House of the Dead 2015 Review – A True Horror Experience

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House of the Dead is the latest invention from Manchester’s newest ‘dark’ entertainment company. We’ve already had a glimpse of what they can do, when we played their escape game crossed with a scare attraction, Trapped up North in July.

This time the team have gone for a more traditional scare attraction for the Halloween season, in House of the Dead, an immersive, walk through, horror experience. We’re expecting to find something similar to the scare mazes at Farmaggedon or Scare Kingdom, but with the innovation seen at Trapped up North, we’re looking forward to seeing how this company puts the scare maze into practice.

Officially, the attraction opened on the 3rd October, but due to the press launch running late, we had to reschedule our visit for a later time, and managed to book in our experience just a few nights ago.

What we found that sets House of the Dead a part from traditional scare mazes such as Scare Kingdom and Farmaggedon, is that you really do feel like you’re getting a full ‘experience’. As great as scare mazes are, they all tend to be very linear, and once done, you realise just how quickly you rush through. Interactions with actors can be quite limited and scripted, and often, the music is so loud you can barely hear what they say to you, and the maze is so dark you never really fully appreciate the wonderous sets you travel through.

House of the Dead is different. In between the dark mazes, the sets open up into comparatively lighter areas, where your interactions with the actors are much more involved and personal. Rather than a linear progression through the sets, your are constantly split up and sent down different routes, and at points even left to wander around blindly trying to find the right way out.

Because of this, each person’s experience is very different, and I really like this concept!

Some of the makeup is amazing, especially in the graveyard scene towards the end, and I love how each character is given the freedom to fully interact with their victims. My favourites were the two patients in the doctor’s waiting room, who were brilliantly entertaining.

I love what House of the Dead have done with their Halloween attraction this year, I think their ideas are a much needed change from the norm, and my only request for next time would be more of everything please!

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Tickets are priced between £13 and £20, and you can book here.

Psychomenteum 2015 – Why did we return?

Last year I had my first experience of Psychomanteum, dubbed the ‘Sickest Attraction in Britain’ but the Sun.

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I was probably more nervous about going in this time than I was last year. Once of my biggest fears is that in an attempt to constantly push the boundaries they would end up going too far. There is a fine line in these experiences between providing an entertaining experience and just being sick, one that last year I found Scare Kingdom to manage perfectly, but would they be able to maintain that balance?

I am happy to say that after experiencing Psychomenteum for the second time, that yes, they have maintained that balance. This year there has been just enough change from last year’s format to make it fresh, and the addition of a new section was very welcomed.

This time around, Psychomenteum is no ordinary clinic for the sexually depraved, but a confessional where you may reconcile your sins…..

I have to say that the first actor I encountered was brilliant. From the get go he makes sure you know that you’re going to have no power through this experience, they’re in charge, and you will do as you’re told. From there on the whole experience is a blur, you feel like you’re in there for ages, and you’re just hoping that it will be over soon, but when you’re done, you wish you’d experienced more, and realise just how quickly the whole thing was over and done with.

SPOILER – Take a spare t-shirt, I dribbled on myself

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Massive kudos to the actors in this attraction, what they do is amazing!

I hope that Scare Kingdom are able to keep up the good work with this attraction, and manage to maintain the balance of fear and excitement, while staying on the right side of that very thin line.

So if you’re visiting Scare Kingdom this year, don’t regret not giving Psychomenteum a go, it’s a once in a lifetime experience (or twice if you’re a glutton for punishment like me) and you’ll not regret it.

Scare Kingdom 2015 Review – 7 Deadly Sins

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Scare Kingdom has been back and forth for us along with Farmaggedon as to which one we thought was best. 2012 we loved Scare Kingdom, 2013 Farmaggedon became the best thing since sliced bread, 2014 and Scare Kingdom came back with avengeance, and so far this year, we just can’t imagine anything better than Farmaggedon‘s fresh new mazes.

All this means that we were very excited to see the changes Scare Kingdom has made this year. With a whole new theme along the lines of the 7 deadly sins, we were eager to see the new attractions, but also concerned that adding on yet another attraction (they already had 6 last year) could result in a drop in quality.

