SPOOKY WORLD.

A long time ago on a dusty space of farmland far, far beyond the beaten path there was a horror house by the name of SPOOKY WORLD. This place was THE premiere haunted destination and was one of the only big haunts in operation at the time, so it was pretty much the horror equivalent to Disneyland.

*Before we continue let’s get one thing straight – this is not that uninspired, indoor zombie walkthrough that operated under the same name through the late 90’s and early 00’s – this is the original SPOOKY WORLD located way out in creepy Berlin, Massachusetts on an old farm. Yes, the one with the bone-chilling hayride and free cider & donuts!

spooky vid
First off, I’d like to mention just how crucial the commute was to the whole essence of Spooky World. Because it was located in isolated western Mass, many people had a lengthy ride to deal with. Being the time of year it was and how backwoodsy that region of the state is – the ride itself was dark, soggy and quite menacing. This beautifully set the tone for the blood, guts and latex one would soon be facing that night.

During it’s first few years of production that began in 1991, Spooky World drew enormous crowds because of their much talked about haunted hayride and impressive lineup of celebrity appearances. The 30+ minute hayride crept through the woods and would stop at a series of mini “horror shows”. These ranged from watching a gruesome surgery being performed which concluded with a guy’s face popping out of the patients stomach, to Leatherface chasing innocent victims in a mass of fog and lighting effects. Even our pal Toxie was the leading man in a scene which saw him slithering around an elaborate toxic-waste dump straight out of the real Tromaville.

abandoned spookyThe now abandoned original location on 100 River Rd, Berlin, MA.

The set designs were well done for the budget they must have been restricted to. One minute you’d witness some impressive, real-time gore effects. Then right around the corner would be a bunch of 99-cent store foam graves. Nothing was perfect by any means, but the performers were enthusiastic and the atmosphere was pure magic. If you haven’t experienced New England in October, it’s pretty much the fucking ultimate. It’s cold, it’s damp and there’s an eeriness in the air that certifies it as the best place if you want to be fully immersed in Halloween-mode. The actors took full advantage of this and it paid off during these mini-performances.

At the end of the hayride, workers passed around trays with free apple cider, donuts and cookies for all surviving victims. Then your group would walk over to the ‘haunted barns’ to do some wandering. Outside was more like a carnival than a spook-house. Visitors donned in warm clothing sat at picnic tables and ate pizza, hot dogs, pretzels and other country fair-type food. The air was crisp and smelled like a mixture of dead leaves, bonfires, hay and fried dough (something I want bottled up and sold in TNUC’s Food Court). One barn was full of animatronic beasts and ghouls, while the other held a massive assortment of classic horror movie nostalgia, props and merchandise for purchasing.

wolf spookyI fucking love this wolf.

Then of course there were the FREE autograph meet-and-greets. This was back when someone like Alice Cooper, Elvira, Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) or Linda Blair would sign your stuff without charging a fee for it. The only “celebrity” I met at Spooky World was world-renowned ukulele player Tiny Tim. I didn’t have a clue why I was waiting in line to meet a man named Tiny Tim or what he was even doing there, but I said hello and shook his hand. I’m still confused as to why he was there.

The following video is a rip of the entire official Spooky World VHS released in 1994 which gives a guided tour of the venue’s haunted grounds. It’s narrated by Jason Voorhees himself (Kane Hodder) and produced by splatter effects legend, Tom Savini. Prominent icons of the horror community such as these were behind the magic of Spooky World – which gives you a good idea of how special this place was!

And who could forget the Spooky World mascot? A grinning grim reaper figure that no New Englander could escape in the early 1990’s. He started appearing on highway billboards and in convenience stores flyers every September to promote the hayride. For many youngsters not only was he the 1st sign that the annual event was coming but also that October, Halloween and everything-HORROR was right around the corner. I started collecting Spooky World stuff recently in hopes of eventually having a monstrous contribution to display in TNUC’s backyard tree house hangout..

IMG_3480

In 1998 a building inspector issued several citations to the establishment which would eventually shut the place down. After a short silence, the name Spooky World started appearing again with promotions announcing a new location. Corporate slugs had taken the name but it’s original creators had nothing to do with the sudden reincarnation. The original hayride had been replaced. This “new” Spooky World had its moments, but certainly didn’t have the charm that the old farmhouse way out in Deliverance-country did.

If you’re a native east coaster reading this, hopefully your memories of this iconic horror theme park are of the original Berlin location. Spooky World was truly one of a kind and sadly we’ll never see it regain the strength it had in 1991. Unless of course Uncle TNUC resurrects it’s unholy spirit and reopens the place on a newly found Native American burial ground. Kids, start sending those applications in!

