Entering the dank and grimy basement lair of “Uncle” Charlie McFree, the Schoolhouse’s homicidal janitor, is an unnerving experience. His evil has corrupted all corners of the schoolhouse — from the bus parked out front to the PTA carnival. Bodies hang from hooks in the woodshop. Babbling lunatics fi ll the detention hall.
The designers have spared no effort to make this a completely immersive environment. Highly detailed scenes use antiques and period pieces to create an air of authenticity. Each room has multiple hidden sources of effects lighting and an individual digital soundtrack. A third of the rooms are new and the others have had thousands of dollars in animatronics and effects added.
Dent’s seasoned group of actors uses a variety of scare styles to keep hauntgoers off balance, and the cast includes some of Cincinnati’s best-known haunt characters such as Charlie, Bludzo, and Damien Reaper. Add it all up and the Schoolhouse becomes a grueling experiment in higher education, putting it at the (severed) head of the class. (Reviewed by Randy Schadel)
THE WAIT: Lines can be extremely long and can run two hours or more on peak dates (Saturdays). The wait on Thursdays and Sundays is much shorter. Expect to spend about 25-30 minutes taking the tour.
DETAILS: Open 7:30 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, 7:30-10 p.m. Thursday and Sunday (closed Thursday Oct. 15) through Nov. 1. 5963 Harrison Ave., Harrison (Exit 11 off I-74), 513-598-4600, www.frightsite.com
THE DAMAGE: $13 with an optional $20 Fast Pass. There’s also a large variety of discount ticket packages available on their Website.
CITYBEAT RATING: R