Sunday October 26, 2014 Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Campark Resorts Haunt Manor
Why horror? Who in their right mind would dish out hard earned money to have the holy hell scared out of them? These are merely two of the pressing questions horror enthusiasts are faced with on a regular basis from the others.
Just as with any complex, abstract question there is no simple answer. The reason we gravitate towards terror is as unique and individual as the person. Many terror fans have sustained a certain degree of alienation or isolation in their formative years. Being on the outside looking in it doesn’t take long for a misfit to search for vicarious endeavors to attain a sense of belonging. Granted this is only conjecture and certainly not the case with all scream fiends. It can also be best described as a bonding experience unleashing a blood curdling wail from the fright before us then collectively laughing at ease at the absurdity of it all afterwards.
I embarked upon the Haunt Manor experience with more than my share of reservation and reluctance. At first glance one may suspect a consummate novel and film critic would be unfazed with such juvenile calamity. To maximize the odyssey and ensuring a reputation was upheld I invited along my sinister lovelies daughter Mandy-Leigh Grandmond and niece Kalla St. Gelais. Now an impervious exterior would have to be consistent no matter what.
Billed as Canada’s scariest haunted scream park by Fangoria magazine it didn’t take long to be rendered awestruck by the sights before us. From the grand opening on September 26 and knowledge that the festivities would ensue straight through until November 1 anyone could clearly see what the buzz was all about.
While preparing for over eight months to launch their fifth consecutive season Haunt Manor boasted an additional five attractions this year. The infamous haunted hayride expanded to over a kilometre of depraved, demented madness. The additions included a seventy foot claustrophobic mining tunnel dubbed the Witch’s Cavern, an abandoned ghost town and a haunted boathouse. A zombie night run was on the marquee for anyone brave enough to escape the clutches of the unrelenting undead. A Hollywood Horror Campout was designed for prospectors with a taste for the paranormal. The haunted houses were expanded to add a 3D haunt, a vertigo inducing corn maze and grisly slaughterhouse.
The lapsed time for our initial banshee like call was approximately three minutes. While our party was on route to the line up before the haunted hayride some idle spectacles came lurching into animation. After watching the sinister lovelies dance their shock riddled frenzy a good laugh was had by one and all.
Once composure was restored some memorable moments were captured of the fiends lurking the grounds in anticipation of the hayride. While flash photography is generally discouraged in midst of any attractions the images here are just an example of what one can expect in the shadows of Haunt Manor.
Even the most cynical of horror fans can expect to flinch and cringe from the onslaught of creepiness. Drawn by a single tractor the wagon was centre for chaos in all directions. No perspective was immune to the frights around them. Chainsaw wielding maniacs, machete brandishing stalkers and creepers galore bound in and out of the moving vessel at any given time. While the pulse pounded and adrenaline soared there was a new found admiration for Phil Van Kleef and the twisted administrators of Haunt Manor.
The trek through the haunted houses proved to be every bit as exhilarating as one can handle. An impromptu consensus that I would lead the way via conga line was an unspoken pact. With the sinister lovelies in tow we tentatively explored the bowels of insanity. Not for the faint of heart around each corner lied another chilling obstacle guaranteed to illicit skin crawling high anxiety. After several bouts of shrieking and huddled anguish (not excluding yours truly) we made it out in one piece.
With the impression that the stroll through dementia was complete, little did we know the fun had only commenced. A corn maze bombarded the landscape before us. Twists and turns to disorient even the most savvy of explorers rendered us bewildered. Each bend and turn seemed to segue unto the same, a dead end. On verge of beckoning assistance a path lead inevitably into the unknown: the 3D spectacle.
Donning our stylish ocular apparel we dipped and swerved from the sights before us. A wall of skulls appeared to lurch directly for our souls. A caged clown reached for his absurdly enhanced fly swatter and swung at us with oblivion.
Picking up the pace to dodge the three dimensional foray we halted in our collective tracks. Scores of slain animal carcasses dangled precariously close to the tops of our heads. The scent alone was enough to throw a lesser individual into a frantic fit of vomiting. We dashed through the remaining spectacles just to be on the safe side not before grappling with a veil of thick fog to hinder our hasty departure.
Just like the rare, select few that survive a horror film we made it out relatively unscathed. Exchanging weary expressions we simultaneously roared in laughter. For this humble critic Haunt Manor is nightmare to last a lifetime. After all isn’t that was fear is all about bringing your loved ones closer together?