Saturday, October 14, 2017

Petrified Forest Serves up Some Gorgeous Horror.

The Petrified Forest is offering its 10th year of fear. I went early on the opening night of this series of scare trails. The director Silvia Katherine Viles had invited me to sketch the trail by lingering in one of the sets. To blend in, I was given a bloodied shirt and my face was quickly painted to look like I had been beaten to a bloody pulp. Scare actors were waiting for costuming and make up. They waited on the lawn and there was an excitement in the air since the forest scares were yet to come. Silvia was at a loss as to where to put me. She finally settled on the chapel filled with roses and a casket. I could sit in the church pews and sketch while guests wandered through.

 Before letting the first guests onto the trails, all the scare actors gathered and some one shouted, "Who's house?" Everyone shouted back, "Our house!!" Quickly everyone made their way back into the maze to find their places. I followed Sylvia to the church.

It was decided that a lamp in the church room was too bright, so a tech had to unscrew one of the bulbs. She used a leaf to grab the bulb since it was hot. Righty tighty, lefty loosy. The scare actors in the church seemed like a brother and sister. He leaped over the pews lunging at people walking through while making guttural noises. His ragged costume was ripping all the more with shreds left everywhere. As he distracted people, the girl would lunge out of a wall of roses and scream. I looked like a zombie sketching in the back row. If people complimented my sketch or addressed me, I just grumbled and moaned, which is pretty much my typical behavior. "Are you an artist?" ugh rrrrrrrr. I couldn't see the sketch very well in the dark. When I suspected it might be done, I made my way out through a back stage door. I returned the bloody shirt but didn't attempt to clean off all the stage paint on my face.

I met Pam and Lesleyann from the Orange County Regional History Center and experienced all the trails for the first time with them. I shouted quite a few times. I am easily shocked or amazed. My favorite area was a haunted forest illuminated by black light. It reminded me of the beauty of scenes from the movie Avatar. The actress in a white flowing dress seemed genuinely strange and flighty. It would have been a great space to try sketching on the iPad. Another scary area was the farmstead. A pig-faced menace greeted us from the start as we slogged through the muddy trail. In one dark space, a ghoul ran through the air with the help of ropes. Near the end with safety in sight, a creepy clown asked why we weren't smiling, and a chainsaw wielding menace chased people from behind.

That night, washing off the blood in the shower looked like the scene from Psycho. Blood splattered on tiles and the shower curtain before circling down the drain.

Remaining show dates, after dark are
October 14.
October 18, 19, 20 and 21.
October 26, 27 and 28
November 2, 3 and 4.

They're located on S.R. 436, just 1/4 mile West of 17-92
1360 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Tickets are $33 for VIP
Double trail is $25
Single trail and back stage tour, $23
Single Trail $15
Backstage Tour $10

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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