IF you go down to the farm this Halloween, prepare for several big surprises – which are mostly not very nice.
From infected zombies and other members of the walking dead, to chainsaw-wielding maniacs and escaped killers, there is plenty to keep you on your toes at the National Forest Adventure Farm’s annual Screamfest.
Four distinct sections have been created by scare director Andy Porter, who came up with two brand new scares for this year’s ‘best ever’ event – each as chilling as the next.
The normally sedate attraction has been transformed into a haven of horror for the 11-night event, running from now until just after Halloween, with hundreds of people expect to head down to immerse themselves in the spine-tingling world of Screamfest.
The event lived up to its name when the Mail team visited last night, as photographers Neil and Simon and I went to scare ourselves silly and see what it was all about.
The atmosphere was thick with apprehension as visitors entered the courtyard at the Tatenhill site, to be greeted by actors doing very convincing impressions of zombies and other sinister creatures.
More than 100 actors and students from Burton and South Derbyshire College are taking part in the Screamfest over its run, with each made up to look as horrific as possible by face painter Julie Tickle and a team of make-up students from the college. Oozing pustules, blood and gaping wounds were commonplace around the farm, and they all looked terribly convincing, thanks to the efforts of Julie and her helpers.
The first scare we tried was Slasher, a trip into the twisted mind of an escaped killer, left to roam after a botched execution. I was physically shaking as we came out of this one, though it set me in the right mood for the rest of the night.
Next came the Field of Screams, which saw the disorientating maize maze take on a rather more disgusting twist than it had in the summer, as it became home to dozens of infected zombies leaping out from behind the barriers. It looked brilliant – the scenes created would not have been out of place in The Walking Dead.
We were given prior warning of the level of fear imposed by Nocturnal, which meant my heart was already in my mouth even before we entered. This new attraction, set in a ‘the best nightclub in Tatenhill’, was put up in the barn, but instead of encountering the fluffy bunnies and lambs more commonly seen there, visitors were greeted by a host of revellers caught up in the sick world of a sadistic doctor. The atmosphere was incredible in this one – it was the only one of the scares to lift my whimper into a proper scream.
Soulseekers was the other new attraction, created to pay homage to television shows such as Most Haunted. Visitors are ushered into the foyer at the Helton Grand Hotel, where they are greeted by a disturbing team of people dressed in outfits from the 1930s – the last time the hotel welcomed guests, who were all brutally murdered. We encountered a good number of them on our trip around the grim guesthouse.
By the end of the night my nerves were frayed, my heart was pumping and I was scared to go to sleep. The Screamfest had definitely been a success as far as I was concerned.
Launching tomorrow night, the event will run over 11 nights. Tickets are available from http://www.halloweenadventurefarm.co.uk/