Posted on October 31, 2014
Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: ,

The Radley Haunted House in St. Petersburg, Florida is in its final days and thousands of people have passed through its halls throughout the Halloween season, each raving about how incredible the experience was.

We are truly flattered and appreciate each and every kind word given about what we’ve created this year. A few of our reviews:

  • “By far my favorite haunted house experience ever! The first time I have ever been freaked out!”
  • “Attention to detail is mind-boggling and impressive.”
  • “The originality and level of detail is on par with the admittedly larger haunts in Tampa and Orlando.”
  • “I am never scared ever but one room was so bad I pushed someone in front of me because it was creepy as heck.”
  • “Original, creative, genuinely scary.”
  • “Both a haunt and art in the same experience.”
  • “It was the scariest haunted house I’ve ever been to.”
  • “This is definitely on our Halloween tradition to do list!”
  • So in honor of Halloween, we wanted to share the experience with everyone who can’t make it out to see it in person. The video below is a full walkthrough of Dr. Radley’s Nightmare Machine – the 2014 Radley Haunted House. Casts and characters do change from night to night, keeping it fresh with each visit, but this video gives a great overview of what our visits have been screaming their way through.


    Video: Full Radley Haunted House 2014 POV walkthrough


    It’s the eighth year of the Radley Haunted House, but my first being personally involved. Beyond Outside the Magic being this haunt’s sponsor, I have left my mark all over this event – and I’m beyond proud of the results.

    Our incredibly talented creative director (and Radley founder) Cody Meacham was responsible for designing and building the elaborate sets. Our costume designer Dakota Whittington has made nightmares a reality with his freakish creations. Our story guru Chris Hough wrote Dr. Radley’s terrifying tale. Our makeup artist and actress Caitlyn Sabrio has expertly made the doc’s victims look like they’re back from the dead while simultaneously creeping people out each night. Our energetic cast – including but not limited to Lacey, Matt, Paul, Dana, Nicole, Gina, Crystal, Alice, Draven, Marissa, and everyone else who has volunteered (Sorry if I left your name out!) – has brought an onslaught of big scares for everyone who passed through. Our music composers William Dodson and Wendell Jones of Sideshow Sound Theatre drive the raw emotion behind each scene with their original score. And of course our Dr. Radley, Justin Horn, the perfect face of our event.

    THANK YOU to all of you.

    As for me… I added lighting, sound, effects, voice over, a web site, graphic design, and writing/directing a little thing called Sleep Sessions, which I’ll post more about soon.

    Though I’ve had a hand in nearly everything with this year’s Radley Haunted House, it’s been a team effort the entire way through. But without Cody, none of it would have happened and I thank him infinitely for allowing me to join in the eighth year of this wonder that he has worked countless hours to build up.

    There are big plans for the Radley Haunted House in the future. But for now, we still have three nights remaining, tonight through Sunday, November 2. We’re open 7:30pm – 11pm so please come see the home haunt everyone is raving about!

    More information, including directions, can be found at RadleyHaunt.com.


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    Posted on October 31, 2014
    Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , , , ,

    The must-see Halloween event of 2014 is Delusion, a self-described haunted play that beautifully combines element of cinema, theater, and haunted attractions into an interactive experience like no other.

    Director Jon Braver created Delusion in 2011, determined to elevate Halloween entertainment to a new art form. He quickly achieved that, bettering the format in 2012 and 2013, incorporating top tier acting, beautifully original scores, Hollywood stunt work, and intriguing stories to become this year’s event – Delusion: Lies Within.

    This is definitely not a haunted house. It’s a performance, much like one seen on a Broadway stage, but not stationary. The audience, in small groups, becomes part of every scene, required to interact with actors, props, and sets to move the story along. This year’s Los Angeles setting is the gorgeous Fitzgerald House, a decades-old mansion that becomes a character in the story.

    A waiting area outside acts as a museum of sorts for Delusion, featuring playbills, posters, and costumes from the event’s past. Guests can also buy food and drinks before the show, even enjoying them while rocking on swings. One chair sits next to a large metal gramophone type speaker, in which a faint voice can be heard – the first puzzling piece of the story that will soon unfold.

