Humankind was billions of years in the making, until it was wiped clean in a blink. Nuclear war, biological weapons, climate change and infrastructure failure has led to a desolate landscape, where pockets of humanity cling to strong-arm tactics, violence and mayhem as a means of survival, while otherworldly mutants emerge from radioactive wastelands to terrorize those last fleeting souls. This is not the scene of some video game or the setting of a Cormac McCarthy novel, rather it is the backdrop for Palm Beach County’s masters of scare, the G-Star School of Arts and its annual X-Scream Halloween spectacular.
This year’s theme is Aftershock, a chilling world of the near future where despots have taken over the ruins of civilization, creating new societies where violent militias serve madmen and self-aggrandizing rulers. A hellscape in every sense of the term, survivors (you) have made it to Runetown, a hollowed-out shell of a city under the command of Colonel Silas Rune, a megalomaniac whose rise to power was bloody and unconventional.
Three main haunts make up X-Scream 2013, earning this the title of the largest haunted house in all of South Florida. Each haunt takes the few souls brave enough to enter in a different direction:
Evolution: The Decline of Man gives the back story for the madness at hand. The attraction is setup as if you were walking through a comic book. But in G-Star’s version, the art comes to life in the most horrific ways. As the story goes, men are on the brink of extinction, the result of a viral weapons attack. Women, left in the ruins of civilization, are in the throes of uncontrollable mutations due to the virus. The few men who did survive formed small pockets of resistance to the mutated fairer sex, creating a deadly game of cat and mouse.
In Revolution: Rise of the Resistance, guests step behind the lines of the women’s camp. The mutations, which have created a formidable foe, have also induced severe psychosis, triggering basic survival instincts—the mutated species is dead set on protecting this new chapter in human evolution, destroying all that confronts them, including you.
In the final haunt, Dissolution: Mutant Uprising, you find yourself in the headquarters of Colonel Silas Rune’s militia, where nothing is as it seems. Resolutions to the mysterious mutation lie behind the chain-link fences, but the means of getting to them will put you directly in harms way.
Consistently rated one of the best haunted houses in the nation (part of the Travel Channel’s “13 Scariest Haunted Attractions in America” for the 2008 scare fest), G-Star School of the Arts’ students outdo themselves year after year, creating the storyboards, costumes, sets and scenes, and also man the haunted attractions throughout the Palm Springs campus. This year, the hauntings incorporate the school’s massive motion picture studio soundstage for the main attraction, Dissolution. The inclusion of the soundstage is a double-edged sword: On the one hand, it’s a magnificent, air-conditioned facility that allows for a fantastic backdrop; on the other, it has become the home of raging lunatics living in a wasteland who will stop at nothing to defend their turf against the roving mutated masses.
Throughout the G-Star backlot, scare zones and roaming creatures will keep patrons on their toes, while food stations, ghoulish activities, live music and a stage show will keep guests entertained between trips through the attractions. And when it comes to scaring the bejeezus out of you, G-Star is an equal opportunity kind of place. For the young ones, there will be a “no scare” children’s hour so everyone can enjoy the spooky good times, sans terrifying nightmares.
- Tickets cost $13 for adults, $5 for children 11 and under.
- Gates open October 12, 18-19 and 31, November 1-2 at 7 p.m.
B&W photo courtesy of G-Star School of the Arts.