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2003 Portland, Oregon Haunted House guide

Explanation of ratings

There are so many good haunts this year, I recommend
seeing as many as you can afford that sound interesting.

Click on the title for location and review details.

Baron Von Goolo's Museum of Horrors
Scream at the Beach - Forbidden Temple
The 13th Door
House of Midnight - Terror in Time Travel
Dr Saito's Screamland - House of 1000 Screams
Dr Saito's Screamland - The Underground
House of Midnight - Castle Bloodmor
Spooky Town
Scream at the Beach - Alpha Station 13
Hoffman's Haunted Barn
Trost Haunted Gym
Haunted Playhouse - 3D
Milburn's Haunted Manor
Haunted Playhouse - Regular
Nightmare FactoryNot Yet Rated
PsychovilleNot Yet Rated

Click on the titles above for details and click on the titles below (listed alphabetically) to visit their web sites.
Schedule and cost info is subject to change. Some haunts offer discount coupons on their web sites.

Baron Von Goolo's Museum of Horrors
Portland: Jantzen Beach Mall, next to Toys R Us (at Scream at the Beach).
Oct 17, 18 and 21 through 31.
7pm-11 Fri/Sat, 7pm-12 Oct 31, 7pm-10 other nights.
$7 per person.
From the talking slime monster to the cats that eat dynamite, this is without a doubt the most twisted haunted house I have ever seen. It is set up like a carnival freak show and thus you will find gratuitous use of mutant clowns and other oddities. I was laughing for days due to various parts of this museum. This is the Baron's second year and the new Freakshow of Freakish Freaks has expanded in size and detail from last year's Petting Zoo of the Unsettling. Whether you laugh, cry, or scream, you will not experience another haunted house this twisted - or with bigger eyeballs. Beware the chicken mustache.

Dr Saito's Screamland
Portland: Oaks Park.
House of 1000 Screams
The Underground
Oct 15 through Nov 1.
7pm-12 Fri/Sat, 7pm-10 other nights.
$10 per person per haunt or $17 for both haunts.
Screamland is the longest running of the Portland haunts and doesn't disappoint. This year the two haunts are the House of 1000 Screams and The Underground (below the House of 1000 Screams). Take a bunch of psycho killers and throw them in a house together and you have the House of 1000 Screams. The House works well as a whole with some good characters and much mayhem. The House is probably the goriest of all the haunts this year which is neither good nor bad - it's what you do with the blood and guts that counts. And what they do is things like the Carn-Evil, with games like whack-a-head and the severed head toss. Too bad it's not a real midway with games you can play - they could generate some extra income. The chainsaw ending has a twist. Rent the movie "Motel Hell" on your way home. The Underground is the 3D side. There are some good effects in here including the elevator that takes you to the underground and a giant rat and... well I don't want to spoil anything. A little gratuitous with the chainsaws since we also saw some in the other haunt and we're supposed to be in the underground here, but this haunt was almost as much fun as the other side and both haunts are long and worth the money.

Haunted Playhouse
Clackamas: Clackamas Town Center, SouthEast parking lot.
Oct 17 through 19 and 22 through 31.
7pm-12 Fri/Sat and Oct 30, 7pm-10 other nights.
$7.50 per person per haunt or $12 for both haunts.
There are two haunts with separate admission, including both regular and 3D. The two sides are both a little short in length and they primarily use the startling method of scaring folks, but it's still fun for a small haunt. The 3D side has a little more variety and killer clowns.

Hoffman's Haunted Barn
Canby: 6815 S Knights Bridge Rd at Hoffman's Dairy Garden.
Oct 17 through 19 and 22 through 31.
6pm-11 Fri/Sat, 6pm-9 other nights.
$8 per person.
Check web site for Fall Festival schedule and pricing.
Hoffman's includes a regular and a 3D section for one ticket price. It's a little startling (jump-out-and-scream scares), but is a fun country haunt for the family. The 3D affect has been enhanced with another layer of 3D. In addition to the Haunted House, Hoffman's is having a Fall Festival including a corn maze, live bands, rides, games, and giant pumpkins, including the world record pumpkin weighing 1385 pounds. Check their web site for the schedule of events.

