29/04/2017 – Walpurgis Night: Half Way to Halloween

Scare Kingdom Scream Park are back once again with another fantastic haunt hidden within the walls of Manormortis, and the final show of Snuffhouse Alone!

 

Hyde and Seek

Themed around the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, guests are bought into the dark and dingy world wherein a secret elixir, created by none other than the doctor himself, gives the person imbibing it the gift of eternal life with some unfortunate side effects, which the doctor wasn’t shy about demonstrating on an unfortunate victim. Soon enough, the victim had turned and we were rushed away from the pair and into the main attraction.

 

As we progressed we encountered a range of characters, from an old and rough scullery maid through to an overtly camp (and utterly hilarious) aristocrat, all of whom added their version of the story into the fold until you were so immersed that you felt you were playing a detective in a murder mystery movie, all while Jekyll’s previous victims lunged at us from the hundreds of hidey holes dotted around the manor. It all came to a head when we managed to get into the wife of Dr Jekyll’s bedroom to talk to her about something before she sent us on our way to find her maid, and before we even knew what was happening, the lights went out and a strobe light flickered, illuminating Mr Hyde before he disappeared into the night again.

 

This was, for me, my favourite story to be played in Manormortis. It had absolutely everything that is needed for someone to go in, get spooked, come out, and laugh and talk about after. From the hilarious Aristocrat with his “crossfire” skit (it has been a long time since I laughed like that) through to the creepy priest, almost everyone’s character was on point – unfortunately the lawyer in the upside down room and nursery fell short just a little in comparison to how strong the other characters were. Otherwise, everything about the characters was perfect!

On top of this, the bit I loved the most (well, bits – they kinda go hand in hand) was the storyline. How I bloody love a storyline, and to get me so immersed t(o the point where a character said “come closer” and I did in the 15 minutes we were in there) just goes to show that a haunt can provide scares and story, and because each scene lasted a good few minutes, we were able to actually look around and take in the beauty of Manormortis, which is usually missed as everyone gets rushed through.

Overall, Hyde and Seek was an absolute blast of a show that blended comedy, scares, and downright sexual acts together tastefully to provide one of the greatest haunts I’ve experienced at Scare Kingdom.

 

Snuffhouse Alone – Bloodborn

Snuffhouse is, as many people know, an extreme attraction that costs an extra fee to take part in. Lasting roughly 10 – 15 minutes (depending on if you use the safeword), victims are at the mercy of The Tormentors who, as their titles imply, are there to make your life hell.

This is the first and unfortunately last time I took part in Snuffhouse Alone, and I’m glad I didn’t miss out! With an all female cast, some fantastic reviews from the last few runs, and the knowledge this will be the only time I would be able to take part, I stripped down to my t-shirt and jeans (hey! It’s cold up there and I didn’t think I’d be able to participate!) and stepped in the queue.

From the moment I entered Snuffhouse, I was hooded, bound, teased, degraded, interrogated, beautified, and generally abused, but I couldn’t help but grin all the way through from what I had just experienced or what I was told to do, it was just an absolutely fabulous run with some fantastic ideas and clever tricks that I’ve not experienced before in a haunt!

Fortunately for me, I can’t do any of the eating scenes (yay for chronic illnesses! (I’ll let you decide if I’m being serious or not there)) so I didn’t get the “full shebang”, but what I did experience is the perfect introduction to the extreme haunt scene, and I would have thoroughly recommended it to anyone who has ever wondered why extreme haunt fans like their extreme haunts. I totally regret not going back through!

 

Overall, Walpurgis Night was an absolute blast, and it’s such a shame that it didn’t run for more than one night to allow more chance of people to see those two absolutely stunning haunts.

 

 

29/04/2017 – Walpurgis Night: Half Way to Halloween

27/08/2016 -Snuffhouse: After Dark

Still reeling from my experiences at Cracked a few weeks earlier, an announcement was made during the ScareCON ball: Russ McKamey (the creator of the infamous McKamey Manor) would be teaming up with AtmosFEAR to bring the Manor experience to the UK under the name Snuffhouse: After Dark. As soon as tickets were released, I bought mine; I received an email a week or so later that linked me to an online form that asked me all about my fears, inviting me to be as honest and open as possible, even asking me if I’d be home on a specific date at a specific time – that truly made me question what exactly I was getting myself into.

The weeks rolled past and, between work, other haunts, and my trip to Florida (which was absolutely AMAZBALLS), I completely forgot about Snuffhouse: we had no further contact through email, on the Facebook page, on our mobiles, nowhere. Nothing even happened on the date they asked if we’d be free; it got to a point 2 weeks beforehand that I was convinced it had been canned.

Fortunately, it hadn’t, and the forst groups went through!

