The 2018 Haunt Awards

The 2018 Haunt Awards: A Perfect Storm!
By Noah Wullkotte

Our season officially started off with Spring Grove Cemetery’s 14th annual Lantern Lighting ceremony. This cemetery is one of the largest in the nation and one of the most beautiful as well. Every year thousands of people decorate paper lanterns and place them on Willow Water Lake when the sun goes down. These lanterns memorialize those who’ve passed away and it was a touching event that I won’t soon forget.

To say that this was a rainy haunt season is a huge understatement. It seemed like it rained everywhere we went. Some outdoor haunts weren’t open many days including Highway 50 Fright Field in North Bend, Ohio. They were only open 4 and a half days. Either way, this haunt was a big surprise. It’s a bone chilling haunt that focuses on horror movie icons and a spooky atmosphere. Their gift shop called the Buckeye Trading Post is very unique. It features Halloween crafts, masks, Tarot Cards and much more.

Another haunt we toured for the first time was The Final Resting Place Haunted Junkyard in Sabina, OH. They were in the middle of nowhere and very unique. Almost every scene is surrounded by junk and the majority of the animatronics are homemade. Even the porta potty was haunted. At one point I looked up and saw a sky full of stars. I knew then that I was no longer in the city.

Legend at Pope Lick in Louisville, KY was another surprise. This is a hidden gem of a haunt. The haunt is based on the urban legend of the Goat Man. Our favorite part of Legend at Pope Lick was holding a flashlight as we tried to find our way out of the deep dark woods. The flashlight had different effects based on the scene. It would flash, change colors, shut off and more. Some of the haunt reminded me a lot of the Blair Witch Project and the rest of the attraction was great as well. Their animated ghosts were so cool.

Now, this season had its ups and downs. Family emergencies got in the way of touring a few haunts, but that’s life. There were some intense haunts we toured. Face Your Fears Hotel of Terror in Springfield, Ohio had an optional touch upgrade which allowed actors to be physical. I was pushed and even had a werewolf lift me up in the air and howl in my face. How can I forget witnessing a chainsaw decapitation right in front of my face?

Fear Fair in Seymour, Indiana had an Extra Fear Admission where they would give you a glow stick like at Face Your Fears. You could make it into a necklace. This glow stick let the actors know that they could be more up close and personal. This year Fear Fair got rid of all their horror movie scenes and it was all completely original. Tiny and Peaches in the Rockford Correctional Facility were my favorite characters of the night and you better not drop the soap or else. DJ Fear really knew how to tear down the house and there were glorious fog bubbles. Fear Fair’s A Creepy Christmas is sure to be a fun and frightful event that takes place on December 7th and 8th. The Haunted Hotel in Louisville, KY is Kentucky’s longest continuous running haunted attraction and there’s a reason for that. It’s simply one hell of a ride. It’s an experience like no other and one of the scariest haunts around. Their upcoming event called “Krampus: A Christmas Nightmare” is going to be great and the dates are December 7th and 8th.

Not only was there heavy rain this season, there was plenty of wind. It was most apparent when we went to tour Literally, a Haunted House at Culbertson Mansion. The wind was howling like a banshee and their carriage house gave me the willies. Yes, I said the willies. Literally, a Haunted House in New Albany, IN is a very underrated haunt and has some of the best actors around. We always love how they change their theme every season. This year their theme was “A House Possessed”. The character that goes by the name Mary was very scary and their new swamp scene was very eye catching.

There’s not much I can say about The Dent Schoolhouse, but wow. Sometimes I think that the locals don’t appreciate this haunt as much as they should. The scenes are breath taking and the amount of high tech props is amazing. This is a world class haunt with some things you won’t see anywhere else. Their new trash heap scene is pretty frightening and really gross. We’re looking forward to their Christmas event this year. A Christmas Nightmare sounds like it’s going to be a humbug of a good time. It takes place on December 7th and 8th. Santa Charlie is waiting.

Mount Healthy Haunted Hall is Cincinnati’s longest running haunt at 28 years old and every season they have a new theme. This year, it was Fairy Tales, Fairly Deadly. Unfortunately many of the scenes just weren’t scary and it was sometimes hard to tell what Fairy Tale was being represented. Their vortex tunnel and dark maze were great as usual. St. Rita’s Haunted House has been closed for a couple years now and during the Summer the old farmhouse was demolished. They will definitely be missed since they were a Cincinnati icon and it was the first professional haunt I toured.

