Friday, August 28, 2009

Lake George is Haunted


Lake George, NY will forever hold a special place in the back of my mind as one of my favorite family vacation spots. As a kid, I would spend a week up there with my family camping, swimming in the lake, getting ice cream in town, and of course, visiting The House of Frankenstein Wax Museum. This summer I had the pleasure of returning to Lake George for the first time in over 10 years, and to my excitement, the museum still stands. They even added a haunted house up the block called Dr. Morbid's, and for a small fee of $14 you can visit both attractions year-round.

Outside Dr. Morbid's Haunted House

After spending some time lakeside eating homemade kettle corn, I forked over the $14 without hesitation. Our first visit was Dr. Morbid's. The inside of the lobby, although well-lit with sunshine pouring in through the front windows, is darkly decorated like an old library, with a dusty piano and a corpse propped up in an armchair. Her dead cat's skeleton is sprawled out on a chair nearby. Eerie portraits line the walls, and a chair made of skulls (similar to the furniture from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) takes the center of the room.

The lobby of Dr. Morbid's (above) is very well done . . .

Look at this sexy mama!

You are greeted by a live guide at the entrance of a long dark hallway. Upon entering the haunted house, you are instructed to line the wall with your backs against it, and the first room is pitch black. The guide begins with the story of Dr. Morbid and his mad house of wax. Guests are then greeted by a moving, talking skeleton inside of a booth that resembles the cover of the first Creepshow film. Unfortunately, flash photography was not permitted inside. Each room is designed with great detail, and I was very impressed with the layout. Coffins open and close, large barrels of wax bubble, corpses (and live people) jump out from every corner, all while being led through the dark halls by a creepy guide who cackles as she tells her story. At the end of the tour, you are left in Dr. Morbid's lab, where he dips his human subjects in wax to create his house of horror. An alarm sounds, and the guide screams for everyone to get out while they still can, and you are chased down the hallway by a ghoul with a chainsaw, back out into the sun drenched lobby. The entire experience lasted about 10 minutes and the guide moves very quickly, so I recommend hanging at the back of the group so you can really take in all the details of each room. Note the hardcover book on the table of Dr. Morbid's study, titled Satan is a Man . . .

Outside The House of Frankenstein Wax Museum

The next stop was The House of Frankenstein Wax Museum, a landmark on the main drag of Lake George. I'm not sure how long the museum has been there, but the exhibits show their age (I'll get to that part shortly). The lobby, however, is much more modern, with Frankenstein himself planted at the entrance, strapped inside some kind of mad science experiment, with Dr. Frankenstein himself controlling the panels nearby. A glass display case next to the ticket counter is filled with some really great sculptures and Frankenstein figures worth taking a good look at.

Frankie about to get the juice . . .

Dr. Frankenstein takes control of the situation . . .

The glass display case that I was very jealous of . . .

Upon entering the museum you climb a tall flight of stairs beneath a chandelier dangling from the ceiling, and enter a dark hallway with glass windows along one side, just like I remembered it as a kid. I was happy to hear that photography was permitted, but no flash (I have a great setting on my camera called "available light" that works great in such situations, and another setting called "behind glass"). The first window that you come to is a ghost with eyes that light up, and I was rather unimpressed - I wasn't even convinced that the display was made of wax . . . he just kind of hovers there, and after a minute it was time to move on.

A light-up ghost who didn't seem to be made of wax. Not a very good intro to the museum. The Creepshow skeleton at the entrance to Dr. Mobid's blew this guy out of the water!

As you make your way down the hall, behind each window is a horror scene that you can interact with by pushing a button on the window sill. Here are some of my favorites:

Dracula stands in the corner, and when you press the button he fades away and a vampire bat appears, using some sort of mirror trick.

A murder takes place in a bathtub, and when you press the button the killer slams an axe down into the victim (by far the goriest and best exhibit in the museum).

Witness a seance, with a very cheesy moving table effect . . .

The pendulum swings and dices a victim laid out on a table.

A huge room dedicated to Medieval Torture shows victims inside an Iron Maiden, strapped to a stretch rack, laid on a bed of nails, and of course the infamous guillotine device that actually works.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame claims a female victim.

A cheating husband is served the decapitated head of his lover while his maniac wife looks on with a smile.

The Phantom of the Opera plays a tune.

An amazing wax figure of Jason Voorhees pays homage to a modern horror icon.

A dark religious order of hooded Druids offer a sacrifice.

. . . and a prisoner is burnt to a crisp in a smoking electric chair.

The list goes on and on . . .

The House of Frankenstein is a journey through the history of horror, and without a guide you can spend as much time as you like viewing each exhibit. There is something for everyone here, and horror fans will be pleased with the amount of detail and care taken with each figure. My only gripe is that everything is behind glass, so you feel somewhat distanced from the experience. Some of the exhibits have not exactly aged gracefully, but the good news is you can skip over these and chances are the next one will be to your liking. All of the scenes are as I remember them, and I'm not sure much has been done to beef up the presentations over time. But that certainly does not take anything away from them -- they were just as awesome as they were 10 years ago!

Visit The House of Frankenstein online at:

Visit Dr. Morbid's Haunted House online at: