Today we’re all sitting around our dinner tables, giving thanks for all the great haunts we experienced this year, and counting down in our heads until the next haunting season. And despite the terror that goes along with being surrounded by family for the day, there just aren’t many horror movies themed to Thanksgiving. Of course just about every zombie movie can qualify as a Thanksgiving movie, since they feature people eating but it’s about time someone tap into the unrealized Thanksgiving horror market. Anyone?
We did find a few handful of Thanksgiving appropriate movies for you, including the holiday horror “franchise” ThanksKilling. So, when you’re done stuffing yourself you can watch these psychos and turkeys take their turns at slicing up some holiday meat:
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Five friends visiting their grandfather’s house in the country are hunted and terrorized by a chain-saw wielding killer and his family of grave-robbing cannibals.
Home Sweet Home (1981)
The Bradley family’s country home turns into a slaughterhouse when an escaped mental patient steals a station wagon and shows up on their doorstep in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. Now, instead of the traditional turkey, the Bradleys seem to be the main course on this killer’s holiday menu. Jake Steinfeld (“Body by Jake”), Vinessa Shaw, Peter De Paula, Don Edmunds and Charles Hoyes co-star in this early slice of 1980s horror. [Description from Netflix.]
You’re Next (2011)
The Davison family comes under attack during dinner at a family getaway by a gang of mysterious killers. However, the dinner table soon get turned around as they soon learn that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.
Blood Freak (1972)
In this bizarre story, a bodybuilder named Herschel has become a serious marijuana addict. One day, while working on a turkey farm, Herschel consumes contaminated meat, and soon after, his head is transformed into a turkey head. The turkey-headed muscle man still craves his weed, so he gobble-gobbles and attacks other addicts and dealers in order to snag their dope and feed his addiction.[Description from Netflix.]
And the biggest Thanksgiving masterpieces of all…
While on their way home for Thanksgiving break, five college kids run afoul of a homicidal turkey that wants them dead. As the cursed bird hunts them down one by one, the survivors scramble to find a way to defeat the possessed creature. Will the bloodthirsty turkey make this their last Thanksgiving feast ever? Writer-director Jordan Downey’s holiday-themed horror spoof features an appearance by adult-film star Wanda Lust.[Description from Netflix. NOTE: This film is available on Netflix streaming.]
ThanksKilling 3 (2012)
Fowl-mouthed villain Turkie carves through the likes of a rapping grandma, a mindless puppet, a wig-wearing inventor, a bisexual space worm, and their equally ridiculous friends on his quest to recover the last copy of “ThanksKilling 2” (a movie that never was actually made).
Even with haunts extending their operation into the weekend after Halloween, this year’s haunt season seemed to have quickly past by. It also felt as if there were not nearly as many haunts operating this season in Southern California. Nonetheless, the mainstay theme parks continued to scare with their ever increasingly popular (and expensive) haunts. There also were some noteworthy newcomers like CreepLA and some others that failed miserably. Alas, for this year’s haunt offerings in L.A. it’s now time to reflect back and rate the best of the season.
For the first time, the haunt reviewers and fans of Southern California have come together to vote for the Cadavers: Southern California Halloween Attraction Awards. These awards were created and organized by our friends at CreepyLA and we’re glad to be able to contribute our votes.
Click their logo or keep reading after the jump to see the full coverage of the Cadavers Awards from CreepyLA. Also, check out their site for more year-round coverage of the supernatural, the scary, and anything Halloween related in the Los Angeles area.
These are the lyrics to the unsettling, slow choral version of the Radiohead song that plays while you wait your turn for the new Creep Los Angeles haunt. But don’t listen to those words—you do belong here, because Creep Los Angeles is a seriously scary, demented, and innovative new haunt experience that you should definitely put on your list this October.
Warning: Slight spoilers ahead.
Creep Los Angeles is located in the Arts District, only a couple of miles from another new haunt, Drunken Devil. The location is unassuming and bit deserted at night. The haunt is housed inside an abandoned warehouse, with the only indication there’s a haunt inside being the word “Creep” projected on the outside wall and the line of people on the sidewalk. We were unsure what to expect from this haunt as the website was deliberately vague on details, although it did tell us that we’d be forced to run and crawl. Some of the other people waiting in line with us were hoping the experience would be on the level of “Blackout” or “Alone.” We can report that it’s certainly not as intense as those two haunts, but it’s definitely more extreme than the standard theme park haunt experience. So for us, it’s a nice mixture of something a little more extreme without being too uncomfortable.
