Want to scream? Two local haunts beckon

in ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT/LOCAL by

Two competing Halloween scare attractions vie for locals’ dollars. The two places, Corner of Chaos, on the corner or Old Trenton and Princeton-Hightstown roads, and Field of Terror on Perrineville Rd, have similar setups and fee structures. As participants proceed through darkened corn mazes on temporarily converted farmland, they encounter actors in ghoulish make-up and blood spattered costumes who scare the crap out of them by revving chainsaws, bludgeoning fake bodies with axes, lunging at nubile necks with necrotic zombie hands and so forth.

Both places are similar and both offer decent scare for your dollar. Which one is better may change from year to year or even night to night and relies mainly on the creativity and dedication of the actors whose job it is to make people wet their pants in terror.

Mercer alumnus Josh Hicks, who majored in television and radio, is in his second season working at Field of Terror’s Killer Cornfield maze. He says, “I Pick my targets carefully. I never scare the first person in a group and depending on their reaction [I know] how much energy to put into it.”

Corner of Chaos has been around for five years, while Field of Terror has been around for nine. John Specca, the Chaos owner, insists he doesn’t crib ideas from his competition.

“We try to stay as unique as possible I don’t really like to use any other haunts’ ideas. To me that’s not good,” says Specca.

The four Halloween mazes at Corner of Chaos include The Nightmare Machine, The Wicked Wagon Ride,the Barbaric Barnyard and the epic Wooded Wasteland. Prices at the Corner of Chaos range from 13 dollars for one attraction to 40 dollars for all four together or 60 dollars for a VIP pass.

The prices at Terror are pretty much the same: 15 dollars for a single attraction to 38 dollars for all four and if you want to skip the lines VIP passes are range from 30 to 65 dollars.

It is not clear how the two places set their annual prices or if having two competing venues keeps costs down, but getting the full experience costs about 40 dollars and that may be out of the price range for a lot of broke college students. Still, it is cheaper (and scarier) than buying all the supplies and a costume of your own and hosting your own Halloween party.

One thing that sets Chaos apart is that along with the four halloween mazes there is a live spooked up dance team which performs on stage in the midway to choreographed music. The act is much the kind you would see at Six Flags but isn’t being done at other haunted Halloween venues in the area.

Kyle Diana is a second year performer in the Wooded Wasteland at Corner of Chaos and prior to that at Six Flags Great Adventure’s Fright Fest for the previous two years. Diana has the insider’s experience; he says, “I mean, the kids I work with are great, the bosses are great, the surroundings, I mean, it’s like we’re one huge demented family with a bunch of freaks and creeps.”

Over at Field of Terror this year’s mazes include the Killer Cornfield corn maze and the Zombie Attack Haunted hayride. The dark and spooky Unknown Barn and the visually stimulating Dementia 3D haunted barn hitch give the visitor a unique neon colored 3D experience. The neon effect is gruesome and awesome and Terror is the only one doing it.

Terror owner, Sharon Kyle recalls how her business got started saying, “Years ago we used to go to a Halloween party and we would go through all this trouble, all this work setting up for a few friends and one night we would have like all hayrides…We bought this farm in 2003 in East Windsor. [We bought] 77 acres and decided to try it and start doing it because we love Halloween.”