When peering into the cold, starry sky from the Sandyland wagon, you really feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere or, more specifically, somewhere you shouldn’t be. Trespassers are treated to a slow-moving creepmobile trip through a haunted cornfield and woods. Not that you’d want to get off.
As a huge combine with jagged teeth on its blades bears down on your haywagon at the Springboro Haunted Hayride, the Covington “cut in the hill” at rush hour suddenly doesn’t seem so bad anymore. It’s only the last of a gauntlet of vehicles, including a flame-belching quasi-hearse with zombies!
Many board the Captain’s boat, and few leave unchanged. The USS Nightmare stands out as the region’s most original and bizarre attraction. A godawful crew of scum fill this antique tub, and every one of them is out for your blood. This haunt is elaborate and authentic.
Chainsaws-a-go-go! If the USS Nightmare and the Dent Schoolhouse are the Hollywood haunts in town, this is surely the low-budget slasher flick. Costumes and props are spartan, but Angel of Death is hellishly, demonically scary.
Halloween is, at its heart, a children’s holiday. Despite the hugely popular and profitable businesses of haunted houses and adult costumes, it’s kids who get more out of October than anyone else. It does not memorialize a war and has little religious significance. Its the playful, secular traditions that have risen above its Christian and Gaelic ones.
As soon as you descend upon the Chambers of Horror parking lot, you know you’re in for an unnerving experience. Ogling creatures stalk you all the way to the entrance. Once inside, visitors are prepared for the fright night with an evil opening video complete with static and a wicked introduction from Saw’s demented Jigsaw.
The Loveland Castle has been haunting the Cincinnati area for over twenty years. The castle wasn’t built to scare but offers a great setting for a haunted house. Traveling down the winding road that leads to the castle builds up some eerie suspense.
The Hall is full of surprises. It’s nestled along a quiet neighborhood street and is a charity haunt, both of which point to a born-to-be-mild haunted experience. But this is far from the truth. Tricks and devilish treats are released even as you wait in line. Is that a dummy or, no, that skeleton is chasing you.
For 20 years, the Springboro Haunted Hayride & Black Bog has maintained a sort of peculiar charm on its rustic, countryside setting. These two separate attractions are housed on a sprawling farm in the middle of nowhere. The drive there is an excursion itself, but the experience is well worth the voyage.
An ideal haunted house to take the whole family, this haunt is set next to a Catholic church in the parish center. That alone gives it a built in creep, but the whole package is more of an easygoing haunted tour.
Clowns, chainsaw murderers and various grim reapers are loose in Newtown. The winding corn maze is home to other nasty folks including a giant furry man (Bigfoot with an angry streak) and various crazed hillbillies who are none too happy with you treading on their property.
Entering the dank and grimy basement lair of “Uncle” Charlie McFree, the Schoolhouse’s homicidal janitor, is an unnerving experience. His evil has corrupted all corners of the schoolhouse — from the bus parked out front to the PTA carnival. Bodies hang from hooks in the woodshop. Babbling lunatics fi ll the detention hall.
For most people, Music Hall conjures images of the Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Opera. It’s one of the city’s most refined and classy destinations. But Teri Casper sees it differently. “That is the site of an old mental institution, an orphan asylum and also a potters field where they buried the indigent and the people from the insane asylum,” Casper says.
When the spastic, gibbering Keeper bursts out of the entrance door to assault your group, it lets you know that the Dungeons take no prisoners. The event has expanded to the second floor of its building, redone half of the rooms on the first floor and raised the required age for volunteers (resulting in a bigger and more threatening cast).