By Bridget Seelinger | The Duquesne Duke
At Cheeseman Fright Farm in Portersville, about an hour north of Pittsburgh, the five senses are stimulated to induce fear in the Fright Farm visitor. Sight, smell, sound, touch and taste are all used to help get one in the spirit of Halloween and also have a night of fun.
Sight: The Fright Farm itself looks terrifying. Surrounded by trees, trees and more trees, and enveloped in almost complete darkness, the Fright Farm certainly looks like it has potential for some great scares. Once at the farm, visitors are greeted by masked employees who walk up and down the line, scaring people as a form of warm up. Inside of the maze portion of the Farm, lack of sight contributes to most of the terror, and this lack of sight is not simply complete darkness. Sometimes it is strobe lights, sometimes it is a room filled with smoke lit with florescent lights and sometimes it is blinding brightness, a significant contrast to the darkness outside. All of these different methods of either overloading or under-loading your sense of sight invokes terror.
Smell: At one point, the visitor is met by men armed with chainsaws. At first, there is disbelief. “No, they can’t actually be coming at me with a real chainsaw,” the visitor thinks. Then, there is fear, as the very real smell of gasoline is wafted through the night breeze. At this particular part of the farm, the visitor is helpless to do anything but sit there as the men with chainsaws come closer and closer. That is true fear.
Sound: Sound is used to startle as well as invoke a sense of dread. While standing trapped in a crowded hallway, men with masks will laugh menacingly soft, causing a cold finger to run down the spine of any particularly jumpy visitor. There are also many instances where there is complete silence until broken by a loud crash, whether that is a bloody pig’s head flying into a metal screen or a coffin lid being smashed open and then closed by a demented clown.
Touch: The visitor to the Fright Farm touches many things, including hay bales and doorframes, and once, even walking through a giant balloon which invokes a sense of claustrophobia. The most terrifying thing was easily the room full of mysteriously heavy sacks hanging from the ceiling. It was all too reminiscent of a meat factory filled with carcasses. What was in those sacks? No idea. Do you want to find out what was in those mysterious sacks? Absolutely not. In another room, the floor vibrates as the sound of a machine gun can be heard. The sound of the machine gun is not terrifying in itself, but the floor vibrating makes it so. In this room, one’s sense of sight is almost completely diminished, so one is relying on touch as a guide through the room.
Taste: Once through the entirety of the Farm, one is transported back to the front of the farm via hayride. This sense doesn’t stimulate fear, but it certainly helps with one’s bounding heartrate after experiencing about 45 minutes of sheer terror. The funnel cake stand is the first place to go. Nothing beats chowing down on a delicious funnel cake after being in a constant state of fear. There are also candy apples and kettle corn in addition to several other kinds of treats, none of which are terrifying. They just taste good. Be careful to avoid the man in the Joker mask with an axe while choosing which treat to devour!
Cheeseman Fright Farm is an excellent way to get into the spirit of Halloween, whether you usually enjoy scary things or you don’t. There is something for everyone, even if that is just petting the pet snake at the end of the maze or enjoying a gooey candy apple. Ticket sales begin at dusk and cost $16.