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  PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:02 pm
 
CoasterForce
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Last night I got the chance to visit and review Screamfest on behalf of Coasterforce. The event is located at the National Forest Adventure Farm in Burton upon Trent. It took us a while to find but once we were near there were some signs to follow which meant we soon pulled up into the spacious car park to begin our night.
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Screamfest is now in it's third year of operation but we all agreed that it was so well done it feels like it's being going for years.
Screamfest began in 2010 when they opened the Field of Screams. It proved to be a success so the following year the added The Barn. A detailed indoor scare attraction that covers a large space. The weekends saw as many as 1000 people attending which is an impressive figure for a farm event. This year saw the addition of a third maze called Slasher, which should really put the park on the map of Halloween events.

After some food and drinks we were led to a barn to be told a ghost story before being split into three groups and taken to the mazes. The lighting in the barn was nice and atmospheric and I didn't see when the young actor who told the story appeared mysteriously at the front of the barn. The story was interesting and gave a back story to the event and started off the evening well.
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Although the story was a spooky way to start the event we found at times it was hard to hear what was being said. The actor did well to walk among the audience during the tale which helped unnerving the guests, however after a while a lot of people began to lose interest as the story was quite long. This could easily be fixed though just by changing the loudness of his voice and using more of the levels with the hay bales around the barn. The was also a great opportunity for a scare at the end however this was missed and we were just split into thirds to move to the mazes.

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The first maze of the night was The Barn. Located in a barn attached to the main building the entrance is accessed past the toilets (for those who want to empty their bladder before entering). Once through the door we got a first taste of the level of theming Screamfest were providing. The waiting area was well themed with a wooden facade made to look like a barn. This was nice to see as the majority of attractions in the UK don't use facades at all and just send you straight through a doorway.
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The Barn: Overall impressions of The Barn were quite positive. It covered a large space and the theming was quite impressive with lots to look at and push your way through. The scenes varied a lot between darker scenes to bright scenes which helped make each new scene completely different from the one before. The lighting in the corridor with the sponge floor was also a highlight.

The only niggles that we found were that there was quite a lot of light coming in from over the walls which meant it wasn't very dark and we felt at times some of the rooms and corridors were too open and wide. Also there wasn't a soundtrack which meant it was very silent walking round and if we hadn't been the first group we would have heard everything that was about to happen before we got to it. If they made some of the scenes and corridors smaller the attraction could easily almost double in size. Unfortunately when we went there were some technical difficulties with the final scare which means we missed it. But it didn't seem to take them too long to get it working again to provide a terrifying finale to the maze. With all that said though it's still a solid attraction and well themed and provides plenty of fun and scares.

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Next up was Slasher. A maze built by Andrew Porter who has previously worked with Alton Towers and Halloween Horror Nights and designed the Black Chasm at The Silver Mountain Experience. This maze was originally intended for Six Flags Texas and as such it was very American with an execution theme. The story behind it was a man who as a child skinned and boiled cats and dogs. As a man he was found in a barn with 28 bodies of people who he had also skinned and boiled. The maze is set to a correctional facility where you are invited to witness his execution by electric chair.

The entrance to the queue looks daunting as you approach it and enter between high metal fences with the sound of sirens and news reports.
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The outside of the maze was well themed with lots of detail and once again Screamfest show that they can create detailed facades. This time it does a good job at hiding the fact that the maze is built in a small tent.
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The show at the start of the maze does a good job at throwing you straight into the action and provides some extreme scares.
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Slasher: This was the highlight of the night. The entrance to the maze was well designed and the sound was well done. The thinking behind the maze is genius and Andrew Porter should be applauded for creating such an intense and clever maze in a space that's only 9 meters by 7.5 meters. The actors were all on form and it was great to see everyone being so energetic and enthusiastic about their roles. The lighting and sound were faultless and made the maze feel much larger than it was. There was so much happening in the maze that there was no escape and the front, middle and back of the group all experienced different things which meant when we went through again later we saw completely different scares that we missed on the first trip.
Overall the maze is amazing and I can't praise it enough. If I was forced to find a fault then I'd just say that the ending scene could have been a bit stronger to really get people running for the door but it doesn't matter as the whole maze was great fun and full of nonstop scares from start to finish. This maze was of such great quality it wouldn't look out of place at a theme park and would even put most of them to shame.

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The last maze of the night was the Field of Screams. The attraction is made up of two parts which included a trailer ride up to the top of the park before you get kicked off and have to make your way back through the huge corn maze.
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The trailer ride has built in audio which helps add to the atmosphere of the journey. There's also sensors along the route which make things light up and effects go off. Overall it wasn't that scary as not much happened on the journey up to the route along the top and some of the effects weren't scary as they didn't come close enough and the bars over the top of the trailer meant there wasn't any fear of things falling on you. There also seemed to be a lack of actors and when they boarded the trailer only stayed at the back of the trailer and didn't really try to scare anyone.
However once we arrived at the entrance to the maze things picked up. The theming was pretty impressive with a huge bomb stuck in the group with warning tape and sirens all round the area. Once stopped you're kicked off the trailer by a doctor and a security/army person.
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The maze is massive. And it took us a good 15-20 minutes to get through it all. Just when you thought it had ended you went through another tent/scene and it kept on continuing. The scares here were more family orientated and and mixed classic Halloween scenes with giant fluffy spiders and scarecrows with more modern scares such as squeeze bags (the longest and tightest I've ever experienced) and a terrifying chainsaw finale that gets everyone running for the exit.
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Field of Screams:
Hard to sum up this attraction as it's made up of so many elements. The trailer ride is a fun idea to get to the maze and the audio goes well with it. It's just that nothing happened the majority of the time and because of the back to back seating it meant when a scare did happen there was a high chance that you'd miss it. Some of the effects didn't provide the scare they could have as they were too far from the trailer to prove any threat. The theming was great though and got better the closer you got to the maze.

