The goal of a Halloween horror experience is to test fear reflexes and tolerance for gruesome sights and sounds by way of famous and familiar monsters. Two types of horror interactions exist, one as a spectator and one as a participant of the story. Universal horror nights encapsulate the spectator horror while the immersive horror experience is captured by independent horror production such as Delusion. Both bring a suspenseful atmosphere although each bring two different environments of observing monsters and the types of thrills and fears. “Explanation for some people’s desire to consume media and experiences which make them disgusted or afraid, may reflect a want, or need, to experience desires that may be unacceptable in other places.” (Associated Press) These Halloween experiences create a safe space for all fear thrill seekers who are willing to pay some of the hefty prices of admission to these amusement parks and also have large similarities and differences but both sharing the goal of creating an immersive world to be surrounded by a controlled monster, and welcome the feeling of fear.
Beginning with the spectator experience which relies mostly on quick visual and appealing to a larger audience capable of packing out an entire amusement park. Being a part of a large gathering of horror is supported by a common ground of appealing monsters. The links between Hollywood and the haunted-house industry are particularly extensive–film trends lead haunt trends–and given the current zombie zeitgeist, blood and guts are on moviegoers’ menus. (Rothman) In larger venues such as Universal Studios they are able to bring together multiple themes and monsters into one setting. Usually with Universal they follow the popular Hollywood themes and formulated haunted house or maze the most popular of which would be The Walking Dead in that they keep this maze experience around all year long. The goal is to entice as many people to come and experience Halloween and see famous monsters up close and personal with the understanding that it is not a hands on experience.
Although hands on is the opposite of what these spectator horror mazes truly offer, since no touching is the number one rule at these events. To make a person jump and scream with fear can be achieved with very little interaction. Behind the horror at Universal Orlando “Anything that makes anybody jump when they see it, is really what I love. Because that’s what it’s all about, scaring the living beegesus out of somebody.” The jump scare is the fear that these large mazes go for when planning their scares. Hiding monsters ready to jump out as the spectators move through triggering different timed frights (Associated Press). The layout of a maze is important to achieve the quick and startling type of horror experience. The story or coherence of the maze lacks importance and only exists to add familiarity to the maze. Most of these mazes choose a monster or story with a popular or well-known plot for maze participants who come seeking a stimulated scare not to be immersed into a new setting or told a unique story by way of familiar monsters.
It’s easy and fun to get a group of friends together and want to share in some laughable frights. The fear that these haunted houses can create can also act as bounding experience between friends who share this desire for fear. “We went in with a large group of about 10 to 12 people, and although we entered as strangers, we quickly bonded through fear and anxiety — the fun kind. We all screamed and constantly grabbed hands, arms and shoulders — whatever was available — to stay together. I gave my daughter quite a few unintentional shoulder massages as I held her shoulders in the dark and squeezed as the sudden frights came.” (Armstrong). Safer in numbers, holding hands, and sticking together are the basic rules while walking through a horror experience. Mostly these mazes have timed sequences so groups walking through will see gruesome displays that actors must replay almost once every minute or two so that all groups walking through get to experience the horrific sight. Only walking through these quick reenactments you can almost see the boredom in the part-time worker’s eyes as they pretend to die in the same setting for the majority of their shift. This disconnect from the horror can affect the spectators purpose of going through these mazes; to try and experience horror and monsters up close and in a personal space. That’s why a participation maze or horror experience can bring a better more immersive feeling and attachment to the environment monsters
Diving into the more participation monster experience with the main example being the theatrical based horror by a production company known as Delusion. This special involvement in the experience brings a deeper feeling of fear that must be accepted before entering the elaborate maze. In “His Crimson Queen”, Delusion creates a complete setting of immersion horror story centered around your participation in the story. The entirety of the maze is based on the continuity and flow of one single monster narrative a special league of vampires. In my first-hand experience with Delusion you are immediately immersed into the story and giving your new character identity as a child of an ancient vampire and must save your mother who has been kidnapped by this league of vampires. As a character involved in the story you are encouraged to interact with the actors and surroundings, to almost become a monster yourself. You are given “special” powers that able you to ward of the vampires as they simulate attacks. This element helps bring you into an imaginative physical aspect while completely summerset into the story.
