Thrills and Chills: Swamp Scare’s inaugural season left thrill-seekers terrified

Photo credit: Vision Media Productions

The inaugural Swamp Scare, which took place in the weeks leading up to Halloween, is the most recent creation by Vision Media Productions, a polished team of creators, with talented Mark Fisher at the helm. Fisher had already been working with Blackstone Valley Tourism Council (BVTC) on a plethora of successful endeavors when they approached him about putting together a socially distanced Halloween event. Fisher jumped right to it, calling on a local uncle and nephew for their expertise and input. They called on another to help mix it all together, and Swamp Scare was born.

The collaboration between Vision Media Productions and BVTC was a win-win from the get-go because of their history together. BVTC is the creator of the wildly successful Polar Express, which hosted more than 21,000 patrons in fewer than four weeks last year. Vision Media Productions specializes in music, dance, photography, videography and whatever challenges arise.

Swamp Scare defies expectations for a Halloween event. Because of COVID, BVTC knew that if they were embarking on another successful run of seasonal success, it would have to be outdoors, so they decided to use the Blackstone Valley Explorer, the river boat that mostly travels with school students for educational purposes. Fisher loved the idea and began thinking of ways to make it spooky or scary. The entire team wondered how to make patrons soil their pants when there is social distancing? A pandemic is not a time to be in people’s faces for the sake of scaring. Would it be better to wait until 2021?

Vision Media Productions and BTVC said no. We don’t wait. Let’s do this. And the preproduction team was built. Three weeks later, Swamp Scare opened. Four weeks later, it sold out.

It’s difficult to describe the event without revealing its hidden gems. The Space Transformation Station lent some creepiness as did Explosive Corrosive Joseph. Uncle John and Nephew George (HETU) were critical to the manifestation of Swamp Scare, and the Vision Media Production team “got this.”

Imagine the deep depth of the river valley, the sounds of the boat, and the crispness of autumn air within an environmental diorama of eeriness. Defying cliché but honoring the ritual of Halloween, the aquatic stage is set to see and hear the legend of the Swamp Assassin.

“I can’t believe this is Central Falls,” is a commonly heard statement on the slow moving boat rides. Not because Central Falls isn’t beautiful — Central Falls is stunning and gorgeous, particularly during autumn. But at 9pm, in the marsh that fueled mills since 1863, it is the tech and infrastructure developed by Vision Media Productions that can be seen and heard. The light from the moon and the lights from the boat cast a spookier atmosphere than what you’d experience in the daylight hours. The sounds of the swamp, the impending awareness of the swamp assassin, and the homage to Halloween are staples that lead to the sold out success of Swamp Scare. One person disembarked from the Blackstone Valley Explorer, bag of goodies in hand, exclaiming, “That was amazing! Oh my goodness!”

Additional contributions behind and stage center promised depth to the work by Vision Media Productions. Students from Sophia Academy, Achievement First, and Highlander Charter School contributed to a 20-minute storyline. The commercial and post-production features students from Central Falls School District, Lincoln Middle School, Davies Academy, Sophia Academy, Highlander Charter School, Achievement First, Bailey Elementary School, Grace School, the Manton Avenue Project, and the esteemed Zenith Cheer. This phenomenal team is often spotted before and after the event.

On Halloween, the gorgeous Central Falls sign outside the boat landing was unveiled. Senator Jack Reed was there along with Mayor Diossa. Zenith Cheer performed their stellar acrobatics, and the Blackstone Valley Explorer took passengers away for a creepy adventure.

Throughout the season, Swamp Scare had to continue to add shows and “could have sold 500 more seats if it could have worked logistically” (BVTC insider). Other comments overheard, “Are you scared, too? Cause I am shaking.”  “So much fun!” Finally, “That was unbelievably better than we could have imagined.” “How did you do that?”

You might have missed it this year, but it’ll happen again.

For information, go to