Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trail of Terror!!

I love old fashioned haunted houses. I’m not too keen on the very expensive, pounding heavy metal professional ones. I certainly have been in a few of those and while the effects may be technically better, they aren’t nearly so charming.

The first haunted house I was even in was set up in a garden center. I think I went with Indian Princesses and it was definitely old fashioned. In fact, I suspect that sort of house doesn’t exist any more. Most of the displays were static, and veiled by chicken wire. They were sets like coffins, mad scientist-like things in jars (an underused prop, I think. If you’ve ever been in a whole room that contained nothing but scientific specimens, IT IS CREEPY! It would probably be sort of cool to have a room in a volunteer haunted house with floor to ceiling specimens in mason jars- spiders, rats, dolls, body parts, lizards, snakes, organs, etc and have the light filter through the jars. A nice quiet creep before someone springs out at you), vampire dummies, skeletons. I don’t even recall there being any living people. It did have one part that was genuinely unsettling. It had a long maze of corridors in almost complete darkness, without any sounds or creepy music. It was all black walls and I distinctly remember having to feel my way out. Creepy.

I went to Peterson Park’s Trail of Terror last night, which was excellent as it is every year. It’s a wonderful mix of modern props and technologies (they had some fantastic large scale puppets this year. Really amazing.) put on by volunteers, including children. It is probably the most fun you can have for $8. I would love to know who plans the event, because they are so dedicated to producing a haunted trail that is absolutely a cut above the average volunteer haunted house.

There are two things that make volunteer houses special. There is nothing like the experience of being scared by someone who is wholeheartedly enjoying themselves in a nonaggressive way. At Peterson Park, many of the monsters are children and, boy, can they scare! They squeeze up into the tiniest little places and leap out at you! You don’t see them coming at all. They scream! You scream! You laugh and they’ve enjoyed scaring you so much they laugh too! It’s great. Last year had the best example I’ve ever seen of that phenomenon. Knut is a huge darling wuss and people always target him because he’s a big adult man. We went into one section that was carnival themed. I went in first and noticed a small girl (I have pretty good night vision) curled up almost behind a curtain. She wisely stayed put because she knew I saw her. However, when Knut came in, looking about four feet above her head, she leapt out screaming. He screamed at the top of his lungs and fell into the wall behind him and the two started laughing so heartily. He congratulated her on being so scary.

The other thing that makes volunteer houses extra fun is the sort of people who visit them. Most of them are not hard core scare freaks. They are not the type to harass or heckle and they scream (I know because I’m one of them. A kid in a gilly suit scared me almost to the loss of bladder control last night. He/she scuttled out from under a burlap curtain along a (I had thought) unmanned stretch of path) at EVERYTHING! Thus, we always end up hugging, hold hands, or holding on to jackets of people we haven’t met before. It’s great. Our little group of three merged together to become a group of six before the meat house section and stuck together the rest of the way. I grabbed the jacket of the guy in front of me, another guy held onto my shoulder, Natalie and another girl held hands, and Knut held on to everybody while we all screamed like crazy. Fantastic.

Our voices were hoarse by the end, so we had to recuperate with coconut fudge sundaes at Margie’s Candies.

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