Reviews

2012 REVIEWS

HOUSE OF DOOM

THE HOTTEST HAUNT GOING!

It was a typical October night at the Haunted Cave At Lewisburg-creatures lurking in an underground lake tried to pull hauntgoers into the murky depths, trucks with mounted machine guns roared through a cavern filled with swirling psychedelic lights, and live bats flitted around just to keep everyone on their toes. And in Hell, the Devil was putting the audience’s feet to the fire before sending them forth into his Maze of Misery and Despair. Punctuating his diatribe, huge jets of flame sporadically rose up from the floor-flames so intense you could feel the heat several yards away. One particularly feisty burst of pyro (pictured above) was so intense it hit the ceiling and spread out across the top of the cave for several feet in all directions (not to worry-it’s rock and won’t ignite)! After being suitably impressed, the hauntgoers filed off into the maze (it was the wrong door, of course) and we turned our eyes back to the Devil. He was frantically patting down his hair. Wisps of smoke could be seen rising from it. Laughing, the Lord of Darkness exclaimed, “I’m melting! I’m melting! My horns are on fire! That last flame was so hot it melted some of the hair on the top of my mask!”. Having at one point been the Guinness Book of World Record’s longest haunt, the Haunted Cave At Lewisburg can now lay claim to a new title-the hottest haunt going, both figuratively and literally!

Now entering its 35th season, the Cave’s popularity has spread like wildfire the past several seasons. This season it entered the #8 spot on Hauntworld’s list of the ‘Scariest Real Haunted Houses In America’. During the course of the evening we found that people had come from all across Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky to see it (and in some cases, hauntgoers hailed from Michigan, Pennsylvania, and even Hawaii!). Owner/operator Mark Schaefer has overseen the transformation of the Cave from a charity haunt with a cool location to an event that rides the cutting edge of haunt technology. What’s new down in the bowels of the cave, 80 feet under the ground?

“Well”, said Mark, “We haven’t added many new scenes but have instead added more effects to what we already have. We have a new animated T-Rex skull that comes out of a wall and snaps at the crowd. We bought a shock panel that features a head that comes out to startle the audience-we used it as a template and built several more on our own and worked them into existing scenes. The machine gun on our truck is new, and the cavern it’s in has an elaborate lighting setup. The Devil’s Maze has had two new doorways added to it. The White Strobe Maze had all of its dead ends eliminated to cut back on some of the congestion of years past, although you can still easily go around in circles. The lighting in there isn’t as harsh, either (it’s now a subdued red rather than the glaring bright white of years past)”.

That isn’t to imply the Cave was lacking in effects-it’s loaded with them. It’s hard to walk ten feet without being blasted by an air cannon, having a flying spectre cut across your path, being sprayed with water by the vengeful spirits of the Cave rising from the lake, or having an entire room of coffins begin to thrash wildly. Then there are the show-stoppers-the giant animatronics that have the ‘wow’ factor. These range from the giant bat that comes flapping up from below a walkway to what we call the ‘giant termite’-a creature that stretches two stories up from the ground to strike at hauntgoers as they cross the same walkway. From there, you can look across an open cavern to see a huge gargoyle rising up from the ground and carrying away a human body. A vibrating walkway across a bridge creates the illusion (along with a train horn) that you’re soon going to be mashed by an onrushing train careening through the fog. The Cave also has two CGI effects-the Zombie Attack, which can leave you feeling as if you’ve just been splattered with the brains of a zombie hit by a shotgun blast, and the Asylum Door, which features a door that appears to be having dents hammered into it by an ax-wielding psycho that can be glimpsed through a window in the door.

As we intimated above, the Cave has several pyro effects. In addition to the flames of Hell, both the Devil and his assistant are seen to ignite their hands and pass fire from one to the other. The shed seen in the accompanying photo bellows out a flame that’s even larger than the one in Hell-even with being several yards away, you could almost feel your eyebrows singe!

The Cave has also replaced much of its lighting this season with LED’s rather than traditional floodlights. Still, the Cave employs several distinct lighting schemes. The lair of the Water Monsters is lit with sporadic bursts of artificial lightning. The underground cemetery is lit largely with over a hundred candles, giving it a creepy gothic air. A lone coffin, seemingly laid out for a funeral viewing, is brightly lit with natural lighting. The swamp (featuring several ‘claustrophobia’ effects that give one the feeling of slogging through mud) has laser lighting that works with a layer of fog to obscure an entire cavern. A crafty cave creature took advantage of this fact to pop up directly in front of us from below, seemingly appearing out of thin air. The cavern that the ‘Machine Gun Truck’ roars through has a spectacular computerized lighting scheme that makes it look like a swirling portal to another dimension-it was the most breathtakingly beautiful thing we’ve ever seen in a haunt. The Cave also cannily follows up well lit scenes with completely dark ones, completely disorienting hauntgoers and playing havoc with their ability to adjust to the light. You haven’t seen-or NOT seen-dark until you’re 80 feet under the ground. The monsters have night vision goggles. You don’t. Good luck. And don’t think the two glowing ‘eyes’ in some scenes will lead you to the way out, because they don’t-except when they do, so you never know.

The soundtrack to the Cave sizzles as well. There is nothing more gloriously chaotic in hauntdom. The acoustics in the Cave carry sound to and fro, making some scenes ear-splitting and some so quiet you can hear the frantic heartbeats of the people trapped in the Devil’s Maze. Sparking electric fences and sizzling short circuited wiring add to the ca-‘coffiny’. With spoken dialogue, music, and the screams of actors and patrons alike reverberating everywhere, nowhere has a soundtrack more perfectly complemented its event.

While the Cave is well known for its elaborate and over-the-top effects, at times these features overshadow its fine cast and crew. Most haunts have problems trying to fill a couple of dozen acting positions with capable actors-but the Cave on any given night will have well over a hundred actors inside. When one considers that many of them are inside bulky and restrictive costumes or in exposed positions like lying on the floor, suspended on platforms, inside coffins, or immersed in the depths of icy water, the level of their performances is amazing. None of this happened by accident, something that became apparent as we followed Mark on his rounds. With the combination of being open a week early and a thunderstorm, crowds were lighter than usual (although there was still a constant line) and Mark took advantage of this to visit each area and work with the actors. His advice ranged from the best types of clothes to wear in a certain role to telling the gravediggers how to move around the candles in the graveyard to obscure their faces and help hide the other actors in the scene (placed on the ground or behind trees). The individual attention and encouragement each received spoke volumes towards the desire of the event to not only train them to be the best actors possible, but also to see to it that they were enjoying themselves doing so. It also gave The HOD!!! the opportunity to speak with many of the Cave’s characters, many of them longtime denizens with a unique perspective on the event.

Perhaps the most celebrated of the Cave’s actors are the ‘Water Monsters’, the creatures that set the stage for everything that comes after. They lurk in the dark waters underneath a floating bridge that winds its way over an underground lake. The path is normally cloaked in darkness, being lit only by an occasional far away burst of lightning and it’s cloaked in a dense blanket of fog to boot. Even with a flashlight on and the monsters making themselves available for a photo, you can’t see them even they’re only a scant two feet away. ‘Water Monster’ Allan, outfitted in wet suit and galoshes, is one of the guys that routinely attempts to grab your legs and drag you into the lake. He tells the HOD!!! that they keep a running total of the ‘incidents’ that occur in their scene. Mark Schaefer posted on the HOD!!! message board that the current totals are “32 people have cried, 15 have turned around and left, 4 have sat down on the bridge and given up”. By season’s end, Allan tells us the numbers will be far in excess of 100.

Ted’s currently hiding in the Cave’s graveyard, inside a ghillie suit (a camouflage suit that blends in with foliage-and in this case, the cave walls). He’s been with the attraction several seasons and started off as a ‘caveman’ (what better for a cave?) throwing a spear at the audience. The spear was attached to a line that prevented it from actually reaching them, although in the dark it was impossible for them to know that!

While most of the time you’ll get fired for laying down on the job, Amy’s playing an undead corpse inside a casket, so it’s OK. In her second year, she’s reprising her role from last season and is having a great time.

You’ll also come across a blood drenched operating arena in the depths of the cave. Littered with severed heads under bell jars, amputated limbs, and other gruesome goodies, it’s also home to some of the most demented physicians in the haunt community. It’s given a whole new dimension by the fact that the unholy docs make up the local goregrind band “Fetus Omelete”. While the HOD!!! might be from the Beatles generation, you’ll find mostly goregrind and its ilk (well, that and twelfth century Japanese court music) on our IPhone-Splatterhouse, Lamb Of God, High On Fire, Municipal Waste, Mastadon, et al. Checking out some of the Fetus Omelete have posted on Youtube, we found it well worth a listen (although be warned, it’s not safe for work).

