Since it's Halloween, I decided to get someone to take acid and do the scariest things I could find in London after ten minutes of googling. This is our editorial intern, Kevin. He's gaining valuable media-industry work experience by dropping acid in the outdoor seating area of a Pret A Manger at 10 AM on a Wednesday.
Oh, BTW, for a variety of reasons, the pictures in this post suck. I'll explain why in each section.
SCARY THING NUMBER ONE: THE LONDON DUNGEON
Reason the pictures suck: I didn't realize what the London Dungeon was until we got there. I guess I thought it was a museum-type thing in which you made your own way around, but it was actually a kind of actor-filled horror maze that you were guided through in a group. Each time I got my camera out to take a photo, an actor would rush up to me and say, "in character," something along the lines of: "YOU THERE! PEASANT BOY! PUT DOWN THAT THERE FLASHY BOX!" which, through a combination of second- and first-hand embarrassment, made me not want to get my camera out in any situation where I thought I might be seen.
This is Kevin after waiting for 20 minutes to get inside. Know what's even worse than waiting for 20 minutes to get inside somewhere? Waiting for 20 minutes to get inside somewhere while "This is Halloween" plays on repeat. Know what's even worse than that? Being the poor guys who have to work in the gift shop and listen to the same song over and over again (seriously, I was in there for like, 15 minutes while Kevin looked at toys, and that was the only song they played.)
To me, a sober adult, the London Dungeon basically seemed to consist of walking around in the dark while actors in makeup talked about ye olden days and all the scary stuff that happened back then. I was beginning to zone out a bit, but then we got to the part with audience participation, which, to me at least, is terrifying even when not tripping on psyche-untethering drugs.
Until now, the whole thing had been so crappy that I hadn't even asked Kevin if he was scared. I'd just assumed he was as underwhelmed as I was. But then we arrived at the "operating theatre," and I brushed up against him and could feel him shaking. When I asked if he was OK, he replied: "Is this as terrifying for you as it is for me? I'm really, really scared right now. Why did I agree to do this?" It was the best part of the experience so far.
The audience participation really was a godsend. Every time it came up, I would pray, "please don't choose me, please choose Kevin". It seemed to work: this is him being put on trial in a Victorian courtroom for the crime of "cow bothering." It was pretty intense. The actor playing the judge made increasingly uncomfortable cow sex jokes while Kevin stood on the stand sweating and trying to smile. I had an anxiety attack just watching him up there. When I asked him later how it felt, he just shook his head and said, "I dunno, man."
At one point, Kevin turned to me and said: "Jamie, which way is up? I haven't been able to tell since my chair started moving." Which is the kind of thing I didn't realize people on acid actually said, outside of TV shows written by people who have never taken acid.
And that's pretty much all the photos I managed to get in the London Dungeon. The scariness highlight was when (spoiler alert) Jack the Ripper jumped out at us in the pub room, and Kevin got so scared he held me. This is him once we got outside, and he's not kidding around with that pose. I've never seen anyone so happy as he was once he got out. "How long were we in there? I felt like I was in there for days. That was so fucking intense."
Kevin the intern's scariness rating: "6/10. Would have been higher, but a lot of the stuff in there was funny rather than scary."
SCARY THING NUMBER TWO: WATCHING A HORROR MOVIE
Reason the pictures suck: Because I was in a cinema and didn't want to get arrested for the sake of this blog.
The experience: We were going to see Paranormal Activity 3, but, as nothing that scary was playing so early in the day, we had to settle for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark instead. It started out well, with Kevin saying, "these commercials are amazing. Next time I trip, I'm just gonna watch ads." He also seemed excited at the prospect of "seeing Katie Holmes' face really, really big," stating: "She has the kind of face that would lend itself well to being really big, I think."
Personally, I thought the movie was kinda "meh," and assumed Kevin would feel the same way, until I heard him say "Oh. My. God" and looked over to see him wide-eyed and gripping the armrests of his seat with his fingernails. I asked him how he was feeling, and he told me: "This is so fucking horrible. I don't think I can take this," before disappearing to the toilet for ten minutes.
Kevin the intern's scariness rating: "9/10. I don't usually like watching horror movies anyway, but that was the scariest thing I have ever seen."
SCARY THING NUMBER THREE: THE DEATH TRAP
Reason the pictures suck: You weren't allowed to take a camera inside. Presumably so no one will be able to gather evidence of how shitty this place is.
The experience: Death Trap was probably the worst thing I've ever paid money to do. The only reason I'm even bothering to write about it here is because it made me fucking ANGRY that I spent £24 taking us both inside, and I don't want any of you guys to make the same mistake.
Maybe part of the blame should lie with me, as I didn't actually know what Death Trap was before we went in. Their website is vague, but it has the above picture of the guy who played Randy in the Scream movies holding two live snakes, so you can understand why I got sucked in.
SUCKED INTO THEIR MASSIVE CON. The only thing that's scary about Death Trap is how disorientating the experience is. It started with a guy in zombie makeup groaning, "Follow me... to hell!" at us before we were led through a door marked "Welcome to Area 51," where a mad professor informed us that we were in a mental hospital and several of the inmates had escaped, so we had to go on a quest to "find the cure to the disease." Which, obviously, makes no sense. I wonder how much it costs them to run that thing? Couldn't they have thought a little harder about the plot?
Anyway, the rest of it consisted of walking through a dark room while people in surgical scrubs jumped out from behind different things to scare you. Every once in a while, there would be a motion-activated hand dryer stuck to the ceiling that blew super-scary warm air on your head as you walked underneath. Chilling.
I can't believe this thing is an actual thing that people pay money for. If this had been my money I was spending on it rather than VICE's, I probably would have fought someone. On the flipside, Kevin seemed to enjoy the whole thing immensely. Or maybe that was just his face?
Kevin the intern's scariness rating: "3/10. This was so cheap and uninspiring compared to the other places. It even made the acid wear off a little."
So there you go: if you happen to have swallowed some acid by mistake and decide you want to spend your trip in a state of terrified confusion, find some really, really big pictures of Katie Holmes to stare at this Halloween.