Review: Ghoulie Manor, Taunton MA (4.5 stars)
Last year, the team from Events INSIDER went on a 10-day Halloween blitz! In October 2013, I visited 28 attractions to bring you reviews and information on everything Halloween in New England. We went indoors and outdoors as far north as New Hampshire, as far south as Rhode Island, and as far west as Connecticut. Don’t forget to visit http://EventsINSIDER.com, where we list more creative October events than anyplace else!
Ghoulie Manor is an H.P. Lovecraft attraction in a shopping mall in Taunton. What they’ve done is very thematic, by which I mean that everything in one room follows a clear sense of set design. This helps suspend disbelief and really puts you “in a real place” far more than any other haunted attraction we’ve seen (the caveat being that Ghoulie Manor cannot match the budget of other places). And the actors take on real roles, so instead of just groaning they have lines and behaviors that match each room as well. This powerful combination pushes Ghoulie Manor way further than it’s location in a mall would suggest!
We were able to interview owner Victor Bariteau, who told us that this year they have grown from 22 rooms to 30 rooms and they rented the space the entire year to work on it. His wife and two young daughters are part of the cast and one of his daughters even designed the spooky doll room. We were the last visitors of the night and Vic’s actors still had tons of enthusiasm to entertain us and then stay afterwards for photos and to chat. Kudos to everyone for the amazing energy they displayed! Now that’s entertainment.
Ghoulie Manor has lots of animatronics, most of which they build themselves. It’s astoundingly creative. For example, actors entertain you in line while you wait and get your names, then sneakily pass the names along to actors inside the attraction to shout at you. Also, where competitive venues simply throw up plywood walls with wood, at Ghoulie Manor they use stencils to create a wallpaper effect on the walls. Even though the ceilings are open (this is a fire code requirement so that sprinklers in the mall ceiling can reach in), the lighting is specially designed to downplay this, and the very tall walls reach up to nearly 12 feet. So unlike with my polite complaint about Fright Kingdom, at Ghoulie Manor you really can forget that you are in a warehouse space.
The Frankenstein lab and even the Egyptian attraction are impressive, though horror themes that we have seen before, but none of us had ever seen a display like Ghoulie Manor’s furnace room. And there are spooky puppets that look like animatronics but move in lifelike ways because they are controlled by a live actor. Believe me, when I say puppets I mean *scary freaking puppets*.
While not having the production budget of larger attractions, Ghoulie Manor in its theatrics and acting even surpasses that longtime specialty of Barrett’s Haunted Mansion. That being said, without fog or laser effects, and a length of only 15 minutes, and a lack of really big stuff (very elaborate stage, giant animatronics) I cannot give Ghoulie Mansion more than 4.5 stars. But be on the lookout for them to hit 5 stars and 5 stars plus in the near future.
This review was from Events INSIDER’s 2013 10-day Halloween blitz, where we visited 28 attractions across New England. Visit http://EventsINSIDER.com, where you’ll find more fun Halloween and October events than anywhere else!