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The Girls At Dent Are Way Cool!

Ice Princesses Hanging Out In The Queen City Slaughter Yard's Freezer

Hammer Time!

Better Call The Hook And Pull Gang...

Hide And Shreik

No, Ma'am, We Don't See You Standing There With That Ax...


Back in the early spring The HOD!!! was visiting the basement lair of Charlie McFree, the iconic mass murdering yet strangely lovable janitor of The Dent Schoolhouse. Every year Dent’s co-owner and “Architect Of Fear” Josh Wells replaces around a third of the attraction to keep the event fresh and up to date. That’s what Josh tells the press, anyway-we have it on good authority that he really does it to keep Charlie from getting bored and coming after him. Anyway, right outside Charlie’s workshop the hallway was stuffed with a multitude of evil haunt Klown animatronics that had been scattered around the PTA Carnival area. When asked what part of the house they were being moved to, Josh responded with “Nowhere. We’re taking the Klowns out of the haunt this year”. Now, we at The HOD!!! love Klowns. Some of our best friends are haunt Klowns. We even thought we saw one across the street working near the Schoolhouse’s short bus, but it turned out to be co-owner Chuck Stross tinkering with the lighting. With the Circus leaving town, how would Dent ever be able to survive?

But the decision to consign the big-shoed mirthful masters of mayhem to oblivion paid immediate dividends. With no Klown/Carny area, Dent was finally free to get rid of the last link to its pre-Schoolhouse incarnation as THE Haunted House, that being the ubiquitous Vortex Tunnel. EVERY haunt in town (well, except for Mayhem Mansion) has a vortex tunnel, and the HOD!!! has been after Dent to get rid of theirs for years. We knew that whatever Josh replaced it with would be a hundred times better and far more original than an effect we could see at any other attraction. It also opened up the area of Charlie’s body pit (a large pit filled with concrete discovered by the crew of THE Haunted House years ago), giving area hauntgoers the chance to walk right over it (even though they don’t know it-it’s in the men’s room scene). The claustrophobia effect (the breathing walls) was also removed, another effect that seems to be everywhere these days. Removing these two effects eliminated the two biggest bottlenecks in the Schoolhouse. In doing so, it also represented the final chapter in tying the event strictly to the Schoolhouse theme. It’s now a totally immersive experience. Josh is the acknowledged master of room detail (along with the work done by the Tuesday night construction crew throughout the year-these guys are largely unheralded but do a magnificent job). He never, ever considers a room to be finished-he just runs out of time to work on it. If a pipe is rusted, Josh put the rust on it. If a wall is broken out, he swung the hammer. Cobwebs and dust? Well, the spiders didn’t put them there. Rumor has it if you see a cockroach scuttling across the floor, it’s because Josh caught it and brought it inside. Co-owner Bud Stross’s soundtrack adds to the immersion. Stop for a second in Charlie’s bedroom and listen to the static-filled news reports of his atrocities filtering in-really, go ahead and stop. It’s totally safe. Don’t let the bodies stuffed in the coal chute throw you. Lighting is subdued and natural, using the light sources you’d expect in an old building. The lighting also provides some cool effects, such as swarms of cockroaches and bloody writing appearing on a wall. And for the final touch of immersion, the costuming is all period-correct for the 1950’s, down to the shoes the actors wear.  

More importantly, giving the Klowns the boot allowed Dent’s second attraction, the Detention Hall (which was home to Boss Honk and his army of homicidal Klowns last season), to be completely rethemed and rebuilt. In its new incarnation as the Queen City Slaughter Yard, it represents a huge upgrade over last season. Rather than the standard fence maze of years past, it’s now more of an attraction that can stand on its own. Starting off in the animal pens, you slowly work your way towards the rendering plant. Once inside, you’ll find it contains a freezer, meat smoking room, holding cells, and a bevy of scantily clad babes being chased by a horde of huge guys with chainsaws. LOTS of chainsaws. This place is somewhat of a chainsaw nirvana, and it uses the real thing. There’s nothing like the smell of gasoline and the roar of an actual saw to convey an air of menace-prop chainsaws are sometimes necessary in closed areas but simply aren’t nearly as effective. For a ‘sideshow’ attraction, there’s some good detail-the corpses in the freezer actually have a glaze of ice on them. Add a pounding soundtrack put together by Bud and a totally bizarre video playing outside (an old B/W movie featuring the human-sized Cincinnati Dancing Pig-where does Bud find this stuff?) and you’ve got a winner. “The Slaughter Yard is our R-rated haunt”, said Josh. “It’s got plenty of blood and violence and I guess you saw the half-dressed girls”.

