Scare Me Silly
This week I'm looking for a good haunted attraction to celebrate the holiday with. If I was still in Indianapolis, I'd probably head to Hannah Haunted Acres (as we have for the past two years), but I'm not, so it's a moot point. I've found a couple of places online that look promising. I just want something fun and relatively scary. I'm sick to death of people with chainsaws trying to get you to run away from them. That's not scary, that's annoying. Chainsaws are loud and obnoxious and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can't hurt me with them at a haunted attraction because if you do, I'll sue your ass and make a million dollars. I know that the chain has been taken off that thing for safety and it's basically just a big noisemaker. Having lived in "red" states all my life, I'm used to noisemakers. They don't scare me - they're just irritating.
No, give me something that's going to freak me out psychologically. That's the mark of a good haunted attraction, IMO. How do you get inside the heads of your patrons and freak them out? It's not with Freddy Krueger claws or Jason masks or idiots with chainsaws with the chains taken off. High school boys with red paint all over them are not frightening. However... I have been to a few places that were mentally challenging, and they were by far the best. My favorite by far was this one:
Several years ago there was a place in Cowpens, SC called Area 51. It was put on by a big farm, and set in one of their large warehouses where they kept a good portion of their harvest... things like crates of potatoes, onions, etc. When you arrived you were greeted by "military" personnel at the gate, that ID'd you and took your money and waved you on with extremely real-looking carbine rifles and huge maglites. When you got down to the warehouse, you were greeted by more "military" personnel that explained the setup: the US government has been operating several "satellite" facilities to their infamous Area 51 facility in Roswell, NM. This site was chosen as one of the satellite locations because of its size, easy access to a major highway (I-85) and relatively secluded location (if you haven't heard of the place and you can't tell by the name, Cowpens is out in the middle of nowhere, friends and neighbors - I'm talking serious BFE). Due to a recently approved Congressional bill, federal law states that these formerly top secret locations be made open to the public for a certain period of time during each fiscal year so the public may view that their tax monies are being spent accordingly - no $600 toilet seats or $400 screwdrivers to be found. To view the site, a small licensing fee must be collected from the public, which is why you were greeted at the gate and your money was taken. You're then introduced to your "guides", a couple of guys who really look the part, with high & tight haircuts, dressed in military fatigues, carrying more of those sincerely real-looking carbines, along with other things like red-lensed flashlights and military issue glowsticks, which are distributed throughout your group. After explaining that you WILL see aliens but they WILL NOT hurt you, and you're allowed to ask questions but NOT touch ANYTHING, they give you a few other ground rules and put you in a single file line, then lead you into the warehouse, one military guy leading the way and the other taking up the rear, to ensure against stragglers.
When you go into the warehouse, it's dimly lit and it smells kinda funky - anyone familiar with the smell of a root cellar will know what I'm talking about. Strange, organic, mildly mildewy. It's chilly - around 60 degrees. And somewhat damp. The guys have set the crates of potatoes and onions up in the warehouse so it's kind of a maze, and they begin leading you through the maze, stopping at various "checkpoints" to count heads and take questions. A different alien is on display at each "checkpoint" for the public to view. All is well until you get to the third alien, and then something goes "horribly wrong"... the alien at this particular checkpoint, who is supposed to be under heavy sedation, begins to move. The military guy at the rear of the group calls the attention of the leader to this, and suddenly the lights go out, and an alarm begins to sound... you hear the sound of gunfire on the other end of the warehouse, and a man screaming... the radios of the "soldiers" with you begin to crackle with distress calls... and suddenly you're being told that there has been a security breach and any civilian personnel MUST be escorted off the premises immediately. You turn to go back the way you came, and the crates behind the group are suddenly pushed over... you look up, and see an alien crawling across the tops of the crates... the soldiers with you pull their rifles, and fire off a few shots, then herd you through this twisting maze of crates, while you're surrounded by this cacophany of sound and flashing lights and aliens crawling along the tops and sides of things, reaching out for you and barely missing you each time. You burst into the cooler area of the warehouse, and the soldiers decide to take refuge in one of the coolers, so they herd you in to this tiny little space and shut the door (which has this impressive pump-vacuum seal spinning handle, like a pressurized room)... when suddenly you realize in all the commotion that the soldier that was taking up the rear of the party isn't in the cooler with you. You hear his voice crackle over the lead soldier's radio and hear him pounding on the door of the cooler, then you hear gunshots and him screaming... The leader freaks out that his buddy has been taken, then gets himself together and promises you all that he'll get you out alive if it's the last thing he does. He opens the cooler and leads you out, through the rest of the maze of cartons, and you're running, totally turned around, only aware of the darkness, the damp, the aliens around you... you see the light of the loading docks, and he directs you towards them... counts off each person, to make sure everyone has come through all right... and suddenly is taken from behind, yanked into the warehouse, screaming, and you're running out onto the dock, glad to be alive and pumped full of adrenaline.
What a rush! I wish they'd do it again, but haven't seen it for quite some time. Maybe one day I'll construct a haunted attraction that allows such a psychological manipulation of the patrons. I'd love it. In the meantime, I'll just have to look for something that will at least give me the willies.
Happy Halloween.... :-)