Tulleys Farm Shocktober Fest

On Thursday night I headed to a scare event I've wanted to go to for years, and at 7pm I was pulling through the pitch dark gates into Tulley's Farm, which for the month of October transforms itself into the Shocktober Fest Halloween event. It has a festival kind of feel to it; mud everywhere, portaloos, loads of stalls selling cheap (yet so so good) fast food and various tents each hosting a different scare attraction. Dotted around the entrance plaza were small bonfires to keep warm and scare actors wandered around interacting with guests. Also at the event but not directly affiliated with Tulley's was the 'Haunted' funfair (the only thing really scary about it were the prices, ha!) and a rubbish circus (which I'll get to in a bit). So like my last review I'll tackle each attraction as I experienced it, so I'll begin with the first scare attraction we did - Hellements. Please be warned this review does contain spoilers.

We entered the first maze whose logo graphics suggested this had something to do with ancient mythology. We were correct - Hell-ements is an attraction themed around walking your way into the mythological underworld and facing the horrors of Hell. Oh and one more thing, you do the whole attraction with a black bag over your head. It's pretty unnerving, the black bag element not only restricts your vision but also places you in a permanently claustrophobic environment where the sound of your own breath is amplified and the rest of your senses are desperately trying to adjust to this temporary sensory restriction. Even if nothing had happened the fear induced by literally walking through the unknown in such a vulnerable state would have been enough. But obviously this is Tulley's so they tae things one step further.

The only way to navigate this attraction is to keep your left hand on the rope at all times. Seriously. Take it off and you're screwed. Also the floor is really uneven so if you're not holding on there's also the chance that you'll fall flat on your face. You go through the attraction in small groups, ours was a group of five, and the 'creatures' within creep up upon
you, get in your face, breathe down your neck and snort in your ear. Alongside this is a battle against the elements. This attraction blows wind in your faces, shoots fire at you and gets you wet. It's a constant barrage of abuse, whether from the actors or the effects, and what is really great is that these could come at any time, the scares are never predictable because you can't see anything so suffice to say our group were screaming and jumping most of the way around the attraction.

The ending of this maze is spectacular, this I won't spoil because it truly took my breath away and had a couple of my group falling to their knees with shock, but it's definitely one of the most impressive endings to a horror walkthrough I've ever experienced personally. I adored this maze, it was unique, terrifying and an innovative use of staging, space and effects. We were off to a good start - 8/10.

WoodStock - Rottin' since '69
The next attraction up on the list was the cornfield maze themed to a music festival gone wrong. The lighting was the first thing that caught my attention about this walkthrough; the corn reaches about head height and above it you can see faint lights signalling the next scene, it was very eerie and submersive, really added to the ambience of this attraction. What you will first notice about WoodStock is that there is a LOT of nothing. I mean solid 30-40 seconds of walking along and nothing happening. It annoyed me at the time but thinking about it now it just served to increase the anxiety within my group, the longer nothing happened the more we anticipated it, so tension was high the whole way around the attraction.

Firstly our group came up against a zombified bar maid offering us a drink or 'something else' (God knows) before sending us into a creepy abandoned disco and dancing like a maniac around us. It was really unnerving and weird and like nothing I've ever seen in a horror maze before. But it was creepy fun and a really good way to set the tone for the rest of the maze; tongue-in-cheek gruesomeness accompanied with some high-intensity scares.
The attraction is a long one, and we made our way through the festival campsite - 
infested with flesh-eating maniacs, the bins where we were shot at by gun toting ghouls and
terrorised by their previous victims who came sprinting at us at great speed, the festival ambulance where some poor soul was being 'treated' for alcohol poisoning of some kind, the gross portaloos, where the inhabitants offered 'fresh faeces anyone?' as we crept our way along the furthest wall, until finally we turned a corner to be faced with a dozen or so crouching figures covered in white sheets. Crap. We all hesitated because you KNOW what is coming but you just don't want to face up to it. Quickly, our group shuffled through cowering in preparation for the scare that never actually came. Incredibly effective and it didn't even DO anything!

We laughed until we turned the final corner into a room filled with hanging body bags where the smell of gasoline filled the air. Chainsaw. I feel like we began running before we even heard it but before we knew it the madman was in our faces waving his weapon at us with maniacal glee. We sprinted out of the exit with a mixture of screaming and laughter, stopping to catch our breath and all completely agreeing that that was AWESOME. Probably the most enjoyable horror attraction I've ever been through and it was a shame not to be able to experience it again. The maze was substantial in length, each scene was well thought out and suitably scary, with varying levels of scares throughout the maze. The humour was spot on and had us switching from screaming to laughing the whole way through the attraction. The ending, whilst becoming cliched now in the world of scare attractions, was still completely enjoyable and horrifying and really brought this masterpiece together. 9/10.

