Horror show freaks visitors to former mental hospital

By Angela Gregory

They call it "fear the scare" and you can't really better describe a visit to Spookers, a horror venue at the old Kingseat Hospital.

The frights are bad enough - loud bangs and aggressive mutants emerge from the gloom - but the anticipation makes it worse.

It's like sitting in the dentist's waiting room and hearing the drill through the walls.

In fact, they do have a "dentist" at Spookers.

Some mad woman in a blood-spattered room wanted me to show my teeth, which I bared faux-aggressive.

"They're nice," she cackled.

"Yes, I've been told I have a good bite," I said with bravado.

As to that "mad" word, I'm sorry, but it is mad. Unfortunate, then, that Spookers is based in the old psychiatric hospital complex at Karaka, south of Auckland.

That was a tad controversial, so the house of horrors was constructed in the former nurses' home and not the hospital itself.

As I drove into the grounds I sensed menace in the silhouettes of trees. Even piles of leaves on the driveway looked sinister.

But all was innocent, so once safely parked I confidently started making a few preliminary notes.

Then I felt a dark presence by the car window. My first scream.

"Got you," said the hooded man with firelight red eyes.

"Ooh look, more victims," he mumbled and slipped away.

Outside the building the air was full of screams.

Inside I am told that if it gets too much I can put up my hand in front of the ghouls and they have to back off. At worse, I can insist on being let out.

No ghoul, madman, or chainsaw-wielding maniac came to hand so I couldn't satisfy my childish desire to Boo! one from behind.

Not surprisingly, toilets featured at the end of the 25-minute show.

I can't really explain too much about what happened in there. It's not that I care so much about giving the game away - I was too traumatised to recall details.

Though just an elaborate version of the old amusement park ghost trains, where you get the creepy hand on the shoulder, you can amplify the fear factor by 5000.

By the time I go to the freaky forest - like The Blair Witch Project and Deliverance in one - I figured I needed eyes in the back of my head and on each ankle, but was soon to realise I also needed them on top of my head.

And while you are warned that there is a little touching involved at Spookers, I didn't expect that it would involve a roaring chainsaw around my shins.

As I emerged, a uniformed worker told off one of the maniacs chasing me up the path.

"Don't scare them away."

My final advice: Make sure you go with someone you don't mind holding sweaty hands with.

You'll find yourself doing it.

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