14 Comments on “SPOOKY WORLD.

  1. Spooky world is alive and well. We are not a zombie walk-through though.
    The official Spooky World name and logo is associated with two haunted attractions; Nightmare New England and Terror in Rhode Island. We’ve gone through many changes over the years with many owners and locations. Berlin and Foxboro have special places in my heart, but I’m really proud of the show we put on now. We’re in Lichfield NH, so the commute is back but we’re so worth it. I can honestly say I am truly proud to be part of the Spooky World family.

    • Thanks Choppy. I edited the post to make it sound less like an attack on “current” Spooky World! I mainly was just referring to how it changed from the original Berlin location. There was something truly obscure about that place! I had no idea it was going strong in Lichfield, NH. Sounds fun. Thanks for commenting!

    • Sorry but the one in NH is so lame and predictable. The one in Berlin and Foxboro was more scary and actually worth the money. Now its just to kid friendly, I want to be scared not laughing at how pathetic it is. Ive only been to the one in NH once because i felt for the gas, and price its not worth it at all. All your houses are pretty much the same.

  2. Love places like this, heading up north this week to get my full Fall/October/Halloween experience, will definitely bring the TNUC spirit with me!

  3. Though nothing can replace the feeling you get from the power of nostalgia when it comes to places like this!

  4. Hey there, one of my fondest, childhood memories is of the Ghoul Mobile that would make its way to the Brockton Fair to promote Spooky World. It housed a four piece, animatronic skeleton band. I’ve been trying to track down some video or photos of this but have had no luck at all! Sure do miss the old Spooky World. Those were great times.

  5. Berlin and foxboro was the absolute highlight for SW. This is a great article. I worked at both locations and it was just magic. The years at Bayside Expo and Canobee Lake park where juts awfull. However to say the current. ” spooky world” is alive and well is just a stupid thing to say. The place lacks total creativity and relies on all on store bought crappy products from ghost Rider and distortions. The new people in charge of spooky world clearly do not care about the art of scarring rather they shove as many morons through the door as they can. It is shocking to see the same shitty CFX masks and bad make up jobs that SW would never allowed in the past. They don’t even build their own props rather they just cruet staple the strode bought garbage up. The over priced haunt is not worth even looking at. My advice is stay away from this sham masquerading as ” spooky world”

    • Thanks for the comments Superbeast! Can you elaborate about working at Spooky World? I’m very curious. It’s truly a shame if the current version is using crappy products and uninspired junk for the haunt. The Berlin location had serious charm. It had character. The next time I’m in Mass I plan on driving out to the old location just to take some photos and feel the air!

    • You sound like a jaded past employee or competitor…You know the lingo and vendors so I’m guessing competition. I can say with absolute certainty that if someone worked at Spookyworld for two seasons back in the early 90’s, they have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what they are talking about when referring to the current day production of Spookyworld Presents Nightmare New England.
      True haunt fans know to never listen to former employees or competitor haunts. Come down this year and see whats new…Dont be a follower to past jaded employees and definitely dont listen to the competition BS talk. Judge for yourself. Come visit on opening weekend! Sept 25, 26 and 27th. The hayride is back with a vengeance… and better than ever!

  6. The issue is the man with the original Spooky World is no longer affiliated with the new Spooky World. He sold it. None of the creative team went with the new owners,
    I wanted to see if the new Spooky World was keeping up with the tradition of the original owner so I went this past season. I went through a completely unlit apparent haunted house. They handed us glow sticks (probably because it was too dark) There were no visible props because it was too dark to see anything. So dark I felt like it was unsafe. I think I saw 2 maybe 3 actors in that haunt and they were not visible. Went through another haunt which was just a maze, The original park had 10 – 15 actors in every haunt. Sometimes more. The ticket price was almost 100% more than the original park. I think I paid 39.99. No more celebrity guests. The highlight of the visit was in 3 spots on the hayride trail. One was the plane crash set. Explosions, fire well done. The other was lasers aiming up to the trees which was a really cool effect. Finally the last was the elaborate maze of what looked like tree houses above the hayride trail. You are not going to see the 12,000 people in this park like in the Berlin/Foxboro original Spooky World. There were around 200 people the night I visited. My advise to the new owners, Use creative lighting in the haunts. Use props. Invest in more actors, Hire someone who knows how to set up haunts. Train the actors to not just go up behind patrons and scream in their ear. The property has potential if the institution of Spooky World has not been completely ruined. Lots of land. Parking was plentiful. Food was quite good. The Ticket price does not warrant a return visit. I must have gone to the real Spooky World 15 times in the years the original creator/owner ran the show. It is nice that the new owner (Dave not the original owner Dave) tries to protect his investment by responding to all the accurate criticism. It is simply no way close to the atmosphere and value that the original Spooky World offered to it’s patrons.

  7. Pingback: OCTOBER’S LOCAL HOT SPOT OF THE MONTH: (REVISITING) SPOOKY WORLD! |

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