Friday the 13th Massacre Maze (Special Event)

*Note: The haunt was doing a special event for Friday the 13th, so there were a lot of Jasons and Camp counselors.  They were also playing the original movie for those that had finished or not yet entered the attraction.  I (hopefully) will be returning later in the season for their normal attraction, and therefore, this review will take into consideration the nature of the event, and not deduct points unfairly.

Actors – 
Overall, this haunt, though smaller in size, had a surprising number of actors.  While most were inside the maze itself, there were also a few that remained outside of the maze and stuck to the queue lines to taunt those that were waiting.  There were several Jasons and camp counselors, though not all of the actors were one or the other.  There was one Freddy, but the costuming was well done, and not really out of place, considering the crossover movie that came out a number of years ago.  The Jasons were large and imposing, depending on either jump scares or looming over patrons instead of relying on speech (again, staying in character with Jason Voorhees).    The counselors were largely female inside the maze, and their screams were, for the most part, on par with the scream queens in the 80s slasher movies.  The actors did remain well-hidden until the group came through, and it was difficult to pinpoint which direction they were coming from and going.  They interacted well with the groups, and were not opposed to mild physical interaction, though nothing violent.  All in all, they remained professional and in character.  However, I would have liked to see Mrs. Voorhees, and a few of the male counselors inside the maze running for their lives, instead of acting more as tour guides.

Atmosphere – 
The event takes place on a farm, so therefore it is outside and held weekend evenings throughout the haunt season.  While this event featured only a very brief hayride to the cornfield, and then the Massacre Maze, the normal events are a bit longer (and will feature their own review later in the season). It was overcast, so the only light came from the few small lights and strobes, adding to the already creepy vibe of being stuck in the middle of 7-ft high corn at night, with screams and chainsaws in the near distance.  There were bathrooms and concessions available, and the food was reasonably priced (can’t beat fried dough for $3), and limited seating is available, as well as standing tables.  Souvenirs are available at the ticket booth.  As of right now, everything is *cash only* so be prepared.  However, everything is reasonably priced ($13 for admission for the special event, $17 regular admission).  The actors outside of the maze were more of the “farmer” type, adding to the overall vibe.  Smoking isn’t allowed in the corn maze or on the hayride for obvious reasons, though there didn’t seem to be any issue with it in the queue line.  Some of the decorations were a bit campy, though most of them for the event were camp-y (Camp Crystal Lake).  However, the dried bone chime and real animal skulls were fun to see. Overall, impressive as far as the event was concerned.

Theme/Trail – 
Based on the Friday the 13th movie experience, the theme for the event was very well done.  There were tents pitched (some with dried blood/sleeping bags) outside on the ground.  There was a bloody boat, the Camp Crystal Lake sign and even a firepit.  There was also the smell of stagnant water in the air, so I assume there was some sort of pond nearby, otherwise it was amazingly well done to add to both the theme and the atmosphere.  Either way, the smell of the water plus the smell of the fire from the lit torches made the experience very immersive, giving a distinct vibe of actually being at a campground.  The maze is spread out over 4.5 acres, and it took about 30 min to get through, so it was a decent amount of time in the attraction for the money spent.

Costumes/Makeup – 
The camp counselors wore the same pale yellow 80’s style costumes, and you could tell that they had clothes and props that actually fit them specifically, instead of all being given a general “uniform.”  The Jasons and Freddy were well done, and didn’t really look cheap.  The farmhands outside of the maze looked the part as well, sticking with the old-fashioned theme (the normal attraction is ‘set’ in the late 1800s).  The prop knives/cleavers used were real metal, and made that clinking/scraping sound that sets your teeth on edge.  None of the costumes looked cheap, which more impressive when one considers the low admission price, and the fact that all of the actors are volunteers.

Special Effects – 
The beauty of this haunt is in the fact that its special effects are, for the most part, completely natural, so even if you go through multiple times or on different days, you probably won’t have the exact same experience.  Since it’s outside at night, most of the senses are engaged.  Because it’s so dark, the other senses are heightened.  You may get lucky and have a full moon to help guide the way, or it may be a new moon or overcast leaving you to depend on the strobes and torches.  You can feel, hear and smell the wind rustling the corn and the uneven ground and dirt under your feet (careful, this is a slip/fall risk), and the lingering smell of water.  The haunt does not rely too heavily on special effects, and instead uses fewer fake effects to enhance the natural ones.  

Customer Service – 
The non-acting staff was very friendly, and the interactive staff that wasn’t part of the scares were friendly and added a sense of false security before throwing you into the pit, so to speak.  Vehicle attendants were prompt.  There were several hard-working cats, as well.  There was a big orange one that was very friendly that helped with parking, and a chubby grey and white one that helped with keeping the attendance line going.  Both were very sweet and accepting of pets and attention.  There were at least 3 others as well, though they seemed to be more feral (which are the two types of barn cat, overly friendly and overly feral).

Bang For Your Buck – 
Overall, the attraction was a good length compared to the price of admission, with the actors, costuming and effects factored in.  The wait time didn’t seem too long (I was near the front of the line and only had to wait about 5 minutes), though I’m not sure how long the wait was from farther back in the line.  Parking is free.  There’s a decent sized lot, as well as some street parking (though that is a bit hazardous since there are some steep ditches and it’s a narrow road with quite a bit of traffic).  There really were no dead spots, in fact it was the opposite.  Just when you thought you’ve gotten a moment of reprieve, someone came running up to you or jumped out at you.  It was easy to see that this was not a haunt for profit, but a group of people that love what they do.  Some of the money does also go to charity, which is impressive considering admission is fairly cheap. 

Is It Scary? – 
I would say that this haunt, at least this event, was more creepy than scary.  There was a definite sense of mild dread that you could feel around every corner, especially when coming face to face with a dead end, and you can only hear rustling corn and screams, and are left to wonder if you’ll make it out alive.  I can’t judge the regular event which I’m sure does differ in length and intensity.

Overall – 
Overall, I’m definitely impressed with this event and with the haunt in general.  It was worth the price of admission.  Depending on where in NY you live, it may be a long drive, but it is one of the few in the Utica-Rome area, and worth the drive out.  I will be visiting this haunt again for the regular haunt season attractions.



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