As the shows approached we learned that they’d be livestreaming part of the event on Facebook, and viewers would have the opportunity to vote for the sufferer they wanted to have “extra treatment”. This was unnerving, but honestly one of the best ideas I’ve heard for a haunt – it’d let others take a sneak peek into what an extreme haunt would look like! I eagerly awaited the livestream of the event before me as I knew a load of friends and Cracked contestants (and survivors) were taking part and I kinda wanted to give them hell (sorry guys! (I’m not really sorry)). One by one, their hoods came off and… they seemed in better shape than I thought.

2am hit (the finish time for Snuffhouse) and I messaged all of them asking what they thought; they knew not to tell me anything, but they all unanimously said they were bored – even someone who had never done an extreme haunt said it was boring! I was highly disappointed in what they had to say (read Europehaunt’s review here), but was secretly glad I’d actually be able to see everything.

 

Oh how I was wrong.

 

We arrived at Scare Kingdom and were greeted by some rather friendly backstage crew who advised us to park up and remain in our car. Once everyone arrived (well, almost everyone), we were asked to sign our waivers before being led to some toilets for our “last” toilet break before we were made to line up facing a bush. Hoods were placed over our heads and the experience began.

 

We were led to a room with a projection screen and made to kneel. A video of our host, Russ McKamey, appeared on the screen in front of us and introduced us to his Tormentors, then immediately started the psychological mind games. The video ended and we were made to adopt a stress position whilst the Tormentors intimidated and began to slowly chip away at our minds.

 

The video came back on, and we were split up into two groups to do our first task. We were hooded once again and led through the Scare Kingdom boo haunts to our first challenge that was designed to physically wear us down. I got punished for not following instructions completely, so combining that with all the jumping and dancing around like witches at a bonfire in the tales of olde in nothing but my shoes, I was definitely breathing hard.

 

We returned to the same room and got split up into two groups again, this time to do a mental game whilst holding stress positions. I was definitely having trouble keeping up with everything that was going on, and even this most basic of basic challenges had me questioning whether or not I could keep going – the Tormentors had already got inside my head and I hadn’t even noticed!

 

We returned back to the room and got split up again. We were led off to do a second even more psychological game that turned everyone on themselves, and left me facing off against another three Sufferers; they all said I was untrustworthy, so I threw them under the bus in a heartbeat… they did not smell very nice after that! (guys if you’re reading this I’m really sorry!)

 

We returned back to the first room and held a few more stress positions and got berated with insults by the Tormentors (I swear Blue never left my side and he was a complete arsehole) before we finally found out it was midnight – it was livestream time! Our hoods came off one by one and we had three bright lights shone in our eyes. We waited on our knees for someone to be chosen, and I half expected it to be me, but thankfully it wasn’t – I was so tired that I don’t think I could have done any more. Once the chosen Sufferer was led off, we were told that we’d be facing off against each other.

 

We were led off again then made to hold stress positions once again. After maybe 3 minutes, I safeworded and was immediately removed from the experience for the first time.

As with any experience that’s this intense, aftercare is absolutely paramount! I was taken outside to get some fresh air and get some water in me. The backstage crew I was with were very friendly and jolly and talked me down – it was definitely appreciated, but in all honesty I’d have been absolutely fine sat next to Sufferer 5. Once I was ready to go back in I was told that because I had left, I had broken the psychology behind the event. I re-joined the group and began adopting stress positions which broke me almost instantly: safewording and leaving the event for 5 minutes was enough to ruin the rest of the event. I safeworded again and received aftercare again – we did breathing exercises to lower my heart rate before I was sat up and asked if I wanted to continue. I explained that because I had already broken the illusion I wasn’t really enjoying it any more – my tour ended after 2 hours 45 minutes.

I stood around in the car park waiting for the tour to end to see how they ended up, and they all seemed pretty in tact still; from a spectator view, even though I could kinda see where the ending was going, it looked pretty lame. We had decompression time with Jason Karl and a few backstage crew who explained that they had special training and used specialist tips and techniques before we all went our own way.

 

Overall, I was rather surprised at the experience: after having feedback from those that went the week before, it was obvious that our tour had really been amped up: we were forcefully moved about and basically treated like rag dolls the entire time physically whilst being degraded verbally. There was a lot more psychology going on in there than I thought which is definitely appreciated; I did raise a concern with one of the games, though personally, I was ok and went along with it anyway.

 

Whilst it isn’t the most extreme attraction the UK has to offer, it’s definitely up there! If you’re looking to enter the extreme side of the haunt world, this would be the best event to go to. With a few tweaks and maybe a little more theatre in the vein of the old McKamey Manor extreme boo haunts they did a few years back, they’d have a really strong attraction that fills a gap in the market.

27/08/2016 -Snuffhouse: After Dark

23/04/2016 – Cracked-Survival Experience

“Explain your experience in three words”.

