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FrightWorld America’s Screampark Review

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FrightWorld (website)

Location: 800 Young St, Tonawanda, NY 14150

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Introduction

FrightWorld America’s Screampark, located outside of Buffalo, New York, is one of the best haunted attractions ever visited by our review team. This attraction features five detailed, innovative and genuinely terrifying haunted attractions.  Each attraction is perfectly crafted and custom-built to generate fear and caters to diverse fears. It is rare to find a scare or scream park, that features an almost perfect haunted attraction experience. Typically, when a scream park advertises “multiple” attractions, some of the attractions are weaker than others. At FrightWorld, every attraction is almost perfectly designed, features insane character actors and movie quality effects to make this a must visit for any haunt fan. FrightWorld America’s Screampark is well worth the lengthy trip to upstate New York as we give this attraction our highest recommendation. It is rare to find an attraction as memorable as FrightWorld, and we cannot wait to see what they have planned for the 2016 haunt season!

Attractions

FrightWorld America’s Screampark is one of the most impressive, innovative and terrifying haunted attractions in the tristate area and features five unique separate attractions. FrightWorld, located in a commercial complex outside of Buffalo, New York, allows guests to visit each of the five separate attractions at their own pace. Each attraction is custom-built and features intricate set designs and intricate details that prompted us to go through the attraction twice to experience the depth and quality of this incredible haunted scream-park. While waiting to enter each attraction, the large space provided by the industrial complex features a snack bar and photo opportunities featuring talented scare actors. FrightWorld also has the advantage of a large parking lot, which makes getting in and out of the attraction far easier than most locations we have visited for the 2015 season.

At first glance, we expected little from FrightWorld, as the indoor/commercial complex did not seem to be the typical location for a scream-park. However, looks were deceiving as we were completely taken back by the design of each specific attraction, atmospheric use of sound and lighting effects used by this expansive indoor attraction. We have visited many of the major haunted attractions in the tristate area, including Pennhurst Asylum, Terror Behind the Walls, Reapers Revenge and Field of Screams, and can honestly say that FrightWorld is among this class as one of the best attractions ever visited. FrightWorld is also shockingly reasonable compared to many mainstream and local haunted attractions. General admission tickets are $25.00 per person, and VIP fast pass tickets are $33.00. The price point of this attraction is well below many of the attractions in the tristate area, and a value as we are typically used to spending well above these prices for attractions of lesser quality.

InsanityINSANITY-2014

The first attraction visited, “Insanity”, is an indoor fence maze, that uses fog, strobe lights, insane character actors, blinding lights and lasers to constantly disorientate guests. “Insanity” was the first time we have ever become truly “lost” in an attraction, as the complicated maze and use of sensory attacks prevented us from easily escaping the attraction. Other guests entered into this maze and felt our level of confusion as we constantly walked into dead-ends and were bombarded by constant loud noises and character actors who clung to the chain-link fences. “Insanity” is designed to generate a genuine emotion of feeling “insane. Blinding fog and disorientating lights made us feel helpless in our endless effort to escape this attraction. Character actors used the all-out sensory attack of this attraction to torment us by taunting, grunting and popping out in front of us at the most unexpected times. We were expecting these actors to help us in our effort to escape but this was not the case.

“Insanity” is a unique maze attraction that uses sensory triggers to build panic and fear. Most mazes are easy to complete, or feature character actors that effectively guide guests to complete the attraction. Furthermore, we have been in mazes in which more guests hurt the overall experience, and reduced the difficult of the attraction. “Insanity” breaks these conventional perceptions of haunted attraction mazes, by mentally attacking and challenging guests to escape this terrifying structure. As more guests entered “Insanity” the panic level continued to rise, and the mazes confusing design, coupled with an all-out sensory attack created a constant sense of paranoia which quickly evolved into fear. “Insanity” uses loud sounds, such as blaring sirens, constant fog, and lighting effects to confuse, disorientate and create an environment in which we felt trapped. Lights would simply go out, leaving us submerged in the darkness, and pressure continued to rise as we frantically searched for an escape.

