I am scared of everything. Large bodies of water, groups of teenagers, the gap between the train and the platform – I won’t even go on ghost trains at the fair. I am a grade A wimp. So quite how I ended up working at a horror attraction, I am not sure, but I love it.
I hadn’t ever ventured into the world of horror attractions before, except for a brief visit to the short-lived Saw Maze at Thorpe Park many years ago which had me in tears. So, I really didn’t know a lot about them. With this being my second year as a scare actor with House of the Dead, I thought I’d let you in on a few things that you might not know about these sorts of events.
- The attention to detail is mind boggling. It’s only when walking around the sets several times, with the lights on, that you really manage to take in just how much time and effort goes into the whole effect. Although you would never be able to see it all, the little touches really make a difference!
- The people are actually lovely in real life. Some of the characters are played by full-time professional actors, whereas others, like me, have a day job too. There are office managers, shop assistants, healthcare staff, even zookeepers! They are actually really friendly, even if their character isn’t and we are all fiercely protective of each other.
- The best way to have a good time, is to embrace it! If you come in, determined not to be scared and spend the whole time being miserable and confrontational, you will not have fun. The actors won’t be able to interact with you and it’s like being hypnotised – you have to be open to the idea to be scared. No one is impressed by your over-macho-ness.
- The best people are those who are terrified or up for a laugh! If you show how scared you are, you will probably be picked on – especially if you refuse to be split up! It’s best to just do as you’re told in the grand scheme of things!
- We’re not allowed to touch you – and vice versa! Most places in the UK operate a no-touch policy. It’s too risky and opens up a whole load of potential problems, so it’s much better this way. If you make a comment about hitting any of the actors (you’d be surprised at how much we hear that!) you’re likely not to be allowed in – we’re people too you know! That said, we can tell the difference between an accidental, instinctive reflex and someone being aggressive.
- It’s not a torture house. We’ve all see the videos on Facebook of the house in America where you have to sign a waiver and you’re essentially tortured, spat on, shoved in boxes and generally harassed for several hours. That is not what you are going in to with normal horror attractions (thank goodness!) so you can’t compare them with that.
- We suffer for our art. Teeth lacquer to make you look like you’ve not brushed for years tastes pretty gross. Latex face pieces can be difficult to remove and some masks make it hard to see. But they all look freaking awesome and are worth it for the screams!
- Even people who don’t think they’re scared of clowns, seem to be most terrified of the clowns when they come face to face in the dark!
- Not everything is a jump scare – that would be pretty boring! Some of it is psychological fear that plays on your mind, or simply fear of the unknown and unexpected. A lot of work goes into making an experience that is varied and exciting. I think we nail it!
- It’s like nothing else! You will scream and laugh and the adrenaline will beat a night at the cinema! It’s a great date night experience (lots of hand holding opportunities!), girls or lads night, a family trip, even alone if you are super brave!
If you do fancy giving it a try, we have one house in Manchester at the Printworks (where I am stationed!) and one in Bluewater, Kent (which I have visited and is also pretty great. They are both running through until Halloween and you can get tickets here!