in tow, our 16 year old and 11 year old, we headed out for Goatman
Hollow located in Hyattsville MD.
We'd been invited, and while we had no negative expectations, we had no idea we would be setting the bar with this small haunt,
run in a patch of woods between an apartment complex and a middle
school, staffed with volunteers and whose proceeds benefit
the local fire department. We couldn't have been more mistaken.
I sit hear a year later, the season finished, and I am still impressed
with the operations, staff and effects displayed at this small
The story of the Goatman is standard house material... well intentioned
scientist lost the love of his life, yada yada yada... and began
experimentations to bring her back to him... one of the failed
experiments was, "ta da" The Goatman.
Most houses have some sort of story to them, and Brian and I are
big fans of "the backstory." It adds ambience and credibility,
particularly if the house remains true to the story (which quite
often does not happen.... it evolves to be all about the scares).
is not one moment of your journey thru Goatman Hollow that you
forget, because the story unfolds before you.
You are advised that your response to anyone asking what you are
doing in the woods is "We're looking for the goatman."
As you begin your walk down the wooded trail, your first encounter
is with a government employee, who, just as luck would have it,
is looking for the goatman too. He will travel with you through
the outdoor maze, speaking in low tones, telling tales of the
woods... You come across a trailer, parked alone in the woods,
it's inhabitant a bit scary himself, until we mention the goatman
and it causes him to flee into his protective aluminum shell,
nothing left of him but a pair of eyes barely noticeable above
the trailer's window ledge.
Being set in an actual patch of woods gave the haunt atmosphere that even
the best of haunters can scarcely match... and when you combine
sophisticated lighting, it doesn't get much better. Walking up
upon a small cemetary and Mausaleum, the stateues begin to glow
before your eyes... the slowest of fade up of lighting, controlled
with remotes held by the guides. Even inside the mausaleum the
props were perfectly illuminated, giving the statues an ethereal
effect... and their use of a "pepper's ghost" effect
in this outdoor mausaleum was a complete and pleasant surprise.
The oldest of industry standards, but so overlooked in today's
pneumatic prop world... not the most difficult effect to pull
off (tho for this, the degree was escalated somewhat with the
haunt being outdoors) but the look on the faces of our fellow
travellers says it all. Looking "thru" Jenny to her
tombstone that lay just beyond was a monumental effect to this
already impressive scene.
Throughout the path, you will encounter Jenny again, and her family.
I would be completely remiss if I did not give IMMENSE amount
of credit to the actors of this room. We absolutely never would
have believed that the pool of talent here were volunteers, they
break our rule of "you get what you pay for." You will
meet the "failed Jennys," a room of carnivorous little
girls... all clones of Jenny, but not quite right.... you'll cross
"crybaby bridge," and will meet people looking for their
beloved pets that sadly, did not come when they were called....
until you reach the final house... where you'll meet the doctor
himself.... completely crazed, a madman... Jenny's soul trapped
in the lifeless body that remains in the coffin... her spirit
will beg you to stop him, to let her die.... let her have peace....
and just when you thought you were out of the woods... well....s you'll
just have to visit the haunt for the rest...
So are goatmen scary? Depends on your point of view.... If you
are looking for huge startle scares, this may not be the haunt
for you...the allure of this haunt is that beyond the goatman,
offered a cohesive story that brought you into their world, made
you closer to the participants, a tactic that allows their subtle,
creative and effective use of lighting and talented staff to,
for just one brief and gloomy moment, suspend your logic and believe
in the goatman... and you'll pray for Jenny's soul to find peace.