“STERLING FOREST: FOREST OF FEAR” (Haunt Review)Books/Art/Culture,Home,News Ken W. Hanley
Having grown up in the New York / New Jersey area, there are certain parts of my childhood that still run wild within today and never cease to evoke my most fondest memories. Among them include the Warwick Drive-In, one of the last theaters of its kind, and Sterling Forest, the wooded home to the ever-festive Renaissance Fair in Tuxedo, NY. Yet during the Halloween season, Sterling Forest turns into something completely different and all the more tempting: THE FOREST OF FEAR.
In the past, THE FOREST OF FEAR has had many different faces, and I have encountered the haunted attraction as both a hayride and haunted carnival in my youth. More recently, THE FOREST OF FEAR has double downed on their haunted walkthroughs, giving the location a second life and brought in plenty of paying customers. Now at Fango, I checked out the Forest of Fear to see if the attraction could hold up to the hardened horror geek as much as it did in the glory days of my youth.
Needless to say, I soon wanted to eat my words shortly after arrival. After learning how big of FANGORIA fans that THE FOREST OF FEAR is, even holding vintage Fangos in their break room, the good folks at Sterling Forest guided us to their first walk-through. The first one was the smallest of the bunch, but with an all-too-creepy gimmick: the entire walkthrough is submerged in the dark, lit only by the glowsticks of the patrons brave enough to venture through. With a wall of sound preventing you from knowing what will come next, this walkthrough was straight-up terrifying; the actors were on point, rarely revealing their position in the room until absolutely ready. The only real downside of the whole venture was the amazing decor on display is mostly lost to those who would rush through. Fortunately, my group took our time and let the fright come to us.
The second walkthrough is the real kicker though: a slaughterhouse-themed cavalcade of different horror themes that is guaranteed to get any horror nerd’s blood pumping. After a brief introduction by the guide and his hyper sidekick, we were sent on our way through the attraction. Perhaps the highlight came immediately, as a series of trick doors allowed the sidekick to greet us with a scare in every single room, no matter how fast we maneuvered. It was a truly dedicated and outstanding performance among a house of horrors. Besides that, every room’s careful look and positioning was excellent, as the walkthrough has a very intimate feeling even though it’s clearly not cheap. Refreshingly, every actor knew their place in the walkthrough, and played their part to the nines for myself and the group. It was among one of the best walkthrough experiences of my life.
Outside of the two excellent walkthroughs, there were plenty of other attractions on display. A wolfman, connected by a chain collar, was one of the most popular among the patrons, physically throwing himself around his cage with reckless charisma. There was also a graveyard stage area for select performances, although unfortunately the show had not yet been fully prepared for consumption by our arrival. But even the wandering weirdos were impressive in their own right; stragglers and those in line found themselves face-to-face with various characters who rarely let up. And the area surrounding the attraction was great as well: a donut-and-coffee stand, various seasonal merch and crafts shops, and even a psychic reading booth all held temptations of their own.
Overall, I was thrilled that Sterling Forest’s FOREST OF FEAR is not only still operating, but perhaps on a level better than ever before. The attractions are scarier, the actors are incredibly committed and the designs are utterly unreal. Not only that, but the aura of the place is accommodating as well. Halloween fans of all ages wander through the attraction, regardless of the gore on display. So whether you’re looking for a solid night of fright or a new destination of dread to venture to this Halloween season, THE FOREST OF FEAR cannot be recommended highly enough. You can check out more pictures from FOREST OF FEAR below!
You can find out more about Sterling Forest’s THE FOREST OF FEAR here; for updates on this upcoming season, ‘like’ THE FOREST OF FEAR on Facebook. Photography courtesy of Madeleine Koestner; Group Coverage courtesy of Madeleine Koestner, Ken W. Hanley and Amy Simidian. Stay tuned for more FANGORIA coverage from THE FOREST OF FEAR later this season.