by Sarah A. Peterson
A pumpkin-orange moon hung low on the dark horizon, peeking over the distant foothills as it rose. It lit up the fields in an otherworldly glow as we drove down a desolate country road, toward the white-hot lights piercing the darkness.
“This would be the perfect place to dump a body,” one of my friends joked as we pulled up next to an SUV in the parking lot. The rest of us laughed nervously.
It was Friday, Oct. 10, opening night at Raisin Hell Ranch in Madera.
Voted “Scariest Haunted Attraction” by its customers last year, Raisin Hell Ranch Haunted Cornfield features three different themed corn mazes: “Scarecrow’s Revenge,” “Chupacabras Feast,” and “The Black-Out Maze.” So my friends and I plunked down $15 apiece for “Scarecrow’s Revenge” (one attraction is $15, two are $25, and all three attractions are $30).
A demonic-looking clown popped up out of the shadows like a possessed jack-in-the-box, and we jumped back, laughing. We made our way toward our chosen attraction’s entrance as costumed characters (including a cross-dressing pirate and a skeletal Grim Reaper) wandered about, looking for someone to scare.
My friends and I entered the corn maze, stepping carefully, and what awaited us did not disappoint.
We followed the clearly designated path through the tall stalks of corn until we came upon the first scene. It was a butcher shop, white plastic splattered with blood, realistic-looking carcasses hanging from giant hooks in the ceiling.
My friends and I pounded the pavement, screaming, as the butcher gave chase, and then we made our way back into the dark, and on to the next tableaux. The scenes that followed were each creepier than the last, taking it up notch by notch: a witch’s lair, a deranged hillbilly’s hideaway, a circus freak show. Each one kept us on our toes, as various grotesque characters, some spattered with blood, chased us with all manner of sharp objects: meat cleavers, axes, hatchets.
In between scenes were long stretches of darkness amid the waving corn, punctuated by looming pumpkin-head scarecrows and distant screams.
The final scene we came upon was that of an atomic waste site: rusty metal, glowing green ooze, a decontamination chamber. And that last chase was the longest, a scarecrow with a chainsaw.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve run so fast, or screamed so loud.
Raisin Hell Ranch is definitely worth the price of admission, but definitely not for small children.
They are open are open October 10-31 from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. and closed October 13-14, 20-21, and located at 7451 Road 32, Madera, CA. Learn more on their website: raisinhellranch.com.
Check out every issue this month for more Halloween fun!