320 Delaware Ave
Palmerton, PA 18071
Halls of Horror, may very well be the most extreme, scariest haunted attraction in the country that you likely have never discovered before. The lack of attention this attraction receives from mainstream media outlets promoting “extreme” haunts is a shame, as this haunt is physically exhausting and psychologically disturbing. The passionate management, staff members, actors and volunteers have created by far the most innovative, extreme (yet safe), haunted attractions quite possibly in the country. So many so-called extreme haunts pop up on various web pages, review sites and paid for advertisements none of which possibly ever live up to their advertised hype. We have visited many of the so called “extreme” events and nothing compares to the level of twisted creativity, pure aggression and psychological torment doled out by the house of torment known as the Halls of Horror. Every single season this attraction continues to deliver in creating a truly adult, mature themed attraction that creates an immersive horror experience coupled with a traditional haunted attraction. This is not an attraction for those who are easily offended and unable to let down their guard and become direct participants in a horrific show that is mentally and physically exhausting. Halls of Horror creates genuine fear, placing its victims in uncomfortable situations, using aggressive scare tactics and psychological triggers to create an unforgettable experience. There is an insane purpose to each scare, physicality is used to create fear a sense of helplessness that continuously augments and enhances fear.
Halls of Horror, is almost indescribable in its ability to generate real “fear”, yet never crosses the line between an “extreme” haunt and all-out assault. “Extreme” haunts seem to be using violence and torture to garner their reputations yet these experiences are not exactly entertaining. Halls of Horror is the perfect balance between “extreme” and “traditional/classic” haunted attractions as while physical, they are extremely professional in how they operate their attraction. Limits are pushed even further this year and Halls of Horror prides itself on scaring guests to the point of submission. At times it’s hard to differentiate between reality and the show itself, as the attraction has mastered the art of cultivating a sense of vulnerability as a scare tool. Guests are at the mercy of each demented actor, and there is no doubt that this is an aggressive, mature attraction. Halls of Horror, while physical, also features dark humor, off-color set designs and characters that do not cater to those who are not willing to let go of their inhibitions. For those who will enjoy the experience, the Halls of Horror brings fear to a new level, creating an experience that will forever be ingrained in their minds. This is a truly special haunted attraction for adults and one of our all-time favorite visits each season.
This attraction is clearly advertised for mature haunt fans, is no place for children and is a psychological and physically demanding haunted attraction. There is not a haunted attraction on the East Coast which successfully has coupled aspects of the “extreme” haunt scene with a more “classical” haunted attraction like Halls of Horror, and any haunt fan or fan of Halloween in general would do themselves a disservice if they do not visit this amazing attraction every single year. Halls of Horror offers two experiences, the less interactive regular attraction or the highly interactive and at ominous “Blood Experience”. We once again partook in the hardcore “Blood Experience” and once again in complete shock at the depraved horrors found throughout this immersive horror journey.
