Review of Hells Hollow Haunt Haunted Attraction Hells Hollow Haunt is a Haunted Attraction located in Mercer, PA. 340 Bestwick Road, Mercer, PA 16137View All Details Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, “Old-School” (Low Tech), You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction Team Houdini reviewed this Haunted Attraction on October 19, 2018. We’ve changed the way we give scores for this year. We are now using a weighted average that puts more emphasis on certain features of the haunt (IE: “How scary was it,” versus “Does the haunt’s location authenticate their theme”). That said, these scores should not be used in comparisons to previous seasons. For more information about this, click on the small “Score Sheet” link at the bottom of this review. We appreciate your understanding. Thanks and Happy Haunting! –The Scare Factor
Review of Hells Hollow Haunt Haunted Attraction
Review of Hells Hollow Haunt Haunted Attraction
Hells Hollow Haunt
Special Note for 2018:
Review of Hells Hollow Haunt Haunted Attraction
Hells Hollow Haunt is a Haunted Attraction located in Mercer, PA.
340 Bestwick Road, Mercer, PA 16137View All Details
Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, “Old-School” (Low Tech), You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction
Team Houdini reviewed this Haunted Attraction on October 19, 2018.
We’ve changed the way we give scores for this year. We are now using a weighted average that puts more emphasis on certain features of the haunt (IE: “How scary was it,” versus “Does the haunt’s location authenticate their theme”). That said, these scores should not be used in comparisons to previous seasons. For more information about this, click on the small “Score Sheet” link at the bottom of this review. We appreciate your understanding. Thanks and Happy Haunting! –The Scare Factor
Final Score: 7.28
Mercer County hides a horrible legend in the backwoods of Hell’s Hollow. : the Legend of a malicious Indian named Hartegig. One night he vanished, though nine years later his skeleton was found. Believing to have been murdered, people claim to hear his screams and evil laughter throughout the area.
Whether the legend is true or not we do not know. What we do know is Hell’s Hollow holds a haunted hayloft (Fits the H theme better than a haunted barn) with three levels of scares, a haunted hay-less hayride, and a haunted corn trail.
Family owned and operated Hell’s Hollow is looking to scare the Hell out of you.
A colorful cast of characters fills the corners, shadows, woods, and corn of this hollow. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a vile creature with a decaying face. Worms were popping out of the peeled skin on her face. As she creepily closed in on us, she attempted to eat the worms falling from her face before letting out a blood-curdling scream. Another undead chap donning a long black coat, top hat, sunglasses, and ghoulish makeup literally gave us “the bird”. Though not a scary individual, he did provide comic relief with his offbeat personality and dry humor.
The barn has trapped many souls inside. We intermingled with roughly sixteen members in the barn which all delivered jump scares. They did a good job at hiding in the small areas and shooting out at the opportune moment with loud screams and one-liners. The only individual who had any dialogue in the barn was the not-so-jolly St. Nicolaus, who rhythmically and repeatedly told us, “I see you while you’re sleeping.”
We did feel that there was some downtime and a few more actors would help the experience.
They had a diverse cast covering most staples of a haunted attraction : a clown with a multi-face mask, a plague mask, a scary nurse, a girl dressed like a doll, a skeleton individual with large hands, and some other non-living entities. The scarecrow that came to life and the ghillie-suit characters, although not unusual, provided the best shocks.
The hay-less hayride provided the most actors of the night, nearly double that of the barn and trail. They added more variety, dialogue, and interaction than the barn. Monsters and creatures hid well in the very dark woods. We came across werewolves, skeletons, pirates, hillbillies, prisoners, and other creatures of the night.
The actors did a good job of emerging from the darkness and landing on the wagon. Getting in people’s faces, screaming and decent dialogue were how these individuals intimidated the riders.
There were several notable performances. The cannibals in the tepees who were looking to kidnap children provided an interesting act I had not seen in years, but a few tweaks would provide a more realistic experience. The gas station attendants who were loud and violent offered the most dialogue in the hayride. Pennywise, the clown, stood in the moonless corn field holding a single red balloon definitely causing an unsettling feeling.
Two individuals really stole the show : the headless horseman (actually a young lady) and an incredible driver we will refer to as Mad Max (we can’t spoil this effect as it was the best and scariest moment of the night). Both provided a unique talent exercised in difficult circumstances. Let’s not leave out the horse – the horse did a good job of running, galloping, and rearing itself all in very dark and muddy circumstances.