    Leading off the 2014 show is Delusion veteran actress Dasha Kittredge, whose lead role in 2013′s Delusion: Masque of Mortality (seen below) put her front and center this year. Her beauty and charm help to welcome everyone into the story perfectly.

    This year’s story revolves around author Elena Fitzgerald. It is her manor that guests arrive to. Her fantasy novels have gripped the world, developing obsessed fans determined to find out why no more books have been released in years, following the disappearance of her daughter Mary. It becomes your job to break into the mansion and solve the mystery.

    Kittredge as the “Lockmaster” leads the charge, quietly escorting groups of 10-12 onto the grounds. She quickly asks for a “brave” volunteer to be the first to sneak inside. Naturally, I took the job. Volunteering for interactivity is important to fully appreciating Delusion. It’s enjoyable to stand back and watch from a traditional theatrical perspective, but engaging with the characters in the story makes it feel that much more real.

    For stepping up, I was given a satchel and asked to crawl into the mansion alone, giving me a private look at what would become the first of a series of beautiful sets. I stepped into an octagonal room with paintings across each ceiling panel depicting scenes from Elena Fitzgerald’s books. The room itself was helping to tell Delusion’s story.

    Every detail feels authentic, some inherent in the location but most from elaborate set dressings and props. The musical score accompanies every movement and characters follow groups through the experience, maintaining a sense of familiarity and building a relationship throughout.

    Though I spent maybe half an hour with Kittredge across two years of attending Delusion, I feel like I know her – or at least, her characters. I feel like we experienced something together. And she’s just one of many cast members that create such a personal connection across this most intimate and unique of performance spaces. It breaks down all the walls that a traditional theater stage creates.

    From there, the group is handed off to another character, then another, and so on. Roaming from room to room, the story of peril, intrigue, danger, and otherworldly phenomenon plays out. There are elaborate costumes, dazzling special effects, and exciting moments that force everyone to rush between scenes or hide in dark places. Realistic characters accompany guests to encounters with unbelievable (yet completely convincing) ones, each with their own quirks.

    Each scene has moments that perhaps just one patron will get to experience. Sometimes the groups are split up temporarily. Sometimes spectacles are witnessed that no one can even believe just happened.

    But in the end, it’s the acting and story that drive Delusion to become the future of live entertainment, Halloween or otherwise. It is truly unlike any other experience around – a best in show.

    If Delusion has a downside, it’s that it has to end. Even with the experience lasting 40-50 minutes, no ending will ever suffice because no one wants to leave the pure fantasy that Delusion creates, removing all responsibilities and allowing guests to completely immerse themselves into another world for a while. It’s incredibly satisfying.

    Delusion: Lies Within sold out its initial run before opening night. But additional performances have just been announced for November, with extremely limited tickets on sale now at EnterDelusion.com using password “DelusionLovesMe.”

    Do not hesitate. Buy a ticket immediately and escape from real life for an evening to let Delusion transport you into a world of beautiful horror.


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    Posted on October 31, 2014
    Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , , ,

    The premise of “The Purge” has become an instant hit among Halloween events. When all crime is legal for 12 hours, including murder, the chaos that ensues is perfect to wreak havoc upon guests in attractions nationwide.

    “The Purge” has inspired scare zones at Universal Studios in California and Florida as well as an independent haunted attraction from Blumhouse Productions last year.

    For 2014, The Purge: Breakout pits guests against the clock to survive the final 30 minutes before the annual kill fest begins. It’s an escape room concept taken to a new level.

    Impressively contained inside truck trailers, The Purge: Breakout features multiple highly detailed, believable environments that contain puzzles that must be sequentially solved in order to escape. Failure to make it out in time results in, well, being purged.

    From the moment you step inside, the adrenaline hits upon the realization that you’re locked inside a small cage with only a dim light on to figure out how to proceed. You quickly realize you’re not alone, as a chained up girl is just beyond the bars holding you in. Her role is to not only play a fellow victim of Big Daddy – your captor – but also offer occasional hints to ensure you have a fighting chance. She keeps the action moving throughout the experience without ever giving too much away.

