When one owns the largest western New York’s Halloween haunted attraction, what does someone do to both promote it and use it in the offseason, simple, create a horror movie, and that is what Dan Monroe did in 2009. Dan served as director and writer then, creating a basic slasher production with limited success, but return for a second picture, not a sequel, rather a completely new storyline, written by him again and once more at Tim Bunch’s real attraction House of Horrors and Haunted Catacombs. This film though, serves the same goal promotion of the event however, this time, Dan, made a 90-minutes feature film, with a fuller cast, learned CGI, studied horror movie technical shootings, and likened the styles of John Carpenter and Alfred Hitchcock. A surprising bulk of prop tools should come as no surprise to anyone, as it a haunted attraction, though the movie tries to pay homage to the satanic and occultist storylines of the eighties.
A fun story horror story that never attempts to take itself too seriously, understanding exactly the limitations as a director, he allows his cast and the set to act, after all it is a haunted house attraction, with enough uniqueness to favorite it the viewers. The location, sells the film, with the furnishings and characters in building, some of them effective and scary, and thereby selling attraction itself to everyone. Bunch who stars in the film as himself, a step up from the other film under a similar name, as the one opening a new portion called Gates to Hell, with some strange phenomena occurring, and within the walls the staff starts to eliminate itself, with horrendously horrible methods. None of this is noticed, first it is a haunted house with vast amounts of blood sprayed onto the walls, with body parts lingering everywhere and it standard that staff, fail to show up, quit without warnings, all part of doing business. As co-workers Codie and Dusty (respectively Codie Kremblas and Michael Riso) assist Jamie (Danielle Tewell) in publicity photos, she senses something is incredibly wrong within the attraction, and with her family background of psychics, she becomes firm that it deals with demons. This all reinforced by listening to voices of her dead relatives, as she learns Bunch’s alteriror motives as the guardian to the evil altar prepping it to unlock the gates of hell and unleash the hell on earth. Soon enough Jamie’s co-workers encourage to visit a former priest Michaels (Michael O’Hear) who writes about exorcisms and demons to assist in the destruction of the evil at the attraction.
The entire storyline, moves swiftly and perhaps in some places a tad too quick, however, entertain is the payoff, not intense scariness, the film also gives a hint of justify realities to owning a place like this, mainly the safety. The problems, from leaks to poorly kept façade, to power issues and the necessity of a work through from an Inspector (Doug Bruch) who finds it unable to tear himself away from the attraction. Showing the camera and audience the tricks, stunts and all the creative scares a fun attribute to enjoy, and of course ramping up the satanic sacrifices and blood ritualism, with creepy and gruesome scenes for folks to get a sweet blood rush. One needs to watch for the cunning character Benda (Brenda Rickert, one the more talented cast members, especially with her work in over fifteen horror movies, and most recently Lloyd Kaufman’s Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 2), she presents a fun dose to the script.
Monroe’s film does have issues, and some that can’t be dismissed or even overlooked rather the scare factors lose to the comic displays, from the ridiculous usage of CGI, when regarding the fires of hell, so misplaced, overdone and just sadly awful. The acting is fair, not heeding to Shakespearean, after all the cast and tryouts are just seeking a season job, and as one states I much rather enjoy Christmas to Halloween. This all proves to some the holiday is a high holy day, and others it is silly mumbo-jumbo with a paycheck for pathetic attempts to scares. A plus comes from the angles and straight-forward scenes, with tactful lighting and playful usage of shadows, becomes effect over the course of the movie, except in final twenty minutes, pacing spins out of control with those comical god awful flames of hell, and goofy demon voice.
This movie has some decent elements and a fun wild ride, which always leaves one unsure in the beginning when viewing a low budget production, however when dealing in the niche market of haunted houses one always welcome the new victim to the screen to challenge Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse (1981). Lately the sub-genre has experience a reawakening in it, with regard to The Bates Haunting (2012) which shares the theme of using a real location for the film, and yet still avoids using one’s own best performers for the roles, unsure why, but House of Horrors got the green light for the gore and distribution through Brain Damage Films.