Imagine opening what appears to be a first-aid kit, only to find a gruesome collection of bloodied brains, quivering eyeballs and dismembered fingers tangled in a spider’s web.
That’s what happened when I arrived at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore for the recent Universal Studios Singapore’s Halloween Horror Nights 6 (HHN6) media preview. But not to worry, the brains were actually an elaborately iced cupcake; the eyeballs, a delicious concoction made of jelly; and the fingers, biscuits with almonds. They were part of the press kit!
Over 200 media members from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Greater China were at the event that showcased five haunted houses and two scare zones.
Both Eastern and Western concepts were featured. And the most terrifying part is, some of these haunted houses and scare zones are based on actual real-life events in Singapore and overseas.
“This year’s theme is about embracing the darkness within. It’s internal and it gets beneath the skin. That’s very evident in Bodies of Work, where we literally get beneath the skin in the displays. And also in the Hawker Centre Massacre where the characters are being attacked from the inside by radioactive poisoning. We take into account not just local influences like the Old Changi Hospital and Hawker Centre Massacre, but also international influences like the Salem Witch House which is American, March of the Dead – Mexican, Hu Li’s Inn – Chinese, and Suicide Forest – Japanese,” said Resorts World Sentosa vice president of entertainment Andrea Teo, at a press conference after the event.
Next to Mel’s Die In (ingeniously converted from Mel’s Drive-In), the crowd waited in eager anticipation for the horror to be unleashed. Billowing mists and bursts of laser light moving to the throbbing rhythm, set the stage for the night. HHN6 icon Lady Death led the way with dancers in the opening ceremony, and the popular Jack the Clown (who chased us across a moving carousel later that night) returned with his Recurring Nightmare Circus.
The Bodies of Work, our first stop, was based on artist Damien Shipman’s life. Driven insane by guilt when his art gallery burnt down with his family inside, he created macabre artworks with bodies as a tribute to them. Grisly sights include a woman being put through a moving huge meat grinder and butchered bodies with exposed internal organs.
The Old Changi Hospital was based on the actual place by the same name. Reputed to be one of Singapore’s top 10 most haunted spots, patients who don’t know they are dead, a pontianak, soldiers and prisoners of war are said to roam the place. Built by the British in 1935, it served as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Japanese Occupation, and became a hospital after the war until it was vacated in 1997. Such great attention has been given to detail, that the “prison guards” even shout in Japanese.
Resorts World Sentosa director of events and production Scott Peterson said: “We had to do a lot of research as there is a lot of history behind the house, and it’s based on actual experiences. When we were kids, we used to sneak up to the Old Changi Hospital and there was this old caretaker who came to shoo us away. And later, we found out, it was a ghost. And such experiences trigger the fear.”
The Salem Witch House, based on Maison Deux-Six, was home of the DeFeo Witches in 1692. After being summoned from the dead by modern day witchcraft enthusiasts, the three witches unleashed their vengeance on those who had wronged them in the past.
Amazingly, not only were the witches terrifying, but they were actually beautiful (see top image). I can only imagine how long it must have taken to get their make-up and elaborate hair-dos done!
Stall owners and customers turned into flesh-craving zombies after being poisoned by eating contaminated radioactive fish at the Hawker Centre Massacre. Although not based on fact, entering this house was like stepping back in time with its vintage furnishings, clothing, goods for sale, and even filthy squat toilets found at old food courts.
Hu Li’s Inn was based on the ancient Chinese legend of the fox spirit. Here, shape-shifting demons disguised as beautiful women seduced men so that they could feed on their souls.
According to the legend, these demons could even create illusions that showed derelict places as beautiful castles to deceive their victims. What’s that again about not believing all that you see?
We also had the opportunity to explore the Scare Zones. What is the difference between a house and a scare zone? Resorts Word Sentosa senior vice president of attractions Jason Horkin said: “The scare zones allow you to interact with the characters. They have been called “selfie zones” because visitors can take selfies with the characters, which may not always be possible in the houses due to the intensity and confined spaces.”
The Suicide Forest, based on Aokigahara located at the foot of Mount Fuji, was a popular place to commit suicide. Here, we came across grisly sights like a deranged man with a blood-stained knife next to a broken-down car with his wife’s convulsing corpse at the back.
My favourite for the night was the March of the Dead, based on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a festival in Mexico. Beautifully executed with great attention to detail like the others, this procession featured colourful, brightly lit floats, and an assortment of characters in their “skeleton” masks and costumes. OK, so it was more beautiful than scary!
This media trip was sponsored by Resorts Word Sentosa Singapore. Halloween Horror Nights 6 will run for 16 select nights across five weekends until Oct 31. For more information, visit www.halloweenhorrornights.com.sg