Despite the huge number of haunted attractions in the area, Southern California doesn’t have a haunt convention per se. But what we do have is Monsterpalooza, an impressive celebration of the “Art of Monsters,” and it’s an event that gets bigger and better every year. Although you won’t find much about the haunted attraction industry here, the assortment of horror movie collectibles, art, makeup, and merchandise is well worth the visit.
The event is taking place this weekend, April 12-14 this year, and tickets are now on sale. We strongly suggest that you buy your tickets in advance. This event has become incredibly popular, and the ticket line is long and slow (we waited almost 2 hours last year). We hope that Monsterpalooza will find a bigger venue soon; for now, it’s returning to the Burbank Marriott. If you visit in the afternoon on Saturday or Sunday, be prepared for large crowds.
This year’s guests include Eric Roberts, Ace Frehley (KISS), Lita Ford, Tom Woodruff Jr (FX artist), Michael Westmore (makeup artist), and John Murdy (creative director of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood).
Be sure to check out our coverage of last year’s Monsterpalooza, and visit the Monsterpalooza website for more information.
Today marks the release of the highly anticipated Evil Dead remake. Earlier in the year we were all treated to a graphic red band trailer (below) featuring some extreme gruesomeness that began to wet our appetite for more blood. The movie premiered last month at SXSW and received a wide range of reviews from being “another remake ripoff” to “a modern horror classic”. No matter how it’s sliced by critics and fans the movie is on track to be this weekend’s Box Office winner. In fact, it has already out paced its revenue expectations.
Of course for us, with every successful horror movie franchise comes the question of ”how good of a haunt will it make?”. Well, last year Knott’s Scary Farm (KSF) tried to answer that question when it secured the rights to The Evil Dead and used the theme as an overlay for their log ride. It was actually a surprise move by KSF as many expected to experience The Evil Dead at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN).
Evil Dead had long been at the top of the list of haunt fan requests–for HHN. We don’t even think many ever seriously considered the possibility that Knott’s would take on such a property. In the past, Knott’s has featured mazes based on movies (The Grudge, Quarantine), but the vast majority of their mazes have always been original concepts. Evil Dead is a cult classic and a property that we know John Murdy had been wanting to feature at HHN, so it almost felt like Knott’s stole the rug out from under Universal. With that said, we think there is still the possibility of seeing The Evil Dead at HHN as unfortunately, KSF didn’t do the best job with it. We’re not sure how the studio felt or even if they cared about The Evil Dead log ride but if given the chance we believe that HHN could do the movie more justice in comparison. In our following review from last year’s KSF you’ll see why -
Haunt Review: Evil Dead at Knott’s Scary Farm
Twenty years ago, the Timber Mountain Log ride was transformed into Terror Mountain. The mountain was filled with monsters and scenes of carnage throughout. It was a very scary ride as riders felt vulnerable sitting the the open logs with monsters attacking from every direction. In recent years, the log ride hasn’t been nearly as scary. You could count all of the monsters on one hand, and the haunt props were scarce. Early in the year, we had heard that the ride wasn’t getting a haunt layover; however, at the end of the summer, there was a surprise announcement that it was being themed as The Evil Dead for haunt.
We were excited to see the Evil Dead being featured at Knott’s, and believed the log ride was the perfect setting for this theme. However, to our disappointment, this ride ended up not featuring very much in terms of a haunt layover. There was a slight increase in the number of monsters (compared to last year) and a few new props such as the infamous “Book of the Dead.” But it’s obvious that the CAL-OSHA crackdown on monsters being stationed along the flume and management’s push to keep haunt from interfering with the experience of day-time guests have taken their toll. Outside of the soundtrack and a few nods to some iconic scenes in the movie, the ride really could of been any haunted cabin in the woods type of theme. It also didn’t have any kind of consistent story line as they just made the scenes fit wherever they could along the flume and in the mountain.
Furthermore, we were a little disappointed that this ride wasn’t really based on the classic Evil Dead movies. Instead, it promoted the upcoming 2013 remake. It really seems that this was a last-minute addition made to secure some sponsorship dollars. We still like think the log ride is a fun attraction–just don’t go on it expecting an intense or elaborate haunt experience We also recommend that you get on it early in the evening before the lines get too long.