Halloween-The-Sanctum-Thumbnail-500x400First up we enter the park through The Sanctum, representing Pride, we are greeted by Eschaton, the Minister of Fear…. The Sanctum is a nice change from the cramped Oubliette, and the effects bring a great start to the park.

Heading out, we were surprised not to be heading straight to the corn fields. Now the Clonefields was actually my favourite maze from last year, so I was disappointed it hadn’t been used in 2015, but I suppose depending on how good your crop is each year would depend on whether you had a good enough field to produce a maze, and we wonder if this is why the corn field maze has been cut out.

halloween-The-Hole-Thumbnail-500x400Instead, we head up to The Hole. Replacing Hellcatraz, but with a very similar theme, you navigate the Morigate Gaol from the perspective of an urban explorer. Moving through this old jailhouse, it becomes evident that ghosts of previous residents, fueled by envy, still claim this as their home, and they certainly do not want you there. This maze always stands out for us due to the heavy use of strobing. I sometimes struggle with this as it affects my sight so much I can’t even see the actors when they jump out at me, but keeping the outdoor section in the middle, and then splitting up the group ar both great touches which I’m glad have been kept in.

Halloween-Manormortis-Monastery-Thumbnail-500x400Straight after The Hole is the Manormortis Monastery. Manormortis has been at Scare Kingdom for several years now, and is an amazing permanent structure on the farm. No matter how many times I go through this maze, I will always find something new and amazing about it. Representing sloth, we are guided through Manormortis by a religious sect who have forgotten the commandments of their God. The exorcist girl was a fantastic touch in this maze, and we loved the claustrophobia tunnel, but I still think they could do more with the gravity rooms.

Halloween-Arcanum-Thumbnail-500x400Next up was Arcanum, representing greed, and containing a collection of curiosities from Captain Vernott’s mind. Arcanum is quite a short maze, and not as finished as the others, but was still a fun experience, and we liked Captain Vernott, who thought I would make an excellent addition to his collection, with some minor adjustments of course…. Arcanum was a nice small maze, but being so short, we feel it could have done with something a little more memorable to make it extra special.

Halloween-Hell-Thumbnail-500x400After Arcanum we entered Hell to face the wrath of Satan himself. Another solid maze, where we learn that God loves us, but Satan loves us more, and get to witness the birth of Satan’s spawn. The devil at the end of this maze was amazing, and we loved the walls that reached out to grab you. We loved the set for hell, very intricate and quite beautiful in some places, this maze is reminiscent of the amazing setting in Manormortis and one of the other better designed mazes of the park.

Scare-Kingdom-Scream-Park-Website-Panic-Chambers-ThumbnailLast up for the regular mazes was Panic Chambers, another small but fun maze to finish off the night. We loved the robotic actress at the beginning of this maze, she was fantastically creepy, and introducing the concept of a challenge maze was fun and refreshing. We enjoyed the little challenges, especially being shoved into dark tight spaces, and would love to see them do more with this next year, as we can imagine a full maze like this working quite well.

In between a few of the attractions we were also highly entertained by Queenie, who insisted on me rubbing her belly :/

Overall Scare Kingdom has done a great job this year in providing a good variety of mazes, although there are some aspects which we feel they have only just begun to touch upon. Introducing more crawl spaces, splitting up groups, and water effects is great, but we can’t help but think they could do so much more with these themes. Instances of having to crawl or climb are very short lived, when split up it’s not for very long, and being squirted with a touch of water is an effect not fully utilised. Next year we want to see more use of tunnels and varying levels, we want to be forced through mazes in pairs with people we don’t know, more solo sections, and to be wishing we brought a change of clothing by the end. Scare Kingdom is a park with unlimited potential, and every year they get better!

After we had finished six out of seven deadly sins, we couldn’t go home without experiencing the seventh could we, so off we went to Psychomenteum.

Farmaggedon 2015 Review – Frighteningly Fresh

Two years ago Farmaggedon to me was the best thing since sliced bread. Last year I felt it kept up to the high standards of 2013, but failed to bring anything really new to the table. This year Farmaggedon has come back with a vengeance! It felt fresh, has an all new attraction, and is going to take the 2015 Halloween season by storm.

