02/06/2018 – The Great Escape Game: Abducted

I’m a lover of extreme haunts: from the attractions that strike fear into the hearts of those that utter the name of the attraction through to attractions that present the attendees with bizarre and uncomfortable scenes that come across as slightly comedic, I’ve enjoyed each one; however, this is the first time I’ve ever had an extreme escape room presented to me as an option to start an entire day of haunting, and I was so down to experience one!

Abducted is The Great Escape Game’s 18+ extreme escape room themed around a group of people (the players) breaking into an abandoned warehouse and finding a series of worn photographs, only the dates on the photos aren’t as far back in the past as you’d like…

What happens next is a blur of intense and forceful movements, being gagged with gaffer tape while blindfolded, then tormented by a sadistic, faceless, mass murderer who had been experimenting on their victims for a very long time. Locked inside their torture chamber, it was up to us to work together as a team in order to escape and save ourselves from the hellish nightmare!

Abducted has the perfect introduction to the escape room – the theatricality of the “haunt” element is done perfectly for first timers to extreme haunts and flows wonderfully into the escape room itself; there’s one jump scare that almost made me drop to the floors which I really appreciated, but unfortunately once that character leaves the room, you’re very much on your own – there are ample opportunities for the serial killer to come back and torment you, or to have another character appear to add another few jump scares or to really add to the stress of the room, but it’s not necessary.

The puzzles themselves are linear, in the sense that to get to the next puzzle you must first solve the current puzzle, with the pieces of the puzzles scattered throughout – team work is utterly essential to even have a chance in here as some clues need at least three people working together.

The theming of the room feels like it’s taken inspiration from movies such as Saw, Hostel, and The Human Centipede given how grotesque, dark, and dilapidated the room feels, with plenty of the standard torture porn props scattered throughout.

 

Despite the fact we technically didn’t escape (we ran over by 2 minutes), we had an absolute whale of a time and really got immersed in the game from the moment we put our blindfolds on. If you like gory horror movies and being manhandled, or even if you just want to try an extreme haunt, I’d very much suggest Abducted as a go-to experience!

 

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02/06/2018 – The Great Escape Game: Abducted

20/10/2017 – Xtreme Scream Park

Located at Twin Lakes theme park, Xtreme Scream Park promises some of the longest haunts with some of the most diverse concepts and impressive effects I’ve seen!

 

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Revenge of the Zombie Clowns

a mix of funhouse meets circus, Revenge of the Zombie Clowns brings the heat to the beginning of the night: the vortex tunnel and crazy rooms with slanted walls and floors really set a fun tone as creepy music travels through the air, leading to a disorientating maze of curtain dividers which unfortunately starts getting repetitive. As one of the oldest attractions there, it’s definitely feeling a little dated and unloved – there’s a lack of actors, props for the actors to use/hide behind, and with no finale. Definitely the least scariest of the bunch, but it’s still a fun way to begin the night. Was very impressed with the way the safety announcements were done for this, as the actor personalised her character perfectly.

 

Stilton Hall Hotel and Hell Spa

Our second haunt for the evening was an absolutely beautiful haunted hotel attraction with a very intense and chaotic introductory scene, which throws you into even more chaos as you pass through room after room of this incredibly long haunt that sets a high standard with regards to theming and keeps it at that high level throughout the entire attraction, including scents and sounds that really help immerse you. The scares come quick and fast as characters pop out of props and linger about, creating some tense and funny moments. The effects found within were very novel, one of which I’ve never seen done before in an attraction, but the most effective was the pitch black rooms which really seemed to freak people out!

 

The Pie Factory

Another brilliantly long haunt, The Pie Factory takes guests through (as the name suggests) a pie factory. Theming throughout was grisly and downright disgusting at points, with strobes and scents that make you question whether what you’re looking at is real! This was definitely my favourite at Xtreme Scream Park thanks to the mixture of actors that really knew what to say and how to use their space to get the best scares! Definitely not for those with a weak stomach, this sensory overload of a haunt will definitely terrify even the hardiest of people!

 

Ash Hell Penitentiary

Probably the longest haunt at Xtreme Scream (and if it’s not, it certainly feels like it!), there were some incredibly effects that I’ve never experienced before in any attraction! There are plenty of hiding spaces for actors to utilise, though I legitimately felt like it was seriously lacking them; having said that, the actors we did meet were absolutely brilliant once I realised that they might be a bit inflammatory with their script (maybe worth adding this to the safety briefing!). Like with the two haunts mentioned above, Ash Hell utilises what I can only describe as “reverse light”, i.e. only giving very quick bursts of light to give you enough time to take a glance at where you need to go, and the actors really know how to use this against you! With plenty of scares and some incredibly dark themes/visuals at points, this claustrophobic haunt definitely delivers! It’s a shame that there seems to be a complete lack of smells to make scenes (like the toilets) to be more realistic.

