Around every corner, a frightful creature or vicious zombie likely lurks, waiting to take guests out of their comfort zone and raise their blood pressure. The radio advertisement for the 11th annual Shipwreck Halloween Terrorfest on the Queen Mary said it best, as it encouraged people to pay the $30 entry fee simply so Shipwreck could ‘scare the ship out of you.’
What was it about this Halloween Terrorfest which had lines by the hundred and cars overwhelming the parking lot capacity?
The human aspect. Smoke and mirrors are somewhat satisfying, but cannot hold a flickering candle to having living (or dead?) people terrify incoming guests as they walk through one of seven mazes on the premises. Disney’s Haunted House: take note.
Contrasted with the comparatively stale and admittedly more family-friendly atmosphere at Disney’s Haunted House, Shipwreck excels with a refreshing break from the traditional eerie, droning organ music, instead going for a younger targeted selection of pounding, loud hard-rock music. However, a more modest level of sound streaming through the speakers a la the level used at Disney’s Haunted House, would have been appreciated.
After surviving and enjoying many of the seven mazes offered, I found that Shipwreck had indeed scared me, enough to convince me to not risk entering the last couple of mazes. As I realized the loud pounding speakers would be a consistent part of every maze, I became hesitant to forcibly put myself into narrow hallways with speakers blaring into my ears.
The whimsically named Shipwreck resident band Stolen Babies would provide a much needed sanctuary for weary ears, right? With a name like Stolen Babies?
Although the screaming and pounding hard-rock band seemed genuinely talented, I needed to continue listening to Stolen Babies in close quarters like I needed to develop a pounding headache.
Playing on other senses besides hearing was the House of Hallucinations, presented in 3-D. This event was successful, perhaps too successful, as a group of people ahead of me were so scared upon entering a few steps into the maze that they ran out screaming.
I found that at Shipwreck I fell into a certain rhythm: be aware that someone may be waiting to jump out at me as I turn past this wall, laugh at some couple in front of me who have just been or are about to be scared by someone, get what’s coming to me, and repeat.
It was a glorious cycle to which I would gladly subject myself again. The 3-D nature of the House of Hallucinations contributed to the maze’s effectiveness, especially in bringing out the masks and glowing sinister eyes of the zombies hiding within.
My sense of reality was also played with in the classic revolving room and walkway. As three-dimensional turning walls jumped out at me, the rotating walkway gave the sensation that as I continued to walk, I was turning upside down.
In the Haunted House of Horrors, one the most enduring images came with a man (fake, I hope) in an electric chair having his brain fried, lurching forward and backward uncontrollably. Enhancing the scene were bright blinking lights which created the illusion that the scene was occurring in slower motion.
After a succession of loud noises on nearby walls and deciding if various people around me were impressive mannequins or actual people about to violate my space and scare me (usually the latter), the Haunted House of Horrors took advantage of the Queen Mary’s nautical location by circling a partly decomposed body laying, with limbs extended, in a raft on the water.
At the Factory of Fears, yet another tongue-tripping title, an overuse of bright, quick flashing lights became more annoying than effective. Skewered heads being rotated to assure a thorough cook took the place of the obnoxious lights and was followed by the person who was arguably the most entertaining at Shipwreck.
A butcher, sitting behind a blood-stained white counter, was busy preparing a cooked head evidently taken from the skewers seen earlier. When audacious walkers risked snagging some ‘meat’ from the butcher’s watchful eye, she would make clear what she thought about this with a sudden slash on the counter with a very real looking butcher’s knife.
To a nearby zombie the butcher ordered that he get her ‘some fresh meat.’
An equally terrifying danger, however, lurked just outside the Factory of Fears exit.
Behind a nondescript door enticing men to do their duties waited a urine-soaked floor that swished with every step and three sinks perfect for those the height of a five-year-old, but not so accommodating for all 6 feet and 4 inches of me.
Nonetheless, Shipwreck continued to impress. At the Corridors of Carnage I soon found myself in a narrow hallway. By now paranoid that a zombie was either following me or about to startle me, I eagerly awaited the next attempt at surprise by Shipwreck’s scary staff.
Yet the threat was already waiting for me.
In this narrow hallway I was completely shocked to find someone dressed completely in black growling menacingly and leaning close to my face in a hallway that barely fit one person.
Although I would often anticipate a startling turn of events at Shipwreck and alternate between being suddenly startled and laughing at other people, a smile plastered on my face was a constant.
Experienced in moderation at each individual’s tolerance level for obnoxious noise and bright shining lights, Shipwreck is not to be missed for those seeking a thrilling experience which will leave survivors wondering what lurks behind every door and every turn.
Filed Under: A & E