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Ohio Valley Haunts
Category:  Charity Venue
Reviewed 10/16/14
viewPHOTOS taken at St. Rita's
St. Rita Haunted House
click poster to visit their website
1720 Glendale-Milford Rd
Cincinnati, Ohio  45215
(513) 771-1060
Oct 2 - Nov 1
Fri/Sat 7 PM - Midnight
 & Thurs/Sun 7-10 PM
$10 per skeleton!
($3 discount coupon on website)
St. Rita Haunted HouseST RITA HAUNTED HOUSEAncient ruins and overgrown brush 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 once again utilized to enter the spook-filled environment that's decorated with flickering candelabras; a mysterious chandelier; a Medieval shield; a suit of armor; and glowing, "living" portraits that converse with the ascent up a spooky flight of stairs to the first landing, where an abandoned chair and lamp from an unoccupied den rest quietly amid the isolation.  Eerie music and flickering lights guide the way into a defiled kitchen, where dusty shelves cluttered with severed heads and dismembered body parts chaperone a cannibalistic cook offers an appalling menu of, "torso roast, eye stew, and for desert... grilled tarantula!"  Continuance past an eerily lit fireplace in the midst of a not so cozy, run-down living quarters exposes framed pictures on an adjacent wall that morph from ordinary people into wretched monsters as you make your way past!   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, and a talkative little girl that's anxious for visitors to, "stay and play" with her vast assortment of games and toys, as an empty rocking chair sways back and forth on its own!  Taking advantage of a hidden opening soon accesses a frenzied insane asylum labeled Ward One, where a jailed prisoner is executed in an electric chair, 
a CGI witnesses 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 struggling to free himself from an imprisoning cell.  Escape through a demented medical facility finds X-rays on display, and a malpracticing health care provider tending to a headless patient on a gurney, while another pleas for help to avoid her almost certain demise.  Morgue body vault doors protect the exit that next plunges through a non-spinning vortex paralleled by the threat to, "Eat his soul," into a fog-filled basement mine inhabited by distraught excavators terrified of a murderous monster that's on the loose, having the intent to "kill us all," an obvious referral to a pure-white Crawler straight out of The Descent!  Stalagmite formations pass by "underground" fountains, where the remnants of a man's cadaver has been suspended above a cesspool of water, then maneuvering beyond an endlessly descending mineshaft that dives infinitely into the Earth soon gives way to a deadly cave-in of tumbling boulders, the narrow escape from which diverts onto Elm Street prompting a boiler room Nightmare courtesy of Freddy Krueger delivering a spark and smoke emitting, floor-dropping surprise!  Body bags point the way indo a deadly crematorium, where a vicious antagonist forcefully shoves a screaming victim into the flesh-consuming flames of a homicidal incinerator!  Burnt bodies provide décor as the route progresses onward through bubbles, and 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, torture, and so on that's sure to determines one's ultimate method of destruction!  Sparks, games of chance, fire-breathers, an escape artist, unpleasant kissing booth, and even a freak show guide the way into conflicts with the tallest man on Earth, then a bearded lady, before toppling barrels and a circus wagon introduce a dilapidated shack belonging to moonshining hillbillies that hides 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!  Without warning, a maniacal farmhand pounces onto the scene waving an axe, seizes an unsuspecting boy, and drags him off into a barbed-wire "barn" while turning his attention to passersby promising, "I've waited a long time for you," and "You'll die no matter what!"  Fleeing outdoors and over a rickety, unstable bridge leads into a frightening cemetery and mausoleum roamed by undead creatures of the night concluding the 39th year of St. Rita's Haunted House

LENGTH - 7, 10 minutes 
ACTORS - 8½, Better acting is appreciated from a rather talkative group that interacts with groups via intriguing dialogue throughout the house.  Costuming is good, and entire cast deliver enthusiastic performances.  Maniacal farmhand provides the best scare, thus strengthening the hillbilly segment for 2014.  Freddy is memorable as well, and mine scene is improved due to better acting and a purpose among the excavators as suggested in last year's review. Decent monster is unique.  Gravedigger was unfortunately absent from the outdoor cemetery, but undead creatures do an excellent job terrorizing the escape with remarks like, "She's calling your name boy, can you hear her?"  Total Characters = 30. 
SCARINESS - 8½, 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 is complimentary in places, but a bit too quiet in others.  Better acting contributes to additional frights.
DESIGN - 7½, House is accessed via its most powerful main door entrance, and takes advantage of every inch of space available.  A few changes have taken place this season.  Minor course alteration transposes a few orders of event, and exchanges the bathroom for a more traditional spooky scene.  However, a surprise was lost in the transformation, and nothing happens on the replacement set.  Waterfalls, pools, fountains, etc. continue to impress.  Soundtrack could stand to be cranked up in places.  "Talking" portraits return to the initial climb up stairs, and theme from The Descent is cleverly heard inside the cave, although it seems a bit less audible this year.  Crawler is quite recognizable from the film, and is a nice compliment to that particular scene, although their population has declined since their debut a few seasons ago.  Freddy's boiler room is authentically decorated, and his smoke emitting floor surprise continues to provide one of the more memorable scares.  Witnessing a victimization strengthens the hillbilly section as mentioned above, but comes at a cost of losing a similar impressive scare in the asylum where an innocent victim was wrongfully seized by a crazed fiend, and violently slammed down. Straight-jacketed loony was lost from that area as well.  Retaining the latter two and adding the aforementioned one on would've created a more threatening environment.  Bubbles return to clown segment, but escape chamber remained unoccupied.  Vortex no longer spins, and overall duration remains a limiting factor.  Perhaps extending the outdoor segment, or introducing a few interactive entrapments could prolong the experience, and result in a higher score. 
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, sparks, and CGI are among the best.  Mine cave-in continues to be the most elaborate scare combining a lake, fountain and Descent theme.  Nothing is noticeably new for 2014, and hurts the score.   Additional mechanical surprises, and perhaps an animatronic and/or actortronic monster or two would significantly improve this category in the years to come.
VALUE - 10, Cost is only $7 when taking advantage of the $3 website coupon making this one of the best Haunted House bargains around!
RATING:  8, The annual Haunted House is produced by the Greater Springdale Jaycees, and the old house has been treating visitors to scares for nearly 40 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:  Children's matinees (lights on, masks off, and room to room Trick or Treating) is being offered from 3 - 5 PM on Oct. 25 & 26, 2014 costing only $2 for anyone 12 and under, and magician Phil Dalton entertains on Friday and Saturday nights this seasonfor an added $5 fee.

St. Rita Haunted House