The maze is great because of it's sheer length. Due to the bad summer we've had the corn hasn't grown properly (it's happened to the majority of corn mazes) so the corn could be easily seen over. Luckily this didn't seem to matter too much as the actors were still well hidden and most the scares took part indoors which meant that all it did was add to the atmosphere being able to look out across the field and see the scarecrows lit up. There's plenty of fun scenes and clever ideas. Some of the scares only happened though because at points you'd walk for ages before encountering an actor or scare so when something happened it almost always made you jump due to the whole group having dropped their guards. The parts with the bridge were really clever and had us ducking and running under the ones that didn't even have anything. The greenhouse was amazingly themed however they missed an opportunity as there was no actor in there.
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Overall Screamfest was a great night out and highly entertaining. The staff at National Forest Adventure Farm were extremely helpful and friendly and should be proud of the event that they've put on. We applaud you. The park has a great atmosphere and everything is well layed out with clean toilet facilities and a large area to get food and drinks. If you get the chance to go then we recommend you do. The event starts on October 19th and runs for selected dates until November 3rd.
For more information and to book discounted tickets then visit their website at: http://www.halloweenadventurefarm.co.uk



Here's some additional treats for you. :)
Here's a video of Slasher to prove that it can frighten even the toughest of scare enthusiasts.
WARNING: Video contains the entire show. Please please please don't watch if you're going or intend on visiting as trust me. You'll want to do it without knowing what happens or how it plays out. But for those who are unable to make the event then hopefully it'll give you a slight idea into how manic it was inside the maze and how intense it was.


And for those interested here's a full access behind the scenes tour with Andrew Porter who designed the maze and is the genius behind it.

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  PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:24 am
 
CoasterForc
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Thank you for the videos Ollie, they are great! Especially enjoyed the behind the scenes video. Slasher really does sound like a very different, very "theme parky" scare attraction. Such a world away from actors lingering in a corridor with strobes. The sparking fence is actually amazing!

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  PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:32 pm
 
Burdenous
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Nice review Ollie. Don't know how I feel about the electric chair-themed maze as someone who's very anti-death penalty, this seems very near the knuckle in terms of reality!

Just wondering if you have ever been to Tulleys Farm Scarefest and if so, how it compares? PM me if you want (I don't mind spoilers)

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  PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:22 pm
 
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Hello Ollie

Thank you for writing such a wonderful review (This is Andy the designer of Slasher) it was great to meet you on the night and it really looks like you had a good time.
If any one has any questions please do not hesitate to post them and I will try and answer as best I can!

If you are interested I posted some construction photos and videos on my blog;
see my profile for my web site address (Can not post links :? )

Happy Halloween all
Tox


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  PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:06 am
 
CoasterForc
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Thanks for stopping by, Andy!

You need a certain number of posts before you can post links, it's to cut down on spam accounts. :)

Here's the link to Andy's blog... http://ajpdesign.blogspot.co.uk/

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  PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:18 am
 
CoasterForc
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It really was a fantastic attraction. Everyone on the night was SO impressed with it. Andy did a fantastic job with it, especially on the technical front.

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  PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:04 pm
 
CoasterForce
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Mysterious Sue wrote:
Just wondering if you have ever been to Tulleys Farm Scarefest and if so, how it compares? PM me if you want (I don't mind spoilers)

Will be going to Tulley's on Sunday so will let you know at Ghosterforce. :)

Thanks for stopping by Andy and glad you liked the review. Thanks for the construction photos. Love the whole construction and technical side as much as going through them. Glad to here it went well when it opened to the public as well. :)

P.S I've replied to your email.

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  PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:06 pm
 
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Hi all

If you are interested in reading some of Slashers back story and photo files you can visit the macro site.
(Click my profile click my home page link then the image of Slasher ripping though the page. Then click File 1 2 and 3 there is also a trailer I made for the attraction to!)
Let me know what you think!

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  PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:46 pm
 
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Hey guys, Chris B here - I produced the sound design for Slasher. Andy has linked me to a few reviews and it looks like everyone had a killer time!

Just wanted to say thanks for your comments, and if you've got any questions or suggestions then feel free to send me a PM on here.

Gotta say it's been an absolute pleasure working on this project (delving into Andy's rather brilliantly twisted creative mind is quite the experience) and with any luck we'll get to see it going places in bigger and better style, so stay tuned.

Cheers,
Chris


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  PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:56 pm
 
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Hi all

I have just published a detailed design production guide to Slasher with more videos and features if you are interested in learning a little bit more about the design and indeed how designers like me work

http://ajpdesign.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/slasher.html


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