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The Chambers Of Horror is located at 1601 S University Blvd, Middletown, Exit 32 off I-75. They are open Fridays and Saturdays, September 14th through October 27th. Operating hours are 7 PM-Midnight on Friday and 7 PM-1 AM on Saturday. Cost is $12 with a VIP pass available for $17, and you can get a $1 discount on Fridays for a canned good donation. For more information visit The Chambers Of Horror website. 


Would You Trust BJ To Give You The Last Ride?

Don't Look Now, Humpty, But You're About To Become Dinner...

The Chamber's New Frontman Meets A Hungry Arachnid


Entering through the exit isn’t something the HOD!!! usually does in a haunt, but up at Middletown’s Chambers of Horror it’s the best way to conduct our annual interview with owner/operator Ed Short. As anyone who’s been to the Chambers knows, the exit door out of the building is a short distance from the exit of the attraction-this area holds the Chambers’ excellent concession stand, Ed’s miniature Halloween Village display, more decorations and animations, and occasionally a live actor masquerading as a decoration just to give hauntgoers a good parting scare. So we were somewhat surprised to see an open section with Beetlejuice pacing back and forth in front of a coffin. When he looked up, instead of throwing us out, he just ran up and said, “Hey, man, are you READY?” Ready for what-some football? “No, man, are you READY for THAT!” BJ pointed at the open coffin. Displaying the same rapid patter of the Michael Keaton character in the movie, he pulled us over and said “It’s a great ride-c’mon, c’mon, you HAVE to try it. Climb right in. You won’t regret it!” About that time, Ed arrived on the scene and explained just what the heck it was that Beetlejuice was babbling about-this was the “Last Ride” motion coffin simulator. Ed encouraged us to give it a try with Beetlejuice looking like a bobblehead as he nodded in agreement. Climbing into the coffin was just like old times for the HOD!!!-we used to have one in our living room back in the day (they make great tables and storage bins) and would occasionally use it to hide from our odious former in-laws when they visited (now THOSE people were scary!). We were also reminded of the old Philip Morris routine of offering ‘burial insurance’ to hauntgoers should they die of a heart attack while in a Haunt (as detailed in his classic book “How to Operate a Financially Successful Haunted House”). The Chambers goes that one better-they’ll try to send you home in a box BEFORE you’re dead!

The Final Ride is just one of the changes made to the Chambers (“The Twisted Ohio Haunted House”) this season. We’ll get back to our sojourn into being buried alive later-for now, let’s hear from the Chamber’s owner. What’s new and improved, Ed? “Obviously, there’s the coffin ride. The graveyard is all new. The house has been completely redone with LED lighting-this work great in the door rooms, where the lights look like they’re coming from candles and highlighting each individual door. I bought some hardware at the Transworld show and now our falling ceiling and Hellevator are completely automated. We’ve also added a claustrophobia type effect to the last room” explained Ed as he pointed it out-it disgorges hauntgoers from the attraction directly into the Concession Stand. “The only thing is,” he continued, “is that since it doesn’t quite reach the floor people keep trying to crawl under it instead of walking through it”. As if on cue, a large family emerges from inside the enveloping black walls-all walking except for the father, who came scuttling out underneath them on all fours. This happened several more times as we talked to Ed, and was always good for a laugh. “We’ve also tried to add something to every room, even it was just a little”. There are new victims in the Dungeon and a little girl outside Freddy’s boiler room (who Ed has bigger plans for next season). The Chamber’s opening video (using Billy The Puppet from Saw to narrate the backstory of the event) has been digitized, now residing as video files on MP3 players. “It’s great to have that-no more messing around with DVD’s and having to reset them”. Even Ed’s Halloween village display received a new waterfront district and a huge ghost ship.

Ed largely haunts for the enjoyment of it, as he has since starting his first home haunt in the family garage decades ago. At the age of ten he came up with the idea for the ‘falling ceiling’ in the Chambers after seeing the ‘living wall’ in Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Ed finally got a chance to implement it at the old Middletown Haunted Hotel at City Center Mall in 1990, becoming the first known attraction to use it. It’s a love that he’s passed onto his family-two of Ed’s sons are working inside the haunt this evening, and one had installed all of the event’s new LED lighting. He’s also manning the front room, having taken over when the Chamber’s longtime Bellhop character bowed out. “He tried being the same character for a while”, said Ed, “but he felt it just wasn’t working for him. He suggested a hunchback character and it’s worked out great”. While the Chambers has managed to stay in the black, the poor economy has limited revenues and Ed hasn’t been able to make the changes he’s wanted to. The headaches of a haunt on a tight budget are seen throughout the night-the Vortex Tunnel comes to a halt (although Ed has it running again at once, not missing a single group), a hauntgoer runs into an animation in the torture chamber and trashes it, and two kids who try to sneak in the haunt through the back have to be dealt with (as well as a group of abusive, obnoxious drunks). It’s all in a nights work for Ed, and despite the troubles his face still lights up when he talks about his event-the man obviously enjoys his work.

