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Hanna Haunted Acres has a new attraction this year unlike any other haunting experience in the city.

The aptly-named Hooded requires a signed acknowledgement of the risks involved in the unique do-touch haunt that puts patrons in an opaque hood, robbing them of their ability to see. Stumbling blindly through a possessed dungeon of death, victims must feel their way out via a rope that leads the way.

The experience creates a completely new sensation that’s both terrifying and exhilarating.

Kristine

Kristine

Hooded was the most unique haunt I’ve ever been to. The creatures can touch, grab or breathe behind you the whole way through.

 

 

 

 

 

Lincoln

Lincoln

The coolest attraction by far was Hooded. The actors can touch you, which always makes the scare a little more real. While there is not much to see, your other senses take over and take the scare to another level!

 

 

 

 

Hanna’s classic hayride boasts a few updated scenes in 2014, with all your favorite classics still in play. This, too, is a one-of-a-kind attraction that can’t be found at any other local haunt. The tractor-pulled hayride crawls along slowly to give plenty of time to take in all the details along the way. Actors don’t touch, but they come out of nowhere and from all different angles.

 

Brendon

Brendon

I was very impressed by the hay ride at Hanna Haunted Acres. Even though it was not the scariest haunt that I have been to, the use of props, lighting, and timing really made it stand out from all other hayrides that I have been on. The part with a gigantic spider got a reaction from everyone on board.

 

 

 

 

Kristine adds, “I truly enjoyed the haunted hayride. It was more of an appreciation than an actual scare, but a lot of fun nonetheless.”

Lincoln concurs, “The hayride was classic and, even though you could clearly see the robotics of the scary creatures, it took me back to being a little kid.”

Alas, the remaining haunts on the $29 ticket ($40 for the VIP fast-pass) completely miss the mark with nonthreatening animatronics on timers and lots of dull actors. We recommend taking advantage of Hanna Haunted Acre’s online-only tickets for a single pass to Hooded or the haunted hayride.

Lincoln notes the missing scare factor in Saw, “The attraction was interesting, but it felt more like a creepy museum with recreated scenes from the movies than a haunt.”

Kristine advises, “I believe Hanna Haunted Acres would be great for middle or high school kids, but might not be the most exciting for adults.”

Hanna Haunted Acres

7323 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46239

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Fast Pass – $40.00 at door or $38.00 online
Combo Pass – $29.00 at door or $27.00 online

Each includes:

  • Haunted Hayride
  • Saw
  • Hooded
  • Outbreak
  • Scarecrow’s Revenge

Online Only Tickets

Weekday Haunted Hayride 4 Pack – $50 online only (valid Sunday through Thursday)

Scarecrow’s Revenge – $12

Single Pass – $19 online only

  • Haunted Hayride
  •  Saw
  • Hooded
  • Outbreak

fear fair silent hillWhen I interviewed Nightmare on Edgewood co-owner Kevin Cook, he vouched strongly for Fear Fair’s top-notch production and high scare intensity. Indeed, Fear Fair’s props range from an early encounter with a colossal prehistoric monster to an alarming run in with Pyramid Head and nurses from Silent Hill.

Fear Fair is equipped for a large crowd with winding wait lines that are thoughtfully adjacent to an elevated entertainment stage and a food booth conveniently accessible from your waiting line. It might take a minute for your turn to go, but we promise your wait is worth it.

Unlike many local haunts offering combo tickets for multiple themed attractions, Fear Fair is one single haunt, but it’s so damn good you won’t need to seek anymore thrills… if you even make it out alive.

Read these three questions from Fear Fair’s FAQ page to get a feel for their attitude and approach to operating their haunted house:

Q. Is it scary?

A. Is that a serious question? This is not your grandma’s haunted punkin patch. We deliver an intense, gut wrenching experience.

Q. If I get scared and can’t make it through, do I get my money back?

A. Are you serious? You paid to be scared. One time this chick called the cops because she said she was scared and we wouldn’t quit scaring her? What a moron.

Q. Are the monsters allowed to touch you?

A. Oh hellz yeah. Our monsters will scare the crap out of you and they might touch you, but you won’t be groped or hurt.

fear fair

puckA true nerd’s dream, Fear Fair features multiple genres of horror from TV, movies and video games. Each section of the haunt was crafted meticulously from the ground up to create an authentic experience relevant to whatever theme was in play. The hand-on experience was clever and tasteful; I wasn’t expecting a zombie to jump out and bite me until it was too late.The production value is among the best I’ve seen so far. [Spoiler Alert] This is the haunt for you if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, Silent Hill, Friday the 13th, Saw, Nightmare on Elm St. or The Shining. – Brandon

erin-perkinsThe hour and half trip from Indianapolis to Seymour was well worth it, as they not only have great production, but they are also all about the fear factor. Using different themes from scary movies, they make it all too real with props and production. Things you think are fake suddenly come to life and the zombies “bite” and grab here too! – Erin

 

 

brandon-faulknerThe production and talent that goes into this experience is really second to none. Non-stop scares, well-planned surprises and terrifying environments are only the beginning in this place. Certain areas are movie-themed and not just in a reminiscent way—they are basically living, breathing recreations of the movie/show/video game’s sets. I wish I wasn’t so scared-shitless in parts so that I could have slowed down to take it all in.

