Imagine walking in a dark forest. The dense trees make it almost impossible to see a hint of moonlight. A cool, eerie wind blows from behind you causing the trees' branches to sway as if they are just trying to remind you they are there in the darkness. It's so quiet and spooky that it feels like the perfect setup for a jump scare in a horror movie. You're expecting some kind of masked psychopath with a gardening tool to jump into your field of vision. A noise creeps across your left ear and you swing around but you see nothing. You breathe a sigh of relief and when you turn back, you lock eyes with some kind of undead monster.
He has one of his hands behind his back. Your fevered imagination tries to prepare you for the twisted implement he hopes to introduce to your vital organs. His rotting arm slowly pulls away from his torso to reveal he's carrying a French horn. The sounds of Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" ring in your ears as you lose consciousness.
That scenario probably won't be included in Dark Hour Haunted House's newest attraction "Walpurgisnacht: Halfway to Halloween" that opens tonight at 7 p.m. for a two-day run but it's hard to know what to expect from a haunted house that's fueled by live music.
"Walpurgisnacht" shares its name with a German celebration traditionally held on April 30th, the halfway point to Halloween. It celebrates the end of a harsh winter and the welcoming of a new spring with a lore that includes the gathering of witches and the plotting of mischief. Those witches made their way to Plano and have plotted all sorts of new ways to scare anyone who dares to pass through their mountainous lair using the awesome power of music.
Amy Reed, Dark Hour's marketing and promotions manager, said their haunted hell grounds will be stocked with monsters, ghouls and creatures with an unusual talent for music as a way to distract and disarm the emotions of their guests.
"This is a really different experience because we're calling it a musical and a haunt but the music is actually inside the haunt," Reed says. "There are certain parts of the haunt that you will go through and the scene itself is driven by a musician. One of the best examples from last year that I don't think they are doing this is you're walking through the path of a swamp and up on a cliff is a bagpipe player. So you're totally engulfed in how beautiful it is and your attention is diverted and that just gives us more opportunities to scare you."
Mounting a musical haunt offered quite a challenge for the makers behind Dark Hour's twisted creative team. Reed said finding scare actors with musical talent was "one of the trickiest parts of casting for this show."
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"To cast this show, part of the casting call was for actors with musical ability," Reed says. "So we have some actors singing for you. Some actors are playing different instruments. I believe there's even a theremin involved at some point. It's all just adding to the show. It's not just a regular haunt."
The two-day scarefest will also feature a "Night Gallery" exhibition of dark art on sale for the more twisted art lover that you can only access by going through the haunted house, and a live appearance by actor Drew Rembaric who played the mysterious Toulouse on FX's American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Reed says the creative team behind Dark Hour's haunts takes great pride in finding new ways to terrorize their guests and their musical attempt may be one of their most twisted creations that's more than just a series of random jump-scares.
"It's not just someone grabs a chainsaw and now you're scared, so run," Reed says. "We're more about the psychology of fear."