22/10/2016 – Alice Through the Graveyard

Presented by Howick House of Terror, this haunt will blow you away. Seriously.

Invited by the people that run Home Haunt UK, we were given a quick walk through and “behind the scenes” tour of what will be an incredible home haunt once it’s finished.

Built around and inside the creators home, this haunt is completely made up of animatronics that were designed and created in-house, which is absolutely insane and blew my mind when we found out! One press of a button bought every scene to life, using smoke, lighting effects and all sorts of surprising animations!

Not only do they have animatronic scenes, they also have a pitch black maze that’ll be loaded with props and effects by the time the haunt was open – we visited at about 5pm and there were corridors that were close to being pitch black already, so that’s going to be absolutely incredible when that’s finished (and don’t worry, there’s an escape route for those that don’t want to enter as well).

Soon enough, you get to a very famous scene from Alice in Wonderland, with it’s own disturbed twist. I can’t rave and rant about how incredible this scene is purely because there’s so much going on all at the same time, and describing it wouldn’t be doing it any justice (the same could be said for the rest of the haunt too, actually).

This is honestly an amazing feat the creators have done, and honestly puts some of the bigger attractions I’ve recently reviewed to shame. If you’re in the area, it is definitely worth visiting over the Halloween weekend – I’m just sad I won’t be able to experience the finished product!

Please note: this haunt is free of charge to enter; however, any and all donations go straight to Cancer Research UK – a worthy cause in my opinion!

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22/10/2016 – Alice Through the Graveyard

21/10/2016 – Yorkshire Scare Grounds

After a quick re-shuffle of haunts due to timings (I really didn’t plan this tour at all…) I found that we had a date missing a haunt, so we decided to sneak this one in!

We were put in a group of 12 and were sent on our way through the scare grounds…

 

House of Arachnia – Mutation

The first haunt on the tour played on the fear of spiders. The character setting the scene was rather quiet and the voice he put on made it hard to understand what the story was, but I figured it had something to do with spiders taking over a house due to all the cobwebs everywhere.

It was a very basic haunt with few characters, most of which didn’t make sense whilst in there, but the bedroom scene has a really neat little trick that was kinda cool.

What was disappointing was that all the scares were aimed at the first person in the queue, meaning we got nothing right at the back and we started to get bored.

 

Forest of Freaks

As the name suggests, this theme was freaks in a forest. The forest itself was perfect for these clowns to run around without being seen, and they did that extremely well, but as with the haunt above, all the scares were aimed at the front of the queue. By this point we were so bored at the back that we started making the rest of the group jump to entertain ourselves.

 

The Chapter – Order of the Raven

With a sinister feel, I found this long-ish haunt rather interesting: we were constantly ducking between indoor and outdoor scenes but as with all the other haunts at this attraction, all the scares were aimed at the front of the group.

On a more positive note, the Raven’s costume was really impressive!

 

Lockdown – They’re Out!

This is where the haunts seemed to pick up a bit more.

Greeted by a soldier, we were given a nice long intro story to the haunt that set the tone. From actors that were hidden in plain sight through to the zombies banging on the fences as we went passed, it was a disorientating and complete sensory overload that had us on edge: we especially liked the use of water in this haunt as well! The only issue I had was the zombie wearing glasses: it just kinda broke the illusion a little.

 

The Tomb – Afterlife

This was, by far, the strongest haunt there. Themed around Ancient Egypt, we were led into a tomb that’s protected by a curse that comes to life as you progress through this clever and innovative haunt! The scenery throughout was incredibly detailed and at points it was impossible to tell the difference between a prop and an actor, which played to our disadvantage in the strobe maze! The tomb corridor was the highlight of the haunt and the attraction!

 

The attraction started off rather weak but definitely improved as you went through. If you do decide to go, try and work it so that you’re at the front of the conga line to get the most scares, and toward the back if you’re jumpy.

 

Also, definitely have a photo taken in their photo booth, and take a look around the gift shop – one of the actors draws as a hobby and was selling some pictures when we went through, and I got this amazing picture of an evil blue critter that I absolutely love!