Murderer's Row

The Killer Line-up Of The Queen City Slaughter Yard

We toured the Slaughter Yard with Terry Rook, Dent’s new Director of Actors. You might remember Terry as one of Dent’s actors from previous seasons-last year, among other things, he was the cross-dressing nurse that had the whole queue line buzzing. As we toured the Slaughter Yard, Terry shared some of his ideas on actor management ranging from scripting, mandatory instruction sessions, and the importance of proper role placement for each individual. This became apparent in the Slaughter Yard-the blood-splattered actors (and actresses, Terry’s wife being one) playing the butchers have a sense of manic energy and abandonment, screaming at both their captured victims and crowd members alike. The gals playing their victims give great performances (as do the victims in the Schoolhouse)-these poor, tiny, tattered specimens give pitiful screams and gut-wrenching sobs as their masked assailants go about their bloody work. This is the type of acting that’s physically draining for both killer and victim-portraying a violently physical assault dozens of times a night can be exhausting work. That they’re able to keep it up all night (we went through shortly before closing) is amazing.

Dent’s also added extra actors to its roster, bringing the total inside the Schoolhouse to as many as 50 with an extra 20 or so in the Slaughter Yard. This not only allows multiple characters for some rooms and areas and multiple appearances by Charlie, but also allows some of the ‘faculty’ to have the victims we’ve talked about. This is one haunt where they don’t just threaten and talk about what they want to do-they SHOW you. This goes a long way towards increasing the unease of hauntgoers and making them actually feel as if they might be in danger.  There were no unprepared actors in the Schoolhouse and they all had their parts down pat. The scripting seems to have cut down on actors leaving their scenes and coming out of character. They’re the ones bringing the Schoolhouse to life and making it believable.

And of course, no HOD!!! article on Dent is complete without hearing from local haunt icon and longtime Dent actor Damien Reaper. This year, you’ll notice Damien is a bit different. He’s…he’s…positively HUMAN! Playing Detective Damien, he’s roaming the playground outside and investigating the disappearances of the students. In the process he’s also setting the stage for the journey into darkness every group of hauntgoers sets out on. Will he ever catch up to Charlie so The HOD!!! can have the satisfaction of telling Damien to “BOOK HIM, Dan-o!”? Well, maybe, but we’re betting Damien will likely end up on a meat hook in the basement as part of next year’s show. Let’s hear his meandering musings about his transition from damnation to do-gooder…

“After 14 years of reinventing Damien Reaper, the evil soul taking monster, it was time to showcase myself underneath the monster makeup in my performance this year while keeping the name (like The Undertaker from WWF/E changing from being The Dead Man into a Biker). This is my 15th Season entertaining "Meatbags". I had the idea last year to do the Detective but became a Priest instead. Our new personnel manager Terry Rook Jr. originally wanted to make me into a cop, but our new costume manager Lindsey Wagner found out a cop uniform was 500 buckaroos, so I suggested a Detective. I was given a script written by Terry this year as well. He had the idea of a greeter or host to lead you into Charlie’s world. This in my mind is like another reality much like DC comics with Earth 1 and Earth 2. This Damien Reaper is in another reality of The Dent Schoolhouse.