We met many more of the Cave’s actors as they ramped their way up the old feeder shaft to the surface, all with their own unique experiences. We were impressed not only with how seriously they took their roles, but also at what a great and convivial group of teens and young adults they were. But when the lights go down and it’s time to get down to business, they’re among the best in the area. And boy, do they ever WANT to scare you. Allen, Ted, and Amy all said that terrifying people was the best part of the job by far. Unlike most area haunts, the actors at the Cave are allowed to touch you (the mudprints left by the water monsters on my pants cuffs are testament to that!) and this gives their performance an immediate impact. They’ll also come from any angle-from below, from behind, from up above, and suddenly right in your face-occasionally all at the same time!

Some scenes might not have fancy effects or lighting, but still manage to impress. The underground jail is one of those. Once you manage to squeeze through a narrow passage past a ground of burly…shall we say, ‘lonely’ inmates looking for companionship and groping at you through a fence, you make it to the safety of the guard station. Too bad they’ve mistaken you for inmates! You’re likely to be searched for weapons and then spun around like a top by the all-female guard staff-the three guards that descended on us literally bounced us from one to the other, turning us around in a circle while screaming abuse the whole time. It was a lot like being at work, but strangely enough, we liked it.

The only downside to the evening was the massive thunderstorm that hit the event about 9:30 that evening. While the Cave was unaffected (along with its covered queue line), the rain washed out for the evening its companion event, the "Historic Mine Tour" offered by the Lewisburg Historical Society. This wagon ride takes you through the grounds of the old mining operation and past many decrepit old buildings like the dynamite shack, drills, and the 100 foot tall kilns that were used to process the ore. It also enters a part of the cave that’s not being used for the haunt, which if anything is eerier than the part that is. With scattered pieces of old equipment scattered about and colonies of bats lining the ceilings, it’d be a perfect location for the next ‘My Bloody Valentine’ movie. The tour guide on the wagons explains the history of the cave along with detailing what each of the old buildings did. It added a whole new dimension to the Cave for us when we toured it last season and we highly recommend checking it out-preferably BEFORE you take the main tour.

Another effect the thunderstorm had was the HOD!!! getting the opportunity to sit in the Cave’s ticket office (thanks to Sandy Schaefer, who obviously took pity on a drowned rat) and observe things from the business side. Even with a raging storm that Sandy called “the worst I’ve seen in all my years here”, there was a steady stream of customers eager to get inside the attraction. We also saw one of the funniest things we’ve witnessed in over 40 years of covering haunts, and made the trip to Lewisburg worth it just for that. And no, we can’t tell you what it was, except that it involved someone collecting a bounty. While hiding out in the office, we also met the young lady that sells glow necklaces and other novelties in the queue line-she manages to fund her school volleyball team through the sales of the items, demonstrating another facet of the Cave’s contribution to the community.

The Cave continues to earn its reputation as one of the area’s elite attractions. With an hour plus tour, over a hundred crazy actors, tons of special effects, a killer soundtrack, and the cave’s natural creepiness, it’s a haunter’s dream come true. The Water Monsters would tell you a ‘wet dream’ come true. And the Devil would assure you as he puts out his smoking hair that it is indeed “The Hottest Haunt Going!” Head up to Lewisburg and see for yourself just how Smoooookin’ it is.

OHIO VALLEY HAUNTS

THE HAUNTED CAVE: Spooky music plays, blood runs down the hillside, and fortune teller Madam Macabre conducts mysterious palm readings along the 80 foot descent into the bowels of the Earth where Lewisburg's Haunted Cave lies buried in an abandoned old limestone mine. Capturing the prestigious Haunt of the Year award from Ohio Valley Haunts the past two seasons, The Cave is indisputably one of the most impressively authentic haunts in the entire world! A dedicated attendant, dressed in miner's attire recites warnings about endangered bats that reside within, only to be interrupted by an apparent electrical failure that deprives the queue line of lights, and leaves patrons hopelessly stranded in total darkness until restoration of power initiates the actual exploration. Frightening music, clasps of thunder, intermittent lightning strikes, and pitch blackness initiate the adventure across a lengthy wooden plank-like walkway, where sudden surprises begin to emerge from surrounding underground lakes courtesy of unseen, amphibious Water Monsters splashing around in their subterranean lagoon, grabbing at the legs of passersby, and tugging them closer and closer toward their aquatic abode! Dense fog engulfs the ambience as lightlessness fades, the storm subsides, and audio enhancement assumes a more sinister tone in accordance with a piercing alarm that summons undead zombies out of an overgrown area of vegetation that overspreads the course, and a ferocious mechanical dinosaur unleashes a space invading attack that pins patrons up against a trailing restraint! Firecrackers encourage continuance onto a blood-spattering CGI surprise that exits past a double-team skeleton tug-of-war with an innocent victim, a succession of animated startles, and incinerating flames into an eerily lit swamp that invites multi-sided invasions out of the encompassing murk! Drudging forward through the ensnaring quagmire eventually leads to higher ground, where a proliferation of spider webs protect chained, rattling caskets that vibrate of their own accord in accompaniment to hands reaching down from above; a talking skull conveying a blessing or curse; and more upright, thrashing coffins that guide the way beyond a hanged body, and through an actual iron gate to a bone-chilling, candle lit cemetery! An abandoned, old shack finds rats, majestic monuments, and rocking tombstones, saluting the arrival into the clutches of a desolate, Latin-speaking priest, whose unrighteous ceremony condemns visitors to "the damnation of the fires of Hell!" Bones and human remains are strewn about the abundance of eternal tombs and gravestones, as ungodly music exposes a pair of forsaken gravediggers promising to "take your soul!" Out of the shadows comes a skirmish with a disarrayed ghillie monster; haunting, hovering ghosts; an astonishing overhead grim reaper zip-line surprise; a run-in with Dr. Hoot that witnesses him shooting a corpse attempting to escape a grave; hissing snakes; and a bilateral casket interaction on behalf of a couple of frantic necros upset that their mortality is being defiled by infesting worms! A multitude of mechanical surprises chaperone the path into a mausoleum of death showcasing a drop down panel that gives rise to a most contemptible animated contortion, then it's onto a wicked laboratory of glass enclosed specimens, sheets covering the deceased, lifeless body bags, and an abhorrent witch-doctor-like prop regurgitating blood! A carnivorous mad scientist nauseatingly consumes the intestines of an agonizing gal that orders her predator "Get off me!" Then a gurney is encircled to observe another researcher's latest invention that quickly deteriorates into another devastating surprise! Living walls, and more sliding panels guard the transition into a lengthy prison experience that commences with being searched and frisked for weapons, then proceeds into a jail cell that accesses a torture chamber/asylum-like wing of cell blocks where inmates are straight-jacketed, shocked, and incarcerated against their will! Individuals are handcuffed by Officer Badd and her accomplices, then hurried into a police dog assault that ushers in a brutal altercation with an oversized, bloody-mouthed, axe wielding escapee that erupts into machine gun crossfire from a near miss hit-and-run! Departure through a darkened maze elicits whispers of "you're gonna die!" and "see you in the afterlife!" as the route forges onward to the scene of a car crash, and a rope climbing gargoyle/bat-like creature with a death grip on some human prey! Freddie Kruegger commandeers a school bus that's traversed én route to a skeleton/corpse-like piggy back ride that stands to commemorate a memorable OVH tumble! Remnants of fur from a previous capture lead onto a bridge evoking battles with a colossal, big-toothed monster, and a huge mechanical bat sporting an enormous wing span! Furtherance is compromised by a treacherous, path blocking stalk-about that springs to life as sudden buzzing prompts oscillating floors, a covert arachnid incursion, a defiant crimson-eyed encroachment, and riotous muggings at the hands of hooded cretins armed with taser-like boomsticks! Unsure footing, a tumbling barrel maze, deafening horns, and gunshots herald the unveiling of an axe toting girl unleashing a murderous attack to the accompaniment of another CGI surprise that yields through darkness, supplemental grasps from bound detainees, and forceful blasts from air cannons into a fog-filled fence maze entrapment illuminated only by flickering strobes! Characterized by limited visibility, numerous loops and limitless dead ends where "Left is always right, and right is never wrong," the fatal labyrinth provides residence to lethal, misdirecting fiends with red, laser-like projections emitting from their fingertips that further confuse navigation. Wavering sirens, alerts, and alarms fill the air while wandering about aimlessly for what seems like forever eventually uncovers an obscure passage that dumps into the depths of Hell! Verbal, voice enhanced threats ensue from the mighty Lucifer and his flaming-handed Soulburner as they defiantly condemn those whose sins above have caused them to fall below for all eternity! "Burn in Hell!" mobilizes a sparking chainsaw aggression that unites with scorching flames that rocket skyward inaugurating a challenging excursion through persecuting paths of dead ends and claustrophobic loops through Anguish, 666, Anxiety, 7, and Exit? in search of a lone escape route hindered by darkness, flashing lights, spongy floors, sparks, more chainsaws, and multiple suffering encounters with The Prince of Darkness and his band of demonic followers! A second centralized room of subsequent paths is finally revealed, and the hopeless exercise in futility continues into Suffering, Absolution, Diabolical, and Torment as probing a ghost apparition; more firecrackers and claustrophobic traps; rabid dogs; a squeeze wall; and a myriad of fuming villains confound the entanglement through Desolution and Despair until eventual redemption to freedom is ultimately divulged in parallel with some hapless, subdued stooge suffering the catastrophic fate of being chainsawed in half, in advance of a spinning vortex send-off from The Lewisburg Haunted Cave!
Analysis:

LENGTH - 10, Easily in excess of an hour! (Officially, our time was 1:00 on the nose!)

