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On the same night that Badlander's Reviews went to Reaper's Revenge, we also went to this hidden gem on the way home.

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It wasn't really a haunt that should have been much good. Almost no one had reviewed it and it hadn't been attended to by the media at the same rate that many of its neighboring haunts like the Legendary Reaper's Revenge have. Hellstead Manor is an exceptional example of what a high level designer and a dedicated team of actors can do to make a large barn and many acres of land into a 40+ Minute Juggernaut experience.

Navigation and Customer Service:

- The attraction is found on a mostly lightless side street

+ Just a few minutes from US 81

 

+Everyone was very pleasant from the get go, especially Michelle who I was in contact with before arrival

+ Lead Artist Eric came right up and greeted us like we were his first and last customers

Atmosphere and Lobby/Midway:              

Key Midway Amenities

      1. Concessions

        + Tacos and Soup

        + Beer Trailer

      2. Merchandise

        + Magnets

      3. Video

        + Old Black and White Horrors

      4. Seating

        + LOTS of comfortable seats

      5. Bathrooms

        - Small number of Port-o-Potties

      6. Photo Ops

      7. Music

      8. Games

      9. Stage

      10. Queue Line Actors

      11. Bonus

      12. Metaphysical

      13. Pyrotechnics

      14. At least one HUGE Set Piece

Facade Quality

(The Manor) -

  • Entry is through the front door of a giant farmhouse

     

    + One of the biggest walk-in facades I've ever seen

    + Featuring a museum where the storytelling begins

 

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • Just a basic waiting area in the grass

Use of Existing/Surrounding Environment

(The Manor) -

  • A real gigantic farmhouse

  • An organically present Barn

 

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • A 25 minute long trail over acres and acres of property

 

    + Maximized space by winding up and down the hill

    + Path routed under “tunnels” of trees

    + Each shack looks like its been there for a while

Actors and Acting:

Energy

(The Manor) -

  • Basic enthusiastic characters

     + Three Introductory team members up in the farmhouse are really in the

         game

 

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • The most aggressive acting

 

    + Actors climb over stuff and chase you

    + Actors hide in the trees

Costuming

(The Manor) -

  • Standard Haunted House characters for the most part

 

 

     + Once again, the three ladies of the house at the beginning have the best

        costumes of the whole bunch

 

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • First half, black robed figures

  • Second half, The most developed character design

 

    + I like the ability of the actors to conceal themselves in the darkness

    + Some of the best zombies I've seen on a trail in a long time

    + It seems that every character in The Cannibilies is lived, not just acted

Lines and Vocalizations

(The Manor) -

  • Lots of screams

 

    - Not many monologue/dialogue based characters

 

    + These screams are actually powerful and prolonged

 

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • First half, lots of growls, some lines

  • Second half, almost everyone has lines

 

     - First half, Most lines are full of cliches

 

     + Great Zombie sounds

     + Characters with intention

     + Great improv skills

Theming and Design:

Lighting

(The Manor) -

  • Lit from above just about everywhere

 

     - Lit from above, not from within

 

    + The light “temperature” isn't very color revealing and is akin to moonlight

        coming through a window

    + The angle produces significant shadows in most rooms

 

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • Basic path lighting on a regular interval

  • Staked Spot and Flood lights

 

     - Some rooted patches need light, maybe fire in these spots

     - I don't recall much red or other colors, just different “temperatures” of white

 

     + The fear comes from the darkness

     + The shacks are decently lit stages for the actors to come at with their props

Sound

(The Manor) -

  • A single overarching soundscape

 

    - Some scenes like the lab need louder, dedicated sound effects

 

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • No soundscape

 

   -/+ Left with the sound of nature and screams in the distance

     + Hillbillies shouting at you as you approach in the darkness

Special Rooms

(The Manor) -

  • Hand Gauntlet

  • Huge puppet Hallway

  • Crawl-through Fireplace

Outdoor Scene Immersion

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • Tunnels of Trees

  • A good number of shacks and bridges

  • A whole four stable barn in the woods (with horses)

 

    + Good use of shadow and light-to-darkness at times

    + Really foreboding, gigantic walkthrough structure at transition between

        elements

    + You walk through and over every single shack and bridge

    + There's a nice, scary surprise for you in the Horse Barn

Set Dressing

(The Manor) -

  • Rough-hewn and Handmade

     - Not the most advanced dressings in this house

 

     + Embraces the Halloween spirit

     + Good aesthetic distractions in most rooms

 

(Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies) -

  • All dressing is inside the shacks

 

   +/- Relies on nature

     + Shacks feel lived in

Story Telling -

  • Museum with artifacts and genuine skeletons begins your journey into the Hallstedt Family

  • Second Room features a video explaining the deaths of William and Annabelle and the final end of the patriarch

