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News: Visit a North Carolina haunt this weekend!
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Author Topic: Castle of Horror *Official* Reviews 2013  (Read 1180 times)
« on: October 21, 2013, 07:13:48 AM »

Submitted by: Screaming_Diana
Date Attended:  10/19/2013
Scare Factor:  1/5
The Castle lacked in scares tremendously this year.  I must add that my group was paired with a very rude and annoying group.  I feel this group ruined our visit to the Castle.  They had gone through the trail the previous weekend and knew where every scare was going to take place and just simply ruined the experience for me.  I was near the back of our group and missed 80% of the scares all together.  If Iíd been in the front or simply in a smaller group my bet is my experience would have been a lot better.  One aspect of this haunt that sets it apart from most is that the actors here can and will touch you.
Actors: 2.5/5
Being near the back of my group I got very little actor attention.  Honestly it was almost as if the last three people in our group were invisible.  Our group was six deep but only the first three people were targeted.  There was talk about A1 sauce and a goat but I missed the entire story behind both.  The stand out actors were: the girl guarding the entrance, the crazy burglar screwing with people in line, Captain Spalding, and a clown I met while in line and several times throughout the Castle.  There are many kid actors which can work but not when they speak out of character.  Iím sure the front of our group felt the actors did a great job but unfortunately the back of the group missed out.
Set Design/Props/FX:  4/5
The Castle looked fantastic on the outside as well as on the inside.  Several of the props where exceptionally well done.  The morgue looked great and was well designed for some very unique scares.  You must hold onto a rope while walking through the castle to ensure no one in your group gets lost.  There were several rooms where we just stopped for what seemed like an eternity.  Nothing scary happened, we just stood there bored and wondering what in the world was causing the hold up.  The haunt does not have a steady flow.  You will experience moving walls and tilting floors.  Donít get close to the walls or you might get pulled in and held hostage for a while.  The butcher shop is interesting and I learned you can buy a bag of buttholes for $5 and a dozen nipples for $3.  The only way out of the butcher shop is through the freezer which was pretty neat.  I was impressed with some of the unique costumes used here.  The large bat like creature, the guy with the open stomach, and the bird were all wearing very memorable costumes.
Length:  2.5/5
There is limited space inside the castle but the trail circles back and takes you through sections youíve already passed through.  This was a unique way to add some confusion and length to the haunt.  I was bored and ready for it to be over, thanks to the crappy group we got paired with, so I was glad it wasnít any longer.  If the group of jerks hadnít been paired with us I probably wouldíve enjoyed the haunt and been very pleased with the length.
Value:  3/5
$15 a person seemed high for the experience I received however take away the jerks that we got stuck with and I think the haunt Is probably worth $15 a person.  They offer discount pricing 2/$25 and even have season passes for $35.  They only accept cash.  Parking is free.
Unfortunately they closed, Cannibal Creek, the second half of the haunt this year.  I do think they reduced the cost of admission to the Castle to help compensate for the closing of Cannibal Creek.
Overall Impression: 2/5
I loved the Castle last year and was saddened that my experience wasnít the same this year.  I sincerely feel the people we were paired with robbed my group of scares and enjoyment.  As always the castle and everything inside looked great.  Unless they revise their language when young children come through I would suggest leaving your kids at home.  Maybe we just got the unedited version since there were no small kids in our group.  Give the Castle a try!  It was great last year and I feel itís still great this year I just had a lousy experience that was not in the Castle of Horrors control.
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2013, 07:15:42 AM »

Submitted by: packbacker
Visit date: 10/19/13

Scare factor: 2/5
This is a very difficult number to assign.  In full disclosure, our group of three was added to another group of three.  This other group featured one woman who was just.....awful.  Giving lip that wasn't fun or witty to the actors, moving as fast as a paralyzed slug, stopping randomly, and incessantly complaining; this woman did it all!  So when you are at the back of the rope with this pleasant individual in front of you you are going to have a tainted experience.  That being said, there are still some giant flaws that bring the scare factor way down.  Scares were consistently aimed at this other group.  Our three routinely stood there ignored while they got attention.  Scares would start when these three entered a room in their molasses shuffle fashion; the three of us were wedged in a hallway missing the dialogue and some pop scares.  On top of this there were multiple occasions where we were in a room where nothing was happening.  At one point a lady was sitting on a bed just chit-chatting with the three in front of us.  Seriously...five minutes of chit chat.  No scares.  Just talking...and it wasn't even such things as "You're gonna die!" "I'm going to eat you!" etc.  Nope just chit-chat.  In another room a kid said "wait here let me see if they're ready!".  We had just sat for five minutes chit-chatting near the bed....and they're not ready?  Even if not, you have a monster growl and menace until they signal they are ready for you.  On top of that were stories that I still haven't figured out- something with A-1, a three legged goat I never saw, a rabid dog I never saw, and a bizarre place where they said we needed a password that we never used.  Just utter confusion that never explained itself at all.  Maybe the password was just to get out of the let's sit on the bed and talk room?  I would have yelled "Spoiled Bologna!" A LOT sooner if that was the case...

On the plus side of things, there are some fun/unique scares.  Touching you amps up the scare factor.  The cough gag is very well done and one of our group was grabbed through a wall and held tight for close to 30 seconds.  The corpse under the bed was delightful.  To make things really work, though, the down time has to be eliminated, the scares have to be sped up, and the entire group needs to be consistently worked over. 

Actors: 2.5/5
The good ones are good; the bad ones are bad.  Captain Spaulding is awesome.  He has his lines down and can ad-lib with mouthy customers with the best of them.  The actors here do a good job of making you uncomfortable with the grabbing and closeness.  There is also a lot of language used.  I don't mind it at all but be warned that there was a lot of cussing and sexual innuendo if that's not your thing.  Several of the actors need to be louder- we couldn't hear what their story was...of course we also had Mouthy McGee interrupting and complaining so not all the actor's fault.  The bad- the people that just stood there and chit-chatted.   