ACTORS - 9+, Cast size is unmatched! Better acting, dialogue, and taunting antics from Devil and SoulBurner debuted last season, and continue into 2012! Their make-up is the best it's ever been, which is representative of an across the board improvement for the most part. Actor interaction is on the rise, which is good. Lit Maze actors did a much better job asserting non-stop misdirection, calling us all by name, and offering to show us a "shortcut!" Latin speaking Priest is fantastic, and cleverly foreshadows the deliverance to Hell! Madame Macabre's performance is outstanding, and Water Monster engagements are as unseen, intimidating and threatening in nature. Whispers of "you're gonna die/afterlife" in the dark, Gravedigger's promise to "take your soul," CGI axe girl deciding "you deserve to die!" and so on are extreme positives! Jail crew remains strong too, although Law is awol, and Lewis Deburg is conspicuous by his absence outside the attraction as well. On the down side, some of the remaining dialogue continues to be fairly week. Give them credit for trying, but "Alright, I need you to stop right here for a minute" at first CGI then repeating "alright" twice more should be replaced by some sort of action, physical accost, or intense command to pay attention to what's about to transpire. The placement of a barricade or actor at that particular location is vital in order that patrons stop to watch the CGI, but the engagement needs to become more sinister, not comedic, and it's followed by someone trying to deliver a scare in street clothes without so much as a costume or make-up. "What are you doing in my graveyard/hospital?" etc., "Don't pollute my cave!" are all lackluster and meaningless. These and similar clichés are far too common in haunts, as is "stay and play, " which thankfully wasn't heard in The Cave! Lab victim (that called it a hospital) gave an otherwise enthusiastic performance. Encircling the wagon so to speak is a novel idea in the lab, but shouting a group "hello" serves no purpose, and the scene also utilizes a child actor, which is never scary. Axe girl wardrobe miscue from a year ago has been corrected (she's now clad in white to match her CGI counterpart), and the element of touch legitimizes the overall experience making it that much more realistic. Continued costume improvements will be beneficial, and more violent conflicts like the jail search would up the score. Total Characters = 81 (down from 111 a season ago), but still an overwhelming number!

SCARINESS - 10, The Cave is arguably the most legitimately spooky environment in the industry! The authenticity of the setting is second to none, as is the duration of the experience! Music is creepy, and sets an appropriate mood. Touching unsuspecting customers is the ultimate invasion, and coming face to face with The Devil himself is an unsurpassable scare.

DESIGN - 9½, The actual layout of the course hasn't changed significantly, but practically each and every defect discussed in this section last year has received attention! The attraction is genuinely scary and intense from start to finish, and length is second to none. Cemeteries are exquisite, jail is active, and Devil and his Demonic Soulburner among others acknowledged above are well versed. Sacrificial Ceremony has been lost, but its replacement (Priest condemning you to "the damnation of the fires of Hell") is arguably more powerful, and certainly more unsettling! Water monsters provide more than a memorable beginning, live zombie attack is perfectly placed directly in advance of a similarly themed CGI, actors that accompany CGI's are appropriately dressed, and Hell has been expanded to encompass five initial passageways that appropriately serve to dash hopes of achieving success! Soundtrack is nightmarish throughout - spooky at the start (although still a little shy on volume), disorienting in the devil maze, abominably unnerving (and loud) in the cemetery, and disturbingly intimidating in the light maze featuring a creepy rendition of Ring Around the Rosie! Visibility there is practically nonexistent due to fog density and strobes, and only flaw resulted from group separation, which is a good thing at first, but needs to be resolved prior to moving onto the next scene, which it was not. Misdirecting fence maze crew properly insure that all the dead ends and loops are explored, sometimes more than once, before permitting groups to succeed, and masked chainsaw fiend gave a dominant performance defying anyone to make their way out of Hell! Theme interruptions present in 2011 (Naughty school bus, rock-n-roll infirmary, and fence maze beggar) have been ousted, (to repeat, futile attempts at humor don't belong in this attraction!) Sound leakage from jail into fence maze entrance seems to have been addressed as well. Having a gravedigger named Dr. Hoot doesn't make sense, nor does group "hello," which serves no purpose (as already mentioned). Entrance to swamp is extremely slick, and the airbags were a little on the loose side. An interactive feature that actually gets customers involved in a scare or two (moreso than jail/asylum) would be an interesting addition. The attraction continues to begin in subtle darkness, and climax in utter chaos with the only potential shortcoming arising from anyone that's left in the mazes too long and wears out their welcome.

PROPS - 10, Latest technological advances and scares are always on display in The Cave, and new mechanical monsters have arrived for 2012 including a a dinosaur that invades the path as people walk by! Tug-of-war is new too, as are multiple drop-down panels and their coinciding surprises. Shack is an impressive sight, but underutilized. Laser gloves are unique, and an awesome asset to the fence maze. Thunder and Lightning remains quite complimentary, vibrating floor is relentless, sparking chainsaw is one-of-a-kind, swamp is unforgettable, and soundtrack in general is fabulous and scary! Electrical firecrackers are used profusely, and their presence is especially appreciated as reflections to the supposed short-circuit that befell the beginning. Several cars, and a real school bus are also present, lab prop regurgitating blood is memorable, and fire is effectively used on a couple of occasions, and is realistically impressive. Smoking jailbreak CGI has been removed from bridge, but it's not really missed.

VALUE - 10, A $2 price increase has been implemented this season, but cost is still a bargain by today's standards - only $14 with their website coupon, which grants access to a 60+ minute excursion through one of the region's best haunted attractions!

RATING: 9½ (9.75), Consecutively winning Ohio Valley's Haunt of the Year in 2010 and 2011, The Cave returns to defend its crown once again with a course formerly recognized by Guinness as the "Longest walk-through horror house" in existence. Legitimacy and authenticity are unmatched making this a must see attraction! Spooky scares, challenging mazes, and an ultimate climax with The Devil in Hell make the The Cave nearly impossible to beat when it comes to value, and annual top honors! The "bang for your buck you get here is second to none! When visiting, don't forget to stop by and pick up some inexpensive snacks from "Mama Cat" at the concession stand before leaving The Haunted Cave, where getting in is easy, but getting out may KILL you!

2011 REVIEWS

HOUSE OF DOOM

THE MOTHER LOAD OF HAUNTING!

Mark Schaefer, owner/operator of The Haunted Cave At Lewisburg, was pointing at the cavern wall as we prepared to enter the stygian cave. “This is the limestone that the mine was created to dig out. They used it for general construction and for roads, and also for steel refining. It goes up another 46 ½ feet, and then through a water table, sand and gravel before you come to topsoil. We’re actually about 80 feet under the ground. The mine shut down in 1969 when it was no longer profitable,” he said. The Cave has one of the most impressive queue lines anywhere, descending at a steep angle through bat friendly gates into a tunnel cut out of the solid rock. 80 feet down, you say? Must be awfully dark down here when everything’s shut off…as if on cue, the lights blink out and everything immediately goes to impenetrable darkness. A staffer yells out that Mark never should have done the electrical work himself. Mark yells back it would have helped if the electric bill was paid. The entire time, things from the bowels of the cave howl and gibber, seeming to get closer with every moment. While the mine might have ceased operations years ago, Mark and his crew have discovered the Mother Lode of haunting!

The Haunted Cave At Lewisburg is now in its 34th season, having gotten its start under the stewardship of the Lewisburg Jaycees and the Mounted Patrol of the Masons. The proceeds from the event have paid for the local stadium, grandstand, and contributed to the Scouts and many charitable groups over the years. It’s found more widespread fame the past few seasons and its reputation continues to gain momentum. It’s listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the “World’s Longest Haunt” at over 3500 feet-and that doesn’t include all the backtracking you might do in the maze. It’s probably the longest in terms of time it takes to go through, sometimes as long as an hour and a half! Mark introduces us to his daughter Maria, who proves to be the perfect haunt hostess-patiently schlepping the HOD!!! around for three hours, answering questions, and pointing out those oh-so-valuable shortcuts our second trip through.

A good way to start your evening at the Cave is to take the "Historic Mine Tour" offered by the Lewisburg Historical Society. This wagon ride takes you past many of the decrepit old buildings of the mine (like the dynamite shack, drills, and the 100 foot tall kilns that were used to process the ore) and down into a section of the cave that's not being used by the haunt. It'll help set up an greater sense of anticipation for what lies ahead as you get a look at just how HUGE this place is-about 45 square miles of tunnels, of which Maria says only about four are used for the Haunted Cave. The Guide on board gives you the history of the mine as the wagon passes by flooded cave chambers and walls that were drilled and ready to be dynamited when operations ceased in 1969. The odd bit of abandoned equipment or debris gives the cave an eerie vibe-it's like riding through a ghost town. One pertinent bit of information to the Haunted Cave is that of the two deaths associated with the mine (both on-the-job accidents-there was never a cave-in here) one occurred on the conveyer belt area which brought unprocessed limestone up to the surface. This is the steep area that you descend to get to the underground entrance of the mine. Could it be that it's the spirit of the long dead miner that's causing those power outages that often hit that area? Maybe he just wants some company!

