With Halloween upon us, there is one Loughborough student who is more involved in the spooky events than the rest of us. Eddie King, a third year drama student and scare actor, works at Alton Towers’ Scarefest between October 19 and November 3, terrifying thrill seekers to their core.
His typical day at work begins in Alton Towers at 4:00 pm with an hour of preparation and applying his makeup, which consists of fake blood, eerie contact lenses and latex wounds. Eddie draws inspiration from the cult horror film 28 Days Later and tries to think like a rabid animal to get into his zombie persona.
Once in full costume, Eddie heads over to the open-air maze, which includes a burnt down house and an abandoned bus. Customers enter at their own peril to be terrified by zombies and other creatures of the night. Panicking, some audience members like to remind Eddie of certain rules by yelling “You can’t touch me!” when he is in their faces, but the braver customers pay extra for extreme experiences where the actors are allowed to grab them, adding a more realistic element of danger. Regardless, Eddie assures us that “the scare actors are given strict rules about what contact they can make.”
He started scare acting during his gap year after spotting and applying to an advert in The Stage. He took part in workshops where he created his own scare mazes, practiced animalistic exercises to help him think and move like a creature, and a scare chair to test out his scaring ability.
According to Eddie, there are two types of scaring in his job; the first is impact, utilising shock tactics to make the audience jump. The second is a sustained scare and Eddie’s preferred mode, in which he plays on the sensory experience. This includes creeping people out from afar, staring for prolonged periods and using sounds to disorientate them.
If the scare maze isn’t enough to frighten the wits out of you, the hotel’s scare rooms, in which actors can enter until 2am are a sure bet. These late-night shifts give actors like Eddie the chance to come up with creative ways to petrify the guests. For instance, the shower scare, where an actor rushes into the room, screaming with a quilt covered in blood while Eddie slips into the bathroom. He hides behind the shower curtain, waits for five minutes before he turns on the taps and throws things against the mirror until one of the guests is brave enough to investigate. As they pull back the curtain they come face to face with zombie Eddie, snarling at them eerily – warranting a scream every time.
For some, this kind of experience is a close description of their worst nightmare, and won’t understand why others put themselves through it. When we asked Eddie why he thinks thousands are attracted to the venue, he explained that “many are hard-core Alton Towers fans who can’t get enough of Halloween scares and return every year”. This demonstrates the lengths some people will go for Halloween thrills, and with constant tearing down of personal boundaries, it is not for the faint-hearted.
As much as he loves his job, Eddie admits that it can affect him too much, finding it difficult to switch off. He finishes work at 9:00 pm, and after being on guard for four straight hours he finds himself staring at people creepily as he exits the park, and often wakes up at night thinking he’s still in the maze. Regardless, he’s had some incredible and bizarre experiences as a scare actor, having worked there for four years across eight scare attractions. Far from an average job, he creates the spooktacular thrills that make it a Halloween to remember for each park entrant.