Props/Sets/Fx: 4.5/5
It looks amazing.  Consistently from room to room I was gawking at props, sets, and costumes.  There were a lot of little knick knacks here or there that were eye-catching.  Flayed faces mounted on the wall, walking through the fridge to another room, the backwards masked body under the bed, the gigantic winged beast, and more make Castle of Horror a visual masterpiece.  Masks and makeup run the gamut from great (Captain Spaulding) to non-existent (children in cages).  The moving floor is a nice touch in one room as well and the half-corpse girl is grotesquely awesome. 

Length: 3/5
They double and triple you back through rooms to increase the length of the trip so every space is utilized.  The problem, however, is that certain rooms appear to just be holding rooms and lack scares.  We were stopped in a room for 7-8 minutes with almost nothing happening.  Speed it up!

Value: 2/5
It's again difficult to accurately gauge based on the lady in our group.  That doesn't fix the slowness problems.  We were uniformly ready to be done about halfway through the attraction.  Executed properly I think it would be well worth the money but as it is I felt bored and ignored.  I don't have to pay to be that!

Free parking!  Castle of Horror does have a full gift shop and will now apparently be available to be open other times during the year for functions.  The music selection in the queue area was interesting...I didn't know that "Who Let the Dogs Out" had more than just the refrain.

Overall: 2/5
Castle of Horror has fully re-vamped their attraction.  The outdoor Cannibal Creek trail is no more and the castle has become a much darker "they will touch you" trail. I love the concept.  It's unique for the area.  The space is fun.  In it's current incarnation, though, things mis-fire.  As mentioned above in detail our night was definitely marred by one of the most unpleasant women in the world...Castle of Horror cannot be held responsible for her misery spewing existence.  The night could have been salvaged if we didn't stop in room after room for no discernible reason, though.  I enjoy verbal interaction with actors but minutes on hand stopped doing nothing is not scary, it's irritating.  It did give me time to enjoy the myriad of fantastic decorations and set-pieces but the start-stop nature kills any mood that does develop.

I really hope our experience was the exception rather than the rule at Castle of Horror.  I think they have a very unique concept that could be super effective but a lot of work needs to be done.  Less waiting in rooms, interaction with all guests, and less stories that don't go anywhere.  I really, really want this concept to work!
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 07:22:22 AM »

Visited: 10/19/13
Submitted by: jonesm

Scare Factor: 2/5
OK, I'm going to try and be as objective as possible in this review, but for full disclosure let me start off by saying that the group of three that my group of three was paired were just awful.  They were combative with the actors and essentially hogged the entire experience of the trail for themselves.  As the one in the back, I missed a good chunk of what the monster guides said and pretty much all of the pop scares.  That being said, this wasn't my first time through the Castle, and I was dutiful in my observations so I'd be able to give
you thoughts that were cogent and accurate.  And that is that the Castle isn't very scary.  It used to be that you laughed through the Castle portion and got your scares at Cannibal Creek, but since they've closed that you're left with a trail with very few actual scares.  It's still a fun time, and very inventively designed, but there aren't a whole lot of true scares.  This is more of a family friendly trail, with some great moments.

Actors: 2/5
Captain Spalding and his wife were great, and the rest of the monster guides were all pretty good.  Once again the group in front of us did their very best to ensure the trail didn't work by arguing and generally not playing along, but the cast handled it as well as they could.  I appreciated how aggressive they were with the hands-on thing, you really had to navigate around the monsters.  I'd also highlight the crazy winged demon monster, he was one of the rare instances where the costume looked exactly like what I'd imagine something like that would look.  The problem with this trail is with its secondary cast members.  The ones charged with getting you the story and directing you were mostly good, but the ones who weren't did little but get in the way.  There were times we just stopped and chatted with the monsters before they'd let us proceed; they didn't break character per se, but when your character's patter goes past the 5-minute mark in a single room, you start becoming boring.  When I spend that 5-plus minutes watching them talk to half the group while I just stand there, I start to get irritated.  At one point I caught myself staring at the sets and trying to figure out what they made them out of.  I was totally out of the spirit, and I had to yell at them just to let us move on to the next room.  My group sucked to be sure, but it wasn't only on them, the actors have some major pacing issues at this haunt, despite their obvious desire to do well.

Sets/Props/FX: 3/5
The Castle is a really neat location, and it incorporates a unique figure eight design where you go through some rooms repeatedly, but are shunted off into different directions each time.  Some of the sets could use some sprucing up to be certain, but every other room would have something really unique and well done to see.  As I mentioned above, the winged demon was a definite highlight, as was the half-girl chained to the wall and they trip through the refrigerator.  The sets are really neat, but everything takes too long to develop, so you often spend too much time looking at them, which inevitably leads to spotting weaknesses.  I think the pacing issues I mentioned earlier would help to let the sets shine as they ought to.

Length: 2.5/5
It takes a good long time to go through this trail, but not all of that is good length.  Some of it is just filler.  I'd say it's average in length, but feels much longer.

Value: 2.5/5
Without the Cannibal Creek portion, this trail is only very average in its value.

Overall: 2.5/5
The lousy group didn't help, but there were very few scares, too much time standing around, and too few actors who seemed really committed to what they were doing.  No major screams from Screaming Diana, and that's never a good sign.  This has become a very mundane haunt that's struggling just to stay average.  Their hearts are in the right place, but I'd be lying if I said anything other than this just isn't a very good trail this year.  I think this one is really primed for a rebound next year, and it'd be great to get the Creek back in there in some capacity!
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