Josh Wells and his crew created the masterpiece that is Dent and Queen City Slaughter Yard. Sadly Bludzo and Fatso decided to take a year off-it's weird to not see them around so it's a bittersweet feeling. The sweetness we do have is a hell of a cast this year. Together we are the star attraction, The Dent Schoolhouse. We had a pretty big build up to this season from Midwest Haunters Convention as 50% of our cast members were active in their events…I even did Scaryokee unmasked. I rode there with Addam Grim and his future bride to be Kristin Rochelle Jones. Julie Langenderfer got 2nd place in Miss Midwest Haunter. I also played a zombie on Fountain Square taking part in the WEBN Fireworks commercial and also appeared at the Riverfest zombie infestation. Cool thing about that is other haunts were down there. I was happy seven or so years ago that art wasn't looked at as art. I feel that Dent will be like the McDonald's of haunting in the mainstream world. Bud & Chuck Stross and Josh Wells are my pals and I’ve enjoyed working with them in this adventure for 7 years. I do this for the passion and Chuck's balls (meat balls) in my mouth.

In 1998 I started at The Dungeons of Delhi in the days of Freddy, Jason, Frankenstein (David Espich) to Fatso (Dan Leopold), Toxic Lou (John Colleta) and Chainsaw Cec (Cecil Rouse) then doing three Haunts in 2006 (Dent, DOD and USS Nightmare) within a year after moving to Dent. Thanks to every single cast member, crew member and make-up artist from past to present that I worked with. Every reviewer from City Blood to Ohio Valley Haunts to Haunted House Tours. And of course The Guy I respect 10 fold for spot lighting me and who gave me the 1st Hall of Fame award, Mr. Randy "Master of Doom and Gloom" Schadel. Thanks to The Damned Nation who keeps believing in me and lives the haunted lifestyle. Thank you from me as Damien Reaper, Detective Damien Walker and Daniel Ruwan. The last 15 years is dedicated to all of you.”

Aiding Dent’s live actors are the dead ones-or as they’re often called, animatronics. Designed primarily to distract hauntgoers for the benefit of the live actors, these creatures also fill in the roles of the large, demonic creatures an actor couldn’t portray. These creatures have been attracted to the Schoolhouse by the evil goings-on, and range from the ghosts outside the nurse’s office and in the auditorium to the giant insect in the boiler room and the gargantuan demons in the A/V room and sewer. Sometimes an entire room is themed around them, such as the new library that features the spirits of two librarians floating around the stacks ala ‘Ghostbusters’. Josh’s subtle room design is also on display as you are routed though the room not by rails but rather stacks of debris that block access but allow a clear line of sight-just as would happen in a Schoolhouse that’s been abandoned for 60 years.

The zombie room is another new scene in the basement, and as in most rooms as Dent, has a lot going to both distract and amaze hauntgoers. There are zombies behind fences that topple, zombies in the ceiling, and an impressive animatronic ‘zombie door’ where a whole slew of the undead come busting in through a garage door, tearing apart the wood to get at the customers.

Some animatronics are tucked away in an obscure corner and have an effect that’s in inverse proportion to their size. In the depths of Charlie’s lair, tucked away in a corner, is one of the most amazing props we’ve ever seen. It’s pretty simple-a young boy is chained to the ceiling and is violently thrashing around. But WOW, did this thing ever look realistic. Sure, we know that Dent’s not actually going to suspend a kid from the ceiling for hours. But we still felt compelled to get up close to it to assure ourselves that it wasn’t real-and even right next it, finally had to touch it to put our minds at ease.

Perhaps our favorite new scene, though, is the girl’s shower room (which will be of no surprise to anyone that knows us). While you won’t see the silhouette on the shower curtain of a busty gal lathering herself up as was originally planned (but they’re working on it!), you will get the pleasure of being attacked by a massive rat with blazing red eyes. This baby is big enough to fit most people in its mouth, and has enough mass to where it bounced staffer Brian (“That’s MR. Klown to you, buddy”) Robbe off the opposite wall after plowing into him during a ‘test drive’. The rat will also eventually provide another service, that being scare pictures. A camera mounted above records the reactions of hauntgoers as the rat hurtles at them, providing a photo you’ll be able to buy after completing the tour. Josh showed us several scare photos taken by the rat, and they’re priceless. The expressions of pure fear and surprise on the faces of the customers are hilarious.  

