“ Fright night Halloween tour of Fort Amherst underground tunnels. „
Admittedly it doesn't take an awful lot to scare me... Any Friday or Saturday night in the Medway towns would send a shiver down anybodies spine... Combine that with a Halloween Horrors tour of Fort Amherst though and I challenge anyone not to break out in a cold sweat.
Now I probably haven't sold it too much by saying I am a wimp but the first (and last) time I went, I was a carefree, up for a fright seventeen year old with a you call this scary attitude. Scary, well, that was an understatement! I have never been so scared in my life and have vowed never, ever - under any circumstances would I set foot in there again.
So what's so frighting? First of all Fort Amherst is a set of underground military tunnels dating back to the 1700's and is reportedly haunted. Now I don't know too much about the history or the supposed hauntings but believe me, those tunnels are creepy.
Upon arrival, we were put into a group and holding the hands of the person in front and behind, we were guided through a pitch black house. Not so scary I hear you scoff... It was when the hooded figures snuck up to you in the dark and tried to prise your hand from the person behind you... Or gently stroked your neck... That chain broke a few times, with hands flying up to protect yourself from the ghostly figures who were kind enough to offer you their hand when all the fuss died down in an attempt to lead you away from the group... It took about 10 minutes to get through that house and frankly, after that - I had no desire to go into the main attraction!
Between the house and the fort is a large courtyard which had a Halloween themed fun fair with all the usual fairground rides and food/drink vendors. Rides weren't included in the admission price but it was a good way to kill the time before your allotted tour started if the mood took you. The food and drink on offer was the general hot dogs, burgers, tea, coffee and cold drinks. I didn't have any so I cant comment on the quality or price - it all looked like your typical fairground refreshments.
We had to wait about 30 minutes before our tour started which was enough time to build the anticipation yet not enough for me to chicken out... When the time came, we queued up outside the entrance to the tunnel with about 20 other people. As we walked through the main entrance into a dingy, dark little room - the heavy wooden door was slammed shut behind us and we were greeted by Pinhead of Hell-raiser fame... He gave us a speech about the hell we were about to encounter in full make up which would leave even Hollywood's most superior make up artist in awe and then ordered us to squeeze past him whilst he glared menacingly at us into the next section.
By this point I was starting to regret coming... When my two friends suggested it, I thought oh yeah, bet it's not that scary, bet the make up's not that realistic. Oh boy was I wrong! Next stop was an asylum and yep you guessed it. Once that door shut behind us, the escape alarm went off and all the inmates chased us through the narrow corridors whilst actors grabbed at your feet from underneath the hospital beds and the tour guide screamed hysterically to run! Honestly, I was fine! Until Hannibal Lecture leapt from his cage with a performance Sir Anthony would have been proud of...
If you can imagine every horror film you have ever seen, all rolled into one and then your thrown into the middle of it with the characters all seemingly alive and ready to take you down - then you are starting to get an idea of what this Fright Night is like.
I think I will remember that eerily, empty circus tent with the carnival music softly playing in the background until my dying day. In fact, I think that could have been worse than when the dwarf clowns with the gravely voices and chainsaws suddenly appeared to dart through your legs. I'm not ashamed to say - I ran screaming from that tent with the clown from IT chasing me crackling with laughter.
The next chamber wasn't an improvement - into a made up graveyard featuring coffins and a scary looking bald bloke who came to life to summon the dead. I don't remember much after the lights went out - only that I could make out the coffin doors all opening in the strobe lighting as I ran screaming... Their purpose? To lock everyone in their very own coffin for what seemed an entirety.
The locking in coffins wasn't exclusive to that chamber either in case you are wondering... Vampires, werewolves and an assortment of other horror nasties would frequently sneak up at the back of the group and pull unsuspecting thrill seekers off to a private coffin...
The tour lasted for what seemed like a lifetime but with hindsight was probably only 45 minutes to an hour and there were many other chambers, characters and corridors but I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise in case you are going... I think my friend still has my finger nails embedded in her arm and when we reached the end, I vowed never to set foot in there again. They go back every year but once was enough for me, I don't think my nerves could take it again!
Throughout the entire tour, I never saw a single actor drop out of character, they were all completely professional and outstanding actors. St. Johns ambulance is on stand by and I remember seeing them put to use on a few occasions... There are plenty of warnings and even though we are becoming a bit of a nanny state - there is good reason here - this tour really was terrifying.
Both Chatham and Rochester are well serviced by public transport and I don't recall the Fort being too far outside of Chatham town centre. There is also car parking available close to the Fort. Prices for 2011 are £14 each and not available to under 16's. I recall security being very strict on the age limit. I believe the Halloween Horror tour is on for a couple of weeks from the middle of October.
Whilst I would never go back, my friends go ever Halloween and attempt to drag me along. These day's a look at my bank statement is all the terror I am prepared to take - but if you enjoy being scared witless - you wont find a better place to go for it.
Also posted on other review sites.
Khartoum Road Chatham ME4 4UB, United Kingdom 01634 847 747