As a twenty something Londoner with an unhealthy appetite for horror movies and The Walking Dead series, I was pretty confident that a trip to Phobophobia – the London Bridge Experience’s Halloween special – would be a walk in the park.
Yet, despite the many hours spent saving Clementine from the marauding creatures of the night, what I saw in the depths of the London Tombs was a lot scarier than I’d prepared for.
As we’re ushered through the dark entrance all seems quite pleasant – almost like a cross between the Crystal Maze and Knightmare, but instead of Richard O’Brien showing you around, a heavily made up hunchback plays host to the evening’s activities.
As expected, we’re greeted by a few creepy crawlies – a lizard, a snake and something I couldn’t identify, and certainly didn’t want to get closer to.
We’re then led across a rickety bridge; get chased by a zombie with a chainsaw, before being pelted with maggots by yet another cemetery hunchback; endure another encounter with live snakes – including a huge python this time – and finish up with a psychedelic trip across a revolving bridge.
But as we’re lined up against the wall by what appears to be a deranged psychiatric hospital worker who’s slopped out one too many bedpans, we’re informed that we’re only halfway through – and yet to plunge the murky depths of the tombs.
And this is where it gets real scary. At this point we’re cut off from our deranged chaperones and told to cling on to each other as we work our way through the narrow, pitch black corridors of the tombs.
Throughout we’re bombarded by a cast of ghouls, freaks and zombies, subjected to a host of nightmare-ish scenarios that Tim Burton would be proud of, and all while not being able to see much more than a foot in front of our faces.
However, it’s the bloodcurdling screams of the person just up ahead of you that really gets the heart pounding – you can’t help but wonder what has made that grown man shriek like a little girl, and, more worryingly, when am I going to encounter it?
I don’t want to give too much away, but by the time you’ve managed to navigate your way through the severed heads, evaded the escaped lunatic chasing you through the abattoir with a chainsaw and made a safe exit through the gift shop, you’ll be a quivering wreck.
Phobophobia is over for another year, but we’re sure it will be back again next Halloween – and if you can’t wait till then, the London Bridge Experience and Tombs is open all year round.