The Hippo


Jul 17, 2019








A ghoulish girl adds fright at Haunted Overload. Courtesy of Haunted Overload.

Bone-chilling terror
NH’s haunted attractions will scare you silly


 Tim Dunne’s foray into professional haunted attraction building started with making scream-worthy haunts in his parents’ backyard. Now, five ghoulish haunted houses, a huge monster midway, dancing zombie girls on stage, fortune tellers, face painting, a buried-alive simulator, a tunnel full of 500 live tarantulas and more are part of Dunne’s Fright Kingdom (12 Simon St., Nashua,, 809-1173).

“We are the scariest,” said Dunne.
Each haunted house at Fright Kingdom has a different theme. Apocalypse C is like a movie set from the Walking Dead, full of terrifyingly fast zombies. 
“They are not the slow, foot-dragging zombies that say, ‘Brains.’ These are fast-moving zombies that chase you and are high-energy,” Dunne said. 
Bloodmire Manner is a Victorian haunted mansion with a family of diabolical cannibals. Psycho Circus is a sensory explosion in 3-D, full of crazed clowns. Grimm is a total blackout attraction that makes  visitors feel their way through darkened halls with lots of surprises all around. Finally, the Castle of Corpses is filled with crypts, coffins and, you guessed it, corpses. 
“What’s scariest is the fact that people aren’t in control of their own destiny,” Dunne said. “They get an adrenaline rush from situations when they can’t control where they are going, the lighting, the sound or what happens to them.”
Fright Kingdom is an all-indoor park, so rain or snow, people get a climate-controlled experience. The attraction also gets add-ons and updates every year. This year there is a new cave and mine shaft.
While Fright Kingdom is probably best for people ages 13 and older, Dunne says parents know their kids best, and it’s getting harder and harder to really scare even young ones. 
“Today’s kids are desensitized,” he said. “The generation of children today can handle a lot more than a decade ago. Lots of young kids make it through and, on the other hand, lots of adults get too scared.”
Fright Kingdom is open Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 25,  from 7 to 11 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 26, from, 7 to 10 p.m.; and Thursday Oct. 30, Friday, Oct. 31, and Sunday, Nov. 1, from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets cost $24 to $29. 
Haunted Overload (Demeritt Hill Farm, 66 Lee Road, Lee, 868-2111) isn’t so much a haunted house as it is an entire goulish haunted village built into a farm. It uses historic barns, old stone walls, apple trees and the natural surroundings, and it’s as artistic as it is scary. 
“It’s not commercialized,” said co-founder Wallace Valley Jr.  “It’s all about Halloween. We have no blood or gore. We have no animatronics or robots. Everything is done by hand.”
By blood and gore Valley Jr. means flesh wounds or faces dripping with blood. Not everyone is into that, he said. 
But there are still plenty of mesmerising haunts. All the creepy props are built by hand, including a 37-foot clown, scarecrow and ghost, and a new 41-foot skull. 
 “It’s kind of like go big or go home,” Valley Jr. said. 
Expect to be spooked by witches, ghosts, zombies, scarecrows,  a possessed clown, and a whole host of terrifying tricksters. Every year, new spellbinding characters creep in. 
“We have about 75 actors,” said Demeritt Farm owner Ryan Wilson. “The nice thing is they will change every year. As we create new scenes, the actors will create costumes and character, so it’s not stuff you’ll see anywhere else.”
Each structure and building in the forested walk is built to incorporate the landscape, and meant to look like it’s been there for hundreds of years. The trail changes yearly so returning visitors don’t know where they are going. 
Haunted Overload offers three levels of terror.  Walk through the daytime haunt at your own pace, with no characters, to see how much detail you missed at night while being scared. For the faint of heart, come to Fright Night Light Oct. 23. All the lights, sounds and fog will be powered up, but no one will be jumping out to scare you. If you dare, come to the full evening show, and prepare to be petrified. 
“As far as what level of fear kids can handle, parents should use their best judgment,” Wilson said. “It is very scary, though, but very artistic and very unique.”
Haunted Overload is a pre-ticketed event. Tickets cost from $12.50 to $20. Daytime event times vary. 
What could be scarier than a deranged, mutilated man with a swinging chainsaw sneaking up on you and getting in your face?
That’s exactly the type of fight-worthy creature visitors at Screeemfest at Canobie Lake Park  (85 N. Policy St., Salem, 893-3506, will run into. And that’s just on the midway. 