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21/10/2016 – Yorkshire Scare Grounds

16/10/2016 – Scaresville at Kentwell Hall

Scaresville, based on the grounds of Kentwell Hall in Suffolk, is a 90 minute horror experience that takes you through multiple haunts and scenes designed to creep and freak you out in what is described as a haunted village.

Celebrating 10 years of Scaresville, we were told to expect the very best of the previous years’ haunts along with some frightening new scenes, and they were definitely not lying!

Upon arriving at Scaresville, you’re held in an unfairground where you’re able to buy food and drink to warm your bones before you’re led off to have said bones terrified out of you! It had a lovely atmosphere, but it definitely felt like it was lacking roaming characters and sideshows.

Our number was called and we were led up an almost pitch black path to the safety announcements where we were given the safety briefing (one that every hauntee is familiar with), then we were let into our first haunt, and our journey began…

What’s different about this haunt compared to the stuff we usually do is that the scares never let up: all the haunts and scenes lead into each other so once you start you never stop moving, and whilst there are nice long countryside treks at points (which is absolutely beautiful when lit by the full moon peeking between the clouds), the scares never stop – between the creepy scenery and roaming actors, you’ll be laughing and screaming constantly!

Usually, I’d split out the review based on the individual haunts, but there’s so much to see that by the time we got to the seventh or eighth haunt, we had forgotten what we did in the first! Well… not really. There were so many amazing bits in that first haunt that it stuck very prominently in my mind, even 3 days later!

Set wise, all the haunts had their own theme that aided in the stories they were trying to set, some of which I’ve never seen before in the 10 years I’ve been haunting which is refreshing! We especially liked the use of fire and torches used in the outdoor scenes, the water used in the indoor scenes, the use of absolute darkness, the shipping container… there were so many scenes and effects that we loved that if we were to share them all here, we’d ruin the entire event!

There were a few niggles here and there that I have with the haunt: there was a distinct lack of entertainment in the Unfairground, there were no smell effects used, and the lack of music between the scenes made it feel a little empty, but otherwise I absolutely loved it and would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good scaring this Halloween!

 

PS: If you haven’t been warned already, bring your wellies!

16/10/2016 – Scaresville at Kentwell Hall

15/10/2016 – Screamland

As the sun sets over Margate, Dreamland transforms into Screamland and all sorts of ghoulish creatures crawl out from their hiding places to cause havoc and mayhem!

Not only does Screamland boast 5 haunts that range from the camp and fun jump scares through to exceedingly creepy and disturbing themes, but the entire park gets a new overhaul, from the Screamland sign light show and Halloween themed music through to the smoke machine hiding the roaming actors, there was plenty to see and do whilst waiting for either the rides or the haunts, all of which simply added to the atmosphere!

 

The Final Cut presents… They Came From Outer Space

Our first haunt for the night was The Final Cut which had been re-themed from when we last entered at ScareCON earlier this year (read that review here).

The haunt’s intro has remained the same, though that’s definitely not a bad thing as it helps you feel like you’re really entering the movie.

Once you’ve entered the movie, it’s clear from the get-go that you’ve found yourself the star in your very own sci-fi/b-movie extravaganza, which pays homage to the greatest b-movies about, from Little Shop of Horrors to Tron. This was a great re-theme of a haunt with some fantastic props and scares that’ll make you jump into outer space!

 

Dead & Breakfast II – Murder Hotel

Next up, seeing as The Final Cut leads straight into it, is Dead & Breakfast II. Preceding the haunt was a series of 4 clips showing Fag Ash Lil in her attempt to find love on a rather suspicious sounding online dating website…

The haunt theming and story itself doesn’t look like it has changed much from the first Dead & Breakfast (read here), however this doesn’t detract from the experience at all – the theming is still incredibly detailed and the scares are still as surprising as they were the last time we entered the rotting seaside bed and breakfast. What has improved is the use of scents to immerse guests further, especially in one specific scene that made all of us recoil as we entered the room.

The finale is still incredibly clever and absolutely perfect: even though we knew what was coming, it was still a tense and jumpy experience!

 

The Bloody Mirror

Our third haunt for the night was The Bloody Mirror, a very basic haunt set within the mirror maze that exists in the park year round: based on this knowledge we weren’t expecting much from it, but in fact we were pleasantly surprised. The very basic theming kept us on our toes as we weaved our way through a very small number of scares in this disorientating haunt – a smoke machine and a well-placed laser would have gone down well in here.