The actors and actresses really get kudos from me here. Timing, intensity, persistence… everything was well-executed and scary as hell. The zombie attacks were seriously intense… nowhere you could run was free of hands reaching out to grab you. Having to literally toss a zombie off my back before it bit me is an experience I’m grateful I’ll never have to deal with in real life. – Brandon

morgan-faulknerFear Fair was hands-down the best haunted house I’ve ever been in and absolutely worth the drive to Seymour – I’m even considering going again sometime before Halloween! You can sense the high level of dedication (and the high budget) when you notice the attention to every detail, even before entering the haunt. A skeleton Alice Cooper-esque karaoke entertainer, various props and building façades all set the tone while customers wait in line.

It’s clear that Fear Fair’s goal is to completely immerse you in the terror; there were no hokey, cheesy props or long, meandering trails or mazes between scenes – in other words, it didn’t feel like a haunted house, it felt REAL. This haunt took us directly from one terrifying scene to the next, many of them were familiar – like their amazingly accurate recreation of The Walking Dead jail and courtyard to the shit-my-pants-scary nurses and Pyramid Head from Silent Hill.  – Morgan

Fear Fair

800 A Ave E, Seymour, Indiana

Dates & Hours

fear fair cal

Admission:

General Admission: $20

Fast Pass (WORTH IT!): $25

cedar-rock-haunted-trail

Conveniently located at the Bill Monroe Music Park in Beanblossom, Ind, this haunted attraction has a great, lively atmosphere including a live band playing on stage and lots of family activities. The highlight for me was the Zombie Challenge, an indoor, mostly-dark maze through a zombie-infested house.

It was thrillingly nerve-wracking sliding down narrow, winding hallways with the Walking Dead theme playing loudly on loop and zombies growling in my ear the entire time. The maze isn’t hard, but that’s a good thing since it’s a real challenge to solve puzzles with a biter breathing down your neck.

Entering the longest haunted trail in the Midwest, adrenaline from the last haunt still running through our veins, we walked right into a zombie attack in the wild that quickly escalated into screams of horror and a quick jog into the next leg of the trail.

The haunted trail was a lovely hybrid of the openness of outdoors and smothering sensation of being locked indoors with monsters and villians. The entire trail, which covers 55 acres, is peppered with trailers and mobile homes to offer a variety of things to “go into” while also enjoying a rugged haunt in the outdoors.

puckCedar Rock Haunt Trail is split up in different sections of the campgrounds in Jamestown, Ind. One particular walk-through had endless The Walking Dead theme music and a fun slide . Another walk-through had us on an outdoor path through the woods complete with animatronics and live scarecrows. -Brandon

 

 

erin-perkinsAll I can say is they can and will touch you. Cedar Rock Haunted Trail is located at a campgrounds with a live band to give you the feeling people are near, but once you start the trail it’s only you and the glow stick down a pitch black trail.

I also loved the zombie maze, which had me in a panic. The zombies were biting at and grabbing us as we had to navigate through dark bending hallways and tunnels. We had to get on our knees and crawl while zombies were close at our heels. – Erin

 

brandon-faulknerSet back in the woods and at over a mile long, this haunted trail and its two other attractions really created an immersive and erie experience with plenty of scares and surprises. I like how the environment and sets were rugged and some areas required crawling, sliding or climbing over obstacles to avoid certain death. Foggy graveyards and actors that really delighted in terrifying everyone in the group made this place great.

The Electro Shock Maze was a must see—adding the fear of being shocked to an already creepy environment. But I think my favorite was the Zombie Challenge which really brought the fear of a zombie apocalypse to life. You couldn’t just shake a zombie attack and move on to the next one… zombies continued to follow and accumulate behind and in front of you, sometimes grabbing and pinching you as a kind of reminder that, had this have been a real zombie outbreak, you’d be toast! – Brandon

 

morgan-faulknerWhen we approached Cedar Rock Haunted Trail I was surprised by the crowd at first, but quickly realized why it was such a popular haunt. With multiple haunted attractions, live music, a hayride and bounce house for the kiddies, you could work your way up to the longest haunted trail in the Midwest by first going through the Electroshock Maze and the seriously scary Zombie Apocalypse Challenge. The Walking Dead intro music really set a chilling vibe for the Zombie Challenge, where the living dead actually touched and grabbed us – this one definitely isn’t for the faint of heart.

