Thursday, October 30, 2014

Haunt Season 2014 - Event #11 – Callson Manor

DISCLAIMER – I’m spoiled.  I think that’s the basic fact as we come to the ending of the 2014 Halloween Season.  I started October on an extremely high note and it was followed with some surprises, but never reached that high note Knotts placed.  Knotts had long mazes, well themed mazes, and you got to go through them as many times as you want.  Everything else…well, it’s good, but I just keep comparing things to Knotts and that’s not fair.

Haunt Season 2014 - Event #11 – Callson Manor
  Callson Manor was one of my favorites in my Sacramento haunt history.  I would say at the top of my list would be Gyro’s, and I don’t think anything here in Sac has really gotten to that level of creativeness and scares that Gyro’s brought me back in the 90’s.

  First, finding the place is a bit tricky.  It’s in the Placer County Fairgrounds, and while I had been there just a couple of years ago, they have moved the entrance and it’s kind of confusing to get there.  You have to enter the gates, then drive to the back side of the fairgrounds to park and enter the event.  We passed it the first time, as others did, so beware and make sure you have it on your phone so you have at least a general idea where you are going.

  The event itself is fantastic.  I think if they put a carnival out front like Heartstoppers, maybe an old western carnival, that would be amazing.  Ticket prices are pretty good, I think we got in for 13 bucks each.  The event is all on dirt, so I think when it starts raining on Friday, this might turn into a mud pit.  So be warned.  But the dirt adds to the environment, which is an old western town with wagons, buildings, stores, and a couple of vendors.

  We were told to hang out in the main area until a cannon would go off which signaled the opening of the event.  I of course was picturing either a real cannon, or one of those fire launchers that has been popping up around California.  Right before the cannon blast, the scareactors came out for the clown maze and the psycho maze.  I didn’t care for this, I don’t want to know what, or who I will be seeing in the maze.  But what was cool was the four or five scareactors that waited for us past the rope.  If I had a good camera, it would have been an amazing picture.  As for that cannon blast, more like an air cannon, and I think if you were in front of the group, you were blasted.


  With the rope dropping, you went through a main street of sorts with old western buildings on each side.  The scareactors used more noise to scare, which I didn’t care for.  Don’t mind screaming or jumping out at you, but using electronics with loud noise is a bit annoying.  One guy slid on his knees on a wooden platform which was pretty cool.  All the scareactors were well dressed and their makeup was freaking awesome.

  For me, they just needed to add fog.  If they did, it would be like a miniature version of Knott’s Ghost town and I WOULD LOVE IT!!  But with no fog, it’s still a pretty cool place to check out.  And the scareactors were fun.  Saw one guy jump out at a girl who threw herself to the ground with her friend falling to the ground laughing her ass off.  That’s what haunt is all about my friends.


  The signature haunt.  First, I might get some of these haunts a bit mixed up.  We hit them back to back with no lines, so some scenes might have been in other mazes but in my memory makes sense that they would be in the maze I’m discussing.

  Callson Manor is a creepy walk through of a house that is filled with doors opening by themselves, creepy spectors, and like most of the other mazes, bloody individuals. 

  I believe the gunshot victim was in this maze.  It was probably a good effect but I missed it and only came upon a female that was bent over a shotgun with blood on the walls.  There were a couple of times during these mazes that I had to stop and wait to see what the effect was, because I missed it by seconds.

  Sadly, I don’t really remember much of this maze.  I remember leaving for a second then going back in.  Other than that…hmm


  Panic was freaking crazy.  First, you were introduced by a German dominatrix who was kind of hot.  You got your card stamped then you entered her waiting room which had monitors of the maze you could watch.  The first room was a guy banging on barrels.  Loud, annoying, but nothing like what the rest of the maze was like.

  For me, it was like walking into a Saw movie with each person being tortured in some way.  It was bloody as hell, but pretty cool.  And unfortunately pretty short.  There was some kind of disco back theme, like Panic at the Disco, but I didn’t really get that.


  Another one of those café’s that cook up human meat…and apparently road kill too.  The maze was filled with awful smells.  The first room was one of the clearest memories I have there.  The lady said that she got excrement from the toilet and painted the walls with it.  “That’s how I keep the flies off the food, they stay on the walls!!”  Gross, but very creative.  Around the corner, there’s the toilet and it’s disgusting.

  We heard the sound of what could be a contraption, so we hung back to see if the toilet was going to do anything.  But it turned out to be the pipes on the other side which blew hair at you.  Besides bad smells, dead animal carcasses on the floor, and characters that seemed to be from the backwoods in some southern state, was a pretty gross, and unfortunately another short maze.  But it had some cool effects, some gross theming, and I enjoyed it.  Guess I’m a sicko.


  There’s a really cool demon animatronic in the queue line.  Tried getting a picture of it but it didn’t come out as cool as the figure.  It’s a simple figure with few movements, but it’s still awesome to see.  I think it was there the last time I was here, but can’t remember the haunt that it hovered over.

