It’s the kind of spine-chilling camping trip that would make Jason Voorhees proud.
The Great Horror Campout – an interactive, overnight, horror-themed experience that organizers say provides the “jump out of your chair” feeling that horror movies are famous for – comes to West Sacramento’s Vierra Farms July 18 and 19.
“This is the very first attraction of its kind,” said Melissa Carbone, CEO of Ten Thirty One Productions, the company that created and organizes the campout. “This was our way of taking a slasher film and letting people be in the slasher film.”
Different areas and activities allow the campers to decide how intense they want their scares to be, Carbone said.
People who don’t want to push their fear limits too far can roast marshmallows, listen to ghost stories or participate in a life-size version of the classic board game Operation.
But for those who want to test their fight-or-flight response, there are scavenger hunts and obstacle courses that include face-to-face interactions with ax-wielding maniacs and other gruesome characters played by actors.
“If you’re a camper who wants the high-octane, pee-your-pants experience, you can do that,” Carbone said. “It’s up to the camper. You take it as you go.”
She’s not kidding. Per the safety terms and conditions on the event’s website: “During Great Horror Campout you may be forcibly handled, moved, bound, hooded, chained and subjected to simulated torture by our actors. You may witness strong verbal content, which may be considered offensive in nature.”
Not surprisingly, you have to be at least 18 years old to participate.
No matter how terrifying the campout may be, Carbone emphasized that campers are never in any real danger. “We created a safe environment where people could live out this (horror) fantasy,” she said.
That fantasy is re-created most dramatically in the camp-out’s Hell Hunt, a challenge to collect 13 items (known as “SCAG,” an acronym that includes an unprintable scatological term) by completing a series of fear-inducing tasks.
If a camper collects all 13 items, he or she is crowned a Hell Master, the most-envied title at the Great Horror Campout. To be awarded this honor, however, one must pass through a series of obstacles that test both the gag reflex and mind.
During one of the challenges, campers take part in a voodoo ritual that involves a severed head, one of the 13 items necessary to become a Hell Master.
Monsters and other menacing figures are always close by, and Carbone said the number of challenges and activities are sure to keep participants occupied throughout the night.
“There are so many levels and layers and content to this thing that you literally won’t do everything,” Carbone said. “There’s just so much to do.”
Carbone added that some people simply use the campout as a way to revel in slasher-film culture. “You can also hang in your tent and watch horror movies with your friends,” she said.
Campers can reserve tents for two or four people. Those who come alone will be paired with random tent-mates or can buy two tickets for their own tent. Tickets cost $99 per person.
Many people come without the intention of participating in the scariest challenges, Carbone said, but most people eventually find themselves striving to become a Hell Master.
“They usually realize when they get there it’s not as bad as they thought,” Carbone said. “If your adrenaline is going and you want more, you can hop into the Hell Hunt.”
For those who don’t want anything to do with severed heads, there are ways to escape the mayhem. “You can book a tent in the ‘chicken zone,’ where you are safe in your tent,” Carbone said.
In addition, screaming the “safe” phrase “I want my mommy!” will stop the madmen in their tracks.
The Great Horror Campout has been around two years, with summer tour dates in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore.
Mark Cuban, businessman and host of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” a show where entrepreneurs present ideas to potential investors, bought stock in Ten Thirty One Productions after the company presented on the program last year.
“We got biggest investment in the history of the show,” Carbone said.
But the campout hasn’t always been so well-received. Reviews of the experience have been mixed, with a number of posts on Yelp.com stating the event is a great idea with lackluster execution (out of 34 reviews, it averages 2.5 out of 5 stars).
However, the Facebook page for the Great Horror Campout has many positive reviews, with people proclaiming desire to do the campout again.
“The only place we’ve ever had a bad review is on Yelp,” Carbone said.
Editor’s note: This article was changed July 11 to reflect the fact that breakfast will not be served at the event.
Contact The Bee’s Will Wright, (916) 321-1212.