Editor’s note: Throughout October, Josh Shaffer is reviewing some of the Triangle’s haunted attractions. This is the second: Granville Haunt Farm in Oxford.
As monsters go, the zombie ranks highest on the scale of scariness – a beloved creature partly because it lumbers along with twisted legs and half-severed arms, stinking of the grave, but cherished even more highly because it gives its human victims a chance.
Killing a werewolf takes a silver bullet – a rare commodity in a dark forest. Finishing off a vampire requires plunging a wooden stake through its heart – a tricky maneuver, especially in dark castles.
But zombies, dull-witted and usually slow, can be foiled with a shovel, baseball bat or even a banjo. Their only weapon is their numbers, and any aspiring hunter has mapped out at least three zombie defense plans.
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Granville Haunt Farm understands this. And at its haunted cornfield outside of Oxford, a visitor is given the satisfying opportunity to fight back.
A $15 ticket will buy 250 paintball pellets and a ride on a flatbed trailer outfitted with zombie guns. The ghoulish tour winds through a cemetery, where live zombie actors spring from behind the tombstones, crawl out of cornfields and stumble out from behind trees, only to be mowed down by a torrent of paint bullets.
As a middle-age dad touring all the Triangle’s haunted attractions, I have been lunged at, screamed at and chased by demented clowns, asylum escapees and – once – the reanimated corpse of Michael Jackson.
At Granville Haunt Farm, it felt good to hit back.
The scare score
Granville Haunt Farm rates 3.5 of 5 hockey masks. Its haunted corn maze offers a walk under skies dark enough to see shooting stars, but the frights lurking inside the rows don’t quite stack up to the quality of its more seasoned scare competition. The clowns aren’t as insane. The pandemonium isn’t as realistic. Granville’s forte is its zombie paintball hayride which, while not exactly frightening, provides a highly enjoyable adrenaline rush.
The vexation value
A $20 ticket buys access to Granville’s whole haunted shebang, a bargain compared to some of its neighbors. Shivering through just the haunted trail or the corn maze can be done for just $10. The lines can get long, so impatient zombie killers might well benefit from the $40 VIP pass, which allows them to skip the wait on all attractions, plus score a T-shirt and a box of popcorn. Nobody likes an empty chamber in a zombie gun, so I’d definitely pony up the $10 for an extra box of paintballs.
Too creepy for kids?
I didn’t take my 10-year-old, and I wish I had. We are pacifists in our household, but our firearm rules get relaxed when it comes to reanimated corpses. Any kid middle-school age and above should survive the corn maze with psyche intact, but use past experience with loud noises, dark school buses and clowns as a guide.
Remember: Aim low.
Granville Haunt Farm
Location: Granville Haunt Farm is at 4534 U.S. 15 in Granville County, not far from Oxford. Visitors from Raleigh will follow N.C. 50 north to Creedmoor to catch U.S. 15.
Cost: Tickets range between $10 for single attractions and $20 for the full experience. VIP passes, group rates and extra paintballs are available at additional charges.
Hours: It is open from sunset to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights until Oct. 29, and then on both Oct. 30 and Halloween. The corn maze remains open during the day on weekends throughout November. See www.granvillehauntfarm.com for details.
Josh’s tips: As always, the crowds are thinnest earliest. The VIP pass is costly, double the ticket price, but worth treating yourself if, like me, you hate standing in line. With or without the VIP pass, spring for the extra $10 paintball box. You’ll want enough to go nuts.