Monday, September 9, 2013

Back to Brighton Asylum

It's been two years since I attended and reviewed Brighton Asylum, the haunt in located in the gritty, industrial section of Passaic, NJ, and this time I returned to see how new, improved, and updated it has become. I knew to expect new scares and new thrills, since my friend Sharon (Joiseygal, from the haunt and halloween forums) works there and she's been updating me about how much its owner has invested in the haunt.

Last year they ran an extra set of shows around Christmas and I believe there was another around Valentine's Day this year, so I could tell they've been expanding, and I was pretty amped to see what was in store. We'll, I can tell you, they're really gone above and beyond. This was truly knock-your-socks-off kind of scares!

There's been more of a backstory built up around the asylum, and they gave enough hints and details that I was wondering whether or not there was a grain of truth (or even more than a few grains) to the Asylum's history (they did invite you to Google it to verify it for yourself, which I have yet to do).

The haunt is completely different from what I saw two years ago, and as much as I liked what I saw the first time, you can tell Brighton Asylum has really honed its craft since then. Where the Asylum was perhaps a little weak in the eye candy department last time around, you can tell they've been putting their profits (and I hope they're making profits, because I want to see this haunt continue) to good use. Virtually every single room and corridor is now packed with detail. That alone can ratchet up the fear factor for attendees and you could hear the screams of others throughout the maze of corridors, attesting to the fact that the actors were getting in the groove, even so early in the haunt season.

And speaking of the maze of corridors, this haunt is long. Most times you feel you're in and out and the experience is over. At Brighton Asylum, I continue to be amazed by the length of the haunt, even mentioning at one time, "Just how long is this thing?" For $20, you're definitely getting your money's worth out of it.

While there's a somewhat disjointed nature to the various scenes you're walking through (perhaps my one criticism, I'd like to see a more cohesive theme running from room to room, but that's really just a minor critique), each set has good overboard with details and props, the lighting was spot on (okay, I'd like a few more accent lights to be able to take in more of the detail that they obviously worked hard on), and the actors had a lot of nooks and crannies to hide in to pop out and startle you.

I'm a fairly hard person to scare in these haunts and they definitely got me more than once. I won't give away any of the real good scares and startles (they've got one in particular I've never seen before that completely caught me off guard and literally knocked me backwards!) but Brighton Asylum has rocketed up to the top of one of my most favorite haunts, and considering it's close by I'll be hitting it again.

From a details perspective -- since I like making my own Halloween props that's what my eye goes towards immediately -- the underground grotto was top notch and the cabin facade that leads to it is right out of Evil Dead. It just looked that good. I also liked the morgue as well. There were a few things that I'm sure will be improved upon as the season progresses, such as a rather long, winding (and dark) corridor where you're bumping into hanging things could use some actor scares in there, and one room -- the doll room -- that I didn't really like (it was good, but I think it's been done a lot) although it did lend itself to a good startle scare.

Two things that I really did appreciate: it wasn't animatronic-heavy, meaning you didn't have a lot of stiffly moving props that were hissing and cracking at each pop-up, and no chainsaw guy at the end. Sorry if that's a spoiler, but I hate chainsaws ate the end, not because they're scary but because every. single. haunt. has them. Yes I know they serve a purpose in clearing out the haunt so there are no stragglers, but haunts really need to come up with something better.

One more "criticism" if you want to call it that: after a fairly amped ride through the haunt I thought it ended with a bit of a whimper. It was cool, don't get me wrong, but I like those haunts where you're going out with a bang -- and not chased by a chainsaw.

In short, Brighton Asylum has used the past two years to good effect spending time and money on creating a kickass haunt that's more than worth the two sawbucks you'll spend to go through it. It's become super detailed, it's got really good actors providing a lot of scares and startles all throughout the haunt, and best of all, they're expanding to 13 different dates throughout the year! Hitting all the major holidays, now you can be scared all year long.

You hear it a lot, but if you go to only one haunt this year, make it Brighton Asylum!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Haunted Mansion & The Gipper

Inside the Magic, a vlog/podcast of all things Disney, notes that "rare artifacts" from Disney's history, including many from The Haunted Mansion, will be on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum & Library from July 6 to April, 2013.

They posted a short clip of some of props that you'll be able to see such as the Hitchhiking Ghosts and the Attic Bride. Various collectibles will be on view as well. Anyone in the Simi Valley, CA, area may want to take the time to go check it out. The exhibit is being presented by D23, the official Disney fan club. Tickets to the exhibit are only $21 per person, making it a fun, affordable way to check out some great Disney memorabilia.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Meadowlands Zombie Walk

While I'm typically nonplussed about zombie walks -- I really don't get the point though I know a lot of haunters enjoy them -- the Meadowlands State Fair will be hosting one this Friday, June 29, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. (that's a lot of shambling to do).