Once we were in the haunted trail, we were quickly thrust into the first scene with an eerie abandoned police car. We approached slowly, looking up and forward through the fog and darkness, assuming something would come out of the car when an unexpected snarling zombie appeared on the ground at our feet, grabbing for our ankles. Cedar Rock’s actors were completely dedicated to terrifying us, with some of them even chasing us through the trail, or sneaking up behind us just when we thought we’d lost them. – Morgan

cedar-rock

Cedar Rock Haunted Trail

Bill Monroe Music Park

Beanblossom, Indiana 46160

Dates & Hours

The Haunted Trail is open every weekend in October, as well as a special Halloween Eve treat on Thursday, October 30th! The last day will be Saturday, November 1.

Fridays & Saturdays | 7:30 pm – midnight

Sundays | 7:30 pm – 10 pm

Admission:

$25 combo ticket

$17 haunted trail only

$36 fast pass

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Mike Kaiser’s Poor Farm is a short drive to Franklin, just a few miles south of Indianapolis on 65. The haunted corn maze is only $15 and well worth the cost, given the time it takes to complete the maze. Our group spent a solid 45 minutes, but it could easily take more than an hour to find your way out.

Tall stalks of corn offer adequate cover for the countless actors wielding chainsaws throughout, waiting to jump out when you least expect it. Different types of indoor stations along the way create a sense of smothering stuffiness, contrasted by the vulnerability of walking through a corn field – something you simply can’t experience in the city. If you run from a monster in a corn field, you really have nowhere to go.

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Phobias:

  • Claustrophobia, Nyctophobia (fear of the dark)
  • Kanayaphobia (fear of chainsaws)
  • Formidophobia (fear of scarecrows)
  • Arachnophobia & Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes)
  • Gephyrophobia (fear of bridges)

Pros:

  • Fresh country air
  • Fun to navigate the cornfield maze
  • Good exercise

Things to watch out for:

  • Haunt is all outdoors and subject to weather. Plan accordingly.
  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes. Some trails can be steep and/or muddy.
  • Portapotties were ancient and smelled of death. Coprophobia (fear of poop)

 

puckTry to plan this trip on a cloudless night; you will need the moonlight help your group travel through the darkness. Running from monsters and chainsaws makes navigation through the maze difficult. Getting lost comes with the territory. The haunt also flaunts key farm features including empty corn silos, rickety metal walkways, broken down buses and possessed scarecrows. -Brandon

 

erin-perkinsThe short ride to the countryside for Mike Kaiser’s Poor Farm was scary enough to set the mood for a good old-fashioned back-woods haunt. No flashlights, no cameras, no phone – just you and your friends trying to find the way through a six-foot tall corn maze while being chased by chainsaws. It was worth the drive and money, especially knowing it’s never the same maze year after year. – Erin

 

brandon-faulknerFine details really made this a great haunt to check out. From a nice fire right beside the entrance line to the downed private aircraft buried nose deep at one of the many ends of this sprawling maze, there are well-planned features around every turn. Having to squeeze through the walls in an almost entirely dark farming silo while being chased by zombies was a thrill. The subtle but intentional rustling of corn behind you as you walk in almost complete silence at times is creepier than any chainsaw could ever be. Actors had perfectly-timed scares and used the darkness to their full advantage—silently sneaking up behind and waiting for us to look back to really come alive. My favorite scare had to have been crawling through the abandoned bus with a maniac stomping around on the roof. –Brandon

morgan-faulknerAfter an anticipation-building drive to Franklin, we were beckoned by an inviting bonfire outside the maze entrance. We gathered around the warmth to procrastinate our fate in the corn maze before finally getting in line. Once surrounded by towering stalks, the creepiness of the situation set in; a corn maze really adds a new psychological element when you’re lost in the middle of nowhere! Knowing that there could be something lurking in between every row of corn put me on edge and it seemed that every little rustling sound startled me. – Morgan

MKPF

Mike Kaiser’s Poor Farm

1650 N. 800 E. Franklin IN 46131

mkpf sched

Dusk to Dark (Non-Fright)  Dark to 11:30 (Fright)

Admission:

General Admission – $10

Kids 5 and under – FREE

Hayride – $5

Military Discount Available –  I.D. Required

 

Scarevania 2014 IndyMojo.com Spook Staff

IndyMojo.com Spook Staff at Scarevania with Jingles the Clown

Any first timer to Scarevania will be impressed with the attention to detail that clearly goes into the haunt’s design. From spinning art on the outside walls to larger-than-life creep show relics on the roof – the props and design of Scarevania are over the top. Moreover, any returning victim who has visited in the past will be even more impressed at Scarevania’s ability to provide a nearly unique experience every year.

scarevaniaExpect a fairly long line if you hit Scarevania during peak hours; we found a 10 or 12 minute wait behind a couple of groups in front of us. However long the wait seems, it’s truly worth it once inside and you’re the only victims in the haunt with hardly any risk of running into the group ahead of you.

Luckily, there’s a new creepy stage outside to provide entertainment for patient line-waiters and scaredy cats too afraid to go through the haunt. Expect to see suspension acts, fire breathers, bands, and other live entertainment performing on the stage, in addition to movie screenings and scaryoake.