The big improvement this season (besides the lighting) was a complete refit of the graveyard. It’s now a ramshackle, run down affair with jumbled tombstones and done up to resemble the “Pet Sematary”. Loaded with fog, it terminates at a massive skull that serves as an entrance into a cobweb filled burial vault. The skull makes a triumphant return, having last been seen in the Chamber’s original home at the nearby old Montgomery Ward building.

The budget might be tight, and so are some of the corridors-shrinking and forcing customers to crawl through. Walls close in, panels open and shut, and everywhere are doors, a hundred of them according to Ed-most leading to nowhere. Sometimes you don’t even get that, and have to look towards a casket for an exit. The Hellevator shakes more violently than ever. The Terror Room near the exit is pitch black, sending hauntgoers through a maze of chains past cages which hold…something. And whatever they are, the uncomfortable sound of metal being violently stuck on metal comes from within. The house preys on phobias and never lets up the pressure. Perhaps more so than any other area attraction, the building seems to be as evil and crazy as the inhabitants.

So just how crazy ARE the inhabitants in The Chambers? These guys make the show at the Chambers, well known for their intimidating manner and take no prisoners attitude. There’s Michael Myers for instance. One of the highlights of the Chambers comes when a young lady backs slowly away from an approaching group-and Myers slowly comes into view behind her, framed in a doorway. Right before she bumps into him, he plunges a knife into her back-a very well ‘executed’ tableau. We thought it would make for a great picture, but apparently Myers doesn’t like his photo taken as he moved forward with deceptive speed and grabbed our camera, trying to wrest it away. It was a shock to say the least and just for a moment put that little doubt in our heads-maybe this WAS the real thing! Luckily for us, Ed’s used to dealing with psychotic killers (comes in handy during dealings with another area haunt, which STILL hassles the employees Ed has guarding his roadside signs) and talked him into relenting. Check out the photo following this article-Michael looks pretty shocked that anyone would have the temerity to take HIS picture, doesn’t he?

And then there are the Bloody Butchers. These guys have been a Chambers mainstay since its first year and never disappoint-some of them have been playing the parts for almost ten years. The HOD!!! was with a group that included two big guys and their tiny girlfriends. When we entered the freezer of the butchers, the first one encountered is average size-much smaller than either of the male hauntgoers. Did he concentrate on the tiny girls? No chance-he headed straight for the guys and hurled verbal abuse at them, yelling and screaming until he had visually cowed and intimidated them. It was something to behold, and he was only the first one-Big Uncle Billy was still lurking in another freezer! The same can be said of the multitude of creatures that patrol the ‘pick a door’ rooms, who dart in and out of doors at a dizzying rate (doors that always seem to lock behind them), confusing and haranguing hauntgoers until they have no clue how to proceed.

The Chambers also continues to feature well known slasher movie icons. We’ve already mentioned Michael Myers. Freddy Krueger’s boiler room has been expanded and particularly benefits from the new LED lighting, giving it a subtle “hot furnace” look. Freddy now has some boilers and tanks to hide behind, and continues to display his unique power of seemingly being in two places at once. Jason Voorhees (no doubt trying to hunt down Freddy after the results of Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash and Nightmare Warriors) continues to attack anyone who steps on the Chambers Bridge. Leatherface was responsible for one of the best scares of the night-you’ll hear him before you see him as he cranks his chainsaw to life…somewhere nearby. When he finally burst upon the scene, one of the big guys in the group we were with shoved his girlfriend aside and lit out for the territories, heading right back into the maze we had just vacated. Undaunted, Leatherface ran right by us and charged right in after him. We never saw either one again, although Leatherface was back when we went through to take pictures, so we’re assuming the other guy met with an unfortunate fate…

And that brings us back to the “Last Ride”. What’s in store for hauntgoers brave enough to climb inside and let BJ slam the lid on them? Utter, complete darkness for starters. Then you’ll hear gravediggers discussing you as they pick up the coffin and roughly thrust it into a hearse-you’ll feel every bump and jostle as the motion controlled coffin is perfectly synchronized with the soundtrack. The two diggers continue to chat as they drive the hearse to the cemetery (along what feels to be a particularly rough road) and the hearse then comes to a stop. You’re in for some really rough treatment then, as the diggers, impatient and wanting to get home, decide to drop the coffin into the grave instead of lowering it. Ouch! There’s the sound of earth hitting the lid, and then silence-until it’s interrupted by a last second surprise! In addition to sound and touch, the coffin also engages your sense of smell-for example, at one point the smell of rot and decay is pumped into the coffin. We recommend the ride highly, even if you’re not trying to hide from your in-laws. And it’s only at the Chambers-the one haunt you can enter on two feet and be sent home in a box!


Who Was More Surprised?

Michael Myers When We Took His Picture-Or Us, When He Grabbed Our Camera?

Uncle Billy

He Ain't Silly. One Of The Chamber's Bloody Butchers.