Killer clowns, strange maids and easily-scared journalists make for a combustible night out at Hallowscream's York Maze showcase, where creatures from history run wild.
The collection of spooky sights, grisly costumes and chainsaw-wielding members of the horror crew proved a little too much for the man who was scared of Mike Myers' Cat in the Hat as a kid. But power through we must, into the dark heart of Halloween.
No longer is Halloween a celebration reserved for the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, as it's become an excuse to dress up in vaguely recognisable costumes in a plot to freely consume booze. For this trip to Hallowscream, the York-based horror commission, "frightened man with coffee" was the outfit at play.
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Fully in-character for much of the experience, hired actors dressed up as chainsaw-wielding clowns and, at a glance, classic movie characters like Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, were in fine form. Those same costumed individuals were keen to let me know I was "pathetic".
I was not pathetic for being unable to manage the fear factor which took hold in the first of three walkabouts, but because bending down for a photo with my catastrophically damaged knee would mean remaining floor bound for the rest of the evening.
Longstanding damage sustained in a birthday celebration is the reason behind this natural urge to not get on my knees for a photo opportunity, though killer clowns are hardly the most understanding of beasts.
Despite threats from a bat-wielding jokester, who later featured in a limbo dance from hell, there was no chance of me hitting the deck to the killer clown troupe. A jester with a chainsaw kindly dropped his vicious act to pose for a photo.
It was this pose where the real fear took hold. As loud as the chainsaw could be, the smell which protruded from it was ghastly. The scent of burning petrol has no place being so close to cord. Mentioning the reek, the clown could only reply: "Tell me about it."
After being chased through post-apocalyptic set "2073" and a cyborg horror showcase where blinding lights and white smoke clouded any chance of seeing a clear path of through, a quick break was needed.
Sticking your head in the mouth of an unmoving but massive plastic werewolf was about as much of a rest as you can get at Hallowscream, which boasts a strong collection of actors wandering around and developing unforgettable characters.
Keeping your eyes to the floor and holding out hope of going by unnoticed is likely to land you in hot water. Or, even worse, in an enforced limbo with a monkey butler where a clown and ringmaster use their respective bats and canes as a makeshift pole.
Thankfully no visuals are available of what was, essentially, a parade of public embarrassment where a man dressed as a monkey butler tested how low I can truly go. Very, is the answer. Not low enough to avoid mashing my nose into the metal bar, but low enough.
A lower moment still was the yelp let out during a walk through The Flesh Pot, where pig mask-wearing butchers are wandering around with chainsaws. By that point it was time for a permanent break, with Corny's Cornevil clown-themed showcase dodged for fear it would cause a fatality on my end.
Instead it was a coffee and a bit of phone-based solitaire in one of the designated "safe zones", made up for people like me who couldn't handle the horror.
For those who can, though, it may be worth a trip to see actors wandering a frigid patch of grass, improvising their way into some nightmarish bits of fun. Tickets for the tremendous terrors of Hallowscream at York Maze are available here.
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