Grave digger Austin Starks and corpse Aaron Crowd greet Selena Orlando and Josh Podolan as they go through the farmhouse at the Haunted Farm of Terror. (John M. Galloway / Special to The Detroit News)
As the air turns crisp and all things pumpkin-flavored dominate store shelves, haunted attraction owners gear up for the frightful season.
Horror fans flock to farms, warehouses, orchards and other venues that aim to scare the wits out of all who dare to enter.
“Southeast Michigan is the haunted house capital of the world,” says Ed Terebus, who runs Erebus, a four-story Halloween attraction in Pontiac. He’s also the publisher of the Fear Finder guide. “We have more haunted houses than anywhere. (There are) 70-100 within a 50-mile radius.”
For his attraction, Terebus, his brother James and their staff build 90-95 percent of the rooms, monsters and costumes.
“We’ve had people faint, puke, pee and chicken out,” says Terebus, who has been in the haunted house business for 34 years. He opened Erebus in 2000. The attraction aims to petrify all, no matter what you’re scared of. Special effects mess with your senses, actors terrify and lighting (or lack of) sets the mood for a spooky half mile walk.
“This is the most brilliantly executed haunted house,” says Chad Osborne of Monroe, who visits horror sites about four to five times a year.
On one recent night, a trio of young women exited Erebus sweaty and visibly creeped-out.
“It was scary, it really was,” said Jessica Pearson of Warren. “It was long and worth it. The guy with the chainsaw was the scariest.”
Another long-standing Michigan attraction is Wiard’s Night Terrors in Ypsilanti Township, which opened in 1984. There, thrill seekers can visit many haunts in one farm, including a haunted barn, an asylum where patients run loose and a toxic mine shaft. At each feature, actors do their best to freak out those walking through a dark maze of big and small rooms and hallways.
“I go to a lot of (attractions), and this is the top one,” says 26-year-old Heather Robinson of Ecorse, who also frequents HalloWeekends at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.
Robinson visited Night Terrors with Debora Scott, also of Ecorse. “The Asylum was my favorite,” says the 16-year-old. “It was scary because we couldn’t find out way out; we had to walk in a chain.”
Toledo resident Nicole Strong thought the mine shaft was the scariest part.
“I had to duck down and go around corners, and tall dudes were coming out at me everywhere,” she says. “It was so different from anything else I’ve ever (seen) before.”
Besides the walk-through attractions, Wiard’s hosts a spooky hayride around the orchard, which dates back to the 1830s.
“The biggest compliments we get are on our level of intensity,” says Brandon Wiard. He says his family’s haunted attraction, which can take two-three hours to experience fully.
“This year, we really turned up the attention to detail in every respect,” he says. “We make a point of creating a story within each event, so you’re going through a full experience instead of scattershot scenes.”
Possibly inspired by the popularity of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” a new trend this year is a zombie hunt.
At Blake’s Orchard in Armada, zombie killers can ride in a wagon through a cornfield and fend off the attacking herd of undead with paintball guns.
“They have live people out in the fields and you shoot them with glow-in-the-dark paint,” says Natasha Vranic of Berkley who visited Blake’s last week. “There’s reload centers where you can purchase more ammo, which I recommend. We got carried away with it, so we ran out quickly.”
Haunted house tips
■Wear comfortable, secure shoes.
■Secure important belongings like keys and cell phone.
■Many attractions use fog machines and strobe lights, and advise that pregnant women and people with heart conditions not enter.
■Consider wearing layers. The fall air can be crisp outside, but some attractions may be warm inside depending on the weather.
■Hit the restroom before hopping in line.
The Funeral Home: Haunted attraction in a former funeral home. 7 p.m. Fri.-Sun. and Oct. 25-31. $12. 3880 Inkster, Inkster. (734) 922-5542.
Hush Haunted Attraction: A newer haunt across from Cadillac Cemetery. 7 tonight-Sun. Oct. 24-31 and Nov. 1-2. 34043 Ford, Westland. (734) 502-6026.
The Scream Machine: New 7,500-square-foot location with indoor waiting area. 7 p.m. Fri.-Nov. 2. $14. 27258 Eureka, Taylor. (734) 309-0756.
Bloodbath on Biddle: Haunted attraction includes the movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” 7 p.m. tonight-Sun. and Oct. 24-31. $15, $23 VIP, $10 show, $22 attraction and show. 3131 Biddle, Wyandotte. (734) 288-7024.
Erebus: Get the feeling of being buried alive in this four-story attraction that has zombies, mutants and more. 7 tonight-Sun. (open daily through Nov. 2 except Mon.-Tues.). $23-$28, $45 VIP. 18 S. Perry, Pontiac. (248) 332-7884.