 

Hoo Doo Voodoo

Part hooded, this haunt is themed to the typical imagery you think of when you hear the word “voodoo”. Whilst I’m not a fan of hooded attractions, the hooded section here is the best I’ve experienced, as the actors get up close and interact with you using a wide variety of techniques as you blindly stumble your way through, your hand brushing against various surfaces – more narrative here would be really appreciated, as it’s so close to being a strong hooded haunt, but just falls short. The rest of the attraction, which you go through without a hood, rises up to meet the high standards set by the park: sets were beautiful, costumes were on point, and both worked together to create exactly what I wanted in a Voodoo themed haunt – the only jarring scene that left me scratching my head was the UV box room.

 

The Village

As the most anticipated haunt at Xtreme Scream Park, I decided to leave it to last as the hype surrounding it really made it out to be great: whilst it was fantastic, it definitely didn’t live upto the hype. The concept was well developed (although actors’ speech pushing the narrative would have made it greater), the theming was the pinnacle of all the other haunts! As you travel through the scenes, the lighting (or lack of) really works against you to create some really creepy and uneasy experiences, which are only worsened (or made better?) by the ambient sounds, claustrophobic elements, and your own paranoia! The final scene is definitely one of the darkest scenes I’ve seen in a haunt this Halloween, and I couldn’t be more excited to get to the exit! Whilst not inherently filled with jump scares, this haunt relies on creating an unnaturally creepy atmosphere and keeping you on the edge of paranoia to help further your fear. Look out for the professor – he’s sure to terrify you!

Generally speaking, Xtreme Scream Park has some absolutely beautiful haunts with narrow walk ways where you have to squeeze past props, actor costumes and face paint that really pops and wows, and huge props that are really impressive and startling! Unfortunately I experienced a lot of back up in all of the haunts where we caught up with the group in front – it didn’t really detract much as it gives you the chance to see all the theming and the actors are great at improvising and keeping you on edge.

The only thing that’s missing from the park is atmosphere – I can’t quite say what it is, but it just seems to lack the buzz that other scare parks have. Still, a great evening out – just be sure to wrap up warm and get there early!

20/10/2017 – Xtreme Scream Park

19/10/2017 – Dr Fright’s Halloween Nights

Walking into the marquees that hold Dr Fright’s Halloween Nights, the atmosphere was upbeat and lighthearted: the best nu metal and industrial tracks blare and disco lights and fog add a little atmosphere to the main tent, all while a creepy roaming character stalked everything, almost calculating who his next victim will be.

Our first attraction of the night is Dead Inside, a zombie themed haunts that takes scenes from a well known TV show that everyone should recognise as you go through. The safety briefing was done in character (albeit a bit too quietly – please turn the volume up!) and we were on our way through hanging sheets, past buildings, down dark corridors, and a strobe corridor that really feels like you’re being attacked! The actors really knew how to work their scene as each scare was perfectly timed (and managed to make me jump a few times!), and there were points where it was impossible to tell the difference between props and actors.

After being surprised by how good Dead Inside was, we decided to move onto Killer Clowns in a Supermarket as I wasn’t really buying into the concept to begin with: this changed as we joined the queue, as it was clearly meant to be a mixture of comedy and horror which was clear from the soundtrack playing in the queue. The horror/comedy blend continued as we found out that it was a bloody game of Supermarket Sweep where we had to escape from the killer clowns hidden within an actual shop, and it was an actual shop: we explored the food and clothing aisles, butchers counter, and even the staff area and bin section outside the shop as well! The choice of music mixed with the commentary from the clown now in control of the shop mixed together with the deranged clowns dotted about that leapt out from all over the place to scare you to create this bizarre juxtaposing atmosphere that shouldn’t have worked but really did – imagine the scene in Shaun of the Dead where the characters are battering zombies whilst Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now is playing, and you’ve pretty much got the vibe of the attraction in a nutshell. This is honestly the strongest clown themed haunt I’ve done to date.

Having been incredibly impressed by the previous two haunts, we moved onto the two that I was really looking toward: Hollywood Horror 2 and The Grindhouse Presents: Redneck Wedding.

Hollywood Horror 2 is an incredible homage to the original slasher movies from the 80s and 90s: with b-movie level designs that are impressive even though they’re a bit rough around the edges, walking through each set started to feel like we were jumping from one movie set to another! The scares were very reliant on guests being impressed by the set/movie they had just entered, but that really added to the slasher vibe that’s perfectly portrayed throughout. As someone who grew up on the tail end of the slasher heyday, I really enjoyed how each of my favourite franchises had their homage done to it – very jumpy, but a great laugh.

