October 13th 2012 my wonderific friend Xoe and I decided to embark on a long journey up north from our stomping grounds in the illustrious city/town of Indianapolis up to Anderson, Indiana. Why?
Indy Scream Park.
It’s October. It’s fitting. They advertise that they have 5 attractions on their lot- Nachtmar, Backwoods, Infected, Kurayami, and Bedlam, as well as their “Monster Midway” (food, alcoholic beverages (read: beer), and games). The advertising for this is actually pretty unique to the other “haunted house” sites in Indiana. It seems well planned out, has a number of attractions, and the photos/costumes appear intricate- a must-see, right? It’s like these folks are actually trying. 10 points! Here we come.
The park opens at 7, and we arrive fashionably late at about 9:30.
What? I had vampire fangs to pick up, in addition to my spiffy new dancing cane.
Part 1: F is for Frotteurism
At about 10:30 pm I post via facebook: “First horror of Indy Scream Park. Waiting in line. Second horror. Waiting in line.” We had literally stood in a line just to move on to stand in another line.
11:00 (after I see internal ads on the televisions asking “Will you survive?”: “I don’t know if I can survive…. the lines!”
11:05: “Michael Myers just got up on me and didn’t like my eye contact. He broke eye contact when I said “I don’t think you can be touching me right now.””
Per the Indy Scream Park website under “About”:
“Are the monsters allowed to touch you? No. The monsters inside our haunted house attractions are not allowed to touch you. However, they do get very close. Occasionally you may brush up against their costumes and props.”
Michael Myers, here, was pressing his torso against my chest (read: breasts, and I’m pretty short) and we were literally toe to toe (thank God for steel toed boots). He at least caught himself when I pointed out his folly, and I moved on with life.
After another 30 minutes of annoying those around us in lines (because it was boring and we were antsy), we finally come upon Bedlam 3D. Now, mind you that I did not know this attraction was 3D, and while they provided me with 3D glasses I wore them on my head out of a courtesy. I have an eye condition where I simply cannot wear that- it strains my eyes and could be dangerous to my vision.
We enter and I’m actually pretty excited. As Xoe puts it: It’s like Cirque de Soleil got really drunk and had a bastard child with ICP.
The clowns were fun, though the 3rd clown in starting screaming at me, nose to nose, to put my glasses on. He’s blocking my path, which means he’s blocking everyone behind me from moving forward. I quietly say “Dude, I have a medical condition. Can’t wear them.” He screams again in my face to put the glasses on. I smile, note that they are on my head like a headband, which means they are technically “on”. He screams again… this time I feel saliva hit my face.
Okay, so I’ve just been frotteurized by Mike already, and now this pubescent clowned face loser is screaming in my face and not letting me through until I violate the medical advice of 3 eye surgeons. My patience has worn thin from 2 hours of line standing. I explode.
“I will not. Medical condition. Move NOW!”
We move along with life. The set up of this portion was fun. I loved the colors and the costumes. Edgy and beautiful.
Another idiotic clown manages to try to intimidate me, and in the process just happens to have his chest on my chest again (read: breasts). “Blondie” is my new nickname among the staff, apparently.
That’s 2 people. 2 people who have violated the rule of no-contact. This wasn’t costuming or prompts. This was too much touching, and it all happened to involve my breasts. Huh. How about that.
We get siphoned into “Kurayami”– which essentially just translates into darkness- is just that. It’s just a maze with no lights, except for the 2 rooms where a strobe comes on for all of .5 seconds (childhood nurseries with blood on the walls- that’s all I got). There was fishing wire that hung down from the ceiling and liked to get caught in one’s mouth. Pleasant, since you know the same fishing wire was just in Joe Schmoe’s mouth, who is only a few feet ahead of you. Ah! Now the guys behind you have it too.
This part was simply lame. The concept is decent enough, but so many of us were packed in that we were inadvertently groping one another looking for walls to guide us (one wall shocked me when a strobe went off as I was touching it- for a moment I had tourette’s, which was great for the others just around me). I held on to Xoe for guidance, and to avoid the discomfort of the three guys behind us accidentally grabbing at our backsides or our hair trying to find a wall, we started shouting that were were stopping and which way to turn. Teamwork. None of us were happy with this, and we all complained the whole way about how inappropriate it was to be stuck feeling up strangers because there was no path to follow. Alone, this would have been creepy. In a group, it was just annoying.
