Corrado’s Farm Haunted Hayride & Haunted House

On Sunday night, Oct. 16, I was invited by a group calling itself Haunt Hunters to join them on a tour of the haunted attractions at Corrado’s Farm in Hackettstown, NJ. This organization is headed by enthusiast Mr. Chuck Mound and his partner, a North Jersey notable who goes by the name Mr. Haunt, an imposing figure, whose six and a half feet height is further enhanced by his wearing a goggle-adorned top hat. Together they have made a serious project of travelling the Northeast and beyond to visit and assess amusements and displays in the horror genre, including haunted houses, hayrides, yard displays and the like. Haunt Hunters evaluates the originality, creativity, scariness and authenticity of the sets and scenery, costumes, acting skills and scream queen qualifications at every stop they make, awarding honors in each category, topped by the prestigious “Annabelle Trophy” for Best Haunted Attraction.

During the month of October owner Joe Corrado dedicates his hundred or so acre farm to the creation of a haunted theme park, open Fridays through Sundays until Halloween. For fans from the Tri-State Area, it is well worth the trip. As a guest of Haunt Hunters I was treated first to the haunted hayride ($14). We were seated on the hay-strewn platform of a tractor-drawn trailer on a moonlit night and surrounded by excited teenagers and adults as we were towed down dark trails to view illuminated grisly roadside displays of theatrical graveyards, gallows, guillotines, car wrecks and dilapidated shacks, out of which came costumed and masked actors to startle and harass us with threats, shouts and simulated weapons. No flash photography is allowed, and the effect is terrifying.

Next we lined up and took a march on paths cut through the Haunted Corn Maze ($8), again menaced by masked and costumed horror actors. This went quickly because the frightened kids at the back of the line kept urging and pushing those in the lead to move faster to relieve their terror.

Then we were shuttled on the back of a flatbed truck to a remote area of the farm where the Haunted House ($14) awaited our arrival. Decorated outside and furnished inside with horror-themed displays the house is manned by acrobatically inclined, ghastly costumed actors who startled, intimidated and terrorized us, finally driving us out at the end of the tour with a loud, menacing but toothless chainsaw.

At last and with a sense of relief we visited the concession stand and soothed our agitated nerves with hotdogs, cider and doughnuts, while recapitulating what we could recall from the experiences and vowing to return again next October to repeat the experience.

 

 

Halloweekend 2016

 

Thursday, Oct. 27

Night Gallery at Lovecraft Bar

Halloween fell on a Monday this year, tempting us to make it into a four-day weekend. On Thursday, the first day of this protracted weekend, the Lovecraft Bar in Alphabet City hosted the Goth rock sextet Night Gallery for a late night show. Prior to their going on, there were a couple of jazz-folk fusion groups composed of senior citizens who aimed at the musical tastes of what appeared to be a contingent of beatnik time-travelers from the ’60s. When Night Gallery finally got to storm the stage with their house-rocking set, most of the ’60s crowd had taken to their beds, but the few who stayed seemed genuinely impressed and thoroughly into the hard edge and grim lyrics of this darkwave group. Vocalist Mark Demon and singer-songwriter Kitty Hawk on guitar led this large guitar and drum-based ensemble which included a flutist, a female backup singer and the newly recruited, Goth-scene regular Jennifer Bobbe on keyboards. Notwithstanding the enthusiasm of the Night Gallery fans in attendance and the new converts among the remaining beatniks in the audience, the management of Lovecraft pulled the plug after only four songs, citing some kind of bogus “curfew.”

 

Memento Mori at Bedlam

It was a short walk through Alphabet City to arrive at Memento Mori for the annual Halloween edition of this deathrock-themed dance night. Gorgeous and gorgeously attired Goth dancers gyrated and whirled on the hardwood dance floor while at least one beautiful catgirl hovered over the strobe light to capture selfies on her camera-phone. Deejays Mike Stalagmike (Defcon), Bela Lugosi Alex and Valefar Malefic greeted guests and spun the most grim and danceable playlist this side of the local graveyard.