The actors on the trail did an adequate job. They had the smallest cast of the three attractions with only thirteen creeps. The trail had three less members than the barn, but were spread out across a much larger area. We visited on a rainy evening and, though they adjusted some actors, it did leave downtime.
We came across characters similar to what we had seen before, such as skeletons, monsters, clowns, and other darkly-clad persons. The most unique individuals were the six or seven-feet-tall Sasquatch in the woods and the Harley Quinn look-alike who was “looking for (her) pudd’in'” (the Joker). The Joker did not make an appearance.
The cast did a great job at providing jump scares and surprises. The few who went above and beyond the basics did great and hopefully we see more of those characters in the future.
The costumes in the barn were your typical costumes. Nothing stood out as unique or custom, mainly store-bought outfits. They were realistic enough and fit the scene and individual who wore them but nothing we have not seen before. However, we have seen a lot. A mix of masks and makeup added to the realism of the actors. Skull masks, bloody makeup, clown masks, and other common attire filled the barn. All-in-all, it was an average attempt for the season.
The hayride, as stated above, provides a greater variety. The costumes were a mix of dark street clothes and costumes. The darkness of the woods provides a cloak over the actors making it hard to see exactly what they were wearing. Even when the actors were on the wagon, in my face, it was hard to see if there were any details in the makeup and masks.
The ones I was able to distinguish looked respectable. The werewolf looked excellent because it was not just a mask but the hands and body appeared furry too. The inmates had orange jumpsuits and dirty, bloody faces. The hillbilly gas attendants looked like your typical backwoods kin. Pennywise’s costume looked pretty accurate, as did his mask (though it was from a distance). The red balloon added a nice touch of detail. The old lady we encountered looked believable in her old lady dress and wig…maybe it was real….it was super dark out. Finally, the headless horseman looked on-point with his long, black coat, Gothic-style attire, lack of head, and a glowing pumpkin.
Most of the cast had dark clothing on. As the woods were very dark, they blended in well. The masks we saw looked to be of good quality. Skeleton glove hands added more detail to the skull mask. The clowns looked like like proper clowns with good makeup. The two best costumes were Harley Quinn and Sasquatch.
Costumes were appropriate for the scenes they were featured in. Nothing over the top or completely revolutionary, they provided a good amount of realism to the actors and overall enthrallment.
Customer Service: 8.09
The haunt was easy to find with a quick, online search. GPS led us to the location easily. We did not notice any signage on the way until we were closer to the haunt.
The haunt sits on a long, dark road. As we approached, we could see the lights and parking lot.
The haunt is mainly outdoors, except for the barn. Uneven ground, grass, mud, and darkness will be encountered. Paying attention and going at a normal speed should keep you safe. We had no troubles, but it was a rainy night, so it kept the average thrill seeker at home.
Inside the barn, there are some steps, low areas, and uneven surfaces, nothing out of the ordinary for these types of haunts. The haunted hike is a decent walk up and down hills in the dark woods. As it was raining on our tour, we did run into some slippery mud. Paying attention to our footing assured that we were leaving mud free.
The customer service was fantastic. Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. The owners took time to talk to us about their beginning – starting out as a hayride, then a trail, and then the barn – and the future of the attraction. As they are not professional or big budget in that sense, they have been able to deliver good scares without the flash of the larger attractions. Each year, they try to add to the haunt as well as change scenes. They are planning additional changes next year including a larger parking lot.
Porta-potties were on site as well as a concession stand and gift shop.
The website is easy to find and provides all the info on the haunt, the legend, events, and the cost.
When we entered, we could see some colored lighting in the distance. Chainsaws revved, followed by screams and shrieks echoing down the hollow.
As we proceeded around the barn, we could see some décor : pumpkins and scarecrow-type dummies lined the side of the scary outhouse with a sign written in blood. Atop the outhouse loomed a giant skull head and arms.
Normal music played near the wait line. A lady in a black costume with a large hat, walking stick, and gray hair led us to the ticket booth. As mentioned above we were able to interact with a few interesting characters.
Some additional outdoor décor and effects would go a long way to provide a more fearful mood.
Special Effects: 7.04
The haunted barn provided a good volume of low-tech scares. Sounds and music were used throughout the attraction to add to certain scenes, but not every theme. The most effective use of sound was the beehive. The humming of the bees would be unpleasant for those that do not like these insects. There is also a shocking secret in this area.