Terror on the Farm

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A labyrinth of corridors, crypts, caverns…..and many of your worst nightmares. Terror on the Farm is a firm favourite at Farmaggedon. I will never tire of this set, which rivals Manormortis at Scare Kingdom in production value. One thing immediately noticeable to us when experiencing this first maze is the incredible costumes and make-up this year, which far surpasses that of previous years. I also feel as though a small portion of the maze has been changed, which if I’m right, even such a small change makes it new and exciting for those of us who have visited year after year.

The Meat Locker

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Malachi Throne believes he has found a way to achieve immortality through the slaughter and consumption of human flesh. Malachi Throne is dying to ‘MEAT’ you! The Meat Locker is back for it’s second year at Farmageddon, but this year had a fresher feeling about it. Despite not actually running at any point in the maze itself, we still came out feeling out of breath, and then of course when we were confronted with chainsaws, we ran!

Contagion 3D

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Project Cloudburst was a covert biological weapons programme that only our government and military knew about…but not anymore! Two months ago a toxic by-product of the experimental weaponry leaked out into the local water system and began to infect all those in the area. Crazed mutant personnel, medical staff and lab techs now prowl ‘Contagion’ on their hunt for anything living. Contagion replaced my favourite maze for the last two years, so I was worried that if it wasn’t good, it would bring my whole night down. I needn’t have worried…. Contagion brings in a completely new concept that I have never seen at a scare attraction before. Before entering, you are provided with 3D glasses, and the UV paint covering the attraction suddenly appears to lift away from it’s surface, creating some strange 3D trippy experience. This, combined with camouflaged costumes makes this by far the jumpiest maze. Scare actors can literally be stood in front of you, and you don’t see them until they move. It also includes the vortex tunnel, which despite being hilarious to watch people in year after year, now appears to be even more difficult to traverse with the added confusion of the 3D glasses. This maze also had the best music, with late 90’s hard rock blasting out as you make your way through the twists and turns, this was by far the most fun of all the attractions.

The infected of Contagion crave internal organs and the marrow from your bones. Those who venture in are never seen…whole…again! The ‘Contagion’ was locked down, but not quickly enough; the mutants were not all contained, it is believed that some survive on the outside, scavenging the countryside. There is a nightly curfew and the military are doing their best to eliminate anything that moves, in the woods, in the fields and in the crops….

They may need you to reinforce them at…Zombie Outlaw.

Zombie Outlaw

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Zombie Outlaw is a completely new attraction for 2015. It is an interactive trailer ride through the fields and wastelands at Farmaggedon. The escaped mutant zombies from Contagion roam the farmland, and your mission is to annihilate the hoards. You will board a ZOP Wagon (Zombie Outlaw Protection Wagon) which is armed with the latest bio-shock weapons and head out into the darkness to hunt Zombies! The only kill shot is a head shot, so “Lock and Load Soldier” and save mankind.

Zombie Outlaw is a great addition to this year’s event. You’re completely safe, you don’t get shot at, but the ride is good fun, and the soundtrack (AC/DC) is amazing! The actors here are fantastic, and the innuendos aplenty.

I think it’s safe to say that Farmegeddon might well be back on top in my eyes, and this will surely be a hard one to beat this year!

Horror Camp Live 2015 Review

Last weekend I had the displeasure of returning to Camp Mass Acre for this year’s edition of Horror Camp Live. I last ventured to the campsite in 2013, and I had a fantastic experience. I have also been a regular at Scare Kingdom each Halloween, even braving Psychomanteum in 2014, and I have always been impressed with how Scare Kingdom has evolved their attractions each year. They have had big developments since I last came for Horror Camp, so I was interested to see how the experience had changed.

This year there were some familiar faces and some new ones, some much improved settings, but overall a similar format.

We started the night by being escorted to our campsite by the farm owner Abraham Cleaver, who if you have frequented Scare Kingdom in the last 4 years you may well be familiar with. Unfortunately this year he is lacking his wife/sister, who appears to have left him. But fear not, he’s on the look out for a new one, so play your cards right and you could be the new Mrs Cleaver!