This haunt sends groups of six people through at one time, with groups going through every 8 minutes or so. We were forced to sign a waiver to enter the haunt, and we were warned that we’d probably be touched. After signing the form, we were ushered in a small holding area, where an older woman told us we’d meet her “creepy son” inside. Then she proceeded to stare us down for the next uncomfortable 5 or 7 minutes. Suddenly, a “creepy guy” burst out of the darkness and took one of us—alone—into the haunt. Immediately, this was different from most other experiences out there. We don’t really want to give away what happens if you end up being chosen for this “alone” experience, but we’ll say that it’s not too intense, but certainly helps to build suspense. Eventually, the group is reunited, and the haunt proceeds.
Overall, there’s not a very coherent story line behind the haunt; instead, there is a sequence of different scenes featuring actors who put on a bit of a performance where they might warn you about something, and then something scary happens (Bloody Mary, for example). The actors we thought of as the “creeps” are men and women who are mostly wearing masks that look like they’re from the The Purge, with the odd gorilla or scary baby mask thrown in. One of the more intense scenes involves hiding from a killer inside a dark box, with peep holes you can look out to see the killer stalking you.
Despite the fact that we didn’t gather a distinct story from the experience, we still felt that the scenes had a good flow and connection to them. The overall aesthetic is sparse, with an almost black-and-white feeling to the scenes. Some of the rooms have a surreal, “arty” quality. Lighting and effects are kept to a minimum, and the presence of a single actor in the room can sometimes be scarier than any scene full of monsters in a theme park haunt.
As for the running and crawling: yes, you will be doing these things. But no, it’s not that bad. You will most definitely be touched at some point, but it’s not too invasive. The actors occasionally pull people away from the group, but the separation doesn’t last long. Overall, Creep Los Angeles strikes a really good balance between something a little more extreme than the typical haunt without being over the top. You will feel uncomfortable, but not violated.
We definitely recommend that our readers check out Creep Los Angeles. The haunt is scary, unique, and good for haunt stalkers tired of the typical, “monster around the corner” scare. We also feel that the $25-$35 ticket price is a decent value, as the haunt lasted about 20 minutes, and with the small group size, everyone was guaranteed to get scared at least once.
Last night we took a haunt crawl through downtown Los Angeles where we ended up on one of the darkest streets in the heart of skid row looking for the promise of a new haunt adventure at Drunken Devil’s Sinner’s Soiree. This new haunt previewed at ScareLA and we were looking forward to it especially since there’s an apparent drought of independent haunt operators in the Los Angeles area this year. Drunken Devil’s unique proposition is to combine a traditional haunted house experience with a venue where patrons can celebrate the spirit of Halloween. The concept really isn’t all that unique as there’s been many haunts in the past that have offered scares topped off with booze but Drunken Devil is one of the few places around this year trying to seduce the drinking dead.
The haunted house portion of Drunken Devil is set up to be a trip through the haunted streets and alleys of New Orleans. On the journey to the Sinner’s Soiree there are “demonic Mardi Gras clowns, scandalous can-can dancers, and sadistic voodoo witch doctors”.
Cutting to the chase, our journey through the dark side of New Orleans wasn’t very good at all. The maze is mostly comprised of black plywood walls with a few decorated scenes. We’ve seen many home haunts with far superior sets and designs. The talent was also limited in quantity and quality. The sparse attempted scares were comprised of the typical tactic of a monster sneaking up from behind, hiding around the corner or behind/in a prop. There also were a couple scenes of theatrics that never really paid off as the actors were hard to understand and their narratives fell flat coming across as pointless.
From the website and reading pre-reviews from other haunt sites that were invited to the open bar media night, the ‘buzz’ around the ‘horrors’ of Drunken Devil was promising. They hyped up Drunken Devil as being a new and ambitious haunt offering a night of scares and drunken debauchery. As supporters of the haunt community we really wanted to like this maze and see it do well but we have to call it when we see it and we just couldn’t find any value this haunt. It just left us feeling ripped off from our money and time.
Starting at $18 a ticket it’s way overpriced for a 4 minute haunted house experience. We paid extra for the front of the line pass, which wasn’t necessary as there was no line when we arrived. To add more to our disappointment, the bar selection was nothing more than a folding table selling beer, wine, and energy drinks whereas the online promotional art features a devil looking down at a martini glass. We know liquor licenses are hard and expensive to secure but when we think of New Orleans bars we think of drinks overflowing with bourbon, rum and other libations. Even with a burlesque dancer and some Mardi Gras decor, the bar setup really isn’t a place we’d want to spend an evening at. They also charge $5 to park in a dark lot located behind a building across the street, that’s only slightly less sketchy than parking right on the dark streets of skid row.
