Review: Scream Factory puts the gore into a great fright night
The best worst thing ever.
Those are the words of one Scream Factory survivor - and they sum it up frighteningly well.
As twilight fell on the night we visited the Extreme Tour, my sense of dread went through the roof as the organisers of the Halloween scare event sent me a video from one of its ghastly cast.
“Fiona, I’m dying to meet you” he bellowed through disfigured features.
As we queued up and put into our groups of 10, further panic really set as a clown patrolled the crowd.
He really went about intimidating, getting up close to some - swearing and screaming was no deterrent - and delivering a sharp shock with a loud hooter every so often.
But how bad could it be? I thought as our time neared. Well, it was worse that I ever imagined.
Hate gore, cramped spaces, absolute darkness or having your own space being invaded?
Scared of dentists, avoid scary movies or fear blood?
Then this is not for you.
But if you love horror films, can stomach the squeamish and revel in Halloween celebrations, then this will be right up your street because the organisers absolutely go for it, inspired by trips to America’s own hauntings.
They’ve added in the technical know how from a big team of tradesmen, who turn their attention to fabricating fear when not working on restoration projects.
A huge amount of detail and work has gone into the living - or dying - scenes staged across land just next to Kirkleatham Museum, near Redcar.
The whole experience is built around not knowing what’s coming next, so I’m going to try hard not to put in any spoilers.
Tickets are still available for Monday’s grand finale and given its success, there could be a return next year.
The tour takes you on a series of buildings made up of rooms and tight corridors where you come across a series of characters, from zombie brides to battered pitmen.
There is no chance to take respite, as the jump count is high, with faces appearing from doors and windows, to loud noises and bright lights.
There’s no way you could imagine what will happen next either, as you pass through sections, including a graveyard, a dentist surgery, mortuary and even down a mine.
Lasers and smoke are used to full affect and there are some obstacles to tackle including ramps, squishy ground and doorways filled with inflatable gaps to push through - wear flat boots or trainers and be prepared for the weather, as it’s staged inside and out.
It’s also a good idea to have someone you trust and can hold on to as you go round, but beware in case, for example bash you in the nose when water is squirted (I’m fine now, thanks.)
And if you’re very frightened, listen out for the sound of chainsaws as it means you’re nearing the end, even if it means you’ll get chased.
The tours, now in their fifth year, are put by the restoration company headed up by Stephen Tate and sons Tom and Jason, with huge support from their family and friends.
Jason and wife Katy previewed this year’s events through their zombie wedding shoot earlier this year - read more about it here.
The idea came about as the family looked at a way of keeping their workers busy during quiet periods, and the Tates should be proud of how their skills have been put to use.
The 65-strong team of actors, backed up by street performers, also put in a great turn, with visitors coming from as far as Weymouth to join in and cast members travelling from Norway to take part again.
The message sent to me by “The Butcher” aka Papa Scream, was actually made by a lovely man called Les Brewster, 60, who has joined in the tours every year.
I declared about a quarter of the way round I would never return, but now, after taking it all in and getting to grips with the shocks, I’m all ready to go again.
The team also runs Twilight Tours, a spooky take for children aged over three, with only those aged 14 or over allowed on the Extreme Tours.
For more details visit http://www.screamfactory.co.uk/index.php