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Guest Post: A review of Hauntcon by Brandon Whitaker

May 3, 2011

In my eyes, each tradeshow in the haunt industry has one thing it does best. Transworld is a buyer’s show, Midwest Haunters has the best education, Hauntcon is known for its haunt tours. It is for this reason that Hauntcon has a new location each year. This year the convention came to Louisville so my lovely partner in crime, Kate Monroe, and I made the trip and I for once had the honor of being a speaker.
 
The tradeshow floor was the smallest I have EVER seen at a haunt convention. You also had to have a wrist band in order to get into the trade show. I think this is a bad move as there are plenty of people in the hotel that may wonder in and buy something. This year classes were scheduled around tradeshow hours to help encourage people to buy. Classes ran from 9-12:30 then another class from 5-6. This made it very difficult for us, who were not staying in the hotel, and thus missed some of the better classes that were offered in the afternoon set. A lot of the classes seemed like they did not pertain to us as haunters (such as a class on Kentucky cryptozoology) and we generally only went to one class a day. As a speaker, I felt the whole convention was poorly organized and did not feel like I was valued (only receiving admission to the convention as compensation). Perhaps if they took better care of their speakers, they would have more interesting classes.
 
We only went on the Friday night haunt tours (due to time and budget restraints). The Friday tours went to Industrial Nightmare and Fear Fair.

Industrial Nightmare is one of my favorite haunts from my youth. The owners are very nice and let Kate through even though her wristband had been lost. They are the originators of my single favorite haunt scene ever: the swamp, which also held their best actor that acted like a mud man from Left 4 Dead 2 crawling on the ground and making strange sounds. I did not care for their new scene this season though: Zombie strippers. They did have a new first scene that had the rest of our group applauding. I like the scene, but the actor’s dialogue needed some work. We also saw him take his mask off. All in all Industrial Nightmare has some of the best detailing in the industry and is just fun.

Industrial Nightmare’s second haunt is called Dementia and I was not a fan of it in the past. This year a lot of improvements have been made. My favorite scene here was a room filled with bodies in bondage attire with a big tattooed guy in a Michael Jackson mask (as Billie Jean plays in the background) rubbing little girl panties in our faces. I was sad to see the hard core Santa go away, and the outdoor maze was smaller with less cleaver use of chainsaws. As far as second haunts go, Dementia is one of the best.
 
We had never been to Fear Fair before and I must say it made both of our top 5 haunts ever lists. The first scene has a massive animatronic being attacked by the military with gun shots ringing all around us. We were rushed into a moving van and brought to a military hospital; the whole feel to this portion was pulse racing GO GO GO! We then approached an old theater with real theater carpet and had to go through the screen to begin a series of movie scenes.

As a whole I HATE movie scenes (as they are un-original) but these were awesome. They used a lot of the less common movies (such as Jeepers Creepers and one movie we could not identify) and used real set pieces (such as a bus) along with fantastic illusions (like the endless school hall from Nightmare on Elm Street). There were many scenes that had actual doors you had to open and there was even a portion where our group was split up. Add to this some great dialogue and you have a haunt that is innovative while keeping that old style. Needless to say we plan on going back this haunt season. 

 

– Brandon Whitaker

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