But the high point of the historic tour for us was the cloud of bats we passed under when first entering the cave. The cave is home to about 25,000 nesting bets (five species including the endangered Indiana Brown Bat). A couple of hundred were swirling around the ceiling in a circle as we entered. The ceiling is pretty low in this part of the cave-only a few feet above your head, so the bats were darting to and fro only a few inches above the wagon. Maria reminded us that "...bats can 'see' something as thin as a human hair in complete darkness, so no one has to worry about being attacked". This was true-the surprisingly tiny creatures kept to themselves and provided an interesting spectacle. But don't worry-the bats inside the Haunted Cave DO attack, and they're bigger. MUCH bigger.

The Haunted Cave itself wasted no time in showing us it takes no prisoners. The first scene consists of a long floating bridge across a large underground lake. The darkness is lit only by occasional flashes of lightning. The bridge seems to sway to and fro, and Maria confirms that it’s floating on barrels. The whole tableau is already pretty creepy-and that’s before creatures from the deep rise out of the water, grab your leg, and try to pull you in…

How many haunts have actors in wet suits laying low in a cold cavern lake to ambush hauntgoers? The actors at the Cave are a different breed. Many of them deal with suits or costumes that severely restrict their visibility and movement, but they never seem to tire or slack off. Stuck in the rafters, in the water, setting themselves on fire, driving vehicles, and dealing with a Cave full of very freaked out people, they provide the best in high intensity haunting. “Lots of our actors have been with us for ten years or more, like the guys in the lake,” says Maria. “The Doctor in the lab (who’s currently scared a woman so badly she’s groveling in the mud) is another one”. It’s sometimes difficult to get good performances from 20 haunt actors, so the fact that the Cave can elicit them from 116 actors (an unheard of number outside of a Scream Park) is a badge of honor.

Some of the veteran actors show a lot of creativity with their characters. Tom Wilson, who plays Jebenezzer Law, has infused his character with a backstory that has him living in the Cave’s underground jail all year round. You’ll recognize Tom-he’s the guy holding the big ‘puppy’ that snarls and viciously attacks everything that enters the room. Another character has assumed the name ‘Herman Mudgett’, a notorious serial killer of the late 19th century, not going with something obvious like Manson or Ed Gein. There are only a few scripted scenes throughout the Cave, but they’re all well done and effectively carried out.

Setting things up for the actors is…well, pretty much any special effect you can think of! The first one we encountered was a CGI window that featured an onrushing zombie. While there’s a hunter ready to blow his head off, chances are it’s gonna make a mess…after it was over, Maria smiled and said “Some people make it through the cave completely dry and untouched…and some people don’t!” The graveyard in the cave has all sorts of effects. Skeletal beings jerkily come to life and rush at hauntgoers, tattered ghosts come gliding through, and unearthed coffins have their occupants battering the inside, trying to escape and get their bony claws into the living. A huge swamp that seems to stretch into infinity has a sickening green laser light that turns a low lying bank of fog into a barrier that keeps you from seeing anything within. “Living walls” create the impression that you’re wading through a quicksand bog. In what’s perhaps the Cave’s most impressive room (a huge open cavern where hauntgoers on an elevated platform can look across to a scene they’ve already passed, using the Cave’s depth to full advantage), a skeletal beast that takes up both levels snaps at the crowd with its huge jaws while an bat bigger than any human flies up on the other side. Elsewhere, another huge bat snatches a human off the ground and rises up. Another CGI effect, an asylum door, shows an inmate trying to cut her way out with an axe-the virtual axe hits actually make real dents on the physical door and when she pounds on it in frustration the whole thing shakes! There are electrified fences, towering creatures wielding sizzling cattle prods, plants that come to life, sparking chainsaws, fire, bridges that pulse and rattle beneath your feet, snakes spitting venom, ghosts emerging from the lake, possessed cars, a thrashing octopus, a skeleton hammering a human’s head into the ground over and over, and even more. Even the Vortex Tunnel here has a unique feel-it blends in well with the area it’s been installed in, and doesn’t use the traditional field of stars. Instead, it’s painted in textured swirls that somewhat resemble the stratified layers of rock you’ll see in many caves. Either that, or the trip up to now had scrambled our capacity to think clearly! “One of the Scout groups built this Vortex”, observes Maria as we pass through.

Maria takes us through a shortcut to bypass the White Fence Maze to show us the area that powers all these animatronic marvels. There’s a colossal air compressor in here that, lying on its side, looks big enough to be a two-man submarine-and it turns out there’s another one the same size upstairs!

Another scene features a schoolbus full of uniformed schoolgirls that some maniac has apparently tried driving into the cave to provide 'food' for the inhabitants, crashing in the process. The front end of the bus is pulverized, and the further back you look the more it looks like it is being absorbed by the ground. The rear end has sunk deep into the floor. "That bus was abandoned in the woods behind our house", said Maria. "It's from a school district that doesn't even exist anymore, so that's even weirder". So how did the organizers get a bashed up abandoned schoolbus in the middle of the woods to the middle of the cave? "They just hooked it up to the biggest tow truck in the world and DRAGGED it in here," she laughed.

The Devil's Maze is a masterpiece of design. It's set up with two Demons (who Maria tells us switch off roles during the night owing to the rigors of the part) threatening to claim the souls of the hauntgoers, while transferring the flaming souls of prior victims onto their hands (this impressive looking feat of pyrotechnics is accomplished through lighting hand lotion smeared onto a heavy duty protective glove-but DON'T try it at home-this is inside a cave where you don't have to worry about burning it down). There's one way to redeem themselves-to find their way through the maze of human emotions and failings to emerge safely on the other side. The way to redemption is clear and temptingly close-only a couple of feet away on the other side of a fence, you can see others making their way out of the exit. But the Devil isn't known as the Prince of Deceivers for nothing. That exit is far off in your future. With a blast of searing flame erupting from the floor to punctuate his remarks, he sends you towards one of three themed doors, each with an emotion scrawled above its entrance. Once entering the maze, it proves to be gloriously frustrating. It alternates darkness with occasional pulses of low key lighting. Unlike a lot of mazes, each path through has something unique and different to look at-so getting lost is not only good but recommended if you want to see everything. You might find yourself cut off from your group, isolated and alone in a dead end for several minutes. Seconds later, you'll be part of a large group that's converged at the same point from several directions. And once you've found the way through the maze, you enter an open room (with a haunted dollhouse and more feats of pyro) to be confronted with-another maze! We'd say "Damn that Devil!", but he already is.

This section of the maze has even more doors to choose from, some of them ending up in the exact same spot as others. They each feature something a little different-one passage has a floor that's mushy and springy. Another features a claustrophobia tunnel. By now, everyone is frazzled and wondering if there really is a way out. How badly does the Cave mess with the minds of their customers? Well, we were standing right outside of a door that Maria knew to be the correct way out-but people began to come backwards out of the door. LOTS of them-at least 26 by our count. It began to look a lot like one of the tiny clown cars at the circus as it disgorges a horde of clown. They all swore that it was a dead end and not the way out. Maria, with flashlight in hand and a confident tone, told them that YES, it was the way out. And not a single one of the crowd believed her-that's how badly the Cave had screwed up their heads. Shrugging her shoulders with a look that said "What can you do?” Maria entered the door, leaving the horde behind. I guess they're still in there-can't say for sure since we had the sense to follow her. For those who go and get stuck, all I can say is that there IS an exit-but it's diabolically hidden. It may magically appear in a room where it wasn't before. It can take a while and a lot of backtracking-during our first trip through, one character operating an electrified fence (that a living wall pushes you into) amused himself by counting the number of times we passed him-he was up to five before we figured out what was happening. But finally, we groped our way towards the exit-and straight into two hulking brutes with chainsaws. Some days you just can’t win…

Sound and lighting are well executed, enhancing every point along the way. As we noted in our review, sound carries differently within a cave. Sounds that are far away sound like they're right on top of you, and sounds from the next room can seem distant. And with the cave being so huge, there's a constant barrage of sound to keep the nerves of hauntgoers on edge. Is that chainsaw you hear nearby or several scenes off? Is the shorted-out sound of sizzling and sparking electricity coming from the fence you're trying to squeeze past? Even quieter scenes like the lake are ominous, with unexpected claps of thunder and the sound of rippling water as...things...glide through it...but where? The lighting for the lake sets the mood for the rest of the cave. It’s usually dark, but bursts of lightning hint at the vastness of the event and throws just enough illumination to proceed. This light/dark sequence is used throughout-just as your eyes adjust to well-lit rooms, you’re plunged back into darkness, practically blind even with light bleeding in from other scenes. There’s also some amazing laser lighting, including the swamp we mentioned earlier. Maria says that they originally tested the lighting effect in the Schaefer garage! Other areas of the haunt use Christmas lights or candles to provide lighting-this makes the graveyard and the woods that follow the lake look much like the Chainsaw family’s underground lair in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

After a tour like that, you can’t help but be impressed by every aspect of the event. The sheer size bespeaks of the amount of time, creativity, money, and hard work that went into it. We asked Maria when Mark starts working on getting the cave ready for haunt season, and she replied “Last year he started right after Christmas! Dad’s down here all the time. It’s always 55 degrees down here whether it’s Winter or Summer, so the season doesn’t matter”. The Cave is a sheer Wonderland-it has virtually anything you’d ever want to see in a dark attraction. The longest tour in the world, a horde of actors, impressive effects, eye candy everywhere, and not least the Cave’s unmatched natural ambience. Over 40 years after mining operations ceased, more and more hauntgoers have discovered it contains the Mother Lode of haunting!