House of Midnight
West Linn: Willamette Marketplace, 2000 8th St.
Castle Bloodmor
Terror in Time Travel
Oct 17 through 19, Oct 22 through 26, and Oct 29 through Nov 1.
7pm-11 Fri/Sat, 7pm-10 other nights.
$10 per person per haunt or $15 for both haunts.
This is the first year for this haunt created by several folk who used to do home haunts. They were quite ambitious and created two elaborate and detailed haunts. To the left of the entrance is Castle Bloodmor, patterned after a medieval castle. There is a rather hokey story about freeing the wizard that is clearly aimed at a younger audience and there are some holdovers from home haunting, such as store-bought masks and young actors, though this haunt also has some special effects such as air-powered props and still provides entertainment for all. To the right of the entrance is the Terror in Time Travel attraction. I found this to be a little more polished and adult-oriented than Castle Bloodmor, with stronger horror themes and a more interesting non-hokey story line. You begin your adventure in a time machine that malfunctions and sends you to a variety of strange places and time periods. It was an entertaining concept that worked well to stitch together otherwise unrelated scenes, offering a good variety of entertainment. It is also a full multi-media experience with video and special effects.

Milburn's Haunted Manor
Hubbard: 11503 Broadacres Rd NE.
Oct 17, 18 and 21 through 31.
6pm-12 Fri/Sat, 6pm-1am Oct 31, 6pm-10 other nights.
$7.50 per person.
This is the first year for this haunt and has some elements you might expect in a first year haunt, such as plastic sheet walls and sparse decor. However they do have a sense of humor, enthusiasm, and some creative ideas. They spent much of their time this year building a large barn as a permanent structure specifically for the haunted house and will likely expand the level of detail in the future. They also sell pumpkins at cheap prices.

Nightmare Factory
Salem: 999 Locust Street NE
Oct 24 through Nov 1.
7pm-11 Oct 31, 7pm-10 other nights.
$7 per person.
Not yet rated. Not reviewed last year.

Colton: 30399 S. Grays Hill Rd.
Oct 24 through 26 and 29 through 31.
7pm-11 Oct 31, 7pm-10 other nights.
Matinees for kids Oct 25, 26, 31 1pm-4.
$8 adults, $6 kids under 12.
Not yet rated. Not reviewed last year.

Scream at the Beach
Portland: Jantzen Beach Mall, next to Toys R Us.
Forbidden Temple
Alpha Station 13
Oct 17, 18 and 21 through 31.
7pm-11 Fri/Sat, 7pm-12 Oct 31, 7pm-10 other nights.
$7 for each major attraction, three attractions for $15, or four attractions for $20. $4 for Nigel's Playhouse (kids 4-7).
Scream at the Beach is a veritable Disneyland of Halloween entertainment. There are four attractions with separate admission or there is a discount for seeing it all. Scream at the Beach operates as a co-op with several different operators sharing the space. In addition to Baron Von Goolo's listed above, there are two more haunts - the Forbidden Temple and Alpha Station 13. The Forbidden Temple is the most Disney-esque of the haunts this year with large-scale animatronics that will awe and amaze you. You may even get a little wet. Alpha Station 13 is an interactive space adventure where the participants are given ray guns on their way in to shoot the aliens that have invaded the space station. This attraction could have used a little more variety and the novelty of shooting at the aliens wears off after a bit, but it does provide an interactive experience not usually found in haunted houses. In addition to the haunts is Theatre Macabre - a series of five one-act plays performed by local artists. Check the Scream at the Beach web site for the schedule if you want to catch a specific play since only two of the five plays show several times each night. Scream at the Beach also has a playhouse for kids 4 to 7 who may be too scared to go in the haunts. There is also a magic shop.