This summer Land of Illusion opened up their Aqua Adventures Waterpark and the entire park was rebranded as Land of Illusion Adventure Park. Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park became Land of Illusion Haunted Nights. Their newest addition was their Phobia haunted house which replaced Voodoo Bayou Shanty. Phobia is a very bizarre haunt that plays on your fear of the darkness, insects, tight spaces and more. It was rather creepy and I’m looking forward to seeing how it improves in the coming seasons. We’ll definitely be going to their Christmas Glow event once again. It’s a drive through Christmas event with thousands upon thousands of lights and a Christmas village you can walk around in. It really gets you in the mood for the holiday season.

Kings Island Halloween Haunt didn’t make massive changes this season, but there were some new mazes and shows. Pumpkin Eater was a great outside Scare Zone with plenty of jack-o-lanterns and grotesque props. There were fewer mazes compared to last season and their newest attraction is called Chaos. It reminded me of a Science Fiction movie with a government cover up of extra terrestrials. My favorite aspect of Halloween Haunt is how they decorate the park. There are skeletons, tombstones, plenty of fog, roaming characters and so much more.

Their newest stage show Haunted Homecoming replaced Hot Blooded and we loved it. Haunted Homecoming has hot women, rock music and plenty of dancing. Kings Island had a memorial for their roller coaster Firehawk which was laid to rest on 10/28/18. This was pretty clever and a great way to get publicity for the park. It had people guessing what ride was going to leave. We plan on visiting Kings Island during the holiday season for Winterfest which opens this November.

(Here are some colorful characters at Kings Island’s Haunted Homecoming!)

Brimstone Haunt in Wilmington, OH had a few things up its sleeve this season. They introduced an outdoor maze, games like axe throwing and I can’t forget the Sea Witch. There was a carnival barker who kept a dark secret in his booth. The Sea Witch is something that you have to see to believe. It’s an oddity from another world. Their resident zombie Chop Shop Charlie had me mesmerized for some reason. This zombie welder was one of my favorite characters of any haunt we toured this season. I saw so many billboards this season for Brimstone Haunt and the Ohio Renaissance Festival. It was crazy.

We made a return visit to Waverly Hills Sanatorium Haunted House in Louisville, KY. It’s been many years since we first toured the haunt and I have to say that I was expecting there to be a huge improvement. Their pre-show is the most impressive aspect of the haunt. It uses projection mapping to create some impressive animation that makes the sanatorium look like it’s alive. The normal paranormal tours are a much better value since the haunt doesn’t really use any of its history to its advantage. The haunt needs better direction. Their 3D effects in the clown portion of the haunt were impressive thanks to Stuartizm Designs. Waverly Sanatorium’s Christmas Laser Light Show returns this November and we might check it out.

The Devil’s Attic in Louisville, KY was incredible. The actors were on their A game and it was such a fun and exciting haunt. They really know how to bring horror movies to life. USS Nightmare once again had their RIP Experience and once again I was blown away. The RIP Experience is hard to put into words. Just imagine if a haunt was combined with an Escape Room and had elements of an extreme haunt. I think their vampire was a little shocked at how quickly I drank the cup of blood he handed me. The regular tour was very good as usual. There’s nothing like a haunted steamboat.

Fright Manor is always one of our favorite haunts in Indiana and this year they moved back to Southport Little League in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is an old school haunt, but with some high tech scares and unique characters. Ronald McDonald’s brother Rodney McDonald had me cracking up. There was no way that I was going to try the McNasty. It was made of human flesh. The new location is great and it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere.

Nightmare on Edgewood was another haunt we toured in Indianapolis and we had a great time. They really know how to create a party atmosphere when you wait in line. The haunt is very intense and the actors aren’t afraid to grab, push and scream right in your face. The group in front of us were freaking out. I can see why they’ve been around for 40 years. The skeleton reading the rules definitely startled me.

Sandyland Acres in Petersburg, KY is an incredible place to bring friends and family for some fun and fright. The Haunted Hayride is one of the few that I’ve been to that focuses a lot on horror movie characters. Their haunted barn called Farmers Revenge reminds me of a carnival funhouse. It’s quite spooky. This season they celebrated their 13th year of fear.