OHIO VALLEY HAUNTS

THE HAUNTED CAVE: Mortician Lewis DeBurg measures visitors for their burial clothes, while fortune teller Madam Macabre offers imaginary predictions of gloom regarding customers' imminent fate, as the descent 80 feet beneath the ground into Lewisburg's Haunted Cave begins. Buried in an abandoned old limestone mine in the bowels of the Earth lies one of the most impressively authentic haunts in existence! Warnings about endangered bats that call this place home are interrupted by an apparent electrical failure that deprives the queue line of lights, and leaves scare seekers hopelessly stranded in total darkness! Restoration of power initiates the actual exploration, where spooky music plays, thunder clashes, and occasional flashes of lightening serves as the only illumination to the welcoming trek across a lengthy, wooden plank-like walkway.

Sudden surprises emerge from surrounding waters courtesy of previously unseen, amphibious ghouls splashing about, madly growling and snarling, and reaching out to touch and grab at passersby! Simultaneously, the unstable catwalk begins to sway beneath your feet leaving one to wonder just what you've gotten yourself into! The lightless assaults eventually deliver the course through an area overgrown with tree limbs and other brush, then onto more vicious monsters, a blood-splattering CGI surprise, and into the clutches of glowing, red-faced living walls! Incinerating flames await, inviting the path into a eerily lit swamp, subjecting visitors to multi-sided attacks out of the surrounding murk, as the drudge forward continues through the quagmire-like wetlands, and exits into a spider web infested zone inhabited by bats! Chained, rattling caskets vibrate of their own accord, as hands reach down from above, and a talking skull welcomes guests into a sacrificial ceremony; then into a bone-chilling, candle lit cemetery, that gives rise to a number of unrighteous events including a vicious chainsaw initiation; zombie pursuits; more coffins; skeletons and bones strewn about; confrontations with a trio of forsaken gravediggers; an overhead zip-line surprise; hissing snakes; and a multitude of mechanical surprises all accompanied by some of the most ungodly music known to man! On the horizon is a wicked lab occupied by a deranged scientist who's robbed graves of their corpses, and strapped them down to gurneys in anticipation of utilizing them in a variety of ghastly experiments. An unexpected startle waits in the wings as a skull is suddenly propelled forward, and the sound of a beating heart fills the air! Escape brings about a lengthy prison experience, which begins by being searched and frisked for weapons, then progresses through a torture chamber-like wing of cell blocks incarcerating distraught criminals, and ultimately into a voice enhanced, face to face run-in with underworld warden Jebeneezer Law, restraining a rabid, overgrown police dog! Breaking the Law results in the chastising of offenders, and the summoning of Officer Bad to escort us from the premises, through a demented rock-n-roll surgery, and across a bridge containing an embedded CGI sewer escape-like presentation that engulfs the surroundings in smoke! A blackened maze soon follows highlighted by more grabbing; a vehicle screeching up out of the shadows, releasing its occupants to open fire upon us with rifles and shotguns; and a spark emitting broken down car saga that witnesses panic-stricken daughters screaming at some rope climbing gargoyle/bat-like creature with a death grip on their father! A naughty school bus encounter is still to come with a group of seductively dressed field trippers that exits alongside a skeleton/corpse-like piggy back ride commemorating a memorable tumble! Remnants of fur from a previous capture lead the way onto a bridge that's guarded by an elaborate serpent/bug-like monster, a huge mechanical bat sporting an enormous wing span, and a treacherous stalk-about that springs to life out of the shadows blocking the path! Floors vibrate and move, poppers impressively spark to compliment the movement of a ghillie monster, barrels thrash about, deafening horns sound, and an axe toting girl unleashes a murderous attack to the accompaniment of another CGI surprise as darkness yields to a foggy fence maze entrapment illuminated by flickering strobes. Characterized by dead ends, and limited visibility, the labyrinth gives residence to a fiend with red, laser-like projections emitting from his fingertips, as well as a street vagrant pushing a shopping cart and begging for money to finance a future OVH post season celebration! Wandering about aimlessly for what seems like forever eventually uncovers the exit, and a brief question and answer session that dumps you into the depths of Hell, and another voice enhanced confrontation, this one with Satan himself! Flanked by a flaming-handed Soulburner who enforces his proxy, and a scantily clad Hellcat, The Devil taunts threats of eternal damnation, releases repeated blasts of everlasting fire, and orders us to investigate various tormenting paths of dead ends and claustrophobic loops that result in multiple returns to additional suffering encounters with The Prince of Darkness and his band of demonic supporters in search of a lone escape route. Darkness, flashing lights, a sparking chainsaw, a crazed miner, ghostly apparition, spongy floors, etc. disorient and confuse inhibiting the way through Anguish, Diabolical, and other hopeless exercises in futility until the eventual passage to freedom is finally uncovered. A squeeze wall, another entrapment, a demented scene that witnesses some poor, unfortunate victim being chainsaawed in two, and a spinning vortex are still to come just prior to the abominating conclusion of TheLewisburg Haunted Cave!

Analysis:

LENGTH - 10, Well in excess of an hour! (Officially, our time was 1:35!)

ACTORS - 9, Cast size is unmatched! Much better acting and dialogue from Devil and SoulBurner this season, but many others remain extremely weak. For example, ghillie monster asked us, "Wassup?" Standouts include Scientist, Law, Officer Bad, Prison Guards, Naughty Schoolgirls, and conductor of Sacrifice Ceremony. Water Monster engagements are unseen, intimidating and threatening as well. Better conversational interactions from rest of cast would be beneficial, as would more elaborate costuming, along the lines of Jebeneezer Law's exposed heart. Axe girl wears a black dress, but CGI counterpart is clad in white. Actually touching customers legitimizes the experience making it that much more realistic. Total Characters = 111!

SCARINESS - 10, Arguably, the most legitimately spooky environment in the industry! The authenticity of the setting is second to none! Music is creepy, and sets an appropriate mood. Touching unsuspecting customers is the ultimate element of invasion, and coming face to face with The Devil himself is an unsurpassable scare.

DESIGN - 9+, Genuinely scary and intense, and length is second to none. Cemeteries are exquisite, jail is much more active than it was last season, and Devil and his Demonic Soulburner are much better versed in their vocabulary and interaction, however the devil maze itself features more dead ends and fewer loops which is a mistake because it creates a sense of immediate disappointment, as opposed to dashed hopes of achieving success. Visibility in fence maze is practically nonexistent due to fog density and strobes which is a good thing, but there's no soundtrack to speak of.. Environment would significantly benefit from some type of frenzied, alarm-like audio enhancement. In addition, that maze itself is too futile in nature this year because an actor must be involved in actually letting groups out, otherwise, an exit doesn't exist. While this aids in group spacing into the devil maze, it's an unfair aspect of the course, and thus lessens the overall impression of the attraction when customers wear out their welcome. There needs to be an escape built in to the maze (even if it's first shut off), and characters should be strategically located to misdirect customers away from the proper path permitting them to experience the various dead ends and loops, but eventually allowing them to discover the exit on their own. We were actually permitted to leave the area entirely and return all the way back to the previous CGI scene, which should never happen. Frightening theme is interrupted on occasion by Naughty school bus, and fence maze beggar who is in the way, and doesn't belong. Infirmary needs to do away with rock-n-roll angle, as it is foolishly out of place as well. Music along the initial path needs to be much louder, as does Asylum door CGI, and sound enhancement from jail is audible between that particular CGI and entrance to fence maze. The attraction continues to begin in subtle darkness, and climax in utter chaos!

PROPS - 10, Latest technological advances and scares are always on display in The Cave. 2 new CGI startles have been installed, additional animatronic surprises have arrived, and "poppers" (electrical firecrackers and boomsticks) are seemingly everywhere! Their presence is especially appreciated contributing to the legitimacy of the supposed electrical malfunction exposed at the beginning. A real school bus, and several cars are made use of to deliver various scares. Fire is also used effectively, and is realistically impressive.

