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Halls of Horror 2016 Review

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Halls of Horror

14633501_704791066364408_4049489745761132417_o

320 Delaware Ave

Palmerton, PA 18071

Webpage: http://www.hallsofhorror.net

Introduction:

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.

14434915_696935827149932_1867823102385697431_oHalls 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

Attraction:

14425458_700638233446358_2195208398439754474_oThis 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.14424718_696947217148793_1807257980777653639_o

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.

 

 

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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User Rating 3.59 (22 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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User Rating 4.13 (23 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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