Encounter mermaids, manatees and monsters during Halloween season

The Straits Times rounds up the best Halloween activities - from bone-chilling to wholesome family fun

He gets paid to scare people

Halloween is Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student Mathias Lim's favourite holiday because he gets to dress up as his favourite villains, scare people and "not get thrown into jail".

The 23-year-old is not a prankster, however, but a scare actor - someone who acts as a zombie, ghost or psycho killer at Halloween events organised by *Scape, a youth hangout.

Over the past five years, he has morphed into knives-for-fingers killer Freddie Krueger, a werewolf, a clown and Ghostface from the Scream film series. He declines to reveal how much he is paid.

Beginning on Wednesday evening, the 10,000 sq ft Ground Theatre in *Scape will turn into The Doll Factory, the home of a deranged doll-maker who killed his family members in order to preserve them as dolls. This is adapted from a true story.

 
  • MUSEUM OF HORRORS VI: THE DOLL FACTORY

  • Where: Level 2, The Ground Theatre, *Scape, 2 Orchard Link When: Wednesday to Oct 31 and Nov 4 to 6, various timings in the evening Admission: $15 (for ages 13 and above) Info: www.scape.sg

There will be seven zones in this maze. Participants will move from the gory slaughter house to the showroom where the evil doll- maker keeps his prized collection. Turn the wrong corner and visitors may run into a scare actor such as Mr Lim.

To maintain suspense, he will not reveal what he plays at this year's Halloween event at *Scape, but he shares some of his scare tactics.

"I stalk people from behind or sometimes, I stand very still and make a very slight movement or sound just as a person approaches," he says.

It helps that many Singaporeans "scare easily", he adds.

The one thing he will never do is to touch the participants and neither are participants supposed to touch him, but there are the "rare occasions" when a person reacts to a fright by punching an actor.

"Some people just react in more extreme ways," he says.

His most memorable moment was when he played Freddie Krueger and scared big and muscular man to tears. "It was very strange to see this huge guy cry and hide behind his girlfriend," he says.

Mr Lim enjoys cosplay, so he considers his part-time job as a scare actor a bonus.

While cosplaying, he has taken on the alter egos of characters such as the infamous Joker as well as the good guys such as Spider-man and Red Ranger from superhero TV series Power Rangers.

He makes some of his costumes from scratch and has participated in conventions such as the Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention.

He says: "When I put on the costume, I turn into someone else. It's an escape from reality."


Mermaids and manatees get into spirit of Halloween

A new breed of marine creatures will be sharing the waters with the gentle manatees as part of the Halloween programme at River Safari.

Four "mermaids" will perform a 15-minute choreographed underwater show called Mermaid Mania together with 12 manatees in the park's Amazon Flooded Forest aquarium exhibit.

The show will run on six evenings starting tonight.

With long glittery fish tails and the upper body of a human female, these "mermaids" are underwater dancers from the Singapore Mermaid School.

They wear fish tails custom-made from silicon and are trained to frolic in the water like the mythical creature popularised by the Disney princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid (1989).

They can hold their breaths for up to a minute, after which, they will re-surface for a quick breath.

The mermaid performers are led by Ms Cara Nicole Neo, or Syrena as she likes to be called when in character.

The 24-year-old is considered Singapore's first professional mermaid and founded The Singapore Mermaid School last year, a centre dedicated to teaching people how to swim in mermaid gear for fun and fitness.

While she often performs at children's parties and corporate events, this is her first aquarium gig.

"We weren't sure how the manatees were going to react to us initially but it turns out they love us," she says with a laugh.

They have been rehearsing with the animals once or twice a week for the past 11/2 months. The sessions are accompanied by aquarists to ensure the safety of both animals and humans.

The human swimmers have developed such good rapport with the manatees that the gentle creatures are beginning to mimic their actions.

Ms Neo says: "The aquarist told us that some of the manatees now move their fins like how we do when we wave to the audience."

Swimming in the aquarium is a "dream come true" for Ms Neo as she hopes to "spread the magic" of mermaids.

She says: "A mermaid is a very empowering role model for both little and big girls. I work with a lot of girls with low self esteem but when they go underwater, you can see how beautiful and strong and graceful they feel."

River Safari has held Halloween- themed events since 2014, typically family-friendly programmes where kids can dress up and also learn about the various creatures at the park.

This year, besides the mermaid performance, there will also be Monster Boo!, a live animal presentation during which children can get close to and even touch a slithery python, a large pelican and a furry binturong.