Unlike haunts where it’s obvious that they are in it for a money grab, the intentions of the folks behind Drunken Devil seem to be more authentic. However, they just aren’t able to properly stage an interesting and scary haunt in a market that has already experienced far more sophisticated venues like Delusion, Blumhouse, this year’s CreepLA, or the Halloween spectacles at the nearby theme parks. We know the haunt business is a tough game and we can only wish them better luck if they try again in the future.
Standing near the private cabanas, listening to the live show taking place on the main stage and enjoying the eerie red lights glowing from the swings above us and the sudden, atmospheric pulses of fire shooting out from the impressive Deadrise attraction behind us, it struck us how downright enjoyable Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor has become over the years. Each year, we write about the impressive mazes and the well-themed and immersive nature of the entire haunt. But one thing we noticed this year is the fact that Dark Harbor is one of the easiest and most relaxed haunt experiences in the area. The small footprint of the event means there’s not a ton of walking or riding escalators up and down all night. Food, drinks, and cocktails are all within easy reach. There are entertainment and food areas that promote an overall atmosphere of fun, but not in the frenetic, overwhelming way it can sometimes be at say, Halloween Horror Nights. And for this reason, Queen Mary is always one of our favorite events to kick off the season.
Dark Harbor has a few new offerings this year, as well as several changes to existing attractions. There’s a new maze based on the legend of the little girl who drowned on the ship (“Scary Mary”), the addition of a paintball attraction, and a revamping of the sideshow area. Overall, we felt that the flow of the event was improved this year by the addition of the sideshow area with its own bar, which was the perfect space for lounging and discussing the mazes we had just been through.
Also of note was the addition of some “preshow” elements to the mazes. In Lullaby, the maze begins with a funeral for poor Scary Mary. In Soulmate, a video provides the backstory of Graceful Gale. The queue lines are also peppered with posters that tell the story behind the maze. We definitely love it when haunts really get into storytelling, because it improves the detail and immersive feeling of the mazes. However, the preshow scenes added a lot of wait time to the lines but also helped to give space between groups once inside the maze. Time will tell whether the preshow elements are good or bad for the event.
Here are our review of the mazes and attractions for this year.
Lullaby (New for 2015)
Scary Mary heads up her own maze in the space formerly occupied by “Submerged.” The water theme returns, however; after all, she did drown in the ship’s pool. The maze begins with a freaky funeral for Mary given by a scary looking preacher;. Various versions of Mary run around this maze, popping up creepily behind walls of water and around corners. In the pool room, Mary called out to us from across the room, her creepy baby voice echoing off the walls. This is a natural progression from the previous theme of Submerged, but overall, we didn’t find Mary to be too scary.
Haunt Design: 3 skulls
Theming: 3.5 skulls
Scare Factor: 2.5 skulls
Overall Rating: 3 skulls
Graceful Gale is the main character of “Soul Mate,” which tells the story of Gale’s gruesome search for the perfect dance partner, which seems to involve severing the various body parts of different men to create one perfect mate. The maze begins with a video that tells the story of Gale in a cartoonish sort of way. Although it was a cool idea to provide the backstory, the audio of the video was very bad and we could barely hear that narration. The narrow corridors of the maze were covered with fabrics in an attempt to make them feel more lush and also to cover up all the metal siding that runs throughout this area of the ship, but many of the scenes feel too sparse and lacking in detail. One exception is Gale’s dressing room, which reveals a creepy Gale gazing at herself in the mirror. There’s also a very impressive ballroom scene, where Gale’s men surround the entire perimeter of room…but which man will step forward for the dance? We got a few good scares in this maze this year, and Gale was looking more creepy (and sometimes more manly) than ever.
Haunt Design: 4 skulls
Theming: 4.5 skulls
Scare Factor: 2.5 skulls
Overall Rating: 3.5 skulls
This maze features the story of Samuel the Savage, who was “locked away in room B340 after a violent outburst,” where he was later found torn apart. The maze takes you into the mind of Samuel, where we visit scenes from his past, involving nuns, and also scenes from his insanity, featuring a lot of clocks set to 3:40. They’ve thought a lot about creating a back story here, and it’s interesting and relatively easy to follow. We found this maze to be lacking in monsters this year. Perhaps they didn’t have a full staff on opening night, so we hope more monsters show up for work as the month goes on.
