|14 out of 22 people thought this review was helpful.|
|Reviewed by: squishweasel   (Event Visited: 10/25/14 @ 8:00 pm) |
Review Posted: 10/28/14
| Overall Score:|
|Scare Factor: High | Atmosphere: Very Good|
Visibility/Location: There's a small lighted sign at the bottom of the hill and once there you usually cannot miss it due to all the cars. There's also a big sign and a few other things to make you aware of it.
Wait Entertainment: Very good. There were more than a few performers out in the line. There was also music, a booth set up from a ghost hunting group with information on actual investigations of the haunting in the woods and two movie screens playing the rules of the attraction as well as brief horror movie clips. They also played part of this odd little gem of a horror movie in French about a dead clown.
Length of Event: A little over 45 minutes.
Actor Performance: None of the actors broke character. There were one place where I thought they had a weird character choice, but it wasn't horribly distracting. Only one actress seemed to be off her game a bit. She didn't break character, but she did just keep repeating the same thing over and over again while the group I was in was just literally standing there in a traffic jam of people.
Patron Flow Inside Attraction: This is the part that irked me. We had no issues in M.C. Manor, the brief trail before M.C. Nightmare or M.C. Nightmare itself. It was the trail after Nightmare that the thing started to fall apart. There are numerous small buildings that you have to go through that make perfect checkpoints. It seemed like they weren't being effectively used as such, though. I can forgive having to wait in a line to get into each of the separate houses, but to then get into them and still have to form a conga line through them was a but tedious. If the people outside had a cue, whether a bang on a wall or something from the actors inside to notify the person doing crowd control outside that the group has gone through and to send the next group in would have really helped.
Appropriate Ages: 13+
Props / Special FX: Very good. One of the many things this haunt excels at is detailed scenes with cleverly hidden animatronics. My only qualm this year was that both the M.C. Manor and the trail were both too dark. You missed a lot of the detail in the Manor this year and often couldn't even walked by many actors not even realizing they were there until they reset themselves. It doesn't need MUCH more light, but some would help to be able to show of the amazing work they do.
Costumes / Make-up: The first room of M.C. Manor was amazing and so very creepy. After that, things became too dark in many areas to be sure. Same with the trail. The demon on the trail with the black light was amazing. I loved EVERYTHING about M.C. Nightmare. The costumes were spot on.
Summary: This is our third year driving out to our favorite haunt in Central Illinois. We got VERY spoiled our first year here as it had sprinkled rain all day up until we arrived there after being told about it by a guy working the nearby Spider Hill. There was literally only our group going through the whole attraction. All attention was focused on us, so it's always going to be hard to beat that. The second year was just as enjoyable, only being marred by the drunken group in front of us stopping to mess with the scenes, actors and our group. This year, things were still leaps and bounds above anything we have seen this year, but there were some missteps.
M.C. Manor: We love this house due to the high level of detail that is in it. If you've seen 110 haunted houses this year and have become numb to fear, this will still amaze you. Unfortunately this year, it seemed like a lot of the lighting was either off or malfunctioning. There were scenes that were way too dark to fully appreciate. I do have to applaud them for never having used simple black plywood hallways in this haunt. You literally, from the moment you cross the threshold of the house facade, are in an old, dilapidated haunted mansion. All of the rooms fit the theme, with some interesting updates to some old favorites (the Christmas room in particular). Crowd control was very good here. The group behind us was always one room behind us as was the group in front. It also seemed like there were less actors in this section this year and that the haunt was relying more on animatronics than actual human actors. Animatronics are fine, and they use them well, but it can never replace a live actor. One other thing they may want to look into is moving the porta-potties at the end of the house into the queue for the trail. They were smelling SO bad while we had to wait.
Spook Hollow Trail Part One: This is our favorite part usually. This year it was still enjoyable, but once again, a few minor missteps. The trail was simply too dark. There were lanterns placed what seemed every five feet apart, but nothing else. The lanterns were creepy, but just some accent lighting set back in the woods would have helped a lot to be able to safely see where you are going. Also, we missed so many scares simply due to how dark it was. It was here that you came up to the famous mine shafts section of the trail. It's essentially a pitch black maze with some interesting elements added in. This year it literally felt as though there was something in there with you that would brush up against you or grab you. Very creepy. I was holding onto the hand on the guy in front of me and a couple of times I felt what I thought was someone else. This being a pitch black maze and the trail being so dark leading up to it, we did run into other groups. It was expected in the maze. It's pitch black. It's just going to happen. The trail leading up to it, though, wasn't so great.