If that hasn’t got you sold, you’re next introduced to the person in charge. This year that person is Dybuk, yes, the hag with a psychic pussy and a foul mouth has somehow got herself in charge…… It turns out that Fanny Twitch is dead, and Dybuk has taken over, but there is a shrine in Fanny’s honour, and her spirit is still alive and well at Camp Mass Acre.

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Dybuk is assisted by a new Incesta, (not the Incesta from 2013, and not Abe’s wife/sister, but the same name, which was a bit confusing) who will keep you entertained throughout the night, especially with her dancing!

This year the setting for Horror Camp Live has vastly changed from my last visit. The screening room from two years ago was perfectly fine and I had no complaints, but the setting this year was far superior. Thanks to the addition of the permanent structure Manormortis, this years holding area has been moved to Manormortis’ Ballroom. A fantastic room, intricately decorated and with a purpose built stage, excellent for putting on little shows throughout the night. Straight away it’s obvious that the whole production this year is going to bigger and more impressive.

The format for the night is still very much the same. The night starts with a film and food (which is very nice) and then once the film is finished, we are interrupted by Lockjaw… This time Lockjaw has set us a challenge, 9 missions for us to obtain 9 clues, and then a final test to pass. Again we were split into 3 groups, and went on 3 missions each.

The setting for the first mission is the new Psychomanteum building, and we are subjected to the horrors of Doctor Goodkind and the Femflesh. One thing I did notice, was that Horror Camp Live is messier this year….. It’s also obviously been developed to run alongside Psychomanteum, as the sexual undertones (or overtones) of the night and the missions are more prevalent than in my previous visit.

In between missions you may have been lucky enough to be chosen to receive a personal experience with Automata, a clockwork automaton with a human heart and brain, in the depths of Manormortis. Unfortunately I missed out, and as the group was quite large this year, I think that only a small portion of campers got to experience this part of the event.

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The third mission is set in Manormortis itself, a hugely impressive structure with great attention to detail on the set and props within. Manormortis was a permanent structure added to the site in 2013 and has become a great setting for both Horror Camp Live & Scare Kingdom, bringing a high production quality to both shows.

After the 3 missions are complete you have to pass the final task as a group, and we are subjected to the big finale. I think this bit of the night could do with some fine tuning, it didn’t quite feel like a ‘big finale’ and then it was just kind of over and we walked out of the room back to the campsite. It left the events of the evening feeling a little unfinished, and I remember it feeling a bit ‘bigger’ back in 2013.

Back at the campsite we settled in for the night, but having been before I laid there expectant of the raids to come during the night. This year I felt again that the raids were on a smaller scale than the last time I came, but I think this may have been due to us being in a much larger group, so there would have been more of us to get around. I think it’s difficult when you have experienced something before not to compare the two, but having said that, taking this year’s experience on it’s own was still immensely enjoyable. My companion this year had not been before, and she thoroughly enjoyed being joined in bed by the Femflesh!

There were a few things that let down the night slightly overall. The group this time was much bigger, 30 of us instead of 12, so our mission group was over twice the size of last time. This made the experience feel less personal, and I think that maybe 30 is too large a group to get the best out of the experience. We also unfortunately got stuck with the drunks in our group, who became quite disruptive during missions, and we felt that the actors had to put a lot of energy into keeping them inline and stopping them from ruining the missions. Despite having a drink limit for the event, this was obviously exceeded by some people, and perhaps this should be monitored more closely by the producers, for the sake of the other campers.

One massive positive that came out of this however was the actors themselves. My personal favourite is Dybuk, who is by far the star of the show. A great character, phenomenal actress, witty and quick of the mark, Dybuk is the perfect camp leader for the night. With her sharp tongue she is set to keep even the most unruly camper in line, and the night would certainly not have been the same without her.

Other ones to watch out for is Abe Cleaver, Dr Goodkind, Femlesh and Phoofa. Towards the end of the night you get the pleasure of Phoofa’s company, a sweet girl with poor personal hygiene, but a welcome addition to our group for the rest of the evening.

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I will say that Horror Camp’s actors are some of the best I’ve seen, and the whole experience is really made special by them. Keep up the amazing work guys, and I’ll hopefully be back to see you again soon!