Haunt Design: 3 skulls
Theming: 3 skulls
Scare Factor: 2.5 skulls
Overall Rating: 2.5 skulls
“Voodoo Village” is located on the grounds near the midway. Gypsies and Voodoo practitioners come out from the shadows to assault guests as they wind through this very long maze. The Voodoo theme is a smart use of already existing sets here–interior scenes are easily transformed into voodoo sacrifice altars, and outdoor areas that were already swamp/forest-like settings in previous years now fit the story better. As always, the actors in this maze are some of the strongest and most scary. This continues to be one of our favorites.
Haunt Design: 4 skulls
Theming: 4 skulls
Scare Factor: 4 skulls
Overall Rating: 4 skulls
This maze is located inside the dome and has been our favorite in past years. Small changes keep this maze fresh. “Circus” is Dark Harbor’s take on an old-fashioned, early 20th century circus, which makes it feel right at home in the overall theme of the event. There’s an aged feel to the sets, and the lighting casts an eerie, dirty glow over everything. The entrance is through a clown’s mouth, and from there you encounter typical but twisted circus scenes, such as an actual mirror maze you can get lost in and a spinning wheel of daggers. A new scene entailing a “ball pit” seemed very problematic to us. When we went through at the beginning of the night, the plastic balls were up to our knees, and it’s easy to lose a flip flop in here. We heard that by the end of the night, the ball pit was reduced to nothing more than a few balls scattered on the floor, so at some point they must have realized the potential for actual danger in here. It was a cool idea, but hard to execute with the level of crowds that come through every night. The scares were good, and they got us good as we were distracted by the awesome sets and detailed props.
Haunt Design: 5 skulls
Theming: 5 skulls
Scare Factor: 4 skulls
Overall Rating: 4.5 skulls
Located in the middle of the Dark Harbor grounds, “Deadrise” is a maze that takes you through an old, rotting ship that appears to be sinking right into the ground. The maze winds through the barracks and bowels of the ship, encountering half-dead sailors who loudly bang on metal barrels with pipes. This maze presented a few new twists and turns (including a choice of path at one point), and the monster are extremely enthusiastic. We actually found this maze to be the scariest this year, as a few tweaks to the lighting and fog effects had monsters startling us from left and right (and over our heads). This is a simple but excellent maze and one of our favorites this year.
Haunt Design: 4.5 skulls
Theming: 4 skulls
Scare Factor: 4.5 skulls
Overall Rating: 4.5 skulls
The Curse of Anubis: Paintball Adventure (New for 2015)
This upcharge attraction features a single room decorated in neon Egyptian style, with a few moving props and—hilariously—some live mummies running around the room. You get only 30 paintballs to shoot, so be careful not to spill your load too quickly. Honestly, we found this attraction to be cheesy and not worth paying extra for. The line also moves very slowly since you have to wait for each group to finish their round.
Haunt Design: 1 skulls
Theming: 1 skulls
Scare Factor: Buried skull
Overall Rating: 1 skull
Side Show: Freaks and Oddities
This is another attraction that’s an extra charge. Once again, the layout has been revamped. Once admitted, you find your way into a sort of courtyard that houses a bar area and small show stage, which is very nice and a great place to relax and have a drink in between mazes. The freaks reside in shipping containers that ring the bar area, and each one has its own entrance and exit. The Shadow Spirit was by far our favorite, as he taunted us from the exit and then scared the shadow out of us once we got inside. 5 skulls to that guy!
Haunt Design: 4 skulls
Theming: 4.5 skulls
Scare Factor: 4 skulls
Overall Rating: 4 skulls
“Deadrise” rose to the top as our favorite Dark Harbor maze this year, winning almost entirely because of the great talent that scared the pants off of us. The new maze, Lullaby, fell a little flat, and the paintball experience is a throwaway in our opinion. The returning mazes remain solid, although we felt there weren’t a lot of monsters this year (which is concerning, since they are advertising “more monsters” in 2015). We definitely recommend checking out the side show area as well.
We found the lines to be very long on opening night, and the addition of the preshows is probably a contributing factor to this. You can always purchase a front of the line pass to help bypass the lines, but we suggest arriving early to beat some of the crowds.
Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Overall Fright Value: 4 Skulls
Overall Rating of Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2015: 4 Skulls
This weekend at ScareLA the folks at Knott’s Scary Farm revealed the first details for this year’s Halloween Haunt, which begins in only 45 days on September 24th. This year’s event will feature 2 shows, 3 Scare Zones, 5 Skeleton Key Rooms, 11 mazes, and 1,000 monsters! There’s also a ‘Scary Farm Pass‘; a haunt season pass available for “only” $80. A great deal for local fans. Tickets are on sale now starting at $39.99.