M.C. Nightmare: Hands down the best part of this year's event. The costuming was spot on. The lighting was spot on, the animatronics and props were spot on, the sound was spot on, the actors performances were spot on. This section was as perfect as you can get before you start doing physical or mental harm to someone. I really have nothing bad to say. Perfect crows control again. Thanks to the "officer" out front.
Spook Hollow Trail Part Two: This is where things began to fall apart with crows control. You walk along the trail (beautifully creepy cemetery scene this year. It was laid back in the woods and offered enough lighting to be able to see it, but for it to taper off and make it look as if the tombstones, crypts and mausoleums kept going off into the darkness). Unfortunately, it seemed as of the actual trail sections were understaffed again. Lighting was better here as well, but still some dead spots. There were a few other scenes for you to walk through again. We found them to be kind of lacking in creativity. Especially after scenes like last year's journey through a burning house. Crowd control went out the window as well. We were literally allowed to enter a few seconds after the group in front of us made it through the door, so we knew it would be rough. This led to constant traffic jams in the smaller houses along the trail. A system where by some means the actors inside can queue the person stationed outside to let the next group in would help so much.
I would now like to discuss the town at the end of the trail. It was a topic of much debate among our group and other groups that were there. Some people liked it, some people hated it. Everyone agreed it was a cool concept, though. We just weren't convinced it was pulled together appropriately. There were scenes of a saloon, a jail/courthouse, a doctor's office... This is not only where crowd control was at it's worst, but also where the acting and characterization faltered a bit. Bravo to the older woman in the saloon. She didn't scare a single one of us, but my god did she seem to enjoy dancing to that music in there. She was a hoot. From there things got mish-mash again and they lost the concept. The doctor's office is also where I saw the poorest performances of the evening, with a guy getting his leg cut off with a big grin, a constantly repeated stream of dialogue from one actress and another person sitting on the couch who kept doing the same startle scare on our group even though we were literally planted in front of him for five minutes due to the traffic jam. One of the final scenes wad literally a friendly guy with a pair of glasses with the fake nose a mustache attached. Then it was a quick gift shop with a funny little ending note in their outhouse.
It seems to me reading this that you probably think that me and my group had a miserable time. On the contrary. We had a wonderful time. While there were a few missteps, it still wasn't enough to take away from our enjoyment of the event. A lot of hard work a dedication clearly goes into creating this for well over 30 years now.
Just a quick review of the negative before we finish with the positive:
-better lighting needed in M.C. Manor and Spook Hollow Trail.
-much better crowd control needed at the checkpoints on Spook Hollow Trail.
-consistency on the trail. Three years ago, you guys nailed it. If we were walking into a haunted house, the whole thing was themed to a haunted house. If we were walking into a hillbilly shack, the whole thing was themed to a hillbilly shack. If we were walking into a zombie warzone, the whole thing was a zombie war zone. All the set pieces, costumes, actors and props matched the theme for each individual segment of the trail and it provided a great costumer experience. You guys did it last year as well. This year, it seemed like a lot of the smaller houses on the trail had only the first room matching the theme and the rest went off into different directions. Actors costumes didn't match scenes sometimes on the trail as well. It just got confusing and quickly took you out of the story.
Okay, now for the positive:
-even though some of the scenes on the trail may not have followed their themes, they were all well done and detailed. If you can keep up with the level of detail you have in M.C. Manor and M.C. Nightmare, you'd have a perfect event. Right now it somewhat detracts from it. Otherwise I would have given you a perfect 10.
-almost all actors were costumed perfectly to fit their scenes, made up perfectly to fit their scenes and performed with enthusiasm and characterization that fit their scenes with the exception of the few I mentioned.
As I said, even with what appears to have been a lack of focus on the trail this year, it is still my favorite haunt in Central Illinois. That's why I may seem as though I am being rough. These previous two years, I've seen what amazing work you all put in. It's a quality haunt that deserves the recognition as one of the, if not THE best haunts (in my opinion) in Illinois. I just don't want to see you guys fall back as I know you can achieve some amazing things.
|16 out of 35 people thought this review was helpful.|
|Reviewed by: Jashuh   (Event Visited: 10/10/14 @ 9:45 pm) |
Review Posted: 10/11/14
| Overall Score:|
|Scare Factor: High | Atmosphere: Very Good|
Visibility/Location: Located in the hills of Marquette Heights Illinois, location is the same it's been for years. Marked by lighted sign from turn - not hard to locate .
Wait Entertainment: Tonight we noticed no lines or actual crowds for the first year ever, why ?? So, there was some creatures working the lines, I'm sure of that, but we did not need them tonight.
Length of Event: The entire event took around 25 minutes after we got started..
Actor Performance: Most of the actors were right on target and kept there parts strong. The kids are usually weak links and this no different, out of sink and out of character, very very weak!!!