VALUE - 10, No price increase for the 2011 season. Admission remains only $12 with their website coupon, and grants access to 60+ minute excursion through one of the region's best haunted attractions!
RATING: 9½, Last year's Haunt of the Year returns to defend its crown with a course recently recognized by Guinness as the "Longest walk-through horror house" in existence. While others falsely lay claim to the title, or futilely attempt to mislead the public by advertising and SELLING multiple attractions as a money maker, but defining them as ONE for comparison's sake, this is the real deal - a simply must see attraction! Legitimacy and authenticity are unmatched. When visiting, don't forget to stop by and pick up some inexpensive snacks from "Mama Cat" at the concession stand before leaving The Haunted Cave, where getting in is easy, but getting out may KILL you!

2010 REViEWS

THE HAUNTED CAVE: Stalking the ticketing area, a gypsy fortuneteller coupled with Mortician Lewis DeBurg, make imaginary predictions regarding one's imminent fate just prior to the decent down the steep hill towards the entrance of Lewisburg's Haunted Cave. Buried eighty feet beneath the ground in an abandoned old limestone mine lies one of the most frightening haunts imaginable - the longest attraction of its kind (Guinness conformation pending)! A similar beginning to past installments waits at the bottom of the incline. Warnings about bats and snakes that inhabit the spooky cavern are interrupted by an apparent electrical malfunction that briefly interrupts power causing the lights to fail! A maintenance technician hurries to the rescue extinguishing the short circuit with a fire extinguisher, and the lengthy exploration gets underway. Flashes of lightning and clasps of thunder accompany the otherwise lightless expedition across a wooden plank-like walkway that leads deep into The Cave, and soon exposes sudden surprises emerging from previously unseen, amphibious ghouls splashing about in the surrounding waters, madly growling and snarling, and reaching out to touch and grab at passersby! Unsure footing contributes to the uncertainty of the adventure, as the unstable catwalk begins to sway beneath your feet as the course progresses through wild brush overgrowing the walkway, and terminating at an impressive CGI surprise! Ghastly sounds and mystifying music lead the trek through living walls, mechanical startles, incinerating flames, and into an eerily lit swamp. Monsters attack from both sides as the next to impossible struggle of drudging through the marshy quagmire and a slither of hissing snakes finally leads back to dry land, right in the midst of a bone-chilling cemetery, where chained coffins vigorously shake and vibrate on their own, condemned spirits adamantly defy death, and a sacrifice is demanded before some ungodly altar that releases an unexpected attack and relentless chainsaw pursuit. Back into the confines of the cadaverous graveyard finds deadly spiders guarding freshly tilled interments, enraged bats violently flapping their wings, haunting ghosts hovering about aimlessly, a mysterious gravedigger banging his shovel noisily while preparing yet another eternal resting place, undead souls springing forth from their earthen tombs, screaming victims propelling out of upright coffins, and the Grim Reaper himself zipping through directly overhead! Eventually the course proceedes into encounters with deranged doctors, one of whom is overwhelmed with his accomplishment of restoring life to a now breathing specimen that's accompanied by a sudden, blood spraying surprise! Escaping into a corridor of illuminated "faces" and more living walls, brings about a voice enhanced confrontation with underworld warden Jebeneezer Law, and a brief group separation segment through his immoral jail that climaxes with an interactive electrocution prior to introducing a foggy, seemingly endless fence maze highlighted by numerous dead ends, and terrorized by menacing misdirection courtesy of a mentally imbalanced lunatic. Freedom leads to a newly expanded area of the cave comprised of hit and run drivers; a bridge surprise; and an impressive climbing mechanical ghoul that plucks a body right up out of the ground! Other new scares are yet to come in the form of a dramatic, animated bat sporting an enormous wing span, vibrating floors, and other unexpected pursuits that eventually deliver you into the clutches of The Devil himself! Powerful bursts of fire rocket their way upward from the lowermost bowels of Hell, while The Prince of Darkness illuminates his abode with bright red, laser-like emissions from his fingertips, and his amplified voice echoes torments of eternal damnation! Soul Burners guard his throne - their hands ablaze with the very essence of people's spirits! Several possible paths to freedom are introduced, but only one leads to a successful getaway. The task at hand is to discover the hidden route before the Fallen Archangel and his unhallowed Hellcat sentence you to everlasting punishment! Darkness; sparking chainsaws; wire mazes; blinding strobes; unnerving horns and alarms; deafening screams; dense fog; claustrophobic passages, a squeeze wall, and various other entrapments serve to confuse and disorient the desperate plight that's further compromised by a spinning vortex, spongy floors, and a multitude of other surprises that overwhelm your emotions, as you desperately seek to uncover that lone beaten path that permits abandonment from Satan's abomination, and The Lewisburg Haunted Cave!

Analysis:

LENGTH - 10, Unmatched from a duration perspective - well in excess of an hour!

ACTORS - 9+, Good make-up and costuming throughout. Interactions continue to be aggressive and threatening, although dialogue is weak at times. An increased number of Soul Burners supplement the atmosphere of Hell. Devil needs to crank it up - assert himself, take charge of that domain, and stand head and shoulders above the rest! Additional voice enhancement is in place for 2010. Dimension of touch makes the experience that much more realistic. Total Characters = 84!

SCARINESS - 10, Perhaps the most legitimately spooky environment in the industry! The authenticity of the setting is second to none! Bewildering strobes; loud, frightening music, sounds, and screams; agitated creatures, endless entrapments, subtle touching and grabbing, and numerous surprises combine to assault all the senses. Coming face to face with The Devil himself is the ultimate scare!

DESIGN - 9 1/2, Genuinely scary and intense. Frightening theme holds throughout, and length is unsurpassed. Talking skeletons are new this season. Devil Maze that repeatedly returns customers to multiple, ungodly encounters with Satan himself remains an amazing finisher! Claustrophobic encounters are among the most impassable we've seen, and a new entrapment has been added that at first appears to offer no escape! Light maze seemed a bit easier to navigate. Course expansion permitted the introduction of several new animated scares, and even a school bus! The attraction begins in subtle darkness, and climaxes in utter chaos!

PROPS - 10, Latest technological scares and additional animatronics are on display in this year's Haunted Cave. Swamp scene was tweaked and revitalized a season ago. Claustrophobic passages are outstanding! Cemeteries are magnificent with a nice compliment of animated startles. Use of fire is most effective, and realistically impressive. Jail area has a makeover, and the course is longer than ever before.

VALUE - 10, Cost of admission reflects a $2 price hike in effect for 2010, and comes on the heels of a $1 raise last year. But The Cave is still the best “bang for the buck” in the business boasting 60+ minutes inside one of the region's best haunted attractions!

RATING: 9 1/2, A near perfect achievement! The Cave is among the best, most intense haunted attractions in the State of Ohio! This definite HAUNT OF THE YEAR contender is not to be missed! And don't forget to pick up some inexpensive snacks from "Mama Cat" at the concession stand before leaving The Haunted Cave, where getting in is easy, but getting out may KILL you! This is a MUST SEE attraction!

