Nothing like a freaky clown, creepy zombie or some crazy black lights to kick the Halloween fun into high gear.
Our TX. staffers experienced it all as they went out into the night in search of what's best about the Top of Utah's many haunted attractions.
And that means we're now ready to present the TX. O'scares awards for 2013. May we have the cobweb-covered envelope please?
Haunted Kays Cross
Best Gorilla Costumes: Haunters would come barreling toward you out of the darkness in gorilla suits at this new Kaysville attraction, and they were pretty realistic. It felt like you were in a forest of possessed primates.
Best Setting: Organizers used the original Kay's Cross, a legendary stone cross landmark, as part of the haunted walk-through -- or at least what remained of the cross. There was a fake ritual-like scene being performed around the monument but the scariest part of the whole property is that it is actually haunted --- supposedly there have been mysterious deaths there.
Easiest Maze: A corn maze is featured at the end of Haunted Kays Cross and even though the workers gave a rough estimate of about 25-30 minutes to navigate it, it only took us about 10.
Best Use of Black Light: Look out for some masks on a stick, lit up by ultraviolet light. It was pretty shocking when some of them would move. We hadn't realized some of them weren't masks on sticks but real people waiting for you to pass by.
Best Wait: There was no line when we went to this Kaysville attraction. There were enough people there that you didn't feel completely desolate, but few enough that you really got your own walk-through.
Scariest Character: Supposedly, there is a hooded man that shows up and disappears pretty frequently in the woods. And he isn't part of the haunted house either. Luckily, we didn't see him, but some of the people that have worked there reported seeing him when they snuck in with friends long before Kay's Cross was a paying attraction.
-- Lily Valeika, Layton High School
Hottest Demons in Town: You're in line for Nightwalk at Lagoon's Frightmares in Farmington, and you can see the vampires prowling around. Then, they turn around to face you, and BAM -- it's attractiveness looking at you. Even though they are cold, dead creatures, they are very hot.
Hungriest Zombies: I don't know about everyone else, but I must smell pretty tasty. When I went to the Zombie Lockdown, zombies were trying to eat me left and right! It wasn't just me; everyone was causing the zombies to lick their own lips. Good job snapping your disfigured jaws, because you're getting named Hungriest Zombies.
Most Unexpected Scares: Backlot, the house full of haunting movie figures, jumped out to me. Literally. Every step, every corner, every room came with some scary movie star who popped up and surprised you. This haunted house earns this award by a landslide.
First-class Pursuers: While my friend and I were waiting for a few other friends next to Zombie Lockdown and Backlot, we got stalked. Horrific beings followed us and other people, getting screams and laughs from everyone. Then, we also got followed for five minutes by a zombie. And he was not afraid to get up close and personal.
Worst Cops Ever: At Zombie Lockdown, two zombies were trapped in a cell outside. But they didn't stay there long. They escaped through the bars, and chased down anyone nearby, screeching and groaning for their meal. The officers that "watched" them took FOREVER to realize their prisoners had escaped and then proceeded to take even longer to catch the undead. Horrible job!
Calmest Clowns: Everyone is scared of clowns, but not at the Fun House. These clowns didn't even know the meaning of fear. They played, joked, laughed and acted like regular clowns. Sure, a few of them were a little late for a trip to the loony bin, but most belonged in a circus. So, for all of you terrified of clowns, fear not, for the Calmest Clowns are found right at Lagoon.
-- Aubrey Cox, Roy High School
Darkest Underground Tunnel: I was expecting single-file lines, sure, at the Haunted Hollow in West Haven. I was expecting some sort of dark tunnel made out of wood. I was not expecting to be forced through a dark underground tunnel single file, hearing water dripping and other noises. I love the authenticity of this scenery, and I love the effect it had on bringing goose bumps to my skin.
Finest Forbidding Forest: Haunted Hollow has something no one else has; instead of being confined to a building they have forest and a swamp land. This forest, once probably a really nice place, was transformed into a nightmare where anything can happen and people get lost like Hansel and Gretel.
Best Use of Movie References: Movies scare me and with so many horribly chilling ones out there it adds the right effect to haunted houses. Haunted Hallow used movies like "The Ring" as a theme to some of the special effects and characters in the haunted house. The movie gave me nightmares, now the real life version will too.
