Attraction Review: Dr. Fright's Halloween Nights

As part of my spooky weekend in the midlands we decided to break up our journey with a little jaunt back to Dr. Fright's Halloween Nights! Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Dr. Fright's Halloween Nights is a self-proclaimed 'raw' Halloween scream park that pops up annually in the Northampton area. Despite not being the biggest, most-high budget or well-known event (unjustifiably so), Dr. Fright's is easily one of my favourite Halloween events in the UK and we had an absolute scream when we visited the park back in 2016 so I was super stoked to head back this season in time to celebrate a decade of terror with them. Plus, the event had recently been awarded the coveted 'Best Halloween Screampark in the UK' Scar Award so I was super keen to see if the event was still as wickedly wonderful as I remembered it being.

When I visited in 2016 the event had a more over-arching theme (and still one of my favourites I've ever experienced at any screampark) surrounding the different mediums we've consumed horror movies through over the years. This year despite it being their 10th anniversary there was no such theme to string everything together, which ultimately didn't really impact our experience but it seemed a shame to me to lose something so unique and memorable as it's something I still talk about to this day! It's definitely something I'd like to see return in the future as I really think it elevated the event to the next level.



So the haunts themselves then - as is always the case with Dr. Fright's there were four mazes to entertain us for the evening. As with all these reviews my thoughts and opinions are entirely my own and I always strive to be constructive as opposed to overly negative or damning. I would also ask you to bear in mind that as always I grade the attractions on a sliding scale - there's no point comparing a Dr. Fright's maze to a Halloween Horror Nights one because the infrastructure surrounding the delivery of them is entirely different from budgets, to teams to timings. That said, here we go!

Set in a horrific Wild West town, Redneck Redemption sees you weaving in and out of various establishments of an abandoned mining town and coming face to face with the deranged hillbillies that dwell within. I was quite shocked upon entering the maze itself through the fabulously themed mine shaft facade that instead of entering your typical dark room/corridor we found ourselves in quite the bright open space, maneuvering through haybales. Redneck Redemption does something I've never experiences in ahorror maze here in that it sends yoa lot of fun twiu through all the businesses found in the town and ties them altogether with its bloodthirsty narrative - we visit the saloon, a jail, a mine, a bathhouse. It's just so creative and once again an example of where Dr. Fright's really think outside the box in terms of delivery a unique and memorable experience for their guests which in turn ensures they stand out from the rest of the scare crowd.

The scares here are probably the most typical scare-maze scares you'll find at Dr. Fright's - it's all about the omnipresent chainsaw that you must face multiple times throughout this experience as you weave in and out of each building and back into the main square of the town. It's a lot of fun twisting and turning through the layout and coming face to face with all the weird and wonderful inhabitants of the town.

Personally chainsaws don't hugely bother me in terms of scare factor so that combined with the fact that it was pretty light in this maze meant that I didn't find Redneck Redemption overly scary - but that's not to say I didn't enjoy every minute of the whole experience. The park have really managed to capture the essence of a Wild West town in such a small space and it's a joy to touch so many corners of the storyline behind the town's existence that it didn't matter that the scares didn't come thick and fast in this one for me.

Let me get right to the point here - Hollywood Horror Director's Cut is easily the scariest horror experience I've done this season, and yes I'm as surprised by that fact as you probably are reading it. I don't particularly know why this is, but when you have the likes of Freddy, Michael and Jason coming at you with a knife it's so much fucking scarier than an unknown character. I guess that says a lot for the power of IP and backstory! But urgh, this maze. I basically died from the second we set foot inside this one and didn't stop having heart palpitations until about 15 minutes after the experience was over. We're invited into a creepy living room and stand in front of a TV that explains the premise of what we're about to experience, which was a great little easter egg for Tower of Terror fans like myself.