Here’s The full Scary Farm lineup for 2015…
DEAD OF WINTER:
Escape the icy grasp of the chilling Snow Queen in the The Dead of Winter. Backed by a ravenous beastly army of resurrected Viking warriors, she is hellbent on avenging her beloved family’s murder, and preys upon any unsuspecting visitors who foolishly enter the borders of her icy domain.
In this groundbreaking new maze featuring high flying aerial stunts and scares, guests investigate a haunted hospital where the patients were tortured for decades by deranged doctors and nurses. Demonic spirits of the murdered victims have been detected throughout the mysterious halls, while evil medical staff hunt for new patients to torture.
MY BLODDY CLEMENTINE:
There is no tale more vicious and vengeful than that of My Bloody Clementine. Take a grim ride through the transformed Calico Mine where Clementine and her father were brutally murdered centuries ago. Their wretched spirits roam the tunnels in search of those who killed them. This year, the ride through maze will feature live monsters out for revenge at the train track’s every turn.
This twisted tooth fairy steals more than just baby teeth as he drags his victims out their bedroom window and into a world of deranged dentistry. Unbelievable special effects include a blackout room through which guests must feel their way out, a disorienting x-ray strobe light room, and a final encounter with the massive tooth fairy, himself. Say aahhh.
THE GUNSLINGER’S GRAVE: A BLOOD MOON RISES:
“A Blood Moon Rises” continues the story of The Gunslinger. The Red hand gang has disturbed a burial ground that contained a SkinWalker relic, that has transformed them into Werewolves under the Blood Moon Curse. Return to the Old West and walk in the bloody footsteps of a betrayed and left for dead gunslinger on his path to retribution. This journey back in time takes guests on a trail of terror through abandoned gold mines, a treacherous corral, a seedy saloon and a final showdown at town hall.
SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED – PATIENT ZERO:
Survive the Zombie Apocalypse in an All-Out War! Back by overwhelming demand, guests can enlist to fight the zombie apocalypse in an all-out war against the undead in the interactive experience, Special Ops: Infected – Patient Zero. In this ambitious attraction groups must work together to fend off zombies and complete terrifying missions before time runs out. Special Ops: Infected seamlessly integrates interactive gaming technology with an immersive mountainous landscape, delivering a breakthrough interactive haunted experience that is as terrifying as it is challenging. Missions will take guests through a variety of wilderness terrains, including the unpredictable barrel bridges across the rushing river, through the dark caverns, and through mysterious backwoods. Six acres of the beloved theme park is now home to mutinous, scream-inducing zombies, and the time has come for a harrowing Special Ops survival mission.*There is no additional charge for Special Ops: Infected.
Years have passed since the blue fairy denied him his final wish, but Pinocchio has returned with an army of murderous marionettes intent on killing his former masters. The purpose of his killing spree – human flesh to cover his twisted wooden body. Revenge comes with no strings attached.
The twisted mind of Edgar Allen Poe comes alive as the “Forevermore Killer” works his way through one haunting tale after another. All the victims unwittingly find themselves a part of “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” The Masque of Red Death” among other horrific stories. Guests will want to catch up on their reading to stay a chapter ahead of their demise.
The veil between the living and the dead is severed when Houdini’s ghost materializes during a séance and ushers a host of demonic illusions to play tricks on anyone who intrudes on his theatre. From the prop room to the main stage this dilapidated theatre will make visitors skin crawl. Will you be part of the disappearing act?
VOODOO – ORDER OF THE SERPENT:
Beware the cursed swamps of New Orleans, where mindless zombies trudge through the murky bogs in search of bloody sacrifices and demons use Voodoo curses to possess innocent souls. Choose your path carefully children, for one wrong turn and you will be hexed forever. This year’s maze is even longer featuring a new finale.
TRICK OR TREAT:
Trick or treat, which will it be? Step forward and ring the witch’s doorbell. Oh, she is home, but where? You are not quite sure. Don’t be afraid, her minions will guide you. You can come away with a treat, but is it worth it? This year’s maze features a new attic scene and a witch’s potion room to conjure up more scares.
GHOST TOWN STREETS: Ghost Town Streets is the original – and still most terrifying scare zone – that started it all. Bands of half-human, half-animal monsters prowl the streets and inhabit the fog. Beware the notoriously startling Sliders who lunge from every fog-filled corner of the land. New for this year, Ghost Town Streets has been expanded to the backstage maze area to create the largest scare zone in Scary Farm history, full of new surprises.
