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Real Life Horror: McKamey Manor and Other Places Like it
What is Interactive Horror?
Interactive horror has been around for a while now - I have seen cinema experiences organized where the interaction is with the actors within the movie playing on the screen or pop up amusement rides where a short film plays and the ride begins in 4D fun featuring air blown in your face and water sprays from the walls. There are also amusement parks themed for frights and venues specializing in being able to give you a good scare.
I live in Australia and a few years ago I saw an advertisement for a Horror Movie Camp Out in a winery in my state and attended it. My partner and I dressed up minimally compared to other camp out - goers but as the sun went down and the fog machines crept up the valley creating a surreal and horror movie-esq backdrop, I marveled at the high-level of creativity of the people who had come up with this idea. There were scare actors wandering around dressed as a myriad of big name horror movie villains, magic shows, food trucks, big screens for the movies shown later in the evening and the best death chamber maze I have ever had the pleasure of being in. Did I get scared during my time at the event? Sure! I screamed and laughed and ran from Michael Myers who strode towards me, plastic knife in hand through the mist and had a marvelous time. At the end of the evening, we slept in a tent and went home the following morning.
That is interactive horror.
But there are more events like this. Some low-key harmless minimal scary festival types like mine and others that take the concept to the extreme..
Warner Bros. Movie World Fright Night
Warner Bros. Movie World is a theme park where normally, people attend to see the stunt shows, ride the rides and enjoy the restaurants, however, each year around Halloween they host Fright Nights, I was lucky enough to go last year and am super keen to return again as I had an awesome time. The queues were extremely long but even after waiting sometimes up to 45 minutes to enter a maze or ride on a roller coaster— it was one of the most adrenaline filled, scream-inducing barrel of laughs I have ever had.
Where: Oxenford, Queensland, Australia.
When: Every Friday and Saturday in October.
Ticket Costs: As it's a theme park they gouge you. The cheapest you can get out of it for is $50 for admission, but depending on whether you want extras like tours, Panic Rooms, the fast track passes or food you could well end up paying at least $200 for the experience unless you get in and buy one of their deals tickets.
Highlights: Rides such as Green Lantern, Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster, and Doomsday Destroyer run as extra things to do while you are wandering around the park after dark — marveling at the special effects creatures who were simply amazing! There was fire, magic shows, spooky music, a great band later in the evening and mazes based on your favorite horror theme. 2017 sees a new maze introduced based on the movie Jigsaw but other mazes like From Dusk Till Dawn, The Conjuring 2 and Halloween have you separated into small groups and led into a dark passageway with jump scares, sound effects and moving sets - if you don't reach the exit screaming your head off there is something wrong with you.
Who Hosts it? Warner Bros. Movie World.
Horror Movie Camp Outs
- Great Horror Camp Out
Where: Elysian Park— Las Angeles, California.
When: Usually at the beginning of June yearly, this event is an overnight 12 hours of interactive horror fueled fun where ticket holders can camp for the night at the event.
Ticket Costs: Depending on how many people are in your tent— prices go for $99 to $199.
Highlights: This event has different levels you can choose from and the scarier options include the safe word “I want my mommy” for those that decide to dull it down and recoup their sanity. For campers that want all in and then a chance at being crowned Hell-master (which gets you VIP treatment) — they must compete in various games, mazes and horror challenges against monsters and psychological fear induced experiences such as being kidnapped, being caged and using items they have found to barter their way out of situations.
Who Hosts it?: Ten Thirty One Productions.
- Fright Nights Camp Out
Where: Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Huntsville, and Austin— USA.
When: Between August and September yearly depending on which place this event lasts up to 29 hours for the weekend or 16 hours for just a single night. This one is summer camp style and housing are bunk-houses or tents.
Ticket Costs: Depending on how long you stay its will cost between $99 and $179 for the pleasure of being scared out of your wits but it does include food.
Highlights: Immersive actors can come into your room while you sleep but there are chicken lodgings available for ticket holders if they choose. There are also words you can scream out if you are really going to wreck your underwear which for this one is — “I'm a big Pansy,” and the actors will leave you alone.
Friday and Saturdays nights give you the opportunity to attend a massive themed disco after all the camp's activities finish for the night.
During the night there are heaps of games like extreme hide-and-seek and skull hunts.
Who Hosts it?: The Fright Nights Production Company.
- Horror Movie Camp Out
Where: Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and Sydney, Australia.
When: Between March and December yearly depending on the site this event is an overnight scream fest.
Ticket Costs: Depending on whether you rent a tent or are bring your own, it will cost you between $79 to $99 for entry and this does not include food which you can buy from a couple of food trucks once inside.