If you’re like us and going Psycho waiting for haunt season then be sure to check in to the Bates Motelpremiering tomorrow night, Monday March, 18th on A&E. With the continuous popularity of suspense/horror based drama series such as American Horror Story and The Walking Dead it only seems appropriate that Hollywood would now take a stab at recounting the story of Norman Bates and his beloved mother for the television screen.
The series is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and depicts the life of Norman Bates and his mother Norma (played by Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga, respectively) and the events that would eventually make him go… Psycho. The series is said to be based on the characters and settings portrayed in Hitchcock’s film but is in no way to be considered (by the producers) as a direct prequel. Distinctively, the story takes place in today’s world of iPhones, Facebook, etc. along with the iconic house and Bates Motel being relocated from the Arizona desert to a sleepy Pacific Northwest town.
This past week we were able to attend the show’s premier party (pics on Twitter) and in addition to having a good time at the elaborately themed party, we also got to see the first episode titled “First You Dream, Then You Die”. Without providing any spoilers we can say that the first episode begins with a mysterious event that then quickly takes Norman and Norma to the center of the show’s universe at the Bates Motel. Here they encounter unwelcoming neighbors, fast girls, well intentioned but nosey teachers and suspicious police officers. The show is suprsisingly tense throughout and offers subtle homages to it’s movie source. At the end we couldn’t wait to see more as the relationship between Norman and his mother seems to be on the verge of becoming quite distrubing. We’re told the series isn’t going be a about a blood thirty Norman but from what we already saw there was a nice balance between the elements of mystery and suspense, and the visceral thrills that should be able to keep both drama and horror fans satisfied.
If the show is successful, which we hope it is, then we wonder if Universal will have any interest in turning it into a haunt for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). We may have to wait for a few seasons so it can build up a fan base and more scenarios that can be placed into a haunt, similar to what they did with The Walking Dead, which became a haunt after running for 2 seasons. A&E is producing the show, but the characters and settings are owned by Universal. Therefore, this is a property that they already have the rights for and could easily transform into a haunt. In fact, as many of our Haunt Stalkers already know, every year at HHN in Hollywood, the Terror Tram takes HHN visitors to the iconic Psycho house where they can walk past the hotel and up to the house to take a picture with Norman, himself. While this is always a nice atmospheric touch to HHN, it isn’t really scary. So it’s hard to tell if there’s enough in the Psycho movies or the new Bates Motel series to make a complete and satisfactory scary maze. Let us know what you think…
Should HHN make a full maze for Psycho/Bates Motel?
The 1968 cult classic, Night of the Living Dead, was filmed in and around Pittsburgh by the “Godfather of Zombies” George A. Romero, and celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. We’re celebrating by infesting the history center with flesh-eating zombies!
7 pm: The winners of the inaugural Pittsburgh’s Best Zombie Contest will be crowned the Zombie King and Queen of Pittsburgh, and will each receive a prize package including a ScareHouse prize coffin with two RIP passes to The ScareHouse 2013, and merchandise from House of the Dead, Pittsburgh’s premier zombie store.
A rare screening of Night of The Living Dead! Frightfully fun snacks and refreshments, including alcoholic beverages, popcorn, and retro candy, will be available for purchase.
The “Night of the Living Dead” screening and Pittsburgh’s Best Zombie Contest are free with regular museum admission of $15.
Here’s a little Valentine’s treat for all of you: a video walk through of the 2009 HHN maze “My Bloody Valentine: Be Mine 4 Ever” .
The idea to use this movietheme for a maze was a good idea, but unfortunately, it never fully delivered the scares and was one of the weaker 2009 offerings. This was thought to be a late addition after the plans to have a Wolf Man maze fell through. Like all the other HHN mazes, this maze did have very detailed sets and a strong linear story, which closely followed the plot of the 2009 remake. The mine shaft sets were well detailed and added to the foreboding sense of claustrophobia. However, one of the biggest issues had to do with the scare timing (you’ll see in the video), which was affected by the very elaborate sets that were hard for the scareactors to quickly “reset” with the streams of people going through. Perhaps, had they added the 3D effect to this maze to complement its theatrical namesake, that would’ve upped the fear factor some. Nonetheless, it was still fun and an unique maze for HHN Hollywood.
