Who's the weird old person hanging around the packs of high school kids at Portland-area haunted houses? The one who reeks of good coffee and cheap gin? Yeah, that’s a Willamette Week writer out reviewing local haunts for Creeper Crawl 2012.
1940 N. Victory Blvd., 360-258-1782
Located inches from I-5, Scream Portland is held on a desolate field next to Portland International Raceway. I borrow a car to haul up north on a Sunday evening, one of the first truly gross and soggy days of the fall. It’s a subdued crowd: most under 30, plenty of hand-holding couples, mobs of high school kids poorly dressed for the rain. Scream is an unfocused jumble of canvas-roofed, plywood shacks, with a few inexplicable additions, such as the wrestling arena where big-bellied but decidedly non-ghoulish fellows heave themselves at one another, and an empty kissing booth. The plywood structures house a variety of attractions: a haunted gold mine with animatronic tarantulas and an icky, Gamera
-like creature; the “Black Forest,” which was indeed very dark; and the “Twisted Circus,” a mess of red-and-white striped curtains, strobe lights and house music, where a clown asks if I want to have a dance party and a bearded woman proposes marriage. People dash from haunt to haunt, their shrieks due more to the chilly downpour than to the spooky scenes. I’ve come alone, so I play third wheel to lots of teenage couples, who clutch each other dramatically and cast me confused glances.
Cost: $8 for a single haunt or $25 for the four main haunts and assorted smaller attractions. $40 gets you all the haunts and a few spins on the carnival rides. It’s not much bang for your buck.
The backstory: The only Scream attraction with any sense of history is Nevermore Castle, which I’m told only appears every 13th year. Rigor Mortis, my “paranormal presenter”—a ringer for Wednesday Addams—jolts through a script about a very bad girl who killed her parents and now haunts the decrepit home.
Biggest scare: A gaunt, towheaded girl creeps up behind me and blows air at my neck. I jump.
Blood spilled: Not much. A few of the actors have creepy-looking scars or red goo smeared across their collarbones, but there’s very little gore.
Lamest moment: Misleading exit signs are visible throughout each of the attractions, and I dutifully tromp towards each of them. Weary attendants direct me back on course each time.
Letter grade: C-