Next up, Nachtmar (Nightmare). This was your standard haunted house. Dingy walls, dirt, and just an old, dilapidated look to it, with some screaming folks along the way. If I recall correctly, this was the “asylum” portion, as well. The doors had videos of people in the “windows” screaming and attempting to get out. It’s not as nifty as you might imagine, and comes off as more gimmicky than anything else. There was also a morgue with the doors opening and closing, you know, like they do (think Arkham Asylum). I managed to have one of the cannibals from a later room rub his cheek against mine, and I can feel his make-up smear on my face.
Let’s go back and reference… yeah, no touching allowed. I tell him to leave me alone and his movement was not appropriate, in a less than polite way. He cleverly calls me “blondie” in return and laughs.
As we cycle out, after my dear friend Xoe almost gets her hair/hoodie caught in one of the Chainsaw-stereotypical-maniac’s prop because he got too close (imagine that! Never!), we step out and I relinquish my glasses from the top of my head to staff, gladly. I spot a manager and we complain about the inappropriate touching.
“If it’s accidental then it’s not our fault.” I nearly choke as I laugh. “It was not accidental, I assure you.” Xoe confirms. The female manager in her bright red polo wanders off without saying another word.
We hobble out into Monster Midway (I’m admittedly confused and angry), where there are maybe 2 games, a poi spinner, a camera set up with a dude in some movie monster outfit, and beer tents. Irritated, tired, and somewhat hungry, I seriously contemplate bailing out on the place. I didn’t pay for this. If I wanted to be inappropriately groped, I could have easily gone to a bar and spend my hard earned cash on some hard liquor. I begin to rationalize what I paid to get in, and figured that I could muster through it. At this point we are heading towards the two outdoor attractions, and surely that will be different, yes?
Part 2: F is for Fight or Flight.
We follow the crowd and sit in line for another 8 years. It’s awkward, because every now and again we see the three men who were behind us in Kurayami- and we all know that there was accidental inappropriate touching. Eye contact is avoided. Denial is in the air. Inappropriate conversation ensues between Xoe and I.
Finally we get to our destination- a cornfield. Fabulous. A cornfield in Indiana. That never happens.
We moved through the maze of maize, until we came across a structure. There are pyrotechnics, fake turret guns set up, old buses, and flashing lights. I hadn’t read about this attraction (or so I thought), so when Xoe and I entered we were surprised to find that it seems as though we’ve been transported back to the Vietnam War. There are radios blaring with orders being given, “dead soldiers” everywhere, and medics who could not muster the carnage wailing and cracking. We look at each other and think of all the PTSD folks we know who would not appreciate this and what it might trigger. I make vague jokes about the Umbrella Corporation and the T-virus.
“Xoe, I don’t think I read anything about this. I don’t remember this at all.”
She says that she feels as though it should have been mentioned, and we actually start a conversation about PTSD in war veterans in the midst of this “haunted house”, and talk about how this is relevant to the “haunted house” theme. I admit- we probably went to serious on this one.
“Maybe we missed something?”
We enter a structure and suddenly this skinny man, not much taller than I am, runs up on me. By now we are pretty used to this, but he didn’t stop. I raise my arm up to protect, well, my breasts, and he pushes against my forearm as I try to back away a few steps. Finally I stand my ground because I’m being backed into the people behind me. This is too much like work, I keep thinking. “Hey, you cannot touch me like this. Back off, please.” He continues to push. “Get off of me! I’m going to report this!” He continues to push. Xoe is approaching from behind me. I push back with some force, and there are a few profanities coming from my mouth.
I look at back at Xoe. By now, I am just flabbergasted. That was plain abusive- and definitely could never be passed as an accidental “brushing.”
I don’t even know what to say. I move on, not knowing who to even go to, seeing as how these people are cloaked in the anonymity of make-up, costume, and darkness. It’s a license to do what-the-hell-ever.
We near the exit, and we are approached by a man who says, “Don’t touch them or you WILL be infected!”
Oh. So this whole scene was really about zombies of sorts? It was weak. It was more like the old stories of war I had heard from people who suffered tremendous trauma. The “infection” theme in “Infected“ was very weak. We encounter 2 zombies walking the cornfields who pretty much just stand there and grunt.
