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Ohio Valley Haunts
Reviewed 10/10/13
St. Rita Haunted House
1720 Glendale-Milford Rd
Cincinnati, Ohio  45215
(513) 771-1060
Oct 3 - Nov 2
Fri/Sat 7 PM - Midnight
 & Thurs/Sun 7-10 PM
$10 per skeleton!
($3 discount coupon on website)
click poster at left to visit their website
St. Rita Haunted HouseST RITA HAUNTED HOUSEA mortuary-like path highlighted by Egyptian tombs and treasures line the approach to the annual installment of St. Rita’s Haunted House.  The main "front" (which technically is the back) door entrance of the legendary, old attraction is utilized again this year to begin the ascent up a spooky flight of stairs chaperoned by glowing portraits, flickering candelabras, a mysterious chandelier, medieval shields, a suit of armor, frightening music, and voices that are heard, but not seen, appearing to be coming right out of the walls!  Disgusting roaches scale the wall of a filthy bathroom at the top of the steps that hides a sudden surprise before releasing into an eerie kitchen, paralleled by dusty shelves, cluttered with skulls and dismembered body parts, and stalked by a cannibalistic chef eagerly pointing out, "plenty of stuff to eat!"  Continuance past an eerily lit fireplace leads through run-down living quarters, where framed pictures on an adjacent wall morph from ordinary people into monsters!   From there, it's onto a doll-filled bedroom harnessing a sudden, skeletal startle concealed in the floor beneath a glass panel that illuminates while traveling across!  A talkative little girl identifies it as her "mommy," and explains why she had to "kill her," as the course takes advantage of a hidden opening to access a frenzied insane asylum where a jailed prisoner is executed in an electric chair, an innocent victim is wrongfully seized by a crazed fiend, then viciously slammed down, and a straight-jacketed loony charges out to terrorize passersby.   The aforementioned events are complimented by a series of CGI's, including a helpless damsel having her face bloodied by an enraged brute smashing her head up against the shattering window of a secured door, and a disturbed schizo banging his own head up against a second entryway.  Escape through a demented medical facility where X-rays are displayed, and a malpracticing health care provider tends to a headless patient on a gurney precedes the plunge into a basement crematorium, marred by a written warning that "Death is upon us," and witnessing a still living subject trapped in a coffin being forcefully shoved into a deadly incinerator!  Burnt bodies provide décor, as the route progresses onward into the clutches of evil clowns that have commandeered The Circus of Fright, and are manning a rapidly spinning wheel of fate, labeled poison, suffocate, etc. that determines one's ultimate method of demise depending upon where it stops!  Advertisements for fire-breathers, and similar entertainment acts guide the way past the chained confinement of an escape artist, and onto a couple of dilapidated shacks belonging to hillbilly moonshiners that hide a panic-stricken female clinging to life despite being cut off at the waist, and her flesh peeled away exposing her bloody spine and ribs!  Diversion onto Elm Street prompts a boiler room Nightmare courtesy of Freddy Krueger, delivering an unexpected, smoke emitting, floor-dropping surprise in advance of embarking upon a cavern-like excursion highlighted by an alarm sounding cave-in of toppling boulders, and an endless shaft diving infinitely into the Earth!  A pure white Crawler straight out of The Descent resides among the stalagmite formations, where the remnants of a man's cadaver has been suspended above a majestic fountain within a cesspool of water, and navigation is compromised by a discontented miner.  Back "above ground" ushers the route through a laser-lit vortex, then outside and over a rickety, unstable bridge into a frightening cemetery roamed by undead zombies, and hounded by an intimidating grave digger just prior to the mausoleum conclusion of St. Rita's Haunted House

LENGTH - 7, 11 minutes 
ACTORS - 7½, Many deliver quick, immediate scares, with the best performances of the night coming from the Crazed Fiend that grabbed the girl and threw her down, and FreddyGravedigger likewise provided a quality scare, making intimidating noises with his shovel, and Decent monster is unique, but there was only one this year.  Miner is imposing in appearance, but needs to do provide more of a fright along the lines of last season when he was victimized by one of the aforementioned CrawlersBedroom girl interacts best with dialogue, which is limited throughout the remainder of the haunt, with lots of pleas for help.  Overall quality of acting declined a bit in 2012, and continues to demand attention.  Long-time favorite Jack-in-the-box is absent from Clown segment, and hasn't been replaced with anything memorable.  Total Characters = 32 (down 5 from 2012). 
SCARINESS - 8 With its dimly lit rooms, creaking floors, spooky ambience, and meticulous detailing, the old building provides a near perfect environment for a seasonal haunted house!  Soundtrack improved along the ascent up the initial staircase, but remains far too quiet through much of the remainder of the house, and the actors need to step up their performance by delivering more intense scares via stronger dialogue, and more personal, face-to-face confrontations. 
DESIGN - 8, Course exhibits very few changes this season, but is accessed via its most powerful main door entrance, and takes advantage of every inch of space available.  "Talking walls" now intimidate the initial climb up the stairs, and music has a noticeable presence there, within the other staircases, but needs to be enhanced practically everywhere else, except for The Descent scene, where the movie theme cleverly plays in the background, and is loud entering and exiting that segment. Crawler is quite recognizable from the film, but population has declined in comparison to last year.  Freddy's boiler room is authentically decorated, and his smoke emitting floor surprise provides a memorable scare.  Spinning wheel is new to Clown scenario, but bubbles, and high-impact Jack-in-the-Box startle have unfortunately been lost, and escape chamber is unoccupied.  Bed surprise is gone from the little girl's room, and overall flow of events is questionable at times, departing from the main theme, and randomly diverting from the bedroom into a psych ward, hillbilly cabins inside the house, etc.  A more active send-off would prove significantly beneficial as well.
PROPS - 8 St. Rita's has all the necessary props one would expect to see in a traditional Haunted House (spooky skeletons, coffins, gothic candelabras, flickering chandeliers, etc.).  Rolling cave boulders, Elm Street sparks, and multiple CGI's are among the best.  Not much is new for 2013, and hurts the score. Mine cave-in continues to be the most elaborate scare containing a lake, fountain and Descent theme.  Additional mechanical surprises would improve this category in the years to come.
VALUE - 10, Cost is only $7 when taking advantage of the $3 coupon available on their website!  This is the best Haunted House bargain available!
RATING:  8, The annual Haunted House is produced by the Greater Springdale Jaycees, and the old house has been treating visitors to scares for 39 years now, making it one of America's longest running attractions!  Originally constructed as the first St. Rita School for the Deaf in the late 1800's before being converted into the boys' dorm early in the next century, the structure has evolved into one of our areas biggest Halloween traditions.  Join Ohio Valley Haunts in supporting this legendary Cincinnati icon! 
Note:  A lights on children's matinee is being offered from 3 - 5 PM on Oct. 26 & 27, 2013 costing only $2 for anyone 12 and under!