2015 Haunt Awards

The 2015 Haunt Awards: Storm Of The Century
By Noah Wullkotte

The Haunt Awards are in memory of Geremy Havanec.

This was a very strange haunt season. There were quite a few haunts that weren’t open that have been around for as long as I can remember. St. Rita’s Haunted House has been scaring Cincinnati for 39 years and 2015 would have marked its 40th. Unfortunately they weren’t able to use the old boys haunted dormitory. It’s been harder and harder for them to compete with other haunts and their crowds have gotten smaller and smaller.

They were planning on opening in Tri-County Commons, but that didn’t work out. The haunt was going to be called The Haunted House. Another fan favorite that closed was The Chambers of Horror in Middletown, Ohio. Last year it was announced that 2014 would be its final season. Too much competition from area haunts has forced them to close their doors. They had a big sale in November of 2014 where everything from props to masks was sold. I was lucky to get a hold of an original wooden sign they used in front of the haunt.

This was truly a unique haunt with hidden doors, custom effects, crazy actors and a few horror movie characters. It was old school, but always a great time and quite scary. It was truly one of our favorite haunts in Ohio. A new haunt moved into the old Cambridge Inn building that The Chambers of Horror used. It’s called Nightmare Manor and we didn’t get a chance to tour it.

It seemed like so many Southwest Ohio haunts were closed down. Dungeons of Delhi was unable to use their building and didn’t really have a suitable location. Thankfully they teamed up with Horror Hike in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Dungeons of Delhi is now known as The Dungeon Haunted Attraction. We were really impressed with how intense the actors were and we’re excited to see how Horror Hike/The Dungeon Haunted Attraction evolves.

Other haunts that weren’t open this season include Scream Acres Ct (Covington, KY), Terror Town (Maumee, OH), Scaredown (Waynesville, OH), Dreadland Haunted Woods (Sardinia, OH) and Scare Fair in Lima, OH. Scaredown took a 1 year hiatus in 2014 and I thought they would reopen in 2015, but they decided to close for good. It’s sad to see quality haunts close. Hell, Terror Town’s House of the Dead was our Haunt of the Year in 2007 and 2008. The weather was a major issue this season. I honestly can’t remember another season where it rained this much. Outdoor haunts were greatly impacted with some having to close multiple nights. Tropical Storm Patricia brought a lot of rain to cities across the United States and beyond later in the season.

This was the year of change. Caufield’s Halloween Parade in Louisville, KY had a new sponsor and they used a different route. It’s now sponsored by Louisville Halloween and starts at Broadway and Baxter. It ends at Grinstead and Bardstown Road. It was the most crowded we’ve ever seen the parade and unfortunately we were unable to take many pictures because of the huge crowd.

Fear Fair in Seymour, Indiana removed the majority of their horror movie scenes. They were contacted by the owners of these horror movie properties and had no choice but to scrap the scenes. For 2015, Fear Fair was New Orleans themed and for the most part it worked. Their cemetery with above ground crypts was pretty unique and we’re looking forward to seeing what they do next year. We do miss Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and Michael Myers, but original ideas are always best.

The Dent Schoolhouse made some big renovations. They removed the haunted playground scene and replaced it with a Fall Festival/Halloween Queue line. The queue line had festival booths, various Halloween props, tons of jack-o-lanterns and more. Much of the haunt had elements of Halloween thrown into the mix which made The Dent Schoolhouse a new experience that embodied the spirit of Halloween.

The Dent Schoolhouse (Cincinnati, OH) and Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride (Petersburg, KY) celebrated their 10th anniversary. Spooky Ranch (Columbia Station, OH) and The Haunted Hotel (Louisville, KY) celebrated their 25th. Bloodview Haunted House (Broadview Heights, OH) celebrated its 35th year of operation. It was a year of celebration and change. Springboro Haunted Hayride in Lebanon, OH made a big change concerning its sound design. Their brand new hay wagons used a dynamic speaker system. Each scene is timed to sound effects and music and their wagons have much better seating. You really feel like you’re part of the action when you’re immersed in sound.

The ScareAtorium in Columbus, Ohio made changes as well. It’s the first haunt in Ohio to use Escape Rooms. Escape Rooms are rooms where you must solve a puzzle or find an object in a certain amount of time. At The ScareAtorium you have your choice of Cut Throat Cabin or Rip’s Boxcar. You have exactly 3 minutes and if you’re successful, you win White Castle Cheeseburgers or a free game of bowling. It’s a pretty neat concept.

The 7th street Haunt in Louisville, KY added a brand new attraction. It’s called The Experiment and it’s an assault on the senses. It’s full of high startle animatronics and lots of detail. The 7th Street Haunt is now 25,000 square foot which makes it one of the largest haunts in the area. We’re excited to see what the future holds for The 7th Street Haunt.

Haunts made lots of changes this season. Something that we truly appreciate about Literally, a Haunted House at Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, Indiana is that they change their theme every season. It’s a new haunted experience every year. This year the entire haunt was modeled after an insane asylum. The patients have run amok and they’re out to get you. This is a haunt that isn’t appreciated as much as it should be. Face Your Fears: Hotel of Terror in Springfield, OH is also another haunt that gets overlooked sometimes. The building alone will creep you out and they’ve made a lot of changes to their outside area.