This is a great place to start if you’re looking to try this kinda thing for the first time, otherwise it’s a bit of fun.

 

Festino’s Forgotten Funhouse – King of Clowns

This haunt has moved from a big top in the car park last year into a permanent building inside the park, giving it plenty of space to expand into something quite incredible!

Themed around clowns, guests will be utterly devoured in the bizarre acid trip of a haunt that uses some clever tricks to get some jumbo sized scares in this wild freakshow!

 

The Paradise Foundation

We saved this for last, despite the fact the queue was absolutely dead when we got there but after hearing what was said at ScareCON, we knew this had to be the last haunt we did.

We were not disappointed.

Based on what could possibly be a very real scenario, guests will enter the foundation and meet some rather disturbing characters who’ll transform you into the very best version of you using some very revolutionary but controversial operation practices.

This haunt is definitely not for the easily disturbed as the story is incredibly dark, with inspiration taken from goreno/grindhouse and psychological horror movies, which will shock you to the core as you take your tour through the foundation.

Not only are your eyes and ears spoiled rotten with stimuli, but your nose and even sense of touch is, especially as you draw closer and closer to the end – the finale will absolutely blow your mind and leave you wanting more. If there’s one haunt that is sure to disturb you this Halloween, it’s this one.

 

Overall, Screamland has set our expectations exceedingly high and we can’t stop talking about it, especially The Paradise Foundation!

15/10/2016 – Screamland

14/10/2016 -Broadwitch HauntFest

October is here and the Halloween haunt season is in full swing!

 

The first, and extremely spontaneous haunt (I planned this 4 hours before the gates opened) of the season was Broadwitch HauntFest! Based in Southfleet, Kent, this attraction boasts 5 haunts that range from creepy all the way through to terrifying!

 

Spooky Castle

spooky-castle

Our first haunt was Spooky Castle, where an ancient evil dwells within, preying upon people that step foot in its halls. Spooky, right? Right! This deceptively small haunt takes you on an eerie journey through the castle, where you meet all sorts of creepy characters, most lurching from extremely clever hiding spaces built within the intricate theming! If you enjoy an evolving story and lots of creepy scenes, this is absolutely perfect for you, and will definitely catch you out with some of the scares, including a new twist at the end that we weren’t expecting, which was refreshing!

 

MassAcre

massacre

This is a haunt hidden away toward the back of the park in a cornfield. I’ve never been a fan of outdoor haunts as there’s too little control (i.e. lighting, nature, etc), but let me tell you, this completely blew my mind! The haunt itself is a great use of space but is sparsely themed, but that doesn’t detract from the haunt itself – the corn leaning in on you as you walk through is creepy enough – small shacks and sheltered areas are dotted around to break up the haunt which allow for unexpected scares: the first screamer definitely set the tone, which felt like a bit of a gamble but it definitely paid off tonight!

 

Thirteen

thirteen

This haunt, whilst not as strong as the first two, definitely had a lot going for it – the opening scene was rather disorientating and claustrophobic, which only got darker and darker as you progressed – soon enough we were groping about, trying to find our way whilst trying to ignore the strong smells coming from the next room. The scenes themselves were fantastic, stimulating you sense of sight, smell, and sound to bring you an entertaining haunt; the only downside is the transition between the scenes, but what they’ve done is fantastic – kudos to the clown who made me jump so much I almost fell down the stairs!

 

The Edge

the-edge

A very sudden change in theming for this next haunt: vampires! I have honestly never been a fan of vampires and find them hard to be scary, but this detailed haunt took us through gothic catacombs infested with bloodsuckers determined to drain us of our blood. From homages to Nosferatu through to Van Helsing, these creepy bloodsuckers came at us from every angle in order to get our necks! This haunt is worth a trip through if for the ending alone!

 

Biometrix

biometrix

We saved this for last as it received a SCAR award in 2015, but I was honestly rather disappointed with it. The concept is a great twist on the army/genetic modification gone wrong theme, but with the lack of actors and theming, and the recycling of scares, what could have been an amazing haunt fell flat on its face – definitely needs more smoke and/or strobe lighting/lasers in the long corridors to break it up a bit. Even though this reads negatively, it wasn’t a waste of a haunt – I still enjoyed it, but there’s a lot more that could have been done to really polish it off.

