Tuesday, February 17, 2015

[Haunt Review] Castle Blood's Love & Death - Do You Really Know What Eternal Love Means?

Once again, we start off the haunt reviews for another year with a trip to Monessen, PA's very own Castle Blood. Pretty much a no brainer for us here as it's close by and still one of the greatest things out there in the haunt world that we've come across.

This year, like every year and every show, things change up a little bit with what you're trying to find within the walls of this 100 year old funeral home. Sometimes scenes will change a little too, like we found out with our little tour through Castle Blood that ended up with quite the surprising twist of events.

Sadly, weather forced the cancellation of their second night on the 14th, but we got lucky since we decided to head out on Friday the 13th. What better way to spend a Friday night than with a haunt, right? Even more so when the scares are back in full force since, unlike their Chirstmas event, this one brings the sarcasm and fear back full force.
  • Date Visited: 2/13/15
  • Review Team: +Carrie H.C.+Alexandra F and +Kitsune Hazard 
  • Rating: Extremely Good!
  • Recommendation: There's a reason they won our Best Interactive Haunt Award in 2013 and and Best Theatrical Haunt Award in 2014. I'd say that you should definitely go, but sadly the event only ran on the 13th and  had to be cancelled on the 14th. So, you'll just have to hit them up next time! Which isn't too far away.
  • Likes: Smart writing, excellent cast, amazing props and amusing as hell decorations and improv throughout the journey.
  • Dislikes: Can't really think of any to be honest.
  • Pro-Tip: I can't stress this enough people, it's far more fun if you're playing with them and not just a bump on the log. Also, the Nightmare Pass is an awesome way to go with things. For only $10 more you get a pin (or DVD of Midnight Monster Hop)
Disclaimer: We're huge fans of Castle Blood, that should be no surprise by now. However, that and the fact that we get some perks when we visit and know the owner and some of the cast fairly well, has not and will not ever influence our opinions. Never has, never will. In fact, I just might be harder on them for it. 

So, let's get on with the review of this year's Love & Death at Castle Blood!


Before I start, I have to hand it to the cast on this one. It was freezing out, not just like cold but this was a frozen hell kind of cold. The fact that it was only in the 30's inside...wow, just wow. Hats off to you guys. Sure, they're layers and warm costuming, but it's still something to get through. I've done it before, but never in temps as cold as what they had to deal with.

We were cold and we were only there for 30minutes, they were there for near on 4 hours or so when ya think about getting into costume and getting out again. No matter how ya slice it, it's a brutal time of year in an old building.

So, with that out of the way, we noticed right away that things were a little different. You see, you never quite know who you're going to run into on your tour of the castle. We were tipped off right away that tonight was going to be different as Gravely MacCabre himself was out greeting guests and normal line entertainment of Cedric was nowhere to be seen. Still, as always, we were entertained none-the-less and again, the more you interact, the better off you'll be..that goes for outside too.

Once inside, after the love poem read, we were sent on our way to meet with the various denizens that were about the castle that night and to see just how they may help us, or hinder us, in our quest to find a Bolt, a Braid and the sign of the Betrothed. Simple enough task, right? Well, that's what we thought too, but more on that later. Armed with our beads of protection, acquired in Gravely's office, we were ready to conquer the challenge before us. We made our way through hearing various stories of missed love from Shard, and getting a piece of a quest item. Stories of Blackheart MacCabre and even a card reading from Madam Itelya.

Each step of our journey revealed even more interactivity as we dived deeper into the bowls of the evening. This was something very new, to us at least, and we loved every minute of it. We experienced everything from nearly full card readings, magic tricks, on the spot proposals, and even shooting a crossbow off was to be had. You can figure out where we got the Bolt for our quest from now can't you? Of course, nothing would be complete without a trip to visit everyone's favorite murderous bride, Vapor, and here we managed to get the Sign of the Betrothed as well. Even if it was one from a guy who may have drugged his date with roofies that he got from Zapp earlier in the night.

Things were going well, swimmingly even, so far. Well, that is up until running into Talisyn. Here we ran into a roadblock and despite our best efforts at being serious with our group, and failing in spectacular fashion, we were unable to attain the last item on our list, the braid. We were all in shock, this never happened before. How? Why? All of this answered of course in the Farewell Room where we were judged and found wanting. Simply put, we had failed. Now it's not unheard of and it doesn't happen but we consider ourselves a cunning sort so we were a bit baffled. Again, more on this later.

Like I said earlier, this show was full on scare and sarcasm like Halloween. So, with that, there was quite a bit more to things than their Cryptmas show and have to say that the scares were right on target. Really, they did a great job not only with the timing but the placement of them. I've been through the place with the lights on, seen the behind the scenes and still wasn't fully expecting a few to come from where they did. Really great work and hopefully that continues into future shows more as well. Theater and the startle is a great combo and these guys and gals can do it better than anyone out there.

As always, making one's way through the castle is an experience that you can't quite explain. I've tried in the past and it never really seems to do the place justice. It really does have to be experienced first hand so that you can get all the details and the atmosphere that just oozes out of the place. Of course, it's the actors that bring things to life, and not just with their performances either.

There's real blood, sweat and tears from them in this place as many of them helped to build the sets and props you see all around as you make your way through the macabre wonderland that Castle Blood is.

It's the little things that grab your attention and, now with being their 23rd season, there's a lot of little things out there to be seen. So if you do visit, be sure to look around, see everything and be mindful of anything and everything as it could help you or it could just be there to screw with your head. It's hard to tell with this group.

So, if you haven't been to Castle Blood before and are in the Pittsburgh area, or even if you aren't, it's always worth the trip. The stories are always changing and sometimes even building upon one another, the scenes are in a constant flux, and the cast is always at the top of their game no matter what you throw at them, and we've thrown a lot at them. This truly is one of the most unique and special haunted attractions in the business and, as I've said before, you can't truly call yourself a haunt fan without seeing this one.

Sadly Love & Death was only a two night engagement, which turned into one because of weather, but never fear. There are more chances to experience Castle Blood this year than ever before. We have word that very soon they'll be celebrating Halfway to Halloween with a very special event planned in just a couple of months. So, stay tuned for all that info as we get it. 

Oh, right...I'm forgetting something...

The evil mastermind, Gravely MacCabre
Now, about that whole "simple little task" thing. It's come to my attention that this show was not exactly your typical one by a long shot. For a long time, I've wished for a more challenging and difficult journey. However, it seems that Gravely and the rest of the denizens went a little off the deep end when thinking about that. Like always they don't always "get" things.

"How?" you ask, well it turns out that this show was written for me specifically, in a way. While I'm deeply honored and a bit at a loss for words on that, I find it funny as hell that they'd put everyone through the ringer along with us. So, what did that mean in the long run?

Well, no one won, the deck was stacked and that's right, that means 100% failure rate. (Okay 99% as Gravely points out in the comments)

Gravely and crew, you are twisted and evil, but we love you for it! Now, how about that harder one, huh, what'dya think?