Asylum Haunted Scream Park’s Zombie City attraction had a brand new story line thanks to Joey Arena who used to be the creative director at Baxter Avenue Morgue many years ago and he even directed Evil Dead the Musical. Zombie City has some of the best acting we’ve seen at any haunt. Asylum Haunted Scream Park also added a brand new attraction called Zombie Hunting. Hop aboard a military bus and gun down the living dead with your paintball gun. Unfortunately this attraction wasn’t open yet when we toured Asylum Haunted Scream Park in Louisville, KY.

(Here are just a few of the skeletons that decorate Kings Island Halloween Haunt.)

This season we toured a few haunts we’ve never been to before. This included Nightmare in the Wilderness (Lodi, OH), The Haunted Farm House (Walton, KY), Haunted Angelus House (Indianapolis, IN), The House of Trepidation (Indianapolis, IN) and more. We were quite impressed with Haunted Angelus House. This is a charity haunt that benefits the Angelus House which helps with Cerebral Palsy. This was an exciting haunt that featured intense actors, a variety of scenes, a moving bridge, a waterfall and great horror movie characters. Their Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers were spot on.

We were happy to see the stage show “Hot Blooded” return to Kings Island Halloween Haunt in Mason, OH. It’s our favorite attraction at Halloween Haunt. Who doesn’t like rock music, hot chicks, vampires and dancing? Hot Blooded is pretty spectacular. The haunt Club Blood was replaced with Black Out, Kings Island’s massive dark maze. Club Blood was the most controversial haunt to ever be seen at Halloween Haunt and over the years it became less extreme. It’s not everyday that you walk through a vampire infested night club.

Land of Illusion in Middletown, Ohio added a ride to the park called “Demon Drop”. Climb a pole to an elevated platform 40 feet in the air before jumping off the top. Land of Illusion had a variety of bands that played on the Stage of Rage and there was even a movie filmed at the park earlier this year. The Funhouse Massacre will be released in select AMC theaters on Friday, November the 13th. It stars Robert Englund who played Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

USS Nightmare in Newport, KY had better makeup, prosthetics and costumes. The acting was incredible as well. The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory in Akron, OH did not disappoint since both haunts had incredible amounts of detail and unique scares as usual. The Mayhem Mansion in Morning View, KY was a very in your face haunt with actors who were relentless.

I also can’t forget Fright Manor in Indianapolis, Indiana which is an all around fun haunt. The Black Bog in Lebanon, OH was once again the top rated haunted trail and Wicked Clowns in 4-D at Hauntville in Elyria, OH is simply one of the best clown themed 3D haunts you’re going to experience. The Devil’s Attic in Louisville, KY featured some brand new scenes including The Evil Dead cabin. The actor playing Ash was a dead ringer for Bruce Campbell.

It was a very close race for Haunt of the Year. The Haunted Hotel in Louisville, KY was on top for the majority of the season. But Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie would ultimately reign supreme in the end. The two most intense haunts were the best. One of my favorite memories from this season is having my head shoved into a plant monster at The Haunted Hotel. I also can’t forget the demonic nuns wearing next to nothing at Haunted Hoochie.

As I finish writing this article, I appreciate the ones around me more than ever. In June, my dad was in a serious head on collision which almost took his life. This year the haunt community lost one of its own. Geremy Havanec worked at Bloodview Haunted House in Broadview Heights, Ohio and was known as the Lord of Communications. I can still hear him hitting the ground with his machetes. He was a great person to talk to and he’ll be deeply missed. We got the chance to go behind the scenes and see the makeup room at Bloodview. The cast is one big family and it got pretty wild back there.

We finished our season with a guided ghost tour of Downtown Cincinnati. The Queen City Is Haunted Tour was quite memorable. It was neat learning about the haunted history of the queen city and exploring spooky locations. We didn’t experience anything paranormal, but it was still a good time. We didn’t get to tour as many haunts as we wanted to due to the weather, but that’s how it goes sometimes. It was an enjoyable haunt season and one I’m not going to soon forget.

I would like to sincerely thank all the haunt owners, workers and actors for their warm hospitality. We truly appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears you put into scaring the living daylights out of people. Without haunts, the Halloween season wouldn’t be the same. The 2015 Haunt season has wrapped up and we’ll see you in 2016.

Spooky Wishes,

#1 Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie (Pataskala, OH)
We toured many haunts this season and ultimately Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie came out on top. Haunted Hoochie is without a doubt the most over the top haunt in the state of Ohio. It’s pure mayhem at Haunted Hoochie. It’s a thrill ride from beginning to end as you come face to face with killers, demonic nuns, escaped prisoners and unspeakable creatures. The haunt is full of over the top animatronics and unique bloody scenes that Haunted Hoochie does best. When the haunt begins with a shotgun suicide then you know this isn’t your typical attraction. We’re proud to award Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie with Haunt of the Year. NOW GIVE ME A HELL YEAH!