Asylum Haunted Scream Park in Louisville, KY was a blast this season. Their Zombie City attraction is one of the most interactive haunts we go to. Darkness Falls on Asylum is a quality haunted trail that has a variety of scenes and one crazy zombie that flies in the air. The rest of the attractions like Zombie Hunting and Xterminate: Mutant Clowns are fun zombie shooting attractions that add value to the overall experience.

Lost Soul Asylum in Aurora, IN is a haunt that we’ve been touring for the last 2 years. It benefits the Aurora, Indiana fire department and it reminds us of Jaycees Haunts from the 70’s or 80’s. The road construction surrounding the haunt was terrible, but the haunt was quite frightful. Their outdoor cemetery has homemade tombstones, light up blow molds and some very interesting props. The rest of the haunt mostly consists of typical rooms like a haunted hospital and there are plenty of horror movie villains. Their Leatherface was very creepy.

Last, but certainly not least is Hanna Haunted Acres. This is an interesting scream park in Indianapolis, Indiana. They have a variety of haunts, but most are under 5 minutes long. The highlight of course is Hanna Haunted Hayride. It’s one of the most high tech haunted hayrides that I’ve been to and their combine chase is very intense. Their simulated train crash is something I’ve never seen before. Their newest attraction is called Blood Barn. It resembles an actual barn with backwoods hillbillies and inbred freaks.

We toured a few Home Haunts this season and a few had as much detail as some pro haunts we’ve been to. If you would have guessed that it rained on Halloween night then you would be right. I got a total of 5 trick or treaters compared to 40 last year. The house was decorated with pumpkins, ghosts, skeletons and even a graveyard. But not even that helped. Overall, it was a good season for haunts. We would like to thank all the owners, actors, makeup artists, parking attendants and everyone else. Without your hard work, Halloween wouldn’t be as special as it is. What you do is much more important than you think. You’re creating memories for friends and families that will last a lifetime. There’s true beauty in the art of haunting.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for. City Blood’s 2018 Haunt of the Year is

1: The Haunted Hotel in Louisville, KY
The Haunted Hotel is one of a kind. It’s downright scary with actors that are in your face. This is a haunt that doesn’t hold back. You’ll be verbally assaulted, grabbed and you might be emotionally scarred if you’re lucky to make it out alive. Experience an elevator that has malfunctioned and come face to face with crazed chainsaw maniacs that want to tear you apart. You’ll feel used and abused after it’s all over. You’ll check in, but you won’t check out. The Haunted Hotel was the most intense haunt we experienced all season and we’re happy to say that it’s the 2018 Haunt of the Year.

2: USS Nightmare (Newport, KY)
3: The Dent Schoolhouse (Cincinnati, OH)
4: The Devil’s Attic (Louisville, KY)
5: Nightmare on Edgewood (Indianapolis, IN)
6: Fear Fair (Seymour, IN)
7: Legend at Pope Lick (Louisville, KY)
8: Middletown Haunted Trail (Middletown, OH)
9: Forgotten Forest at Brimstone Haunt (Wilmington, OH)
10: Zombie City at Asylum Haunted Scream Park (Louisville, KY)

The Rest of the Haunt Awards
Only haunts we toured during the 2018 Haunt Season were considered for the Haunt Awards. We congratulate all the winners.

Best Ohio Haunt
The Dent Schoolhouse

Best Kentucky Haunt
The Haunted Hotel

Best Indiana Haunt
Nightmare on Edgewood

Scariest Haunted House
The Haunted Hotel

Scariest Haunted Trail
Legend at Pope Lick

Most Frightening Haunted Hayride
Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride

Scariest Scream Park
Land of Illusion Haunted Nights

Best Bang For Your Buck
Land of Illusion Haunted Nights

Most Physical Haunt
Face Your Fears Hotel of Terror

Most Interactive Haunt
USS Nightmare’s RIP Experience

Best New Haunt (5 Years or Younger)
Legend at Pope Lick

Best Side Attraction (Not A Haunt)
Haunted Homecoming at Halloween Haunt

Best Acting
The Devil’s Attic

Best Actor
Dr. Theodore Ryker played by Riker Hill at Zombie City

Best Actress
Possessed Mary played by Mary Sieg at Literally, a Haunted House

Best Queue Line Characters
Literally, a Haunted House

Best Queue Line Character
Pestilence played by Corey Sandlin at Literally, a Haunted House