The event also has several special nights planned-a zombie night (where all the characters turn into zombies), a lights on tour where you can get a good look at the sets and detailing, and returning from last year is the popular lights-off tour where you brave the Schoolhouse in almost complete darkness. While the lines can get long, there’s plenty to keep you occupied-custom made movies featuring the backstory and murders of the Schoolhouse play on the big screen out front. There are plenty of actors roaming the outside areas. The movie showing outside the Slaughter Yard also features one of Dent’s cooler ideas. It was originally presented in four parts online and chronicled the stalking and eventual murder of a young lady at the hands of one of the butchers. There was an online vote taken on exactly how she was going to die, and you can see the results of the voting on the big screen out back. We’ve told the Schoolhouse’s owners they should be selling these films on DVD-they’re great. We have a copy of an older one from a few years back and break it out every so often when we need a dose of haunting in the off-season.

There was even some real horror on display out front recently. The Sheriffs directing traffic outside the event were almost plowed into by a young lady too busy texting to notice the police in the road directing traffic (not to mention failing to notice the big screen, the flashing school bus lights, the crowds of people, etc. etc.). Fortunately she was able to stop in time but emerged from the situation with four citations. Even while we were crossing, drivers attempted to go around the police and were failing to brake for the Sheriffs. So do everyone a favor and slow it down around the Schoolhouse-let’s keep the terror inside with Charlie where it belongs, OK? Remember, the Klowns are supposed to be gone.

Josh tells us that the attraction has finalized leasing the building for an additional two years, so the immediate future is set. What lies beyond that? “Well, our crowds have outgrown the capacity of the Schoolhouse to accommodate them,” said Josh. “So we’re looking at all kinds of options for after that”. Speaking for ourselves, we envision a custom built haunt theme park that features an entire haunted town of which the Schoolhouse is only one building. But that’s just us-we’ll have to wait and see what Bud, Chuck and Josh have up their sleeves for the future. For the present, Dent’s elite status is reflected in a two page spread in the “Fangoria: America’s Haunts” special magazine (which you can pick up a copy of at the Schoolhouse’s souvenir stand-we did, and it’s a feast for the eyes of any haunt fan). While the circus has indeed left town at The Dent Schoolhouse, it’s resulted in a tighter attraction with better pacing while maintaining its high standards in every other aspect. So it’s the new, improved Dent-now with even MORE chainsaw killers! Ask for it soon at a ticket office near you.

Welcome To The Club!

The Initiation Is A Bit Rough, But Once You're In...


Somebody Let Angus Young Out Of That Locker!

Detective Dan

Whatever Happened To Damnation, Officer?

The Dent Schoolhouse-Faculty & Class Of 2013 (as provided by the Detective)