  Darkness is what the name says it is, it’s dark.  Sometimes you had to feel your way around, other times you were in a darkly lit area.  It’s well done with some cool actors.  I prefer the quiet creepy scareactors that filled this maze compared to the screaming loud ones of others.  There were a couple of really cool caves that you got to walk through that I thought was pretty cool.  A scantily clad female said welcome to the meal, and a predator looking guy came out to “eat us.”  Then we walked through a tomb like cavern and we were out.  Not too scary, but it was entertaining.


  The Tavern reminded me of the bar scene in Gunslinger’s Grave and the opening room in An American Werewolf in London.  The guy asked what happened to my hair and heckled me for a little bit.  Guess I had a stupid shit eating grin on my face.  The lady on the piano played the keys with her toes.  That was pretty cool.

  In the brothel room, the lady on the bed beckoned me closer.  I thought my friend Tiffany was watching at the doorway, so I stayed a little longer than I probably should have, only to realize that it wasn’t Tiffany, but another actor watching from the doorway, with another actor in the shadows.  It was a pretty cool scene, and hey, I love those old western brothel rooms so why not stay a little longer, right.  Alright, alright, I’m moving on, jeez.

  There was a small maze area of fences with a boy that followed us.  He was kind of creepy, but didn’t do anything but stare at us.  There was a jail in the final rooms and some other things that have left my mind then we were out.  I’m sorry, a hot lady on a bed beckoning me, it kind of takes over the memory. 


  I don’t like sideshow crap.  I think it’s gross.  It doesn’t scare me, but I don’t need to see mermaid skeletons, Siamese twins, someone who was born with an extra toe, or leg, or 15 extra legs.  I just don’t, it’s not fun for me.  So I kind of walked through this area quickly, wasn’t my cup of tea.  I’ll wait for you in the brothel room, I think she’s still beckoning me.


  “Please no food, or drink allowed in the Asylum, some of our patients are doing without and this would screw up their treatments.”

  Asylum’s opening scene was kind of like TRAPPED at Knotts which was kind of cool.  We entered as a group of 6 and led into a room with 6 chairs.  We all were told to sit down and that some electricity would electrify the chairs.  Then the lights went out and the chairs started vibrating while the animatronic in front of us got fried.  Then a scareactor came from the right side and harassed anybody who screamed or looked scared.  A cool first room.

  The following rooms were filled with patrons of the Asylum in white jackets.  There was a sheet room that reminded me of the sheet maze at the Psycho Circus in Cemetarium, but was less confusing.  I actually found the way out pretty quickly.  A room of doors leading to psycho wards with the patients either hanging on top of the doors, or opening the doors to get their victims.  We were then out, from the screaming girl behind us “oh, is that all?”  Kind of what I was thinking.


  They provided the 3D glasses for us for free, which was a nice treat…well, I’ll explain later.  The maze was full of black lit rooms where the walls were painted in a way that made them look 3 dimensional.  Some of the scareactors would hide in the paintings and then jump at you.  Like a swinging clown, a lady in a colored mask and a black outfit.  Why the maze started with nutcrackers, I have no clue.  Spent a lot of time looking at the paintings and the strange ways they jumped out at you.

  At the end, we dropped off our 3D glasses in a box…wait, do they recycle them?  How many people used the ones I wore…wait, what?  Now wait a minute…best to not think about it.  Lady on bed, brothel, I’m good, moving on.


  When we left Cirque we had about 10 minutes until the firedancer show so we stuck around.  The opening scene was the lady eating fire over and over again.  I kept thinking if this is 15 minutes of a lady eating fire I’m leaving.  But the show kept getting better and better and it was very entertaining with 4 fire dancers in all.  Definitely worth the wait.  I like that each segment was only a couple of minutes long, and that the show didn’t go on and on and on.  Because I could see how something like this could get boring after awhile.  But the creepy music and the talent really made for a good show, definitely worth checking out.


  I enjoyed Callson Manor.  I think Heartstoppers and Callson Manor are both equally good and worth checking out.  They both have something worth checking out, and both have actors that seemed to care about what they were doing.  The creators also put some time into the creation of their mazes and made for a very good time.  They are on a whole different level than say Fright Planet.  And for the price, it’s pretty good.

  Also, I wouldn’t recommend spending the money for the front of the line pass, get there early, it’s dark, and just hit them all in the first hour with little to no lines.  I think we were there for just over an hour. 

  My biggest recommendation is go in a large group with different kinds of people.  You know, the brave, the screamer, the scared male who is manly but whimpers in the maze, get that kind of group.  Or go in a small group and take your time in the maze, check everything out.

  My biggest complaint is the one time only in these mazes.  I want to see them a couple of times, so I can remember all the details, and see effects that I might have missed.  Fright Planet was the only one in Sacramento that you can go through multiple times, but wasn’t really worth going through multiple times.

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