Creeps, screams and terror: A review of local haunted attractions
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 17:10
Everyone loves a good haunted house during the Halloween season.
For people that are thrill-seekers, the scarier the haunted house, the better. Some travel across the state or even across the world for the ultimate scare.
There are a few in the local Champaign-Urbana area, and many more that are only an hour away, both in the north and south.
This article will be reviewing haunted houses that are within an hour from the C-U area. The rating is based upon each house's scares, design and entertainment using a one-to-five point system.
The first haunted house visited this season was the “Midway of Madness Haunted Barn” located at the Champaign County Fairgrounds.
According to the owners, Chad Swim and Kim Heath, the haunted barn was a big success considering the fact that it is in its first-year and was assembled hastily.
“We love Halloween and haunted houses; this was a last-minute thing we put together. Our cast is made up of about 30 characters and the barn takes about six to eight minutes to complete,” Smith remarked.
With all sorts of interesting props, characters and special effects, the duo found their inspiration from attending trade shows. The haunted barn featured many creepy rooms that were crawling with characters that either made their presence known right away or waited until the viewer was exiting their area.
There were also a few tight and unanticipated squeezes around corners and through halls, as well as a large portion of the maze presented in pitch black darkness, so one must rely on sense of touch.
A few eager participants stood waiting in line, curious to know more about the attraction.
“We haven't heard anything about it,” one said. “One of the guys has been to several other haunted houses but we haven't heard anything of this one. They have some awesome masks though.”
The lot was packed with cars and the line was packed with people. Overall, this haunted house earned a solid three and a half out of five.
With the crowd that attended this year, one can only imagine what kind of new and surprising ideas the “Midway to Madness Haunted Barn” will present next season.
The journey was then turned towards the “Halls of Madness and Insanity Woods” just outside Paris, Ill., where they are in the ninth year of fear.
There, Troy Stone and his cast of 30 screaming and eerie characters, as well as a few not-so-helpful yet entertaining clowns, wait to play with their “fresh meat”, the phrase for which Stone yells to the crew signaling the start of another group of people.
He and his crew keep a list of tally marks for the number of people who have soiled their pants, a group for which “number one” and “number two” have occurred.
Starting inside, many rooms and themes arise throughout the attraction. Then, moving outside to “Insanity Woods”, where many taunting, loud and amusing personalities dwell, it's back inside for the final stretch where you meet the very sarcastic and helpful clowns.
A group of four kids from ages 12-13 were all scared to go in without someone older.
“We've never gone through and the girls are scared,” noted the only boy of the group. “I'm just nervous.” After coming out, they said it was a lot of fun.
The “Halls of Madness” resides on the land of Stone, where he preps the scares from the middle to the end summer.
“The spooky ideas begin as early as July,” stated Stone. “We have what is called ‘Monster School’ where we all get together and throw out ideas.”
He often gets an idea for a room or character and will sketch it out on paper to develop it further.
Being in the business of entertainment, he says his favorite part of the haunted house is, “getting someone out of the house and to have fun, whether it's being scared, laughing with their group, crying, as long as they had fun.”
Stone and his crew come screaming with a four out of five for this spooky and amusing maze.
Around 30 minutes from “The Halls” was “Ashmore Estates”.
For years, the author of this article was too nervous to visit “Ashmore Estates.” Other people’s opinions were that the closed mental institution was a reputable and truly haunted building.
Owner Scott Kelley was in character the evening of the review and could not be reached for interview.
The haunted attraction featured all three floors of the building with a different theme to every room.
They feature an attention-grabbing maze comprised of what had to be over 100 doors and a bridge where the room spins.
Later on, a room filled with hanging sheets surrounded you, which felt as if it came right out of a horror movie.
A few random people standing in line said that they'd heard about “Ashmore Estates” and wanted to experience it for themselves, one person in a group was particularly interested in a real paranormal experience.
Numerous paranormal investigators have inspected the building and found there are, in fact, lingering spirits of the past. It is possible that a visiting guest, or even a cast member, may experience something abnormal.
Once a home for the mentally ill, the spot is now home to the paranormal, which earn it a four out of five.
Next season brings more scares, new ideas and new expectations, as well as new adventures. Have a happy and safe Halloween.