The fog room provided a green, glowing, vortex effect that was a welcome deviation of the fog-swamp rooms that have become more and more popular. The old log cabin was well-detailed with woodwork, antiquities, a ghostly rocking chair, and a poor guy with a splitting headache. A newer effect we came across that we have seen one other time this year is a “squishy floor effect.” It feels as if you are sinking into the floor. The doll area had creepy dolls around the room. The spider nest gave us the willies, and the dirty bathroom was quite disgusting. Other common themes were a doll area, butcher shop, and poltergeist-type scene.
Some basic animatronics are found around the barn, adding to the scares and distractions that allow the cast could act upon. A projection effect in one area could have provided a good effect, however the projector was clearly visible. Coffins with skeletons popping out, electrical circuits popping, and dummies amongst the actors all add to the mystery and suspense of what is about to happen.
The hayride was the star of the show. This hayride had no hay, but the wagon had benches to sit on. We were grateful for this, as the last 2 hayrides we’ve visited had us sitting on the bottom of the wagon – not a problem for younger people but I am getting too old for this stuff.
The trail, itself, provided some scare as we were going up steep hills, down steep hills, on twists and sharp turns, and through the extremely dark thicket.
The hayride did not have additional sound or music playing, just the spooky silence of the night occasionally interrupted by shrieks of fear and voices of terror. The individual sets were detailed well but could have had some additional niceties. This would provide more reality to contrast the actor’s effectiveness.
The hayride did provide the best effects of the evening. The Pet Cemetery is filled with animal skeletons. A good use of different colors provided a distinguished mood for each scene. The cemetery had well-made tombstones that glowed spooky emerald in the dark woods. A covered bridge filled with fog and lasers provided a spinning effect that left us slightly disorientated. As we progressed deeper into the woods, the blast of the train horn and its light came to the side of the wagon. We also rode through creepy shack areas, a campsite, and a small pond. The small pond hosted a pirate and a pirate ship. The insane asylum provided one of the biggest scares of the ride. There were also some fire effects that provided a startling effect as the heat seared across the wagon.
The trail had the least special effects – mainly strobe lights and some other lighting. One area had a voice coming from the speakers.
Hells’ Haunted Hollow does not have a theme; it is a mix of haunted horror clichés. Each haunt area has a blend of horror themes for you to enjoy.
Scare Factor: 7.13
Hells Hollow did not quite scare the hell out of us, but it did provide some good jump scares, intensity, and surprises. The groups were kept small outside of the hayride, which had around 20 people and plenty of room for actors. With small groups, the actors had a good opportunity to scare all of us and they did target everyone.
Along with targeting everyone in the group, they were able to provide good frights without being predictable. Scare methods focused on jumps scares and in-yourface intensity.
We were happy to see some strong climaxes at this haunt. Finales have been harder to find than Waldo at haunts this year. The creepy Santa and snow North Pole room were an unexpected treat to finish off the barn. The closing of the hayride was fantastic! The Mad Max-style scene was genuinely scary and impressive. (As Forest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”)
Entertainment & Value: 7.36
The highlight of the haunt is the hayride. Out of the four hayrides we’ve attended this year, this was our favorite. Providing good action and some exclusive disbeliefs, we were very pleased.
The barn was an average haunt providing traditional jump scares and old-school style.
The weak point was the trail. It felt we were walking forever until we saw anyone or anything. I agree that walking in the woods at night in the dark is unnerving, but we wanted more.
The outside roamers were interesting and distinctive, but limited – a good attempt as several haunts do not have offer any outside entertainment.
Speaking with the owners, they explained the history of their haunt. They started as a hayride and added the barn and trail as time went by. Six years in, they are still a “newer” haunt. The owners are aware of issues they want to improve on as well as plans for the future. We definitely enjoyed the haunt and see a lot of potential and are excited for what else they can come up with.
Tickets cost $20 for all three haunts for adults and $17 dollars for children. We timed the haunt at a total of 38 minutes. The barn was 8 minutes, the hayride was 20 and the trail took about 10 minutes, which is 1.9 minutes per dollar and above average.
If you are in a hurry, the Hayride is $10 a person. The hayride would provide two minutes per dollar.
Hell’s Hollow Haunt is a fun experience, providing some solid scares and good actors. We had an enjoyable time and are happy we discovered a new favorite hayride. We are looking forward to seeing what next year holds.
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Guest ReviewsGuest Average: 10 out of 10
Amanda – 10/10So much fun we went through twice