The Dent Schoolhouse 2009 Review

The Dent Schoolhouse-“School Is In Session”
The Dent Schoolhouse is one of Cincinnati’s frightful favorites. For nearly 30 years it has been scaring Ohio with its unique brand of horror and seems to get better with age. Many new additions have been made this year such as improved lighting, more adult actors, custom props, new animations and much more. There’s a reason this annual favorite has been ranked one of the best haunts in the nation by Hauntworld Magazine and Haunted Attraction Magazine. It’s a high quality haunt that has set the standard for how greater Cincinnati haunts should be ran. This is the review of the one and only Dent Schoolhouse.

Length-9: Your tour through Charlie’s haunted schoolhouse will take anywhere from 20-25 minutes to walk through depending on your pace. This is one of those haunts that is consistent with great scenes and few areas where you will get bored. You won’t find any dark hallways that are used to just add additional time to the haunt.

Design-9: Years and years ago before 1031 Productions took over ownership of Dent Schoolhouse, it was known as The Haunted House. Even though the story of the haunted school house was briefly mentioned it wasn’t fully explored. Most of the rooms focused on popular horror movies or different themes you would expect with some amateur haunted houses. It just felt like your typical haunted house with little originality. But in 2006 when Bud Stoss, Chuck Stross and Josh Wells took over everything changed about The Haunted House and it became The Dent Schoolhouse. Ever since then this classic haunt has done a 180 degree turn and has truly become something special.

Almost each and every room now revolves around the haunted schoolhouse story and rivals anything you would experience in any of today’s horror movies. The sets are detailed, creepy and have some great lighting that really brings these dynamic rooms to life. For 2009 this haunt has purchased 110 LED mini spotlights which can be easily hidden and use much less electricity. The lighting really is beautiful and reminds me a little bit of the lighting techniques used in Dario Argento’s masterpiece “Suspiria. It’s dreamlike and haunting.
Some rooms you’ll experience inside the old schoolhouse include a school auditorium, a bloody classroom, kitchen full of corpses, a large junkyard and so much more. These rooms are incredible, but could benefit from some improvements.
This is the case with the graveyard at the beginning of your tour. It’s full of realistic tombstones and stuff you would expect from a graveyard, but could be scarier. The addition of flashes of light synchronized to thunder and lightning sounds would create a spookier atmosphere for this large scene. Some zombie animatronics would also help in bringing more life to the graveyard. But overall the majority of rooms you walk through are consistently good from beginning to end.
Props/Animatronics-9: This year the owners have purchased 25 new animatronics at Transworld to use inside The Dent Schoolhouse. Many of these high tech scares were made by Unit 70 Studios including the students that sit in the desks of the classroom at the beginning of the haunt. They are downright creepy to say the least and remind me of marionette dummies used in the 1950’s.
You can have the greatest props around, but if they aren’t lit properly they won’t be as effective as you want them to be and Dent Schoolhouse solved this problem by converting much of its lighting to mini spotlights. Mini spotlights are small led spotlights that can easily be hidden in a scene, but give off tons of light without using tons of energy. Terror on The Fox in Wisconsin was one of the first haunts to use these spotlights and since then many haunts have taken advantage of this great invention.
But not only does The Dent Schoolhouse have many great decorations, but they make sense in the rooms they decorate. You won’t find a mummy inside a boiler room or a jack in the box inside a locker room. It just wouldn’t make much sense and would be a waste of money. Some props you’ll see include a prom corpse couple, a tight claustrophobia tunnel, a dizzying vortex tunnel and much more. The variety of eye candy is impressive.

Acting-10: Every year there seems to be a batch of haunts that rely too much on volunteer child actors, but this isn’t the case with The Dent Schoolhouse. Nearly every actor inside the haunted school is adult and very believable in the roles they play. Some iconic characters that people have to come to expect from this classic haunt include Calliope the demented clown, Fatso the insane clown, Charlie the killer janitor and of course the one and only Damien Reaper. This year Damien doesn’t haunt Dent’s Graveyard alone since He is working with his dad for the 2009 season. They make an impressive duo that are relentless in their pursuit to scare the living day lights out of you.

Another great addition to the cast of characters at The Dent Schoolhouse is the 2 uncle charlies that show up in Charlie’s Lair. Yes, you heard me right. There are 2 charlies that you will come in contact with in the rusty old basement of The Dent Schoolhouse. No longer is Dent’s mascot Charlie the Janitor treated like your typical actor. He is now the main focus of the haunted basement and is really intimidating as you walk through the dark corridors of the schoolhouse.

An interesting fact that many people don’t know about Julie who plays Calliope T. Clown is that she also performs as Dr. Frank N. Furter at the midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture show at the Esquire theater in Clifton. She performs on a stage in front of the movie screen with a cast of colorful characters and is dead on at her impersonation of Frank. Many of the actors at The Dent Schoolhouse are very diverse.

Unfortunately the night we visited Bludzo the clown wasn’t working, but thankfully Troy did just fine with his new persona Burnie The Ring Master. Over the years He has played as Dr. Helldrake, Baby Zues and other colorful characters. Almost each and every actor was right on queue and had some amazing lines of dialogue that went great with the room which they resided in. You’ll have a very difficult time finding a better cast of characters then you will at The Dent Schoolhouse.

Scare Effect-9: The Dent Schoolhouse is one of those few haunts that feels like an actual building that is haunted. Once you step foot inside the schoolhouse the feeling of dread overwhelms the senses and you know you are in for a frightfully good time. This isn’t your typical haunted house since almost each and every room is centered around the haunted schoolhouse theme and this is one of the main reasons this haunt is so frightening.

Customer Service: The staff at The Dent Schoolhouse could not be any nicer. They are always willing to answer any questions you may have and are always as nice as can be. There are a variety of different snacks and merchandise at the concession stand such as cold drinks, hot dogs, chips, Halloween novelties and more. My favorite was The Dent Schoolhouse drink cozy. Every year we visit the parking is very accessible and always free of charge. You can park right next to the haunt, Bob Sumerel lot or directly across the street.

Fright Value: $13 is a great deal for a haunt of this caliber. There is a reason this haunt has been rated as one of the best by Hauntworld Magazine and Haunted Attraction Magazine. It’s one of the best themed haunts around and gets better with age. Please make sure and purchase a VIP ticket for $20 since the line can be rather long on Friday and Saturday nights.

Final stab-9.2: Finally The Dent Schoolhouse is getting the recognition it deserves from trusted publications like Hauntworld Magazine and Haunted Attraction Magazine. It deserves all the praise it gets because it’s that good of a haunt. The Dent Schoolhouse is possibly the best haunt in greater Cincinnati and one of the greatest in the United States. Don’t miss out on the haunt that everyone is talking about in the state of Ohio. There’s a reason it’s survived nearly 30 years of fear.