    It’s a fast paced, fun adventure that stays interesting until the very end. Quick thinkers that are also daring will fly through a few of the puzzles. But some are designed to trip just about anyone up. And nothing is more frustrating than the lights going out every 5 minutes as the countdown to The Purge is announced.

    The record for successfully making it through is around 22 minutes. But most do not – at least not on the first try.

    Teamwork is essential to move fast, so bringing a few smart, but calm friends is a must. Small groups can enter together to try to conquer the experience.

    The Purge: Breakout is a fantastic evolution of the escape room concept, existing somewhere between that and an interactive haunted house. But it’s only around for a limited time, having returned for this Halloween season through November 2 in Los Angeles. At roughly $30, it’s money well spent to have a fast-paced thrilling time using your brain while simultaneously being entertained.

    More information can be found on the event’s web site.


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    Posted on October 30, 2014
    Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , , , , , ,

    Doubling in size for 2014, The Shallow Grave in Winter Haven has become one of Central Florida’s best haunted attractions. This year there are two separate haunted houses, the upgraded Haunted Hills maze and the all-new ADHD experience, playing off of common phobias.

    The Shallow Grave essentially sits in the middle of nowhere, about an hour away from anything. But it’s well worth the drive for those looking for amped up thrills this Halloween.

    With high energy actors, surprising effects, detailed scenes, and quite a few nasty smells, The Shallow Grave aims to impress by grabbing the attention of each and every guest that passes through – quite literally. Touching is allowed in this haunt, so expect actors to get up close and personal as you walk through. You can’t fight back though. Just scream and keep moving, if you’re not frozen with fear.

    Among their two experiences, the returning Haunted Hills is the better of the bunch. It’s a literal haunted house, sending guests winding through gruesome scenes at the hands of their demented main character Thaddeus. With extremely dark environments and plenty of guts and gore, this is Halloween to the extreme.


    Video: FULL Shallow Grave Haunted Hills haunted house 2014 POV walkthrough


    But their new haunt, called ADHD, is no laughing matter. Spiders, snakes, and clowns are among the common fears that this maze plays off of. Scenes are a bit disjointed, but ultimately the experience packs a punch around every corner. It’s less gory than Haunted Hills, designed to mess with your head even more with plenty of unique moments unseen in other haunts as sets move and animated creatures invade your space. And the Gatekeeper animatronic that kicks off the experience is an impressive moment unto itself.


    Video: FULL NEW Shallow Grave – ADHD haunted house 2014 POV walkthrough


    The Shallow Grave is open for three more nights this Halloween season, including tonight. More information can be found at TheShallowGrave.com.


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    Posted on October 29, 2014
    Topics: Entertainment, Movies, Special EventsTags: , , ,

    Blood Manor is a haunted house attraction in New York City now in its 10th year of operation, with plenty of scares in store for this Halloween season.

    It’s set up in the traditional scare house style of a linear path through a series of rooms, and each room is individually themed to cater to every visitor’s phobia of choice. From clowns to werewolves (or just full moons, if you belong to the latter demographic), you’re guaranteed to come face-to-face with your fears.

    Right from the beginning, Blood Manor kicked into high gear. Even the safety spiel was fun—a large man covered in fluorescent neon paint and wielding what appeared to be a meat cleaver fashioned into a staff lined us up in a group of 6 with our backs against a wall, firing-squad style. He then proceeded to inform us of the rules of the house (don’t touch the actors and they won’t touch you), all while walking up and down the line, looming uncomfortably close into each of our faces in turn. He would leer at us inches away from our faces as he spoke, then pause for a moment to let the discomfort sink in. (The urge to lean forward slightly and *boop* him on his nose with mine was overwhelming.)

    From here we were ushered into the first room to begin our experience. We moved through a graveyard scene where some sort of creature skittered across the floor by our feet as we tried to move forward to the door. Once the coast was clear we then entered a tight room made up to look like the foyer of an old decrepit house. The focal point of the room was a mirror over a sooty fireplace, and as our group moved closer our reflections changed from our normal (if slightly pale) human faces to zombified version of ourselves, with our skin dripping off our faces and blood oozing from our eyeballs. We were so busy checking out our gorgeous, sexy selves that we didn’t notice the life-sized porcelain doll appear behind us. After successfully scaring the bejeezus out of us, she herded us in the direction of the door and we moved onwards.

