Red roses. Cute teddy bears. Heart-shaped boxes filled with heart-shaped chocolates. Brain-starved zombies in utter darkness. Wait, what? Scare Kingdom Scream Park really won’t have it for me to spend a single sickly sweet holiday in appropriate sickly sweetness, and so this Valentine, it was all about blood, guts and gore.
The Manormortis mansion really must be the most unfortunate piece of real estate to live in the entire North of England, as it seems every two months a different evil presence has it in for anyone who takes a single footstep past the front door. This time, zombies had taken control, and local undertaker (organ salesman on the side – and we ain’t talking the musical kind) Dougie wasn’t too happy about the entire situation. To make his night even worse, his wife had an entire evening planned for them. Not feeling very lovey-dovey, he kindly asked us to lead the zombie horde her way, and with a single glow stick to illuminate our path, we were thrust into the darkness of the manor in pairs.
A single glow stick. Lucky us. I would really, really have preferred something more along the lines of say, a machete? As it was, apart from turning us into a brightly green beacon for the undead to lunge at, the glow stick made sure our eyes never had a chance to adapt to the darkness inside the mansion. Even the zombies must have thought we were surprisingly easy targets. Now, if I was a bit more cynical, I could see myself wondering – “Hey, just turning off the lights in an existing scare attraction, throwing some zombies in and charging people 13 pounds for a ten minute walkthrough, that sounds a lot like a quick and easy cash grab!” And indeed, even with the considerable length of Manormortis, it doesn’t take too long to reach the exit when you are running away from the undead. But, while I’m unable to completely refute the claim my cynical alter ego just made, luckily, albeit short, the attraction was executed to perfection. We bounced from zombie to zombie, laughing, giggling and screaming the entire way through, cursing the glow stick for blinding us and attracting attention. The house really was filled to the brim with actors, with the timing being superb every single time, as they emerged from crawl spaces and gaps in walls, or simply appeared from the darkest corners of the room. Getting me to jump while I am yelling ‘I saw something move, I know something is over there!’ – it just proves Scare Kingdom has mastered the art of making a jump scare so much worse, because you know it is coming.
Enough foreplay though, I didn’t want to be late for my date with Mr. Black… He had ensured me our night would be very memorable too. Always the gentleman. Making my way through the bar, a sufferer is thrown out by Mr. Black. Our eyes meet. He runs over. Grabs my head, holds it tight. Romantic music swells in the back of my head – and is abruptly cut short. The scratch of a needle.
YOU ARE GOING TO LEARN WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU MESS WITH THE BOSS!
Oh dear. My love letter, sent with the best intentions a few weeks before, seems to have struck a nerve. I’d have some explaining to do. Queuing up, I notice people leaving Snuffhouse in a relatively dry state. A welcome change from previous shows, as it was a freezing cold February night. Comforting. The latch opens up. Mr. Black’s eyes. A last minute thought – I should have brought flowers. Too late for that now. I crawl in.
Jump to twenty minutes later. I’m on the ground in the bar, Mr. Black is straddling me. My right arm is covered in candle wax. In my left hand, a cockroach is struggling to get free. In my mouth, a bizarre, grassy taste lingers – and would for some time. I am drenched to the bone, shaking. A sore spot would remain on my forehead for three days, either from the barrel of a gun, or from some particularly forceful water dunking, I’ll never know. The tiniest hint of blood, after the edge of a torn plastic cup had accidentally snagged the inside of my nose. Mr. Black is holding my head, pushing me down on the concrete floor.
DO YOU THINK IT IS FUNNY NOW? DO YOU??
And just like that, after a slightly less aggressive (but amazingly fun) run at Christmas, Snuffhouse had me breathless and shaking once again. The minute before I was thrown out, I had found myself in a coffin, a cloth draped over my face, ice cold water being poured all over, gasping for breath, with the tormentors kicking the coffin violently. And it had all started out so romantic, molten wax treatments in a dentist chair, bonding experiences with creepy crawlies. Just, wow – no words for how insanely good that was. The car ride back to the hotel was spent trying to control my shivering, trying to get warm again. Touching and prodding different parts of my body to find all the sore spots. Recollecting what had happened, adrenalin still soaring through my veins.
That said – what happened to Mr. White? It surely seems like he fell victim to the tormentor flu, and that his little nephew was recruited to fill the gap. Talking to other people that went through and had him as their main tormentor, the difference really couldn’t have been greater. Reciting a love song, a gentle push here and there – seems like Mr. Red and Black need to give their new colleague a bit of assertivity training. That, or maybe open up a different queue line for Snuffhouse: Introduction? As it was now, at least a couple of people left somewhat underwhelmed and disappointed, especially considering the intensity of their previous shows.
I’m just going to assume it was a last minute emergency situation? My run was absolutely on point, and Mr. Black was as shocking as ever – this was my third Snuffhouse Alone, and I’m always left on a complete high afterwards, recollecting my senses. The perfect quick hit of extreme horror.
Next July, dear Mr. Black, next July. It’ll be a pleasure getting soaked in weather slightly warmer than around freezing temperatures, for once. See you there.