Attraction Review: Dr. Frights Halloween Nights - Route 666

It's spooky season once again, and once again I find my October weekends jam-packed with the biggest and best scare attractions the UK has to offer, so of course we were heading back to Dr.Frights Halloween Nights!

Conveniently located just outside Northampton, Dr.Frights has long been one of my all time favourite UK haunts - purely for the atmosphere of pure terror and chaos they're able to create inside a humble marquee in the grounds of a Northampton garden centre. Their creativity never ceases to impress me and it's very clear that the creative minds behind the event love horror movies as much as I do as there's always a ton of horror movie easter eggs for fans like me to get excited about! 

I've visited this event a few times before, I believe this was my fourth time? Previously the attraction was set up with a kind of hub in the middle with food, merch and the horror bar, with each of the four mazes attached off of this. This year however, the attraction has changed things up a bit - instead opting for one long route with a break in the middle. 

They also have an overarching theme every year, and completely change the mazes so there's a new line-up to ensure things are fresh for those wanting to return year after year which is something I always appreciate. This year the theme is 'Route 666' - with each section themed to a different horror with an Americana twist. I adore how Dr.Frights do this - there's something really satisfying about a throughline that links everything together for theming/storyline nerds like me! 

Something I've always adored at Dr.Frights is their facades as you enter each maze and this year was no different. This year the team have opted for a horror/pulp fiction/graphic novel style vibe oozing with vintage Halloween goodness. I would love to see a behind the scenes look at the work that goes into creating these because they really are stunning and this year's reminded me a lot of the comic book store themed Tribute Store at Universal Studios Orlando! Very cool indeed.

Let's get on with it then - kicking things off with the first section of Route 666...

Cabins in the woods in horror films are known to house all sorts of demonic unholiness, so fitting that Dr.Frights decided to fill theirs with a bunch of possessed nuns. Something that always worked really well for this even is the extremely low light - at times you're pretty much wandering through pitch blackness before some sort of ghoul is in your face and sending you flailing in the other direction. Demonic/religious iconography in horror stuff scares me anyway, so this one was high on the fear factor for me - particularly one gag involving a painting in a frame that came to life and got me really, really good. 

The attraction are also great at maximising their budget - again a testament to their creativity. You really do feel like you're wandering lost through the woods with the grass underfoot as you weave your way through hanging camo netting. It's simple, but effective. 

From the depths of a cursed forest to the dangerous streets of LA, populated with blood-thirsty maniacs looking to increase their kill count. This maze stinks of gasoline and the use of actual vehicles and metal barrels etc set off the neglected downtown city theme nicely. This section is essentially Dr.Fright's answer to The Purge - ominous sirens wailing in the distance, the flash of vehicle lights blinding you and some machete wielding monster wearing a light-up bunny mask doing their best to intimidate you. 

This one is really intense - I think it's the siren that does it and the sense of realism. Whereas demonic nuns feel very much set in fantasyland, a purge-style situation feels like it could potentially happen and these are just people, not creatures or demons or monsters, and somehow that is scarier. And the chaos, the slightly unhinged sense that you are very much not safe here and the need to escape NOW is palpable, and the actors do a great job of building upon that to scare. 

I love me a gindhouse, gritty, nasty, stinky, sweaty murderous cannibal butcher family theme, so The Grindhouse was right up my street. Chainsaws and BBQ, the pre-show promised, and oh how this maze delivered on that. The facade again was incredible - a delapidated looking storefront complete with vintage gas pumps and signage to set the scene, with a bluegrass covers band playing away in the distance. Perfection. 

It's pretty much what you would expect to see in a maze like this - blood-covered brutes precariously waving chainsaws at us, running haphazardly through hay bales trying not to get caught and chucked on the grill next, tons and tons of gore and the air thick with chainsaw fumes. I'm a little bit numb to a chainsaw scare these days, but that theme still does it for me time and time again and of course no Route 666 maze would be complete without a deranged cannibal hillbilly family trying to murder us!

Now, normally I don't really go in for a zombie maze because again, zombies don't particularly scare me, but something about how Dr.Frights does it just hits differently. Lost in the trenches, this has big World War Z vibes where the undead actually have a bit of oomph about them, meaning jump scares aplenty against a relentless soundtrack of planes overhead and bombs exploding. Complete assault on the senses.