Best Queue Line
The Dent Schoolhouse’s Fall Festival

Most Unique Characters
Forgotten Forest at Brimstone Haunt

Most Sadistic Chainsaw Maniacs
The Haunted Hotel

Most Insane Lunatics
Darkness Falls on Asylum at Asylum Haunted Scream Park

Most Demented Hillbillies
Queen City Slaughter Yard at The Dent Schoolhouse

Craziest Killer Clowns
Fright Manor’s Chuckles and Twinkles

Hungriest Flesh Eating Zombies
Zombie City at Asylum Haunted Scream Park

Most Convincing Victims
Face Your Fears Hotel of Terror

Most Ferocious Werewolf
Face Your Fears Hotel of Terror

Most Mesmerizing Zombie/Ghoul
Chop Shop Charlie played by AJ Peter at Brimstone Haunt

Scariest Michael Myers
Fright Manor

Scariest Leatherface
Lost Soul Asylum

Best Costumes
The Devil’s Attic

Scariest Costume
Half Man, Half Boar Creature on Stilts at Face Your Fears Hotel of Terror

Most Grotesque Makeup
USS Nightmare

Most Horrifying Masks
The Devil’s Attic

Best Mask
The Devil at The Devil’s Attic

Most Memorable Haunt Mascot
The Goat Man at Legend at Pope Lick

Best Design
The Dent Schoolhouse

Best Lighting
The Devil’s Attic

Best Sound
USS Nightmare

Scariest Scene
Ouija Board Demon Possession at Literally, a Haunted House

Best Actor Driven Opening Scene
The Haunted Hotel featuring Mr. Gribbons Played by Matt Perry

Most Convincing Horror Movie Recreations
The Devil’s Attic

Most Action Packed Chase Scenes
Brimstone Haunted Hayride

Best Ancient Egyptian Scene
Highway 50 Fright Field

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

Most Violent Scene
Chainsaw Decapitation at Face Your Fears Hotel of Terror

Our Favorite Laboratory
USS Nightmare

Most Realistic Graveyard/Cemetery
New Orleans Cemetery at Fear Fair

Most Memorable Swamp
Nightmare on Edgewood

Best Corn Maze
Field of Fiends at Hanna Haunted Acres

Best Dark Maze
Mount Healthy Haunted Hall

Best Aerial Scare
Flying Zombie at Darkness Falls on Asylum

Most Eye Catching Props
The Dent Schoolhouse

Most Unique Prop/Special Effect
USS Nightmare’s Crash Simulator

Scariest Animatronic Monster
USS Nightmare’s Impaler

Best Actor Controlled Animatronics
Fear Fair

Most Vomit Inducing Vortex Tunnel
USS Nightmare

Best Hellevator
The Haunted Hotel

Funniest Prop
Twerking Zombie at Fear Fair

Most Mind Bending 3D Effects
Waverly Hills Sanatorium Haunted House

Most Impressive Projection Effects
Waverly Hills Sanatorium Haunted House

Best Use of Darkness
Legend at Pope Lick

Best Use of Fog
Kings Island Halloween Haunt

Best Use of Fire
Brimstone Haunted Hayride

Best Use of Water
The Dent Schoolhouse

Best Use of Smell
Slaughter House at Halloween Haunt

Most Spooktacular Façade
Face Your Fears Hotel of Terror

Spookiest Location
Waverly Hills Sanatorium Haunted House

Most Unique Location
The Final Resting Place Haunted Junkyard

Most Halloween Spirit
Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride & Farmers Revenge

Scariest Back-story
Legend at Pope Lick

Best Signage
Land of Illusion Haunted Nights

Best Parking
Legend at Pope Lick

Best Concessions
Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride & Farmers Revenge

Most Unique Concessions
Highway 50 Fright Field

Most Reasonable Concessions
Mount Healthy Haunted Hall

Favorite Haunt T-Shirt
The Dent School House’s When Charlie Came Home T-Shirt

Best Photo Op Stations
The Dent Schoolhouse

Best Hearse
Last Ride Angel of Death Hearse at Nightmare on Edgewood

Most Entertaining DJ
Brett Hays as DJ Fear at Fear Fair

Most Professional Website
The Dent Schoolhouse

What The Hell Moment of The Year
Meeting The Sea Witch at Brimstone Haunt