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SpookyWorld – A Terrifying Adventure

Christopher John Falcioni ’16 & Kristina Carroll ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Photo via evigshed.com.

If you have ever read our reviews of 666 Park Avenue, you know that we enjoy being scared, but it does not take a lot for us to get scared. From creaking doors, suspenseful walks down hallways, and burnt-out lightbulbs, it is sometimes the most mundane that scares you. At SpookyWorld, nothing is subtle. With it being Kristina’s third visit there and Chris’ first time in a haunted house… ever… it was bound to be a night of terror, surprises, laughter, more terror, and fried things. SpookyWorld, also called Nightmare New England, is in the middle of nowhere, otherwise known as Litchfield, New Hampshire, an hour-long trip from Emerson by car. Part of the fright factor is traversing through the woods in pitch darkness to find a carnival with a slightly creepy “carnie” atmosphere tucked away into the woods. You can make out tents with facades of clown faces, skulls, and mansions, and there’s a dense smell of smoke in the air. After having your car guided to the $5 parking (avoiding the $10 unofficial gimmick parking that tries to lure you in with brightly colored lights), you find yourself in the midst of dimly lit cornfields, anticipating a creature to spring from the darkness. We will go through each of the experiences separately, rating each on a scale out of 5.

Street Experience

When you reach the ticket booths, you suddenly realize that not all around you are of the “human” type. Scarecrows with pincers, doll people, men with porcelain faces and melted flesh, and grim reaper stilt walkers line the main “Haunted Midway” of SpookyWorld. Not only do they catch you when your back is turned, they can also haunt you in the picnic area, in line for the houses, and even outside of the port-a-potties. Though lacking a cohesive theme among them (except for “spooky”), they got more than an ample amount of scares. While the few with chainsaws and extra-special torture devices and makeup scare incredibly well, all stalk for extended periods of time, run in chase, and will target all in their path. They are probably the most aggressive “scareactors” (pronounced like “characters”, the industry slang for the ghouls that populate the attractions), constantly ready for a kill. Though only one was spotted this year, the “sliders”, who slide on the grounds of the midway with metallic kneepads that scrape up sparks and scare anyone in their way. Overall, the cast was energetic, though there were no set pieces on the grounds for scareactors to hide in or behind.

SPOOKY SPECIFICS:

– Kristina was accosted by a Grim Reaper-esque stilt walker character who chased her, put his giant puppet arms around her, and proceeded to laugh at her in a demonic voice. The best scare of the night for Chris, at least, who was laughing just as hard.
– Kristina got attacked again by a white-faced Trick or Treater holding a bunny mask, and as she hid behind Chris and the Trick or Treater did not let her escape, constantly getting surprised by either her face or the mask.
– A girl in our party made eye contact with a Bane-esque chainsaw wielder and she was chased viciously through the street
– A tag team between the Trick or Treater and a clown was made on a bystander that ran back and forth viciously until he ran straight out of sight

THEME AND STORY: 0/5
CHUCKLES: 4/5
DESIGN AND SET: 1/5
SCREAMS: 5/5
SPOOKY FACTOR: 5/5
OVERALL: 3.75/5

Brigham Manor

You know that house on the street that everyone is afraid of? It is the one that people tell stories about, say that one of the owners killed his wife in the bathtub, another slaughtered victims in the kitchen, and yet another couple died in bed on their wedding night? This is the front porch you step up to when entering Brigham Manor, an old-fashioned “specter” haunted house where the ghosts appear in the same way that they died somewhere within the house. With nearly every character getting a large room or an animated set piece, this is clearly the newest and biggest budget house in SpookyWorld, the rooms are infested with not only scareactors, but dummies that often get scared themselves. Many characters have “e-prompts”, or electronic buttons to push that trigger a lighting cue and an audio cue when they push them, allowing for major scares just from the effects and the added push of the physical actor lunging out. Rooms were varied and included bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchens, with each of the characters being not only in character, but also driven to scare. This was probably the scariest house of the night, and perhaps the only complaint about it was the lack of a true finale and the fact that it was so close to the entrance, making the bar almost too high for anything else to scare.

