The eerie school bus that escorts attendees to Coolville’s Field of Screams to the main portion of the attraction, located on the sprawling hills of the property. (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)

Experience Home Grown Fear at the Field of Screams

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When bathed in gray October daylight, Murphy’s Farm isn’t too scary — fast forward some 12 hours into the evening, and it’s something else entirely.

For the past several years, Murphy’s Farm in the little unincorporated community of Torch, Ohio, has been transforming every October weekend into something equal parts terrifying and fun, known playfully as the Field of Screams.

On some reptilian level of the brain, human beings still experience fear viscerally, even if we haven’t had many large predators to run away from over the past several thousand years. Fear feels very real — even when it is inspired entirely by fiction — in a way that most things don’t in 2018.

At the Field of Screams, Halloween themed festivities await patrons as they wait to start their terrifying journey. (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)

The experience starts out with attendees boarding either a tractor-pulled hay wagon or a school bus — and there are truly few things as eerie as a school bus rolling through an open field under a large moon on a foggy October night. It just looks out of place, and the darkness around it obscures it just enough for the imagination to figure that the vehicle is bruised and busted, perhaps even otherworldly.

Upon boarding the vehicle, patrons are taken wordlessly through an open field, where light pollution fades away and the dark, quietness of the night settles in as they are deposited at the edge of the woods. Here a foreboding corrugated metal fence, spray painted with the words KEEP OUT kicks off the five-station horror thrill that awaits patrons. This portion of the journey should not be explored in explicit detail, but it should be noted that walking (and if you don’t happen to have a sturdy, 6’3″ companion to cling onto throughout the experience, as this WOUB reporter did, more likely you’ll be running,) through the forest is not only just a truly heart-pounding adventure, it’s also an in-depth examination of a real labor of love.

Each station is painstakingly and creatively erected; the Field of Screams is by no means a mass-produced affair. There are few, if any, mass-manufactured scare tactics employed in the attraction. Perhaps this makes the entire experience more intimate, and thus much scarier.

(WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)

The third, and final, portion of the terrifying journey starts at the foot of a glowing orange jack-o-lantern effigy on the outskirts of the farm’s corn maze, which is cleverly populated with nuanced references to a myriad of horror films, as well as a smattering of uniquely terrifying characters. As with any true corn maze, it is possible and highly probable that one will get lost, which is half of the fun. Thankfully, all paths in the maze eventually lead to the pick up station where you are escorted back to the gates of Murphy’s Farm, but it’s unlikely that you’ll forget the experience anytime soon.

Listen to WOUB’s interview with John Murphy, one of the owners of the Field of Screams, above. The attraction is located at 28364 Osborne Rd. Coolville, Ohio and open on Fridays and Saturdays in October. Admission is $10.