Supreme Spine-Chilling Little Girl: Little girls can't be scary, silly. Wrong. Dead. Wrong. Usually the greeters outside of a haunted house aren't very scary. But, this quite literally, dead little girl will stare at you with eyes that will take your soul. She always keeps the same murderous face.
Spookiest Use of Smoke: Imagine walking single file into thick fog not knowing what will jump out at you next. It gave me shivers walking through the smoke which was so thick, it could be cut. You can't see your fingers in front of your face, but you can see the ghost in the fog. It had a spooky effect nothing else could achieve.
Scariest Surprises: The one thing that scares me the most is when things and people jump out at you. Every time I had calmed down enough to think reasonably, someone or something would jump out at me and surprise me into a fit of uncontrollable screaming.
-- Sierra Bruggink, Weber High School
Castle of Chaos
Best Visuals: One of the three attractions at this Riverdale haunt that has never failed to impress me is the Carnival of Chaos Maze with its use of paint and 3-D effects. The haunt provides the 3-D glasses and you get to enjoy and be terrified by the swirly, other worldly beauty of a carnival full of face-painted clowns.
Scariest Girl in a Straitjacket: While you're in line for the different attractions, ghouls are waiting outside to scare you. I was in the line for Screamatarium, and I didn't even notice the "insane" girl in the straitjacket until she was right behind me. Talk about creepy!
Best AND Worst Actors: There were some actors that kept themselves in character the entire time, which made everything extremely eerie. But then there were a few, mostly the high-school-aged actors, that were a little too over-the-top and it turned from creepy to ridiculous.
Worst Use of Space: The Castle of Chaos is located in the old Macy's building in Riverdale, so obviously, it's huge, and organizers could have done so much with the amount of space available. They could have made larger and longer attractions, but instead, they didn't use the space well.
Worst Execution of a Great Idea: One of the three attractions is The Seven Deadly Sins which sounds like a really creepy idea that could have been portrayed very well, but in my opinion, it wasn't done well at all. They tried too hard to make it bloody and gory instead of eerie and spooky. Plus, I didn't even see all of the seven sins; it was as if some were skipped, thinking we wouldn't notice.
Best Use of Props: Each of the three attractions has some pretty cool props; for example, the Screamatarium had this human hand moving around without a body. It was gross, but cool. There were double-sided mirrors and frames that actors could turn and reach out of to scare you.
Also, while you were waiting for the "doctor" in the Screamatarium, you entered a single-door room and the door was closed. When the doctor is "ready" for you, you exit out of the same exact door, but now it's a completely different place. It was awesome!
-- Krystal Ruiz, Weber High School
Black Island Farms
Freakiest Corn Maze: Black Island Farms in Syracuse has a "Nightmare Acres" maze area where patrons may be scared out of their wits. Standing beside the creepy rows creates goose bumps as the rustle of decaying cornstalks resonates within your body.
Best Collection of Farm Animals: Black Island Farms is primarily, a farm, therefore animals being present is a given. The animals were interesting to see and included donkeys, goats, sheep and rams. These animals are not, however, petting- zoo like. Be warned -- they will bite! Interesting to note, the critters may or may not wander through the maze, as signs indicated that customers should not harass the animals.
Prime Real Estate for The Great Pumpkin: The farm has three to four pumpkin patches with a wide variety of pumpkins. Black Island Farms wins this award for the remote feeling of the patches -- reached only by a ride in the back of a trailer -- and the abundance of these favorite orange Halloween goods.
Most Convincing Use of the Grim Reaper: Meandering about the maze with a flashlight, or merely the light of the moon, dark shadows are cast on the dead cornstalks. These shadows look very similar to the death weapon, the scythe, wielded by none other than the Grim Reaper. And within those shadows lies the true legend, the Reaper's sharp instrument rising into the sky, casting the perfect frightful mood.
Best Corn Gun: Black Island Farms boasts the use of an actual corn gun, to be exact, a husk shooter. A husk of corn is stuffed into a barrel-like chamber that resembles an old-fashioned firearm that the shooter can aim and fire away with at fake cow cutouts.
Lost For Eternity Award: It is very easy to get lost in a maze, especially if the maze is in the shape of a monster truck or motorcycle, like this one. The maze is really just a giant cornstalk canvas and each detail is apparent and disorienting once inside. Without a map, one could really find themselves lost in this one, perhaps forever.
-- Sarah Stratford, Davis High School