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“PURE TERROR SCREAM PARK” (Haunt Review)

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While haunted attractions have long been a staple of the Halloween season, the progression of the art form has certainly gone beyond what anyone has expected. Some people search for the biggest thrill, looking for the scariest and most innovative haunts imaginable in locations far from the comfort of home. Other people want the illusion of safety taken away completely, with certain haunts willing to invade your personal space and attempt to break your resolve with sadistic delight. And other people just want something different, something bigger and something that will give them a truly nightmarish journey… and that’s where Pure Terror Scream Park comes in.

With 11 houses spanning over 6,300 feet (that’s over 2 miles of haunt!), Pure Terror Scream Park is the world’s biggest haunted attraction, literally. After moving their location to Museum Village in Monroe, NY, Pure Terror added six new attractions, fully decked out with props, actors and concepts that give fright fans something new with each new obstacle. And with horror on our mind, FANGORIA decided to head down to Pure Terror to see for ourselves if the hype was truly, terrifying for real.

First off, here’s two different experiences one can have at Pure Terror, even if the houses and the action remain the same. There’s the general admission experience, which usually gives about 2 to 3 houses before winding up in another queue, with the notable exceptions of some of the bigger houses. Then there’s the VIP admission experience which, while more expensive, almost feels like one giant walkthrough as you bypass the queue lines at various stops. Akin to a “line-hopper” pass at amusement parks, Pure Terror guarantees that you’ll have a scary good time either way, but the VIP treatment is the difference between getting out in an hours time or spending most of your night going through the attraction, and that’s if you’re not stuck behind someone who is too scared to enter the next room (a very real possibility, as this writer would find out).

In any case, this writer opted for the VIP experience, and after learning that Pure Terror was a no-contact attraction, couldn’t get into the macabre madness fast enough. The first house, “Necropolis”, brought the dread in a big way, offering a foggy, graveyard setting, offering scares around every corner with a clever design as to offer the biggest jumps when you would least expect them. “Trail of Terror” offered a more interactive experience, placing you in a haunted cabin scenario that offered a mix of bog witch scares, backwoods terror and even a bit of doll-faced creepiness. Meanwhile, “House of the Dead” and “Jungle Rot” offered a creepy mix of optical illusions, scary surprises and sense-manipulation stand out among the average haunt, especially when “House” provides small entrances and narrow hallways to navigate.

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Next up was “The Walking Undead”, which certainly skirts around a very familiar horror property but incredibly so: the zombies on display here don’t just want to pop out at you, they outright chase you. Add in some impressive production design and brilliant designed rooms and this walkthrough made for a haunt highlight… until, that is, “Buried Alive.” Perhaps the outright scariest haunt of the entire experience, “Buried Alive” plunges you in complete darkness, with not a single light to guide you. You rely on your warped sense of space, the lining of the walls (some of which are rigged with shocking volt pads) and what little your eyes can do in the darkness, never knowing if there’s someone in the room with you or where exactly to go next. It’s a genuinely dread-inspiring experience made with the utmost minimalism, and will easily be the attraction guests will talk about the most.

Next up is “The Asylum”, one of Pure Terror’s most interactive offerings, with more actors and petrifying props than any walkthrough before it. In fact, after accidentally catching up to a particularly slow group ahead of us, “The Asylum” got one of Pure Terror’s most excellent compliments as a woman remarked how the reality of the bodies on slabs made her genuinely unnerved. Meanwhile, “House of Terror” offered more in the way of optical illusions, complete with a spinning room and inflated hallways that made walking through a literal act of blind faith. And “Terror Under The Big Top” will stop dead any participants afraid of clowns, with some truly excellent scares awaiting those with less vigilant eyes.

Lastly, Pure Terror caps off their massive Scream Park with back-to-back terrors emphasizing the redneck horror genre, a favorite of haunt owner & creator Bob Nordquist. “Carnage” is a more atmospheric haunt, most of it being in an open walkway near eerily lit abandoned (or are they?) vehicles and set against creepy golden-era pop music. Meanwhile, “The Butcher’s Revenge” pits guests into a blood-soaked nightmare, with dangling body parts and rotting meat stench leading everyone towards the grand exit, punctuated by a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Let it be known that there is absolutely nothing more entertaining than watching a grown man run away from a 100-lb man wielding a chainsaw. Absolutely nothing.

Overall, Pure Terror Scream Park not only lives up to its name, but definitely exceeded expectations; hell, “Buried Alive” nearly makes up for the entire ticket price alone. While the experience is likely even better in a large group, as this writer’s group of two kept catching up to bigger groups of scaredy cats, Pure Terror is an immersive haunt experience that feels safe and secure while being relentless in its scares. It’s a fantastic haunt that really feels like an out-and-out journey into a Halloween nightmare, and with the ambition of Nordquist speaking to an even bigger and bolder experience next year, consider Pure Terror to be a bona fide horror hotspot in the very near future.

Pure Terror Scream Park is opened Thursday through Sunday beginning at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit their official website HERE.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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