Scarevania's Carnival Cabaret

Scarevania’s Carnival Cabaret

The first room of Scarevania is perhaps its most memorable, as victims are held captive for several minutes while acclimating to their new environment – plenty of time to examine the thoughtful placement of props from ceiling to floor, from the front of the room to back.

Scarevania upholds a no-touch policy but that doesn’t mean they won’t interact with you. Those who aren’t scaring are clearly pissed off or mentally disturbed and they’re keenly aware of your presence.

Tipsy The Clown provided comedic entertainment from the stage as he stumbled over his own words when reminding us not to touch the actors. A creepy man-baby of a clown who goes by the name Jingles (ask him why) lingered in the corner, offering a childlike laugh at opportune moments.

When we entered the haunt an immediate assault of all senses immediately began: blaring death metal music, shrill screams from all angles and enduring performances that felt authentic as we stumbled by, totally in shock of our surroundings.

The second half of Scarevania takes victims outdoors on a trespassing jaunt where they’re promised not to make it out alive. In a completely different twist from last year’s shadow-filled graveyard trail, one recurring character steals the show with perfectly-timed scares. The outdoor portion of Scarevania has doubled in size, ending the trip on a desolate trail that ends in the longest, most intense chainsaw chase I’ve ever seen.

Gwen StaffAfter attending last year, I was eager to see what would be next for this Muncie haunted house. The heavy metal music paired with tons of terrorizing monsters and sick staging proved yet again to be a winning combination.

My favorite moment came with the rattle and smell of a chainsaw. Usually you can hear and anticipate the moment that you will sprint off without your group however, that was not the case this time. I ran, I ran so fast I didn’t know what was behind or ahead of me. – Gwen

 

dan2As a new contributor to the Spook Staff I did not know exactly what to expect. Scarevania was extremely well organized and managed. Eerie music played as we waited to enter that effectively set the mood to get scared. I liked that half of this haunt took place outside and included children in an interesting way. – Dan

 

 

ziziThis haunted house was set up with quite a bit of imagination and had a “Devil’s Rejects” meets “Nightmare Before Christmas” vibe to it. But, before I knew it, that vibe was gone and I was on the haunted trail outside, which led us through a graveyard of rusty, broke-down campers, RV’s and tall, grassy, unlit paths filled with chainsaw fog. I love chainsaw fog and everything, but I can’t say that I didn’t see or hear the guy coming. They definitely pull all the bells and whistles at Scarevania. Well, all the bells and whistles that they could pull without touching me… which was really the one thing missing from here – hands on interaction. – Zi Zi

 

ramzThey really spent some time on the scenery. We were weaving in and out of some well thought out areas outside. It allowed for actors to interact multiple times through the journey. It felt relatively tame after going to haunts that can touch you. I didn’t realize how much of an impact it has on the fear factor when you know actors aren’t allowed to get into your space; they’re no longer a threat. There were a few actors who stood out, though, such as the creepy little kid who followed us for quite a while, seeming to reappear out of nowhere. He was easy to lose track of due to size. Overall, I think it was a good haunt, especially for the low price of $12. – Matt

Scarevania Haunted House

1911 N Granville Ave
Muncie, Indiana 47303

Thu: 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Fri – Sat: 8:00 pm – 12:00 am

$12

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Year after year, Nightmare on Edgewood lives up to its claim of being Indy’s most intense haunted house and the 2014 season is sure to be no different.

This year the haunt is longer, stocked with new special lighting effects and boasts significant updates to the clown-themed Schizophrenia and the dark maze Hysteria. Nightmare on Edgewood has even increased their staff by 20 people, bringing their total headcount to an astonishing 70 workers.

I had the opportunity to stop in at Nightmare on Edgewood on the afternoon of their opening night to speak with co-owner Kevin Cook. With just hours to go until the first patrons of the season showed up at their gates, Cook was called to the front for our interview via walkie talkie from somewhere deep inside one of the haunted house trailers.

Several minutes later he emerged with beads of sweat dripping from his forehead and streaks of fake blood on his forearms. His brother (and Edgewood co-owner) Paul walked by us with a cinder block in his hands and his head down to the ground as he worked on a waiting line corral.

It quickly became evident that their work is never done. Driven by passion, not profit, they thrive on hearing people scream, cry or laugh and do all they can to make sure their patrons are scared- or at the very least having fun. As it turns out, there’s a lot that goes in to making that vision come to life.

Construction & Logistics

Planning for each new season begins immediately after closing for the previous year. Since Nightmare on Edgewood uses the Edgewood Athletic Association to hold their attractions, they cannot have access to the site until August 1st, at which point they have six weeks to build mostly from the ground up until the fire and safety inspection. After inspection, they have two additional weeks until opening night to finalize and make adjustments as necessary.

