Dare you brave the assortment of freaks, scares and nightmares that await at York Maze? Pete Wise did – and lived to tell the tale…
We’re just a two-minute drive from the outer ring road, and it feels like we’re in the middle of a scene from Deliverance. Prosthetic corpses hang from trees and out-buildings, the buzz of chainsaws fills the air, and masked lunatics menace yelping teenagers with unsettlingly realistic machetes.
This is Hallowscream, and we’re feeling a million miles from cosy York.
This annual fright-fest at York Maze is centred around five themed attractions, each of which is wickedly engineered to induce its own distinct brand of psychological turmoil. In the name of journalistic rigour, we braved the lot…
The Difference Engine
First up, The Difference Engine is psychological thriller in black and white, full of twists and turns in the menacing dark. It’s a disorientating experience; slinking, leering actors garbed in morph-suits lurk around corners, strobe lights dazzle and dry ice obscures the way through forests of plastic partitions. Watch out for the giant air pillows…
Dread and gore are the orders of the day in this feature, new for 2014. The loosely historical amble through the gloomy streets of a nightmarishly re-imagined past all starts gently enough, our eccentric ‘time traveller’ guide providing some welcome comic relief as we blast back to 1873…
But this being Hallowscream, the respite is brief and we soon find ourselves traipsing through the underbelly of a ghastly city peopled by mutilated corpses and manic surgeons. The whole experience is probably a lot like descending through the seven levels of Hell.
The Freak Show
Boasting ‘savage wolfmen’, ‘men smaller than children’ and a ‘three breasted lady’, The Freak Show is a brilliantly daft foil to some of Hallowscream’s more genuinely disturbing attractions.
A straw path lined with jibbering, caged monsters wends its way out to the maize maze itself, which provides perhaps the spookiest setting of all. You will be ambushed, and you will jump out of your skin when the machine gun goes off.
This one came awfully close to triggering our fight-or-flight mechanisms. Barnaggedon is a gleefully sick and twisted ten-minute heart attack in an agro-industrial-cum-murder-cave setting.
Ear-piercing sound effects provide the shock factor, whilst a combination of freakishly dressed actors and bleak, blood-stained spaces give the uneasy feeling that you may well be a character in a Saw film. Genuinely frightening.
Entirely by accident, we managed to save the best till last. If you’re afraid of clowns you’re going to find the first section of this attraction extremely traumatic, but trust us when we say it’ll be well worth your while.
Once you’ve navigated your way through a disorientating, circus freak-peppered maze you’ll find yourself faced with a surreal and brilliant series of illusions; a shrinking corridor, a spinning fluorescent ceiling and an anti-gravity room to name a few.
Reincornation adds a splash of wonder into the murky Hallowscream cauldron, perfectly rounding off what has been a thoroughly enjoyable and really quite scary evening.
Hallowscream tickets are still available for Octpber 24, 25, 30, 31 and November 1. Tickets must be bought online here
How does it compare to Hallowscream 2013?