Tuesday, February 16, 2010

While I am in

a bad mood, I might as well bring this up. (my self loathing kicks into high gear whenever I have to spend time with my family :D )

As I have posted before not everyone likes the Davis Graveyard display or me for that matter, but that is cool, everyone is entitled to their opinion - just like I am entitled to mine :D

Is this not the most wonderful world! :)

So to show it is not all sunshine and roses here at the graveyard (or my case tombstones and skeletons), I will share with you a not so flattering review from last October from one of the larger free publications in our area. :(

To be fair, and all things being what they are, I know that my display is not very interesting for people from about early teens to early 20's - we are too family friendly and not scary and thus uninteresting to the bulk of that age group, which is the primary haunted house attendees. This is one of the main reasons, husband and I have no aspiration to create a haunted attraction. I really have no desire to adjust my style to that demographic....personally I like it, gore and jump out monsters are fine, I have no problem with them. I love haunted houses, but it is not something that sparks my creativity.

So when every you are talking about Davis Graveyard in the same context as a haunted house, we are going to fall short. I appreciate that they even include us, but it usually does not bode well for us in comparison :)

Well, this particular paper/magazine, the Willamette Week, is definitely for the hip crowd and they were none too kind to us. So about now, I am having flashbacks of being the un-cool kid in high school again :D

Davis Graveyard
8703 SE 43rd Ave., Milwaukie, davisgraveyard.com. Dusk-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, dusk-11 pm Friday-Saturday. Free.

Davis Graveyard is not a haunted house. Officially, it is an elaborate yard display, with special effects thrown in on the weekends. Unofficially, it’s just a cluster of cheesy tombstones, fake cobwebs and blue lights. Sometimes there are creepy noises, but overall, it’s the opposite of scary. It’d perhaps be a nice surprise while trick-or-treating (especially since the Milwaukie High School dance team will be performing “Thriller” Halloween night), but it’s otherwise not worth the trek to Milwaukie. KATE WILLIAMS.

Pants wetted?  Only when my car got stuck in the mud.
Scream level:  Sesame Street.
Zombies spotted:  None, but there will be several dancing zombies on Halloween.
Worst failed attempt to frighten:  One tombstone read, “Hold my beer and watch this.” If only I had been holding a beer.

Okay, it could be worse, and actually I am not too affected by her not liking it, like I said, that happens, we are not for everyone. Being a scream level of Sesame Street works for me. I like Sesame Street - that made me smile :D

What does bother me are a few things. Calling 60 tombstones a "cluster" is a little insulting (but I guess in comparison to a real graveyard, that is fair), there are no blue lights in the display and come on, even if you stretch the truth a bit, not all of the tombstones are cheesy :D

But the "officially" and unofficially" statements - basically she is saying we are exaggerating in our description.....wow, I mean I am in marketing and exaggerating is something I will have to say I am familiar with....but in this case, I thought "elaborate yard display" was more than a fair description. And saying that one of the largest displays in the nation is not "worth the trip to Milwaukie" hurt a bit. Just so you know, the houses across the street from me are in Portland, so basically she is saying the display is not even worth crossing the street for :D

"Some special effects thrown in", yeah, nothing too special, just 5 video effects, custom lighting system, animated skeleton and spider, video and mechanical ghost effect (preacher), and custom sound track depending on where you are at in the display. Yeah, we just threw those in. I mean we just had them lying around..... :D

And, yes, I did notice that there was a lot of mud in front of the house before Halloween, so I did have a couple loads of bark dust brought in, some of those little expenses for the display that I forgot to budget for :D

She is 100% correct, the fake webs I bought last year sucked, they did not stretch very well, I actually took a lot of them down. After whining a lot, I now have a great web gun (and a friend that LOVES webbing) Problem solved for next year - No more fake webs for the graveyard.
Well, the "Hold my beer and watch this" tombstone has never been one of my favorites, but other people like it. So I have to thank her for finally giving me a reason to put it in the back of the yard! :)

On that note, Kate, if you ever come by to visit the display, just come on up, I will be more than happy to offer you a beer :D

So what's a girl to do? I was recently talking to someone about how my being in marketing works with the graveyard, and this is a perfect example. I could have sent an email out to our list and asked everyone to contact the Willamette Week....but working with media like I do, I know that this will likely offend the person that did the review, so if they did not like me before, after that, they would likely not cover me or give us an even worse review next year. The best thing to do in this case, just ignore it.

