In 1913, the old Haxenghast Mansion was burned to the ground amidst mysterious circumstances; now, 100 years later, the house has appeared once again, its parapets and turrets twisting up through the autumn mists in a defiant statement against science, nature and time itself. Known locally as ‘the dead manor’, Manormortis has awoken from its slumber, and it is hungry…
Manormortis, located at Scare Kingdom Scream Park in Lancashire, UK, is Britain’s newest permanent award-winning scare attraction. Created for Scare Kingdom Scream Park by European scare entertainment specialists AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment www.atmosfearuk.com, who have created over 100 temporary and seasonal scare entertainment projects in their thirteen year history. Manormortis is the third permanent scare attraction designed and built by the company (Sunken Village of the Damned in Cornwall and The House of Fear in Greece, being the first two), a fourth, named ‘Labirinto’ is due to open in Portugal in early 2014.
The attraction is a 4800 square foot classic ‘haunted house’ style attraction which combines European scare entertainment storytelling with classic American style impact scares across 24 themed rooms and environments.
The Imagineering and design phase for Manormortis was an 18 month journey for the production team who immersed themselves in classic ghost stories, movies and legends. Mark Lofthouse, Director of Imagineering for AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment, said ‘we looked at films like ‘The Haunting’, ‘Steven King’s Rose Red’, ‘Crooked House’ and ‘The Legend of Hell House’, plus the various ghost stories of James Herbert, M. R. James, and Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black’ before we decided on the theme of the attraction. Other reference seeds included classic British ghost stories like the allegedly true ‘Monster of Glamis Castle’, the American ‘Winchester Mystery House’ and the stories of the ‘UK’s most haunted house’ Borley Rectory in Essex. We also looked at existing scare attractions which present the classic ‘haunted house’ theme like Gasten Ghost Hotel in Sweden and Legendary Truth in America.’
Designed as a set of four ‘quads’ the attraction includes a labyrinth of back-stage corridors and ‘rat runs’ which allow quick movement by scareactors behind the scenes. The physical set is like a huge piece of Swiss cheese with ‘impact hatches’ in chests of drawers, cupboards, behind curtains and through walls. These give scareactors the theoretical ‘scareportunity’ to target guests a total of 73 times as they navigate through the labyrinthine warren of passageways and chambers. The design also allows for easy changes to the guest navigation as the house ‘changes shape’ in line with its deepback-story.
The attraction is presented in a variety of time-periods, from the medieval Kitchen to the more lavish Edwardian Great Hall and Victorian Conservatory, each featuring authentic set dressing. Jason Karl, Chief Creative Executive for AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment said ‘authenticity was key during the design and realisation phases. We spent months sourcing hundreds of pieces of antique furniture and props to ensure that the environments would look and feel believable. We bought an entire library of old books and sourced authentic artefacts connected with the supernatural for The Museum of the Strange room.’
The fictional history behind Manormortis is as elaborate as its set design, and will form the majority of content in a brand new experiential website which is due to launch in early 2014. Website visitors will be able to learn about the houses past, the inhabitants who have lived (and died) there, and explore the environments through video and photography.
The attraction’s back story presents the house as a ‘living, breathing entity’ or ‘Domus Mactabilis’ –in simple terms it feeds on those that dare to enter and grows in size as it devours them. This means that the environments will continually change and shift, giving repeat guests a new experience every time. The characters that inhabit the house are also fluid – and can be plucked from any part of the attractions fictional historical timeline. The flexibility of the design means that Imagineers have the opportunity to introduce new rooms and change the layout frequently. A 3 storey ‘Bell Tower’ is planned for 2014 along with a ‘shiver chute’ and new characters including the evocatively titled ‘Meat Man’.
Technically, the attraction utilises over 100 DMX controlled lights, operated via a central computer which also runs the scent pods, haze machines and other effects including digital ghost projections, a Claustrophobia corridor and a ‘Living Painting’ which comes to life and speaks directly to the guests. Imagineers used scare attraction online technology tool ‘Haunt Design Kit’ to plan and pre-visualise the attraction layout.
The primary orchestral score for the attraction was written by Chris Thomas, an LA based award-winning film composer, whose haunting track will also be featured on the attraction’s dedicated website.
Manormortis first opened its doors as the headline attraction at Scare Kingdom Scream Park this Halloween (2013) and will be open at various times of the year, presented in different ways. On Friday 13th December it re-opens as ‘Christmas FestEVIL’ which is inspired by the little-known English ghoststory ‘The Mistletoe Bough’, and in 2014 will offer a family-friendly scare experience as ‘Mystery Mansion’. The park operators are also planning to make the attraction available for wedding parties, private functions and film/television production
Overnight stays are also planned for those brave enough to spend the night inside a scare attraction as ‘Hotel Manormortis’ offers the chance to dine in ‘The Devil’s Dining Room’, take part in a séance in the Library and sleep in the Grand Bed Chamber.
The attraction has already been recognised with two awards:
‘Excellence in Design’ by online scare attraction technology specialists www.hauntdesignkit.com
‘Top Rated Scare Attraction 2013’ (one of three awarded nationally) by industry leading scare entertainment review site www.terrorattractions.co.uk
For more information on AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment visit www.atmosfearuk.com
For information on Scare Kingdom Scream Park visit www.scarekingdom.com
Visit Manormortis’ new experiential website from early 2014 at www.manormortis.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: The use and term “Imagineering” in this news release is not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Imagineering or its representatives in any way.