"I don't wanna be here in your London Dungeon" - The Misfits
This past Sunday I found out about the annual North Carolina Renaissance Festival outside of Charlotte and it just so happened to be on my way home from Oktoberfest the day before. What was even better, the tickets were half priced since it was their opening weekend so it was as if the stars aligned just right and they all pointed me to a place where a man could wear tights and probably get lucky. Welcome to the Ren Faire!
Now, I am not usually the type who goes nuts for these sort of festivals because usually they can be a pretty bleak affair but this one was something special. In fact, just to park was like getting into Wally World at peak season (when it wasn't closed, of course). Once you finally park your car it was another 45 minutes of standing in a line just to get the tickets! Usually this would be enough to convince myself that the couch and a Friday the 13th marathon would be a far better decision but I am glad I held out because once inside this festival, it was actually like being in medieval England!
The sheer size of this event was something I had not seen before and the buildings were permanent structures so the investment was nothing short of spectacular. The people were all playing their parts and even the beer vendors called me sire. The best part was the guests who came dressed up as well and even spoke back to the actors in period lingo. The jerk in me years ago would have rolled my eyes but not this guy now! I love watching people in their element because Lord knows, the regular world is just that; regular. I get a kick out people having fun and just being themselves.
I walked around and had a grin on my face the entire time. I drank mead, ate a turkey leg while watching pretty tough dudes joust on horseback and listened to music which made me think of that shitty Kevin Costner movie about Robin Hood. I can't think of the name of it right now but it will come to me at some point.
The day couldn't have been any better until I saw it. Holy shit, this place had a horror dungeon and it was dark and spooky and admission was only two bucks! What have I done to deserve such amazing luck? Do all Renaissance festivals have dark attractions? Why didn't anyone tell me about this?? Who does Number Two work for???
I finished my turkey leg like Jaws on Alex Kintner and merrily skipped to the line waiting to enter the Horror Dungeon. Embracing my surroundings I went into character and asked the kilted ticket holder in a joking fashion what the admission would be. It went something like this:
ME: *in an embarrassing period accent* "Good Sire, dost thou know how much entrance would cost a noble such as myself? Perhaps a shilling?"
Guy in kilt: "It's two bucks"
Me: ".................Do have change for a twenty?"
Walking in you are immediately greeted with sound effects of misery and screams as you gaze on pretty creepy mannequins suited up in terrible, albeit, historically realistic torture devices. That is when it hit me that this was less of a dark ride and more of a museum. No matter, I was in the mood to learn so I could always pretend I was still on a New Jeresy dark ride if it got too drab. But oh brother, it did not!
I must say, this square hallway through the dungeon of a hastily built plywood castle was full of insane imagery that really had you believing that the English were total dicks back then. The styles and manners in which they were able to punish were creative at worst and sadistic at best! The Iron Boot where they would put your leg in a boot and fill it with molten lead?
The Head Crusher? I assume it crushed heads.
The "Interrogation Chair" full of spikes? I would probably confess to being a Satanic rabbit is accused of being one just to avoid that seat!
I Think my least favorite was "The Pit". Prisoners were chained up in a pit that was filled with sewage and during high tide the waters chased rats down the pit and those trapped in there would be eaten alive. Apparently some of those rats were the size of cats. If they survived the rats the waters from the tide would eventually finish the job.
It was a quick tour through the dark dungeon of torture but I learned a few things. Most notably how bad it would suck to be in England during King Henry the VIII's reign. That guy was King Dickhead supreme!
So, check out your local Renaissance Faire when it comes to town and if they have a dungeon, don't skip it! Trust me, you won't want to have these images wasted on the youth. They are already ruined.
I know this was not a Halloween intended attraction but let's pretend it was, shall we? I can lie to myself if you can!
The tribute to famous horror hosts and personalities continues tonight on the Casserole's Halloween Hell Show so stay tuned! Thanks for reading!