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Hopper House of Horrors

3785 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa

Reviewed 10/10/09

Hopper House of Horror certainly has a great location. It’s right off the freeway in what looks like an old Victorian house.

We were last in the short line that was waiting to go inside and that gave us plenty of time to notice the old-fashioned light post and the decorations peeking out of the house’s windows.

Alas, our tour didn't start out quite as we had hoped. When we entered the house we were in a big room with a staircase to the right and on the left was a coffin and a little girl in an old-fashioned dress sitting in front of it on the floor. A woman greeted us, not in character or anything and asked if we wanted to go alone or with a group of four who had already ascended the stairs. We, of course, said alone.

We had a minute or two to look around, but it was disappointing that we were not told the story of the haunt - who is Hopper, why is the house filled with horror, etc.  It was also disappointing that the first impression we got was of people not in character just standing around.

As we waited, two tween girls who had been extremely loud outside the haunt entered into the room to wait with us. The woman who greeted us asked the tweens if they wanted to go with us (even though we had already said we wanted to go alone) and they said yes. We declined (which I’m sure made us look really mean to the tweens!) and at that same time, a woman who greets patrons at the top of the stairs told the woman at the bottom of the stairs to send us all up.  We again declined and said the tweens could go first.  The woman at the top of the stairs again said we should all come together.  We again declined.  At this point, instead of feeling bad for not just going with the tweens, I was getting pretty mad that we were put in a position four or five times to have to say we want to go alone in front of the tweens.  After all: 1) they offered for us to go alone and we had accepted; 2) there was no one else waiting to go in that we would be holding up by going alone; 3) we paid $30 for this haunt! And a subsequent fourth point is that after going through the haunt, I think the experience should be just with your group or else it would be hard to stay together and see things.

At the top of the stairs the woman who had beckoned for us had disappeared but she came around the corner right as we decided to go to the left. She seemed surprised we were heading her way and told us we needed to go to the right, as we had missed all the eye candy.  This coupled with a lack of story when we entered the haunt left me with the impression that they thought that people visiting the haunt must already know which way to go once inside and also the background of the haunt.

It turns out, upon reading their website, I discovered that Dr. Hopper was a physician. Years of isolation and loneliness spent only with sickly pets left him with a curiosity about the human body, leading to many experiments. Patients checked in, but never out.

The first few rooms you enter are very well it and very strange (in a good way!). There is a very creepy doll room with mangled and disturbing dolls in various poses, some with screws in their eyes, others with rats eating their eyes, and others staring you down with both eyes intact. There were nice details in each room, such as a thermostat being disguised in an in old-fashioned frame to lessen the “newness” of it.

We headed downstairs where it turns into more of a traditional dark haunted house. My favorite room had stuffed kittens in it and you could hear meows and see what looked like carcasses as the kittens ate someone or one of their own. Bizarre, unexpected, funny, and creepy. There is also a great dinning room where you are invited to sit down and eat, but unless you’re a cannibal, take a pass.

Most of the actors were very good, especially a guy with a “mallet” hitting a girl on table who dared to ask us to save her. A few of the actors need a little more time to get into the swing of things.  They looked pretty young so maybe this is their first haunt. Our advice: if we look lost, don’t break character and tell us which way to go. Finding out on our own is the fun part.  Or if we really look like we need help, one way to get us moving is the way the butcher did it. He motioned the way with his cleaver and told us to go that way if we didn’t want to become his next meal. And, try to hide from us so we don’t just come upon you in a hallway to find you looking the other way at a scare you’re trying to do to people on the other side of the curtain.

Having said all that, there is a lot of ambition in the design of the haunt and in the acting that is very commendable. After a bumpy start we enjoyed it very much. It certainly is one of the more original haunts we’ve visited.

Now on to the pricing. This haunt, like the others in the North Bay this year, is a little too pricy for what you get.  For two people it was $30 for a 9-minute visit. Maybe we’re more sensitive to this than most people because of the number of haunts we visit, but (as much as this phrase is overused) in this economy, I would have kept the haunt to $10 or even cheaper in the effort to get repeat customers. A family of four would have to spend $60 for nine minutes of fun. I would think they would be more likely to go to the movies and have two hours of fun.

Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar or our map of pumpkin patches and haunted houses to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area.

Do you think we got this review totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion in our forums!

When Oct. 9-11, 15-18, 21-25, 27-Nov. 1, 2009, 6:45 pm-11 pm (10 pm on Sun.)
Where 3785 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa
Admission $15-$20
Contact woweventsolutions.com

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