Haunt Review: Basement of the Dead

Posted: October 18, 2014 in Horror Blog
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Another weekend has come, and that means more opportunities to visit some haunts! I did some looking around this week before deciding which one to go to and Basement of the Dead has been getting some stellar reviews as well and was in the top 31 haunts in Haunt World mag last year. I often don’t heavily rely on other’s reviews and such because, in all honesty, the haunt world is actually very political. But no doubt about it- there is some buzz about this house. So my friend and I decided to see is Basement is really all that people have been making it out to be. And boy, was I pleasantly surprised that it is.

Basement of the Dead is the main attraction and there is a secondary haunt that you can add-on to your experience called Shattered, which is a 3D haunt which labels itself as “The World’s Best 3D Nightmare,” but we’ll get to that later.

The main entrance of the house itself is tucked away behind a large brick building on New York St. in Aurora, past the Hollywood Casino on the left. While the site does say that there are different kinds of parking options you shouldn’t have trouble finding free parking anywhere in the numerous amounts of lots and street spots available in the surrounding area.  It isn’t overly visible at first until you get to the intersection of New York St. and River St, They have a small banner up, and you will for sure see the line of people going to the event. It’s literally behind/connected to a great looking Irish pub called Ballydoyle’s. Anyway, unless you get their right at the opening, chances are you are going to run in to the same kind of line, for the rest of the season, that we ran in to.

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When you get there (if you haven’t prepurchased your tickets) you need to find the window with the red light, which means you pass the line, buy the tickets, then walk all the way back to the end of the line, all the while you have opportunities to buy food as well as interact with the actors. You line actors were more than willing to take photos, but also were really aware of when a good opportunity to scare was around. They were fun, funny, scary, and overall really entertaining. The makeup, masks, and detailed costumes that they wore gave you just a glimpse at what exactly to expect inside. There was also a fire dancer show, as well as an awesome DJ (whom I will talk more about in a minute.)

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Overall the line entertainment was great. They also had the movie IT playing, and as you read in my last review, I’m not a big fan of when houses have regular movies playing in lines just because I feel like with the fact that you have all of these sets and actors it would be fairly easy for you to make your own video/short film about the haunt itself. It’s not really a critique in any way, it’s just something I would like to see done more in general with haunts.

Now, our wait was nearly two and a half hours. We went on Friday, October 17th and arrived at around 9: 30 PM. We didn’t get into Basement until 11: 50-ish. Near the end of our time in line the DJ said that the numbers came in and it was actually a record attendance night for them at Basement, which I clapped and cheered at. I’m glad when I can add to a milestone for a haunt. And while the line and the wait did indeed feel long, and was boring at times for the most part, because of the entertainment from the actors, dancer, and DJ, it was enjoyable. It also reassured me that the haunt was at least trying to fairly space out the groups which I highly appreciate. Nothing pisses me off more than a haunt that just intentionally conga-lines people through, that isn’t built for that kind of crowd. Basement was taking their time and tried to make sure that everyone would get a good show. I also liked how at around 11:30 PM it looked like they cut ticket sales. It made me have massive respect for the house and the workers/owners because they realized that the line they had was already going to clear 12 AM and go on into 1 AM, and they didn’t want to kill their actors; they cared about their staff and I give major kudos to them for that. I’ve worked a haunt before where the staff didn’t care about the actors and just let people buy tickets past 12 AM (closing) and worked us until later without warning. A.) It isn’t fun, and B.) it’s disrespectful. So props Basement people.

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I also want to give a shout out to the DJ, Sir, I just wanted to give you a big high-five last night. You dealt with so many annoying drunks and high people, you had some malfunctioning equipment, and you just stayed cool about it. You gave out free stuff and candy (wearing my wrist band right now) and told jokes and played one hell of a mix. Your work is greatly appreciated by this individual. You, and the work of your fellow line entertainers made the wait bearable.

My one main critique about the line experience was that there were no (none, that I could see) garbage cans, so there was trash here and there. If you’re selling food and drinks at an event like this, and you have this many people, there should be quite a few cans spaced out in the line. It’ll help you guys and the environment out!

