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Event Report: Dark Hour Haunted House 5th Anniversary Halloween Show

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Every year, Dark Hour Haunted House in Plano, TX pulls out all the stops for their Halloween show.  They do eight shows a year, all with different themes.  The story behind Dark Hour is that Coven Manor is home to a dozen witches who have joined together to bring about the Dark Hour: the end of the world.  There are 12, one for each month, one for each point on the clock.  Each show during the year sees a different witch take control as her time comes, and each attempts to bring about the end her own way.  The plague witch brings about Spring Fever’s zombie outbreak show, July sees the Dog Days of Summer as Baba Lupina turns people into werewolves, etc.

Each year, a different witch tries to take control of it all on Halloween, their most powerful month.  Last year saw the vermin witch, Cora Hive, take over Dark Hour and bring with her every kind of insect, rodent, and arachnid.  This year, however, it’s the 5th Halloween for Dark Hour, so they’ve gone above and beyond previous shows to do something they’ve never done before.

Mr. Dark with one of the beauties at Dark Hour Halloween 2017

The pre-show this year isn’t as good as last year’s amazing Cora Hive show.  I’ll just say that outright.  It’s hard to top the fire, the illusions, the hilarious cracks at the Ghostbusters remake.  This year it’s a riff on a very popular show, with an old scientist named Nick and his grandson Shorty appearing in their “lab” (AKA the pre-show stage) to warn us of the witches’ latest plan.  It does the trick, and it’s amusing, but it’s just not as over-the-top entertaining as last year’s elaborate prologue.

The show’s name is “It’s About Time” and it is, indeed.  The witches have joined forces with some time-warping warlocks called Chronomancers to attempt to bring all 12 of the witches to power at once.  Going one at a time isn’t getting the job done, so if all of them have power to do their worst evil at the same time, the Dark Hour will come.  Nick’s plan is to use a plutonium-fueled device to open portals and allow us to go through time and stop the Chronomancers.

If you hadn’t guessed, this is a “best of” show, something I’ve never seen at a haunt before.  As you pass through portal after portal, you hop through the year.  Christmas and Krampus is there, the leprechauns are making mayhem to the March sounds of the Dropkick Murphys, Baba Lupina’s werewolves are on the prowl…every show in the history of Dark Hour is represented.  Even Cora Hive from last year’s Halloween show makes an appearance in a cocoon-filled pit of vermin.

At first, I was kind of bummed.  I’m a season-pass holder (a fantastic bargain if you hit every show at least once) so I’ve seen them all.  However, it soon became clear that after the first couple of months, things had been scrambled.  The werewolves always make an appearance in one specific room, for example.  They aren’t there, they’re prowling the manor house, and their usual room is now the school nurse for Annabelle Noir’s Home For Troubled Girls from my favorite, the Summer Spirits show.  Everything is switched up, so even a vet like me didn’t know what to expect.

The effect is great.  It’s a fantastic tribute to what’s come before.  It really is a “best of” as well, as the best elements of the shows are what appears.  The graveyard, with real snow and giant Krampi (Krampuses?) are the highlight of Wreck The Halls over the holidays, so that’s where December lands.  All of the best gags from Summer Spirits are in the bedroom, leading for a condensed ball of demonic schoolgirl mayhem.  The high point of the St Patrick’s Slay Weekend is the music room, and the leprechauns are infesting it with their Gremlins-inspired glee.

Spread throughout are, as Nick puts it, “steampunk Tron cosplayers,” the Chronomancers.  You do eventually find them and their leader in a brand new finale that is extremely high-tech and intense.  I’m not going to spoil it, so I’ll just say: SERPENTINE!  SERPENTINE!  SHOTS FIRED!

Seeing the current schedule for 2018, I see some missing shows from the roster.  Could this not only serve as a tribute to what’s come before, but also a farewell to some of the witches who previously reigned over part of the calendar?  Only the future knows.  Maybe even the Chronomancers will return…the time-travelling bastards are likely very difficult to snuff out, so we may not have seen the last of them.

Dark Hour Haunted House’s Halloween show runs weekends and select weekdays between now and Halloween.  Tickets are available now at their website, and include combo tickets with their side-haunt, Carl’s Playhouse as well as Fast Pass and VIP options!

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