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With an Indian summer-esque wind blowing through the open window, this writer drove across the long, menacing bridge into the southeastern section of Philadelphia, PA, on the way to Fright Factory. A part of the 13 Haunts organization, Fright Factory was featured on the first installment of the Travel Channel’s “Scariest Halloween Attractions” in 2006.
Before long, Fango exited the highway and arrived at the attraction, set back from the main road. Past the ticket booth located off a seedy, broken-gravel alleyway sits the century-old Factory building; after getting the OK to be escorted into its long, narrow corridors, yours truly could immediately feel an unease creep under the skin—a pure claustrophobia that takes over your soul within these wall.
In a hidden underground makeup room, Fango stepped past ghouls and bloody nurses to meet up with creator Robert Dudziek. Numerous horror posters were slapped left and right on the walls, and FANGORIA #297 could be seen atop the makeup table. Dudziek established Fright Factory in 2001, inspired by major studio parks such as Universal—and Fright Factory lives up to those high standards. No longer do East Coasters have to spend the dough to travel afar for high-impact terror, when it is right here in Dudziek’s factory of haunts.
A musty smell filled Fango’s nose as Dudzkiek provided the lowdown on his haunt. “Some people can’t even make it down the corridor that you came in on. They literally freak out even before the attraction starts—so if we don’t scare you down here, something else will.” Sure enough, the chills began to settle in as Fango was briefed on the history of the building—something not familiar to many Factory visitors. This establishment used to be a printing shop and even housed Nazi troops at one time—and remnants of their horrific presence can be seen in certain spots. While many other scare houses play off their settings’ tarnished histories, Fright Factory plays down the terrifying legacy of its menacing locale, and instead turns the present fright factor way up.
Featuring a handful of attractions, Fright Factory plays out as a continuous ride from one to the next—a tactic that really works, as you never quite get the chance to catch your breath from the previous jolts, and makes your partner’s arm nearly go numb from your grip.
For 2010, Dudziek applied a RESIDENT EVIL influence in his first section, incorporating the franchise’s look and feel as you enter “Ichem Industries.” As you tiptoe through wide-open, pitch-black spaces, dodging insane mental patients, angry doctors and zombies, you feel like you too have just been part of a deadly viral outbreak. To keep you even more off-balance, the ominous, low-lying, dusty ceiling pounds with bass booms and cracks that made this reporter constantly jump. With a no-holds-barred approach to acting, the fine performers gave 110 percent, tackling their roles with gusto and upping the ante—biting at your feet, screaming in your face and flailing their bodies left and right. This is one of the most downright terrifying haunted-attraction rooms this horror buff has ever come across. Period.
For the next section, we were presented with a unique “haunted house excursion,” tour guides and all as we were taken through a “Philadelphia Haunted Asylum Tour.” After the introduction went haywire, we were left to find our way out of the institution and make amends with the devilish spirit roaming free. After subsequently surviving the “Undercroft Cemetery” and brilliant “Amygdala” (you can figure out the menacing definition of this one for yourself), Fango was floored with excitement and terror.
Taking the scares up a notch from last year, Dudziek remains determined to inspire his patrons to feel that they too are part of this truly unique experience. Dudziek consistently re-invents the way he scares the wits out of his customers, making Fright Factory refreshing every year. Having worked on several haunts in prior decades, Dudziek knows how to format the thrills of a genre film into tangible form, putting the tricks and treats of the big screen right in front of your face for you to personally experience—and survive.
Already excited for next year, this writer insists that all Fango fiends and gorehounds take a trip to the City of Brotherly Love and visit Fright Factory—and get ready to experience some hell! Fright Factory is open through October 31 and offers an RIP ticketing option, which gets you to the front of the line and plenty of discounts; you can find out more about that and other info at the attraction’s official website. Also new for 2010, Fright Factory is teaming up with 13 Haunts counterpart Scare Brothers to give you a unique complex of terror. For one low price, you can attend eight spooky attractions, all at Terrorplex in South Philly!
Special thanks to owner Robert Dudziek, his staff and actors for giving Fango an in-depth peek at the spooks of Fright Factory.
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