Without your groups involvement the story cannot progress and you must face any fears presented to you. The maze is set in a house filled with plot and obstacles that must be worked out through team work and also by understanding the story line and characters. You are a special half breed vampire and must use your wit to help save your mother and avenge your father. Each room is meticulous in detail and has special story triggers that must be found, although if the room is too difficult to figure out you are allowed 3 clues. The whole experience is fueled by your own participation and level of imagination you apply to the vampire adventure. The other large difference in this participation horror is that the monsters involved are allowed to touch you and it should be an expected part of the horror. Although the rule of you not touching the actors without instruction is still held as a rule.
The biggest fuel for this horror is the actors and the monsters they encompass within the story they tell. This element also helps keep the environment enclosed in a safe space were your involvement is encouraged. These actors have a script that they have to stick to but your added dialogue is obviously improvised and spontaneous, ideally you are feeding the monster story around you. This character depth is important in creating a different type of haunted house. You step away from the part-time worker and teenagers jumping out of dark corners you have people acting with a purpose or goal of causing fear. Other production companies see this haunted house as a game changer in creating fear like with “Warehouse Project 4.1- We’ve created more of an actor-driven haunted house. We haven’t used a lot of pre-fabricated props. As a result, when you’re dealing with real people, there is more margins to act differently rather than something popping out of the wall at you. Our actors have a mind of their own – or maybe not because they’re zombies! So, they can find out what makes people scared and try and feed off of that when they’re doing their acting,”. This is where haunted houses and mazes are moving towards creating a horror experience not just a simple fear of simple monsters.
Getting up close and personal with a monster opens up a new type of fear and desire to feel an uncontrollable adrenalin rush. To surround yourself with monsters but while feeling safe allows for that desire to be satisfied and fed by seeking out new haunted houses and experiences to fed the need to feel scared and horrified by a surrounding environment. Even with high prices for some of these experience people will pay the cost to feel the shock and awe of good horror. the Horror Paradox is a term that is given to the tendency for some people to actively seek out experiences in which they will be either frightened or disgusted, and it is typically both of those emotions together rather than either one or the other. (Associated Press) It’s the combination of these interactions that tempt participants to come and seek new horror during the Halloween season. These haunted house allow you to accept the fear and monsters they depict and find new ways to present them to a willing and able audience.
Why we love being spooked. Associated Press, 2015. Associated Press Video Collection. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com.
This video explains the appeal that these haunted houses can bring other than fear. Not everyone who goes to a haunted house is going to scared in a simple way. Some people seek a deeper fear and stimulus in order to achieve a fear level that is satisfying. That is the goal of some hunted houses, to bring you into a different world and surround you with monsters familiar or new but always with a goal of fear.
Rothman, Lily. “Monsters Inc.” Time, vol. 182, no. 18, 28 Oct. 2013, p. 52. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=91279946&site=ehost-live.
This article shows the theme of a maze or haunted house is very important and which monsters are going to be most appealing to the people seeking a Halloween experience. Most of these mazes tend to take the easy most appealing road which is going with what is popular at the time. Whether it be classic murders such as Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers, or something as simple as zombies and patients in an insane asylum all monsters in a dark maze bring an intense fear.
Behind the scenes of a haunted house, zombies and ghouls come to life with special make-up at Universal Orlando.. Associated Press, 2011. Associated Press Video Collection. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com.
This source just proves the goal of haunted house and that theme and monster are not always so important as long as you can get someone to just and scream with fear. The monster can come second when you have any scary face in a dark corner ready to jump out and scream boo to any horror bystander. This also proves that a deeper fear can be achieved with more involved monsters whose goal is not to simply just out and cause a quick fright. There is more to scaring people then just saying boo.
Armstrong, Linda. “‘Nightmare: Superstitions’ Is a Frightfully Ghoul Time.” New York Amsterdam News, vol. 101, no. 44, 28 Oct. 2010, p. 23. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=55115432&site=ehost-live.
By finding this source I notice that going to these haunted house and seeking to be scared is more of a group interaction then a singular experience. Feeling more safe with a large group or just turning it into more of a social experience then just a way to simply be scared here or there. Not every person is going to be scared of the same monsters either so having a large group go to a large amusement park with a verity of monsters is more accepting then just finding a hunted house with one simple more immersive theme.
Flesh and blood zombies in haunted house ++REPLAY++. Associated Press, 2012. Associated Press Video Collection. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com.
Now with an example of a more refined haunted house and how they achieve their scares in a more specific way with creating and focusing on a single monster theme or story. Also showing the importance of the people playing the monster within the haunted house is just as important. An actor is much different than a hired teen for a part-time seasonal job. This can be a very important element for the monsters and the fear they bring, when you can feel the genuine thrill and excitement coming from the monster that is interacting with you it places you even deeper into the world of the monster and horror surrounding you.