2009 REViEWS

ActiveDayton.com

City Beat Review

THE HAUNTED CAVE: Roaming creatures stalk the ticketing area prior to the decent down the steep hill towards the entrance to Lewisburg's Haunted Cave. Buried nearly a hundred feet beneath the ground in an abandoned old limestone mine lies one of the most frightening haunts on the face of God's green Earth! Warnings about bats that inhabit the spooky cavern are interrupted by an apparent electrical malfunction that briefly interrupts power causing the lights to fail! A maintenance technician hurries to the rescue, spraying the circuit box with a fire extinguisher, and restoring everyone's ability to see. Short circuit resolved, the lengthy adventure gets underway across a wooden bridge-like walkway that leads deep into the intimidating Cave. Flashes of lightning and clasps of thunder accompany the otherwise lightless expedition that soon finds sudden surprises emerging from previously unseen, amphibious ghouls splashing about in the surrounding waters, madly growling and snarling, and reaching out to touch and grab at passersby! Unsure footing contributes to the uncertainity of the exploration, as the unstable catwalk begins to rock back and forth beneath your feet as the course progresses through wild brush overgrowing the walkway, and terminating at an impressive CGI surprise! Ghastly sounds and mystifying music lead the trek through living walls, incinerating flames, and into an eerily lit swamp. Monsters attack from both sides as the next to impossible struggle of drudging through the marshy quagmire finally leads back to dry land, right in the midst of a bone-chilling cemetery, where chained coffins shake and vibrate on their own, and condemned spirits adamantly defy death! Irate gravediggers bang their shovels noisily, as ghosts hover about; animated spiders crawl across freshly tilled dirt; poisonous snakes hiss and spew forth venom; undead souls spring forth from upright caskets; and the Grim Reaper zips by overhead! Yet to come are mummies, mad doctors, bloody corpses, and body parts that still move around despite being detatched from their rightful owners! A tragic murder brings about a horrific surprise that yields to a sudden, gun battling car chase; statutory invasions taking place in an immoral jail cell; decapitations; dark maze and fog filled fence maze that contains numerous dead ends and ranting, misdirecting lunatics. Round and round you go until the one and only escape delivers you to Hell, and the presence of The Devil himself, and a companion She-devil! The Prince of Darkness shines laser-like projections from his fingertips as powerful blasts of fire rocket upward, and his amplified voice echoes tormenting laughter all throughout the Cave! Several possible paths to freedom are introduced, one of which leads to a successful getaway, providing you can locate it, but others return you back to Lucifer's abode, where the Fallen Archangel and his unhallowed Hellcat wickedly threaten and taunt your predicament, promising to keep you there for all eternity! Wire mazes; blinding strobes; unnerving alarms; deafening screams; dense fog; claustrophobic passages and entrapments; and total chaos serve to confuse and disorient the desperate plight for escape, while intimidating chainsaws, sparks, a spinning vortex, spongy floors, and a multitude of other surprises overwhelm your emotions, as you desperately seek to uncover that lone beaten path that leads to elusive freedom from Satan's abomination, and The Lewisburg Haunted Cave!
Analysis:
LENGTH - 10, Unmatched from a duration perspective. 50+ minutes, and easily longer depending on the amount of time required to complete the various entrapments.
ACTORS - 9+, Good make-up and costuming throughout. Dialogue is likewise good, and interactions are more aggressive and threatening than in the past, although there are still some undersized actors. Loss of original Devil is most unfortunate, and his replacement needs to step things up considerably and take charge of his domain. The introduction of a She-devil companion helps, but she too needs to be more assertive, especially since this is the most climactic scene. Dimension of touch makes the experience that much more realistic. Gravediggers present a most intimidating sight. Fence maze character appropriately misguides you into several dead ends. Last season's Doll “dealer” has appropriately met his demise Still can't help but miss the ghoul whose hand was ablaze with fire a few seasons ago. Total Characters = 60+.
SCARINESS - 9.5, Perhaps the most legitimately spooky environment in the industry! Bewildering strobes; loud, frightening music, sounds, and screams; agitated creatures, endless entrapments, subtle touching and grabbing, and numerous surprises combine to assault all the senses. Coming face to face with The Devil himself is indescribable! And the scene is far more chaotic than ever before! If the new Devils can raise the bar, then "10" is on the horizon!
DESIGN - 9.5, Genuinely scary and intense, even though there's still a huge reliance on darkness. Theme holds throughout, and length is unmatched. Devil Maze that repeatedly results in multiple, ungodly encounters with the King Demon and his mate has undergone some expansion, and remains an amazing finisher! Multiple claustrophobic hallways suit the area to a tee, and are among the most impassable we've seen. Light maze has grown as well. Impressive swamp scene has received some needed attention, and works much better this season, although its borrowed from Industrial Nightmare. Christmas scene didn't belong, and has rightfully disappeared as it didn't fit the attraction's theme. Similarly catagorized dollhouse surprise has been relocated to a position of less prominence. The attraction begins in subtle darkness, and climaxes in utter chaos!
PROPS - 9.5, Debut of CGI surprise keeps with the times, and has a good home. Swamp scene has been tweaked and revitalized. Claustrophobic passages and surprise are outstanding! Cemeteries are magnificent with a nice compliment of animated startles. Use of fire is most effective, and realistically impressive. Additional decor and a little less darkness would max it out.
VALUE - 10, $10 with their website coupon reflects a $1 price increase for 2009, but still the best “bang for the buck” in the business. The investment earns customers admission to one of the region's best haunted attractions, boasting nearly an hour's worth of terror!
RATING: 9.5, Another amazing effort of total assault! The Cave gets better every year, and has become one of the best, most intense haunted attractions in the State of Ohio! This definite HAUNT OF THE YEAR contender is not to be missed! And, don't forget to pick up some inexpensive snacks from "Mama Cat" at the concession stand when visiting The Haunted Cave, where getting in is easy, but getting out may KILL you!

2008 REViEWS

THE HAUNTED CAVE: Cemetery plots and caskets are among the increased décor outside the decent down the steep hill towards the entrance to Lewisburg's Haunted Cave. Roaming creatures surprise and terrorize the ticketing area; an astounding Mortician, Lewis Deburg politely measures “bodies” while offering his services just in case some members of your group don't survive the experience, and a mysterious Gatekeeper guards the entrance to the intimidating subterranean. And then it begins! Buried a hundred feet beneath the ground in an abandoned old limestone mine lies one of the most frightening haunts on the face of the Earth! Just prior to entering, an apparent electrical malfunction briefly interrupts power to the lights until a maintenance technician equipped with a fire extinguisher hurries to the rescue! Short circuit resolved, and lights restored, the adventure gets underway with the navigation across a wooden bridge-like walkway that leads deep into the darkened cavern. Lightning flashes, thunder clasps, and sudden surprises emerge from the surrounding waters, as hidden, amphibious ghouls reach out gently touching and grabbing at passersby, while others aggressively propel themselves along the catwalk. More unexpected happenings arise from an abandoned old cornfield, then a collection of dolls en route to one of the attractions new major surprises, the Cave’s Swamp! Up ahead, hands are seen reaching up out of the marshy quagmire as a previous visitor futilely attempts to prevent his certain drowning, while swamp monsters attack from all directions! Narrowly escaping the wetlands leads to more uncertainty courtesy of a reckless hit and run driver, and more Cave dwelling spooks that reach down grasping at you from above! Mystifying fog, and flames highlight a visit to a spooky old graveyard, where coffins deliver still more surprises. Irate monsters, skeletons and flying ghosts haunt the eerie boneyard, where an undead soul is propelled forward out of an upright casket, and screams bloody murder as she's projected almost directly into your path! Coffins mysteriously open and close on their own, a skeleton flies back and forth on a zip line overhead, and gravediggers unnervingly prepare soon to be needed earthen tombs! Gunshots, a funeral parlor, and caged prisoners are still to come as “Living Walls” impede progress through a darkened corridor, where a torturous ghoul rips the head off an innocent victim. Dark mazes give way to another of the fence-like variety, where a crazed loony misdirects scare seekers into several foggy dead ends. The entrapment is hounded by a werewolf-like creature, and wicked monsters emitting laser projections from their fingertips! Round and round you go until the one and only escape delivers you into the presence of The Devil himself, seated on an elevated throne amid powerful blasts of fire shooting up all around him! The Demon King's voice amplifies and echoes throughout the Cave, as The Prince of Darkness happily welcomes you to Hell, and introduces several possible paths to freedom. One leads to a successful getaway, providing you can locate the secluded route, while others return you back to Lucifer's abode, where the Fallen Archangel wickedly laughs and taunts at your predicament, leads you into more temptation, and the entire process begins all over again! Wire mazes, strobes, unnerving sounds, more fog, and claustrophobic passages confuse and disorient the bravest of souls, while intimidating chainsaws, sparks, a spinning vortex, spongy floors, and a multitude of other surprises overwhelm your emotions, as you desperately seek to uncover that lone beaten path that allows you to escape Satan's abomination, and The Lewisburg Haunted Cave!
Analysis:
LENGTH - 10, 55 minutes, and easily more depending on the amount of time required to complete the various entrapments.
ACTORS - 9, Energetic performances throughout. Dialogue was good, although somewhat better last season, and there were some undersized actors. Dimension of touch makes the experience that much more realistic. Actually being contacted by some of the characters totally destroys one's already frail sense of stability. Gravediggers are a most intimidating sight, and Devil is still by far the best. Body part salesman has been appropriately eliminated, although Doll “dealer” is a similar type character, and body bag fiend was stronger a season ago promising to place a member of the group inside one of the “deathtraps” as opposed to this year’s challenge to play chicken. Increased aggressiveness and more threatening interactions could raise the score even higher. Ghoul whose hand was ablaze with fire last year was a sight sorely missed.
SCARINESS - 9.5?, Quite an intense atmosphere in a legitimately spooky environment. New additions have raised the fear value. Bewildering strobes; loud, frightening music, sounds, and screams; agitated creatures, endless entrapments, and subtle touching, combine to assault all your senses.
DESIGN – 9.5?, Dark, and genuinely scary. Length is unmatched and increased queue line décor and activities are a clever addition. Devil Maze that repeatedly results in multiple ungodly encounters with Satan himself is arguably the best climax in the business! Claustrophobic hallway is a most appropriate addition to that area, and one of the most seemingly impassable versions we’ve seen! Christmas scene is uneventful and seems misplaced, as does the dollhouse surprise, which disrupts the flow of other more frightening encounters with its sudden randomness, and violates the attraction’s scary theme. New swamp scene is outstanding, but mimics the original at Industrial Nightmare, and comes to an abrupt, interrupted end when a monster halts progression prior to what appears to be completion, then leads you in another direction.
PROPS - 9.5?, Swamp scene and claustrophobic passages are welcomed additions! Cemeteries are magnificent with a nice compliment of animated surprises. Use of fire is most effective, and realistically impressive.
VALUE - 10, Quite possibly the most “bang for the buck” in the business with no price increase from a year ago. Costing only $9 with their website coupon, that investment treats visitors to one of the region's best attractions, and an hours worth of terror!
RATING: 9.5?, Another amazing effort! Over the course of the last few years, the Cave has become one of the best, most unique haunted attractions in the State of Ohio, and a definite contender for HAUNT OF THE YEAR honors! If you plan to visit only a handful of haunts this season, or haven't been there in awhile, do yourself a favor and schedule a visit to The Haunted Cave! Getting in is easy, getting out may KILL you!

