Top 8 Favourite Scare Attractions

Seeing as I've spent pretty much all week in horror mazes surrounded by scare actors, suffice to say the spooky Halloween season is officially here! I'm not officially hitting up my first horror event until next weekend as I'm busy getting married this weekend (in case I hadn't mentioned it lol), so I thought I'd take the time today to reminisce about some of my favourites from over the years to get me in the mood!

I've been going to Fright Nights at good ol' Thorpe since around 2007, and I've absolutely loved watching it develop and grow into one of the UK's leading Halloween attractions. I find their mazes to usually be pretty innovative and industry leading when it comes to concept and design, and usually they think outside the box where possible.

Which is the main reason why Experiment 10 remains one of my all time favourite scare mazes I've ever had the privilege to shit my pants in. It was the first time ever I'd done a maze where you didn't have to grab onto the person in front of you's shoulders and shuffle from scene to scene. No no. This was interactive. The horror was happening TO you instead of at and around you. You were torn apart from the safety of your friends, thrown into solitary confinement, forced to crawl through unknown spaces. I'll never forget the terror and bewilderment of my first run through that maze - it was both horrifying and exhilarating and I think my love for Halloween events stems a lot from that experience.

There are two reasons why this attraction is next level. Firstly, the sets. The entire attraction, including the costumes of the characters, is painted in the most gorgeous greyscale. It's like you've stepped right into a creepy old horror film as you make your way through the shadowy manor. In a very German Expressionist style, shadows are painted on for emphasis and deceit, to create nooks and crannies where there are none to only add to the sense of unease. It's actually very beautiful.

And then there's the use of actors. Usually in scare attractions your scares consist in some way of actors running up to you out of nowhere and going 'boo' (in some sense of the word). In Jefferson Manor, that is entirely different. People appear from the walls, around corners, slide under you on the floor and yes, even fly at you from above. It is completely out of the ordinary and unexpected and as such, takes you completely off guard resulting in maximum terror. I absolutely loved it!

Ah, the humble chainsaw. Clich├ęd though they may be, and although I KNOW in my heart of hearts that they're not REAL chainsaws, is there really anything more menacing in a horror maze than the looming buzz of a chainsaw? Chop Shop knows this, and plays on it for maximum effect. Why have one chainsaw when you can have ten? (Or what feels like ten anyway).

The entire attraction is stunning - the initial set up and scenes are gorgeously detailed and themed with old vintage American cars and then the final disconcerting labyrinth of stark white walls spattered with almost neon red bloodstains provides a stark contrast. It's alarming, a shock to the senses under the fluorescent lights. And add to that a barrage of chainsaw wielding maniacs coming at you from every angle it's a wonder this attraction hasn't caused more heart attacks.

The set up for this attraction is everything. I don't know whether it was because I hadn't done a horror maze in a while and was a bit out of practice, but Ash Hell really got under my skin. From being abused by a prison guard as we awaited our punishment to the pounding heavy metal soundtrack as you make your way through your ordeal - everything is designed to have your nerve endings zapped in every way and it's awesome.

What was great about Ash Hell as well is the way it used its space. Built in an old farm barn, you really were convinced that this once housed actual inmates who were out for blood in a prison riot. The narrow pathways created by stacks of buckets, the ripsaw blade scraping at the metal underneath your feet causing you to grit your teeth wincing as sparks caused you to hot-step it out of there, the mostly empty rooms building on your already frayed anticipation for the horror that might be around the very next corner. Perfection.

I've gone on about Dr.Fright's a few times before here, and what a fantastic concept it is for a scream park. Essentially all the attractions when I visited were themed to different eras of horror film. And not just the way in which the genres developed, no no. Dr. Fright's actually incorporated the way we consume film over the decades into the design of each attraction: the 1950s was set up as a drive-in theatre, the modern day attraction was themed to look like we were streaming on Netflix. It's all just so bloody clever.

And stuff like this is extra delicious if you're a big film nerd like me, hence why Cabin of Evil was my favourite. 80s slasher movies are something I love, and I'm a little bit fascinated with the whole video nasties era. Cabin of Evil is that personified in a horror maze. It essentially does the whole maze twice with a 'rewind' section half way through. It's clever, it's original, it's meta and above all it let me geek out about horror movies whilst get spooked.

RIP Hobs Pit *sob*. What is it with the UK and ruining perfectly good dark rides? Anyway, Hobs Pit was a strange experience for me. I visited Pleasurewood Chills back in 2013 and the event was really great - the perfect mix of family fun spooky entertainment and hardcore horror thrills. Part of the more intense attractions, Hobs Pit had gone 'extreme' for Halloween and the usual attraction was amped up to be extra scary. Fortunately for me it was the only time I ever experienced it, so I guess I got it when it was at the top of its game.

The use of interactive media to create illusion throughout the attraction was great, the visual and costumes were extra graphic including one creature who appeared to tear its own skin off. Like an old fashioned ghost train brought forward into the 21st century, I wish I could find a POV showcasing how it was when I experienced it because I really haven't done anything like it since.

In case you can't tell from the above - I love great concepts above mostly anything else in my horror mazes and Human Zoo had that in bundles. Or maybe it's my overactive imagination, but either way it was super disturbing and unique. The idea is that you're herded into a cage (you're the humans in the Human Zoo, geddit) and then the horrifying creatures surround you and torture you for sport or fun or something. It was grab, really unsettling and vile, like something from a nightmare. If it were a movie everything would be filmed with with dutch angles and extreme close-ups to heighten the discomfort.

Then to top it all off a Dr.Satan inspired beast with a steam-punk body harness from hell thing chases you out of the maze in something like a scene from a Rob Zombie movie. In fact most of that maze is like a Rob Zombie movie - maybe that's why I liked it so much!

I love it when attractions use local legend and lore to create narratives for their scares, and Dead and Breakfast at Screamland does this perfectly. Themed to a WW2 bed and breakfast harbouring Blitz evacuees, the attraction uses all the grot and grime associated with an outdated British seaside town to amplify the horror. The theming is delicate and detailed, every dusty cobweb and shredded piece of wallpaper works in harmony to convey the story and you really feel a sense of history and backstory as you make your way through this one!

Plus, the final scene in the Anderson Shelter at the end is probably one of the most unexpected and effective scares I've ever enjoyed!

Honestly, it was really hard putting this list together because there's so many horror attractions I've enjoyed over the years! Can't wait to get stuck into October this year and see what new scariness awaits and if any new attractions will make their way onto my list for next season.

Talk later xoxo,