  • You are then, loudly and forcefully greeted by the ghost of Annabelle

 

Adherence to Storytelling -

  • You see and hear the ghost of Annabelle, but not William

  • Most of The Manor has nothing to do with the story

  • There are features every so often of major plot pieces and points

  • You see the patriarch dead just before being eaten by a giant monster

 

    + A story well told

Entertainment and Other Values:

Fun

     - Some parts of the path are a hastle

 

     + A truly delightful Hidden Gem of Northeastern Pennsylvania

     + I had a smile on my face the whole time

     + Many actors in the final element, The Cannibilies have funny lines

Scares

     - I wasn't easily jump scared

 

     + My dad sure was, a few times

 

Monetary Value

  • 3 Elements (The Manor feat. Museum, Wretched Woods and The Cannibilies)

  • $35 GA, $45 VIP

  • 40+ Minutes Walkthrough

 

    + Worth $35 GA, if there's a line longer than an hour, worth $45 VIP

    + $9.56/Hour Driven from Buffalo GA, $12.30/Hour VIP

Recommendations

     - 4 Hour Drive on it's own is inadvisable

     + 3 Hour Drive on it's own is a steal

     + 4 Hours when combined with Slaughterland Screampark is decent

     + 4 ½ Hours with Reaper's Revenge is a great deal

     + Definitely an advanced haunt in some respects but, I wouldn't say you

         should keep 12 and 13 year olds away. A good medium between Starter and

         Advanced

     + A really good stop for avid haunt touring groups from Rochester and

        Syracuse

Actors and Acting
Theming and Design
Entertainment and Other Values
Navigation and Customer Service

Just a three minute zig and zag from the US Interstate 81 in Hallstead Pennsylvania is a hillside tour-de-force boasting a higher price tag than most other haunts that is worth every single penny.

 

It was the night of September 30th, forty minutes after leaving Reaper's Revenge and twenty minutes before Hellstead Manor was supposed to close. I had exchanged emails with Michelle for a few days and neither of us knew if we would meet that night. Boy, I'm glad I did. We got our tickets and walked right on in as the only guests at the moment.

 

Inside the big, beautiful, historic white and black farmhouse foyer is a museum dedicated to the Hallstedt family who once lived on this land. There are skeletons and documents and all kinds of wonderful horror fodder. They then present you with a short video documenting the plight and resurrection activities of this family. The first scare comes from behind you as you watch the video. AHHHHHHHHHH!!!

 

From the walls of the Farmhouse, you are turned out into a delightful surprise of a haunted house. The Manor continues for another 20 or so minutes. The scenes are diverse, shadowed by the warmish white wash over the whole barn and you are made distinctly vulnerable by the regularly descending ceiling whether it be cobwebs, burlap or another material.

 

The artistic wares of Lead Special Effects Artist Eric are on show absolutely everywhere in this house. Within the eight feet tall pallet walls, there are one-of-a-kind creepy creatures and props that would fit in on any Hollywood set. The amount of visual content in this element is really impressive for a lesser known haunt. In fact, Eric has won at least one Emmy for his work on IPs like CSI and X-Men.

 

The Manor winds through traditional rooms and imaginative rooms, hundreds of feet of corridor and maze. One of my favorite rooms is the Hand Gauntlet. The actors are just what you would expect from a traditional mansion themed haunted house however, the girls and women sure can pierce right through you with their screams. The finale is one for the record books.

 

This adventure proceeds into a clearing where you are spaced out before getting your feet wet in The Wretched Woods. The Wretched Woods is a very long, dark, vision inducing path through many parts of a significantly large property. The path ascends and descends like a snake up and down the hills that contain some of the best zombie actors I've ever seen on an Outdoor Trail. Monsters hide in the trees and force the genesis of nightmares.

Wretched Woods suddenly makes a transition to The Cannibilies at a spooky, wooden teepee looking archway. The Cannibilies element is the reason for this being my new favorite outdoor trail. You encounter many a chilling Hillbilly within the shacks and around the yards. Improvisation is really rich here. The actors throw you curveball phrases that those at other attractions don't.

 

This is the other element that is largely powered by Eric's Special Effects prowess. The shacks feel lived in and the four stable Barn is ACTUALLY lived in. The monster dwells among the horses. I would imagine this spot is where the most actors of all preside being that there are sixty-three in total and the most interaction in The Cannibilies.

 

Hellstead Manor is a hidden gem of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Haunt Scene and deserves a stop by everyone who heads down to Reaper's Revenge from the North. They're just forty-three minutes away from each other and both are similarly worthy investments of money for the experience.

EXPERIENCE ESSAY

Experience Essay
Photos

Recommended One-way Trip Range - 3 1/2 Hours

Drive Time Recommendation Map
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