Highlights: This one is more like a horror festival with big outdoor screen horror movies on blow-up couches and chairs late into the night chosen via a vote beforehand. You're invited to dress up as your favorite horror character and best dressed win a prize. You can either partake in some carnival rides and games, watch some magic shows or a band, drink from the bar and navigate a massive dark fog filled maze all while scare actors creep around behind you.
Camp goers sleep overnight in a tent just outside the gates when the movies have finished or in their own camper-vans or can leave and take the party elsewhere. As the camp out is held at a winery, there is an option of a hotel stay a short way from the camp grounds.
Who Hosts it?: Boo Entertainment.
Haunted Hollywood Sports
Hollywood Sports is like a theme park but for paintball and laser tag plus a bunch of other sports-related activities that the place is famous for. Every Halloween though, they host a special event called Haunted Hollywood Sports where they basically turn the place into a massive paintball field and fill it with zombies for you to shoot and run from.
Where: Bellflower, California, USA.
When: Fridays and Saturdays through October.
Ticket Costs: Tickets are $50-ish.
Highlights: The night begins with an escort to a staged section of the park and it's set as an apocalyptic zombie fueled scene with soldiers and specialty cars. There are mazes too, some of which are spooky haunted houses, others based on local horror lore and some featuring fog and mist filled scares. You could watch haunted wrestling, magic shows, and climb a Suicide Rock Wall or take a break in the shooting-range or shock artist shows on offer.
Immersive actors roam the grounds and the best part of all (if you are into skirmish and zombies combined) is the kill house where you don a tactical vest and a paintball gun which could feature comfortably in any doomsday movie then get propelled into a fantasy world to find your way through a destroyed city to kill or become one of the undead.
Who Hosts it? Holly Wood Sports Park.
McKamey Manor. Extreme Haunted House
When I first heard about this place, I had to research far and wide to work out whether the owner-operator was simply very clever with promotion making people think it was extreme or if it really was what they say it is. It seems as though this is the real deal and if you would actually like to experience what it would be like to not only address your worst fears in a hands-on violent way— then this is where you would go. Although relative information on the site from the brains behind the operation state that people are not in danger, first-hand experiences by people who have attended would say otherwise. Most pictures show fake blood, damp conditions, and a very real atmospheric scene but the rest is as real as it gets.
Where: Nashville, Tennessee and Huntsville Alabama, USA.
When: This one is open 365 days a year with one show per week, however, participants need to join a wait list which has over 27000 people on it. There is also a lengthyspray of requirements to even step foot on the tour which include; a doctor's note saying you are fit and healthy and not bound to go cray, a background check, medical insurance, a waiver and a drug test on the day. This experience can last 10 hours however it's reported that no one has made it that far yet.
Ticket Costs: It boasts being not for profit and guests required to pay with dog food. It may include a free forced head shave after entry though.
Highlights: The show begins in Holly's Playhouse which is the warm-up version to get you into the real event. McKamey Manor promises you will live your own horror movie, they base the show on your own personal fears and most commonly include spiders, snakes, and immersion into water, kidnapping, restraints, closed in spaces and anything else you might see in your run of the mill slasher or extreme horror flick. It's recommended that you do this tour alone however you can bring someone with you. Unlike nearly all other immersive horror shows of its kind, this one allows actors to actually touch you. Filming every step of the way you may be forced to eat rotten food, gagged, hit, and shoved into walls and onto floors. The owner-operator has denied any accusations made by guests who say McKamey Manor takes it too far but I guess the saying "you were warned" goes a long way here.
Who Hosts it? Owner and operator Russ McKamey. Russ loves horror so much he transformed his house into a horror factory.
Other Places Around The World That Promise to Scare You.
- The Mutter Museum Philadelphia, USA: Features actual pieces of Albert Einstein's brain and other macabre remains in exhibits with names like 'Grimm's Anatomy Exhibit.'
- Stanley Hotel Colorado, USA: An overnight haunted hotel stay which was the inspiration for the movie The Shining. Plenty of ghostly images are by guests.
- The Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic: A chapel beneath a cemetery and everything in its made from more than 40000 human remains.
- The Catacombs, Paris: Skulls and other human remains got stacked in the catacombs beneath the Parisian City due to overcrowding in cemeteries in the 18th century. Visitors can walk among the dead bodies of more than 6 million people.
- The Banwell Bone Cave, England: On a large estate are two caves which contain stacked piles of prehistoric animal bones.
- Lizzie Borden House, Massachusetts, USA: Andrew and Abbey Borden were brutally murdered. Their daughter was under suspicion of the gruesome killing however she was found not guilty. The house they lived in offers an overnight stay where you are served the same breakfast they ate the day they died in 1892.
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