2012 EVENT INFORMATION
2011 CHAMBERS OF HORROR
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
SENT HOME IN A BOX!
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 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.
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.
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!
Michael Myers When We Took His Picture-Or Us, When He Grabbed Our Camera?
He Ain't Silly. One Of The Chamber's Bloody Butchers.