FIESTA de los MUERTOS: Fiesta de los Muertos fuses dance music, colorful costumes, and larger than life stilt walkers in a dance party scare zone with even more characters than last year to create the ultimate late night celebration of Dia de los Muertos.
CARNIVAL: Knott’s Boardwalk is taken over by “CarnEVIL,” where the freak show is the main event and countless clowns crave your undying attention.
DEADLY 7: Prowling the darkest corners of Scary Farm’s midways and scare zones, the Green Witch and her Deadly 7 are a sadistic crew guilty of more terror than meets the eye. Each of the monsters represent one of the seven deadly sins and make terrifying surprise appearances throughout the park each night.
ELVIRA’S ASYLUM: Elvira, the legendary Mistress of the Dark, returns to Knott’s Scary Farm in a spectacular all-new nightly show, Elvira’s Asylum, which transports guests to an asylum of music, dance and comedy.
THE HANGING: – Haunt’s traditional show (that we only watch while waiting in line for Calico Mine Train or The Log Ride) in Calico Square will continue its’ irreverent look at the year’s pop culture with special effects, pyrotechnics and stunts.
ELVIRA MEET & GREET: In honor of Elvira’s return to Knott’s Scary Farm, the Nautilus merchandise shop will become Elvira’s Boo-tique, where fans can purchase stylish apparel and sinfully fun products featuring and inspired by the Legendary Mistress of the Dark. Each night, a limited number of guests who spend at least $50 at Elvira’s Boo-tique during Knott’s Scary Farm will get a chance to meet Elvira between performances of “Elvira’s Asylum” and collect her signature on one of the purchased items.
BOO-FET WITH EARLY ENTRY: Knott’s Boo-fet dinner invites guests to feed the beast before Knott’s Scary Farm opens each night. Dine on a frightfully delicious buffet meal while monsters scare and delight you throughout your meal. Meals include a collectible 2015 souvenir cup, which provides unlimited complimentary refills during the night of first use, and 99¢ refills for the rest of 2015. After dinner, enjoy early entry into select parts of Knott’s Scary Farm before it opens to other mortals. Boo-fet dinner is $26.99 online / $32.99 at the door (plus applicable taxes and fees).
With haunt season lurking on the horizion and the big theme-park haunts revealing their full line-ups (Halloween Horror NightsHollywood/Orlando, Howl-O-Scream Tampa/Willamsburg, Knott’s Scary Farm); we’ve carefully assembled Terror Tips for getting the most screams and bang for your buck out of the night. As you begin your planning and preparation for the season of the witch, this list of tips will help you experience every maze, attraction, maybe even the dumb shows at these mega-haunts. So pay attention, please. We don’t want you or your money to be left behind.
Trust us, we know how to Haunt Stalk.
1. GET THERE EARLY
This is the number one tip. Seriously, if you follow only one recommendation on this page, this should be the one. This will make or break your entire night. TRUST US. Get there before the haunt opens; we recommend at least a half-hour early. Some haunts will actually start letting people in before the posted official opening time. You might be able to go into a maze with almost no one else in it. Other haunts have “opening scare-amonies” that are worth watching. At Knott’s we’ve been able to get into three mazes within the half-hour before the haunt even opens, and we’ve never bought the early entry, “pre-scare dinner” option.
Related to this: Buy your tickets in advance if you can. Waiting in line for tickets wastes valuable time. Why add another queue to your night?
2. Go Early in the Season
Haunts get more crowded the closer it gets to Halloween. They hit their peak on the weekend before Halloween. We suggest attending as close to opening weekend as possible. The actors are also fresh and ready to scare. We’ve witnessed “monster fatigue” when we’ve gone near the end of haunt season, when we’ve noticed monsters talking to each other inside the maze or drinking a soda as they lean against a wall. The only downside with attending early in the season is that some scares might not be completely worked out, and actors might just be finding their groove. The second or third weekend of a haunt is usually the best time to visit.
3. Haunt Stalk on “Off Peak” Nights
From our experiences you’ll find much shorter lines by going to haunts that are open on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Thursdays can be lighter earlier in the season. However, do pay attention to the local school holidays as those can have a significant impact on the crowds sizes during these “off nights” as the haunt will be filled with pre-teen brats who were dropped off by their parents so that the ghost and ghouls can babysit them for the night. The Sunday before Columbus day is especially risky.
