299 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, IL
The Massacre was one of our top haunts of 2014, so when we heard that they were having a special Christmas haunt we knew we had to be there.
Dubbed "Christmas Nightmare", the haunt was held on only two nights (December 20th and 21st) and we made a point of stopping by on the first night. We liked it so much we came back again and brought visitors!
For those who have never been to the Massacre, we'd recommend checking out our original review, as the Christmas version was basically the same layout as the Halloween version. However, there were naturally some Christmassy twists that made the haunt both creepy and funny at the same time.
The Massacre is one of those haunts that is not necessarily intense and in your face. Yes, it has some good startle scares, but there is also a good dose of humor mixed in. It's not all dark and gloomy and threatening to steal your soul all of the time. For every creepy scene there is a funny bit, so the scares balance with the overall entertainment. That's part of what makes the Massacre so much fun, and the Christmas version was no different.
As the setup of the Massacre was essentially the same as the Halloween haunt version, you'll get a good sense of the layout and level of detail by reading our original review.
Speaking specifically about the Christmas changes, though, in terms of set design they primarily amounted to the addition of various Christmas decorations on the walls or covering various props. For instance, some rooms had gingerbread men on the walls, some props had tinsels and garland on them, and some of the static characters had Santa or elf hats on. Where the real Christmas theme came in was in the costuming and makeup of the live actors, which was top notch.
For instance, one of the cool things about the Christmas Nightmare was the makeup - a number of the live actors had ornaments embedded in their faces, and one actor even had candy canes stuck in her face - very nice and quite creative! Many of the typical actors in various scenes had Christmas themed costumes on.
For example, in the mental asylum section, the standard nurse was replaced by a winged angel with black weepy eyes who climbed the walls and stated down on visitors, and the male prostitute outside of the theater became a giant elf who was high on something (and not just Christmas). The boiler room became "Candyland" and was populated by more live actors who were sampling some kind of candy, including one with a cheesy Christmas sweater on and another one whose face was made up to look like a peppermint candy. Special mention must be given to a few of the live actors, most notably the "twitchy" nurse who greeted us in the mental asylum - she stood very still, like a status, until visitors passed, and then she came to life, threatening visitors with a giant syringe. Her makeup and costuming was excellent, and her disjointed, halting performance effectively combined comedy with a hint of the threatening as she slowly lurched towards everyone. Excellent stuff! Also noteworthy were the aforementioned weeping eyed angel, whose black-eyed stare was quite unnerving, the cannibal butcher who was most anxious to get us to sample his food offerings, the creepy girl with the candy canes stuck into her face, the clown with the hammer who charged at visitors during the 3D section (making the 3D even more in your face), the crazy bishop in the funeral scene (only there on Friday night) who spouted Satanic chants while chasing visitors around the set, and the actors in the last scene, dressed like members of some ghoulish marching band, who led us towards the exit.
Overall, the Massacre was excellent - perfectly detailed sets, dedicated and original actors, a good length, a lot of variety, and a good mix of scary and creepy. The only (small) downside was that there were not as many actors as there were during Halloween time (which is understandable). It resulted in some of the scenes (such as the statue in the hallway, the doll room, and the Christmas tree room) not having their full scares, but for those who have not been to the Massacre you would not have noticed any difference. However, despite this, it was truly fun for the whole family, as evidenced by the fact that one of us brought our 76 year old mother, who had never been in a haunted house in her life. She screamed, she laughed, and overall she had a really good time. What more could one ask for in a haunt!
We look forward to everything the Massacre has in store for us in 2015, including their special Valentine's weekend haunt - we can't wait!