Ellen Irvine plays Alice Hertz
Teresa Campbell plays Betty Bledsew
Tina Bigham plays Zoe Zombie
Marybeth Rook plays Slice
Kayla Butcher plays Mrs Miller
Becca Minges plays Mrs Edwards
Matt Godfrey plays Silas Krone
Andy Becker plays Frank Loomis
David Knollman plays Davy Rodden
Katie Willson plays Jillian
Alicia Littleton plays Burnadette
Missie Thornton plays Bekki
John Williams plays Anthony
Brandon Rook plays Jimm Blaze
Xander Otten plays Trinna the tranny
Brynn Homan plays Rose
Jodan Jones plays Ethyl
Rod McGaha plays Dewey Phillps
Sara Boler plays Nurse Nancy
Chris Varin plays Boyles
Josh D Wells plays Fritz Farkus
Nat West plays Electra.
Shaina Huy plays Mabel
Katie Ludmann plays Ms Lew
Kris Sheeley plays Delores Painsworth
Mollie Uthe plays Helen Kramer
Maggie Baker plays Gracie Lou
Devyn Farmer.plays Framer Ozwald "Dookie"
Jimmy Matthews plays Richard McFree
Emma Wilson plays Lola Rutledge
Krystal Crouch plays Patty Cakes
Kevin Slaughter plays Otto
Tynan Taylor plays Sexy Sadie
Anthony Loehl plays hungry hank
Jim Millspaugh plays  Jacob Traversom
Rae Powell plays Arabell Cagedgirl
Kat Wipple plays Billy Anne
Kayleigh Sampson plays Alexxxis Starr
Derrick Stone plays Dane
Aryn Fox plays Leslie Anne
Julie Langenderfer plays Rosie Rottentail/Old Woman Josie
Lindsey Wagner plays Ungh
Dusten Helton plays Patrick Bateman
Kevin Butcher plays Eugene Bites
Matthew Miller plays Oskar von Striecher
Steven Penny plays Aagod
Troy Baldock plays Helldrake
Jake Reynolds plays Isaac Legion
Jason Henry plays Jeremiah Haaman
Allison Holdcraft plays Cassie
Zak Foster plays Big Bruce
Telfore Nyte plays BIG BABY
Scott Rook plays Bubbles
Alexandra Fulton plays Emily
Patrick Hennessey plays Fruitloops
Donnie Centers plays Big Donnie D
Robert Burnham plays HOCK
Julie Candelaresi plays Gyspy the zombie
Bud Stross plays Suger
Michael Powell plays Headmaster Demontia
Alex DJcrew Cruey plays Charlie McFree
Jimmy Matthews Jr plays Charlie McFree
Charlie Geluso plays Charlie McFree

Say WHAT?!? Did we actually see Josh Wells’s name in there as an actor?


The Dent Schoolhouse is located at 5963 Harrison Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45248. It is open Thursday through Sunday from September 13 through November 2 (closed on Sunday, September 15 and Thursday September 19 and 26). Hours are 7:30-Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7:30-10 Thursdays and Sundays. Regular ticket prices are $20 (or an optional $30 Fast Pass, with $40 getting you a 'Front Of The Line' pass). November 1 and 2 feature the 'lights out' show where the house will be plunged into almost absolute darkness-and it's only $10! There's also a lights-on matinee on Sunday, October 27 from 5-7 PM for $10, $5 children 12 and under. October 6 is zombie night where the Schoolhouse is 'zombified' and anyone in a zombie outfit (or who types in 'UNDEAD' when buying tickets online) gets $3 off regular admission. The Dent Schoolhouse is sponsored by WEBN, Crush, KISS 107 and DomainIt.Com. For more information call (513) 445-9767 or visit the Dent Schoolhouse website .


Big Ham

Bigger Ham

The Creep Sure Commands Your Attention!


It's A Good Thing The Ghostbuster's Ecto-1 Will Be Appearing At The Schoolhouse...


By now, you've all heard about homicidal janitor "Uncle" Charlie McFree's exploits in the Dent Schoolhouse-and if you haven't, you can always catch up by reading the Dent Gazette. His adventures in "cleanin' and killin' " have been detailed through at least two local movies, appearances on cable and network TV, interviews, newspaper articles, and even the cover of CityBeat's Halloween special edition. He's so well known that people wearing "Charlie Is My Homeboy" T-shirts are a common sight at local attractions, and people who have never been to Dent know of him and believe that his background story is 100% true (really-we've talked to several). But Charlie's decided he can no longer stick to 'mopping up' the students that just make his life a living hell. Nope, he's decided to take it to the source-the parents. Charlie, Renaissance Man that he is, is branching out. No parents, no snot-nosed little punks put on Earth just to make his life miserable. Simple as that. You'll see more evidence of the fate that befell many of the parents who came to the school looking for their missing kids. And like Charlie, it ain't pretty.