Reviewed 10/6/08

2007 REVIEWS

THE HAUNTED CAVE:  A pair of cemetery plots rest quietly alongside the decent down the steep hill towards the entrance to Lewisburg's Haunted Cave.  Buried a hundred feet beneath the ground in an abandoned old limestone mine lies one of the most frightening haunts on the face of the Earth!  A Gatekeeper guards the entrance to the intimidating subterranean, while an astounding Mortician politely offers his services just in case some members of your group don't survive the experience!  While waiting to enter, an apparent electrical malfunction briefly interrupts power to the lights, until a maintenance technician equipped with a fire extinguisher comes to the rescue!  Navigating a wooden bridge-like walkway leads deep into the darkened cavern, where lightning flashes, thunder clasps, and sudden surprises emerge from the surrounding waters.  Hidden ghouls reach out and gently touch and grab at you as the intimidating journey forces you to fight your way through brush that's overgrown the walkway.  Mystifying fog, and flames highlight a visit to a spooky old graveyard, where coffins deliver more surprises, spooks reach down grasping at you from above, a near collision with a hit and run driver is narrowly avoided, and illuminated jack-o-lanterns light the way.  Irate monsters, skeletons and flying ghosts haunt the eerie boneyard, where an undead soul is propelled forward out of an upright casket, and screams bloody murder as she's projected practically directly into your path!  Coffins mysteriously open and close on their own, gravediggers loudly slam down their shovels, gunshots ring out from a disgruntled Undertaker, upset that you're trespassing on his hallowed ground, and a victim runs past screaming in agony because his hands have been set on fire!!  Caged prisoners desperately plea for help, while a Jailer-like character attempts to bag and capture a member of your group, intending to incarcerate him with the other hostages.  Living walls are encountered through a darkened maze that yields to another of the fence-like variety.  A crazed loony repeatedly misdirects you into several fog-filled dead ends, until the one and only escape delivers you into the presence of The Devil himself, seated on an elevated throne amid powerful blasts of fire shooting up all around him!  The Demon King's voice amplifies and echoes throughout the cave, as The Prince of Darkness happily welcomes you to Hell, and introduces you to four possible paths of escape.   One leads to a successful getaway, providing you can locate an obscured route, while others return you back to Lucifer's abode, where the Fallen Archangel wickedly laughs and taunts at your predicament, and leads you into more temptation!  Wire mazes, strobes, unnerving sounds, and more fog confuse and disorient the bravest of souls, while intimidating chainsaws, a spinning vortex, and a multitude of surprises overwhelm your emotions, as you desperately seek to uncover that lone beaten path that allows you to escape Satan's abomination, and The Lewisburg Haunted Cave!

Analysis:
LENGTH - 10, 30 minutes, and possibly more depending on the amount of time required to complete the various entrapments.
ACTORS - 9+, Just a tremendous job by the entire cast.  Energetically loud screams, and interacting dialogue throughout.  Adding the dimension of touch makes the experience that much more realistic.  Actually being contacted by some of the characters totally destroys one's already frail sense of stability.  Increased aggressiveness in the right spots could raise the score even higher, although they'd have to be careful not to go overboard when nudging someone in order not to offend, or provoke a retaliatory response.  Devil is by far the best. 
SCARINESS - 9+, Quite an intense atmosphere in a legitimately spooky environment.  Bewildering strobes; loud, frightening music, sounds, and screams; agitated creatures, and subtle touching, combine to assault all your senses.
DESIGN - 9½, Lengthy, dark, and genuinely scary, except for one failed attempt at humor (selling body parts for $1.99/lb) that seems to be the downfall of more and more otherwise frightening attractions.  Queue line activities are a nice addition.  Particularly like the maze that repeatedly results in multiple confrontations with possibly the best climax in the business - that ungodly encounter with Satan The Devil
PROPS - 9, Cemeteries are magnificent with a nice compliment of animatronics.  Use of fire is most effective, and realistically impressive.
VALUE - 9+, A $1 price increase from a year ago, raises the cost of admission to $9 with their website coupon.  For that investment, you're treated to 
RATING:  9, The Cave has become one of the best, most unique haunted attractions in the State of Ohio!  Introduction of some of this year's most impressive technoligocal advances (shock walls, claustrophobia) could possibly solidify Lewisburg's Cave as our HAUNT OF THE YEAR!  If you plan on visiting only a handful of haunts this season, or haven't been there in a few years, don't miss The Haunted Cave

Getting in is easy, getting out may KILL you!

Reviewed 10/13/07

2006 REVIEWS

Ohio Valley Haunts

THE HAUNTED CAVE AT LEWISBURG A hundred feet beneath the ground, in an abandoned limestone mine lies one of the creepiest haunts around.  An old wooden bridge-like walkway leads you deep into the cave where a sudden surprise emerges from the surrounding waters.  Coffins, flames, sparks, gunshots, and a loud revving engine, are just some of the unnerving elements that play on your senses during your visit to this underground cavern.  One member of the group must participate in a creepy ceremony - placing flowers on an unmarked grave, that terminates with another surprise. The tour guide meets an unexpected fate, leading up to an awesome encounter with The Devil that offers several potential escape routes.  One leads to a successful getaway, but others dump you right back into Satan's abode, and he sits there glaring at you, and wickedly laughing at your inability to free yourself from his presence!  Wire mazes, fog, and strobes confuse and intimidate the bravest of souls, who must endure a spinning vortex, multiple chainsaws, and a few other surprises that might overrun their emotions while desperately seeking the only way out of The Haunted Cave.

Analysis:
LENGTH - 10, 30 min. 
ACTORS - 9, A lot of interaction from a variety of  irate, demanding beings.  Devil is by far the best.
SCARINESS - 9, A welcome return to spookiness.  Could benefit from additional mood setting background music to supplement the attraction, but quite intimidating as it is.
DESIGN - 91⁄2, Genuinely scary.  Particularly like the maze that repeatedly brings you back in front of Lucifer himself! 
PROPS - 9, Tons of decor, but timing is off on some of the animatronics, possibly due to group size being too large. 
VALUE - 9, No price increase for this refreshingly revamped attraction.
Final Score:  9, The most improved haunt of 2006.  Make the drive to Lewisburg and experience The Haunted Cave.

reviewed 10/7/06

If you're wanting a truly unique experience that you can bring the whole family to than the Haunted Cave At Lewisburg is your ticket to fear. Bring the family. Bring your friends. Bring someone with a fear of the dark.

The Haunted Cave at Lewisburg opens with a blood curdling scream!Wednesday, October 04, 2006The 2006 season of the Haunted Cave at Lewisburg opened Friday night with a blood curdling scream!In its 33rd haunting season the Haunted Cave staff has completely recreated the production to take the level of terror to new heights. The cave is 100 feet beneath Lewisburg, Ohio, in a long-abandoned mine, making it Ohio's only underground Halloween attraction. The cave has acres of endless caverns, lakes of bottomless dark water and it is home to over 30,000 bats. The Haunted Cave is Ohio's longest, darkest and creepiest Halloween attraction.The local groups involved in this years scare are the Northmont Science Olympiad team, Northmont Junior ROTC, Boy Scout troop 246, Northmont INTERACT and the civil air patrol cadets from New Lebanon. Many of these groups have been working franticly since June of this year to rethink, redesign and rebuild the haunted cave production to be one of the "best haunts" ever!Traditional favorites can still be found in the attraction; however, the visitors may not find them where they once did.Enhancements this year are like none other. There are longer trails, more startles, and so many terrifying surprises. Jim Witter's, who is the mechanical and electronics specialist, has pulled out all kinds of new tricks this year. His efforts and the efforts of so many others have been creating new scenes, lighting, animatronics, and props that all come together in what will be a very memorable haunting season.Two new major additions, which are a real departure from years past, include "The Cage" and "Satan's Altar." The guests that found their way out of the cave were seen leaving crying, laughing and holding on to each other tightly."Our crowds this weekend were fantastic", commented Mark Schaefer, who just celebrated his 50th birthday. "We had great attendance for opening weekend. The word must be out that this years cave is really something new and special!"If you like to be scared, really scared, the haunted cave staff welcomes you to attend this year's production. Performances will run every Friday and Saturday night from 7 p.m. to midnight, now through October.For more information and directions please go to the web site: www.hauntedcaveatlewisburg.com or call at (937)-962-5602. Discounts can be found on the web site, on local Domino's pizza boxes, and at other local supporting retailers. 
http://blooddrop.ownspot.com  
http://ohiovalleyhaunts.com/
http://www.associatedcontent.com

From Jason in Lima, OH "I wrote to you earlier this year about our experiences last year. Well, I would like to say that this year was awesome! The Cave was great to say the least".

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