MADD MATT’S KILLER KUTS!
The front door to the Dungeons of Delhi bursts open, a young lady comes racing out the front, and the chase is on. Hot on her heels is Madd Matt, the greeter and chief executioner of the Dungeons. Face wrapped in bloody bandages, he picks up a chainsaw, gives it a yank that sends it roaring into life, and trailing smoke sets off after her. It’s like watching Leatherface chasing Sally Hardesty in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, except that Matt’s in shape and is closing the distance rapidly. The two trail off towards the end of the old strip mall into the darkness and disappear from view. There’s a loud scream and shortly thereafter Matt returns with the young lady slung over his shoulder, now with a huge diagonal slash parting her face. Madd Matt’s Killer Kuts have once again given the crowd a good reason not to stand too close to the door while waiting in line!
Not to be outdone, legendary haunt vampire New Blood comes rushing out the door, terrorizing various members of the crowd (not to mention other actors), and punctuates his appearance by sticking his butt into the blazing bonfire. And is that a giant spider we see creeping around the lot? Inside the Dungeons, Matt’s dad and former host Madd Mark is having a much tougher time. The med center in the Dungeons, you see, has a live birth almost every night, and since the physicians are med school rejects, things rarely turn out right. Mark’s attending tonight’s birth, and he’s spazzing. Frantically running around the room, he’s shouting into a phone and can’t figure out why he never gets a reply (we didn’t have the heart to tell him the phone was unplugged). As the mother screams in pain, she has an unplanned C-section as her baby bursts forth from her abdomen-and this isn’t something as relatively benign as the chestburster from Alien. Ooooooh, no. This is the demon two-headed baby, and it caterwauls and twists as it tries to force its way out of its mother. Like many scenes in the Dungeons, it’s creepy, disturbing, but funny at the same time. Mark thought he had retired from acting a few years ago, but this scene brought him out of it. “We’ve had the prop lying around for two years now-we used it for a couple of hours but the girl playing the mother fell asleep and the guys in the room got mad and tossed the prop in a corner”, Mark laughed.
The Dungeons, like most charity haunts, survives on the slimmest of budgets and sees a good deal of turnover in its cast as the kids get older, go to college, or move away. “What budget?” says Mark. “Most of this is stuff that we get our hands on ourselves and bring in. Or props that some of the big haunts like Dent give us. And I’m glad that we were able to keep Matt for another year. He keeps getting texts from other haunts wanting him to join up and I keep trying to intercept them!” The Dungeon’s poster this season is probably the best in local haunting-a 1950’s horror movie style poster that heralds the “Return of the Crazies!” while showing several members of the shambling undead. But even that was touched by the budget, as Mark explains. “It had a misprint and said we were open for 15 weekends of horror! That’s like four months! We couldn’t reprint them so I had to correct them all with tape and a pen.
And then there’s Zendar.
After 44 years of reviewing haunts, it’s pretty difficult for a haunt to knock our socks off and make us gasp in awe-but Zendar did just that. At around ten feet tall with a bloody mouth full of razor blade fangs, Zendar resembles nothing more than a monstrous, scuttling four-legged spider. Mounted on drywall stilts and using crutches to extend the reach of his arms, he moves more like an insect than a human-and on top of that, he’s inhumanly FAST. Hauntgoers running from him have their work cut out for them-one Dungeons customer found it easier just to hide from Zendar under their car! It takes about 45 minutes to transform Zendar from human to arachnid form, and his ‘hardware’ is cloaked in costuming and rough webbing in order to make him look even more bizarre. Zendar doesn’t speak (that’s what his Keeper-a chain-wielding young lady half his size-is there for!), but had a conversation with Alex Anderson, his ‘human’ side, while he took a break. The voice emanating from his razored mouth is incongruous, being polite, soft spoken, and intelligent. He’s been stilt walking for two years and it’s become second nature to him. Alex pushed himself the first couple of nights the Dungeons was open to test his limits-what he could and couldn’t do in the elaborate rig. The stamina involved in doing this for an entire evening is substantial. When not running around he tends to rise up on two legs to tower over the crowd and give them a look at his incredible ‘wingspan’. His body language is subtle, especially the weaving motion of his head. Zendar was so unbelievably AWESOME that for the first time The HOD!!! gave out a haunt award before the end of the season-he’s our choice for best haunt actor.
Sometimes they’re just throwing themselves into their parts-literally. A victim in the zombie area was beaten to the ground, dogpiled on by zombies, pummeled, and ‘eaten alive’. Earlier a zombie in a fenced in cage threw itself violently against the barrier. The psychos (and doctors, too-you don’t have to be crazy to work there, but it helps) in the mental ward leapt through windows and onto tables. A slider in the Forest outside the Cabin not only was covering the length of the room, but was doing much the same on the concrete outside. We’re hoping that really was makeup on his face and that he hadn’t met with a tragic accident!