Eerie State Asylumravenhill_lg

The second attraction visited, “Eerie State Asylum”, was a horror movie come to life, featuring authentic set designs, and gruesome scenes which perfectly compliment actors who play their “insane” roles to a tee. The set designs of this mental assignment are more detailed and disturbing than those found in “real” former asylums, featuring props which have been obtained from defunct medical facilities. “Eerie State Asylum” is a disturbing haunted attraction experience, featuring gory set designs, and talented scare actors who jump from “gurney” to “gurney” to convince guests they are truly insane.  “Eerie State Asylum” is a mature haunted attraction, featuring intricate details that make each room disturbing. We visited rooms featuring surgical gloves stapled to walls, bloody props and medical devices used by insane actors, saw a lifelike dead body on an operating table and were constantly taunted by the aggressive scare actors around every corner. The disturbing imagery, and creative set designs, from the disgusting mess hall, to a realistic morgue make “Eerie State Asylum” a memorable haunted attraction, with nonstop action and insanity. We were impressed by the physical effort of each actor who constantly moved from room to room, jumping from scene to scene in an aggressive, relentless attack. Some of the actors ran themselves into walls, jumped in front of us, made inhuman noises and convinced us that they belonged in the “Eerie State Asylum”. We even found ourselves get “lost” in this attraction, as several passageways are confusingly designed to prevent escape.

Grind Housegrindhouse_lg

The third attraction visited, “Grind House” inspired by the infamous movie classic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, features disturbing imagery, insanely detailed set designs, and aggressive scare actors that use the “saw” to generate constant tension and fear. “Grind House” is a disturbing haunted attraction in which the twisted scare actors use mature themes, gory props and intricate details to create a terrifying atmosphere. The level of detail in “Grind House” is indescribable as we found ourselves constantly finding new details that made each room uniquely themed in this house of horror. A knife yielding maniac chased after us as we gazed at a taxidermy collection, we passed through a disturbing hallway in which the house maniacs seemed to be developing “pictures” of their  various victims, and encountered a movie quality scene in which a chainsaw yielding maniac burst out of a room to aggressively chase after our  group.11-360x360

We cautiously explored this attraction to appreciate the level of gore and horrific scenes featured in this attraction. “Grind House” is an exercise in cautious fear, encouraging exploration and rewarding with terrifying encounters with disturbed scare actors.  Some of the most entertaining scare actors are featured in “Grind House”, such as a menacing weapon yielding maniacs, physically imposing actors, and a crossdressing actor who made us feel extremely uncomfortable. “Grind House” is an exhausting experience which uses mature scares to create a lasting impression on our psyche. We only wish a few more scare actors were added to some of the creepy set pieces. For example, when passing through a dark closet, we expected an actor to greet us before our escape. We were even told to watch out for “Uncle” as we entered into this closet yet the payoff felt flat. This was only a minor issue as the entire horrific design of “Grind House” is unforgettable, and the interactive scare actors featured in this haunt make this one of the best walk-through attractions of the haunt season.

Condemnedcondemnedbig

The fourth attraction visited, “Condemned” is an elaborate, trip through an outdoor environment featuring detailed set designs including a visit with a cannibalistic scare actor in a tree- hut as we passed over a rickety bridge, an excursion through a hauntingly detailed graveyard, and a trip through a life-like swamp that made us forget we were inside an industrial complex. “Condemned” design transforms the environment of the attraction using sound effective and interactive set pieces along its lengthy path. The detail of this attraction is of the highest quality, we gazed into a waterfall, walked through the custom built cemetery and experienced various startle scares created by animatronic props. While “Condemned” is visually impressive, we found it to be the least scary attraction at FrightWorld. The attraction featured less actors than the other four which slightly hurt the overall experience. A few more scare actors hidden along the impressively detailed set pieces would make “Condemned” the perfect “swamp/outdoor” themed haunted attraction.

Night StalkersNIGHT-STALKERS-LOGO-FINAL1

The final attraction visited, “Night Stalkers”, is the most innovative haunted attraction we have ever experienced.  “Night Stalkers” is by far one of the creepiest, mentally disturbing and scariest haunted attractions of the 2015 haunt season. “Night Stalkers” is a mature, disturbing experience that is best described as an interactive video-game/movie experience, that encourages guests to explore the dark catacombs of this unique attraction. There is no attraction like “Night Stalkers” in the tristate area and the innovative technologies used by this attraction made the trip to FrightWorld unforgettable.  As we entered “Night Stalkers” the attendant handcuffed a flickering “flashlight” to our arms, our only source of light as we made our way through the gritty hallways of this mature attraction. The flashlight turns on, flickers and turns off randomly along the attraction and actors are hidden amongst the darkness. We explored each room cautiously, and the attractions design kept us constantly in fear as we never knew what to expect. The level of detail encourages exploration, yet the flashlights unpredictably made us feel as though we had to preserve the “light” to escape.  The interactive flashlight is not a gimmick, and adds immensely to this creepy, and hauntingly disturbing attraction. Mature scenes, from dead bodies sitting in church pews, to actors who hid in the walls made this experience terrifying. We found ourselves looking over our shoulders, searching each crack and crevice of the room to discover what was the source of our fears. This is by far one of the most innovative haunted attractions in the tristate area and adds an unparalleled level of immersion to the haunted attraction experience.