 

Whilst not part of the haunts, the roaming actors were alright except for Judy from Punch and Judy who is AMAZING! But seriously, all the roaming actors were extremely creepy in their own ways and were greatly welcomed by the general audience and everyone they interacted with.

 

Despite the minor gripe with Biometrix, as a whole, the event is extremely professional and well organised, with a great team of actors and front of house staff that kept us entertained the entire time we were there. Definitely worth a visit!

 

 

14/10/2016 -Broadwitch HauntFest

4th April 2016 – Virtually Dead

So, I had my eye on this event from the moment it appeared in my facebook feed and I was instantly interested in it, especially the VR; however, I wasn’t sure whether or not it was a bit gimmicky and if it’d work: you see, my expectations from the experience was that it’d be a “boo” haunt that you’d walk through whilst wearing the VR headset with jumpscares from live actors. The event described itself as “combining previously unseen VR technology with interactive performance for the first time in the UK”, so you can see where I’m coming from, right?

After a week or two of mulling it over, I decided to go for it. £30 or whatever wasn’t much, and it was an hour experience and more stuff for you guys to read – it’s been just shy of half a year, and whilst the facebook page is plenty active with information about haunts and horror events, the blog was stagnating.

I got to the page and realised that loads have people had already beaten me to the punch – the entire show had sold out in a month or something ridiculous! 10,000 tickets for the event sold! Fortunately, they added a few more dates and I managed to snag myself one of the 500 extra tickets released – phew!

Background on story:

The state of Arizona has been infected by a sinister virus that has wiped out millions of people in a matter of days. In an attempt to control it, the US Government has quarantined the entire state, building a wall around Arizona.

To combat the virus should it spread, the United Nations have contracted a highly decorated military officer named Colonel Hanz to set up training hubs around the world.

The ‘Cultek Military & Training Facility’ in East London has been set up by Hanz to train an army of Londoners on how to tackle the virus, should it spread overseas.

The base has been designed to put new recruits through their paces with the potential for the best recruits to be sent out to Arizona to tackle the virus on the front line.

 

Sounds fun, right? Well you’re not wrong.

I arrived early to the party (a whole half hour earlier) wearing my lovely and cheap Primark clothing on, my work shoes, and two football socks tied together around my neck – we were instructed to wear something of a specific colour to identify our group, which I didn’t realise until 12 hours before the event…

So I’m sat there at the rendez-vous point earlier than I should have been and I get approached by a guy in a military outfit. He asks what I’m doing there and I explain and he lines me up, on my own, against the wall in silence. It’s a little awkward, but we’re in the backstreets of London and there’s nobody else here.

Soon enough, the rest of the group turn up. We all get insulted on what we’re wearing because we didn’t really know what to wear except for “clothes you don’t mind getting ruined and flat shoes”.

All of a sudden, we hear a loud rumbling come from round the corner and this monster arrives:

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Our chaperon to the event, dear readers, was this huge ass army vehicle. The back is rolled up and we’re ordered to get in, then we’re “locked” in place.

So we’re trundling sideways through the backstreets of Stratford in an army vehicle that’s almost pitch black and blasting out some old school Prodigy. After about 5 minutes, we arrive at the event. We get lined up and have a mini ice-breaker event before we’re taken inside to be registered. We’re handed a clipboard with the usual waiver for these events: no touching the actors, no photography, that sorta thing. We’re then invited to take a seat in this mini cinema thing showing the backstory for the event, with these posters dotted about the walls:

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So we sat. And we sat. And we sat some more. It took about 45 minutes for us to be called up and into the event. We’re dressed in a green overall and get asked to sit again to wait our turn. We continue sitting and making jokes, mainly at each others expenses.

 

This is where I’m going to have to get a bit vague on the event itself due to the waiver/NDA I signed. For those that haven’t done an immersive event before, you’re basically guided through different “scenes” in different rooms where you are part of the show – the actors (in this case, the soldiers) talk and interact with you, asking you questions, getting you to do things for the show to continue.