SPOOKY SPECIFICS:
– Patrolling the queue line were creepy twins with half of their faces burnt out and rattles in hand. They cornered Chris and “tag teamed” him, making him bounce from one to the other. Their hypnotic stares and child-like actions were incredible. They matched the high quality of the interior maze quite well and were favorites of the night.
– In a corridor of portraits, there is a great scare that is not exactly where you think it’s going to be, and was very inventive.
– Though the lighting here is LED and very bright and new, there are numerous curtains that hang in order to block your views of the next room. Most of the hallways in this house are filled with scareactors with e-prompts and there’s hardly any chance to breathe… a good thing in a haunted house!
– Most scareactors moved from one side of their room to the next with great agility to get more than one scare out of each person. Notably in the bedroom there was one man who vaulted clean over a bed and got us twice. He did trip, but still, he got a scare.

THEME AND STORY: 4/5
CHUCKLES: 1/5
DESIGN AND SET: 5/5
SCREAMS: 5/5
SPOOKY FACTOR: 5/5
OVERALL: 5/5

The Colony

Bad things have been happening in the backwoods of a hillbilly colony… perhaps there was a bad feud between clans, maybe there was a awful chainsaw killer that came through the ramshackle buildings built around the woods. All we know is that the residents are bloodied and VERY angry. One of two outdoor haunted paths that SpookyWorld is famous for and the maze used most often in ads for the attraction, it certainly lived up to it’s promise. It used it’s wooded location quite well, with mystique and terror behind every wooded bend, and small wooden structures set up every so often to break up the woods and give some variety to the actors. It has a beginning, middle, and end, and has one of the best stories out of all the houses. Worth noting is the interactivity between scareactors and the public, showing off the great respect and understanding the actors had for the story and the psychological ways they could get inside of your head. Unlike other houses, this one was 50% jump-scares and 50% story and creepy places that one could see coming but was still scared of. While haunted hillbillies sound quite silly, this was more or less the best house of the night, with a great balance of laughs, spook, and scare, with a finale that will have you literally running out of the woods.

SPOOKY SPECIFICS:

– Three “pig men” in the queue inspired laughs and intense scares even before the maze began.
– About halfway through the house, you reach a burned down church where the pastor and one of the female citizens seem to have gone mad. They scream “PRAISE BABY CLETUS”, and you soon see that Baby Cletus is the horrifying creature in the woman’s arms. She will NOT let you pass without praising his name, and if you do she will give you hell about it. This scene offered quite a bit of storytelling, a great set, some chills, and a LOT of laughs during and after… she also sets you up for a scare just a bit further down the road….
– Guarding the entrance to one of the buildings is a very big Drag Queen. When Kristina said “Don’t touch me, please…”, he responded “Honey, I’m going to do a lot worse than that”.
– At a RV Chris was tag teamed once again and when one of the hillbillies asked “Where ya goin’?” and he responded “Anywhere else but here”, the hillbilly responded directly into his ear “Well too bad because you’re only halfway through…” A major chill factor.
– Though not an actor, there is a great gag in the pig slaughterhouse in which a REALLY loud noise comes from… somewhere. It made everyone jump.
– The finale of this house involves men wearing little but straw hats, blood, and chainsaws. This was one of the few uses of chainsaws during the night, but it was VERY effective.

THEME AND STORY: 5/5
CHUCKLES: 5/5
DESIGN AND SET: 4/5
SCREAMS: 4/5
SPOOKY FACTOR: 5/5
OVERALL: 5/5

Ravens Claw Cemetery: Resurrection

Almost as heavily talked about as The Colony, Ravens Claw is about (surprise!) a cemetery that is being more or less infested by the walking dead (but not the ones on AMC). Filled with generally bloodied people, gravediggers, and skeleton-esque creatures, wandering through both open graveyards and mausoleums, it is clear that visiting hours are over and the residents of the cemetery are none too pleased about it. This is probably the most generic haunts of the event, but it also had some high production qualities that made it stand out a bit from the pack. It is outside, so it does have something special about it, but there seemed to be a lack of space utilization. A major complaint of the house was that it got slightly repetitive and was a bit too suspenseful as most open spaces were bare even when curtained entrances for actors were available. Actors, unfortunately, seemed more or less bored with their stations and had to make up story that seemed inorganic due to the lack of good scenarios within the house, and as such there was much more creep factor rather than a lot of “jumping out”. It did not have a great finale, and sort of just ended in a long outdoor hallway