The dark dungeon of the Halls of Horror, is filled with mature horrors at every turn and is a must visit this year. This is by far the most psychologically and physically exhausting haunted attraction ever visited and continues to evolve every year, moving in a direction that features nonstop violence, twisted interactions with scare actors, sexual themes and uncomfortable situations all designed to create mental scars. This attraction is not to be taken lightly and is not a joke. As soon as we arrived, we witnessed a group “quit” the regular attraction, visibly shaking and terrified. A few moments later another group entered the “Blood Experience” and could not make it past the first room. The creative team thrives on this creative use of adult themes to generate legitimate fear and uses sick, twisted ideas to scare and always entertain. If you choose the “Blood Experience”, you must accept you are now at the mercy of the Halls of Horror. This attraction is an all-out physical, and psychological assault. We felt as if we were fighting for our survival, left soaked in “blood” and subjected to acts of simulated torture that have once again left a lasting impact on our psyche
This review will cover the Halls of Horror’s “Blood Experience”, which is the more interactive/hardcore option offered by the attraction once again for the 2016 season. You quickly understand that this attraction is designed for fear as they radioed the actors to quote “f*ck us up good” prior to our descent into the dungeon atmosphere of the attraction. The prelude to torture features a musty, foggy, damp room with a twisted young scare actor pointing a “gun” at us in a rather unsettling manner. The disturbing scare acting displayed by this character left goosebumps as we moved along the journey. Throughout each scene, insanity and violence coupled with mature themes augments a constant sense of expecting the worse. Actors hidden throughout the darkness bring a level of unparalleled aggression in creating personal interactive experiences. We were grabbed viciously from virtually all directions, constantly taunted, slammed/thrown/pinned against walls and forced to play twisted games with the insane freaks and monsters that inhabit this attraction. The detailed set designs are straight out of an R-rated horror movie and serve as a backdrop that allows the actors to perform unforgettable acts of extreme scare acting. Halls of Horror relies not only on the physical nature of extreme haunts, but also uses sound effects, lighting and claustrophobic set designs to cultivate a terrifying environment. Scare actors violently smash loud chains, pop out of the darkness, and a booming metal-rock soundtrack helps create an atmosphere of constant paranoia. It is almost impossible to escape each insane scare actor as they will relentlessly stalk and hunt down guests until they achieve the intended result of garnering a reaction. Halls of Horror does not care if you are traveling in a group, they will separate, and subject each guest to blood soaked interactions that change depending on the makeup of each group.
The insane actors who never let up on the guests make the experience memorable. It is hard to forget the mental imagery of a disturbed pregnant woman “ejecting” her fetus into a pile of empty pills and beer cans, and a twisted clown who had us play a “game” in a dark ball-pit scene. The interactive scenarios presented by Halls of Horror are not for those who are easily or unable cannot complete an aggressive haunted attraction. As mentioned previously you will either have to let go of any inhibitions and “submit” to the attractions experience, or quit. During our visit we were force fed “feces” from an insane mental patient, had to play a game of “Milk the Pig” (which could best be described as grabbing the nipples of a large pig faced butcher with a feminine voice), had a clown paint us in blood with an “ice cream cone”, slap the backside of hanging body bags and were chocked by a butcher’s entrails. These obscure, twisted scenes of violence are unlike any other in a haunted attraction. These scenarios are just a sampling of what to expect in this year’s even darker, more violent yet always entertaining show.
Halls of Horror is a dungeon of unadulterated horror, the disturbing imagery, sensory deprivation, and use of “blood” coupled with the insanity of each talented actor will always be imprinted in each of our mind. The intricate details of each set design are the perfect set piece for dark, mature interactions with the scare actors, as the attraction uses tight spaces, effective lighting and gruesome violent imagery to create fear. There is absolutely no downtime, or weak areas of this attraction as each corridor is filled with non-stop action and unrivaled aggression. Character design of each scare-actor is of the highest quality, an each set effectively builds upon fear throughout the attraction. While we always wish the attraction was longer (it has been expanded this year), we were still physically and mentally spent as we escaped a final encounter with a knife yielding maniac, after a depraved hillbilly “birth” scene. Halls of Horror is non-stop horror entertainment and a horror movie come to life and continues to display its passion for creating an entertaining, safe yet extreme experience that innovates in bringing full immersion into a traditional haunted house design.
The Final Word:
Respect the Halls of Horror and you will experience a once in a lifetime horror experience unlike any other haunted attraction. Allowing yourself to take part in the “Blood Experience” is allowing yourself to engage in a horror movie come-to-life, featuring nonstop action, aggression and torment. This is a mature, adult themed attraction geared at haunt fans that want more from their run of the mill attractions. Halls of Horror is a perfect mix of extreme and classic haunts, creating a show that is terrifying, humorous and always engaging. This is one of the most memorable haunted attractions ever visited by our review team and must see this 2016 haunt season. There is literally no attraction that comes close to the organized chaos created by this innovative attraction and we hope to continue to see them grow and prosper.