“Oh, we’re crazy,” said Canobie’s entertainment director, Chris Nicoli. “They’ve got chainsaws, and shovels, they are going around and they'll get you.” 
Back for its seventh year, Screeemfest is like a giant party with rock cover bands, the midway, a petting zoo, rides, a sideways variety show, and of course, haunted houses. Five of them, to be exact: The “Dead Shed,” “The Village,” and “Cannibal Island,” “Merriment Incorporated,” and “The Genome Biocontaminant Facility.”
“How scary it is depends on what you’re scared of. For  some it’s clowns, and for some it’s the dark. For others it’s snakes and spiders. We know we are successful when people come out of each haunted house and their heart is racing. That means we got them,” Nicoli said.
Screeemfest happens in tandem with the traditional Canobie Lake Park experience. Visitors can ride the roller coasters and many of the other rides all through the night, but about 6 p.m. all the spooky walk around characters are let loose into the midway and soon after, the five haunted houses open up. 
“We are still very much Canobie Lake Park, and then we transition each evening into Screeemfest,” said Canobie’s entertainment director, Chris Nicoli.  “It’s 250 people in the pitch black jumping out at you, so it’s pretty scary.” 
The park is open Friday, Oct. 24, from 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, from 1 to 11 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 26, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31,  from 6 to 11 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 1, from 1 to 11 p.m. Prices vary. 
The creators of Haunted Acres (446 Raymond Road, Candia, 483-2200, haunted acres have been creating scares in New Hampshire for nearly 20 years. The Candia location is covered in dark, dense woods, far away from a light source or civilization, said owner John Tracy. 
The designers spend a lot of time on the bone-chilling details, he said.
“We distract people from what’s going on around them so they are not ready for where the scare comes from,” Tracy said. 
Haunted Acres features five super haunted attractions, including a quarter-mile nightmare walk through the woods that is filled with some seriously deranged residents that escaped from quarantine in “Area 52.”  The Maze from Hell is a trip to the edge of darkness — 2,500 square feet of near-total blackness, chock full of the undead. There are two haunted houses, including a 3-D haunt and a graveyard full of zombies. You’ll come across everyone from wild hillbillies to crazy psychos, but don’t expect generic werewolves or Frankenstein-type stuff. 
“People see a lot of scary movies and stuff on TV, and it’s not the same in real life,” Tracy said. “We try and make you part of show.”
Visitors can see one attraction, then take a break for food or a drink by the two big bonfires. 
How scary is Haunted Acres? 
“Last weekend we had a guy who dragged his wife there and she didn't want to go,” said Tracy. “She peed her pants several times, and she wasn’t very happy with him. A lot people go through one of attractions and decide had they have had enough.”
For those who truly love the adrenaline rush, there’s an ever spookier option. For the second year Haunted Acres is hosting an extremely intense, super scary lights-off night, Nov. 1. 
Haunted Acres is open Thursday, Oct. 23, from 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24, from 7 to 11 p.m.,  Saturday, Oct. 25, from 6 to 11 p.m.,  Thursday, Oct. 30, from 7 to 10 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 31, from 7 to 11 p.m.,  and Saturday, Nov. 1, from 6 to 11 p.m. Tickets cost from $16 to $39. 
Spookyworld presents Nightmare New England (454 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, is home to five separate attractions: “Carnage,” “The Colony,”  “Freak Show in 3D,” “Ravens Claw the Resurrection” and ”Brigham Manor, The Bishop’s Legacy.” The park is open Thursday, Oct. 23, Friday, Oct. 24, Saturday, Oct. 25, Sunday, Oct. 26, Wednesday, Oct. 29, Thursday, Oct. 30., Friday, Oct. 31, Saturday, Nov. 1, Friday, Nov. 7, and Saturday, Nov. 8 (for a lights-out night). All haunted attractions open at 7 p.m. Ticket booth sales close at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 10 p.m. on other nights. Ticket prices range from $24.99 to $59.99. 
The Harvest of Haunts has taken over Charmingfare Farm (774 High St., Candia, 483-5623,, with four haunted attractions: “Wagon of Fear,” “Barn of the Dead,” “Ride into the Bog,” and “Infested Corn Field.” The frightening enchantment happens Friday, Oct. 24, Saturday, Oct. 25, and Friday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $25. 
As seen in the October 23, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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