Josh Wells, co-owner of the event with Bud and Chuck Stross, laid out this year's changes. "We've totally redone all the classrooms on the first floor. We wanted things to have a more natural flow-not like you're going through a haunted house but really exploring a dilapidated and abandoned school house. Using mirrors and lighting effects, we've made it look like the halls between the classrooms stretch on for hundreds of feet. The walls between the classes are sometimes broken through-and one of the rooms hides the huge new creature that's responsible for it. There's a new bio lab with a very realistic autopsy scene going on. We have a ghost that flies through a set of French windows and comes at the crowd. The Playground has had a memorial statue put up for the victims of Charlie-and you could say that the statue is quite moving!" The audio/visual room has a bleeding wall that spells out messages and a cop that seems to be looking for some sort of monster. The creature's victims are all lined up on tables-but where's the killer? Well, you're sure to find out in a BIG way. The Schoolhouse managed to evict the hillbillies squatting on the land out back (although one of them is currently hitting up girls in the queue line) and built an enclosed lot for their buses. While Charlie does keep busy in his basement workshop (viciously slamming down and murdering his latest victim), he also manages to lurk in the dark passages between the school buses-and there are even rumors of a 10 foot long rodent, 'Ratzilla', waiting to chow down on anyone who makes it past the lethal janitor. The Auditorium, for many years the weakest room in the tour, has taken on new life with not only the two huge specters that moved in last season but now a spirited knock-down drag out catfight between two undead would-be prom queens. Most every room in the house has had an animatronic, effect, or prop added to it-the Dent Auto Shop added a massive undead guard dog with snapping jaws as well as a car that comes crashing through the rolling door to the 'outside'. And by the way, one of the oldest scenes in the house carries a dark secret-as we revealed in an interview earlier in the year, underneath it is Charlie's Body Pit-a half excavated hole that the former owners of the Schoolhouse cemented over after it was discovered. So which room is it in? We're not telling. But if you get a little chill up your spine while going through a certain room, ask yourself-could this be the place?

Josh has once again outdone himself in the detail lavished on the rooms. Dent is the one haunt where you might want to take the lights on tour-unlike most haunts that 'build to lighting', only putting in as much detail as will show up well in the dark, Josh builds movie quality sets that can (and have) stand up to the brightest film lights. For example, check the shelves in the bio lab-they're filled with a multitude of real animal skeletons, ranging from small mammals to snakes and...oh yeah, that cadaver hanging in the corner. Well, he's not a skeleton yet, but give him time. Jars and products in the classrooms are real antiques with some of the wildest labels and product names you'd swear could never have existed. The room housing Dent's "BIG new star" has school desks and old projectors/overheads that were procured from an old closed up school. The walls look like real dilapidated, moldy stone and we were unable to tell at a glance which were the real ones and which ones Josh and the Dent Construction Crew built. All the books you see are real books-and themed to the room they're in. No history books in the bio lab! Even the ripped up pages and debris lining the halls are all accurate. As staffer/lackey Brian Robbe (one of our all-time favorite haunters in his own right) told us, the light switches on the walls were put there by Josh to make the rooms look real-none of them work, but a real room would have them, so Josh put them up. Josh, ever modest, just says the rooms 'look OK' but 'could be a lot better if I had the time'. He also gives well deserved credit to Dent's Tuesday Night Construction Crew, many of whom have been with the event for years since its days as 'THE Haunted House'. Working year round, "They do such a great job of bringing everything to life-whether it's room construction, sound, lighting, welding, or whatever".

Haunt actors come and haunt actors go, but some are eternal. Such is the case with Damien Reaper, one of Dent's resident haunt icons. Damien has returned to his traditional post as front man for the Schoolhouse in the Memorial Playground. Seems his stint as a guidance counselor for the kids inside the attraction didn't work out so well-for them. Let's face it, "Damnation" is not a career path many of the young moppets look forward to. So what's on his mind this year? Well, we usually can't figure it out either, but it sure is interesting in a criminal psychology sort of way. Sporting yet another new look for his 14th season, Damien had this to say to HOD!!! readers-as well as giving us the lowdown on just who else can be found crawling around in the basement.

"Guess I'll start with why I cut my hair. I've been asked that a lot lately since the Midwest Haunter's Convention. Pretty much like anything, everything evolves as my timeline moves forward. The Priest idea came at a Dent meeting and moving back to the now Playground was suggested. I got to be in the "Call Me Maybe" video (one of Dent's promo videos) which was fun. I must apologize for bad dancing in the Thriller video. I feel cast-wise we have a great one, new actors give fresh blood to old farts like myself who love acting but who are sorta burnt out of it which in 2011 I was towards the end. They brought back the Demon within and after 14 years I needed it.


