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Hallowscream at York Maze

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by Katie Thompson (subscribe)
University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel. Blog: twotwothompson.wordpress.com/ Published work can be seen at www.theyorker.co.uk and www.yorkvision.co.uk
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Get freaked out this half term
Being chased by a chainsaw-wielding clown isn't how I would normally spend a Wednesday evening. Then again, I wouldn't normally enter a mutant-infested quarantine zone, but this Wednesday evening, I found myself at York Maze, screaming like a little girl.

This year's Hallowscream event at York Maze runs for 6 nights and promises to induce underwear soiling in even the toughest of scareseekers. Split into 4 areas, Outbreak, Carnevil, Barnageddon and Symetery, Hallowscream succeeds in turning child-friendly farmland into an ominous danger zone.

Outbreak

Our tour kicked off with Outbreak, after which we could peruse the other zones at our own risk. Contributors from the University of York dressed in radiation suits guided us into a dark screening room, in which we were shown a video warning us of a flesh-eating virus. After being 'screened' one unlucky viewer was shown to be 'sick' and, despite angry protest, taken backstage to be quarantined. We watched as the video showed his rapid transformation and it wasn't long before more of the infected began roaming the room, climaxing in the final shock of a gunshot. We were quickly led out into the danger zone and watched as the biohazard control team battled the infected, before getting a quick dousing of de-contamination fluid (water) ourselves.

Carnevil

Creepy clowns have never been something which I've found particularly scary. Walking through strobe-lit dark mazes however, with said freaks jumping out intermittently, was enough to make me question my possible heart condition. This, combined with freakish circus music and psychedelic scenery, (think whirling tunnels with creepy spirals – enough to mess with anyone's head) made the whole thing pretty disturbing. The only relief was the brief moment of comedy when one of the clowns broke character and apologised to my friend for knocking his glasses off – all in the dress rehearsal!

carnevil
Freakshow: the perils of Carnevil


Barnageddon

Next door was Barnageddon, the most imaginative of all the zones. Kicking off with a shaky floor and the rather unpleasant discovery of a masked lunatic, we were forced into an abyss of dark tunnels and creepy surprises. As what appeared to be a zombiefied-traffic warden warned us of our impending doom, the second shock came from an exploding bed, before we were led through a maze of walls covered in graffiti, accompanied by industrial-sounding dubstep music. Those who stand head and shoulders above the rest may not appreciate having to bend down through the majority of this one, through the netted tunnels and creepy cages. For a midget like me, however, this only added to the effects, and the well thought-out scenery coupled with nasty surprises (exploding toilets, anyone?) made this my favourite of the freaky four attractions.



Symetery

Don't enter this one if you don't like being separated from your friends. Maze owner Tom Pearcy warned us that bad crop growth had inspired this year's attraction, and it certainly bore the fruits of fear, as we were forced to give up our identities in the queue lines by donning hockey masks.

Most scary for a wimp like me, then, was being forced to go in through a different entrance from my friend. As a masked freak got in my face and led me in, I lost all dignity and begged him to break character. He said nothing, but luckily I managed to find my masked company amongst the maze of mirrors.

Separated twice more in a dark field, truly the helplessness gave this attraction its terrifying edge. Another imaginative one, we found ourselves in smoke-filled rooms with masked killers following us around and the undead jumping out at us in cars. Perhaps most disturbing was claustrophobia, in which we were forced through a gap with two giant inflated bubbles pressed against each other, which my friend likened to a 'birth canal'.

Of course, there was no light at the end of this tunnel, but instead, more scary actors and hanging limbs. After battling with our increasingly-soaked hockey masks, the final terrifying tour was over, and we returned to the field and its ensuing creepy characters.

If you fancy a scare this half term, be prepared to leap out of your skin and be disturbed by the psychotic scenery on offer at Hallowscream. Tom Pearcy and his terrifying team of actors deserve credit for turning a poor crop yield into a full on freak-fest. Suffice to say, I did not let go of my friend's arm all evening, and would definitely recommend Hallowscream this year – my friend, however, would like compensation for the bruises.
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Why? To see the York Maze become a freakfest!
When: 26th October-3rd November
Phone: 01904 607341
Where: York Maze
Cost: £17.50
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