The fire inspector walks the haunt from beginning to end to look for things like a smoke alarm installed every 25 feet and a fire exit every 50 feet. He triggers smoke alarms, makes sure exit lights light up, and confirms that everything is backed up by a battery. The entire process takes between one and two hours and even includes pulling things off the walls and setting them on fire.

“Everything has to be flame retardant, and that chemical also has to be mixed into the paint that goes on the walls. A lot of people think you can just throw it up and open the door. There’s a lot more to it,” Cook explains.

Bringing the Haunt to Life

How does one go about planning the layout of a haunted house? Cook says he used to draw everything out to spec on graph paper, but learned over time that it never turns out the way he plans and eventually abandoned the precise plotting. Now, when has an idea, he jots it down as a guiding concept and lets it come together freely and naturally. Pandemonium, the outdoor crate maze, is an example of this phenomenon.

Long-time fans of Nightmare on Edgewood will be pleased to hear that staples like “the bus” and “the house” are still part of the experience, and Cook says he’s OK with that level of familiarity in the haunt because it’s something people look forward to seeing.

“It flirts with reality. They don’t know if it’s really a haunted house anymore.”

Nightmare On Edgewood is also one of the few haunts in the area with a unique do-touch policy, which Cook says has always been the haunt’s rule, despite the occasional complaint.

“We weigh our options that we get way more people that want that than don’t. We hang signs to make it clear that you’re going to get touched. That’s the scare factor. That’s why people come.”

Operating A Haunted House

Cook and his brother are the type of guys who can walk through a commercial haunted house alone and not flinch, which is why one might assume they would both be actively involved in scaring the hell out of their customers. It turns out that their role is just as crucial as the actors, albeit not quite as glamorous.

“We just run around and fix stuff, relieve people for bathroom breaks, or let them take a smoke break. We’ll dress up occasionally and bounce around in the line and have fun with it, too. But believe it or not, when it’s open, stuff breaks. Lights go out, bulbs break, somebody runs through a wall. We kind of run around and do chaos control. It’s pretty hectic.”

Kevin and Paul are very serious about providing an experience that is both terrifying and fun at the same time.

“If people come out of the haunt and there’s one certain room that I get a lot complaints that they didn’t like, we change it,” Cook says, and quickly adds, “… outside of crawling, because everybody complains about crawling.”

Crazy Customers & Scaredy Cats

Cook shrugs when I inquire about over-the-top customers and runs through a list of predictable situations they face every year: customers resentful towards the fast-moving VIP line, patrons with uncontrollable reflexes that throw punches at actors, high school kids that act tougher than they are, and the occasional threat to sue (usually over a splinter or fake blood on a t-shirt). Annoying? Perhaps. A big enough problem to prevent them from operating again? Unlikely.

“We do get a lot of people that quit, usually in the clown area. We usually have between 100 and 200 people that quit over the course of the season. And it’s not all kids; a lot of adults quit, too.

We get a lot of girls that just sit in the corner and don’t move. The good thing about the do-touch policy is that our guys can just pick them up and take off with them to make them move on to the next room.”

The Attractions

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This year, Cook & his brother relinquished creative control of the neon clown haunt to local artist Steve Stephens. Indianapolis residents who have been to the eastside’s Bat Cave batting cages & mini golf will recognize his unique art decorating the walls of this haunt. Unlike Cook, Stephens drafted the big top themed layout and design of Schizophrenia on paper first, then brought it to life with impressive drawings, gallons of glowing paint and a whole lot of devious handiwork.

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The only outdoor haunt at Nightmare on Edgewood, Pandemonium has expanded to be twice as big as it was last year. The haunt’s inhibiants , inspired by The Purge, are hungry for a fresh kill.

Edgewood’s characters are given creative freedom to make their roles uniquely their own – an effective approach that works especially well in Pandemonium.

“One thing we do different from a lot of haunts,” Cook explained while standing next to an abandoned car that acts as the centerpiece of the Pandemonium haunt, “is we don’t give a script. We don’t say, ‘You’re gonna stand here and you’re gonna say this.’ We have 13 people in this area; last year there were only five. I brought them all out here and I said, ‘This is what I want: someone here, someone there, someone there; make it work however you want.’”

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This pitch-dark, feel-your-way-through attraction has been a staple of the Nightmare on Edgewood haunt for years and that’s something that won’t be changing any time soon. Always mindful of providing the best experience possible, customer feedback has played into some notable changes to Hysteria in 2014. Expect the difficulty level to be toned down a few notches, as well as a break from the darkness that’s sure to tickle your senses, thanks in large part to the contributions of art designer Paul Lanner.

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Perhaps the most elaborate haunt at Nightmare on Edgewood, Old School Fright literally puts you shoulder-to-shoulder with all the classic characters you love to hate. Cook notes that the attraction has more props than usual, all of which are operated by the actors (as opposed to timed sensors) for optimally timed scares.