Atlantic Rim: Resurrection Review – The #MechToo Movement Has Little Regard for the Ladies
Directed by Jared Cohn
WARNING: This review does contains spoilers! It’s also a review of an Asylum mockbuster of Pacific Rim: Uprising so I’m not really sure it matters. You pretty much know what you’re getting. People inside giant robots punching giant monsters in the face. Sometimes shooting at them. Duh!
It truly is a bold creative decision in this era of #metoo to have the third act of your movie begin with two male characters, neither of whom has been shown piloting a giant robot previously, grounding the two female robot pilots by locking them in a room in order to go do their job for them and kill the giant monsters that have previously defeated the ladies. Oh, sure, there’s some “mechsplaining” as to how these two guys are sidelining the gals for their own well-being, but even then there’s something unintentionally hilarious about these fellas seemingly deciding to not even trust the women to succeed in what is tantamount to a suicide mission.
Not to mention that one of these young ladies has been infected, potentially fatally, by monster venom and hardly anyone seems terribly concerned about this.
But then I am talking about an Asylum production entitled Atlantic Rim: Resurrection about military officers and scientists piloting giant battle bots (that kind of look like 1980’s Tonka robot toys) to fight giant mutant crawdad-like creatures (that look like perfectly acceptable Ultraman foes) along the East Coast of the United States, even though the city being attacked looks suspiciously Californian. In fact, The Asylum website’s own plot synopsis seemingly forgot it was supposed to be set on the Atlantic seaboard and outright states the monsters are destroying Los Angeles. Their website also wrongly lists the film’s release date as February 15, 2017.
Keeping with those high Asylum standards of continuity, Atlantic Rim: Resurrection is The Asylum’s mockbuster sequel of the forthcoming Pacific Rim: Uprising, even though the original Atlantic Rim, released in 2013 to coincide with the original Pacific Rim, was actually distributed in North America under the alternate title Attack from Beneath for reasons I presume were to avoid matters of a litigious nature. Nonetheless, here’s a sequel with a very sequel-y sounding title despite most American viewers probably not knowing the previous film by that title.
And you know what? Absolutely none of that matters.
What matters is that this mockbuster follow-up finally answers one of the great scientific questions of our times: Robonet or Python – which neural operating system is the best for psychically synching Go! Go! Gobots! with their human operators? Or, as I found myself thinking after nearly 20+ minutes of technobabble that is truly more babble than techno, “Are they ever gonna shut up and punch a giant monster? I’m here to see big ugly monsters get face punched by big ugly robots, dammit!”
In the time it takes this sequel to finally get around to its first full-on robot vs. monster battle, the first Atlantic Rim had already seen more monster destruction and chaos, more molten hot robot on monster action, and far more entertaining scenes of a trio of monster-mashing robot pilots hanging out in bars getting plastered. The first had more of everything you would want from an Asylum knock-off of Pacific Rim about insubordinate alcoholics operating giant robots to save the East Coast from gargantuan sea dragons. Despite the main scientist brought in to get the robots and pilots fully synched up looking perpetually hung over, this sequel lacks the “Mighty Drunken Broski Ranger” attitude, the cartoonish delirium, and ham-fisted acting of the original that led me to pen a three-star review.
Not to say there isn’t any fun to be had here; just nothing that entertains quite like watching David Chokachi swaggering through a film like a drunk broski in dire need of an intervention as he and his fellow hard-drinkin’ robot pilots beat a seemingly lost and confused giant monster over the head with huge metal hammers while an unhinged, one-eyed military officer holds his commanding officers at gunpoint demanding they allow him to nuke something, anything. None of the stars of the go-for-broke original returns for this mostly by-the-numbers sequel I almost want to say makes the mistake of being too grounded in reality than its wacko predecessor except it’s hardly realistic.