Also shout out to one of the best effects of the night - corridor of nightmares aka trench walls with zombie hands sticking out that we had no choice but to wander through. Absolutley foul. Sam stood at the end and saw it first and just went 'oh god' before ploughing on ahead...

As an absolute lover of all things horror movie, Devilsgate Cinema speaks to me on a spiritual level. Another breathtaking facade - this time a turn of the century style cinema front but grungified so it wouldn't look out of place in any major horror movie. Devilsgate Cinema takes us through core scenes from horror classics, namely Scream 2, The Ring, Psycho and Nightmare on Elm Street. We got some seriously major scares in this section! 

A few years back Dr.Frights had a similar love-letter to horror movies themed maze which I believe was called the Director's Cut, and it had an incredible reconstruction of the scene from Scream 2 where everybody is dressed as Ghostface watching Stab. Well this year they brought that back, so imagine my equal parts delight and terror upon drawing back a curtain to reveal a cinema screen full of Ghostfaces. Vile. One of them stood up and got right in Sam's face and scared him so bad I thought he was going to pass out!

The Ring section equally got me good - turned a corner to see a TV screen with flickering lights, and of course Samara herself started crawling out of the thing. Absolutely vile, putrid, disgusting - so horrifying that I essentially turned around and tried to run the other way. 

Urban legend meeets classic carnival - Dr.Frights' take on this one is to put the classic Bloody Mary character from the teenage folk tales we tell each other into the setting of a hall of mirrors. Why has nobody thought of this before? No idea, but it was the perfect way to bring this tale to life in a new way and utterly petrifying at that - mostly because I kept getting glimpses of myself and jumping out of my skin. 

This maze did a really great job with multiple mirror gags - recreating things to look like they were mirror only to find they were multiple sets of the same thing, entering rooms filled with Bloody Marys knowing at least one would be an actor (this is a Dr. Frights special and I'd argue they're the masters of it), using mirrors to completely disorient your sense of direction. Between the horrendous strobes, the darkness and the endless reflective surfaces peppered with Bloody Mary popping up here and there I'm surprised we made it out at all!

Now, my spooky pumpkin rating is based on how much the maze scared me, so the lower rating here is because clowns do not do it for me at all in terms of scares and also the light-hearted vibe of this one made it very difficult to be terrified. HOWEVER - I do believe that every horror event should have at least one silly goose of a maze. A maze that you can go into after the horrors of the night and have a good, silly time to ensure you leave the event smiling. After the intensity of the other sections, something like Klownfest is needed to take the edge off (seriously, I was so tense the whole time...) and to that I take my hat off to this maze. 

Themed to a Woodstock of sorts, Klownfest is a music festival gone wrong - we wander through stages of different music genres and try to escape the killer clowns who are having some kind of competition to see who can murder the most festival patrons. DO NOT GO INTO THE MOSH PIT! 

And that was it for Dr. Frights Halloween nights - Route 666! Considering the attraction went out on a limb and tried something different I think it really paid off. Instead of four larger mazes we got seven smaller, yet arguably much more intense sections with much smaller wait times for each. I think in total we spent about 30 minutes in each section with the added break in the end, which felt a lot more substantial than previous years. 

The Horror Bar is still there at the end, with live cameras of inside the mazes so we can all have a giggle at everyone getting the pants scared off of them. Whilst there were some photo ops at the interlude and the end section, I do feel like it was a lot less than previous years and was definitely something I missed as usually Dr. Frights do more storytelling with this theming around these breakout areas, which was a shame to not see this year. 


I still think Dr. Frights is one of the most intense horror attractions in the UK. They just 'get' how to execute a good jump scare, and whilst the sets might not be as elaborate or detailed as others, the creativity and passion shines through and there's always a handful of gags I come away with etched into my nightmares for days to come after visiting. It's a little indie gem in the UK scare line-up and I'd implore you to check it out if it's not somewhere you've visited previously, especially if you're a horror movie fan. You won't regret it!

What do you think to Dr. Frights this year? Do you prefer linear layouts for scare events or do you prefer separate mazes? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,