Hellscream Haunts 2012

Scare FactorActingSets/FXLengthOverall

Ryan Acker

Hellscream successfully discovered a way to take many steps forward, and many steps back. With an all new bigger location, they had drastically changed the vibe and the looks of last year’s haunt.

For the 2012 season, the theme is Hell Town, which they stuck with throughout the entire attraction. A great facade was built against the left wall; however the right had nothing to look at. When I walked through the main yard, I knew I was supposed to be in a city. I looked up to the ceiling and saw they had made a cloud which captured my attention throughout the entire yard area. However, through this city I did not get a good sense that I was walking from store to store. When I walk away from a butcher into a blank room with a 12 foot monster above me, no store vibe is found.

Animatronics were the lifeline of this Haunt. Personally, I am not a fan as there is no good way to hide the sound of a pneumatics and I just don’t enjoy the robot movements. I could see the stepping area to trigger each prop when I looked down at the floor and would purposely try to avoid them so I wouldn’t beat it down from seeing too many. In my four years of experience, I have never seen so many animatronics and props packed into one haunt and it wasn’t my favorite.

Haunts with two levels are my die hard favorites. I saw stairs and leaped up them in joy. They were large and concrete in a house scene, but there is nothing you can do to change that. The only time I heard silence in this haunt was up top in the children’s room. Going from screaming loud into that gave me a chill that something was wrong with these children.

My absolute favorite scene involved a prison and the actors inside it. The set was not the greatest I’ve seen, but the interactivity of the guards and the prisoners made me feel like I was actually in a movie and I was actually frightened that the guard would hurt me. If they expand off of this, it will be a killer!

The gist of this is that they have an amazing crew of acting and builders, but they just have not gotten a grasp of what is too much. Every haunt strives to improve every year, but I feel Hellscream can improve in a matter of days if they put their minds to it.

Pros: Two Levels, Prison Scene, Room Design

Cons: So many Animatronics

Bill Bevis

BIG. Great props. Good story. It’s a crazy, haunted city/world/universe. Good actors & acting. They’ve made a huge investment in animatronics (literally: HUGE), and have some really cool costuming (one character from the playroom had me looking back over my shoulder for a time). There’s an execution. It’s believable. This haunt comes at ALL the senses. There are smells, I mean ODORS. The odors foster tastes. Yuck. There were images of crawling bugs projected onto where bugs shouldn’t be. Very clever use of technology. This haunt is an impressive expansion over years past. The owners have gone all-in, with great results. The space is big, the story is big, the effects are big, and the actors do their jobs. Me likes!

Pros: Animatronics. Owners’ financial investment and commitment. Overall frenetic energy.

Cons: Undeveloped stairs to upper level. Toy prop guns used in prison break. Actual square footage and volume of space almost too big to control.

Jason Peterson

We arrived at this haunt late! They were generous enough to stay fired up in Helltown, and waiting for us was the mayor, one of the most memorable characters I’ve seen all night. He was adorned with a top hat, red skinny pants, and a long coat. He appeared to have been burnt… burnt alive or just burnt out trying to run this town. We played some video games while we waited and shortly after, the mayor returns for our group. He explains his rules and kicks us from his office. That’s when all hell breaks loose!

Let me say that the set was incredibly cool. The path was very original with second story buildings and the props in this haunt all worked. There was way too many for me to count, old ones and new ones as well, but I did get my favorite ones in. There was one giant of a beast that I thought was very impressive. The layout was very unique and the haunt sticks to the theme pretty good. A few out of place props and costumes, but original in its approach and techniques.

Helltown had tons of scare spots and some very creative actors. The costuming was cohesive with great sets and some were definitely pretty disturbing. The slaughter house was nasty. They have really bizarre clowns and very energetic peppered with some humor.

The ending in this haunt was a whole new approach and style, with the last few groups of very pissed off military and security dudes. They were funny and on their game, so you better pay attention to them… and the savage inmates who crazily glare and snarl at you from across the hall, of this crazy little cell block. I know I heard cavity search from the group before us. I don’t want to spoil too much of this haunt.