While you're free to zombify yourself, they will have makeup artists on hand to do the job for you for a fee: basic zombie is $15, deluxe $20, and extreme $25. Of course, since it's going to be held at night how much is anyone going to see the makeup anyway. Can this be good?

But it goes to show how popular zombies  have become today and now permeate our society. While I might not be into zombie walks, I do appreciate anything that helps spread the virus.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Die & Save the Environment

Banana Leaf Casket
You've likely heard about the environmental movement's drive to reduce your "carbon footprint," but now there's a company that wants to help you reduce your "final footprint." The company, which goes by the same name, manufactures eco-friendly caskets made out of rattan, willow, bamboo, sea grass, banana leaf, and wood.

According to Final Footprint, there is enough steel buried each year to rebuild the Golden Gate Bridge and enough concrete to construct a highway from New York City to Detroit. They're also quite expensive, running upwards of several thousand dollars each. Final Footprint's so-called "e-coffins" cost only around $1,000.

While you might be tempted to think cremation is a more environmentally friendly means of disposing of one's remains, Final Footprint says a single body requires up to 356 cubic feet of natural gas because humans are mostly water and produces 1.6–8.5 grams of toxic mercury (from dental fillings). If nothing else, these green coffins will certainly help you return to a natural state -- as in "dust to dust" -- faster than their steel cousins, which the coffin maker says is the only real purpose of a metal casket: to prevent decomposition faster.

Wicker coffins are certainly a greener alternative, but hardly the stuff nightmares are made of.



Thursday, June 7, 2012

Zombie Max

It's been a heckuva week for zombies. There's been an outbreak of cannibalism all across the country with people threatening to chew off a hunk of flesh, attempting to, and in several cases actually doing so. The so-called "zombie attack" in Miami has only been the most publicized.

But we now have a weapon. Ammunition maker Hornady Manufacturing has available Zombie Max bullets that are available in .380 ca. auto, 9 mm, .40 ca. Smith & Wesson, and .45 ca. auto. From the Cabela's website where you can buy a box of 20 rounds for less than $20, the green tipped bullets even come with tips for surviving the zombie apocalypse:

Lock ’n load with Zombie Max. From Hornady’s Z-Max "Zombie" green-tip bullets to the "zombie-apocalypse survival tips" on the box, this ammo is sure to start fun conversations. Even better, its top-quality Hornady components ensure accuracy and smooth cycling through semiautomatic firearms.

Now you can be prepared for the end of the world in real shoot-'em up style!

Friday, June 1, 2012

More Signs of the Apocalypse

As bizarre and disturbing as the zombie attack in Miami was the other day, it's not as isolated an incident as you might suspect. The Daily Beast has put together a map showing there has been a rash of attacks that are happening around the country. Actually, it seems concentrated along the East Coast at the moment.

By the way, in case you haven't seen it before, that's purportedly the face of the zombie attack victim Ronald Poppo.

If you go to the article, the actual map is hyperlinked and you can read about the actual incidents. However, they have left off a couple (when the apocalypse starts spreading, these things can increase exponentially) such as the case in Hackensack, NJ, where a man threw his intestines at police (even Time calls it a Zombie alert?!).

[EDIT: I see the map has been updated to include the Hackensack attack now.]

I do note that it was pointed out by an acquaintance it may not be a zombie outbreak we're experiencing, but in fact is a Wendigo that has been loosed upon us.

According to the esteemed Wikipedia, a Wendigo "is a mythical creature appearing in the mythology of the Algonquian people. It is a malevolent cannibalistic spirit into which humans could transform, or which could possess humans."

Although it could very well be two sides of the same coin -- popular culture may have missed that zombies are not necessarily only the dead coming back to life, but rather is a mass possession of humanity by a Wendigo -- it would appear there is some wickedness afoot, and rather suddenly too.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Zombie Apocalypse Is Upon Us

Could Miami, FL, be ground zero for the zombie apocalypse? It could be as Miami police reported shooting and killing a man -- naked -- who was eating the face of another man, also naked. According to news reports, the man eating the other ignored police warnings to move away from the body, but instead continued devouring the man's face.

"According to police sources, a road ranger saw a naked man chewing on another man’s face and shouted on his loud speaker for him to back away.Meanwhile, a woman also saw the incident and flagged down a police officer who was in the area.

The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots."

Although police are blaming "cocaine psychosis" as the reason for the attack, it also sounds suspiciously like a zombie attack, though there was no indication of whether it took a head shot to finally stop the man.
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