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[whitespace] Chainsaw Man Chainsaw Gang: Leatherface wields his weapon of choice in the Chainsaw Room.

Photograph by George Sakkestad

Playing Dead

A Metro writer is scream-queen-for-a-day at GYRO's World of Terror

By Sarah Quelland

SHADOWY FIGURES FLOATED through the swirling fog as flashing lights took on a life of their own, pulsating maniacally to an intimidating industrialized soundtrack blaring songs like Rob Zombie's "Living Dead Girl." It was Friday the 13th and a full moon hovered over GYRO's World of Terror. While curious thrill-seekers lost themselves in the dark twists and turns of the Maze of Madness, blanched at the deadly performance Stage Fright and took their chances inside the two 3-D freakhouse attractions, Pandemonium and Fear Factory, I was behind the scenes, even closer to the madness, finding out what it's like to play a victim in this strange world.

After taking my own apprehensive steps through Pandemonium and Fear Factory, I was escorted to the costume tent. Earlier that night, the area had been bustling with activity as the GYRO's cast fueled up on Krispy Kreme donuts and other snacks, made last-minute costume adjustments and prepared for the grueling five-hour shift. But the tent was nearly empty as the experienced GYRO's makeup artist quickly transformed me into a victim to be placed in the "Chainsaw Room," the twisted lair of Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

With a deft hand, the makeup artist created a tremendous bruise on my left eye, put ugly scratches on my neck and arms and dabbed a warm red jelly that looked like slowly congealing blood on my faux wounds.

I was daunted by the prospect of being put on display and seriously doubting my acting abilities. Though the manager of communications at Great America who helped arrange this opportunity assured me, "This isn't Shakespeare," my stomach was aflutter as they led me through the dark backstage hallway and into the Chainsaw Room.

Preparation was minimal as they explained my role: Scream really loudly when Leatherface bursts through the door. For two hours, I writhed and screamed bloody murder with my arms suspended over my head in chains inside Leatherface's torture chamber. I wasn't the only victim in the room. Visitors first encountered a girl locked in a cage desperately pleading for help. As the visitors walked past the human skeleton remains, I followed my fellow prisoner's lead, appealing to them to save us.

The results varied. One guy told me there was no help for me. Another suggested I might chew off my arms to escape. Two little blonde girls teased me and promised they'd come back to save me later.

I was surprised to find that not everyone was scared by the house's creepy crawly creatures. I thought I would be terrified being trapped in a room with an actor doing his damnedest to convince me and everyone else that he was Leatherface and I was dinner. But even when the caged victim in the room called a code yellow (that's GYRO's speak for a pee break) and left, I wasn't scared.

The only real difficulty occurred when the power temporarily went out in the Chainsaw Room, leaving Leatherface without his chainsaw sound effects. Leatherface just isn't very intimidating without his chainsaw.

Midway through the night, when the GYRO's staffers came through with boxes of food for the cast's dinner, I decided it was time to make my exit. My arms were numb, they'd later be throbbing and even after three nights they were still aching from being strung up for so long.

Last year was my introduction to GYRO's and Planet Horrorwood scared the heck out of me--particularly the Chainsaw Room. But, being on the other side of the production was exhilarating and the experience gave me a whole new perspective and appreciation for the attraction.

GYRO's World of Terror is open Sunday-Thursday, 7-10pm; Friday-Saturday 7pm-midnight; plus Tuesday, Oct. 31, 7-11pm. Tickets $14.95 Sun-Thu, $17.95 Fri-Sat and Oct. 31 at Paramount's Great America, parking lot D and the Redwood Amphitheatre, Great America Parkway, Santa Clara. (plus $5-$8 parking). 888.315.HOWL or www.worldofterror.com.

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From the October 26-November 1, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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