Throughout the attraction, we often found ourselves loosing track of the scare actors as the flashlight turned off and on. A constant urge to explore the detailed environments added to the dark atmosphere of this dungeon-like attraction. Several scenes featured in “Night Stalkers” are disturbing and mature. Pews of dead bodies greeted us along the darkness, and flickering lights constantly played tricks with our minds. It was difficult to guess what was “next” in this attraction as the constant manipulation of light and a false sense of control exerted by the “flashlight” made “Night Stalkers” an immersive experience that is unique to FrightWorld.

Night Stalkers

NEW for 2015! Buffalo's FIRST EVER interactive flashlight experience. Night Stalkers. Only at Frightworld, America's Screampark.

Posted by Frightworld America's Screampark on Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Final Word

FrightWorld America’s Screampark is one of our all-time favorite haunted attractions, featuring innovative, mature attractions that feature intricate details that have forever been etched into our memories. The attraction generates constant fear, and utilizes dark creativity to achieve this feat. Actors cannot touch you at FrightWorld, yet constantly come close and display a level of creepiness that disturbs throughout each attraction. The elaborate set designs of each attraction are above and beyond many mainstream haunted attractions, and play on individual phobias/fears. FrightWorld’s design is almost flawlessly executed as they use effective line management to ensure guests enter each attraction in small groups. The talented scare actors use the detailed set designs to create a unique, interactive experience in each diverse haunted attraction. Character and make-up designs of each actor are perfectly themed to each attraction and allow actors to interact with guests without touching. Minor touching would add to the terror level of the attraction and contact nights would be a welcome addition to this incredible haunted attraction. The hard-work, and dedication of the management, actors and staff of FrightWorld. is to be commended as they have created a very special haunted attraction experience. We cannot wait to visit FrightWorld again next year and strongly suggest you make the trip as you will experience an unforgettable haunted attraction experience and impressive technological innovations in a custom built nightmare.

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Secretions Short Film Review – Anyone For Some Blood and Guts a la Carte?

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Starring Zia Electric, David Macrae, Chris Savva

Directed by Goran Spoljaric


Only a select few know the true horrors of one’s basement (hell, I’ve got one that floods regularly) – but in director Goran Spoljaric’s extremely “juicy” short film, Secretions – we see just what lives in a grimy cellar…and what it craves in order to sustain. Anyone have any sanitizer? We’re gonna need it for this one.

Alone and held captive in a dirty-subterranean room, a woman is literally fighting for her life, and due to her being chained at the ankle, it’s painfully obvious that she’s here for the long haul. On the first floor of this residence, a deal is being made, and it’s one that will either help or harm a hopeless addict.

It involves a little handy-work down in the basement, and although it might seem like a light job considering the circumstances…nothing is as easy as it initially looks – anyone for some blood and guts a la carte? The imprisoned woman contains something inside of her that is particularly satiating to the habituated, but it comes at a painful price, which begs the question: what would you risk to scratch an itch?

Spoljaric’s direction here focuses on the victim – and while you’ll probably be wondering exactly who that is during this quickie’s 11-minute duration, it doesn’t detract from its powerful display. Gritty, grimy and ultimately gruesome – these Secretions are the ones that simply cannot be washed off – maybe I’ll give a little turpentine a shot, as something’s got to get these damned stains out – YUCK.

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Mindhunter Review: The Best Netflix Original Series to Date

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Starring Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Hannah Gross, Sonny Valicenti, and Cameron Britton.

Directed by David Fincher, Andrew Douglas, Asif Kapadia, and Tobias Lindholm.


A few weeks back Netflix premiered all ten episodes of David Fincher’s new serial killer series “Mindhunter” on their streaming service. Being that Fincher is one of our favorite directors we added the series to our queues as soon as possible. And this past week – after recapping and reviewing all 9 episodes of “Stranger Things 2” – we were finally able to sit down and enjoy the (much) more adult thriller series.

What did we think? Find out below…

First off we should get a few things like plot and background out of the way. “Mindhunter” is based on the best-selling non-fiction novel of the same name by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The book was optioned by none other than David Fincher and Charlize Theron and quickly thereafter snatched up by Netflix. The series is executive produced and (mostly) written by Joe Penhall.

