibility of someone falling down a few steps.  Touching patrons is definitely an asset, but there's a hole outside the crawl space that's utilized for this purpose, and is dangerous because it actually resulted in one of us being punched in the face.  The indoor portion is as a whole is too dark which causes the animated surprise to not be fully appreciated, and mandates the necessity of a guide to point you in the right direction throughout.  Other escorts were likewise stationed along the way, which are distractions, and inhibit the ability to build scares.  There's plenty of opportunities for expansion along the trail, and new ideas would freshen the attraction that currently presents multiple cemetery and prison scenes.  Riverside dentist is a trademark character to the old Haunted House, but now that it's being presented as a Castle, his presence is questionable.  A central theme isn't adhered to, as a variety of scenes comprise the attraction, and the path within the outdoor graveyard is poorly marked, which nearly resulted in someone stumbling over the lid of a coffin that was hidden in the fog.  Access to the outdoor section of the event is down the street, which makes it feel more like two separate, unconnected experiences.  Segeuing into the house next door would practically eliminate the interruption, but it's feasibility is doubtful when it comes to compliance with local fire ordinances.  Trail parallels the railroad tracks just to the other side of the trees, and if you're fortunate enough to be there when a train happens to come roaring along, it really adds a shocking effect!
PROPS - 7½, Realistic electric chair, living walls, and mechanical surprise remain stand-outs.  Access to claustrophobia off the vortex is an amazing idea!  Loss of spark cage is unfortunate as it presented a legitimate scare.  More detailed scenes and less reliance on darkness would prove beneficial.  Additional pneumatic and animatronic surprises would elevate the score as well.
VALUE - 9+, Cost of admission has remained at only $8 with their website coupon since 2007, which is an unheard of bargain by today's standards.
RATING:  8, This is a good, old fashioned haunted house - affordable, and enjoyable.  The Riverside Jaycees Haunted House celebrates its 26th anniversary this season, the proceeds from which serve as the annual community fundraiser.  You may want to take advantage of their $5 re-entry option to explore the path of both doors on the trail.