Going from a bright sunny day on the Dartmouth waterfront to a dark and spooky pirate ship is not what most would expect from a Tall Ships festival, but the terrifying trip through ‘Haunted Pirates: Fear the Darkness Fear the Sea,’ did shake things up from the idealized age of sail on display.
“The whole theme of pirates was connected with tall ships in town,” said Mike Macgillivary, one of the ‘twisted minds’ behind the operation. “We saw an opportunity there and it’s worked wonderfully.”
Alderney Landing regularly has two haunted houses each year; one is tied in with Halloween, the other during the summer months.
“The October house is off the edge scary, it’s super creepy with actors inside,” said Macgillivary. “This one has more of a G (general) rating, so we try to tame it back a little. We’re not the best at keeping it chilled out, but we’re getting there.”
Attendees are given 3D glasses before they enter the haunted house, something normally reserved for film, but the illusion makes things almost come alive inside.
“We’ve always wanted to use 3-D somehow, and we saw this program using black lighting, and we used that in the haunted house,” said Macgillivary. “It’s not the old fashioned stuff jumping out at you, but it’s more the trick of making things look sharper and everything looks an inch or two closer, so you think it’s there but it’s not.”
One of the hallways featured multi-coloured chains hanging from the ceiling, and those brave enough had to wade through them, the 3D effect provides a sense of disorientation.
“We’ve had a few people who started the haunted house and then couldn’t finish,” he said. “Overall people really seem to enjoy it.”
Macgillivary said he gets a lot of his ideas from horror films and a general love for the horror genre.
“We watch horror movies all the time and we’ll put a twist onto it, make it out own,” said Macgillivary. “We get together with friends, get some ideas rolling and come up with a lot of great concepts.”
Even though this haunted house has just finished, Macgillivary and his team are already planning for Halloween.
“When you stand by the exit over here and you see people coming out laughing, hooting or saying ‘oh my God that freaked me out,’ that’s the best feeling in the world,” Macgillivary said. “If they’re happy, we’re happy.”
Where does your $5 admission go?
The admission is to maintain the haunted house, but also on behalf of Alderney Landing, a not-for-profit organization. Some money goes back into community events. They recently restored parts of a local historic cemetery.