From here on out it's basically a who's who of horror and fantastically enjoyable for a horror buff like myself. We're terrorised in the boiler room by Freddy, walk through a cinema of Scream-mask adorned audience members watching 'Stab' (one of my favourite gags of 2019), creep through Haddonfield trying to avoid Michael Myers, wander through the woodland of Camp Crystal Lake trying to evade Jason and even have to choose between not scary at all, scary and very scary doors before coming face to face with Pennywise. There are certain horror icons that I just can't deal with so when my brain clocked the iconography and knew what character was coming (Jason is the worst for some reason) it really amped up the terror for me.

What works really well in this maze was having multiple actors dressed as the same character, so the attack really did feel relentless as they were coming at us from all angles. Fabulouslessly vile and intense from start to finish!

I adore an off-kilter theme and Killer Clowns had that in shedloads. Now I know I sound like a broken record at this point for any long-term readers of this here blog, but clown really don't do it for me in terms of scariness so if an attraction insists on having a clown themed scare maze (I get it - they're a public favourite for sure, look at the popularity of It) then I do appreciate when an attempt is made to do something new with the genre. Killer Clowns doesn't just do something new, it completely turns it on its head in the most wonderfully bonkers way and its all the more grotesque for it.



The narrative of this one is that we're inside a video game where the goal is to defeat the Killer Clowns - only catch is if they kill you in the game you die for real and don't regenerate like a regular game. Essentially the whole maze is utterly bonkers - clown alien autopsies, laser rooms, a HIDEOUS space ship corridor where Killer Clowns descend on you from above and an intense and mad clown strobe maze finale. For some reason taking clowns out of their standard circus/carnival setting makes them far more hideous and unnerving. Plus it's always fun to see what horror storylines can come from a sci-fi setting - some of my favourite films are horror/sci-fi genre mash-ups so I adored this alternative take on a sometimes tired scare maze genre.

This was the last maze of the night for us and the one I was least clued up on what we were about to encounter. With the first three the names and logos were pretty telling as to what horrific fate awaited us within. With There's Something In The Woods it could literally have been anything. Turns out it's a school for girls inhabited by a horrific demonic presence which walks the earth under the guise of a nun. Given the popularity of the Blumhouse movies and the nun/Valak character this is a genius move for Dr.Frights, they're excellence at succumbing to fan service and giving the public exactly what they want in terms of popular scares and the pay off is obviously huge!


The facade of this maze is really impressive, a huge gothic-looking school building that gives way to an outdoor campground/woodland area that does an excellent job of convincing us we're outside when the reality is the opposite (that sheet of night 'stars' is particularly impressive). We begin our journey getting lost in the woods at night, bumping intro horrific shrieking creatures around every corner which no matter how many times it happened I just could not get used to it, meaning there were jumpscares aplenty throughout. The idea of getting lost in the woods at night is horrific anyway, but to add possessed/demonic schoolgirls into the mix adds a whole new layer of OH HELL NO!

Probably the standout scare for me in this one was the mausoleum full of nuns, some real and some not. Those masks alone are vile so to mix in that foreboding sense of anticipation knowing one of these damn things is going to pop to life and make me shit myself at any given moment just heightens the horror. Hideous! The finale of the attraction takes us inside the school itself where all hell has broken loose as the evil has taken over every inhabitant of the building. It's chock-full of delightful jump scares and heightened by really creepy sets and make-up. A ton of spooky fun that had me shrieking the entire way round.



I'd confidently say 2019 was another home-run for Dr.Frights and I'm so glad the event lived up to the hype I'd been building with my friends who were first-timers (always awkward when it doesn't and you end up looking a dick). The mazes are totally unrecognisable from my 2016 visit, the scares came thick and fast and the innovative and creative streak that I've long praised Dr.Fright's for is strongly present throughout the entire event. It's a powerhouse of a screampark and the fact that it took home the Scar Award for best in the UK speaks volumes. I strongly urge you to visit this season if you haven't already, you won't be disappointed!

Talk later xoxo,

CONVERSATION

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