Spooky Town
Beaverton: Westgate Theater, 3950 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Oct 8 - Nov 1.
Weekends dusk to midnight and weekdays dusk to 11pm.
For small kids Saturday and Sunday 1pm-6pm.
$8 per person or $20 per family.
Spooky Town is the only outdoor haunt and is known for its amazing fire effects. Yes, real fire! This year they have a stunt show with pirates and mummies. The pirate section features a complete pirate ship. This haunt is done by a movie special effects company and uses several set pieces from films they have worked on, such as Maverick. While this is not as scary as some of the other haunts, it's a fun show and the fire effects are cool. I mean hot.

The 13th Door
Beaverton: Washington Square Mall, next to TGI Friday's.
Every night through Nov 2 except Oct 20.
7pm-12 Fri/Sat, 7pm-10 other nights.
$10 per person.
This is the second year for this haunt and offers much more detail than last year all around from the sets to the makeup. If you go through twice, you'll catch some things you missed the first time. The bathroom scene was hilarious. I would like to place a tape recorder in the bathroom and catch the first thing that comes out of people's mouths when they enter. Unless they throw up. While this haunt could benefit from more "ghostly effects", I found it to be a lot of fun with some great acting. I particularly liked the guy with the breathing problem, the twins, and the tall man. It is also probably the longest of any single haunt.

Trost Haunted Gym
Canby: Cecile Trost Elementary School, 800 S. Redwood
Oct 17, 18.
$3 per person or $10 per family.
You might not expect much from a two-day haunt at an elementary school. While the walls are primarily plastic sheeting, this house contains a surprising amount of hi-tech wizardry with air-powered props. The laundry room was particularly well done. They also have a sense of humor, such as the jail cell in the principal's office. And then there's the imprisoned teacher who begs to be let out because she must have a Starbuck's mocha! You can't really compare a school haunt with the pro haunts, but this is better than you might expect at an elementary school. Too bad it's only for two days.


What makes a haunted house good or bad? Here are a few things:
Original ideas and design.Anything seen in many haunted houses.
Surprise and misdirection.Everything happens just as you expect.
Good acting with real characters that don't just jump out and scream.10 year olds in Freddy Kruger masks going "AHHHH!"
Cool mechanical effects and surprises.Someone shaking a can of beans.
Cool electrical and lighting effects.Oh boy, a strobe!
Detailed scenes.Sparse rooms and empty mazes.
Convincing makeup effects.Some rubber limbs and costumes from the local party store.
A group of scares that work well as a whole or tell a cohesive non-cheesy story.Disjointed unconnected themes or cheesy kid stories.

Who am I to say what is good or bad?

I have not gone through any special training on haunted houses and I am no more an expert than anyone else who has been to way too many haunted houses. I have simply seen a lot and I know what I like. If you agree with my Good and Bad criteria above, you are more likely to agree with my reviews. If you are considering haunted houses for small children, note that I am not a small child so your child's opinions are likely to vary from mine.

Ok, so why do we disagree?

I get emails sometimes from folks who disagree with my ratings, and sometimes they are not one of the haunted house owners. :) If you agree with my method but not my madness (you agree with my rating system above but not with my rating), it is likely we did not have the same haunted house experience. I generally go to haunted houses early in the season. Some houses are at their best because their actors haven't gotten sick of doing it yet, while others are at their worst because they are behind schedule and generally not ready to open yet. Some haunted houses invite me to a "press night" where they are being extra careful to put forth their best performance for the press. If this performance is not consistent when open to the public, your mileage may vary. Generally speaking the best time to go to a haunted house is their SECOND weekend. In theory they will have fixed the bugs by then and the actors won't have grown weary yet. If you go on a night where they have so many people waiting in line that they have to rush people through faster, you will not get the same experience as a "normal" night. Then again if you go on a night where the actors aren't prepared because it's been so dead they didn't realize there were people coming, you also will get a less than perfect experience. I get that a lot since I tend to go opening weekend to most houses. A good haunt should be ready for a perfect tour during all posted operating hours.

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