 

I’ve always been a fan of being scared. I’ve done most of the title holding rollercoasters residing in the UK and have attended countless haunts over the last decade, and whilst they were fun, I knew I was safe at all times so the scares didn’t really get to me – I needed an extreme haunt.

What is an extreme haunt? Unlike boo haunts (the kind of haunts at theme parks where someone jumps up and yells “boo!”), Extreme haunts are generally physically and mentally demanding, and require the guests to be the main characters of the story. Generally speaking, you will be armed with a safe word, be put in a very small group (with some making you go through alone!), and sent on your not-so-merry way.

About a year ago, I discovered a few extreme haunts in America and read all the reviews I could on them, trying to figure out their stories and what happened inside: I needed to do something like this, that made the scenario you’re in feel real.

 

Out of nowhere, I get a message simply saying: “look up Cracked Survival”.

 

After a bit of Googling and Facebooking, I find myself requesting access to the New Recruits page – a page specifically set up for the promotion and general chit chat around Cracked from those that have been and those that are interested in going. When asking about what took place inside, everyone kept their lips sealed, or responded with “we are all Blake” – a rather cryptic message.

 

Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I ended up buying a ticket for a friend and myself (I definitely wouldn’t have shown my face if I didn’t have someone I know with me). As soon as I had paid for the tickets, I found myself being added to a secret group with other attendees where questions were asked of us over the course of three months, allowing Blake to slowly and surely embed himself within all of us. As each question was asked, I found myself trying to analyse them, try and find out what was in store for us and break the game before the game got a chance to break me. Blake’s presence grew.

 

Friday 22nd April came around, and at 19:00 on the dot my phone vibrated. “Dear Subject 3, it is now 24 hours until Cracked: Experiment 2.0 begins.” My heart skipped a beat and my hands went clammy. I stood with my friend in the middle of London at rush hour on a Friday night, workers rushing to catch the earliest train how they could, partygoers heading to their first venue of the night…. and us two, heading to a hotel way up north to experience something that only a handful of people have experienced before us.

 

Saturday day was surreal: it was almost like being in purgatory. We had a low key day watching stuff on TV and YouTube, generally saving energy before the big event. 18:00 eventually comes around, and we go to meet the two other subjects in our group. 18:45 soon came around and we headed off to the pickup location, speculating what could happen to us. We round a corner and immediately meet a stern faced woman. Any sense of joy dissipated quickly. We handed her any earthly possessions we had on us and, get directed down a dirt path and the experience began…

 

Within minutes of the event starting, our meager group of four were slowly being chipped away, bit by bit, in the middle of the countryside by Sarge (a character you do not want to be on the right side of, let alone the wrong side) who worked us until we were lying breathless on the floor at his feet, before being loaded into the back of an army van, and bound and hooded and taken to the real location.

Over the next 90 minutes, Blake, Sarge and the small army of assistants continued to erode at our physical being, the assistants making sure we did exactly what Sarge wanted us to do, to make sure we wouldn’t cut corners or to correct us if we were doing wrong. I found myself saying “sorry Sarge” more and more as my body slowly broke down.

After doing one particular task that I failed miserably at, I get punished and I crack: I scream the safeword and I lay there absolutely disappointed with myself. My time was over.

Blake was instantly there along with one of the assistants offering their hand to help me up, and I’m guided away from the rest of the group (who continue on with the tour for another 2 hours before cracking – see her review here).

I meet the stoney-faced woman from the beginning of the experience at the top of the stairs, except she had dropped the cold, clinical persona and was absolutely sweet! She asked how I was physically and mentally, asked what happened to make me safeword, then offered me a hot drink, though a bottle of cold water was much more appealing. I took the bottle of water and shook Blake’s and her hand, and made my way outside to my chariot back to the hotel whilst they returned to torment the remaining subjects.

 

Photography by PastaCore Alternative Photography

 

It took almost two hours for the adrenaline to finally clear my system – I went on a good hour walk just to try and figure out what I had gone through, but I just couldn’t: there was just far too much to process. I was extremely disappointed that I cracked at something so basic – I found out after that I was extremely close to getting into the next scene, and all I needed to do was choose a better way to vocalise my panic: the safeword really and truly was not the noise I wanted to make.

That night I managed to get to sleep at about 02:30. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see Blake’s mask there, almost as if it had been permanently imprinted in my mind’s eye. I finally do find myself passing out, though the sleep wasn’t very fitful as the fatigue was quick to set in.

Cracked is an extremely fast paced, intense, and uncomfortable haunt. It is designed to push you to breaking point and beyond. You need to be both mentally and physically tough to survive the full six hours, and realise that your worst enemy in there is not who you think it is.

 

“Explain your experience in three words”

I am Blake.

23/04/2016 – Cracked-Survival Experience