#HALLOWEEN FANS SHRIEK AT CAMP EVANS’ BASE OF TERROR: LEARN HOW NJ’s PREMIER FRIGHT TRAIL COMES TOGETHER
Hashtag “scary.” Hashtag “fun.” Hashtag “whatthehellwasithinking.” Halloween lovers, prepare to lose your mind.
Fantastically talented local artists and set designers have joined forces with Ocean Township, Wall and Manasqan’s drama students to transform former military base Camp Evans in Wall into Base of Terror, the mind-bendingly best Halloween thrill in New Jersey.
“We are all a little nuts for Halloween here,” said Michael Ruane, board chairman, InfoAge at Camp Evans. “Our goal is to have a lot of fun while raising funds for the science museum here and local student drama clubs and ROTC programs. This scare is a cooperative effort of volunteers.”
Weaving in and around the 100 year-old, grand buildings on the Camp Evans site, the three-quarters of a mile terror trail is designed to overload and disorient each of your senses with scary-perfect attention to detail. The walk is long enough to get the most stoic (or can I say “dead inside”?) acclimated to the environment and go in for the kill… err super-fun fright.
Creative Director Steve Fowler, along with Dan Jacobs and Ben Juarez (all volunteers) have created something special; a Halloween destination in the middle of nowhere. Twenty volunteers begin planning in January and building in April to create the creepy fantasy world in October; 80 more volunteers set the tone every Friday and Saturday night.
This year’s haunt also includes a tribute to vintage Asbury Park, courtesy of local artists Ron Valentino and Patty Arroyo.
“They both love Asbury Park,” said Ruane. “When Tillie left, they were heartbroken, so they incorporated Tillie and Palace
Amusements into our Base of Terror.”
Volunteers Valentino and Arroyo created a mini replica of the former fun house – perfection down to the font style of the blinking sign and exterior paint color.
Along with the Palace Amusements building – with 40 deranged, lost clowns limping around – is the Haunted Hotel and Kay Mental Correction Facility. The buildings are connected by a deep dark maze littered with jittery escapees from the Kay and chainsaw wielding farmers. The student and adult actors embrace their roles, ensuring there’s no rest for the weary.
Lights incessantly flash, the jagged maze of upcycled old fencing donated from Taylor Fence and 500 pallets strikes fear of the unknown. Blank-eyed clowns bellow while blood drips from the chandeliers. Echoing through the cavernous property are mysteriously unsourced growls interrupted by inhuman screeches.
The Camp Evans setting – a history-making former military base built in the early 1900’s, reincarnated as a Science Museum – is the perfect home at nightfall for the undead. Your mind can’t help but slip back into childhood nightmares based on the shadows of the 100 year-old buildings framed by straggly sycamore trees cloaked in deep, deep darkness.
The designers and actors of the haunt at Camp Evans have leveraged the property, its architecture and the intangible spooky feel perfectly. Base of Terror – in its ninth year – is of the same caliber as legendary Terror Behind the Walls at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary.
“That was wild,” said Neil Fiorentino of Avon walking out of the maze with his smiling girlfriend Jessica clinging to his left arm. “I want to do it again.”
If there was an award for frightful Halloween fun, Base of Terror would win severed hands down.
Camp Evans’ Base of Terror in Wall is open every Friday and Saturday in October from 7 to 11 pm until Oct. 31 (open Halloween night). Tickets are a well worth it $15. “Camp Evans Base of Terror” on Facebook has more.
Also, visit the InfoAge Science Museum and learn about historic information technology moments made in our own backyard, including the first radio signal and the beginning of cell phone communication in 1948. InfoAge.org has more. 2201 Marconi Road, Wall Twp., NJ 07719, 732.280.3000.