One night a year, Field of Screams (FOS), Mountville, PA, becomes a genuinely unhinged “scream-park” of insanity that goes from “scary” to absolutely “terrifying,” embracing its moniker of “Extreme Blackout.” First launched in 2015, the “Extreme Blackout” event has had its strong seasons and weak seasons, but in 2020 it returned to its horrific glory as a mainstream representation of an “extreme” haunted attraction focused on fear. Field of Screams transforms its entire property into a darker, more intense experience, with heavy metal music filling the airwaves and insane “scare-actors” chasing guests throughout the park, yielding chainsaws.
Transforming an entire show is not an easy task, especially when one considers the size and scope of FOS, but it almost seems as though there is great joy embraced by all, as built-up energy and passion for scaring is unleashed. Before starting the attractions, guests must sign a waiver, and “Extreme Blackout” was one of the few “hands-on” haunted attractions of the season. Yet, staff and management still emphasized cleanliness and implemented regular sanitation routines. What has always been a hallmark of this event is the unpredictable nature of the guest experience, and this season’s event continued the tradition.
“Extreme Blackout” was a “hands-on,” in-your-face attraction that was relentless in presentation and spirit. Moments of pure insanity seemed to fill the air as actors chased unsuspecting guests out of each attraction in uncompromising fashion. Depending on specific interactions with scare-actors’ one may be covered in paint, “marked” for torture, separated from groups, soaked in slime/liquid, hooded, and even “buried alive” inside a coffin. At times guests may be hit with objects such as wet rags, the “entrails” of pigs and forced to drink grotesque liquids or “shots” in an experience that thrives on the intensity and is not afraid of taking risks. Field of Scream’s “Extreme Blackout” event was one of the most intense, legitimately scary haunted attractions of the season, a welcome departure from the standard already first-class show, and one that was filled with nonstop action and horrific surprises.
Den of Darkness
“Den of Darkness” is a nightmarish journey, featuring scenes inspired by horror movies, vintage gritty, grotesque violence, and a sense of evil permeates each room (as well as the stench of death). “Den of Darkness” is one of the most terrifying indoor walk-throughs one can imagine and by far vastly enhanced by the sinister nature embraced during “Extreme Blackout.” Plunged into pitch-black hallways, using only a small flashlight, guests must navigate the lengthy house of the macabre, touching dead “bodies,” drinking vial “shots,” and escaping a morgue where bodies are yearning to be freed. Heavily interactive, we were separated numerous times, “chloroformed,” and then chased by insane chainsaw yielding maniacs in an experience that taunted our senses and left us at the mercy of relentless actors and twisted characters featured in this intense attraction.
“Frightmare Asylum” is genuinely disturbing, an indoor attraction that exaggerates the horrors of vicious medical experimentation and sensory deprivation to a level unlike any other. Designed to make one feel “insane” and target various phobias, once again, the actors’ energy and level of performances were on another level during this particular “Extreme” event. Separation is one of the key strategies implemented during “Extreme Blackout,” and we had to complete portions of this intense experience in complete isolation.
Building from medical experimentation and torture to psychological hell, “Frightmare Asylum” is a journey through the darkest regions of one’s mind and exploits fears that challenge even the most hardened haunt fan.
“Haunted Hayride” by far was the standout attraction featured during “Extreme Blackout,” and Field of Screams changed almost every scene to be far more intense and severe in design. From the famous opening scene in which a “hillbilly” feasts of the entrails of helpless slaughter, a sizeable mutant containment facility/laboratory with hulking monstrosities ready to unleash rage, a demented circus and a “chop shop” featuring actors hanging from the craziest of places the energy, performance, and style of the “Haunted Hayride” was downright insane. In an in-your-face experience, actors had no qualms with sticking their props in people’s faces, pinning some in corners, and even abducting others for unique personal experiences.
A classic finale featuring chainsaws was enhanced by new lighting and anticipation building scare-strategies that amplified the intensity of a pure onslaught of violent chainsaw bliss. “Haunted Hayride” was a memorable centerpiece attraction that benefits significantly from the additional level of interaction and world-class scene design (sci-fi themed “Portal” containment scene is one of the most incredible scenic methods in any attraction, and traditional backgrounds such as a medieval-inspired execution scene continue to thrill!)
“Nocturnal Wasteland” is an outdoor, jungle-gym style post-apocalyptic nightmare that challenges guests to transverse an outdoor trail that includes abandoned buses, pyrotechnic-infused hillbilly shacks, swamps graveyards, and escape numerous abominations and mutants. A desolate experience, the level of detail and quality of this attraction help it stand out against typical outdoor trails. At one point, guests get to walk “above” the haunted hayride, and the authentic nature of the design enhanced by special effects creates a genuine nightmare of a world scarred by bio-nuclear terror.
“Nocturnal Wasteland” does not require an abundance of actors, instead of relying on scenic design, challenging custom-built terrain, and massive pyrotechnic/electrical displays to bring life to this twisted outdoor dungeon. A genuine post-apocalyptic nightmare comes to life, “Nocturnal Wasteland.” Simultaneously, not as interactive as other attractions, it relies heavily on a spirit of desolation and despair to augment the innovative scene and set designs.
The Final Word
Field of Screams, 2020 “Extreme Blackout” was a breathtaking, heart-stopping attraction that proved that a “mainstream” haunted attraction could be mainstream and mature. Once again exceeding expectations, “Extreme Blackout” is nonstop terror; it defies the traditional boundaries of most mainstream haunted attractions and continues to be an end-of-season must-see event each year for those who yearn for a mature, hands-on, and intense horror experience!