SAFARI BOO

Where: River Safari, 80 Mandai Lake Road When: Tonight to Oct 23 and Oct 28 to 30, 6 to 10pm. Mermaid Mania is at 7.45, 8.45 and 9.45pm. Monster Boo! is at 7,8 and 9pm. Admission: $18 to $22 for adults and $5 to $10 for children (aged three to 12) Info: Tickets are available only online. Go to safariboo.wrs.com.sg


Family-friendly spooks

PARADE OF THE DEAD

Scary clowns will invade Downtown East's D'Resort next weekend as part of the Parade Of The Dead. They will be walking around the resort and barbecue pits and guests and members of the public are welcome to join the procession.

They can also take part in the Circus Carnival, which has Halloween face painting, games and tarot card readings.

Where: Rainforest Terrace, D'Resort, Downtown East, 1 Pasir Ris Close When: Oct 29, 7 to 10pm Admission: Free Info: www.downtowneast.com.sg

THE NOT-SO-CREEPY HALLOWEEN

Send your child on a secret mission at the Science Centre Singapore to catch villains scattered throughout the centre and unravel the science behind their destructive plots.

They might run into Lady Rust and learn how environmental conditions affect the rusting of metals. And an encounter with Lord Rubbor will show why electricity requires a conductor to flow.

Over at Snow City, an indoor snow centre, the kids can sit in for a spooky storytelling session or go trick-or-treating in the snow.

Where: Science Centre Singapore, 15 Science Centre Road When: Oct 29 to 31, 10am to 6pm Admission: $5 for each trail booklet in addition to admission charges to the Science Centre. Suitable for kids aged five and older. Standard charges apply for entry to Snow City activities.  Info: www.science.edu.sg/events/Pages/halloween.aspx

HALLOWEEN FUN IN THE HEARTLAND

The Halloween festivities are spreading to the suburbs as grassroots organisations organise familyfriendly events at community clubs (CC).

One example is the sixth edition of the Woodlands Fright Night happening tomorrow and on Sunday at the Woodlands Community Club.

Older kids can head into the haunted house maze while the younger ones can hop on a haunted train.

Over at Potong Pasir Community Club, the three storeys of the building will be converted into a Paranormal High School on Oct 28 and 29.

Participants will be armed with Nerf blasters as they make their way through scare zones where ghosts lurk. They also have to solve puzzles while at it.

Recommended for children older than seven.

Where: Various locations including Woodlands CC, 1 Woodlands Street 81; and Potong Pasir CC, 6 Potong Pasir Avenue 2 When: Throughout the month. The event at Woodlands CC takes place tomorrow and on Sunday from 5 to 10pm; the event at Potong Pasir CC is on Oct 28 and 29 from 6pm till late. Admission: Depends on the event. $1 for entry into Woodlands Fright Night and $15 for Paranormal High School Info: Check with the CC if it has a Halloween event lined up


Scary thrills

SINGAPORE HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL

Fend off an army of flesh-eating zombies while navigating a maze at the inaugural Singapore Halloween Festival held at Fort Canning Park.

Participants need to form teams of three to enter the zombie maze challenge. They will then battle the undead through a series of obstacles using Nerf guns. The group with the fastest time will win a PlayStation 4 for each of its members.

Those who want a less scary experience can check out the other activities in store - trampolines and bouncy castles for the children and, for the adults, DJs spinning music ranging from retro to deep house.

Food served from the likes of modern Japanese izakaya Neon Pigeon and booze from Molly Roffey's Irish Gastropub will be sold too.

The event is organised by events company Sensat1on.

Where: Fort Canning Park, Fort Gate When: Oct 29, 11am to 11pm Admission: $25 for each entry into the festival and $15 for a team of three to enter the zombie maze challenge (minimum age to play is 12 and parental consent is required for those under the age of 18). Children under the age of 12 enter for free. Info: www.sensat1on.com

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 6

Singapore's biggest scarefest has upped the ante this year with five themed haunted houses.

Held at Universal Studios Singapore in Resorts World Sentosa, this will be the sixth edition of the popular event, which drew more than 170,000 people last year.

One of the houses is inspired by the old Changi Hospital, considered one of the spookiest spots in Singapore.

In this haunted house, vengeful spirits, bloodied patients and a pontianak (a female ghost in Malay folklore) wander the hallways.

Another house has the familiar setting of the hawker centre. The patrons are victims of "radioactive food poisoning" and are now hungry for humans.

The other houses feature witches and demonic shape-shifters. One is a macabre art exhibition featuring the twisted memories of an artist whose family died in a fire.

Besides looking out for the walking dead played by actors, watch out, too, for 25 animatronics hidden in the haunted houses, such as a moving truck.

About 1,600 gallons of mist will be used to evoke an eerie, disorienting atmosphere.