4. Consider a Front-of-the-Line Pass on Friday and Saturday Nights
…if you insist on ignoring the previous tip. Perhaps this tip should have been titled “Avoid Friday and Saturday Nights,” but we know that’s not realistic for most people. Work and school get in the way of attending haunts during the week. Sunday night could be a good compromise—lines will be much shorter, and you’ll still be able to arrive early (see tip #1) to avoid more of the crowds (your co-workers are used to seeing you looking hungover on Mondays anyway). But if you absolutely must go on a Friday or Saturday night, we recommend upgrading your ticket to a “Front-of-the-Line” pass (don’t forget to buy in advance!). Time is money, however, we realize that these passes can be pricey, so if you follow these tips, you might be able to bypass the upgraded ticket and still see everything. After all, there are a lot of great haunts to attend, and you don’t want to blow your budget on a single ticket.
5. Bone Up on the Rules
With the terrors of the real world growing rampant, the security measures at many of these haunts has increased significantly. With this increased security comes annoying polices and rules that can make it even more time consuming, difficult, or even preventative for you getting inside; even if you have no intentions of being a haunt evildoer. Therefore, bone up on the rules at the respective haunts before you arrive. You don’t want to be the one who has to go all the way back to your car to return your forbidden camera, spiked jewelry, or switch blade. We also suggest that you travel light as there’s usually express lines for Haunt Stalkers who aren’t trying to enter with purses, bags, clothes (j/k), etc.
6. Eat Before You Get There—Or Wait Until You Leave
Do you really want to wait in line for a crappy hot dog that costs $8? No, you don’t. As part of the “GO EARLY” plan, you should have an early dinner near the park. If you get hungry, grab a snack and eat in line. Don’t waste valuable time queuing up for theme park food. On the other hand, you could also wait and eat afterward. For example, Knott’s usually has a “midnight breakfast buffet” (12 am to 3 am) at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant next to the park that might be a good option.
7. Keep Your Group Small
“The More the Merrier” does not apply to haunts. Hitting all the mazes, scare zones, shows, and rides in a single, crowded night requires coordination, and the more people you have in your group, the less likely it is that consensus will be reached about where to go and what to do. Some people will want to go on the rides first, some will want to hit the mazes, some might be hungry and want food (see #3 above). We recommend keeping your group to no more than 6 people, unless you’re willing to accept that you won’t get to everything.
8. Tackle the Haunts Front to Back
Note: this works only if you’ve arrived early. You might think going straight to the mazes in the back of the park is a good idea, but you’re wrong. Sure, there will be no one in the back when you get there, but when you circle back to the mazes in the front of the park, they’ll be packed. Almost everyone else will be working from front to back, so as long as you’re ahead of the pack (by getting in early, see #1 above), this approach works best. If you’ve arrived late, forget it. You’re screwed, no matter what approach you take.
9. Don’t Loiter in Scare Zones
… well only if you’re talking about our website. You will most likely pass through the scare zones as you make your way to the mazes. This absolutely adds to the overall experience but don’t get caught up hanging in the scare zones until you’ve already been through all the mazes/houses. As while you’re busy running away from and taking #selfies with a ghoul, the crowds will be surging past you and filling up the #longlines. You can always go back later in the night and leisurely scream through the scare zones.
10. Go On Rides and See Shows Only After You’ve Been in All the Mazes
It’s Halloween season, and mazes/houses are the main attraction. These are open only 5 or 6 weeks at most during the year. You can go back and to get on all the coasters and E-Ticket rides some other time. And let’s face it, most shows at haunts are pretty terrible. Save all of these “dis-ttractions” for last, or at least until after you’ve hit all the mazes you really wanted to go through.
Today we wish a very scary and happy birthday to our favorite goth gal, Elvira!
As our Haunt Stalkers know, we love Elvira and have been big fans since she first made her big impressions on the 80’s boob tube with her infamous Movie Macabre TV series. Elvira has had an enduring career in the horror and haunt worlds and the ageless Mistress of the Dark has no signs of laying down on the retirement couch yet (at least in the face down position). This year she continues her reign as the Queen of the park after dark at Knott’s Scary Farm as she returns to titillate and frolic all over the stage. And she’s doing a show too, which always gets the crowd’s blood pumping.
We think Elvira’s shows at Scary Farm are as good as it gets when it comes to theme park Halloween shows. She always gives it all up in her spooky Vegas style variety shows that fully mounds… rounds out the Knott’s Haunt entertainment experiences. In past years she also had her own Knott’s Scary Farm mazes– Elvira’s Nightmares and Elvira’s Red Moon Massacre – a haunted log ride (her favorite kind of ride). There’s also a 3D Elvira stimulation… simulation ride call Superstition that can be found at other theme park haunts across the country.