For a film that devotes so much time to over-explaining the concept, I found myself baffled as to why the pilots still had to manually work gear shifts and push all manner of dashboard buttons to operate robots supposedly powered by their minds. Did my mind sink into the Drift during this endless mind-melding chatter and I missed something clarifying this sticking point?
Anyhow, let’s meet our heroic robot pilots:
- “Hammer” – The black guy. That means he dies first. There’s also another African-American who’ll climb into a robot cockpit for the final battle. He’ll also die. The main Jaeger pilot in Pacific Rim: Uprising is black. Willing to bet he lives. Not woke, Asylum. So not woke.
- “Badger” – Speaking of not woke, the men of the #MechToo movement will come to decide they don’t need no stinkin’ Badger.
- “Bugs” – She’s got a lot of attitude. Claims her nickname is because she “stings like a bee.” She gets stung, alright.
The always dependable Paul Logan makes a brief appearance as a soldier because – why not? Paul Logan always plays a soldier. He isn’t given much of anything to do here, and that’s a shame. Logan already looks like the lovechild of G.I. Joe and He-Man. Why not go for the Transformers trifecta by strapping him into a mech and let him get his Rock’em Sock’em Robot on?
Logan’s primary function is to show only a passing regard for the well-being of his wife and daughter, a tacked on subplot that sees the two women fleeing on foot as kaiju of various sizes rampage in the vicinity. Of course there has to be a family separated, desperately trying to survive and reunite amid the calamity because, of course there is – it’s an Asylum movie!
The resolution to this subpar subplot could not have been any more anticlimactic if dad had just sent an Uber to pick them up from the danger zone, which, honestly, isn’t that far off from what actually happens.
One nifty twist is that a colossal crawdad from aquatic hell spews forth hundreds of little buggers into the streets of East Coast L.A. The characters will refer to these lesser chitinous kaiju as “insects,” “spiders,” and “arachnids” but never “bugs,” presumably to not cause audience confusion with the character who already sports that call sign. They mostly call them “spiders” in spite of the fact that they really don’t look like spiders. More like oversized earwigs. I’m not even sure they had eight legs.
Don’t even ask me to explain what the “Resurrection” in Atlantic Rim: Resurrection means, either. Since this is a mockbuster of Pacific Rim: Uprising, they should have gone with Atlantic Rim: Rising Up since the film begins with giant monsters literally rising up from the sea. Would have made more sense.
On the plus side, any movie where humans using state-of-the-art mind-controlled giant battle bots armed with super science weapons to fight otherworldly giant monsters from the ocean depths yet still has a moment where an injured pilot cracks open a control panel inside his futuristic robot and takes out a plastic blue case labeled “First Aid Kit” that is overstuffed with almost nothing but Band-Aids still earns a merit badge in audacity from me.
Not nearly the Rimjob I was hoping for.
The Cured Review – Ellen Page Fights for Her Life
Written and directed by David Freyne
Taking a cue from AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” the new Irish horror film The Cured begins where most zombie stories end. Drawing more comparisons, the themes of mistrust and social upheaval are front and center here as well. We’re the real villains, and the infectious disease turning humans into monsters is only there to hold up a mirror to show the worst sides of ourselves. The Cured uses the zombie mythos as Romero intended as a commentary on culture, with a little cannibalism thrown in for good measure.
Against the backdrop of a military takeover attempting to reintroduce the recently cured back into society, two people try to return to some kind of normalcy in a war-torn Ireland that’s been turned upside down by the zombie menace. Recently widowed, Abbey (Page) allows her now virus-free brother-in-law Senan (Keeley) to live with her and her son, even though most survivors are forced to live in an army encampment. Under constant surveillance, Senan’s old friend Conor (Vaughan-Lawlor) radicalizes the mistreated survivors of the virus into open rebellion.
The treatment of the survivors isn’t entirely unfair considering that they still have a connection and are not detected by a small percentage of the infected that haven’t responded to the cure. As both sides size each other up, Abbey and Senan are caught in the middle as they try to restore their humanity before the powder keg around them erupts.
