Like a terrified teenager running through Camp Crystal Lake trying to decide which cabin to hide in from machete-wielding Jason Voorhees, there are a lot of choices in Northeast Ohio for brave souls to have the bejeebers scared out of them.
And like Friday the 13th sequels, the list of Halloween haunts here keeps on growing and growing.
This year brings three totally new terrifying attractions, including one in Coventry Township and two in Medina County.
And each one has its own personality and themes.
Pleased to meat you
The Slaughterhouse in Chippewa Lake has taken up residence in an old meatpacking plant.
Yes. It is actually in an old meatpacking plant.
The legend goes that locals kept coming up missing and the plant kept adding more and more fresh meat to its display cases. But once the Karver family closed up shop in the 1980s, the disappearances ended.
And the Karver family retreated to the factory — never to be seen again.
The doors to the factory have remained closed until it opened for tours this Halloween season.
Longtime Akron scarester Rodney Geffert cut his vampire teeth working in haunted houses all over Akron and eventually opened his own haunts inside tents in parking lots.
He has operated the 7 Floors of Hell at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds for several years, but he believes he has found his terrifying home on 58 acres of woods on the south side of busy Medina Road west of state Route 94 not too far from the Summit County line.
He and his wife, Melinda, have created a new permanent attraction, the Forest of Screams in Sharon Township, that will throw open its crypt doors for the first time Friday night.
The project has been years in the making as he would drive past the untouched acreage on his way to his home in the township for years. The property remained for sale and the price would go down every so often and Rodney said his dreams and plans for it would rise.
The couple decided to take a leap of faith and purchase the property a couple of years ago.
It has been a labor of love clearing the way for a mile-long wagon trail and another quarter-mile walking trail.
“It was never developed,” he said. “I did a lot of bleeding to clear back to the back of the land. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears over the next three years. Probably a lot more blood than sweat or tears from clearing the trees and brush.”
This season, it will be home to a haunted mortuary, a walking trail and a hayride that is unlike anything else in the area.
For one, this is not your typical walk or ride through the dark woods where folks in costumes and masks simply jump out at you.
Both trails are lit by spooky lanterns and special-effect lights and have unusual soundtracks that set the stage for a variety of scary and unusual encounters from an elaborate hillbilly camp to a Louisiana bayou to a zombie scene that looks like it could be a set for AMC’s Walking Dead, and even a giant dinosaur.
What makes the Forest of Screams special is the large number of original animatronic figures that populate the haunts.
Rodney, who graduated from Coventry High School, also owns Nightscream Productions, based in Sharon Township, which produces sets and animatronic creatures and animals for amusement parks and haunted houses throughout the country.
The animatronic creatures and beasts interact with costumed actors in full makeup throughout the Forest of Screams attractions, creating shows within the show.
Simply put, it is a scary good time that one might expect at those big-name theme parks in Florida and California.
Rodney said there’s lots of room to expand on the property and he hopes to add another haunted attraction and expand on the existing ones each year.
“This is our baby,” he said. “We have spent years prepping for this. There will be detail stuff we will be doing all the way to opening day.”
Years in the making
David Barton’s Ghoul Brothers haunted house in a 16,000-square-foot portion of the former Acme-Click store off Manchester Road in Coventry Township may never be completely finished.
But after 13 years of collecting creepy stuff and transforming the old grocery store into a haunt, Barton is ready to finally open the door to his attraction on Friday night.
The theme this inaugural year is a factory that processes meat where something has gone terribly wrong.
But Barton said that’s not the only thing the Ghoul Brothers have up their sleeves to scare folks.
There’s an elaborate house hidden deep inside where unsuspecting guests have to climb up and into a creepy attic and encounter all sorts of strange things and people. A particularly colorful area is dedicated to clowns and the stop-in-your tracks terror they hold over some.
Barton, a Springfield High School graduate, has worked at haunts all over Akron and always dreamed of running one of his own.
He loves creature makeup, and this led to a stint in Hollywood as a makeup artist and set designer.
There are reminders of his Hollywood years mixed into the elaborate sets at the Ghoul Brothers including a dinosaur incubator from Jurassic Park III and a large glass tube that held a creature in the movie Resident Evil: Afterlife.
The characters that populate the house will wear makeup that can take as long as two hours to apply.
And when he was interviewing them, Barton said, he was not looking for people who could scream the loudest but rather those who could create their own creepy character, whether it be an odd stare or subtile mannerism.
“We are going for a creep factor,” he said.
Another unusual feature will be a catchy original song for “Yummy Meats” — the meat factory in the beginning of the haunt.
“We’re going for the gourmet meal of haunted houses,” he said. “We pack a lot in and try to make it a full experience.”
Craig Webb, who is scared of his own shadow, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3547.