the summoning 01


Written by Sean M. Sanford

An evening fog deadened the street lamps as we rounded the corner and descended from the electric vibrancy of Market Street. On the edge of the next block I could see The San Francisco Chronicle’s headquarters shrouded in the Bay’s night air, and adorned with brackets of construction. I stopped, feeling a glow pulsing to my side. I turned. There the Granite Lady towered; The San Francisco Mint, a historic appendage of downtown that has abided the city’s turbulence since 1874. Tonight, however, seeing the banner for The Summoning rolling in massive waves of the breezy night’s air, glared as a testament to the Mint’s endurance. A survivor of our country’s two most devastating earthquakes, a fluctuating and often baffling economy, generations of progressive revolutions, and a shitload of weddings, the Mint would be hosting perhaps her most formidable opponent yet. Terror Vault was calling. And I had been summoned.

Not one to traverse the depths of vampiric Infernos alone, I was grateful to have my wife Candice alongside me. We climbed the massive set of steps and made our way to a weaving corridor, discovering a randy collection of enthusiasts, all roaming the halls and enjoying cocktails at Fang Bang, a Gothically-attired vampire bar, where one could enjoy a tasty spirit while awaiting their allotted time slot for a scheduled tour. Ours was for 8:35, so we took the time to pose in a photo room; the only place they would allow cell phones to be revealed. No records. No photos. Only the stamp of memory was allowed to remain for what we were bound to endure within the darkest veins of the Mint. Candice and I prepared ourselves for whatever hellacious atrocities could possibly be in store on our hour-long travail through the concrete labyrinth.

I was excitedly anxious, knowing this was a product of the Bay Area Production Co. Into the Dark, which itself is a product of Non Plus Ultra, David Flower Productions, and the one and only Peaches Christ. Peaches was the mastermind behind one of my all-time favorite film festivals, Midnight Mass, as well as the terrifyingly hysterical movie All About Evil, which has recently joined the ranks of Shudder. I always try to make it out to any of Peaches Christ’s shows, whatever they may be, because they are without exception epic, hilarious, dreadful, and never sparing on costumes, make-up and theatrics. I imagined tonight was going to be a night to remember. I had no idea I was in for the ride of my…death. Dun Dun Duuuuun!

Click images to enlarge.

Our hour was approaching and we lined up, hearing unscripted screams of terror emitting from the walls of those who ran before us. I was a tad relieved to learn that our group would be small. They allow about 8 people per walk-through, so as to personalize the experience. As we were getting our wristbands, my wife and I were asked if we’d like to wear a glowing necklace, which would give the undead free reign to touch and interact with us unhindered by any rendition of personal space. We both said yes, and from the moment we began our tour, I was beginning to question this decision.

I don’t want to dramatize too much of the tour, as a huge part of the fun was the mystery and surprise that came around every single corner and every evil-laden room, but we were introduced to be a part of a storyline, characters ourselves as we propelled through the experience. We were to find the head of a supremely evil vampire queen who had a notion of creating global warfare between humans and bloodsuckers. It was up to us to stop her! And on we voyaged.

We went from room to room, each providing another chapter to the terrifying story, and each employed by a new character who would deepen our experience, sometimes to our dismay. Let me tell you, the acting, make-up and costumes, not to mention the design and settings of the entire walkthrough were on another level. It truly was like walking through some supremely fucked up horror movie.

Both Candice and I loved every moment of it. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes mind-boggling, sometimes nauseating, all times incredible, The Summoning brought us to a new world, and I’ve never cherished a blood-sucking quite so feverishly. Long live the Vampire Queen!, at least till November 5th.

Head over to Into the Dark's official page to get your tickets!

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Sean M. Sanford
Sean M. Sanford
Staff Reviewer
Sean M. Sanford was born and raised in the Sierra foothills of California on a haunted ranch that was constantly trying to remind him how wonderful it is being scared shitless. He later moved to San Francisco where he currently resides in an apartment that may or may not be cursed. With so many horrific dimensions to his life, Sanford has been known to revel since birth in scary movies, novels, comic books, and tales told by friends and loved ones. He writes fiction for the skateboarding magazine Lowcard, through which he has a collection of stories and photos called A Manbaby’s Requiem. He also wrote fiction for the online periodical Defiant Scribe. He writes book reviews for Night Worms, and Horror Oasis, and has written horror movie articles for the website, The Infinite Eleven. He has an Instagram account all about books, called @skaters_who_read. He and his wife Candice have started a homemade incense company called Effin Relax, and he’s been known to burn said fragrances during the scariest of movies to help calm his nerves. He looks forward to being the most freaky and creative spirit once he’s left this mortal coil.
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