We arrived at Terrorfied Forest and Manor near the top of the 11 o’clock hour, the moon hung high in the sky and shone bright, silver light across the land. Rumors of a clown named Bubbles and his abandoned fun house seemed to be carried on the wind like a whisper.
ECHOES OF THE PAST
Mark and I approached the Manor which was illuminated by colorful, swirling spotlights. A series of sideshow banners were neatly displayed to our left which advertised such spectacles as a two-headed snake, a knife thrower and Miss Gabriele the Torso Girl. We were greeted at the threshold of the Manor by a heavily bearded man who referred to himself as the Abandoned Carney. The curious fellow told us the tale of the Bumbling Brothers Carnival which had set up on this same plot of land some 50 years past.
As the Abandoned Carney explained, folks began to disappear from the carnival and those in charge suspected that Bubbles was the culprit. When local law enforcement opened an investigation into the disappearances and it was then that management pulled up stakes in the dead of night and left the troublesome Bubbles to his own devices. As the Abandoned Carney concluded the tale, he motioned toward the structure to indicate that it was time for us to enter the ruins of Bubbles’ Fun House.
DOWN WITH THE CLOWN
As the door closed behind us we saw that a large gorilla sat at the entrance of a mirrored hallway like a silent sentinel. As we passed the hairy ape and then began the trek through the hall of mirrors, Mark and I waited for the intimidating primate to attack but alas it proved to be merely a suit. We didn’t know it at that moment but when we would reach the conclusion of the attraction this first leg of the trip would serve as a microcosm of our overall experience.
Bubbles’ Fun House had an intriguing, fun premise and it boasted some neat design features such as a series of revolving paddles, an exciting roller track and one room where it seemed as if Bubbles had suspended all of his left over Halloween candy from the ceiling. But on the other hand there was a lot of wasted space that could’ve been used to bolster the illusion of the fun house. Too often each area showcased but a single element and that fact meant we were never truly challenged when we anticipated where or how the next scare would presented itself.
Roughly halfway through the main floor we crossed paths with a fortune teller whose voice held an oddly enchanting quality that belied her cruel nature. A crystal ball glowed in one corner of the room and momentarily I had hoped that we would sit and learn our fate. I turned to the gypsy and inquired about a reading because this was an excellent opportunity for storytelling and I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers. Unfortunately, improvised interaction wasn’t the strong suit of this particular cast and the mystic whisked us into the next room.
One of the coolest and most surprising features of the attraction was a slide that plunged us into the basement. I can count on one hand the number of attractions I’ve toured over the years that utilized such a fun method of travel and the slide fit perfectly within the theme of a fun house.
The scareactors we encountered in the basement of Bubbles’ Fun House were a bit more lively than their counterparts upstairs; this was best demonstrated by an unstable clown who, in a warbling, nasally voice, informed me that I would slit Mark’s throat and drink blood from his hollowed out skull at some indeterminate point in the future. This character assailed us on numerous occasions and although his act wasn’t polished to a shine he did display enthusiasm and was, along with the gypsy woman, the most memorable of the bunch.
Soon, we squeezed through a womb-of-doom which was another feature that played well on the fun house theme. We even took a ride on rickety swing that had been constructed from a single board and a series of ropes that had been fashioned into a net. It was a bit of fun but once again it seemed to be an example of wasted space and from a narrative standpoint it made little sense. The room that housed the contraption was of fair size and was laid out it such a manner that any patron could simply bypass the scene had they desired and made directly for the exit.
It disrupted our suspension of disbelief which isn’t ideal at any time during a haunted attraction much less just before the conclusion. The finale, as it were, confronted us with a series of clowns — all as still as a corpse — a tried and true fundamental scare tactic. As we pondered which of the harlequins would attack that largest of the gang sprang to life, presumably Bubbles, and chased us from the fun house.
Bubbles’ Fun House was an enjoyable attraction but as noted above it did suffer from a number of drawbacks. The length of the attraction was a tad on the short side and the lack of a consistent soundtrack significantly diminished the fun house atmosphere. On the plus side, the Abandoned Carney sold the story of the Bumbling Brothers Carnival quite well and a number of the scenes and ideas already in place can be enhanced with additional elements — be it a visual aide or solid character interaction or even a good old fashioned jump scare such as the one we had hoped for out of the gorilla in the hall of mirrors.
And no, I haven’t slit Mark’s throat and drank his blood from his hollowed skull. I haven’t ruled it out though.
Rating: 2.5 stars
TERRORFIED FOREST ALIVE WITH ALL MANNER OF CREATURE
Our nocturnal trek through Terrorfied Forest was filled with dozens of actors and was dotted by an array of scenes and curious structures. The trail twisted left and right, dipped up and down — the spooky adventure easily exceeded a half hour which resulted in a solid bang-for-the-buck.
The journey began when we were approached by a sinister sister who practiced her faith at Our Lady of the Holy Crucifixion which she indicated was located in Hell. We entered a structure that felt something like a mind shaft; a lengthy set of stairs descended deep into the earthen tunnel. Soon, we emerged from the subterranean scene and crossed a great vortex tunnel that featured a series of mesmerizing spirals.
We regained our equilibrium and not a moment to soon because the Terrorfied Forest had a great multitude of creepy crawlers lying in wait. A large hillbilly emerged from the brush and proceeded to stalk us for a spell; the unmistakable sounds of a banjo reverberated through the air heavy with suggestion. Ahead, we passed a series of ominous statuesque clowns, each bore warning sings. The tension grew with each passing step, in the distance a chainsaw roared to life and echoed through the woods. A revolting pair of zombies snarled and snapped their diseased maws, one provided highly impressive vocalizations that were not to be topped.
The natural ambiance of the forest heightened the horror with beautiful but foreboding scenery that included an eerily placid pond, a sloping valley flush with moonlight and the constant buzz of insects. In a couple of instances we had to employ fancy footwork — after we exited one building we found the ground beneath our feet to be sinking and then later we were surprised by a bouncy bridge.
We also enjoyed an atmospheric cemetery scene and a weird doll house that contained the decapitated head of the world’s oldest ogre. It was in the doll house that a bi-polar duo of spinsters debated which of our body parts they’d like to keep — in the end they decided on my hair and Mark’s head.
Deeper into the woods we traveled through a thick spider’s web where a creepy hand pushed through the webbing. Then we encountered the sad, but still living, remains of a man in a meat grinder — his innards left to swing in the breeze by a pack of cannibals.
Rating: 3.25 stars