Dent Schoolhouse Cast

Bobby Copeland, Belle of the Locker, Cujoe, Nate Deadwood, Telfore Nyte, Slit Castle, Poor little Timmy, Mr. Boiles, Caster Jack, Rebecca Lynn Waters, Hilda Hactinhalf, C. Arnie, Mary Lou, Nurse Nancy, "Lipstick" Lucy, Otto, Dented Donna, Suzie Kilgore, Cinda Burns, Crimson Kate, Lilith Sangre with Kenneth, Victoria VonStrangle, Crazy Cassie, Debra, Gnarl the Unfortunate, Geoff, Skitzo, Lauren, Ivona Serryabrainz, Sally Screamsalot, Johnny Creedance, Mona, Floutes, Dead Memories Teddy Bear, Babe, Looney Lou Anne, Zeek the Chainsaw Killer, and Luke.

Detention Hall Cast 

Havoc, Golgotha, Mayhem, Token, Militia, Lauber, Asphixia T. Clown, Boss Honk 

My Brothers The Creep, Fatso The 300 Pound Put Down Clown, Bludzo T Klown

Guest Actors Granny/Do Wayne, Amanda Reevenge, My Dad (the Evil One)

Thanks to every actor, crew member, Josh and Leslie Wells, Bud, Chuck and Michelle Stross

Cincinnati-Thanks for letting me be myself!
Our God the Cool Ghoul!!

And House of Doom!!! for years of support to The Dead Man!!"

Dent's cast was noticeably larger (both in numbers and physically) when the HOD!!! went through. Many of the rooms had two or even three characters, with many taking advantage of the hidden passages, drop panels, and disguised venues to scare hauntgoers in several different rooms! While we've been through the event dozens of times, including behind the scenes, there were actors coming out from inside/behind lockers, from the back of narrow bookcase shelves, medicine chests, and any other place where we would have sworn there was no cover. On our trips through the Schoolhouse we were accompanied by Chuck Stross and later by the actress that plays fan favorite Calliope (taking the night off and vidtaping the event for a school project). Watching Calliope interact with her cohorts, even in street clothes, was a trip-and none of the actors ever broke character even though they were all well acquainted with Chuck and the Princess of Klowns. Even on opening night, energy was high and the actors in great form with no shows of rust during the off season. Making things even more interesting is that there are several still displays that turn out to be...well, not quite still, and creatures you would swear are real actors that aren't. See that picture of the Big Ham at the beginning of the article? We didn't know if it was an actor or not. We STILL don't know. Ditto for many of the undead mourners in the Memorial Graveyard. As Josh reminds us, "The animatronics are primarily there to be eye candy and distract the people going through from the live actors, setting up their scares. The actors are the real show".

The Detention Hall is for unruly students to cool their heels in after finding their way out of the Schoolhouse. In this case, EVERYONE is considered unruly-the School administrator waiting at the exit WILL find a reason to give you detention. And of course, it's no secret that detention is always filled with the class cut-ups...only in Dent's case, this should be taken literally. Boss Honk and his kadre of killer klowns get DT every night and they're more than happy to let you in on Even though we haven't seen our old pal Bludzo in action for several seasons now, he's running amok on selected nights as well, having been tricked into moving out of the house so as not to indulge in a binge of destruction on Josh's meticulous sets. And that whole blood-spewing thing works better outside, y'know. The fog choked maze dares you to find your way out, and Boss Honk even has a special surprise for everyone who does. Detention Hall is much improved over previous seasons, with more sightlines being blocked, the top covered, cascading lighting that will have you in darkness one second and lit up the next, and a bizarre soundtrack that might be the creepiest thing we've ever heard in a haunt. It features old oddball songs played at different speeds and gives the whole experience a nightmarish and twisted feeling. When I asked Chuck how long it took Bud to put together, he laughed and said "He was in here at 3 AM last night trying like crazy to get it put together". 