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After a successful first run in 2013, this 4-D ride will return for another year at Nightmare on Edgewood. As detailed in our 2013 review, “Patrons undergo a simulation of being buried alive in The Last Ride. After taking a surprisingly comfortable seat inside of a specially-outfitted coffin, the lid is closed and the pitch-dark ride begins. Without their sense of sight, patrons rely on sound, scent, and touch to keep their sanity as they endure the unique ride.”

Nightmare on Edgewood

Regular Admission: $20

(includes Schizophrenia, Pandemonium, Hysteria and Old School Fright).

VIP Fast Pass Admission: $30

(includes all four haunts mentioned above, plus The Last Ride, and shorter wait times)

edgewood dates

For more scary fun, check out these websites for like-minded haunts:

Indiana Haunts

Indy Haunts

Read our full review of Nightmare on Edgewood 2014 here.

Twisted Darkness - IndyMojo.com Spook StaffKokomo’s Twisted Darkness impressed our Spook Staff from the minute we arrived until the very last scream of the night.

The haunt is housed entirely inside of the historic Kokomo Tire & Rubber Co. Building (1022 S. Main St.) and it’s the perfect space for an elaborate haunted attraction like theirs. With year-round access to the building, owners Ronnie and Steffannee Catron are always tinkering within the depths of Twisted Darkness.

Although Twisted Darkness has been in operation for seven years, the 2014 season presents an entirely new layout that has been rebuilt from the ground up. If you’ve been to Twisted Darkness before, you’ll want to check it out again this year for a brand new experience.

The first half of Twisted Darkness lives up to its name, winding attendees through dimly lit hallways, tunnels and dungeons. Some actors stalked us as we moved about in the haunt, while others played their role from their distinct room. My personal favorite was one particularly flexible patient in the psych ward portion of the haunt.

The second half of Twisted Darkness is less intense, but equally as fun and disorienting. Victims are given 3D glasses to wear through a vivid world of color that’s brought to life by black light responsive paint. A circus-themed maze concludes the attraction that’s simply not as easy as it seems it should be.

The Spook Staff didn’t have the chance to partake in the new zombie hunting attraction since it wasn’t open yet, but Spook Staff veteran Brandon Connolly took good notes while the Catron’s told us about the new attraction:

puckAfter seven years of operation, the crew has decided to convert the 2nd floor of the haunt in to a laser tag zombie zone. This feature will allow groups of four people armed with a laser-tag guns (equipped with CO2 cartridges for firing noise and kick-back effect) to clear all rooms of any zombie threats. The zombie crew dons their laser receivers on their head, so you know, aim for the head (because they’re zombies). Score is kept and uploaded to the Twisted Darkness website so you can compete with friends or try to beat your own high score. This feature will be available for the first time this weekend.

Note: this video is a simulation and does not contain actual footage from the Twisted Darkness zombie hunt.

Spook Staffer Pali (pronounced “Polly”) Endi made note of the haunt’s reputation and production:

paliNear the middle of historic Kokomo, a long, boarded up building stands, ominous. A talented host of zombie actors, gruesome effects, and sense-warping obstacles stand ready to twist the darkness into a truly unnerving synesthetic experience.

For the past seven years, the owners of Twisted Darkness have developed both the building and their talent. Named the number one haunt by The Midwest Haunters Convention in 2011 and 2012 and “Best in Show” by Kokomo’s Haynes Apperson Parade in 2010, the Twisted Darkness staff is regularly recognized for their hard work and demented sense of entertainment. As the saying goes, there is no rest for the wicked; in the off-season, they also travel to conventions to learn from other haunters and add to their prop stockpile. The result is an intricate, multifaceted spectacle, well worth the drive.

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Spook Staff veteran Morgan Walker loved her experience at Twisted Darkness:

morgan-walkerTwisted Darkness had frights built into it that I have never seen in any other haunted house before. At one point I found myself working my way through an air-tight hallway where I couldn’t see anything and had no idea what kind of decrepit creatures would be waiting for me at the other end. The 3D spinning tunnel and the crazy, neon-glowing world were both as exciting as they were scary.

Overall, it is very obvious that the creators of this haunt have put an insane amount of planning into it. The actors were on point, the production was extremely scary and the thought and creativity that went into it was unlike any I have ever seen. Twisted Darkness is definitely worth the hour drive to Kokomo.

Erin Perkins had similar favorite moments:

erin-perkinsTwisted Darkness was exactly what the name implies- a winding path through dark trails and mazes. The hour drive from Indianapolis to Kokomo goes by fast waiting in anticipation and it is well worth the trip.

Once you’re in, there is no turning back as you lead yourself through a twisted, almost completely dark, path. Watch out for the maze because you will take a wrong turn and the ghouls will be waiting when you mess up. Don’t forget to leave your 3D glasses on as they take you down a vortex tunnel you won’t soon forget. The overall experience was indeed a scary one and, with a zombie laser tag opening upstairs on the weekends, this haunt is one for the books.