Survive Cracked – The UK’s most extreme 6 hour psychological challenge & experiment

Not so long ago I was inundated with messages from friends telling me about a McKamey Manor in America, where you’re locked in a house for 4 to 7 hours and not allowed to leave until they let you go. News of this extreme scare event was everywhere, and I hoped it wouldn’t be long before a more intense, endurance style experience was developed in the UK. It would seem that now my prayers have been answered, as Cracked prepares to launch in April, we can now boast that the UK has it’s own extreme experience, with a 6 hour challenge, are you up to the task?

What is Cracked?

The location of Cracked is a secret, but pick up is somewhere in the WF4 area of Wakefield, meaning good news for us Northerners!

Only 10 tickets are available for each event, and only 1 of the 10 will survive. Here is the disclaimer on the website FAQ:

“Cracked-Survival Experience is an extreme horror endurance event where participants will be subjected to a number of effects including, electrical effects, extreme eating, simulated torture, intense psychological situations, water effects, live insects and disturbing/physically demanding scenarios including the use of physical restraints.”

Reading this reminded me of the disclaimer for Horror Camp Live, who also run Psychomanteum, dubbed Britain’s sickest horror attraction. Could this title be in jeopardy with the introduction of Cracked? We certainly hope so…..

We also love the idea of being pitted against each other in a bid to survive, which a new way of running horror attractions we haven’t seen before.

If the disclaimer hasn’t put you off, or it sounds like a regular Saturday night for you, then tickets are available at £70 each. There are currently 4 events scheduled, and 2 have already sold out!

We were invited to join the press launch for Cracked, but unfortunately we were unable to attend that night, so we currently have no review booked in, but maybe we will get the opportunity to experience the event in the future. But to all of you guys who fancy the challenge, good luck, and let us know how it goes!

 

 

 

Scream Park UK 2014 – Scares for all the family

Last Thursday I was invited to attend the opening night of Manchester’s first Scream Park UK. I was interested to see what Kingpin events had come up with for this combined scare attraction and funfair. Whilst my experience at Scream Park UK was complimentary, this review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

On entering the complex, it wasn’t overly clear what was going on. After going to a number of scare events, you become accustomed to the standard set up, where you are herded in one way or another from one point to the next. Scream Park was much different, the layout was completely open, and you could wander where you liked. After realising this and having a bit of a look around, we realised just how huge the space they have inside Event City is. The set up has obviously spared no cost, with army vehicles and other props in abundance, the quality of the sets were very high. Actors we scattered throughout the attraction, ranging from army guys trying to fight back the hoard of zombies, medics patching up the wounded, and of course the obligatory zombies wandering around. I read in another review that when they entered they were split up and ‘processed’ into the complex, being interrogated by the army, but when we arrived there was none of this, we were just left to wander in.

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Scare Kingdom 2014 – The Sickest Attraction in Britain?

Whilst my experience at Scare Kingdom was complimentary, this review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

Although I have visited Scare Kingdom for the past 3 years, this is is the first time I have written up a review. Firstly, let me give you a brief history of my previous experiences at the park.

2012 – Good scare park with low production value, long boring walks in between mazes, the mazes were pretty good, some great actors, but the sets and production didn’t seem on par with parks such as Farmaggedon and Hallowscream. Also got really stuck in the mud, with having more outdoor mazes, you are certainly much more affected by the weather than productions with a bigger budget, who can afford full indoor mazes.

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Farmaggedon 2014 – Resting on their laurels

Last year I think it was safe to say that Farmaggedon was my favourite Scare Park, and returning this year I remembered why.  Once again I was completely in awe of the set design and elaborate mazes. However there was one big downside for me….. Whilst my experience at Farmaggedon was complimentary, this review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

The mazes this year were pretty much carbon copies of the mazes last year. As last year was the first time I had visited Farmaggedon, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, but I think that this year I wanted more, and I just got the same as I got last time. That’s not to say that the attraction isn’t amazing! Everything I thought about Farmageddon 2013 still applies, & I rated an easy 10 out of 10, I would have just liked for the mazes to have been changed up a bit more.

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