Please note in the interest of full disclosure: HVRTING is an extreme haunt offshoot of this website (Haunting.net), and the two entities share multiple staff members, including the writer of this review. The writer attended this particular event as a participant. Thank you to Jon Kobryn for his video edits and Taylor Winters for filming the experience. bl4kt4pe
Here’s a fun fact about duct tape: It really was called “duck tape” once upon a time. Its iteration in World War II included a rubber adhesive attached to a linen “duck” cloth backing. Duck/Duct tape has been in use since 1899, and is not actually recommended for duct repair. It’s also on MacGuyver, obviously.
But you didn’t come here for the History of Duct Tape; it’s not that slow of a news day. You came here to read about and see photos from HVRTING’s BL4KT4PE, the two-day exploration of the art of human sculpture through the use of the aforementioned duct tape at this year’s Midsummer Scream convention. (Mostly) willing participants entered the HVRTING booth, conveniently located just alongside the informative, friendly booth of this very website, and were subjected to one of the most bizarre, comical, miniature “extreme haunts” to ever hit the show floor. How do I know? I was turned into a duct tape Xenomorph Queen, fastened to a wheelchair, and wheeled around the show floor for over an hour, that’s how.
Let me stop you right there: Yes, we have pictures – and video. Go watch it now; I’ll wait.
Sticky, right? Anyhow, The Director and other HVRTING performers teamed up with Alex C. James and Amori Stewart, both formerly of Adrian Marcato’s Heretic, for a decidedly tongue-in-cheek haunt, although it wasn’t without its discomforts. You’re never quite ready for someone to throw a panel of Saran Wrap over your face and ask you to spin around a few times before they’ll make you a hole to breathe through. And it might just be me, but having a thick cardboard ring taped over your nose and mouth to give you a “cool snout” doesn’t feel half as good as it looks. But who am I kidding? Rolling around Midsummer Scream with that mess on my head made me the belle of the low-budget Alien cosplay ball for a little while and I wouldn’t change a thing.
In addition to my extraterrestrial triumph, the crew produced multiple conjoined twins, a samurai, a tiny king who was also wheeled around for entertainment, a bat, a human-sized elephant complete with dumbo-sized ears, two clown brothers, a teapot, a cowboy on a horse, and dozens more – all created by applying a liberal coat of plastic wrap (they’re not monsters) followed by so, so much tape. The sound of a tape roll unspooling will haunt my dreams forever.
HVRTING, to me, has always been about toeing the line between maniacal laughter and ultraviolence, and I think that’s part of the charm. BL4KT4PE offered multiple levels of interaction: no tape (they simply participate in taping an actor), some tape (hands or stomach), and full tape (they become a gorgeous abstraction). Guests could help decorate their friends, HVRTING cast members, or become the art themselves, entirely at their own comfort level. Even in the midst of a busy convention, with the constant, oppressive shkriiiick sound of duct tape filling the air, HVRTING is still “an extreme haunt for everyone;” it’s a label none of the performers take lightly.
Overall, this little taste of hvrt was a great chance for newcomers to get to know the immersive horror and extreme horror genre through a (somewhat) gentle, silly approach. It only gets better (or delightfully worse) from here.
If you’d like to see what HVRTING is up to next, visit their website and sign up for their experiences or follow them on Instagram. For details on next years Midsummer Scream, follow them on Instagram or visit their website.
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