Twisted Darkness

1022 S. Main St. Kokomo, IN

Visit their website for dates and hours of operation

Twisted Darkness and Twisted Illusions 3D: $15

RIP (no waiting in line pass): $25

I know it sucks that Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year and we were all forced to do our costumed drinking and celebrating this past weekend instead of on or closer to the actual holiday. There is a silver lining, though: most haunted houses are still open this week, and some are even running through next weekend.

Indy Mojo attended a grand total of seven* haunted houses this year. Based on the experiences and opinions of the other members of the Indy Mojo spook staff, I’ve ranked them from best to worst for the 2012 haunting season. You’ve still got a few days left to get scared; read on for our recommendations on where to go and click the links to read the full review.

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First place: Southside Massacre and Indy Scream Park (tie)

Southside Massacre was my personal favorite for their extreme interactivity, authentic actors, and overall intensity. If the idea of a monster grabbing your shoulder or chasing you around a medical table with a drill is simply too much to handle, Indy Scream Park is the best around for a well-balanced scare that leaves victims feeling like they got what they paid for.

The Scream Park’s five haunts and Monster Midway make it easy to spend an entire evening hanging out and getting scared, while Southside Massacre’s attractions move you though in a shorter amount of time but will leave you feeling equally exhausted from the unceasing adrenaline rush.

Last chance at Southside Massacre: this Tuesday 10/30 and Wednesday 10/31

Last chance at Indy Scream Park: this Monday 10/29, Tuesday 10/3, and Wednesday 10/31.

Second place: Corpse Manor

Why: mix of humor and terror, professionally trained theatrical actors, detailed props and scenes, no-touch policy

Last chance at Corpse Manor: this Monday 10/29, Tuesday 10/3 and Wednesday 10/31

Third place: Frite Lodge

Why: locally sourced (mostly handmade) props and materials, volunteer actors who truly love to scare, tight aisles that utilize small space well, no-touch policy

Last chance at Frite Lodge: officially closed for the 2012 season

Fourth place: Fright Manor

Why: scary animatronics, original scene ideas, no-touch policy

Last chance at Fright Manor: this Monday 10/29, Tuesday 10/3, Wednesday 10/31, Friday 11/2, and Saturday 11/3

Fifth place: Asylum House

Why: an absolutely terrifying graveyard, expansive outdoor grounds, extended periods of no scaring, a boring corn “maze”, do-touch policy

Last chance at Asylum House: this Monday 10/29, Tuesday 10/3 and Wednesday 10/31

Sixth place: Hanna Haunted Acres

Why: poor acting, very few scares, fun hayride, no-touch policy

Last chance at Hanna Haunted Acres: this Monday 10/29, Tuesday 10/3, Wednesday 10/31, Friday 11/2, and Saturday 11/3

*I also attended Necropolis, even though they didn’t respond to Indy Mojo’s request for a press pass. There’s no review to read because the haunt is exactly the same as it is every year, except for the omission of several of their best classic scenes. The Zombie Inn and Dark Terrors, their subsequent follow-up attractions, fail to meet expectations and left me feeling unsatisfied after the thrills that the opening haunt delivered.

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What was your favorite haunted house that you attended in during the 2012 season? Tell us which one and why in the comments below.

My first visit to Hanna Haunted Acres was more than five years ago. I remember being excited at the idea of multiple haunted houses at a single location for one [not-so-low] price. I also remember leaving with feelings of deception after discovering that “multiple haunts” only meant a series of cargo trailers with minimal concept development and few opportunities to be scared. The haunted hayride was unquestionably the highlight of that night all those years ago.

So, when I returned this year after a long hiatus I had high hopes that Hanna Haunted Acres had improved leaps and bounds. While I’m happy to report that the individual trailers are gone and have been replaced with one large building and a second smaller one, the quality of the haunt has improved little, if at all.

Despite an elaborate entryway and a creepy actor calling for victims from the front yard, the Indy Mojo spook staff breezed through Hide and Seek without holding hands or emitting a single scream. Carnevil, Hanna’s three dimensional haunt, ups the ante with cool visuals brought to life by 3D glasses. Medical Malpractice’s hospital-visit-gone-wrong theme could have been an effectively scary adventure, but the actors’ continual lack of enthusiasm and originality missed the mark time and time again. With all three attractions housed in a single building, their sounds carry and mix together to create a sense of chaos, but never one of quiet eeriness.

Twisted, located in a smaller building all its own, is a blend of many scenes and themes. Much like Medical Malpractice, this haunt makes good attempt to frighten- and actually does occasionally- but errs on believability.