Elvira’s looking great and we appreciate that she’s continues to provide scares, fun, and so much love to the Horror and Haunt community. Now we just hope we can get to see more of her… on the boob tube again.
You can keep up with Elvira’s other haunt season appearances by visiting her site Elvira.com
To further celebrate, here’s Elvira’s birthday cakes in action at Knott’s Scary Farm!
There’s no question, Michael Myers is the king of Halloween. He’s to Halloween what bunnies are to Easter, Leprechauns are to St. Patrick’s Day, and Santa (and Krampus) is to Christmas. This weekend Michael Myers “Comes Home” to Universal Studios Hollywood for Halloween Horror Nights where you’ll have to live through the terrors of his 1978 trick or treating massacre. Just like Dr. Loomis, we can’t wait to find Michael but know it’s going to be a terrifying encounter as six years ago he stalked us in one of our all time favorite mazes at Universal Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN).
Halloween is one of the most successful horror franchises of all time and has grossed a collected $366 million worldwide. Since the original “Halloween” film, nine additional Halloween sequels have been created. It’s actually crazy to see all the directions they took this franchise just based on that that low budget 1978 movie. You can see it all in a special box set with all ten Michael Myers films in full blu-ray, featuring never-before-seen and behind the scenes content. Michael is also sharping his blade to return to the big screen in 2016.
Now it’s time to learn up on Michael so you’ll know what to expect if you unluckily encounter him this Halloween season. Here’s a comprehensive look at the life and crimes of the pure evil that is Michael Myers.
Pittsburgh is a very scary city to be during haunt season and this weekend two LEGENDARY Haunted Attractions will premiere at ScareHouse in Pittsburgh. The fear experts at ScareHouse have joined forces with LEGENDARY Entertainment to create two all-new attractions based on the twisted imagination of Michael Dougherty, the writer/director of the films Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus. ScareHouse exists within a 100-year-old haunted building where designers, artists, and veteran fear experts combine genuine history with modern technological magic to create a haunted house experience unlike any other attraction.
Here are the details of whats happening inside when the holidays collide.
Krampus: Come All Ye Fearful – The legend of Krampus is awoken! ScareHouse’s team of scenic and special effects artists have collaborated directly with Dougherty and LEGENDARY to bring many of Krampus’ mischievous underlings from the upcoming film to life within the haunted attraction Krampus: Come All Ye Fearful. Guests will gain the rare opportunity to admire actual props, costumes, and practical creatures from the film before entering a highly immersive attraction that follows the legacy of Krampus, the iconic figure of dark folklore as old as Christmas itself. Visitors to ScareHouse will journey through generations of holiday horror and encounters with demonic minions before a final confrontation with the ancient subversive force of darkness that rises to haunt the naughty, bringing terror and mayhem in his wake.
Trick ‘r Treat: Hallowed Grounds – is a truly ground-breaking and eye-popping tribute to an iconic figure beloved by Halloween and horror fans across the globe. Guests follow Sam, who represents the true heart of Halloween, as he leads them into a giant black and white pop-up book brought to fiendish life. Those who break the rules of All Hallows Eve risk facing tragic consequences before midnight!
The Summoning– In addition to experiencing the new attractions based on the films Krampus and Trick ‘r Treat, guests will return to the mysterious halls of The Summoning, an elaborate haunted attraction with a masterful blend of art and the macabre set in October 1932 which explores a hidden world of secret societies, arcane rituals, and demonic visitors.
The Basement*: Fear researcher and sociologist Margee Kerr, PhD brings the science of scaring to the creative team of the Basement. Building from research on what scares people from a social, psychological, and physiological perspective the Basement takes customers on an interactive journey built to push them outside their comfort zone, challenge their expectations, and scare the hell out them each step of the way.
*Separate admission. All guests must be 18 or older and must sign waiver before entering The Basement. Guests will be touched, blindfolded and restrained. This attraction contains high voltage effects involving electricity, very low lighting, tight spaces, strong scents, profanity, moments of complete darkness, water, physical contact, violent situations, and high impact scares.
Tickets, dates or operation, and more information on “Pittsburgh’s Ultimate Haunted House” are available online at www.scarehouse.com and their Facebook page. Follow Creative Director and co-owner Scott Simmons on Instagram and Twitter via @ScareHouseScott and watch exclusive videos on www.youtube.com/TheScareHouse