Lighting is usually something most hauntgoers don't take notice of, but that makes a huge difference in an attraction's scare factor. Think about it-if you went through Dent with the "house" lighting on, it wouldn't be nearly as creepy (although our trip through the attraction last winter with many of the animatronics covered in black plastic shrouds was a bit unsettling at times). Having maxed out the room detailing (although he sure doesn't think he has), Josh turned his attention to computerizing the lighting. "We can now control all the effects lighting in the house from one board-dialing it up there or bringing it down somewhere else in an instant". Every room has multiple non-intrusive light sources, and this season Dent also made an effort to integrate 'real' ambient lighting. The School's fluorescent lights flicker and dim continuously, with loose wires threatening to electrocute anyone who gets too close. There's a stunning effect deep in Charlie's lair where the light fixtures seem to violently explode in sequence as you pass under them. Occasionally the lighting even doubles as a special effect-for example, the bleeding wall we mentioned earlier or the scenes of cockroaches scurrying over the walls. And for those who want a really 'dark' experience, try the 'lights out' tour at Dent the weekend after Halloween. Like it or not, you will be at one with the darkness.

Sound also tends to be a subliminal influence for most hauntgoers-even when it's at eardrum-blasting levels. Dent's blanket of sound blends a house soundtrack with individual room sound, and many of the animatronics seem to have gibbers and squeals of their own as well. All of the sound is customized-no 'Thrilling, Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House' CD here. Here, sound does the same thing the lighting does-enhance the experience without drawing undue attention to itself. It seems to be organic-blended in and stemming from what you actually see rather than from a CD or speaker.

Such is Dent's notoriety that there's even a miniature Dent Schoolhouse, complete with the grounds and crowds of people, in EnterTRAINment Junction's seasonal train display. Now THAT'S something we'd love to have in the HOD!!!'s offices! We just wonder if the small version will have all the promotions the real thing does! We've already mentioned the 'lights out' tour and the 'lights on' tour-there's also 'zombie night' where every character is transformed into one of the shambling undead. Outside, there'll be a visit from the replica Ecto-1 vehicle as seen in "Ghostbusters". Radio station WEBN has regular remote broadcasts on the grounds. The lines to both the Schoolhouse and Detention Hall have entertaining Dent produced videos and movies to watch while waiting. Many of Dent's best known actors (like Fatso) interact with the crowds outside-not to mention a hulking ten foot tall creature with scythe blades for hands. Media 'dahlings' Jasper and Jinx might be spotted, although Jinxy seems to have gone missing and Jasper is taking a page from Bludzo's book and trying to put together a late Presidential run. There's food available and two different souvenir shops, the apparel shop selling the awesome 'Dent Schoolhouse Teacher's Pet A+ Thong' for the ladies. Well, we just KNEW that our gal Ayame would be a perfect fit for the small pink version. The only thing that really worried us was if the hillbilly we were talking about earlier was wearing one-after all, he did offer to hump our leg if it would help out the review. The Schoolhouse always has something cooking-just show up and see what the night has to offer. Or they might come to you, since Bud Stross enjoys loading up the 'short bus' with a group of rabid actors and turning up in the strangest places...

Dent, as well as Charlie, continues to branch out and innovate. They ride the tsunami of haunt technology and are always pushing themselves to become better with each season. Now in their 7th season (has it REALLY been that long?), they've managed to do so. The lease on the current building expires next season, and there are several possibilities that the event is exploring. The future promises to be just as exciting as the day Josh, Bud, and Chuck took over a classic but tired attraction that had seen better days and brought it back to life. Nationally ranked #2 by "Top Haunts" magazine and routinely put at the top of every haunt 'best of' list, Dent earns every accolade it brings in. And that's whether a crazy hillbilly humps your leg or not.

Hall's Well...

...That Ends In Hell's Hall

School Bus Alley

Graveyard For Outdated Vehicles-And Hauntgoers