They had pretty good actors, a great set with smells (bathroom), props galore, and second level sets as well. The only things I see, that could make this a top haunt, are one, the plastic. It needs to disappear and a little too much vinyl. Another thing is that props could be used more creatively. I felt like I was in a prop shop a few times, not that it’s a bad thing. This did work in Helltown’s advantage; however, there were a couple times where it was hard to distinguish the props from the actors, which gave us a good startle.

I can say that this group of owners, builders, actors, and security staff all want to be number one and put on a great show for their hard earned money. Go see this show while it’s young and raw! It’s going to just keep getting better. Their staff and show will convince you of it, I guarantee.

Pros- props galore, fun theme, the mayor

Cons- plastic walls, a little more set dressing, props placed more strategically

Alex Gallegos

Hellscream Haunts is in a brand new location this year, having traded in the array of trailers for a two story location in a strip mall. They chose wisely. The standout feature of the haunt last years was their ability to cram so much experience into so tiny a space, and now that they’ve got more area available to them it’s great to see the way that creativity branches out.

The haunt is set up like an entire small town. Mansions are so blasé, so 20th century. Entire towns… that’s the wave of the future, my friends. Some of the other critics felt that the area was too open inside but claustrophobia (whether real or artificially imposed) is only one way to make people feel psychologically ill at ease. I don’t think that’s what this haunt was going for. The first several scenes take place in the buildings surrounding a large graveyard and I personally felt that getting to glimpse the upcoming areas before you got there was a pretty cool idea. Video Game theory would call that an arena – a space you’re allowed to view and get somewhat comfortable with before all hell breaks loose and it becomes an exercise in death and despair.

The actors did a very good job, dinged a point only because at some times it seems that they didn’t quite know what to do with me as I tried to play along. There’s a prison scene that’s brilliantly executed. You’re lined up in front of the warden who proceeds to tell you about the evils a prisoner has wrought and then kick a chair out from under him; execution by hanging. Then you’re sent deeper into the prison, but it’s not immediately clear if you’re a prisoner or a tourist or… what exactly you are. The prison guards yell at you and make you stand against the wall, telling you not to eyeball them and threatening you if you do so, but also promising to keep you safe, so it’s difficult to decide how to play your own arbitrarily defined role. However, the actors did a great job rolling with the punches and actually folded me into the scene, changing what they were doing based on what I was doing. I really, really love that and would have given this category a 10 if they could have just defined my role slightly more accurately in those first few seconds. The only complaint about the prison scene is that when it’s over, you exit the prison and it leads to what appears to be an adventure down on the Louisiana bayou, and not the prison break you might expect after you walk through the doors. The scene, while brilliantly acted, ends about as abruptly as a trip in the car does if you run into a brick wall.

I could go on all night about cool things I saw but a list will have to suffice:

  1. Use of an electric chainsaw hooked up to an amp to give the great scary sound we all know and love without tipping us off with the gas smell 5 rooms away
  2. A massive monster/demon ready to eat us
  3. A tall man in an overgrown baby mask that was just about the most unsettling thing I’ve ever seen.

Turn off your PC or smartphone and go see this haunt. Now.

PROS: Prison scene, seeing ahead to future areas, creative use of an electric chainsaw

CONS: Could see some actors and pressure pads ahead of time, some jarring scene jumps, a startle scare at the top of the stairs which seem like a stunningly bad idea.

Marlena Baker

Wow! Hellscream has changed. It’s longer and it’s got a whole new angle. Hell Town is a community full of monsters, freaks, and one dysfunctional family. They mayor is a fantastic character, welcoming us to try surviving his town. It’s a great introduction and it sets the tone very well for the rest of the haunt.