Patron Flow Inside Attraction: The flow was exceptable here, very smooth throughout the attraction - but remember that there wasn't no crowd issue tonight, low attendance night.. The trail flow was very good and we have no issues with other groups tonight .
Appropriate Ages: There is some in your face factors here, I would say 10 years or above here.. It does have an edge of fear factor here, they actually got me 3 times tonight inside the house - that is very rare!
Props / Special FX: Lots of great props here, they miss nothing here !
Some props are now getting dated after being used year after year, some still pop and others are now static props, but they are good quality and still have the edge here.. The automation props were on time and everything comes across very good .. A few CGI effects which come from the past several years, now in need of some tweaking here. The electronic automation was good overall and everything seemed to function properly and on the mark.
Costumes / Make-up: The make-up and costumes were very good, as always .. This attraction for years has never took a back seat to any other haunted house event and that includes state wide events - they do a very good job here!
Summary: Now we follow up with a tough review, every year we usually mark this attraction as one of the best in the state of Illinois, this year we have to say the event has somewhat lost its direction . The increased price to $25.00 is just simply too expensive for central illinois and this is going to keep lots of the people out who have attended for years. The overall haunted attraction was enjoyable, the entry haunted house was good starting with the young girl, hallways, and continued throughout the attraction until we exited the house and entered the outside entry gate.. The first trail was very good, moving throughout the deserted mine shaft (I liked this mine shaft tunnel) walk through - everything went off very good, the visual feel alone is great. After lots of pops along trail one the event moves to house number 2 - this house was also very well presented and enjoyable ... Then we come to the trail #2 and this is were things start falling apart like a cheap puzzel... The event starts good at the cemetery but then comes apart, the fog room is weak with nothing behind it, the kids working this area gives nothing to the scare. The following rooms go nowhere, the gambling room, the casket making room, nothing ! The sheriff jail is interesting but goes and does nothing, why?? We end this in the remote town setting, bouncing around from building to building - nothing exciting here, very boring !! The doctor had some interesting surroundings but just nothing else to follow this up.. And a shirt shop here?? Why ??
Overall I expect this attraction to be a very solid haunted event and at its cost it should be.. This year the added $5.00 to now $25.00 each (forget $40.00 speed pass) is far too expensive for a much shorter trail and the same props used years ago, for this kind of funds it's time to upgrade the entire attraction .. They do use the profits for the better community of Marquette Heights through the Men's Club, but you have to be reasonable with the customers.. I hope they continue to advance this haunted attraction and return to the better years of yesterday ...
|9 out of 21 people thought this review was helpful.|
|Reviewed by: bmcclaskey   (Event Visited: 10/11/14 @ 8:00 pm) |
Review Posted: 10/13/14
| Overall Score:|
|Scare Factor: High | Atmosphere: Very Good|
Visibility/Location: Hosted at Independence Park in Marquette Heights, IL. The search light can be seen from a good distance away. If you aren't familiar with the area, it can help guide you. Overall, it's very easy to find and parking is very easy and free.
Wait Entertainment: Line entertainment was good but we did not have to stand in line very long at all. Flow of the line moved well this year.
Length of Event: Took us approximately an hour to get through the 3 different attractions.
Actor Performance: Overall everyone was right on target and entertaining. Really awesome animations. Loved the "pet" in the trail's "town"!
Patron Flow Inside Attraction: The staff did their best to space out the groups before sending people in to any of the attractions. People walk at a different pace, are curious at the different props/effects or just plain scared. Therefore, it is my opinion that if you encounter anyone it's because groups maneuver the haunt differently.
Appropriate Ages: 10 & up
Props / Special FX: Some high quality, detailed props with good scares. Lots of detail throughout that could easily be used on a movie set.
Costumes / Make-up: Costumes and make-up have come a long way in the years Spook Hollow has been operating. Every year they get better and better.
Summary: I like that Spook Hollow features 3 separate attractions for one price. M.C. Manor, Spook Hollow Trail and M.C. Nightmare (M.C. Nightmare was new in 2013)
While there was a price increase for the cost of tickets this year, I feel it's well worth it and well deserved. I've been to other area haunts this year that offer less and either cost the same or more than Spook Hollow.
I like that Spook Hollow sells a variety of merchandise at reasonable prices. The edible bugs and suckers with bugs make for a great creep factor! I also like that they have added a small shop at the end of the haunt in case you want to purchase a shirt but do not want to have to carry it all through the haunt with you.
I am grateful for this non-profit organization because the proceeds from Spook Hollow either go back into making the haunt better or they go towards all year funding for various community projects that give back to the community and they also help people in need. This organization rocks! Well done!!!