I Finally Went Where People Have Been Telling Me To Go

People have been telling me for years, so I finally took there advice.

Yep, last Saturday I went to Hell.

Members of the
Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers spent the day at Hellfest in beautiful Hell, MI. For those not familiar with the lay of the land in Michigan, Hell is a tiny little town about halfway between Detroit and Lansing. We had a great time at the outdoor event which featured a large hearse show and a number of horror and Halloween themed vendors. We made a few sales, made some new contacts, bought some cool stuff, won some cool stuff.

It was my second time working as a vendor at an outdoor event. The first time had been in Port Huron for nice sunny summer weekend. Saturday was less sunny, but still an ok day. There were occasional sprinkles, but fortunately we had a canopy. The real weather foe was the wind which kept threatening to blow away our fliers. After a few hours we finally took down our tall banner sign because it was acting like a sail.

There were a number of humorous moments in Hell. We were set up next to one of those wooden sheets with people painted on them and holes where the heads should be that you stand behind to get your picture taken. It was an undead married couple. At one point this girl stood with her face in one spot and waved out of the other. As she walked by she said "I am married to my left hand!"

My lungs flipped inside out with the effort to not laugh.

There was an excellent coffee vendor called Deadly Grounds. My partners in crime bought me a cup of their Hell’s Fury dark roast. It was amazing. They were running a special where if you bought a pound of coffee, you got a free cup of coffee on the spot. Needless to say I ended up getting two pounds of coffee (and downing two more cups). The first time one of the gentlemen wanted to get a picture of me standing next to their hearse. I was wearing a black kilt, black tee shirt (designed and signed by Doug Bradley bearing Pinhead’s likeness and the phrase “No more remakes, they are a waste of good suffering.”) and my Miskatonik Drinking Club bowling shirt. Boots and my new bowler completed the look. I was rather flattered. It took a few moments of moving around to get just the pose he wanted. He thought it would look good if I had one foot up on the large stone by the hearse. It showed off the boots nicely, but it did require some rearranging.

Did I mention I was wearing a kilt?

At the end of the day they had a raffle for prizes donated by various vendors. It was one of those “must be present to win” drawings. They drew a number, after a few minutes, no one claimed the item. They drew another number. Then another. Then another. We were all sitting back at our tent area, listening. I was a teeny bit frustrated since I had six tickets and they kept missing my number. With each successive ticket they waited less time. Finally they drew my number. I shouted out that I was a winner and ran the length of the field to claim my prize.

Which was, of course, the book that we had donated. I was laughing so hard that they couldn’t understand me.

Fortunately for me, they were nice enough to give me the next prize on the list, a wall clock shaped like a casket. I can’t wait to put it up for Halloween.
1

Hellfest was only the beginning of my fun for the day. After we packed up, I hung around and watched the hearses file out and then back in. I also changed from my kilt to a pair of jeans and swapped tee shirts. I had a big evening planned.

The first stop was at the house of one of the members of the
Motor City Haunt Club. She was nice enough to put out an amazing spread of food including hot dogs, chili, some amazing corn bread, and munchables.2 We dined in her barn which, to be frank, looked nicer than my dining room usually does.

This was a staging area for the Haunt Club’s first big outing of the season. We went to two haunted attractions in the area
3. Due to the distance involved I had not been to either of them.

We started out at the
Terrorfied Forest. This is a two part attraction. Visitors who hit both parts of the haunt start out at the Hillside Mortuary, the indoor portion. It is set up like a funeral home. The displays and props are quite good, genuinely frightening. I believe that this is the haunt which had the slide which was something I haven’t experienced in a haunted attraction before.4

Once out of the house of caskets, corpses, and cutting rooms, we entered the Terrorfied Forest itself. This is a mile of outdoor trails which lead visitors through the dark woods, past scenes of horror, and into the waiting hands of the fiends waiting for them in the dark.

I’m not going to lie to you. This was like exercise for me. About halfway through the forest portion I had stripped off my jacket and placed my hat (not my bowler) in my back pocket despite the chilly weather. The night was cool, but in the trees there was little to no wind.

After everyone was through the forest we saddled up the convoy and headed out to the
Bone Yard. I knew I was going to love this haunt as we pulled up. There was a really cool laser show which used the trees as a backdrop. The entire walk from the parking lot was accompanied by crazy lightning flashes of green light.

The Bone Yard is a collection of four attractions. Once again, we started with the “indoor” portion of the haunt, The Freak Show. This was actually a huge tent (or perhaps a series of tents) with walls fabricated inside. There were some great effects here. I particularly like the look of the hanging moss or webs which were lit up with black lights. There was a pitch black room with thousands of tiny red and green dots. There is a surprise there that I won’t give away.

This was also where we learned that I have the navigational sense of Apple Maps.
5 I went through all of the haunts with the same couple. Partway through The Freak Show they asked if I wanted to lead for a while. As soon as I said yes we turned the corner into a pitch black room. Nice timing.

Anyway, we were wending our way through a series of black plastic sheets when I took a wrong turn and ended up leading us into the interstitial space between the actual rooms. We surprised a poor actor who was waiting in this area for people to come along in the actual room.

Oops.

After that gaff I started questioning every turn. It took us quite a while to wend our way out of there.

After The Freak Show we entered Scarecrow Hollow, the corn maze. There were some nice scares here including actors jumping down from high stands and a few (or maybe one overachiever) in ghilllie suits who just appeared out of nowhere. The best scare, however, was when one of the group pretended to take a wrong turn, then ran full out to reach the next intersection before the group. His thunderous footsteps and jangling keys got quite the scream.

The corn maze lead to Deadwood Forest, a trip through woods dotted with little town scenes, cemeteries, a witches coven, and numerous houses and sheds. During this walk we picked up to young turks in their early twenties who were full of bravado until we entered the actual forest. Then they ran like crazy from anyone who appeared only to stop at the entrance to the next building and wait for us to go through first. One was running with his hands over his ears. When one of the actors jumped out and asked him why he was covering his face he replied “Because I’m scared” in a voice which would have been better suited to a five year old.

Naturally that actor followed him for quite a while, pouring on the fright.

Situated throughout the forest and the following hayride (Route 666) were some very cool fire pot things. Actually, that is totally inaccurate. They were quite warm. I believe there was some kind of propane tank thing with a special nozzle. However it was done, the result was a gout of flame which shot 10 to 15 feet into the air. These were frequently placed right before the darker portions of the haunt. Your eyes were dazzled by the bright light, then you are plunged into darkness.

I thoroughly enjoyed both attractions. I especially like attending these with members of the haunt club. While we might not always jump at the scares, we do have an appreciation for the craftsmanship of the haunt. Part of the reason it takes us so long to go through them is because we are stopping to admire different props or set pieces.

I can’t wait until the fifth of October when we take on the haunts in Flint.


1 In between the writing of that sentence and the publication of this post, the clock
has gone up on the wall in the living room. It looks a little sparse by itself. I’m going to have to surround it with bats.

2 Including cheese topping. I’m a sucker for that day-glo orange stuff. I ended up making a chili cheese dog that I just know would have caused my cardiologist to slap me.

3 By area I mean way out in BFE.

4 I’m sorry. I should have written this closer to the day I actually went. Unfortunately things have started to get a little jumbled in my head and I can’t remember which haunt had which props in some cases.

5 Did I mention that the map app on my phone had me leave the road which was a direct route to Hell, wind through numerous streets, then get back on that road?