Haunted properties provide haven for Halloween thrill seekers

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 14, 2015

 The entrance to the Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township features a giant skull, gargoyles and a rusted bicycle.

The entrance to the Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township features a giant skull, gargoyles and a rusted bicycle.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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METRO DETROIT — There are few better ways to gear up for Halloween than attending a haunted house. 

The spooky music, the dark and the fear of the unknown — was that your friend or a creature of the night breathing on your neck? 

A haunted house is sure to get you in the mood, and quickly.

Local venues offer the Halloween gamut, from over-the-top mayhem and panic to family-friendly entertainment and fun.

Shayne McGuire, 26, of St. Clair Shores, is a self-professed horror movie junkie.

“It’s pretty much that I like that rush. I love being scared,” McGuire said. “Haunted houses bring the movies to real life and, for someone like me, it’s like a little piece of heaven.”

McGuire attended three haunted houses in the Flint area Oct. 3, he traveled to Chicago to experience the city’s best haunts last year, and this year he plans to visit haunted houses near Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

His fascination with fright began when he was 8 years old and he watched “Cujo,” a Stephen King horror movie, with his mom, he said. After that, he was watching movies like “Beetlejuice” and “The Shining” when others his age were watching “Aladdin.”

“By now, I live and breathe horror movies,” McGuire said. “I’ve got the tattoos all over my neck and Michael Myers on my back.”

What makes a haunted house truly great, McGuire said, is having an authentic experience and actors that are invested in their roles.

“You can have a ton of props and cool stuff, but if the actors aren’t committed, it’s not real anymore,” he said. “At one, I actually felt like I was going to die. I felt fully threatened when they were yelling at me, and I didn’t have a response.”

At the Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township, owner Charlie Alongi said that scaring people is a 14-year family tradition started by his parents. 

“We have clowns, chainsaws, all sorts of ungodly creatures. We’ve got 100 people on-site and probably 80 in costumes,” Alongi said. “It is hands-on, and they will chase you.”

The 20-acre haunted farm includes a midway with a bonfire, concessions and a large movie screen between the three-building haunted house, corn maze, haunted hayride and zombie paintball shoot.

At the Fear Factory, a 25,000-square-foot haunted house built in semi-trailers at Gibraltar Trade Center in Mount Clemens, husband and wife Richard and Holly Barron have been providing gimmick-free terror for 21 years.

The experience includes a 20- to 30-minute walk-through, including approximately 15 themed rooms, a couple of mazes and the state’s largest indoor vortex tunnel, Holly said.

“In our front room, some of our best actors do a whole skit,” she said. “A lot of people run out of that front room without going through the rest of the haunted house. It really gets you.”

Holly said the Fear Factory relies on live interactions, not animatronics or gimmicks. While chasing is encouraged, she said actors do not touch customers. Fog, utter darkness and a couple of real coffins add to the creep factor, she said.

At Blake’s Haunted Big Apple, located in Armada, co-owner Paul Blake said patrons have a choice to visit all or a few of four haunted attractions — a zombie paintball safari featuring a hayride equipped with paintball guns, a corn maze, a three-story haunted house, and a haunted hayride with live actors.

“We’ve been doing it for about 24 years now,” Blake said. “What makes us unique, I think, is we offer something for the whole family, young and old. We’re also a working farm and cider mill, and our store stays open late for cider, doughnuts and caramel apples.”

Besides the four attractions, Blake said people pick up pumpkins for sale, watch Halloween-themed animatronic shows, or warm up near a bonfire and live disc jockey.

For more information about the Haunted Farm of Terror, call (586) 203-7222 or visit www.hauntedfarmofterror.com. For more information about the Fear Factory, call (586) 216-2291 or visit www.thefearfactory.com. For more information about Blake’s Haunted Big Apple, call (586) 784-9710 or visit www.hauntedblakes.com.

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