The next room, however, left me skeptical. There was a neat little effect that was ruined with an actor popping out. The addition of that exposed the ‘behind the scenes’ of the effect. Happily, it got better from there. Instead of just moving from scene to scene in a line, this haunt was a little more linear. Right away you can see an open courtyard, the space between the buildings of the town. Moving through the haunt, you’ll pass through this space several times. It makes the concept stronger. I got the feeling that it was really a town. It helped make it seem larger, too. By reusing the space, we got to see it from every angle There was always something new.

The scenes, or in this case, buildings of the town, were generally well done. They have a lot of new props, and they spread them out well. Their most impressive one, however, suffered because it didn’t really get a scene. It was in a plain room, wasting it’s potential. The rest of the cool props got better treatment. They did a great job incorporating them into scenes where they helped the scares. They were well thought out, with the few exceptions mentioned above. The prison, especially, was great. Instead of just getting a snapshot, like a lot of rooms, we got to be part of a little play. It was interactive and I loved it. The actors played out a little horror movie, with us in the middle. I do have to say, the addition of the circus section was a touch out of place, but at least it was well done.

The actors helped me enjoy the circus. They were good. Across the haunt, the acting fluctuated, however. The prison and the swamp also had really good actors. Those two scenes had truly memorable characters. That was it, though. None of the others really felt well developed. There was a lot of people yelling at us to ‘get out’. It’s a tired line and it didn’t add to the scare factor. Most of the actors were in between. They didn’t really stick out, but they weren’t bad either. The characters in the dining room gave us a good dose of crazy as we walked through the manor. Overall, the acting just needed to be ramped up.

I had a blast in Hell Town. It has a great mixture of linear scenes and open spaces. It would benefit from more well developed characters and more attention to the spaces between scenes and effects. The town setting allows for a great variety of scenes without ruining the immersion, but the transitions didn’t always hold it together. It’s a great idea for a haunt, and well executed. It could be better, but it’s still worth seeing.

Pros: cool effects, interactive element, large set with open space

Cons: weak sets between scenes, acting needed work, some props needed more realism

Corey Dunham

Hellscream is a haunt located in what seems to be an old car dealership and has a very good creep vibe as you pull up. Once inside you come to meet the coolest doorman ever. He is a hilarious character who had me laughing from the moment I saw him dressed in his red tights and top hat. He gives you the rules of Helltown and directs you in.

Once inside you are overwhelmed by the array of different props contained everywhere. There doesn’t seem to be a consistent theme throughout, but the idea was original and I really liked the layout of this haunt. The set design looked professional and was done very well, great painting, good use of props, and awesome lighting. The cemetery, Shady Hill’s, was great and looked like a true graveyard. The fog was perfect and the lighting used gave a very eerie feeling. This haunt is also not just one floor which I enjoyed. After you travel through the lower area of the haunt you go upstairs to even more! The only thing I didn’t like was the use of black plastic, for me this takes away from the experience, they should use a dark cloth, anything just not black plastic. Other than that I really enjoyed all areas of the haunt.

The acting in Hellscream was great and believable. All actors inside had great intensity and were right in your face looking for another scare at every chance. The makeup looked good although I feel it could be ramped up a little, but I did like it and it was done very well. My favorite actors/scene in this haunt is a set done up as a prison block; I have seen this before but never like this. When you enter, you come to a very authoritative guard who informs you that you are entering a prison block which contains the worst criminals to walk the earth. He guides you in for a tour to visit the criminals and has you face their cells. As you do this the lights go off and some criminals escape, machine guns blast and all hell breaks loose. I really enjoyed this scene and had a great time going through it!

Hellscream is an amazing haunt and lacks very little, all this crew has to do is work on all different areas minutely and they will shoot to number one in no time. The acting is great and the sets are done amazingly. If in the area or looking for a new good haunt to see, I recommend you stop in and see the insane people of Hellscream.

