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Haunted house inspectors submit frightening reports

It's the Witching Month of October when Haunted Houses spring up everywhere. Earlier this month we dared anyone brave enough to rate Haunted Houses to apply X-Press to become an Creepy Critic. The response was monstrous, and we now present the first installment of our Haunted House reviews.

Critics were asked to rate Haunted Houses Old-School Halloween (witches, goblins, ghosts) or New-School Halloween (movie monsters such as Jason and Freddy).

Then they rated the following categories, using the 1- to to 5-skull rating system:

5 _ Yikes!

4 _ Sweaty palms but no heart failure.

3 _ Beats Godzilla vs. Rodan.

2 _ My report card was scarier.

1 _ This category does not apply.

Smell _ Dank and musty

Noises _ Grotesque wails, creepy chain sounds

Darkness _ scary or too dark to roam

Cheesy effects (peeled grape eyeballs, spaghetti witch hair, cob webs)

Authenticity of severed body parts/blood

Believability of living person as corpse/monster

Good for little kids but too wimpy for older kids

Scary enough for older kids

Overall spooky atmosphere

The Haunted Houses at Universal Studios in Orlando

Kirkman Road, exit 30B from Interstate 4 in Orlando; Brandt doesn't recommend any of these Spook Houses for kids 12 and under.

Creepy Critic: Brandt Downey, 12, Clearwater

Admission: $25.50 (Florida residents)

Open: 7 p.m.-1 a.m. through Oct. 31. Call ahead, (407) 363-8000. to make sure they are not sold out!

House: Psycho Path Maze

Highlights: Both Body Parts and Blood and Living Person as Corpse/Monster rate a 5, with an overall Fright Factor of 4.

Comments: "This takes place in the Bates Motel. The scariest parts are the people jumping out of the cupboards and the Mother Bates painting."

House: Dungeon of Terror

Highlights: With an overall Fright Factor of 5, Brandt says the Cheesy Effects are kept down to a 1.

Comments: "This takes place in a cable-car barn. I liked the shrinking wall, electric chair scene and the woman under the floor. Excellent atmosphere and Fright Factor."

House: Hell's Kitchen

Highlights: Living Person as Corpse/Monster rates a 4, as does Scary Enough for Older Kids, and again, an overall Fright Factor of 5.

Comments: "Takes place in a butcher shop and all the butchers are after you. More like a body shop. Dead people on hooks are grabbing at you. Best of the four haunted houses."

House: Boneyard

Highlights: Though Brandt gives it an overall Fright Factor of 4, Body Parts and Blood and Living Person as Corpse/Monster receive 5.

Comments: "The Boneyard is a condemned insane asylum where all the inhabitants are coming after you. Scary enough for older kids. I thought it was well done, especially the room with all the live snakes and the psychotic dentist."

Several of our Creepy Critics haunted the House of Horrors at Great Explorations, The Hands-On Museum _ giving it mixed reviews all the way around.

House: House of Horrors at Great Explorations, 1120 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg.

Admission: Ages 4-17, $4; Ages 18-65, $5; Ages 66-over, $4.50 (Includes price of museum)

Open: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun.

Creepy Critic: Zac Papantoniou, 12, St. Petersburg

Highlights: From Dank and Musty Smell, to Grotesque Wails and Creepy Chain Sounds, Zac gave this Old-School Halloween house scores of 4-5, with an overall Fright Factor of 4.

Comments: "A lot of kids said it would be totally lame, but I disagree. I am 12 and thought it was pretty cool."

Creepy Critic: Jonathan Rice, 9, St. Petersburg

Highlights: Jonathan gave an overall Fright Factor of 3, with Darkness and Creepy Noises Rating 4. However, authenticity of severed body parts got a 2, as did Dank and Musty Smell.

Comments: "It was good but could have been scarier."

Creepy Critic: Kara Gajentan, 14, Largo.

Highlights: Kara gave Noises a 2, with "wind howling" and for Cheesy Effects, she listed black lights and rubber hands. The Fright Factor only rated a 2.

Comments: "Very lame for older kids. It's better for 5- to 7-year-olds."

Creepy Critic: Justin Lutz, 12, St. Petersburg

Highlights: Justin gives it an overall 4, citing fog smell, blowing air and a couple of good severed body parts.

Comments: "It was scary enough, but little kids can go too. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 7. I was throwing people in front of me so I wouldn't have to go first."

Creepy Critic: Lindsey Cherowbrier, 13, Largo

Highlights: Scary Noises rates a 5 with Lindsey, with an Fright Factor of 4.

Comments: "If you go to this haunted house, don't get scared if you can't find your way out. It took a while to find the right doors and entrances."