2016-10-30 – Dr. Frights Halloween Nights

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Who doesn’t enjoy a good horror movie every now and then? The folks at Dr. Frights sure do, and decided to theme their entire Halloween event around four different eras of scary flicks. Welcome to Cinemassacre!

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To start off this review, I got to commend the organizers for the attention they paid to the music. The general marquee area has dirty, gritty guitars blasting through speakers and has a great vibe – there’s an inherent connection between metal music and horror, and we really loved simply hanging out in this area, enjoying the blasting rock music, watching the roaming characters stalk around the place. Entering the queue line to one of the mazes, you’d first walk through a section covered with movie posters from that era (guys, if you don’t want these anymore, I’ll gladly take ‘em!), with a selection of relevant music playing. The absolute first time I sometimes wished we could stay in the queue for a bit longer! In the fifties, we danced through the line listening to swing and Elvis Presley, while trailers of old, black and white scary movies were projected on a screen. The seventies had bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd on offer, while we were treated to awesome synthesizer tunes in the eighties section. Finally, in the contemporary maze queue line, the likes of Taylor Swift and Muse were being played. After this cinema-styled marquee, the queue line continued in a more atmospheric way. Eerie music begins to overtake the radio tunes, the lighting darkens, and you are confronted with the facades of the mazes. Really cool way to introduce all the attractions, I loved Dr. Frights’ way of setting the scene.

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On recommendation of ScareTOUR, we went through the mazes in reverse order. A great piece of advice, as the mazes (and the music, having been bombarded with Taylor Swift first) kept on getting better and better the more we travelled back in time. So, starting off in contemporary times, we ventured into The Further, based on supernatural horror movies like The Conjuring, Annabelle, Insidious, Sinister, … The maze being really dark and pierced with blue strobing lights, we were barely able to soak in the theming, but there was no mistaking the influences. A number of people were sat around a table, holding hands. A baby monitor, emitting static. A bed, the sheets defiled with bloody, demonic claw prints. Creepy children’s drawings. A glass case with a doll inside, staring at us with dead, but somewhat lifelike eyes. A decent starter maze, but a bit generic perhaps, and we were glad The Further had not been our finale maze for the night.

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A first step back in time, as we landed in The Cabin of Evil – which turned out to be an almost scene-per-scene recreation of Evil Dead, with a twist! Very dark once again, we felt our way through the cabin’s interior. It was evident something wasn’t right here, and soon, we were attacked by disgruntled creatures. A hatch in the floor, the latch still locked, something underneath banging violently against the hatch, trying to get out. We were fleeing through loads of laundry drying on clotheslines, when we suddenly entered a room with a screen. The image on the screen was twisted, warping, when suddenly a voice called out through the room. “Rewinding”, it said. As we ventured in the next room, we thought we had taken a wrong turn, we had been here before? As the next rooms were again repeats, it dawned on us what had happened in the rewind room. A really neat trick, and the actors were a lot more aggressive this time around! That hatch that had been closed, wide open this time, otherworldly light spilling out, without a single doubt the reason the evil presence in the cabin had gotten this much more pronounced! Again we dashed through the clotheslines, this time with actors hiding behind every sheet, and finally escaped, for real this time. A very cool twist, the first half of the maze had been fairly standard, but as soon as the VHS tape was rewound, it really picked up!

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Once again, we traveled to an earlier decade, as the Cannibal Double Feature combined two different seventies Grindhouse productions. First up was The Tribe. We got to explore the Amazonian jungle, but all too soon, it was made clear to us that we weren’t alone, and quite unwelcome. Heads impaled on wooden stakes and bloody, gnawed-upon skeletons were lining the obscure, tight paths through the foliage. It didn’t take long for us to encounter those responsible for all the butchering, and they couldn’t wait to feast upon us! The tribesfolk’s body painting lighting up through the darkness, we were stalked through snake-infested jungle corridors, the canopy obscuring the way forward even more. Eventually, we had to flee through their village, tribal drums pounding as we ran by butchered corpses and rabid cannibals!

We found relative safety soon, in a dark hallway, where a voice announced we would now continue into the next feature – Slaughterhouse Rock! We pushed the curtain aside, and entered an entirely different scene. After the claustrophobic jungle scenes, the marquee where these rednecks had set up their festival felt huge, if it wasn’t for all the smoke, we could have seen all the way to the exit! The way to that exit wouldn’t be so easy though, as we met a number of very unsavory characters while we made our way through the grounds. As with any festival, the crowd was rowdy, drunk, touchy, savage and wild, and they definitely took a liking to us. We were separated, held back, rednecks sliced blades past our necks and prodded us with their knives. A hungry lot of them, they drooled all over us, waiting for us to end up on someone’s barbecue. I got sniffed and cornered, and got forced into a camping tent – for some quality sexy time with a bloody, long deceased skeleton lady (but she did have some nice ol’ titties, the rednecks complimented my tent partner). After disturbing an enormous, bodybuilder-type festivalgoer, I had to sing a lullaby for him, just like his momma used to do, and I bargained my way out of more than one dangerous scenario by promising I’d come back with beers. In the end, I had finally made it to the stage, and the crowd went wild, chasing after me with bladed guitars and chainsaws, and I sprinted out laughing. Such a fun walkthrough, and easily our favourite part of the night.

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The final step back in time brought us to the fifties, in It’s Alive! A maze dedicated to all the black and white horrors that terrified audiences way way back. All that monochrome is used to an optimal effect – a pitch black maze, strobes illuminating the way, where every colour is shunned, and even the actors within are all completely black and white. Werewolves haunted our way through the storm and the blows of thunder were deafening, when we reached the graveyard. Corpses crawled out of their resting places and made expert use of the strobing, moving in an almost supernatural fashion, closing in with every strobe, suddenly standing right in front of our face. A coffin room had Nosferatu-styled vampires appearing from everywhere you weren’t looking, ghost girls clawed at us from their four-poster beds, … A true homage to silent cinema horror, and a great maze to end the night!

A really fun event. Their mazes aren’t the most polished ones we have come across, and most of the time, the fact that they are all built in marquee tents lessens the tension. Sometimes, this issue was addressed, in The Tribe for example, where they used some small lights to simulate the night sky, with netting and fake plants serving as a bit of a ceiling.  Slaughterhouse Rock used the marquee to its full potential, and actually got better because of the huge open space, creating a festival-like vibe. In the other mazes however, a ceiling-like structure would have improved the maze. But importantly, Dr. Frights really gets away with the lack of polish. The event uses a great way of handling the flowthrough of their mazes, all of them start with a themed, prerecorded speech. As soon as the speech ends, a green light flashes on, and you are allowed to continue. A clever and effective way of introducing the maze and separating groups. We were always allowed to walk through just by the two of us, barely ran into the next group, and never got caught by the ones behind, so the batching system is a huge plus. A lot of cool little original ideas are implemented, the queue zones and buildups to the mazes were really nicely done, and basing their entire event around eras of movie horror was able to draw our attention immediately. During the night, we encountered some amazing characters and had hilarious talks with them. Also, some of the actors are really imposing just by their physique, so meeting them in the mazes immediately was an experience just by itself! And again, the use of music lifted the event up to a higher level, serving as scene setting for the mazes, and keeping everyone pumped in the general batching area. So, a worthy Halloween destination? Hell yes!

Dr. Frights official website

Dr. Frights Facebook page

 

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