After surviving the haunted houses, you can check out the stage performance Jack's Recurring Nightmare, featuring Jack the diabolical clown and his freaky disciples, who will execute daredevil feats.

Finally, there will be a carnival procession inspired by Mexico's colourful Day Of The Dead parade, an annual celebration to remember and honour the dead.

The procession will culminate in the March Of The Dead, an outdoor show featuring the sinister beauty Lady Death.

Where: Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa When: Tonight and tomorrow and next Thursday to Oct 31, 7.30pm to 12.30am (Thursday, Sunday, and Monday) and 7.30pm to 1.30am (Friday and Saturday) Admission: From $65 for Thursday, Sunday and Monday and $69 for Friday and Saturday. For those aged 13 and older Info: www.halloweenhorrornights.com.sg

NIGHTMARE ON BUGIS STREET

When the lights go out, the meandering pathways in Bugis Street will turn into playgrounds for possessed dolls and ghosts.

Two of the three levels of the shopping arcade will be transformed into scare zones modelled after horror flicks Annabelle (2014) and Thirteen Ghosts (2001).

If visitors get too spooked out, they can head down to the first floor and distract themselves at a late-night flea market. There, they can get their faces painted to look like a zombie or spirit and spook someone else for a change.

Where: Bugis Street, 3 New Bugis Street When: Oct 28 and 29 and Nov 4 and 5, 10pm to 2am Admission: Standard ticket from $45, $35 for students aged 13 and older with a valid student ID Info: www.bugisstreet.com.sg


Dressed to kill

ZOUK HALLOWEEN 2016: THE SCREAM DINER

Torture chambers, chunks of meat hanging from the ceiling, bloody kitchen pots and other gruesome surprises will take over Zouk as the home-grown club is transformed into an American diner that is also a blood-soaked crime scene.

This is the story: The Scream Diner's owner Mr O'Donnell, a prime suspect in an unsolved case of missing patrons, is back and he is set to continue what he started.

Look out for his assistants, too, who will be roaming around the club, ready to pounce on unsuspecting diners .

There are prizes worth up to $15,000 for the best-dressed. These include the grand prize of $1,000 cash, four ZoukOut VIP tickets and complimentary accommodation at hotel W Singapore - Sentosa Cove.

Where: 17 Jiak Kim Street When: Oct 29, 10pm till late Admission: $33 for women and $38 for men (includes two standard drinks); those in full costume get free and priority entry Info: www.zoukclub.com.sg

TRAIN TO NOVA

New club Nova is bringing the horrors of recent hit Korean zombie thriller Train To Busan (2016) to life in its first Halloween party on Oct 29 called Train To Nova.

The club will morph into a train station - similar to Daejeon station in the flick - where zombies lurk.

DJ duo Rave Republic will be spinning electronic dance music and open format tunes on the deck.

For revellers who dress in the best outfit, there will be prizes including five tickets to Swedish house duo Dada Life's party at the club on Nov 5.

Where: 02-29 Orchard Hotel, 442 Orchard Road When: Oct 29, 10pm till late Admission: $18 for women and $25 for men (includes two standard drinks after midnight, free entry for those in full costume and before midnight) Info: www.facebook.com/Clubnovasg

BATTLE ROYALE: HALLOWEEN 2016

Put on boxing gloves and a game face as it is going to get ugly at OverEasy Orchard's fight club.

There will be no ghosts and zombies, but visitors might spot martial arts legend Bruce Lee or heavyweight great Muhammad Ali battling it out on the dancefloor.

The best walk away with the grand prize of a four-day, three-night stay at a Bali villa, worth more than $1,000.

Where: 01-01 Liat Towers, 541 Orchard Road When: Oct 29, 10pm till late Admission: Free Info: Call 6684-1453 or e-mail orchard@overeasy.com.sg

CIRQUE LE SOIR AT CE LA VI

A human pincushion, a fire breather and a performer who combines drumming with swallowing tricks will be bringing the bizarre and outrageous to rooftop nightclub Ce La Vi Singapore for Halloween.

They are from the famed outlandish London nightclub Cirque le Soir, who was at Ce La Vi last year, too, for its Halloween party.

Where: SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, Tower 3, 1 Bayfront Avenue When: Oct 29, 9pm till late Admission: Online early-bird price of $48 (inclusive of one house pour) or $68 at the door Info: sg.celavi.com


Correction note: An earlier version of this article said that booze served at the Singapore Halloween Festival will be from Irish pub Molly Malone's. It should be Molly Roffey's Irish Gastropub. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'Fright night'. Print Edition | Subscribe