Given its far out premise, the story stays firmly grounded in reality, focusing on the growing resistance and its political implications, drawing parallels to the protest movements such as the “Black Block” that have dominated some recent news cycles. When the virus divided the population, it was easy to know what side you were on; now, the cure has created a new class structure where the lower class is maligned until they cross the line and overthrow the uninfected. Clearly still affected and haunted by the heinous acts they committed when they were infected, the cannibalistic rage they still carry reflects the rage felt by the mistreated masses hellbent on overthrowing the powers-that-be.
Whether for budget reasons or simply a style choice, the eating frenzies that occurred before the cure are never fully shown so any gore and graphic images that could’ve been showcases for effects are left to the imagination. Maybe they weren’t shown because these acts were so unspeakable that they are too horrific to see and too painful to fully be remembered by the survivors. The top-notch sound design ratchets up instead and roars to life to the point where just hearing the carnage is enough to make you turn away.
Page’s performance is the emotional core of the film as she goes from understanding to fear to dealing with the ultimate betrayal. It’s important for a slow-developing story like this to have an actress with some star power, and director David Freyne and his team were fortunate to have a high caliber actress ready to deliver in some of the film’s quieter, more intense moments. Freyne directs these smaller character moments with care and also delivers once things open up to show the inevitable anarchy brimming under the surface.
The Cured may feel too closed off at times to allow its bigger ideas to fully breathe, but it never pretends to encompass a more epic scope that would be more in the vein of something like World War Z. Without ever addressing it directly, Freyne, as an Irishman, seems well aware of the history of the country; and he and cinematographer Piers McGrail inject their film with a pathos that makes Dublin come to life inside the world of the undead.
The Cured is a gritty take on the genre that fits nicely into the new type of storytelling that these stories need to embrace in a post-Romero world.
Bad Apples Review – Rotten Fruit, Indeed
Starring Brea Grant, Graham Skipper, Alycia Lourim
Directed by Brian Coyne
Like a seriously bad rash, some films stick with you regardless of whichever topical ointment you slather in generous fashion over your regions – ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce today’s orbital irritant: Bad Apples.
Directed (rather misdirected) by Brian Coyne, this lamentably sterile piece of celluloid follows a couple of murderous sisters, donning horrific (and not in a good sense) masks, and generally putting the sharp edges to random folk on Halloween night…case closed. Only problem here is this: the film has no pulse, no interesting characters to speak of, and basically nothing to redeem or recapture the time that you’ll have spent watching this complete dud. A husband and wife duo has a spotlight on them as well, but their tempestuous relationship makes rooting for them about as pleasing as sitting through 3 hours of Olympic curling…absolutely brutal. Also, you’re reading the babblings of a guy who loves to put the boots to any film that has been deemed “unwatchable”, but this complete wreck of a production is entirely that – something so remedial and uninspired that to type an endless array of rightful vitriol would be an utter waste of time.
So I’ll go on a bit longer with my public display of vehemence, as the casting seems WAY out of whack, and the production? Whoa…don’t even get me started on this – okay, I’ll go on a bit. With differing levels of sound editing, you’ll get the feeling at times like you could pick up a needle drop inside of a concert hall, and other frames of dialogue are so muddled they’re incomprehensible (not like you’ll feel the need to know what’s going on). Wonky camera angles and following shots are so horrendously captured, you’ll be wishing to watch your Mom and Dad’s old home movies just to gain a sense of stability. I normally pride myself on not begging this particular audience to take what I say to heart, or to shy away from something that could potentially ruin their eyesight, but believe me when I plead with you: do not waste your valuable time on this shipwreck – even if your time isn’t all that valuable: don’t waste it. Find something else to do and take a big ol’ pass on this wannabe slasher.
I don’t mean to pick on the low-hanging fruit, but these Apples should be batted away with a Louisville Slugger.
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