After the first two mazes being of such high intensity it would be unfair to say that Twisted was disappointing, but we set ourselves up in a way that anything to follow those first two would just not live up to them. Twisted IS good, just not as good as Hell-ements and WoodStock. Anyway, we joined the queue only to hear the faint 'toot-toot' of circus music which will send a shiver down the spine of any coulrophobe.  This maze is clown-themed, but the clowns within are not vulgar vicious clowns like you'll find in Carnival of Screams at Alton Towers, but just, well, regular clowns. So if you're not scared of clowns, this maze will not scare you.

There are however, some cool effects. For example the layout is the most maze-like of all of the attractions at Tulley's; each section is a walled room with circus tent awnings hanging down to the floor, and behind all but one is a wall. So you have to spend some time figuring out which way to go, which poses a bit of a problem if you're trying to get away from something quickly. The maze also has some other fun maze paraphernalia, such as shrinking rooms, spinning tunnels and blow up walls which beckon the group to squeeze and grope your way through them. It's kind of like a scary fun house in a way. I feel like this maze would have been more effective had the clowns been 'scary' clowns as opposed to normal clowns, because that effect was definitely lost of me. Those of my group who were afraid though found Twisted quite scary, but still not as frightening as WoodStock or Hell-ements. 4/10.

The Cellar

This was the best themed maze in my opinion - an old cottage filled with clutter, dirty washing and worse. Tulley's Farm is home to a character called Esmarelda - a drunken old

witch who staggers around the place clutching a bottle of gin and yelling abuse at passers by. The Cellar is her humble abode and it is as gross inside as her appearance is outside. Similarly to WoodStock, the sense of humour is right up there. The attraction is creepy and jumpy but not heart-stoppingly horrific like Hell-ements is (for example, one room in this attraction features a television showing TeleTubbies). The scares in this attraction come largely from loud noises from the 'creatures' clanging loudly on various items within the cellar and popping their heads out from behind the uneven wall surfaces and photo frames.

The most impressive effects came from the use of the blow up walls again, similar to those found in Twisted. This time however the walls started at knee height but the floor descended into them, giving the impression of submerging underground into Esmarelda's domain. This was very clever. Another thing of note was that the theming did not let up. Usually with these attractions the entrance or first scene is well-themed and the rest of the maze uses it sparingly, however each scene in The Cellar maintained a high standard of theming throughout, which is impressive for an attraction such as this.

The attraction ends with one of the mad creatures pointing a leafblower in your face and blowing you out of the attraction. It's silly and fun and more on the gross side of horror attractions rather than the terrorising side. We didn't exit the maze screaming or catching our breath but rather laughing and remarking on how fun the attraction was. I can understand why this is referred to as the 'crown jewel' of Tulley's and they should definitely be proud to host such an attraction. 6/10.

The Haunted HayRide
Definitely the most anticipated attraction of the night for our group, we saved the Haunted HayRide until last, firstly because we thought it would be the best attraction and secondly because it had around a 45 minute queue for most of the night. We happened the catch the last tractor of the night and we made sure our group sat right at the back of the trailer. The Haunted HayRide is an incredibly impressive attraction, especially for somewhere that appears as small as Tulley's. The hayride carries guests through a series of horrific scenes wherein actors come aboard the trailer and various effects from each scene bombard and terrify the guests. The attraction lasts (I estimate) around 10-15 minutes and the scares are relentless. I will not go into detail for this attraction as I feel you have to experience it without any prior knowledge as I did to benefit from the full effect.

To understand what the HayRide is, imagine the final scene of Cabin in the Woods where every horror creature ever imagined come together and terrorise the world. That is pretty much was this attraction does. Once again, this ride utilises a variety of scare tactics, including loud explosive noises, actors and props jumping out or 'falling' onto the trailer and visual scares such as hanging bodies, burning buildings and acted out scenes of horror. The HayRide is holistic, featuring scenes from every sub-horror genre imaginable. These include: pirates, skeletons, toxic waste mutants, dinosaurs, escaped prison inmates, cannibalistic hillbillies, scary little girls, death himself, butchers, chainsaw maniacs, nuns, psychotic cross-dressers, satanic cult members and so many more I can't even begin to list.

The fun from this attraction came from not only experiencing the scares myself but also sharing the horror with others aboard the trailer. There were people of all ages on our ride and it was great to see kids being terrorised alongside parents and older people. Usually at these events the guests are mostly young adults so the variance in audience really complemented the experience for me. The HayRide really was the piece de resistance for our night at Tulley's and we managed to time everything perfectly, the park was closing as we exited the HayRide and made our way towards the exit.

Tulley's is a fantastic Halloween event and is incredibly popular - it sells out pretty much every weekend it operates so if you want to visit I recommend attended on a weeknight like we did. Not only will you have more of a chance of getting all of the mazes done but you are also more likely to interact closely with the scare actors, queue less and have a generally better time than if it were crowded. I was very impressed with this event and can't wait to return for next Halloween!

Thanks for reading,