And sometimes they just want your attention-and when it’s a country girl pointing a shotgun in your face, they’ll get it too. The infamous Doctor Basham is all too eager to explain his methods of bringing the dead back to life, even though none of them have done it yet, but he just KNOWS that they will if he keeps trying, and hey you, pay attention, where do you think YOU’RE going!?! The “suicide/words that kill” room, electric chair, graveyard ghouls, the staircase monsters, the Junkyard Klowns, Satan on his (or possibly HERS!) throne, Mr. Skynyrd’s Tanning (human skin variety), 666 in the wax museum, and Papa Shango’s Voodoo Crew are just a few of the other scenes you’ll encounter along the way.And we’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention the one thing in the Dungeons that freaks us out every time, even though we know its patiently waiting for us. After the second room (the graveyard with the large monument), there’s a short hallway leading to the med center. Madd Matt used to climb the walls here, but now its home to a still display of a cloaked skeleton that’s hidden behind you as you turn a corner. You won’t even know it’s there unless you’re looking for it. We don’t know why, but there’s something about it that just absolutely chills our blood. But we still find ourselves drawn to turn around and check out the grinning specter! Finally, there’s the Zombie Horde. Much as Zendar is the ultimate haunt actor badass, the Zombie Horde is the ultimate haunt scene badass. It features a group of lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view ) hauntgoers traversing a narrow hallway. Suddenly from all directions they’re set upon by EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER in the house-as many as 50! Even for people who rarely get rattled by haunts, it can be an exercise in intimidation and an experience that’ll stick with you through the years. The only drawback is that you have to have perfect timing-it only happens for the last group of each night. Having experienced it once, it’s like the gates of Hell have opened and disgorged every rotten soul ever assembled-and they’re all focused on you. We think Papa Shango’s black magic has something to do with it, since it’s zombies and takes place right before his scene, but he ain’t talkin’.
The Dungeons is still only $10-$8 if you bring a canned good. And the Dungeons, just like another local charity haunt (the Mt. Healthy Haunted Hall), hasn’t forgotten that the goal of a charity haunt isn’t just to make money but also to give the young volunteers something constructive to do that they can have fun with. The Dungeons overflows with their enthusiasm, creativity, and sense of twisted humor. They’re all great kids to talk to and seem to enjoy each other’s company, which gives their haunt excellent chemistry. They work well with each other and excel at setting up the next scene. This vibe extends to its Facebook page-Madd Mark (when he’s not delivering babies) spends most of his nights schmoozing the crowd along with taking photos and videos. Many of these end up on the Facebook page, at some point giving virtually every actor and staff member their moment in the spotlight along with many of the hauntgoers going through. Mark particularly enjoys taking photos of customers laying down in the coffin that’s sticking out of the hearse parked out front-just be careful if you’re given the opportunity, because New Blood has been known to sneak out of the house, shut the lid, shove the pine box inside the hearse, and then lock it inside! This is an event that even held a "Zombie Car Wash" back in August. Their Youtube channel is also filled with crazy videos like “New Blood Will Snatch Your Children” and “Doctor Basham Explains Why His Experiments Keep Dying”. Who can forget the video where the Klowns and New Blood head off to Hooters in the hearse? We’re holding out for “Madd Mark’s Guide to Natural Childbirth”, and “The Creepy Girl’s Greatest Hits” where the schoolgirls/nursery girls sing their favorite twisted songs. And of course what we’re really waiting for is “Madd Matt’s Killer Kuts”, featuring a medley of his best outdoor excursions. You’ll find it all at the Dungeons, where charity haunting is alive and well.
2013 EVENT INFORMATION
Dungeons Of Delhi is located at 362 Anderson Ferry Road in Delhi Township at the rear of the Del-Fair Shopping Center (behind the old Thriftway store). It is open Fridays and Saturdays from September 13th through November 2nd. Operating hours are 7-Midnight. Cost is $10 with an optional $5 same night re-entry fee-there’s a $2 discount applied with a canned good donation. All proceeds benefit the Delhi Police Explorers and the Anderson Ferry Food Bank. For more information call (513) 473-0848, visit the Dungeons on Facebook or check out the Dungeons Of Delhi website.
DUNGEONS OF DELHI 2012
The REAL Human Centipede!
They Wouldn't Hurt A Fly...
...But They Don't See No Wings On You, Boy!
FROSTY COLD ONES!
They’ve also eliminated most of the ‘movie monsters’ from the house. Gone are Jason, Leatherface, and Freddy Krueger. “Yeah, we wanted to get away from using the movie monsters”, explained Mark. “We wanted to use our own original characters, which also allows the actors to bring more of their own personality to them”. One notable exception to the purge of horror icons is “Billy the Saw Puppet”, the young pint-sized actor who’s just perfect for portraying Jigsaw’s avatar of chaos from the “Saw” franchise. Billy makes quite the impression on hauntgoers as most believe him to be nothing more than a doll mounted on a tricycle. The HOD!!! has seen grown men jump when Billy rises up from his trike and begins talking to them! The rooms that have replaced these scenes are indeed far more original. Camp Crystal Lake is now the ‘wrong turn’ room where an obnoxious hillbilly with a deadly pitchfork confronts any trespassers that wander through-and hopefully ‘squeal like a piggy’ isn’t on his mind. Another room features a werewolf that has turned the tables on his hunters-he’s set out snares and has captured a victim who dangles from the ceiling, waiting her turn to be next on the menu.