    Next was a corridor that was entirely pitch-black and nearly sound-proof. There was no way to orient myself in any particular direction and although I couldn’t see them, I could hear the others in my group bumping into the walls and trying to find each other. It was at this point that my favorite part of haunted houses came into play—the unspoken agreement between strangers to rally together to survive the experience, where everyone wordlessly agrees to help each other out and make their way through. We made a sort of pants-wetting conga line and finally found the doorway.

    From here on out, the pace of the haunted house definitely picked up.

    The next few rooms are presented rapid-fire style, where visitors are given less and less time to take in their surroundings before being approached by the scare-actors and being moved into the next experience. While it’s difficult to appreciate the effects and settings, it makes for a more terrifying experience when you’re unable to finish processing a thought before another scare interrupts it.

    After emerging from the dark corridor, we found ourselves in a blood-soaked kitchen and were quickly accosted by a man in a butcher’s apron armed with a meat cleaver and looking pretty stabby. After dodging around him, we walked through a kind of meat storage room with bodies hanging trussed upside-down from the ceiling and had to physically push past them to make forward progress. Not helping was the psycho maniac running around the bodies, pressing them against us and insisting that we get a closer look at them.

    Also present in the attraction was a room dedicated entirely to clowns, where one clown danced around you and tried to entice you into climbing into a jumbo-sized jack-in-the-box, which was presently occupied by a young girl-clown holding out grabby-hands toward you. The best part of this room was the scare-actors themselves. Although this was true of the entire attraction in general, it was surprisingly pleasant to come across an actor whose vocabulary was comprised of more than just the odd groan or scream, and who was actually articulate and had very compelling arguments for why we should get nearer to the girl in the box. Y’know, he was right, that box did look pretty comfortable…

    Another highlight of the night was the appearance of an 8-foot-tall animatronic werewolf looking very convincing in the light of the full moon, which looked gorgeous and humongous hanging over our heads. And then came the second werewolf who startled us out of our moon-induced hypnosis and into running for the exit. Not naming names, but some of us may have been using their boyfriend as a human shield. (Sorry honey!)

    Later on we found ourselves running through not one, but two separate rooms with surgeons operating on live victims, a nightclub with zombie strippers putting on a show, and a man butchering pigs who are still squealing so loudly it almost drowned out the butcher’s yells as he ran toward us.

    Blood Manor’s finale begins as you are handed a pair of 3-D glasses and enter a maze of neon paint and blacklight. The gory murals on the walls, paint-splattered props, and even the make-up on the scare-actors pop out at you as you navigate your way around the switch-backs and blind corners. It all culminates in a large area monopolized by a machine gun turret you are forced to walk in front of, gleefully manned by a crazed soldier. Helping you along your way is another soldier armed with a chainsaw, which is super effective in hand-to-hand combat, I’m sure.

    Leaving Blood Manor, I was exhausted from screaming and laughing so much. This weekend being their opening weekend, there were a few spots where it was evident an effect wasn’t quite working as planned, but even with those missing the overall attraction was fantastic. And in addition to the experience itself, admission to the house on opening night included photo-ops with Annabelle, the living doll who is the star of the horror movie by the same name which was also released that night.

    However, a warning to those who plan to visit Blood Manor — the website suggests not wearing white or expensive clothing, as it is likely you will come into contact with the faux blood used throughout the attraction. In many instances it is necessary to push past props or sidle against a blood-spattered wall. However, they assure it is water-soluble and I can verify it did indeed wash out just fine.

    In addition to the standard experience running each weekend through Halloween, Blood Manor also offers “Touch-Me Thursdays”, where — you guessed it — the zombies and werewolves will touch you, and “Lights Out Nights” where the majority of the lights are shut off and you are armed with nothing but a glow-stick to see by.

    Blood Manor continues through November 8 on select nights. More information can be found at BloodManor.com.


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