Erwin Orchards: Barn of Horrors and Corn Stalkers Haunted Maze suitable for teens and older. Admission also includes wagon ride, bonfire, cider and a doughnut. 7:30-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and Oct. 26-27. $12 barn, $8 maze, $17 combo. 61475 Silver Lake, South Lyon. (248) 437-0150.
The Deadland: Haunted house warns that it is too intense for young children. 7 p.m. Fri.-Sun., Oct. 25-27, 30-31 and Nov. 1-2. $15, $8 kids under 48 inches, $22 VIP. 20900 Dequindre, Warren. thedeadland.com.
The Fear Factory at Gibraltar Trade Center: Maze of horror and vortex tunnel. Find the secret door and win triple your money back. 7 tonight-Oct. 31 and Nov. 1-2). $18-$13. 237 N. River, Mount Clemens. (586) 216-2291.
Blake’s Haunted Big Apple: Four attractions in one, including long haunted hay ride, 3-D skull maze, fun house and more. Dusk Fri.-Sun., also Oct. 26-27. $22-$49.95. 71485 North Ave., Armada. (586) 784-9710.
Slaughtered at Sundown: Haunted house and hayride. 7 p.m. Fri.-Sun. and Oct. 25-27. $15 each, $25 combo, kids 10 and younger $10 each, $16 combo. 71800 Romeo Plank, Armada. (586) 752-7669.
Haunted Farm of Terror: Haunted house and corn maze with haunted hay rides, paintball zombie shoot and horror movies on a 30-foot screen around a bonfire. 7 p.m. today-Sun., Oct. 24-27, 29-31 and Nov. 1. $22-$15, $12-$15 children. 28405 26 Mile, Lenox Township. (586) 203-7222.
Scarefest Scream Park: Muttonville Manor haunted house, Carnival of the Dead haunted forest walk, Terror Zone maze and Hay Ride of Doom. Heated beer tent with entertainment. Dusk Fri.-Sat., Oct. 25-26 and Nov. 1-2. $15 each, $45 all-inclusive package. 34111 28 Mile, Lenox Township. (586) 749-6666.
Night Terrors at Wiard’s Orchard: Six attractions in one, including asylum and haunted barn, plus bakery, karaoke and more. 7:15-11:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Oct. 24-27 and Oct. 30-31. $16.99-$47.99. 5565 Merritt, Ypsilanti. (734) 390-9206.
Slaughter House Adventure: This attraction has a slaughter house, haunted maze and haunted hayride. For those not wishing to be terrified, check out the 26-acre super maze or bonfire. 7-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and Oct. 25-26. $13, $23 for two, $30 for three, $6 for not-scary maze. 5781 Grand River, Fowlerville. (517) 223-9140.
Saint Lucifer’s Scream Park: Haunted asylum and new attraction 13 Feet Under, plus Zombie Killers paintball. Scream queen Debbie Rochon signs autographs Friday night. 8 tonight tonight and Sun., 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Oct. 24 and 27, 8 p.m. Oct. 25-26 and Oct. 30-Nov. 2. $15-$18, $20-$23 VIP, $28-$37 combos. 5290 S. Dort Hwy., Flint. (810) 695-8200.
Exit 13: Haunted attraction with living dead girls, a vortex, crazy clowns and more. 7 tonight and Sun., 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and Oct. 24-27, 30-31 and Nov. 1-2. $18, $28 VIP. 6069 N. Saginaw, M. Morris. (810) 858-9768.
The Crypt: Haunted house with live actors, a black hole, claustrophobic elements and more. Dusk Fri.-Sun. and Oct. 25-27, 29-31. $15. 4247 S. Dort Hwy., Burton. (810) 742-2260.
Heck of a Haunted Barn and Corn Maze: An eight-acre haunted corn maze and a barn haunted by Earl Wayne Heck. 6:30-10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and Oct. 25-26. $12 for ages 12 and up. 4309 W. Albain, Monroe. (734) 243-1790.
Underworld Extreme Haunted House: Three stories of horror spanning more than 45,000 square feet. 7 tonight-Nov. 2. $20, $35 VIP package (no line). 1318 Wildwood, Jackson. (517) 936-5834.
DarkSyde Acres: Dark abyss, rusthole, hay ride, zombie paintball, catacombs, side show freaks and labyrinth. Dusk Fri.-Sat. and Oct. 25-26, 30-31 and Nov. 1. $7-$30. 11375 Rowe, Jonesville. (517) 549-5100.