The plot follows a young FBI agent played by Jonathan Groff who, after an incident in the field, is set to be a teacher at Quantico. Kinda boring. Especially for a guy under thirty. Quickly, however, the young agent joins forces with a seasoned pro, played by Holt McCallany (Fight Club) in a star-making performance, and together the two tour the country educating local police on the proper protocols established by the FBI.

That is, until the day that our young agent gets it in his head that he wants to interview Ed Kemper. Yes, That Ed Kemper. From there the series becomes the story of the FBI and its very beginnings of psychological profiling. The series even goes so far as to lay out the tale of how the term “serial killer” was first coined.

In the hands of any other filmmaker, this semi-procedural thriller would have, most likely, not been our cup of tea. But in the hands of master director David Fincher, “Mindhunter” is quite possibly the most riveting police procedural to ever hit the small screen. Hyperbole, we know. But come on, have you seen Fincher’s Zodiac?

Yeah, now picture that motion picture spread out over the course of ten glorious hours and you’ll have somewhat of an idea of how much fun(?) it was to spend the better part of our free time last week in the grips of such as series.

First off special mentioned needs to be thrown at the killer cast of “Mindhunter.” Each actor is phenomenal. From our hero agents played by Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv, the series only gets better with powerhouse after powerhouse performance hitting us from the likes of Jack Erdie as Richard Speck, Adam Zastrow as a lonely (possible) rapist, and Joseph Cross and Jesse C. Boyd as a pair of (possible) ladykillers.

Oh, and Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper. Oh, boy. Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper.

I could spend this entry review telling you guys about how chilling, disturbing and utterly riveting Cameron Britton’s performance as Ed Kemper (aka The Co-Ed Killer) is, but you really need to see it for yourself to get the full picture. The series has more than it’s fair share of spine-chilling moments, to be sure. But none are so chilling as any and ever given scene which features Britton as Kemper. Give this man all the awards. Today.

Given the tight performances by the entire cast – including solid turns by the lowest day player – “Mindhunter” would be a crowning achievement for Netflix. But add in some of the top directors working today (including, in addition to Fincher, Andrew Douglas, Asif Kapadia, and Tobias Lindholm) and beautiful 2:35 cinematography by Erik Messerschmidt and Christopher Probst, and you have a series so jaw-droppingly cinematic, you’ll be amazed this never played in theaters. And was never meant to.

Overall I cannot think of one negative thing to say about this new Netflix original series.

Well, maybe one thing: Hannah Gross as Debbie Mitford is a dull character. This is not a jab at Gross as an actress. But her mostly one-note, under-developed character is forced to spend the majority of her screentime merely portraying “the girlfriend.” Which in a series like this means she merely functions, for a majority of her screentime, a receptacle of exposition once our hero returns home after a long day.

But other than that one aspect, this Netflix original series is top quality from end to end. From the spooky pre-credits insights into the growing storm that is Dennis Rader aka the BTK killer to the season’s finale sequence set in Kemper’s ICU room, “Mindhunter” is a chilling – and frankly scary series that you won’t be able to shake for months.

And most, if not all of the scares, come courtesy of long dialogue scenes – which are anything other than boring.

In the end, Mindhunters is a series that we cannot wait to see continue forward come season two. Fincher has reportedly stated that Charles Manson will play a pivotal role in the second season, and we are actively counting down the days until we can visit that character… From the comfort of our Netflix account.

“Mindhunter” is a must-see. Get ahead of the game. Watch the series tonight.

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Kill, Baby… Kill! Blu-ray Review – Bava’s Baroque Brilliance in HD!

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Starring Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Valerio Valeri, Erika Blanc, Giana Vivaldi

Directed by Mario Bava

Distributed by Kino Lorber


The name Mario Bava conjures forth images of vivid cinematography and a sumptuous gothic atmosphere; traits that have defined his work and influenced countless filmmakers. Bava was no stranger to these elements when it came time to make Kill, Baby… Kill! (a.k.a. Operazione Paura/Operation Fear, 1966), having already produced all-time classics such as Black Sunday (1960) and Blood and Black Lace (1964) by that point. But Kill, Baby… Kill! plays like an amalgamation of all Bava had done before, concentrating his dripping atmosphere, Victorian romanticism, and stellar, often hallucinatory, camera work into one career-defining feature. Many of his most vocal celebrants, chief among them Bava biographer Tim Lucas, have lauded its spectral elements as iconic to Italian horror cinema. Bava has a rich and varied filmography, one that frequently jumps genres, but for those looking to drink deeply in his oeuvre Kill, Baby… Kill! is a fitting place to start.