The Rest of The Top 10:
#2 The Haunted Hotel (Louisville, KY)
#3 USS Nightmare (Newport, KY)
#4 The Haunted Schoolhouse (Akron, OH)
#5 The Dent Schoolhouse (Cincinnati, OH)
#6 Fear Fair (Seymour, IN)
#7 The Haunted Laboratory (Akron, OH)
#8 Zombie City (Louisville, KY)
#9 Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride (Petersburg, KY)
#10 The Black Bog (Lebanon, OH)

Congratulations to all the winners!
very year City Blood travels thousands of miles to experience frightening haunts in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. These are the rest of the Haunt Awards and we congratulate all the winners. It was a great season of scares.

Haunt of the Year
Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie

Best Ohio Haunt
Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie

Best Kentucky Haunt
The Haunted Hotel

Best Indiana Haunt
Fear Fair

Best Haunted Hayride
Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride

Scariest Haunted Trail
The Black Bog

Scariest Scream Park
Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park

Most Mind Numbing 3D Haunt
Hauntville’s Wicked Clowns in 4-D 

Most Extreme Haunt
Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie

Most Interactive Haunt
Zombie City at Asylum Haunted Scream Park

Best Old School Haunt
The Mayhem Mansion

Best New Haunt
The Experiment at The 7th Street Haunt

Best Zombie Hunting Experience
Zombie Sniper Patrol at Land of Illusion

Most Entertaining Side Attraction (not a haunt)
Hot Blooded at Kings Island Halloween Haunt

Best Halloween Event (not a haunt)
American Legacy Tours Queen City Is Haunted Tour

Best Bang For Your Buck
Spooky Ranch: 5 Attractions For $20

Most Improved
Horror Hike/The Dungeon Haunted Attraction

Best Acting
Zombie City at Asylum Haunted Scream Park 

Best Actor
Matt Matiekat as Madd Matt at Horror Hike/The Dungeon Haunted Attraction

Best Actress
Grace Riley as Anna at USS Nightmare

Most Spooktacular Queue Line
The Dent Schoolhouse

Best Queue Line Actors
Bloodview Haunted House

Best Queue Line Actor
Reemus at The Mayhem Mansion

Best Queue Line Actress
Holly Crisler as Crazed Mental Patient at  Literally, a Haunted House

Best Haunt Mascot
Charlie the Janitor at The Dent Schoolhouse

Best Makeup & Costumes
USS Nightmare

Best Costume
Wild Boar On Stilts With Hatchet at Face Your Fears: Hotel of Terror

Most Horrifying Masks
The Haunted Schoolhouse

Best Mask/Prosthetic
Anna’s Skeleton Face at USS Nightmare

Most Twisted Characters
Haunted Culbertson Mansion

Best Theming
The Dent Schoolhouse

Best Lighting
USS Nightmare

Most Authentic Horror Movie Scenes
The Devil’s Attic

Most Blood Soaked Scene
Shotgun Suicide at Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie Featuring Eric Ballinger

Most Interactive Scene
Coffin Ride at  Literally, a Haunted House

Funniest Scene
Gary Reeser Playing A Pole Stroking Pervert at The 7th Street Haunt

Most Original Opening Scene
Extreme Nightmares at Spooky Ranch Featuring Gus Maurer as Ghostly Gus

Most Out of This World Alien Scene
Area 49 at Middletown Haunted Trail

Most Jaw Dropping Set
Dracula’s Castle at The Haunted Schoolhouse

Most Realistic Graveyard
Fear Fair

Best Use of Darkness
The Mayhem Mansion

Best Use of Fog
Kings Island Halloween Haunt 

Best Use of Smell
Haunville’s Wicked Clowns in 4-D

Best Flame Effects
Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride

Best Use of Chainsaws
Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie

Best Chainsaw Chase
The Haunted Hotel

Best Hillbillies
Voodoo Bayou Shanty at Land of Illusion

Hungriest Zombies
Fear Fair
Craziest Clowns
The ScareAtorium
Most Convincing Vampire
Fright Manor’s Prince Vlad 

Most Frightening Vehicle Chases
Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride

Most Frightening Back-story
The Mayhem Mansion

Spookiest Setting
USS Nightmare’s Haunted Steamboat

Most Halloween Spirit
The Dent Schoolhouse

Most Impressive Facades
Spooky Ranch

Best Props
Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie

Most Jaw Dropping Prop
1.5 Million Volts Tesla Coil at The Haunted Laboratory

Best Vortex Tunnel
USS Nightmare

Best Hellevator
The Haunted Hotel

Most Impressive CGI Effects
Extreme Nightmares at Spooky Ranch

Best Sound Design
Springboro Haunted Hayride

Best Signage
Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park

Best Concessions
Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride & Farmers Revenge

Cheapest Concessions
Bloodview Haunted House

Most Impressive Photo Op Station
Old Saloon at Haunted Angelus House

Coolest Apparel
The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory

Most Cleavage In One Haunt
Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie

The What The Hell Award
Dancing Clown Stripper at The ScareAtorium

Most Impressive Website
The Dent Schoolhouse

Most Professional Haunt Trailer
The Dent Schoolhouse