More than the average, uneventful trip through the woods, Hanna’s haunted hayride is full of spooks from actors who follow the wagon on foot and scare from all angles. The colossal animatronics are impressive- both for their intricate detail and behemoth size. Setting my friend up for the best scare of the entire hayride, I asked him to sit at the back and he obliged unknowingly. (insert evil laugh here)

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Indy Mojo Street Teamer Nike’ Nicole has similar feelings of dissatisfaction:

I was not impressed with Hanna Haunted Acres. The corn maze was closed due to rain and mud, but the other attractions (with the exception of the hay ride) left much to be desired. The haunted houses were sparsely populated with actors. The workers they did have lacked a certain enthusiasm that is commonplace at other haunted houses, as if they didn’t care if they really scared you or not. The grounds were spacious, but extremely muddy and hard to navigate. The one thing about Hanna Haunted Acres that I really liked was the hayride, where the actors were more convincing. It was exciting and extremely entertaining with twists around every corner.

Indy Mojo supporter Brandon “Puck” Connolly favored the hayride as well:

My favorite part of Hanna Haunted Acres was the hayride. It wasn’t as corny as I thought it would be. The animatronics were the best feature and you could tell a lot of money and work was put in to them. The actors didn’t exactly have their hearts put in to it, but that may have been because they were cold and wet. Hannah Haunted Acres is okay, but there’s a lot of hype with only massive animatronics to back it up. I didn’t experience the cornfield, but take your kids or friends and make them sit at the back of the hayride. Holy shit.

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At $12 per haunt, or a combo pass for $27, the only event that’s worth the money is indeed the hayride. Take advantage of the Weekday Haunted Hayride 4 Pack (four hayride tickets for $11.25 each) if you can, but the Indy Mojo spook staff suggests skipping the rest. They’re open every night from now through November 2nd.

Hanna Haunted Acres

7323 E. Hanna Ave.

Indianapolis, IN 46239

317-357-0881

Frite Lodge is named so because it’s housed in the basement of the Masonic Pleasant Lodge 134 Craft Club on the city’s southeast side of town. The haunt prides itself on heavy engagement with local residents and a strong dedication to giving back to the community. Frite Lodge is also distinctly characterized by a do-it-yourself feel. From unique, handmade props to unpaid, volunteer actors who truly love what they’re doing- Frite Lodge puts a lot of heart into producing a great haunted attraction with an impressively low budget.

Frite Lodge employs a no-touching policy and strives to bestow no discomfort onto any of their patrons. When I inquired about a memorable portion of last year’s haunt that required victims to crawl, the haunt’s organizers cited negative feedback from their customers as the reason for its absence in 2012. The only activity required to make it through the haunt this year is walking.

Frite Lodge further distinguishes itself by constructing a sizable, single attraction rather than utilizing the popular marketing ploy of multiple haunts. There are no mazes, no rotating black light tunnels, no chainsaws, no rooms full of Jason masks, or any other derivative of tired, overused haunted house elements. The Frite Lodge is pure creativity and passion at its best.

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Here’s what the rest of the Indy Mojo spook staff had to say about Frite Lodge:

Indy Mojo Street Team Captin Gwen Wilson:

Frite Lodge was by far the haunt that moved us the most. Not only is it locally sourced, but everything put in and out of the lodge is donated, volunteered, or handmade. Every year they attempt to do something different and new- with the exception of the amazing entry way with a mini-garage door that opens up before the next group of victims enter the haunt. The waiting hallway is filled with deviant art created by a local artist who also contributes to the sets and costume makeup.  Furthermore, the hallway is filled with great music to get your adrenaline rushing and nerves alert before you enter.

Avid Indy Mojo supporter Brandon Connolly a.k.a. Puck:

The Frite Lodge is a quaint, intimate haunt on Indy’s Southeast side. Don’t let its size fool you – not one square foot of space is wasted in the planning and layout of the rooms. The lodge is run by the local Freemasonry chapter and the quality of their craftsmanship shows in every detail. There is a fire outside for the workers, but it’s nice to know you can enjoy its warmth and chat with the haunt’s close-knit staff (they are all community volunteers, by the way, for the love of the scare and not the paycheck). The different rooms all had personality because each room belonged to the monster or ghoul who worked in it. Their individual suggestions and requests about each of their rooms are taken in to account by Frite Lodge organizers and it shows. Not one worker showed any signs of boredom or indifference. They were neck-deep in their genuine efforts and you could tell they loved every minute of it. My favorite had to have been the hanging room where a poor soul is put to death by way of lethal suspension. It looks real and I couldn’t help but feel the urge to grab their legs and save them.

Indy Mojo Street Teamer Nike’ Nicole:

I enjoyed this haunted house so much. The staff was extremely friendly and kind, and made it clear all of the proceeds go towards enriching their own community. Each room contained something different that allowed you to see the personalities of the staff members in the room who each had realistic and unique costumes. I was scared or caught off guard more times than I could count. It was cool that such a small place and community could compete with the big dogs! I highly recommend visiting this haunted house.

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If you want to support a haunt that is affordable, truly local, and fueled by an obsessive love for scaring people, be sure to swing through Frite Lodge before they close this Saturday October 27th.

Frite Lodge

7525 South Acton Road

$10