This is the time of year when things get pretty scary in Detroit, and a visit to one of the area's haunted houses is a must for a well-rounded Halloween experience. Over the years, haunted houses — not to mention haunted barns, haunted hayrides, haunted funeral homes and haunted golf courses — have become big business. With so many different spooky places to choose from, it was hard for the Wonder Twins to decide where to spend their terror dollars. Then they found the Detroit Urban Legends Haunted House, which raises money for charity. So off they went to get scared for the greater good!
Laura: The location of this haunted house was scary enough for me.
D'Anne: You mean the Cass Corridor?
Laura: No, inside a Methodist church.
D'Anne: Well, even though it was at a church, this wasn't one of those hell houses.
Laura: Yes, it had your standard ghouls and goblins, not graphic scenes of abortion and gay teen suicide.
D'Anne: This haunted house isn't out to save your soul; it's out to save the folks who get help from Cass Community Social Services.
Laura: They've been doing it for seven years, and it's been really successful for them. And even on a rainy night, the line was really long. I think we stood in the rain for an hour.
D'Anne: I wish they'd been selling spooky umbrellas or haunted ponchos or something. We got soaked.
Laura: I think this is a good time for me to say that I don't handle haunted houses very well.
D'Anne: Oh, I know. I'd like to make clear that you cried, as I knew you would. I only wish I had money riding on that bet.
Laura: I thought I could handle a haunted house in a church. I mean, how scary could it be?
D'Anne: Pretty scary judging from the number of times you screamed.
Laura: And I'd like to take this time to publicly apologize to the congregation of Cass Community United Methodist Church for screaming "Jesus Christ!" so many times in their place of worship.
D'Anne: Good thinking.
Laura: Last year I was dragged to that "World's Largest Walk-Through Haunted House" in Pontiac and as scary as that was, I didn't cry. These Urban Legend folks aren't messing around. They may be church folk, but they know the tricks of the terror trade.
D'Anne: Remember how the first thing you see when you walk in is that decapitated baby?
Laura: I … don't.
D'Anne: You had your eyes closed, didn't you!
D'Anne: Wimp! Anyway, it looked pretty horrifying until I saw the manufacturer's tag sticking out of the side. They should have cut that off when they cut off the head.
Laura: So, they missed one tiny detail. But the rest of the haunted house, in my opinion, was top-notch. By the time they let us into the executioner chamber I was in full-blown panic-attack mode, which I think by haunted house measures means success.
D'Anne: I loved it when the executioner yelled at you to unplug your ears and lift up your head.
Laura: It was embarrassing to be yelled at by a man who looked like a death-row Santa Claus.
D'Anne: The blue sparking electric chair was a nice touch. I felt like I was in Texas.
Laura: I don't really remember much else until the room with the wobbly floor.
D'Anne: You don't remember much else because you were crying too hard.
Laura: The wobbly floor was my favorite part. Or more specifically, the lady in the room with the wobbly floor.
D'Anne: She yelled at you too.
Laura: She yelled at both of us: She kept saying, "We gonna laugh at you when that floor trips you!" I wasn't sure if we were supposed to be more scared of the floor moving or being laughed at.
D'Anne: She kept banging a metal spoon against a pot, which really freaked you out. I think you thought we were being shot at.
Laura: I think it's a good survival instinct to duck when you hear gunshot-like noises. It's a commendable response.
D'Anne: I'm not so sure I'd call covering your ears, closing your eyes and crying a survival instinct.
Laura: The room with the fog machine and strobe lights was pretty intense. It was like being at a rave inside a cloud.
D'Anne: It was so white and bright in there. I honestly don't remember what kinds of monsters were lurking. I couldn't see much. It was very disorienting.
Laura: So was the train whistle. That was loud.
D'Anne: No, that was fucking loud.
Laura: Well, if you would've had your ears plugged like me, it would have just been loud. So there!
D'Anne: Loud sounds played a big part in this haunted house. People slapping big metal chains against the doors, pounding on the walls. And, of course, screaming.
Laura: I know I've demonstrated that I clearly have a low threshold for such things, but I have to hand it to the actors here — they did a really great job. Everything was well-timed and each person involved was completely into it.
D'Anne: The kids behind us were pretty into it too. They were going through for the second time and were giving the monsters and ghouls a piece of their minds.
Laura: I'm sure you have to get used to being verbally abused by patrons in this line of work.
D'Anne: I didn't verbally abuse anybody. In fact, I often found myself politely thanking the monsters and ghouls when they'd point us in the right direction. Probably not very gratifying to them as actors.
Laura: I more than made up for your polite gratitude, I'm sure.
D'Anne: I don't understand why it was called "Detroit Urban Legends," though. There weren't any people who'd had their kidneys stolen in bathtubs filled with ice. No sewer-dwelling alligators either.
Laura: True. Maybe we should start an urban legend about Detroit Urban Legends!
D'Anne: Well, it does say on their website that last year a patron left in an ambulance.
Laura: Right! And maybe that was because they ate Pop Rocks while drinking Pepsi!
D'Anne: Despite the lack of actual urban legends, this haunted house deserves some props, even if I wasn't all that scared.
Laura: You mean to tell me there wasn't a single thing you found scary about this place?
D'Anne: I think the scariest thing was the standing water on the basement floor. I mean, it was raining outside so it wasn't clear if it was part of the show or a leaky foundation. Either way, I was afraid we'd get electrocuted.
Laura: Well, if it will help drive people to Detroit Urban Legends, maybe we should say we were electrocuted!
D'Anne: Um, I think that would cross the line between "starting an urban legend" and "getting them shut down by the city."
Laura: You're right. I swear, next year, I'm taking a Valium beforehand, though.
D'Anne and Laura Witkowski are music critics for the Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
For more info about Cass Community United Methodist Church's "Detroit Urban Legends," visit detroithauntedhouse.org. The attraction runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Oct. 30-31.