 

Our final haunt, of course, was The Grindhouse Presents: Redneck Wedding. Themed around a redneck wedding, I instantly knew I had to do this one last. Like Killer Clowns in a Supermarket, The Grindhouse Presents: Redneck Wedding was a very tongue in cheek mix of comedy and horror with most of the characters being guests at a wedding, just more bloodied and with the odd psychopath here and there that really knows how to terrify you! The really peculiar thing about this haunt is that most of it is held in a large open space which means you get to see other groups quite a lot as you’re going through – usually this would be a bugbear, but as the entire attraction was a redneck disco, it made sense to see loads of people. The attraction is actually a lot longer than you expect to, as there are plenty of scenes that are completely cut off from the main “dancefloor” scene. The bit that really solidifies this as my favourite haunt at Dr Frights is when we entered the chainsaw pit: Come On Eileen had dropped into the “come one, Eileen tu lu, ri, ay” bit just as two psychos armed with huge wrenches and chainsaws came out from hiding behind two bales of hay, and it felt like we were about to have somesort of showdown. I can see this haunt being a bit like marmite as it’s clear from previous experiences that people either would or wouldn’t get the comedy aspect of it, but the Dr Frights team really encapsulate that blend which really works every time they implement it.

 

Across all the haunts, they feel rough around the edges and a bit b movie-ish, which isn’t a bad thing: it really works well for Dr Frights, and I can’t really put my finger quite on why it’s ok – maybe it’s the fact that it’s all held in a marquee, who knows? I just really enjoy that”roughness”. The lighting and use of misdirection in order to get scares is very clever and effective, and even though I knew when and where to expect jumps to come, the scare was still effective and I ended up jumping and yelling a few times in each of the attractions. Adding to this, the actors ability to not only know their scene well, but also encapsulate the character they’re portraying and improvising lines really makes each of these attractions impressive and creepy! It’s really clear that everyone at Dr Frights enjoys and loves what they’re doing, which was really solidified when watching the clown on the hidden camera secretly located in Killer Clowns in a Supermarket who kept acting even though nobody was in the room with him. Absolutely brilliant night!

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19/10/2017 – Dr Fright’s Halloween Nights

24/10/2016 – Scarefest at Alton Towers

As we were driving by Stoke-On-Trent on the way back from our week of northern haunting, we decided to do a very quick 3 hour flying visit to Alton Towers seeing as there were so many positive reviews from friends: let me tell you that, straight off the bat, it was the best 3 hours I’ve had in the park.

 

Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of the Skin Snatchers

With a rather long name (I’ll probably start referring to it as Skin Snatchers from now) that matches the length of the haunt, this sits where Molly Crowe was last year.

Upon entering the queue, western guitar slides and chords warble through the air in the queue. We got quite early tickets because the tickets we wanted weren’t available; damn our spontaneity (this is the reason why Terror of the Towers isn’t included in this review) and so the queue wasn’t very long, but the excitement and nervousness already began to build thanks to the high fencing, narrow queue, and flickering light bulbs in burnt out fixtures.

Our turn came and we were called forward. Three of the 10 of us received a helmet with a light fixture (sadly not me) and we were told to listen to the safety briefing by the creepy hillbilly handing out the helmets. Once this was over, we met his brother and our tour of the mines began…

With a very powerful storyline, you’re taken down into the depths of the Mines where the skin snatchers live, who take very little time in splitting you up and tormenting you throughout this 20 minute haunt.

Chaos literally rains down around you as sights, sounds and smells all intermingle with one another, with the skin snatchers taking full advantage of strobes, pitch black, and the boiler suit corridor to make you feel completely disorientated and uneasy from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. An incredibly strong attraction that rekindled my love for haunting once again!

 

Sub Species: The End Games

After surviving Sub Species: Operation Lockdown last year and missing out on the mazes due to arriving late, I finally managed to enter the labyrinth owned by the dwellers within, and I was not disappointed!

This incredible haunt is very fast paced and intense, and you will end up feeling completely lost and confused as the dwellers play with you, sending you down your own route through the first piece of the haunt, all of which was used in Operation Lockdown, but even surviving that didn’t help me navigate my way out!

Whilst not jump scary, the dwellers have absolutely no issue grabbing you and moving you about with reasonable force which I absolutely love in a haunt as it makes the whole experience a little more real, and it’s completely necessary for this haunt to be scary. After being chased out of the ending, I took a moment to stand there and just give a huge sigh of relief and reflect briefly on what happened. Definitely the stronger haunt in this review.

 

After blasting our way through the two haunts in 45 minutes or so, we also managed to get a ride on The Smiler and Nemesis, then decided to head home. A very short visit, but I was honestly blown away with how well Alton Towers had executed Scarefest from how easy it was to book our tickets through to how interactive and intimidating the actors were in the haunts, and how creepy the roaming actors were in the Forbidden Valley scare zone (can’t comment on the other scarezone(s) as we didn’t visit them): Scarefest is incredibly professional, and Thorpe Park definitely needs to ask these guys how to put on a halloween event, for sure!

 

One teeny-tiny gripe though: the scrapping of the extreme haunt run-throughs. I would have honestly leapt at the opportunity to do those! Bring them back next year? Please?

 

24/10/2016 – Scarefest at Alton Towers

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