When our wait was finally over, I was amped. I was ready to go into the abyss of the house, although I admit I was concerned that with it being 11:50 PM we’d get some tired actors. Man, was I wrong. The actors were every bit as amped as I was, even more so! Immediately in the first room I had an actor running full force at me, ready to go. That was exactly how the actors were throughout the entire house. They were on their game at Basement last night, and it made the wait so worth it. It has been a while since I was scared at a haunt, to the point of actually yelling out. I’ve been to them where they’ve made me jump. But to actually make me yell and jump backwards in defense… it hardly ever happens. It happened here. And when it did, it just fed the actors. They didn’t relent. It didn’t matter that I’m a big guy, they just went for it- which I loved. And they went for everyone. Often you’ll have actors who, once they’ve done their one scare either retreat of just stand there. That hardly ever happened in this haunt. They really tried to give everyone a great show, I feel.

Now, about half way through we did unfortunately catch up to the group in front of us. I don’t think it was so much of a pacing thing on the haunt side, but because they were scared as well as messing around.  The lady in front of us was so annoying, and was really pissing me off. She was obnoxious and belligerent and dampened the experience for a bit, until an actor would come by and scare her or myself and then all was right with the world. We did have to put up with her and her group the rest of the house but I tried to put some distance between us at parts and we still got a pretty good show. That group was my only real complaint with the experience, and that isn’t the haunt’s fault! Because of them we didn’t get all of the scares near the end, but in general we still had a great time.

Another plus I have for the actors is that at no time did they ever have to go into vulgar territory. In my last review I stated how much I hate when actors, especially towards males that are going through haunts, will often “go Deliverance” on patrons in order to creep them out. It’s a tired, and unoriginal gag. It may work sometimes, but it often just is boring and annoying. Plus rape is just an easy way to get under people’s skin (that goes for films, books, haunts, anything.) It’s cheap scares, And the Basement crew  knew they were better than to stoop to that level, because they didn’t use it and obviously didn’t need it.

The sets were stellar. There were some of the best environments I have ever seen in a haunt. Mixed with the costumes and makeup and masks that the actors donned it created a really hellishly real experience. Everything was so meticulously done, and thought out it seemed like. The animatronics and props blended perfectly with their environments, and everything really felt organic and spot on.

Overall the house was just a sensory overload from start to finish, which really added to the scare factor. At no point did you ever feel settled or oriented in any way. It kept you on your toes and on edge the entire way. The lights, the sounds and effects, and above all the acting, just made for one hell of a time.

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Once you come out of Basement of the Dead you can walk over to the line for Shattered, the 3D haunt. At first I was kind of surprised that there wasn’t a long line for Shattered, because with the combo ticket option I assumed that people would just be doing both houses. But then I got kind of worried that it wasn’t good. Unfortunately that feeling turned out to be correct. While the actors that were in the house gave it a fair go, they couldn’t save this uneventful haunt. The 3D effects were admittedly really good, and the costumes and makeup rocked (on the same par with Basement’s,) but there were no scares at all. The house only seemed to have a few actors in it, and they didn’t seem very energized. Like I said, they gave it a fair shot. After coming out of Basement though, Shattered paled in comparison. I don’t know how the building is set up inside, but if it is possible I’d just assume Basement of the Dead extend to where Shattered is, and remove the 3D haunt all together. Next time I’ll just pay for Basement of the Dead.

All in all I had a great time. Yes, if you go between now and the end of the season, I’d expect a pretty long wait unless you get their near the opening of the haunt. Even the VIP line was pretty long by the end of the night. But the line entertainers make the wait bearable and fun, and it (to me) is worth having groups spaced out like that so that everyone gets a great experience.

Basement of the Dead is a terrifying romp that violates your senses as soon as you step inside, and doesn’t let up until to step through the threshold at the end. And even then you’re not even guaranteed you’re safe (*cough, cough* remember the line actors…*cough*).

For the price I don’t think there is anything this side of Illinois that can beat it. Save the money on Shattered 3D though, and instead treat yourself to a Basement of the Dead shirt or a visit to the pub.

Rating of Basement of the Dead:  9/10

Basement of the Dead General Admission: $18

Shattered 3D: $10

Combo Ticket: $25

VIP (Both houses and front of the line access): $45

Capture

http://www.42fear.com/

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Twitter: @BasementofDead

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