Let the expert spook-mongers behind Scarenation put the frighteners on you this Halloween with their third annual fear-fest.
This year the Halloween hauntings are to be held at the historic Frogmore Paper Mill in Apsley, from Friday, October 25, through to the day itself on October 31.
The first Scarenation event in 2011 was held at Kings Langley before moving to Langleybury the following year, and now the horror-themed events company, run jointly by Mark Foot, Mandy Howe and Iain Hepburn, has returned to Dacorum.
Churning engines, steaming pipes and cobwebs galore provide the backdrop to the horrifying Factory of Fear, inhabited by 45 terrifying tenants ranging from vampires and zombies to a blood-curdling clown and chainsaw-weilding madman.
A courageous group of Gazette reporters dared to venture into the fearsome factory for a special preview night, in which less than a quarter of the talented – and terrifying – scare actors were taking part.
The depleted numbers did little to quell our fears and reduce our goosebumps – in fact, the thought that there will be even more disguised dangers lurking in the dark during the real run of fright nights chilled us to our very cores.
We tip-toed our way through just two of the four ‘mazes’ that will be on offer across the seven-night run.
The first kept us in the dark about what was going on – literally – as we had to make our way around a pitch-black labyrinth in which you could barely see your hand in front of your face, let alone a maniacal factory foreman snatching at your ankles and breathing in your ear.
To get around it was imperative to keep hold of your only lifeline – a piece of piping which guided us through to a safe haven, if only for a couple of minutes.
A polite but somehow sinister top-hatted and green-tinged gentleman (who, we later found out, was Scarenation co-director Iain) wished us luck as we entered the second maze, where we had even more company.
The deranged giggling of a half-dead girl with no pupils and a slashed polka dot dress did, I’m sure, feature in the whole team’s nightmares that night – and not once did the convincing actress let slip her ghoulish guise.
She’d pop through walls and stare vacantly, continually cackling at the seemingly deathly fate that was to await us as we continued on our journey – reporters now clung together in a crazed conga line for support.
A vampire, a werewolf and a sinister clown each made us jump in unison as they, too, seemed to appear and vaporise before our very eyes. Then came the scariest of all – the faceless phantom whose weapon of choice was the most authentic fake chainsaw I could ever imagine.
The smell of petrol and haze of smoke coming from the threatening machine was enough to make you believe you were really part of the Texas massacre of horror film fame.
But when we ducked under his attacking lunge, pushed through an oppressive inflatable tunnel and emerged into the fresh air of Apsley, all we wanted to do was breath a sigh of relief... and then head straight back in.
The factory of fear is not for the faint-hearted, but if you enjoy the feeling of your hairs standing on end and your heart pounding against your chest in the name of harmless Halloween fun, then we’d definitely recommend it.