Another new scene is the ‘earthquake room’ that precedes the Dungeon’s long-standing graveyard in the woods. Using two large sections of an Egyptian tomb (donated by the Dent Schoolhouse) and a custom floor, you’ll get an Indiana Jones moment when walking through the scene. The floor drops and the two wall sections to either side tilt forward, threatening to flatten your group. It’s something you’d usually see in a larger pro haunt rather than a charity haunt and the Dungeons is rightfully proud of it. However, according to one of the young ladies working the front door that went through with us, they’re even more proud of another room-this being a filthy bathroom filled with roaches, dirt, and…uhhhh…other stuff that’s probably best left to your imagination. Just try not to get any on your shoes.
While entering another refitted area we thought for a minute we had stepped into a scene from the Dent Schoolhouse. It’s a classroom that has been thoroughly trashed with several dead bodies strewn about. Unlike Dent, however, the students aren’t the victims-here, they’re the ones doing the killing! A cheerleader sits on a desk, cradling her teacher’s severed head and shouting out a cheer that revels in decapitations and death. When we asked where ‘The Janitor’ was, one of the students shot back that they had killed him! Paying a bit of homage to their friends at Dent was a nice touch by the Dungeons.
One of the things Madd Matt has done to raise the bar in the Dungeons is having several ‘Zombie Boot Camp’ sessions over the course of the off-season to help train the actors as well as help them develop their characters and develop new scare techniques. Last year we commented on how well the characters at the Dungeons worked together as a team, and it’s a good bet that things like the actor workshops have a lot to do with it. Most every room in the house has more than one character, some as many as four. Matt’s also responsible for the ‘off-season’ videos that use the Dungeons as a background. In these, he plays Baxter the Clown, your prototypical troublemaking haunt Klown. With guest shots from other cast members of the Dungeons and some hilarious sound effects, perhaps the most memorable episode had Baxter and his vampire pal New Blood screeching off in the Dungeonmobile (the old hearse that’s currently parked out front) to check out the action at Hooters. They may be monsters, but they’re not stupid!
Speaking of New Blood, he’s one of the more active creatures in the Dungeons. He was spotted outside at the entrance, inside the haunt in the vampire’s crypt, and menacing hauntgoers at the exit as they walked down the ramp leading outside. We THINK there’s only one of him, but as Bram Stoker noted in Dracula, “The dead travel fast”. He still turns in one of the more feral performances in town, with a gibbering, spastic blood drenched performance that’s earned him a share of a couple of HOD!!! Actor Of The Year awards. We wanted to tell him to calm down, because it hasn’t been too long since he had a stint placed in him. When asked about it, the crazed vampire confirmed it was true and that it was “no big deal-my heart just stopped, that’s all”. Mark’s also told him to take it easy, but it seems New Blood only has one speed and that’s all out terror. “We even put out a rocking chair for him to rest in near the front door”, said Mark, “but he never sits down. The guy never stops”. As if to confirm this, New Blood is currently sticking his foot in the raging bonfire in the cauldron sitting outside the entrance in order to nudge a log into position. When the HOD!!! suggests that having his foot catch on fire would make for a great photo, his jagged vampire’s teeth form a large grin as he appears to be thinking it over…
deserves special mention because-well, he’s Satan, and wouldn’t be happy if he
didn’t get it. On top of that, that actor that portrays Satan also constructed
the Voodoo area on the second floor (as well as much of his own area a couple
of years ago), proving that he’s even more evil than he looks.
Of course, the actors in the Dungeons take more than one approach, with many favoring the physical. One of these was the crawler in the body bag room. We’ve dubbed this guy ‘The REAL human centipede’. He made at least three circuits of the room before we had even gotten hallway through it, gibbering and spasmodically scrambling up a wooden ramp into and out of the next room. It was hard to believe a human could move that fast while crawling on the floor, much less keep doing it for group after group. Not to be outdone were the psychos in the mental ward, with one jumping from gurney to gurney while another entered the scene by coming in headfirst through a window!
The Dungeons also still awards the final group of hauntgoers of the evening with what they call the ‘Zombie Horde’-as the group makes their way through the winding corridors of the Dungeons, the creatures abandon their scenes and fall into line behind them. This culminates in an all-out assault when they reach the long hallway leading into the final area. Having experienced the Zombie Horde last season, we can tell you that having several dozen characters close in on you from ahead, behind, from the side, and above is the ultimate experience in haunting! If you’re a die-hard haunt fan, you might want to try arriving late and setting things up so that you’re the last ones going through.
So while hauntgoers no longer have Mark to check them into the dubious comfort of the Bates Motel, the Dungeons is still in good hands. And we’re not talking about the ones mounted on the inside of the door that grasp at you as you enter. Whether it’s Mark or Matt making hauntgoers “Madd” about the Dungeons, the old Thriftway store and its crazed crew of creatures create complete chaos. Even with all those ‘cold ones’ lying around. The next generation of haunters has arrived at the Dungeons, and all is good.
Meaner Than A Junkyard Dog
And Lots Crazier, Too!
Just A Taste Of The Zombie Horde