Date of Visit: 7/22/22 Reviewer: Lindsay
As the sun sets on a muggy July evening over the sprawling city of Louisville, the residents lurking within a rickety old hotel on the corner of 4th Street grow increasingly restless. You could say the blazing Summer heat is beginning to get to them as much as it is everyone else in the area, causing their tempers to flare, and their lust for violence to reach its boiling point. Unfortunately for all of the hapless "guests" like you looking to spend a night in this hotel of horrors, there is only one thing available to quench these monsters' insatiable thirst... and that's the liquid life flowing through your very own veins!
Summer of Blood marks another first for the Haunted Hotel this year - their very first summertime show! It's also the second in their "Blood Soaker" series, a brand new experience they've introduced for 2022. What's involved in a Blood Soaker event? For an upcharge of $20, customers seeking a more intense Haunted Hotel experience can get their hands on a special white t-shirt to wear as they go through the house. Not only does it let the actors know you welcome extra torment, but it also means you're going to come out with some red on you! It might be just a little, or you might get freakin' drenched - be prepared for anything. Not feeling quite as daring, but still want a thrill? Fear not - the normal Hotel walkthrough is available at their usual prices, ranging from $25 for General Admission to $60 for straight to the door, Front of the Line access. As for parking, you can either scout around for a free space on a nearby street, or hand over a bit of cash to park in one of the lots close by.
Before I go any deeper into this review, I wanted to drop a quick shout out to the haunt for a couple of changes they've made recently, like adding a DJ to the line to hype up the crowd, and occasionally bringing in food trucks too. (Sugar Rush & Sum was on site this time, serving up hot food and sweet treats all night long!) I really like how, despite having limited space to work with, the Hotel team is doing their best to enhance their experience and give customers more to do while they're there.
Quite a few haunts have jumped into hosting Summer events lately, with many adhering to some sort of theme to match the season. But in the case of the Haunted Hotel, I think they just wanted an excuse to throw blood on all of their crazy fans. Of course, as with anything this place does, a bit of storyline was still involved. Upon being grabbed, jerked through the front door, and ordered up against the far wall, I found myself facing Roland Gribbons, yet another member of proprietor Thomas Gribbons' family line. (Geez, how many relatives has this guy got?!) He took the time to forewarn me of the effects the fiery heat was having on the hotel's residents and staff - and of their ever growing bloodlust! Gesturing to a conveniently open suitcase, he hinted that I might find something in there that I could use later... and just like the opening sequence to the first Blood Soaker event, I was soon plunging my hands into a mass of disgusting, sticky red goop. Only this time, I emerged victorious: holding a gleaming key! The key to my room? The key to getting the hell out of this place? There was only one way for me to find out, and that was through stepping into the darkness of the waiting hotel elevator...
Like I hinted in the paragraph above, Summer of Blood didn't really seem to have a "theme". And honestly, it didn't need one. It was more of the beautiful mayhem that comes with a visit to the Haunted Hotel, with plenty of hands on fun, and a decent amount of bloody mess to go with it! Yes, I said "hands on": if you've never been here before, you need to know that this is a 100% full contact haunt. You cannot opt out of this part. If that isn't for you, then I strongly suggest you do not buy a ticket. But if you're like me and love that sort of thing, then you're going to have a blast! I experienced varying degrees of contact as I went through, from actors who caressed my hair or gently touched my face... to the more rambunctious, who wrestled me to my knees, picked me up (!), or ran chainsaws up and down my legs! They really don't mess around here - if you step through their door, they are going to get you.
Quite a few actors were working this event, too; a few less than their other events I attended this year, but still enough to keep up a good show. There were just a couple of empty spots in-house, and some dead space in the maze downstairs. That's generally how things go with these off season shindigs... sometimes they can get a ton of actors to help out, and sometimes they aren't as lucky. I did spot some frighteningly familiar faces - the infamous Strangler was lurking about outside (and drawing first blood on people with a spray bottle), and I'm always happy to see Zizzle, sporting metallic gloves and an eerie smile on his yellow mask. They also had two excellent chainsaw-wielding actors to send groups screaming out into the street. (Both of whom were as deplorably adorable as they were scary - the one with the pig tails smooched me on the head. Aww.)
In addition to their more established characters, I noticed several new cast members within the house as well. It's always good to see fresh blood (pun absolutely intended), and for being new to an extreme haunt, I thought they all did a fine job. They definitely had the loudness and aggression down pat - they just needed to be less shy about touching, and messing up those nice white shirts! I do want to drop a little shout to the guy working the spark table, whom I didn't recognize, but he went right for that shoulder grab after his initial scare. Nice!
I only had one small, personal nitpick about my experience: when I go to an extreme haunt, I love to come out nothing short of gross, and this bloody show was kind of light on the blood the night I came through. Most other guests coming out still had quite a bit of white on their shirts, too. Fortunately, my buddy with the pig tails heard me comment about being "a little too clean", and took it upon himself to... ah... fix that. In the end, I left a happy (and messy) customer.
Regretfully, Summer of Blood was the final show for the Haunted Hotel until the Fall season; if this review has intrigued you and you're thinking of "checking in", you'll most likely have to wait until they have vacancies again in September. With that said, I thought it was a solid addition to the new Blood Soaker lineup - not to mention a unique way to beat the summer heat! These events seem well received by the haunt's fan base, too... between this show and the one they had in May, I noticed many customers sporting the white shirts, and they really seemed to embrace letting go and taking whatever the Hotel threw at them. I've got my fingers crossed that the haunt's team will consider bringing this type of show back in the near future.