In a decaying Carpathian village, a woman plunges to her death after being pursued by an unseen force. Dr. Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) is sent to perform her autopsy. The locals, however, are a superstitious lot and they believe the woman was done in by the ghost of a young girl who haunts the village. Despite some resistance, Dr. Eswai completes his autopsy, finding a silver coin embedded in the heart of the woman. Later, he learns the story of the supposed spook: Melissa Graps (Valerio Valeri), daughter of Baroness Graps (Giana Vivaldi), who died at a young age and continues to roam the cobblestone streets, killing all she meets. While in town Paul meets Monica (Erika Blanc), a young woman who has returned to visit the grave of her parents. Later, Nadienne (Micaela Esdra), daughter of the local innkeepers, is visited by Melissa but Ruth (Fabienne Dali), a witch, reverses the curse to prevent certain death… for a while. Paul, meanwhile, comes across two gravediggers attempting to bury the body of Inspector Kruger, with whom he was to meet that same night regarding a bit of crucial information.

Eventually, it comes to the light that Melissa is the daughter of Baroness Graps and, furthermore, Monica’s parents were servants in the Graps homestead. Karl (Luciano Catenacci), the town burgomeister, attempts to prove these claims with documentation but, wouldn’t you know it, Melissa kills him before the paperwork can be produced. No one else in town is willing to assist Paul and Monica so they take their suspicions to the Baroness herself, who concedes her role in the town slayings stems from an incident many years back in which Melissa was killed due to sheer negligence on the part of the townspeople. But that isn’t the only revelation to come from the Baroness’ confession, and Paul & Monica’s long night of torment won’t end until someone is laid to rest.

Bava had only been out of the gothic horror game for a few years before he produced this film, and it’s clear the Master of Atmosphere didn’t lose a step in that time. Viewers can consider the story secondary to the austere, gloomy Carpathian environment, which is so sumptuous that drinking it in becomes compulsory. When I think of horror, in maybe a more “classic” sense, the aesthetic Bava achieves here is that concept brought to motion. It isn’t just the atmosphere, but also in the camera angles and framing where Bava gives his film an E.C. Comics feel. The scene where Dr. Eswai comes across a duo of grimy gravediggers might as well have been ripped straight from a splash page in Tales from the Crypt. Much of that sensation can also be attributed to Bava’s love of lush colors, which permeate the earthen environments like a mastered brushstroke.

Adding the necessary accoutrements of romance and haunting regality is composer Carlo Rustichelli’s classical score. Rustichelli had previously provided the soundscape to The Whip and the Body (1963), another one of Bava’s celebrated gothic romances. Although Bava had the great fortune of working with some of Italy’s top film composers – luminaries like Ennio Morricone and Stelvio Cipriani – the music provided by Rustichelli replays in my head most frequently because it perfectly complements the atmosphere Bava sought to achieve. Kill, Baby… Kill! is like a baroque painting come to life, fully immersing viewers in a strange and mystical place.

Kino says this release is sourced from a new 2K scan taken from 35mm film elements, but the results of this 1.85:1 1080p image are less satisfactory than Arrow’s recent U.K. release. For one thing, there is a slight push toward green over the picture. This skews the colors and gives the image a slight malaise. Contrast is acceptable but hardly solid. There is a pronounced softness to many scenes, with fine detail lacking throughout. A few moments near the climax show a distinct shift in quality, too. While this is by no means a bad image it doesn’t appear less faithful and defined than the region-free Arrow edition.

Both English and Italian audio are included, though the former sports an LPCM 2.0 mono track while the latter has to settle for lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. The Italian track sounds slightly muffled and has less presence (surprise), while the English dub is more robust and has a less cramped feel. Rustichelli’s score sounds much better in lossless, making the English track a clear winner. Subtitles are available in English.

Former “Video Watchdog” editor and Bava biographer Tim Lucas provides an expectedly scholarly audio commentary track.

“Kill, Bava, Kill!” is a 2007 featurette with Lamberto Bava, son of Mario, discussing his family and visiting some of the filming locations seen here.

An international theatrical trailer and “German Opening Title Sequence” (which looks very rough) are also included, along with “Interview with Erika Blanc”, and a trio of hilarious American TV spots. Seriously, if you watch any bonus feature on this disc make it that one.

Special Features:

  • BRAND NEW HD MASTER
  • Audio commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark
  • English-language soundtrack
  • Italian-language soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles
  • “Kill, Bava…Kill!” (a 2007 documentary by David Gregory, in which Lamberto Bava revisits the location where the film was shot, 25:02)
  • Theatrical trailer (2:32)
  • Three TV Spots (:60 :30 :10)
  • German title sequence (3:30)
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