“I think that we’re all mentally ill; those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better . . .” - Stephen King
Knott’s Scary Farm, the daddy of all haunted amusement park gatherings, celebrates its 46th year this September and October with two spectacular new mazes and one new scare zone guaranteed to haunt the heartiest of gorehounds. While some things may be forgettable, the date to the original Scary Farm (October 26th, 1973) sticks in my memory as it’s opening act happened when I was but one month old. I have a tie to Scary Farm in a way few other’s can claim. It’s a birthright and right of passage in my life. This leads me to think, what were the things about Knott’s Scary Farm which made me come back year after year? Why Do I Love . . . No! Why do I crave Knott’s Scary Farm?
This thought process leads me back to one October long ago, in 1994. I remember sitting in my college English class listening to my professor talking about next week’s reading assignment from Stephen King via Playboy. No, we were not invited to read the magazine; but there was something pushing the boundaries of decency nonetheless. For Stephen King was my secret reading I hid away from my parents, my church, and the rest of acceptable society growing up. I reveled in an author being manhandled and abused by a psychotic fan. I rooted on a half madman with psychic ability to take down the powerful. And I relished the process of growing up despite horrible demon clowns standing in my path. So it made sense when I read “Why We Crave Horror Movies” it spoke to me in ways I cannot fully express.
In the essay, King expresses why a part of us needs horror films. He discusses an alternate self, buried deep inside, yearning to be free. But this is not the brave soul of our founding fathers. It is the tortured soul we keep locked up in the basement and feed scraps because some part of our humanity recognizes killing it would be killing a part of ourselves. Thinking back on the essay, I recognize this same person I keep buried under miles of self-doubt and recriminations is the soul I let loose the first time I walk into Scary Farm, appreciating that first blood -curdling screech.
And it’s this messed up soul, writing these very words on this computer screen right now who will tell you the nine reasons we all need a little bit of Knott’s Scary Farm in our lives if only to shake the cobwebs off of our tortured souls. Because nothing can shake those cobwebs like Knott’s Scary Farm. And no one can recognize that more than Mr. King himself.
Nine Reasons We Crave Knott’s Scary Farm
1) Deep Down We Need To Dare The Nightmare
Some part of us needs to go through the crazy and come out on the other end, remembering we are alive. When we drop our 50 dollars for a night of thrills and chills, we dare the nightmare. Just making it through each maze and each moment makes us remember we are alive and kicking. Living through it helps us appreciate the things we have, remembering how much worse off we could actually be.
2) We Lack The Budget to Put On The Production Necessary To Bring Our Nightmares To Life
“We’ve all known people who . . . have some hysterical fear – of snakes, the dark, the tight place, the long drop . . . and, of course, those final worms and grubs . . . waiting so patiently underground.” - Stephen King
It would be nice to be Bill Gates and drop thousands of dollars into Halloween Costumes and scare schools, hoping to let loose our nightmarish demons. But alas, we cannot. Instead, we have Knott’s Scary Farm to come along and bring those ghastly visions to fruition. We need to bring out that inner grimace and unleash it on an unsuspecting citizen. Without a place like Scary Farm, we would have to bury our maniacal alter-ego and hope he did not come out to play when unwanted.
3) We Need To Remind Others Of Our Own Virility
“Why? Some of the reasons are simple and obvious. To show that we can, that we are not afraid, that we can ride this roller coaster.” - Stephen King
Whether it’s braving the alleyways of zombies reaching out to attack us or going through a deliverance like a moment in the Red Barn, Knott’s Scary Farm allows other people to see our fearlessness facing terror... Every zombie, every bloody ax, and every swung sword allows the world to see our bravery...
4) Knott’s Scary Farm Reminds Us Our Form Of Psycho Is Normal
“We also go to re-establish our feelings of essential normality . . .” - Stephen King
There is a part of us which worries about our own sanity. It is the part that begins to hear our own voices echo off the walls of a warehouse we are working at talking to ourselves. It is the part that watches Breaking Bad and cheers on Walter White. Scary Farm reminds us we don’t kill the driver who cut us off on the highway, no matter how good we think it might feel. Knott’s Scary Farm reminds us we are normal . . . mostly.
5) Knott’s Scary Farm Reminds Us We Are Pretty Good Looking
Every ghastly ghoul “confirms for us that no matter how far we may be removed from the beauty of a” movie star, “we are still light-years from true ugliness.” - Stephen King
No. We are not Brad Pitt or Margot Robbie. But we are the most darn sexy “fill in the blank name” there is. And going to Knott’s Scary Farm reminds us we actually don’t look that bad after all. No matter how funky my nose, it’s still nicer to have one than to not have one.
6) Secretly, We Love To Hear Others Scream
“And we go to have fun.” But “this is a very peculiar sort of fun, indeed. The fun comes from seeing others menaced” – Stephen King
I remember going to see Tremors with Kevin Bacon. I loved it because it was packed, and seeing the audience jumping and screaming at the same time in a horror movie made the experience that much more pleasurable. Knott’s Scary Farm does this with live monsters. Admit it. You there with the cute girlfriend. You love the fact she screams when the farmer comes at her with a bloody ax. And you there with your boyfriend you are squeezing so tight you might make him pass out. You love hearing your boyfriend scream, reminding you that you aren’t the only one who fears things. We love the terror other’s experience. How sick are we?
7) Knott’s Scary Farm Reminds Us Because We Are All Insane, None Of Us Is
“If we are all insane, then sanity becomes a matter of degree.” - Stephen King
Yes, I said it. We are all nuts. Thankfully, nuttiness is not the only thing people use to determine whether or not to lock us up into padded cells and wrap straight jackets around us. Someone has to go beyond picking their nose in a bus and wiping it off on the seat in order to be locked up. This means we do not have men in lab coats running after us in the near future. Whew!
8) Fear Is A Necessary Muscle, And Knott’s Scary Farm Helps Us Exercise It
“Our emotions and our fears form their own body, and we recognize that it demands its own exercise to maintain proper muscle tone.” - Stephen King
Every emotion in our lives gets regular exercise. But in life, we frequently try to eliminate fears. But fear is a proper emotion to have. And if we do not exercise it now and again, we won’t have a proper response when something truly frightening enters our lives. Knott’s Scary Farm helps us exercise that emotion.
9) Knott’s Scary Farm Provides Balance In Our Lives
“All you need is love, and I would agree with that. As long as you keep the gators fed.” - Stephen King
When the Beatles penned the sentiment that all you need is love, they missed out on one essential fact of life. Life requires balance. We don’t truly recognize love without understanding the possibility for pain and anguish. Seeing the monsters out there, we recognize a world truly without any love in it. We would all be monsters without love. But even with love, our buried monsters don’t vanish. They exist, and they must be fed. Scary Farm helps feed them.
Come feed those monsters at Knott’s Scary Farm from September 20th through October 31st. Get your tickets now at http://www.knotts.com/tickets-passes/scary-farm and get your scare on. You won’t want to miss two new mazes the Depths and Dark Entities as well as the new scare zone Forsaken Lake. Plus, don’t forget you can get Season Passes to Knott’s Berry Farm for next year right now. You will get entrance to the park once in 2018 and all of 2019 with the Season Pass. (Knott’s Scary Farm is a separate admission and not included.)
King, Stephen. “Why People Crave Horror Movies.” Models for Writers,
Ed. Alfred Rosa and Paul Eschholz. 8th Ed. Boston: Bedford (2004): 460-463. Print.