SPOOKY SPECIFICS:
– One of the most effective scares of the night came from a man on the ground that, just as we were to step on him, lunged out of the ground and scared. You probably would not see this one coming.
– Kristina had a moment in this house where she was accosted by a scareactor after we were scared viciously by him. He wanted to tell us a secret about how he was going to put her insides onto her outsides with his bare hands… lovely.
– A great tag team was found inside of one of the mausoleums with bloody pigs hanging from the wall (why? I don’t know).
– A Weeping Angel is in this house, and if you acknowledge it you’ll get some special treatment (as Chris got).
– A member of our party got it bad at the ending of the house, when a ground person (in a “gilly suit”) popped up and would NOT allow her to pass. One of the best scares of the night

THEME AND STORY: 3/5
CHUCKLES: 1/5
DESIGN AND SET: 2/5
SCREAMS: 3/5
SPOOKY FACTOR: 4/5
OVERALL: 3/5

Torment

What’s your greatest fear? Spiders? Snakes? Tight Spaces? Clowns? They are all here in this house, which has the most varied gimmicks and scare tactics of any of the houses at SpookyWorld. As the only house in which you were made to hear an attendant speak just before it warning you about pacemakers and claustrophobia, there is definitely intensity attached to this house that is not attached to many of the others. The actors in this were on the ball and while many of the sets were spare with black walls and red lighting, they had well done props that told the story of the phobias well and attacked the senses. There was a sense of energy in this house and the long line indicated that this was a major attraction at the event. Starting with a fear of doctors with a bloodied operating table with victims atop them and running the gamut of fears, the house was loud, intense, and definitely a hit or miss, depending on if your phobia was ever touched upon.

SPOOKY SPECIFICS:
– While not “scary”, about midway through you have to go through “The Big Squeeze”, two inflatable walls squished together that you have to walk through. Not fun for claustrophobics.
– Though we didn’t experience this, there is a “shock” effect in this house that affects pacemakers. Not sure what it is, but it IS scary.
– A room of roaches and lights on them to make them seem as if moving made Kristina scream “EW EW EW” throughout nearly one quarter of the maze.
– Sometimes it is not that hard to get a scare: a static giant spider with a light on it was one of the scariest things of the night.
– A clown chased Chris out of the house in the big finale of the attraction.

THEME AND STORY: 5/5
CHUCKLES: 0/5
DESIGN AND SET: 4/5
SCREAMS: 4/5
SPOOKY FACTOR: 3.5/5
OVERALL: 4/5

Freak Show 3D

Clowns.
That’s all one really needs to know about the story of this house. In a 3D extravaganza in which orange comes forward and blue fades to the background, clowns live in the fun house where illusions come to haunt you. Generally the least attended attraction of the night, the house was just too bright to inspire scares of any incredible magnitude. It had a LOT of hallways in which not much but creepy murals grace the walls. Only a few rooms exist here where scares can occur, and while the cast tries hard, they can’t sustain the scare for too long as the corridors are too long to keep adrenaline high. A spinning tunnel finale is a classic and slightly predictable, but it is always fun to walk through.

SPOOKY SPECIFICS:
– An over-excited clown followed Chris much like the hillbilly in The Colony, and while having a conversation with him he stupidly said “You can follow us if you like”. He did. For a while. He would scream when he did almost as a creepy companion to our clan. He eventually said “BYE!”, but the dedication he put into that scare was very commendable.
– One of the best scares comes, ironically, from one of the boring hallways, in which a surprise occurs. We’ll keep this to ourselves, but it’s a heck of a scare.

THEME AND STORY: 3/5
CHUCKLES: 2/5
DESIGN AND SET: 1/5
SCREAMS: 1/5
SPOOKY FACTOR: 0/5
OVERALL: 2.5/5

There is another house, entitled “House of Eternal Darkness” in which it is pitch black besides a small glow stick you get to hold onto… but that means the actors can see you…! But we were chicken, tired, and hungry, so instead, part of our group got fried things instead, including fried Kool-Aid (boring pink doughballs, nothing to write home about), fried Oreos (a classic, very tasty) and fried Milky Ways (the BEST fried food ever). I think we deserved a bit of a fried treat after our courageous journey through the houses…

Was it worth it? Yes, it’s one of the best haunted attractions in the country. We’ll be back next year, ready to see the three newly renovated haunts of the year will be and what other spooky things SpookyWorld has to offer… but for right now we are pretty content with flickering lights and power outages of Franken-Storm do the scaring!

Visit www.spookyworld.com for more information on the attraction, ticket prices and hours of operation.

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