While our trusty photographer and I set out on the tour with longtime handyman Kirby, I kept thinking how pleasant the farm life seemed and how nice it was to be outside for once. But within seconds, we found ourselves climbing through a hearse.
"This is usually when we can tell whether someone's going to like it or not," Kirby explains.
As we shuffled through several barns of all the typical corpse imagery, I kept thinking it smelled like dead stuff. I guess it wouldn't surprise me if you could buy Eau de Rotting Human. Maybe there's a dead pack rat in the wall or something. Luckily, I was wearing a scarf, so I constructed a makeshift face mask to prevent an embarrassing gag disaster. (You remember your science teacher telling you that if you're smelling some odor, it's because tiny particles of it are entering your nasal cavity? Well, that's just disgusting.)
It was unbearable. Finally, I asked, "What is that smell?" Kirby started laughing softly and said, "Oh, you'll see."
As we turned the next corner, my eyes started watering: We were looking upon a murky lake of green death. Stinky fish carcasses were strewn about, and the smell was the definition of pungent. You walk across a bridge of a scene not only visually unsanitary to the eyes, but wholly disturbing on every level. It was stunning, really.
This visceral quality of the haunt is evident throughout in its overall attention to detail. Most haunted houses have the standard rooms: the clown room, a creepy-doll room, a butcher shop and the like. But instead of some creepy dolls lined up on a bookshelf, this place looked like someone had been collecting mannequins and perverse shit for decades, hoarder style. It felt like you'd stumbled into some kind of carnival junkyard. You can miss some of the nuances when the moonlight is waning (or you're bolting for the exit), but Field of Corpses is one of the places where you might want to pay some attention to the artistry behind the scare.
Kirby helped build this haunted house ten years ago, and as he led us through, I asked him if he ever gets scared in here. He scratched his head and thought about it: Real men don't get scared, they get startled.
The sun was still hitting the horizon, so I screamed only four times during the preliminary walk-through. (Quicksand catches you off guard every time.) But by the time we went through the real haunt with all the actors in position, I was like, "Whatever, dummies, you don't scare me." Except now I'm just lying. I have, however, stopped using humans as shields, because I've observed that this really just attracts more attention to you, so I've been working on my I-ain't-scurred face and have also come up with some great neck exercises to help relieve tension from my fear muscles. Coping mechanisms are where it's at.
Talking to owner Zachary Meyer (who is also a renowned pastry chef and artist) about how they don't really promote the attraction at all, I got the impression he was in it for the sheer delight of it all. I asked him about the fish pond, and he laughed proudly. "That shit's nasty. You can't buy a smell like that."
Comic relief always helps, and Field of Corpses provides a ghoulish tour guide to ensure you make it out alive (or without a sprained ankle) and also gets your eyes rolling with a few bad jokes along the way. I was told twice that I smell like rainbows. The guide is totally necessary, though, because there is simply no way anyone would know that they need to climb inside of a hearse to move forward, or over a wall and through a schoolbus of dead children to make it to the candy shop where the clown has ingested way too many jelly beans for anyone's own good. So for some reason, having a teenager escort you through makes you feel much safer-- if that makes any sense.