 

So we meet a bunch of characters and get a bit more on the story. There are a few extremely obvious jumpscares that had red herrings that could have been executed better, and one that was almost predictable, but still managed to make everyone in the group flinch.

Virtually Dead 4

We’re then guided to the next bit where we’re trained on how to kill the infected. We have the HTC Vive strapped onto our heads, headphones placed over our ears, and remotes placed in each hand, like this:HTC VIVE

(not me, just so you know)

 

so basically they had recreated a training ground for us to get used to killing zombies. Honestly? It was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever done. Your senses are telling you that you’re in a freezing building in London, but your eyes are telling you that you’re in the training grounds and are under attack. I turned around at one point to talk to the scientist because the lenses were dirty, expecting to see her stood there with the rest of the background behind her, but all I saw was more of the simulation, which actually really took me by surprise.

The VR itself was outstanding. Think Borderlands meets Left4Dead, but there’s no moving. The responsiveness was astounding, and the headset didn’t feel that heavy and didn’t cause any motion sickness for the 10 minutes I had it on. I actually caught myself really getting into the game and was extending my arms and looking through the scope of the guns to get the best shots.

As soon as it started, we’re moved on to complete the rest of the immersive experience. One guy got ejected for kicking the zombie from the second legitimate jumpscare which was annoying, but we got back into the story pretty quick.

We finally met the head honcho who revealed the (obvious) plot twist and the secondary plot twist (both of which I can’t explain), and that was it.

 

What do I think?

Well as far as immersive theatre goes, it was awful. All the male army guys had the same persona, the “I’ve given up” meets sarcasm thing that you seem to get from at least one zombie theatre, and all the females were the stern quiet type but there was no air of authority around them. There was also one woman who tried her hardest to pull an American persona and accent, but it fell flat on its face. I also got the feeling that all the actors were bored of being there as the event had already been running for a month, which ruined the experience a bit. I was kinda hoping they were more like the guy that picked me out in Sub Species: Operation Lockdown. The group I was with didn’t help either – they were all friends and were pretty much cracking jokes at every available opportunity (from fear? Who knows), so it was really hard to buy into the story.

The story and jumpscares themselves were also very predictable. If you did The Generation of Z mid-2015, then you basically know the story already, with some scenes being recreated entirely.

I will tip my hat to the guy that played the mad doctor and his apprentice, as their characters were the most developed and easy to believe – this was probably the only time in the entire event I felt immersed.

 

As for a demonstration of the VR? Well, read what I posted above. I’d have paid £30 to play that game for half hour!

 

All in all, I’m glad I managed to get a ticket and I’m glad I did it. The HTC Vive is definitely one to look out for if you’re into virtual reality gaming and have a spare £800 lying about the house. I’m sure the event was much better during the second week, but I still had fun and enjoyed myself.

 

 

4th April 2016 – Virtually Dead

30th October 2015: Phobophobia: The Freaks

Hey guys!

Once again, sorry it’s late. I had good intentions to do this earlier but failed miserably (real life’s been kicking my butt!)

Anyways, on 30th October a friend and I hit up the London Bridge Experience and Tombs for “Phobophobia: The Freaks” after seeing pretty creepy photos EVERYWHERE in London for it. I had been aware of the London Bridge Experience for quite some time (as far back as when The London Dungeons was opposite it) but had never made any real effort to go, so I decided this was the perfect opportunity.

So! Phobophobia is the annual, week long, adult only experience that, whilst isn’t billed as an extreme haunt, is definitely billed as one (see the links above). I simply had to give this a go, and my accompanying friend (Russ) wants to get involved with more haunts after I talked his ears off about McKamey Manor. This year was split into two sections: a free-walk experience and a queued experience.

 

The experience began upon arrival. If you have been to the London Bridge Experience, you’ll know that you queue up in a tunnel that has cute little paintings of rats on the floor, as if they’re scuttling about. They also had the Phobophobia logo rotating on the wall of the tunnel opposite the queue, and had a few actors walking up and down the queue, some intimidating guests and others handing out/selling sweets and glowsticks, much to my annoyance. You’re entering an event that’s designed to be scary, why are you ruining it with glowsticks?!

