Horror on Frankel Street is a nifty little amateur effort that impressed us last year with its "Scarecrow Village" presentation. The new theme for 2009 is "Dark Carnival" - yet another clown maze! - and even though we are a bit tired of the clown-concept, this one really works; in fact, it is better than the professional clown mazes you will find at the Haunted Queen Mary and Heritage Haunt.
What's nice about haunt's use of clowns is that each is given its own little area and bit of business, so it feels as if you are walking through a series of brief weird vignettes, including two clownish cheerleaders who offer you a choice between a pie-eating contest and a kissing booth. This is a big improvement over most carnival-themed mazes, which simply having walking down corridors painted in fluorescent colors, while clowns occasionally jump out and blow a horns in your ear.
Perhaps the most remarkable element of this year's presentation is that it feels bigger than before, even though it is using the same available space, a garage and a back yard. With some clever geometry and carpentry, the back yard has been divided into a series of sharply angled corridors that keep you guessing about what will be coming around each corner. Although the decorations are not as elaborate as some Halloween yard haunts, the lighting hides the deficiency and enhances the suspense, particularly some strobing lights near the beginning, which prevent your eyes from adjusting the darkness and leave you vulnerable to whatever may be lurking therein.
In the past, we have expressed reservations about the proliferation of clown mazes during the Halloween season, but we have enjoyed several this year, including Dark Carnival. Horror on Frankel Street does a good job of seeming to be bigger than its small location would allow, and it runs like a well-oiled machine, with lots of enthusiasm. Great fun if you live in the Lakewood area.
Dark Carnival runs from dusk to 10:00pm tonight. Subsequent performances, with the same hours, will be held on Friday, October 30th and on Halloween night, Saturday October 31st.
Horror on Frankel Street: Dark Carnival
2719 Frankel Street
Haunt Line: 1-888-308-9096