Pros: Great set design amazing layout, good acting

Cons: Use of black plastic

Peyton Lucero

As I walk into Hellscream, I’m immediately greeted by a guy wearing a top hat, red pants, a long black jacket, and seemed to be burned on his face and hands. He was known as the mayor of Helltown and I found him very entertaining! I believe he was a crazed nut who started talking to me about rules and him and much much more. He definitely wanted me to know what was going on. He had this insane laugh going on along with this intense look in his eyes that just made him all the more creepy. He had me thinking, “What could this loony bin have in mind for me tonight?”  As I anxiously wait to enter the haunt, I easily get entertained by the live action sounds of arcade games set up just right alongside of the que line. I watch a game of Soul Calibur while I wait. Not too much longer, it came time for me to enter the haunt and boy was I excited to see what was waiting for me on the other side!

As I entered the first room, I noticed waiting for me was the mayor. Continuing on with his crazy laughs and evil grinning eyes, he explained once more the rules and regulations of the haunt. He was very informative when stating that they were all hungry and love the taste of fresh meat and to be lucky there was a no touch rule. Finally, he opens the doors and sends me on my way through Hellscream, which turns into Helltown. It is indulged in a world of beastly creatures, chaos, death, and mass destruction. Awesome sets, props, and actors. Everything was knocked out of the park! I was bummed that I had so little time to really observe and mesmerize all the rooms, but I certainly did not leave with an empty brain. One of my favorite rooms was the prison cell and the security drill sergeants. They were pumped, in full throttle, and if someone didn’t cooperate, then it was their butts. I was told to face forward with my back against the wall and hands to my side. I hadn’t been to a haunt that does things like this, and I’ll tell you what, I was having a blast! Another room that I thought was fantastic was the lake and the guy on the raft. I thought that scene turned out great! The actor played his part great and I loved how he was in actual water. I have wanted to see a set with a real lake and you guys did it. Great job! One more set I thought was awesome, was the living room. I walked in and right away it put me in an actual living room. The TV and entertainment center, the kids who were zombified from watching too much TV, and everything else from the carpet rug to the ceiling was just astonishing and put me in awe! Another excellent job.

My time at Hellscream was all out fun and full of excitement and horror. I definitely saw some props and sets that were just amazing and will always stick with me. Some rooms even had smells and let me tell you, they were definitely rancid. One smell that really made me make a queasy face was the bathroom. I walked in and right away felt gross and dirty, hoping I would step on anything disturbing. Great job on the smells. They always finish up the job of immersing me completely in the set.

There were a few minor flaws that I stumbled upon that can easily be fixed. First are the actors. They have great costumes, sets, and characters but when it comes to dialogue, it seems like they get a little lost. Now I know it was the first weekend, and most actors were great, but I just felt like some of the actors, who had awesome sets, didn’t give it their all. I got a lot of “get out”, “why won’t you play with me”, “wrong way”, typical lines like that, which are not very scary or intimidating. Once you’ve got your costume and make-up on, your character should now have taken over. Don’t be afraid to step outside your shell and have your character’s mind take over. Let the words roll out and become one with the set. That’s what I want to see! It makes the room and character even more believable. Go big or go home, that’s what I say. One last small flaw that could be fixed is the clown maze room. Great idea and love all the crazy clowns that pop up everywhere, it’s just that it seemed to be missing some intensity. You got the crazy actors and the walls that mess with my head, now all you need maybe are some hardcore strobe lights or even some kind of trippy lasers, some fog to blur the path of what’s lurking ahead, and some psycho, brain melting music that makes me feel like my mind is working in all different directions, wanting to find the exit. I want the energy from the room itself and the character to surround me and to make me feel uncomfortable. That’s what makes me know that the room is successful. Everything I experienced at Hellscream was an absolute joy. I saw some incredible sets, great make-up, acting & costuming, and some outstanding props & animatronics! I was very impressed and really enjoyed my time there. Definitely look forward on coming back for round two. Fantastic jobs all around, keep up the good work!

Pros- sets, smells, length

Cons- actors dialogue, some make-up, a few dark spots

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