I just remember that we make this display as a form of expression, and there will always be someone that does not like what you do. Just part of life.


  1. Do what makes you happy & to heck with what anyone else thinks!

  2. I don't like Kate.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong. Obviously, she did a drive by review and didn't stop, get out and see the animatronics that I am green with envy over and the other special effects. Then again, maybe she is catering to a more shallow and unsophisticated audience that can't appreciate atmosphere, subtlety and finesse over a chainsaw and bucket of blood with some screams.

    Give me the Davis Graveyard any day over that claptrap! You're doing the best thing, ignoring it, you're doing what you love and tons of people love it right there with you!

    As with family, you're on your own, my family can put me in a bad mood too!

    Mr. Macabre-an eternal fan!

  3. Hopefully your peers' opinions matter : ) I LOVE THE DAVIS GRAVEYARD!

    That was really a bullshit review of your beautiful haunt. I'd base your success and appeal on the crowds that gather during the season, and on the compliments by people that follow your site/blog and love your haunt.

    This reminds me of the tool that insulted my haunt one year stating it was the same old thing every single year.

  4. First, avoiding family as much as possible is necessary for a healthy self-image. My mom had shoulder replacement surgery and year ago Christmas. I flew down to see her and help her and my dad post-surgery. I walk into her hospital room from right off the plane, and what does she say? Hi? Thanks for coming all this way? NO.

    "Do something with your hair."
    Ack. And I am related to this person? Really?

    As to your display, that person in obviously an effing idiot and should be invited by for a behind the scenes tour of your throuwn together, cheesy effects. And she should be made to help set up the church.

    Without scaffolding. Unless she's hanging from it. Really high up. I bet she's one of those who looks at an elaborate gourmet meal made just for her, and says to her host, 'Oh. Well. I'm a vegetarian. I can't eat THAT." Not considering how much time and effort it took to make the meal. Peasant!

    Oh, and Mr. Macabre-stop using words like "Claptrap." They are way over the heads of people like darling Kate.

    Oh, she won't see this anyway... Never mind.

  5. "...not everyone likes the Davis Graveyard display, or me for that matter..."

    Who doesn't like you? What planet are they from?

    This Kate Williams sounds like a snotty 21 year old who couldn't get the guy/job/life she really wanted and so goes about pissing on everyone else's parade.

    I have a haunted house for her...

  6. don't you just love the comments? I mean, seriously, these are your true friends...harken to these my dear...obviously, if your 'yard haunt' were less than satisfactory, you wouldn't have lines down the sidewalk...and obviously, this reviewer has no idea what it takes to do a display for trick or treaters, halloween enthusiasts, etc....its not like you charge admission...of course, she doesn't consider all this because she simply doesn't have a clue....re the family, I am reminded of something I saw once (I believe on Law and Order or some such thing)...the mother was directing her comments to her daughter, who had just been accused and convicted of murder..."you have been such a disappointment"...LOL...forget it...you go, girl...

  7. Well, I never!

    I bet you probably cut that chick off in traffic the night before or something to get her knickers all in a wad like that!

    You did a good job of presenting what most of us try to hide about our haunts - the trash talkers. Good on you girl!

  8. Well, in my opinion, I would say that Kate have no idea of what it take to create a haunt like the Davis Graveyard. She is probably one of those people who like blood baths over creepy atmosphere... Or maybe she just did a mistake and wrongly replaced my haunt name with yours ;-)

    Seriously, your haunt is wonderful, a lot of people love it and I'm a fan!

  9. Seems like Kate Williams missed the best parts of the display! Maybe she drove by before the effects were turned on? If she'd done her job, actually investigated the thing she was supposed to be reporting on, the write up would have at least been fair. But, then again, maybe she just confuses gobs of gore with true horror?