 

Our turn quickly came. We handed in our tickets and joined an internal queue where we were penned in. As soon as our group reached 15, we were soon invited into the pre-show room, where a creepy ringmaster told us of his travelling freakshow and his cannibalistic freak family. We were made to crawl two abreast through a 200m long tunnel lit up with UV light that ended up being a u-turn around the first freak, who yelled abuse through the caged tunnel wall (“you have a nice arse” being the only one I remember)

 

we exited the tunnel and stood up, powerwalking through a darkened corridor a bit to catch up with the rest of the group who had hit somesort of medical room. I tried to get closer to the person on the operating table to see if he/she was real (she wasn’t) but I was soon “attacked” by a freak with a knife who simply pushed me away from the scenery.

 

Our tour continued through an outside setting, where silhouettes clawed at the walls whilst we ducked and weaved through dirty laundry hanging from washing lines at head height whilst strobes at eye-level blinded us.

 

Another scene appeared in front of us: somesort of death thing. We had no real idea what was going on here, but I guess the dead were coming back to life. What I do know is an actor launched herself into an upright position whilst in the coffin next to us; she was then shot and “killed” again. This was an unexpected scare that got everyone around us, but I couldn’t help but laugh and clap.

 

We continued through our tour and found ourselves in a tavern run by the family of freaks. Two rather attractive but tortured twins sat in the bar and warned us to either order a drink or they’ll call daddy. Daddy was called and all the lights went out. All of a sudden, the revving of a chainsaw was heard from where we came, a strobelight blared and daddy chased us out of the tavern.

 

The next part was, in my opinion, the best bit of the tour: the vortex tunnel. This baby was about 100m long and, I can’t be sure, but I think the bridge was either tilted a little, or tilted as you went along. Either way, everyone was holding on for dear life and all leaning in one direction. This is probably the only bit in the whole 40 minute experience that got everyone.

 

We were then taken down a flight of stairs and had our photo taken before being queued up for part 2 where we had to hold onto the person in front’s shoulders (I personally hate these kinda mazes).

 

This was probably the weakest bit of the whole thing, despite it lasting 20 minutes and made everyone scream. I also really don’t remember any of it as it had absolutely no storyline and was completely void of actors, though the detail in the props was fantastic.

 

Most of this part was dark, though this was ruined by the glowsticks everyone had bought. We basically walked through corridor after corridor of dismembered body parts that were at head height which was a little creepy when they “looked” at you.

 

The next bit was a jungle scene or something with zombie animatronics and a huge spider that just kinda flailed its front legs around.

 

After, we entered a corridor made of wood where a huge behemoth that didn’t look too unlike The Thing from Fantastic Four just kinda stood, staring. The corridors after were very twisty and claustrophobic.

 

The next scene was a graveyard which had a perfect scare opportunity for a sparker with an axe to attack us, but nothing happened.

 

To tie it loosely back in with the freakshow theme, they had a bit dedicated to the circus. It was cleverly done, with the room divided up into 16 squares with circus tent fabric dividing each square up, which added to the disorientation. This scene was completely under utilized – they totally could have had clowns or actors in there acting demented, but they only had a cot with a doll in it and nothing else.

 

The final scene was a butchers block with another chainsaw scare that lasted so long it became awkward. I shrugged at the actor when he failed to scare me and was rewarded by getting a chainsaw to the balls.

 

In my honest opinion, the scariest bit of this part of the experience was the lack of actors. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, but none of it was scary: the scares were aimed at the front of the queue and repeated again at the back, there were a few claustrophobia chambers that were poorly executed (they came up to shoulder height and were so stiff they just became a nuisance), fake scares where props were placed behind walls so you saw them out the corners of your eyes (there were enough that I thought the one in the strobe room was gunna be real… nope).

 

I can kinda see why they wanted adults only, but the description of the event was extremely misleading. I guess if you’re absolutely brand new to boo haunts and have no idea what to expect from them, then this would be a good show, otherwise I’d say not to bother.

 

 

As a bonus, they had a reptile room where they had snakes of various sizes (from 2kg through to 30kg), an iguana, and something else. We spent about 45 minutes in there because the little snake I held wrapped itself around my neck and fell asleep on me, and I felt guilty for wanting to wake him up. This was definitely the highlight of the event.

30th October 2015: Phobophobia: The Freaks