29/04/2017 – Pasaje Del Terror, Blackpool

The first time I had ever experienced the Pasaje Del Terror brand was about a decade ago in Malaga: a friend and I were on holiday and we decided to go to Tivoliworld in the afternoon and stay through until midnight (the park opened at like 2pm and closed at midnight in order to escape the heat), we were both the thrill seeker types, and this was conveniently in the same place as we were so it seemed like a stupid idea to miss it; unfortunately, I thoroughly hated it and swore myself that I’d never visit the brand again, even though the London Pasaje is literally on my doorstep.

This changed, and I’m glad I was persuaded to go.

The first thing that struck me was its theming – even in the queue the theming was on point and really helped set the tone as you could see people looking about and shuffling their feet nervously as we waited to be summoned. Our time came, and we entered down the twisting staircase with a soundtrack saying “leave!” and “get out!” and other various phrases on a loop. We were given the bog standard haunt rules, the door opened, and we entered the blackness…

There were a number of things that thoroughly impressed me throughout the haunt, with the most impressive being the characters: every character, whether they spoke or not, were extremely captivating and had everyone in our group eating out of the palms of their hands, and used their surroundings well whether that was hiding in the shadows or using strobes to create extremely atmospheric and almost dreamlike visuals that make you wonder whether or not the character was real.

The scenery throughout was also fantastic, from narrow and incredibly dark corridors to a chapel with a priest (of sorts) inside, the amount of detail in each individual scene was spectacular and never let the scene down.

Unfortunately, even though the haunt was much stronger than I remember the Malaga haunt being, there were some downsides: if you were at the front you missed out on a lot of scares, which really sucks as there were two scares that I had no idea happened nor how it happened until a friend at the back told me and it sounded like a great scare (though I hasten to add that there were a number of scares that really were unexpected and even made me jump). On top of this, the scene inspired by the Halloween movie series could have had the effects trigger button hidden better and the scene itself could have been darker when the button was triggered. Finally, whilst the scenery between scenes was fantastic, the graduation between scenes really needs to be thought out a bit better as they were jarring at points and left me questioning why the transition was even dreamt up.

Overall, I enjoyed myself this time through. It’s short, but it delivers some really detailed scenes that most horror movie fans will identify and enjoy, though it’s definitely aimed at people who are new to the haunt scene. Definitely worth visiting if you’ve got a spare half hour and you’re close by.

29/04/2017 – Pasaje Del Terror, Blackpool

11/06/2016 – Twisted Attractions

Not even a month has passed since our last haunts at ScareCON and I gotta admit, a number of us were itching to get ourselves to another as soon as possible! We pulled together a quick 300 mile round trip to Twisted Attractions in Birmingham from Essex to do Coulrophobia and  Dr Hades Fear Theatre!

Unfortunately, we found out when we arrived that Dr Hades Fear Theatre was having teething problems so we didn’t get to see the show. Whilst we were disappointed, we completely understand why, and you can find out more too…

 

Coulrophobia

Whilst we were in the queue we were treated to a number of strong characters, including Dr Hades, Madame Pompadour and a rather creepy clown. Dr Hades was absolutely incredible in bringing the maniacal doctor role to life and definitely had the queue creeped out with his creepy games. Madame Pompadour a graceful and elegant character that really captured your attention. The creepy clown was, well… creepy. Evil laugh, thousand yard stare that feels like he’s staring into your soul… the whole shebang; definitely an unnerving character (and that’s coming from someone without a fear of clowns!)

Inside, the haunt is fantastic: what Phobophobia last year could have been, these guys ran with the freakshow theme (despite the name – yes, there is a clown, but it’s not a clown haunt). Expect to meet a variety of freaks on your way though!

Visually, there is a lot going on. The decor as you go through is really clever and builds up a sense of disorientation which builds more and more as the haunt progresses; we actually ended up getting completely and utterly lost at one point, and ended up doubling back on ourselves multiple times.

The characters themselves were well developed and owned by their actors – the clown in the strobe maze really worked with the strobes and owned his section, and the first character we met was just absolutely entertaining through and through.

We were informed that the maze was missing a few final touches, but when we went through it was definitely standing strongly on its own two feet; the final touches just sound like it’s only going to be better next time.

 

Dr Hades Fear Theatre

Remember when I said we didn’t get to see Dr Hades Fear Theatre? I lied a bit: the haunt is having teething problems but we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of what to expect, and let me tell you that when it’s finished, it is going to take haunts in a whole new direction. If you’re ever in Birmingham and Dr Hades is open, you definitely need to go and see it: I’m already seriously impressed and we only got a sneaky 5 minutes!

 

Twisted Attractions is a very strong independent haunt with actors, techies, artists, and backstage crew that clearly love doing what they do, and it shows; especially in the actors improvisation throughout. If you’re ever in Birmingham and they’re open, I definitely recommend taking an hour or so to go and visit:

 

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11/06/2016 – Twisted Attractions

13/05/2016 – The Final Cut and Dead & Breakfast

Yesterday marked two very special occasions: the day that Jason Voorhees kills a load of people, and ScareCON 2016!

For those that don’t know, ScareCON is a one day convention dedicated to the world of haunted attractions, ranging from independent haunts, low budget haunts, home haunts, all the way through to the tens of thousands of pounds events held at theme parks. For one day a year everyone gets together to showcase their stuff, and this year we were lucky to have the opportunity to experience Screamland’s (Dreamland’s) The Final Cut and Dead & Breakfast!

 

The Final Cut

This haunt is themed around the silver screen, where you become the star of the show: you enter the cinema screen and are soon transported through the screen and into the movie world!

Going through the uniquely themed maze you enter a series of zones dedicated to a different classic horror movie, from werewolves through to Frankenstein, and even an electrifying Jekyll and Hyde transformation scene to close the maze

Whilst not scary, it is definitely a very jumpy maze that leaves you guessing where the scare will come from. There are some cheesy bits to it, but this doesn’t detract from the haunt – overall a very strong experience and definitely one for those that enjoy horror movies!

 

Dead and Breakfast

Leading straight on from The Final Cut was Dead and Breakfast, a more theatrical haunt with a stronger storyline.

Themed around the bombings in the 1940s, you enter the Better Days bed and breakfast and check in. You’re taken to your room and are warned of ghostly goings on, then everything starts to go wrong…

With a very clever multi-layer storyline, a load of creepy masks, and scene changes so slick you really believe you’ve moved without moving, this haunt was less jumpy and more creepy, although there were definitely some excellently executed jumpscares!

 

Both of these haunts were absolutely fantastic in their own rights, and are some of the strongest themed attractions I’ve experienced. As they lead into one another, I think Dead and Breakfast should have been first and lead into The Final Cut, though this doesn’t detract from the event. I will definitely be back to review The Paradise Foundation later this year…

 

13/05/2016 – The Final Cut and Dead & Breakfast

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