Albany Haunt Productions
1048 Peralta Ave., Albany, CA 94706View All Details
Free Parking, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, All-Outdoor Attraction
Team In-Corpse-A-Rated reviewed this attraction on October 28, 2017.
Final Score: 7.95
Sam Dubois is the high school student who received media attention when a neighbor tried to legally shut down his charity fundraiser, Albany Haunt. His legal troubles became a magnet for professional haunters whom wanted to help. With the many donations he received from the haunt community, Sam can now create a professional grade haunted house in is backyard.
It’s Sam’s senior year of high school and he will be leaving for college next year, so sadly, this is the swan song for Albany Haunt. As we met Sam at his final season, we asked, “This may be the end of Albany Haunt, but are you done with the haunted attraction industry?” With no hesitation, he said, “No,” so we expect something from the imagination of Sam Dubois in the future. This year, Albany Haunt’s theme is Plan Z. The military is trying to coordain off an area where zombies are breaking out. From utility tunnels and a service elevator to a construction site and a parked ambulance, zombies are taking over the city.
The actors of Albany Haunt were believable and enthusiastic. Everyone showed enthusiasm with portraying their characters, however, the girl zombie sitting down right before entering the elevator looked at us, but didn’t give any real performance. The only dialogue came from the first actor we encountered as we were about to enter the haunt. He is a soldier who informs us of a quarantine of the area, so beware when entering the sewers and other corridors. As we walk through, multiple zombies lunge at us. A few play dead, but rise at us when we walk by. After we exited the elevator, we saw a zombie ripping open the stomach of a dead body and eating the organs. Towards the end, there was a soldier on a guard tower firing a machine gun and a military general with a rotted skeleton mask who startled us. Right as were about to leave, an actor in a plant costume lunges at us for a final scare. There were enough actors in the haunt and there were no dead spots.
The costumes were believable, authentic and appropriate. The soldiers had standard camouflage uniforms, the construction workers had hard hats and high visibility vests, the zombie lady had professional office attire, the zombie general had a formal uniform complete with a soldier’s helmet and the rest of the zombies had the usual tattered street clothes. If there was one costume out of step with the theme, it was the actor in the plant costume. The makeup looked good on the zombies, but major kudos goes to the rotted skull masks of the zombie lady by the elevator and the zombie general’s skull mask because both really stood out in the haunt.
Customer Service: 8.25
We could not find anything truly dangerous at Albany Haunt. They used the elevator effect with pneumatic motors like last year, but this time it wasn’t as rough, so there was no worry of someone falling over. Albany Haunt is a home haunt, so there are no billboards or advertisements on the way there. It’s a home in a residential neighborhood, so it’s not hard to find. Guests must park on the street and there are many cars owned by the neighbors already parked, so it can be likely to find a parking space one or two blocks away. The front yard has lighting and decorations and a table with two ladies served as the ticket booth and admittance only requires a food or cash donation for the local food bank. There is no real queue entertainment, other than talking with the volunteers and Sam Dubois’s family. There are scenic elements on the front yard that make good photo ops.
The front yard of Albany Haunt is decorated with many standard Halloween yard displays, but there were two small moving lights that are more commonly used in rock & roll shows. Along the side of the house before entering the haunt were lights more commonly used at corporate parties. Compared to other homes on the block, the Dubois’s home was fully decorated and had a festive vibe, which contrasts with the scary theme of a haunt.
Special Effects: 8.09
For a home haunt created by a teenager in a residential backyard, Albany Haunt packs many special effects. There were two LED flat screen monitors used. The first was near the beginning where we see a video of what looks like a window with 2 x 4’s nailed over it from the outside, a man turning into a zombie and pulling off the 2×4’s. The second LED screen was on the service elevator, which served as a window to give the perspective of moving. The image was in sync with the pneumatic motors to give the impression of being in an elevator that is malfunctioning. There was also a zombie who was tearing open the stomach of a dead body and pulling out the internal organs. The dead body did not look completely real; it had that homemade look to it, but the implication was there. Outside of the tunnels, we saw an abandoned ambulance van… well a prop that looked similar. It was much smaller and made of wood, like something you’d see in a community theater. Behind the ambulance was a wooden guard tower, where a soldier was shooting a multi-barrel machine gun. The guard tower and gun looked good. The sound of the gunfire resembled firecrackers more than live ammo, but considering this haunt takes place in a residential backyard, it may be best not to have an authentic sound of live ammo. From a sound effects perspective, the most notable sounds came from the audio accompaniment of the LED videos. The growling zombie in the first video sounded menacing. The second video had the ambient sounds of an elevator moving, getting stuck and falling. The scenes were detailed very well and the illusion of walking through underground utility tunnels was very convincing. Lighting was used subtly, yet effectively, allowing the audience to see what the haunters wanted them to see.
The theme of Albany Haunt is “Plan Z,” which is a zombie apocalypse. The military is trying to contain the zombies. As we walked through the haunt, the theme remained consistent. The concept of zombies is nothing new, but the idea of the military trying to contain the zombie outbreak is not too common in haunts, so there is a creative take on the zombie theme. The only element that seemed out of place with the theme was the actor in the vegetation costume at the very end.
Fright Effect: 8.29
Albany Haunt is a short walk so there’s many scares in a condensed space. The actors do make an effort to scare everyone in the group. Several actors used distractions to generate scares, often by hiding around corners and lunging out at the guests. About the only times you could tell a scare was going to happen was when an actor was playing dead. One actor was lying on the floor of the utility tunnel, forcing us to walk around him and when we were moving past him, he lunged at us. Also, past the zombie eating internal organs, there were two construction workers sitting at a desk, hunched over dead that rose to try and startle us as well. To tell you the truth, the best scare that got us was the actor in the vegetation suit. We thought the haunt was over, but the “plant boy,” though he seemed out of place with the theme, came out of nowhere. Most of the scares, came from actor’s startles, except for the elevator ride, which was designed to generate suspense.
Albany Haunt took 4:47 minutes to complete. It’s a charity haunt, so the only price of admission is either a cash or canned food donation. There are no dead spaces, because the entire backyard is completely taken up for the haunt. This is the last year for Albany Haunt, and even though Sam DuBois will be going to college, he is not done with the haunted attraction industry. His experience with creating Albany Haunt will be an amazing credit to add to his resume. Watch for Sam in the next few years, because he will be back in some capacity.