October 19th, 2012 | by MATTHEW SINGER Features |

Creeper Crawl: The Haunted Maize

Because it's a maze made out of maize, you see...

creepy-05ILLUSTRATION: Amy Martin
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.

The Haunted Maize
16511 NW Gillihan Rd., Sauvie Island, 621-7110

The scene: A four-acre corn “maize” (get it?) winds through a path lit only by tiki torches and the occasional strobe light. In order to get from one end to the other, visitors must pass through several disorienting “farmhouses” and survive encounters with disfigured hillbillies, grotesque demonoids and, worst of all, canoodling teenagers. (Pro tip for oldies: Try to go on the night of a big high school football game. The place will be considerably less crowded).

Cost: $10 for the Haunted Maize; combo tickets for both the Haunted Maize and the regular, thoroughly exorcised corn maze (it’s Portlandia themed this year, which is frightening for entirely different reasons) are $15 for adults, $13 for children between the ages of 6-12.

The backstory: A community of freaks, geeks and ghosts live in a hard-to-navigate field of corn on Sauvie Island—presumably because the real estate market is much more reasonable than in Portland proper.

Biggest scare: A platform winding through a fetid bog is not only the neatest set piece but the one most full of genuine jump-scares, courtesy of well-disguised Swamp Things rising up from the muck. Talk about a bridge over troubled water! Right?! Right?!?!

Blood spilled: Very little. The maze is mostly a family-oriented affair, so outside of one scene featuring severed plastic body parts on an operating table, the gore is kept to a minimum.

Lamest moment:
Replacing the menacing oinks of the genuinely unsettling “Pig Man” from previous years is a guy in a “punk warthog” mask suspiciously resembling Bebop from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who silently stares down visitors as if the mere sight of his Mohawk and septum piercing is supposed to scare anyone.

Grade: B. Although most of the scares are easily telegraphed (“Hey, I wonder if someone is preparing to leap out of that rustling patch of corn four feet down the path…”) and the maze, at least this year, isn’t all that hard to find your way out of, visiting the pumpkin patch is always a good reason to get out of the city for a few hours and experience some true bumpkin amusement. And on a clear fall night, it’s the perfect excuse for an evening stroll on the island, especially when the chainsaw-wielding ghouls are merely a minor annoyance.

 
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