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Fright Planet - Dixon
Old Mason's Hall, 159 N. First St., Dixon
Reviewed by The Hauntmistress, 10/22/05
The Fright Planet haunts just don't seem to be ready for the public this year. We made two attempts to visit "The Morgue" at Fright Planet's Fairfield location, and both times it was not open even though there was no indication of that on their website or on their telephone message. Since "The Morgue" still was not open on our second attempt and we had driven over an hour to get there, we decided to drive a little further to Dixon and visit Fright Planet's other haunted house, the crazy-clown-based "Freaks of Nature", in Dixon. They were open, but they weren't quite ready for us either.
When we arrived Dixon felt like a ghost town. The streets were deserted except for two people standing in front of the haunt. One, a very nice lady, greeted us at the street and asked if we were there for the haunted house. We told her we were and she ushered us into a stairway where we had to wait about five minutes while they got things ready for us. As we waited, several groups of people showed up and got in line behind us. They were in a very excited mood, which pleasantly broke the ghost town feel we had earlier. All of us were then allowed to come upstairs, purchase tickets, and were directed to a small waiting room where we again waited for several minutes until a haunt worker came out to announce they were ready for us.
While we were waiting for the second time we got a laugh out of the build-up that was given to us by the lady who greeted us at the street. It was almost word for word the same as at Fairfield's Fright Planet and involved a group of guys too chicken to go though. She went on to tell us the story of someone who went through the haunt and was so scared and distraught by the end they threw up at the exit. The thing with big build-ups is that the haunt has to be that much better because it immediately has farther to fall than if the story was not told.
When we finally entered the haunt, a few of the actors seemed more than a little surprised to see us, as if they were visiting us in our haunted house and we were the ghouls. In one room two of them scrambled to get their masks on (unsuccessfully) and even at our slow pace failed to deliver any type of scare or performance before we were in the following room. In a different room, two of the actors were talking to each other and one of them ran out of the room when we entered. The remaining actor attempted to scare us, we assume in the hopes that the actor who ran out would then be ready to scare us but the plan didn't work and they still weren't ready as we passed through. In still another room poor design left us missing a spooky effect as an actor who was trying to blend in with a paint splattered wall was left behind our out-swinging door so that we almost missed him. If it wasn't for wondering why the room was empty we would have.
All this aside, the haunt as a whole was mildly entertaining, although extremely short. It took us less than three minutes to go through the haunt. When we first entered the maze of tight hallways, we immediately thought it would have been much better in 3-D, as the vibrant paintings and decorations on the walls jumped out at us even without glasses. Without 3-D glasses it would have been better if it were darker. The clowns that were ready for us and "working" offered good scares, especially toward the end of the haunt and we ended up semi-running and laughing as we exited the haunt.
Other things that worked well: In a few rooms they had clowns positioned so that you were waiting for them to jump out at you, but instead a hidden clown would pop out, offering a good, unexpected scare. There was also what we called the "dead end" room (Fright Planet's Fairfield haunt last year was called the Dead End Haunted House, as an aside), where we entered and it was just black walls and hard to determine if there was an exit. We had to push on a few walls before getting out. Also, there were colorful clown heads on a wall of a tight hallway that were well done. Another thing that would have been good to see in 3-D.
All in all, this was a somewhat entertaining haunt, but as it was, was not worth $10 - too short and very much not scary enough. Hopefully they will have gotten the kinks worked out for future guests. We did however, appreciate that they only let small groups of people go in at one time. And, it's good to see more haunted houses in traditionally underserved places!
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