Fine with me. I was having serious thoughts of decking the next fool who touched me.
We move to the last event- Backwoods. I jokingly tell Xoe that I don’t know why I’m even going. Regardless of the theme, I can pretty much ensure that it will involve inappropriate touching. I’m trying not to take it so seriously, but am still angry about my last (and very literal) run-in.
It’s very dark. Well-past midnight at this point. And we’re in line. Again.
A few stoners are ahead of us, and a few feet behind us are a middle aged woman and a skittish looking middle aged man with glasses, followed by a random smattering of 20-somethings.
As we reach our checkpoint, stoner Numero Uno is given a glowstick. “You are going to lead this group of people.”
Xoe exclaims, “We’re going to die!”
Glowstick asks for us to have faith in him, slurring all the while. I say I do, with some gusto.
A few seconds later Xoe exclaims, “We’re going to die!”
Glowstick forges ahead in Metal Gear Solid Snake mode- crouched down with his glowstick, lighting the path. He’s protecting Stoners 2 and 3, who barely seem to notice that we are walking in pitch black woods.
We come up on a few shacks. It was actually pretty humorous. As we enter one, a man from above screams in true blue Appalachia style: “What are you doin’ in my outhouse?!?” His tone drops and he blandly states, “You are trackin’ dirt on my floor…”
We move out and see a small structure with an elderly woman in a nightgown and shower-cap making kissy faces at everyone walking by. I get called Blondie again, and she adds “You’re cute!” Oooh thanks! I keep moving. She sees the middle aged woman behind me, who is apparently horrified by this sight, and moves towards her with her walker. “Give me a kiss!” The middle aged woman picks up her pace and starts to jog away. The elderly character chases after her with the walker, and then shouts “To hell with it! I don’t need this!” and tosses her walker into the woods and continues to chase after the middle aged woman. The middle aged woman screams, sincerely, and her skittish partner doesn’t know what to do but stand there and look panicked. The elderly character leaves, obviously unimpressed with this.
We laugh. I’m left wondering if the actress will find the walker she threw into the woods…
The next structure involves some rednecks threatening to abuse some young woman. I’m just relieved that I haven’t been touched yet, but something else happens. One of the “actors” is pretty intense about his role, and sees the skittish middle aged man I mentioned before. He accused him (in role, obviously) of threatening him in some way. As he goes to yell at the scared little man, he performs a shoulder check on Xoe. She calls him out, but he ignores her as he paces back to the front of the makeshift home. And Xoe is doing a great job at keeping her cool. Again, this act is aggressive, inappropriate, and intentional.
The skittish man, now in front of us, and tries to shut the prop screen door on Xoe and I- again looking panicked and just wanting to lock away the screaming in the house.
“Did you really try to shut the door on us? Remind me that you’ll never be the hero of this sort of story!” I scold.
One of the “characters” asks if I will play tonsil-hockey with him (to which I respond, “No thanks. I’m good!”), I get called Blondie again a few more times and we leave. No one hangs out in Monster Midway. Everyone heads straight to their cars and gets the hell out of dodge.
Great sets. Great costumes. And I do appreciate the spirit behind haunted houses and providing a thrill. My thrill was the costuming and sets.
I could not enjoy that, though, because I was literally having to protect myself from being groped by staff, spit on, or shoved. All of the art and spirit of it is lost in the fact that this whole experience simply seemed like a license to act aggressively under the cloak of anonymity. I simply cannot believe that this was all “accidental,” and with a witness to back me up, it appears that it was not. Too many of these things happened on the same night, and was that coincidentally to one person? No. I don’t know if most people know staff are NOT permitted to TOUCH patrons in any way. I don’t know how many people would think to complain if they were “accidentally” groped or shoved. That being said, most patrons had the sense to run away when people got too close to them, but both Xoe and I have had experiences where you simply don’t do that. In my job, if I ran away every time someone challenged me, I’d be a dead woman. So when they saw two women standing their ground and simply moving on rather than crying like scared children, it’s almost as if they felt like they had to step it up a notch. The next step was nothing but brute force and abuse. Management heard none of the complaints.
If you had taken these negative elements away, it would have been worth the cost. But that simply wasn’t so.
I would never attend this event again- not without a taser, any way.