O'scares highlight best, worst of haunted locales

Sunday , October 22, 2017 - 12:00 AM

By BENJAMIN KELLER, DAVID RACKHAM and JESSICA WOJCIECHOWSKI
TX. Correspondents

October nights are pierced with the screams of the many spooky characters inhabiting Northern Utah’s haunted attractions.

And with the screams of visitors, too, on the prowl for some Halloween frights.

That means it’s time for our annual O’scare Awards, recognizing the best and worst in local houses of ghouls. Our TX. staff visited three spots packed with whirling tunnels, creepy masks, chainsaw “killers” and more.

• Haunted Hollow

Best Use of Fog: The Haunted Hollow in West Haven wins this award for a feature where you walk down a hallway filled with fog and lit by a small string of lights overhead. The lights flicker on and off intermittently, leaving the room in total darkness for a few seconds. Combining that with the spooky atmosphere of a fog-filled room made this a very exciting part of the Haunted Hollow.

Best Use of the Jason Mask: No haunted house would be complete without the use of the iconic hockey mask from “Friday the 13th.” The Haunted Hollow uses Jason’s mask in a unique way by suspending glow-in-the-dark hockey masks in a dark room. As you walk through the area, weaving around the masks, characters in masks and dressed all in black surprise you as they move around you.

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Best Hodor Look Alike: Some of the best features of haunted houses are when they make references to current popular culture. The Haunted Hollow does just that with a character bearing a remarkable resemblance to Hodor from the popular series, “Game of Thrones.” Whether or not this was an intentional reference is beside the point, as it really made the experience more exciting anyway.

Most Realistic Outdoor Setting: One of the Haunted Hollow’s most unique aspects is that most of it is outdoors. Most outdoor haunted attractions that are set up during the Halloween season are corn mazes, but the Haunted Hollow manages to be a haunted house and still incorporate an outdoor setting. As you walk through the attraction, you follow a faint trail through actual trees and cross over actual bridges and streams. These natural elements make the experience that much more realistic.

Most Disorienting Special Effect: Toward the end of your visit to the Haunted Hollow you enter a room with a large spinning cylinder to walk through. As you walk across the cylinder you feel as if you’re falling off to one side because of the spinning going on around you. While this is a fairly common element of most haunted houses, the various glowing designs circling around you make this particular part of the Haunted Hollow very unsettling.

If you go: Haunted Hollow is open through Oct. 31 at 1550 S. 1900 West, West Haven; visit www.hauntedutah.com. 

— Benjamin Keller, Ogden High

• Black Island Farms

 

Riskiest Use of Chainsaws: person in a frightening Jason mask chased every person in Black Island Farms’ Nightmare Acres and put the chainsaw right up against everyone’s feet. On top of that, I got cornered alone with the chainsaw right beside my ear!

Spookiest Corn: There is fog that lingers within the entire Syracuse corn maze. It doesn’t matter if there was someone following you or not, the corn itself made you believe that you were surrounded by terrifying creatures.

Butcher with the Scariest Smile: At one point in the maze, you walk through a butcher shop where you see a dead “pig.” Out of nowhere, a butcher with a slit mouth and eyes popped out from behind the door. He then chased us until the next obstacle. It was terrifying!

Unbreakable Characters: Before entering the maze, my friend came close to chickening out. The frightening staff members taking tickets had absolutely no sympathy for her and practically pushed her into the maze.

Worst Haunted House for Someone Who’s Claustrophobic: There’s a point in the haunted house where you’re entirely surrounded by what seems like giant black balloons. You can’t see anything, and you can hardly breathe. I’m not very claustrophobic but this made me very insecure for an extended amount of time. It was potentially the most horrendous part of the entire maze!

Most Teenagers in One Haunted Maze: I would say that more than 75 percent of the people entering the haunted maze were between the ages of 12 and 17. I thought that was interesting considering how frightening some of the content was.

If you go: Black Island Farms is open through Oct. 31 at 3178 S. 3000 West, Syracuse; visit www.blackislandfarms.com.

— Jessica Wojciechowski, Clearfield High

• Frightmares

Best Shaking Elevator: There is a section in Malevolent Mansion at Lagoon’s Frightmares in Farmington where you walk into an elevator. An actor pushes a button and the elevator starts to shake.

Best Entertainer While Waiting in Line: While standing in line for Frightening Frisco there was a really funny actor walking up and down the line having a shoot-off with kids.

Best Closing Spike Walls: The walls in a room in Night Walk are covered in spikes that close in and almost crush you — but then they stop just inches away.

Best Hanging Masks Room: In Terrors of the Past, one room is all dark except for hockey masks that glow in the dark. There are also actors who blend into the surroundings and startle you when you least expect it.

Best Spinning Tunnel: A bridge in the Fun House of Fear goes right through a spinning tunnel. It makes you feel like you are off balance and going to fall.

If you go: Frightmares is located at 375 Lagoon Drive, Farmington, and is open through Oct. 30; visit www.lagoonpark.com.

— David Rackham, Northridge High

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