First off, the damn place just looks creepy. Being in the Old Louisville/UofL area, the building has lots of character, charm, and just the right kind of run-down appeal you expect to find in a place that's haunted. Though it doesn't really look like a hotel, it does kinda look like a B&B, so that really works for it.
Now, I don't know WHO was running the "parking" with the little light up cone wands guiding traffic to park in the lot across the street, but when we went there were no signs up telling you anything about the parking. Once you're parked and out of your car, ready to head to the haunt, they stop you and tell you it's $5 to park. Um, excuse me? No thanks, I'll go to the empty parking lot across the street and park for free without having to cross a busy street or anything, thanks. I don't think it was the Haunted Hotel staff, I think a couple dicks were just trying to make some money. So that's not a knock at the Haunted Hotel, just a heads up for all you unsuspecting victims just looking for a place to park safely.
ON TO THE HAUNT!!!
We got to say a quick hi to the owner, Kevin Stich, so I could introduce my newest reviewing partner, then we made our way inside. The very first thing that you should know before you ever think about attempting the Haunted Hotel is that it is an EXTREME HAUNT!!! If you have no idea what this means, let me just give you the rundown. The actors can and WILL touch you. They will grab you and try to kill you. Or at least make you absolutely certain you are going to die. They will be in your face (thankfully most of them seem to keep mints or gum or something to freshen their breath - except for one dude who smelled like Doritos and had me craving them the rest of the night) and you are going to feel that bubble of personal space completely invaded in so many ways. It's meant to do that. It's meant to bring you to your absolute most uncomfortable and nervous point to scare the ever lovin' Hell outta you. THAT is what an extreme haunt really means.
Here are a couple of screenshots from their FAQ on their website:
So as you can see, it's intense and vulgar and grotesque.
And you know what?
I f**king LOVED it!!! This haunt is unreal. From the moment you walk in until the moment you're back out again, you have your every boundary not just pushed, but completely shattered. Most haunted houses try to scare you while making you feel safe, but this haunt puts you IN the haunted house, so you actually experience it.
The first actor gets you ready. He's a bellhop (or some other "hotel" employee) greets you by lining you up against the wall and making you very uncomfortable. I'm not a "skinny bitch" like all the other girls they seem to bring him (which dissatisfies him greatly) so he was pleased to have some extra meat. Part of me wanted to die laughing, the other part wanted to curl up in a ball and just die. I can't even tell you everything he said, but his voice was just creepy. Actually, you know that clown-dude from House of 1,000 Corpses? Captain Spaulding? Yeah, for some reason he reminded me of that guy, only in a bellhop outfit instead of a clown outfit. That level of creepy scariness. In fact, here's a pic of the horrifying Captain Spaulding from the movie, just to give you an idea of what's waiting for you as soon as you step inside:
Creepy enough? Yeah, don't relax yet. Next is the elevator. I won't give away the "surprise" but I may not be able to ride an elevator again for a while. I about shat myself...
I'm not gonna lie, the next...I dunno, twenty or so minutes? Hour? I'm not even sure how long we were in there, but it felt like forever. Anyway, it all kinda started blurring together in an all out terror-fest. So I'll just point out a few of the things that stick out in my memory bank. There was what I'm now calling the Religious Room. It's a master of misdirection, because you're paying attention to all the creepy demonic and anti-Christian stuff, but that's not what you should be so worried about. Oh no. Then there's the "Shitty Room" as I've renamed it. Why so vulgar? Well, that's what you see. Everywhere. And again, it's a master of misdirection. The gross-out factor in this room is pretty freakin high. Oh, and those eyes...they gave me bad dreams, for sure. I couldn't stop staring! Of course, there's the Butcher Room that's kinda creepy, but the...I don't even know what room this one was, because I was so scared, but I damn near got hung and decapitated. Like, literally, head on a chopping block, sparks flying from metal on metal, with me squealing like a little girl and Michala pushing me out of the room. The ambulance was kinda...well I'll be honest, we walked in, walked out, and nothing happened. I think that actor must've been on break or something, lol. Oh, and to the mad scientist/doctor guy pulling my hair, I told you it was kinky, why'd you stop?!
This doesn't even do justice to the level of fear that being in what we thought was true and real danger brought on us. We left the haunt panting, sweating, and thoroughly terrified. The haunt employs some truly talented actors and actresses who not only never broke character, they were so deep into their characters I worry that talent was actually recruited at Central State Mental Hospital...seriously, guys, that was an impressive performance!
Okay, I have to award the first 5 star review of the season to Haunted Hotel. I encourage people to visit this insane haunt. BUT because of the level of intensity, I would personally recommend not taking any children or teens under 16 years old. No offense to anyone, but I just don't think a kid any younger than that would be able to handle that. Hell, they probably can't even at 16, to be honest. It's definitely filled with adult language, adult situations, and would be rated R by the National Movie Rating Association (or whatever it's called). Even though it's not for children, it's still getting a 5 star from me. Hell, if I could, I'd give it 6 or 7 stars out of 5! I really, truly enjoyed myself, despite the nightmares that ensued...