My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hallowe'en Fun - Ness Islands: Haunted!

This evening I went to 'Haunted!' at Ness Islands in Inverness. It is a family-friendly event, so it's not meant to be very scary, more entertaining. Most of the set up was created by the Highland Council’s Lighting Department, which considering the Islands already have lots of cool lighting that lights up the trees in colours, and involves chains of coloured bulbs strung along the paths, was quite bright but still atmospheric - I think it would have been spookier without the crowds, and the regular (non-Hallowe'en) lighting is always quite magical. The acting and suchlike were done by Arts in Motion, Eden Court Creative and Fly Agaric. A lot of the performers were young people and children, and I think it is excellent that there were so many young people getting involved. 

It was a costume event, and as the event was themed around witches, I came dressed up as a fairytale witch, with black lace cape, fancy makeup (to the point that it was almost face-painting with makeup) and, of course, a point hat! My pointy hat is from Poundland, and is covered in spiderweb lace. I used tome extra lacey stuff that was lying around my closet to tie my hat onto my head, with a bow under my chin, as it was quite windy out. A lot of the visitors, especially the children coming to watch, were dressed up. I saw some really good costumes on visitors, some out-doing the performers! One little girl came as a zombie in a once-pretty white dress, and I thought her costume was very good, and actually quite scary for someone so young! My costume must have been fairly good because  a lot of the children and several of the adults apparently thought I was part of the haunt. I took that as a compliment and did a few random cackles and spooky poses for children that I thought would appreciate them. It was really busy, and there were loads of children. I saw a few of the children that go to the school I work at, and gave them all a wave. 

The first section of the haunt was a gathering of witches around a cauldron, dancing and creeping through the trees. The cauldron was glowing and frothing, and the witches dancing around it. The actresses playing witches ranged in age from young teenagers to adults. Their creeping through the trees was certainly the best part of their act, and quite spooky for the younger children. The next part was a shadow-play of a devil. The path curved 'round, to where the witches were visible once more, chanting around their cauldron. The next section was mainly done with lighting effects, and involved projections of skulls and creepy things onto trees, and section where UV reactive skeletons hung near UV lights, which was not particularly in itself (although the UV lights do glow strangely) but was a good opportunity for me to stand around and let my makeup glow, seeing as a lot of it was done with UV reactive makeup! A pair of stilt-walkers guarded the entrance to the next section, both dressed as 18thC ghosts. The female ghost had a flintlock in one hand, and a knife in her chest, so I asked her if she managed to shoot her attacker before she got stabbed, to which she replied that she had, and gotten away with his money! 

There was a projection of a toad, which seemed odd, and it was animated, and deliberately an unpleasant specimen of a toad! He was projected onto a large screen just over the small bridge joining the island. Some people were dressed as skeletons, which beckoned you over and reached out as if to shake hands - as visitors reached back out, they'd jump backwards! There was a game for children, involving a projection of a skeleton with a sword, and some foam swords, where one went up against this projected skeleton on a screen, and had to hit it with the foam sword until it collapsed in a pile of bones. It was clearly aimed at young children, and I think would be quite fun for that age group. At Ness Islands there is a circular seating area cut into an artificial mound, which for Haunted! served as temporary Hellish arena, lit in an eerie red, for a dance troupe dressed as the undead  that lurched and danced in front of a live string ensemble (also in ghoulish costumes). Their dance was quite athletic, and I must imagine that repeating it over, and over, and over throughout the evening must have been quite tiring, especially considering how cold out it was.  There was a very large inflatable skull, but it did not seem to be part of any haunt scene. 

Some chaps dressed as wizards did a dance in front of a projection of occult symbols and a portal, but while the set was good, their costumes were let down by them wearing their winter clothes visibly under their cloaks. It would have been better if the cold of a Scottish winter had been taken into account when they were designing the costumes, so that they could be both warm and more convincingly wizardly. I did see one of the visitors in a warm-looking wizard costume (with a vast fake beard!), so it is certainly possible. A chap dressed as a medieval flautist akin to the pied piper was playing an eerie tune, and a group of ghostly children in night clothes (over black warmer clothes) were following him around. His music was spookily enchanting.  

The next section had eerie red lights, and a group of girls on temporary pedestals acting as living statues, who'd suddenly move. Their costumes were very good. With them were 'undead' children, carrying lanterns, who would mingle with the crowd as they moved past, and then suddenly shriek and all drop down! I knew it was coming and still gave me a start. I think their movements as eerie members of the undead, and the empty gazes on their faces were very good for such young actors, and this was certainly the creepiest section of the haunt. Maybe this is because I've watched too much Dr. Who and it reminded me of the Weeping Angels. There was an acrobat on  a broom suspended between two trees, doing all sorts of gymnastics and stunts, including hanging upside down from her broom-trapeze and generally larking about high in the air. I thought she did a good job doing such fancy things while in costume, and did very well not loose her hat! She was very impressive and entertaining, and I wish I could clamber about like that! 

There were a pair of actors dressed as giant seagulls, with articulated snapping beaks who were deliberately messing with the visitors. Any person who has been mobbed by a flock of seagulls for food will be able to say that as far as birds go, seagulls are indeed bothersome creatures! I thought this interactive section was quite good, as it was both funny and engaging with the visitors. The last section of the haunt was a series of ghosts from various historical periods, including a casualty of the Battle of Bannockburn, still dragging about his sword, and a zombified WW2 soldier! There was also a victorian maid with one kitchen knife in her back, and another in her chest, ranting about how the blood had ruined her best white pinny and how she'd have to make new rice pudding, and how this was a lesson for children not run with knives! 

All in all, it was good fun, and I think the actors put in a good effort, especially considering it was outdoors and it was raining out. It wasn't particularly scary, but I didn't expect any real scares, just some Hallowe'en fun, and that it provided. The haunt was free to enter which was very good, and unexpected. There were a few food stands and public toilets, which was very sensible, considering the numbers. I bought myself an artisan pizza with no tomatoes! 


  1. Sounds like you had a fun night, love the descriptions, great for people like me who can't see in the dark.


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