  10. This my dear is what drives us to get better at our craft! Something she will never do without better research on her subject matters.

  11. Honestly, I think she is a pee'r. I think she is the girl that goes into haunted houses dry and comes out soaked in her own embarrassment. Her way to attempt to regain any self respect for herself is to taunt the haunt.

    My own story... I haunted my brothers yard one year and one of the adults that came to the door looked at me an said I was being blasphemous against God...or something to that affect. The two ladies with him stiffened, as they saw the look come over my face. Keep in mind I'm standing there in 4" platform gothic boots, pigtails, mini skirt (with leggings) and a ripped up sweater. My brother quickly stepped forward and explained something about his son going to Christian school, yada yada.
    Anyway... the only thing I thought of to say to him AFTER he left was..."Oh, I see your dressed up as a stone thrower, how sinful of you." (ending with a giggle)

    Anyway... I haven't forgotten there is always going to be some misguided fool out there that has to front themselves at the expense of others. Sorry you were the other this time around.

  12. I've never been to the Davis Graveyard and i like it!

    *puts hex on snooty reviewer*

  13. Chalk it up to the old adage: "You can't please all of the people all of the time."

    And then start work on a "Kate Williams" tombstone for 2010. :D

  14. Longtime envious lurker. I totally agree with all of the above. However, what concerns me is how many people did not visit your display based on this persons review? Or if they did visit, how much this review influenced their opinion. This is the primary reason I don't care for movie reviewers. I usually have the opposite opinion of our local newspaper movie reviewer and have gotten to where I go see a movie based on word of mouth and/or my own interest, etc., not what he says in his review. Obviously, with the crowds your display draws, many others visit based on word of mouth or various other reasons and enjoy it.

    I agree with ignoring the review. If it makes you feel better, make a tombstone for that newspaper or newspaper reviews, in general and place it next to your beer tombstone at the back of the display.

  15. If I am ever back in the USA, I plan to make a special trip to Milwaukee for the expressed purpose of witnessing the Davis Graveyard.
    As for the reviewer, she's obviously just a Bee with an ITCH. Might I suggest that you (or get one of your cronies) to read other reviews that she writes and see if they too are scathing ones. Perhaps she complains about any & everything and that lends little credence to her opinions.
    Take care, you deserve better.

  16. There's a saying those goes something like: "Those who don't actually have any talent at all usually end up as critics". Stay true to yourselves...blood and gore is too cheap and easy (just like that Kate).

  17. I like the idea of a "Kate Williams" tombstone!

    This was a fascinating post. Good to read about all the behind the scenes work, and I loved reading about your reaction to the shallow review. all in all, this negative experience made for an interesting read, and I hope it doesn't deter you in any way!

  18. Show me a haunted house with as much care and detail as the Davis displays and we'll talk, until then, consider the critique a FAIL.

  19. Hmmm. You know, I was going to come out to see some of the Davis magic in person, but now? I don't know. I mean, how can you call yourself a haunt if you don't have a decapitated corpse that spurts blood from its neck as it spins around and flails?


    It's fine to have a preference for scares and gore, but I think the review was unfair. Your statues alone elevate the work you do.

    Sounds like she was looking for a haunted fun house, not a display. *shrug*

    I wouldn't sweat it. And now that I've had time to think about it, I'll still come out and see ya. Just try and have some motorized, blood-spurting props ready for my arrival, ok?

  20. My dear.

    IMHO, you are doing a fantabulous job.

    There will ALWAYS be empty-souled, snitty, jealous little shits whose pathetic little lives center around hurting others just to make themselves feel better. That is mean and hurtful, and you need steer clear of them and be the ORIGINAL you are. Closing the doors permanently to that crap they shovel will bring much happiness to you!

    Keep up the brilliant work. We loves ya, Kiddo.

    - Ellie

  21. Thanks everyone. I could tell by the review that she really didnt' see the display when it was running. No worries, really I don't let it get to me. Like I said, everyone is entitled to thier opinion. :)

    Any yes, I will take the compliments of the thousands of people that visit the yard and the hundreds that fill out comments cards and say nice things over one persons musings.



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