 

Friday, Oct. 28

Madame X hosted “Lifting the Veil – A Sexy Halloween Bash” at QXT’s in Newark, attended by costume contestants from the greater NY/NJ area and beyond.

 

Saturday, Oct. 29

Fr. Jeff hosted the Halloween edition of Ward 6 at Windfall, a dance night complete with costume contest featuring a $100 first prize and $50 Gothic Renaissance store certificate second prize.

 

Sunday, Oct. 30

Night Gallery and Disorder in Amityville, L.I.

The Revolution Bar & Music Hall hosted an event called All Hallows Eve which gave Night Gallery a chance to reprise their act to an audience more attuned to their style than had been present at Lovecraft two days earlier, and indeed they were well received during their half-hour set. Also in the bill was vampire lounge singer and emcee for the night, Baron Misuraca, who nearly brought the house down with his cover of the Rammstein mega-hit “Du Hast.” Oklahoma darkwave duo Esoterik featured a gorgeous Goth chick vocalist and a multi-instrumentalist accompanist in a theatrical performance, and they were followed by Espermachine, an electro-industrial trio hailing from Little Rock, AR, and sounding—as well as looking—quite a bit like Laeatherstrip.

Topping the musical bill was the widely acclaimed NJ tribute band, Disorder, whose mastery of the original sound of the star-crossed Joy Division is by now legendary. They opened the act with a soundtrack consisting of overdubbed archival news clips pertaining to Joy Division’s early notoriety. Then they plowed through a half hour of JD’s repertoire managing to get in eight songs, including such favorites as “Isolation,” “She’s Lost Control” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” finally ending on the tragic Joy Division/New Order masterpiece “Ceremony.” Virtuoso musicianship and meticulous attention to detail are part of the reason for their success as a tribute band. It also needs to be noted that singer Mike Strollo’s carefully crafted, slightly strained-sounding vocals add an aspect of verismo that faithfully replicates Ian Curtis’ originals and does a lot to bring out the tragic elements of the story of the short-lived band.

 

Dracula’s Ball in Philadelphia

This was the first Dracula’s Ball in quite some time. In earlier days, it was held three or four times a year, mostly at the now-gone, multilevel Shampoo mega-nightclub. When impresario Patrick Rodgers was able to put together an entertainment bill featuring reunited industrial rock giants Stabbing Westward and secure the historic Trocadero music venue, Dracula’s Ball arose from the grave. Balancing the bill was an opening tribal/medieval trio, Ashagal whose “songs of myth and legend” reminded us of Quintal or Dead Can Dance, and who warmed the crowd with music of ancient Scandinavia and Ireland.

Indeed, the evening did start early with doors at 9:00, Ashagal at 9:45 and Stabbing Westward at 10:40, so costumed revelers were able to dance the rest of the night to deejay sets by Chas Paris and Rich Russo. Those who preferred the intimacy of the upstairs lounge area had their own full bar and could dance to the spinning of DJ TK-421. Many of the getups were stunning as well as creative, thus it was a little disappointing to see some attendees in sweatshirts, hoodies, jeans and sneakers. Costumes were “encouraged, but not mandatory.” Segregated areas were available for those of drinking age and those not. Attendees under 21 years of age could not access the bar service areas. On the negative side, the Trocadero felt a little claustrophobic compared to Shampoo, but that’s nobody’s fault, just the laws of physics. To his credit, Patrick Rodgers limited the sale of tickets to well below the fire regulations specified limit for the venue. On the plus side, there were beautiful, original and creative items for sale in the merchandise area as well as records, posters and tee-shirts for the bands and the event.

Stabbing Westward put on a spectacular show, and lead singer Chris Hall seemed to be over-the-top with actual love and enthusiasm for the crowd as he exchanged jokes with the audience and belted out 10 great hits, ending the first set with “Save Yourself,” before taking a break, then returning with a three-song encore set that concluded with “Shame.”

We can only hope that having met with complete success with this sold-out the event that Patrick Rodgers is able to put another ball together again sooner than next Halloween.

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