BENNETT’S CURSE Haunted Attraction
By BJ COLANGELO
There’s something far more sinister than the U.S. Congress keeping the residents of Washington, D.C. and Maryland quaking with uncontrollable fear. Bennett’s Curse in Baltimore is a one-of-a-kind haunted attraction serving up the very best in Halloween entertainment for the Maryland/D.C. area.
Resembling a nightmarish version of Medieval Times, Bennett’s Curse shows guests the real reason that point in history is often called “The Dark Ages.” Comprised of three separate attractions, including the Sanctuary of Insanity maze and a 3-D Zombie Kingdom, this is truly a frightening environment unlike any other. Bennett’s Curse has been awarded countless honors and featured on a multitude of travel specials geared toward haunted houses and attractions. We talked with Allan Bennett, creator and mastermind behind Bennett’s Curse, to get a few words on the history and future of his successful attraction.
FANGORIA: Bennett’s Curse is unlike anything available in the Maryland/D.C. region around the Halloween season. What made you pull the trigger and start up a haunted attraction?
ALLAN BENNETT: We decided to create Bennett’s Curse because of that complete lack of quality Halloween attractions in the market. The tradition was always to leave the state and look elsewhere, so we decided it was time to create one that would not only put Maryland on the national haunted-house map, but also rival the very best in the country. Bennett’s Curse has easily proven to be the top Halloween haunt in the area, and because of that success, we opened our second, Creepywoods Haunted Forest, about 30 minutes north of Baltimore, in 2008. Together, the two shows dominate the area for Halloween entertainment.
FANG: Your attraction has its own storyline, constant characters and mythos. Where did the story of Bennett and his kingdom originate?
BENNETT: That’s an original concept I came up with, but of course I’ve been inspired by many movies and stories in the fantasy and horror genres. We were doing a medieval vampire-knight theme for quite a few years, but we wanted to expand upon the origins of the species and bring in backstory on their demonic beginnings. I am also very much into medieval history, so I thought it’d be great to marry my passions in one themed attraction. The story is constantly expanding, and we have now incorporated demons and an epic clash between the two forces of these creatures.
FANG: With three attractions in one, does Bennett’s Curse get progressively scarier?
BENNETT: That’s tough to say, because everyone is looking for something different and may find any one of those three to be the most frightening. Some may believe it gets more intense as you go because by the time you reach the third show, you’ve experienced a lot of great scares and cool imagery. We find that many do, in fact, find the Sanctuary of Insanity the scariest, as it’s deceptively simple and straightforward but plays on people’s fears of the dark, being trapped, etc.
FANG: Sanctuary of Insanity is a rather complex maze. Has anyone gotten hopelessly lost in the labyrinth, and if so, how do you manage guests who can’t escape?
BENNETT: We have had many people completely lose their way and become trapped—some by accident, but often by design! The actors know the mazes and know exactly where to send the guests and where they want them to be, so you’re really at the maniacs’ or patients’ mercy as to where you go along the path. The combination of loud, aggressive music and noises, dense fog and crazed inmates coming at you from all directions really ratchets up the fear and sense of temporary hopelessness.
FANG: The Zombie Kingdom is a 3-D attraction; how do you utilize those effects to amp up the fear factor?
BENNETT: Using 3D is not without its challenges when making a haunt scary, because the process relies on being bright and colorful. The scary part is how we disguise our frights, blend them into the environment and hide the actors until they are right on top of the guests. Also, because we use a special ChromaDepth technology in the glasses patrons wear, it makes the creatures and scenery seem as if they’re all alive and moving, even floating. By offering so many colorful and various depths in the painting techniques, we are able to distract the guests more thoroughly, and set them up for great scares and high action!
FANG: Bennett’s Curse has been cited as one of “America’s Best Haunts” and won a variety of other awards. What do you think it is about the attraction that keeps audiences coming back?
BENNETT: Those are truly humbling honors for us, and I believe people keep returning because we are always pushing to improve. From one season to the next, we always immensely upgrade all aspects of the show. I also believe it’s because as attraction owners, we are never really satisfied with where we are. We always want to make the show better, offer the guests a stronger overall experience and just try to be the scariest we can possibly be. Our guests now know to expect many changes and additions each year, since we always invest heavily back into the attraction. While some stay at the same level year after year, we go big and offer the very latest the haunt industry has to offer. Guests know that if you want to see the biggest, best and coolest costumes, sets, monsters, animatronics and effects, we are the first and best option!
FANG: What does the future hold for Bennett’s Curse?
BENNETT: The future is always right now in our eyes, since we never stop looking forward. I’m always planning for next year and beyond, even while creating this year’s nightmares. We plan to expand all aspects of our shows, from size to sophistication and execution, and overall guest experience. We are always looking to branch out into other attractions and themes, and possible locations as well. Our goal is to be the best, so we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.
All tickets to Bennett’s Curse earn free admission to Blob’s Park Bavarian Beer Garden and $5 off admission to Creepywoods Haunted Forest; for more information, visit www.bennettscurse.com.