See more haunt and theme parks videos from Sharp Productions - here
Leatherface returns to the big screen this weekend wielding his chainsaw and human face masks in 3D. Early anticipation for this movie was high with promises from the filmmakers of it being a direct sequel to the original, staying true to the legend. However, as we got closer to the release, the previews and reviews seem to tell a different story. Most noticeable is that they actually dropped “massacre” from the title, simply calling the movie Texas Chainsaw 3D. In addition, the cast doesn’t look interesting nor does the story they’ve contrived which has a descendant of the Sawyer family inheriting the infamous massacre house and taking her friends out to Texas to “check it out”. Is that really the best scenario they could come up with? The most interesting scene looks like it will be Leatherface going to a carnival. We could imagine that the people at the carnival think that he simply lost his way from work at the carnival haunt.
We can’t fairly review the movie without seeing it yet but we can say that we’re becoming more disappointed to see Hollywood abusing our horror icons. Whoring them out for quick profits. We love seeing the old killers and monsters from the silver scream come back but we want to see them come back the right way. It seems it will be awhile before Hollywood will be able to thrill, scare and capture our imaginations again with the horror icons.
Fortunately, the haunt industry has done a better job in keeping the terror alive. This past haunt season, Universal reincarnated Leatherface and brought us one of the most scariest mazes of 2012 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Saw is the Law. Many of you will remember in ’07 and ’08 HHN featured a Texas Chainsaw Massacre maze based upon the 2003 remake. While the maze was exactly the same both years we found it to be one of the more intense mazes during those years which also featured a Friday The 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street mazes. The 2012 version was a true recreation of the scariest moments of the original. In reading our following review you’ll see why…
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Saw is the Law
Now leave it to an old horror icon to really bring the terror! This maze was one the best HHN offerings this year. There’s been a few years of silence on the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot, but now the buzz is back. Many of you will remember in ’07 and ’08, HHN featured a Texas Chainsaw Massacre maze based on the 2003 remake. This version takes us back to the original 1974 Tobe Hopper classic. Inside you’ll find the entire Sawyer family, including Leatherface, Old Man, The Hitchhiker, and Grandpa. We also get to see Leatherface wearing his different grotesque human masks. This maze keeps up a frenetic pace, with scareactors attacking nonstop. Not only do they appear, they chase you as well! The scenes fall in sequence with the movie, and overall, the maze was a very fitting tribute to the movie. One scene we didn’t see, or maybe missed because we were running in terror, was the girl being placed on the meat hook. Nonetheless, we all left this maze out of breath and delighted to have experienced and survived it! Now that we have a maze based on an original Tobe Hooper movie, we can only hope that 2013 will bring us a maze based on his other horror classic movie, The Funhouse.
During this time of year, we get together with family to celebrate the season. And what brings families together more than a heart-warming Christmas movie? Well, when you you get sick of all the heart-warming tripe, check out one of the movies on our list below as we’ve loaded up your Xmas stalking, um stocking… with a nice collection of Holiday Horrors just for you.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Years after witnessing his parents perish at the hands of a burglar disguised as Santa Claus, Billy Chapman dons a Kris Kringle suit of his own and goes on a terrible holiday killing spree, finally returning to the abusive orphanage that raised him. ‘Tis the season for yuletide mayhem! Charles E. Sellier Jr. directs this horror cult favorite, co-starring Robert Brian Wilson and Lilyan Chauvin.
This movie spawned four sequels, all of which were more ridiculous than the first. The first one seemed to take itself somewhat seriously, but as you can see from this much beloved “garbage day” clip from the second movie, things went really downhill in the sequels:
When a man brings home an adorable creature from Chinatown as a Christmas present for his son Billy, the shopkeeper’s sage advice — no midnight snacks, no water, mood lighting only — goes unheeded. As a result, devilish green creatures with a million vices take over the small town on Christmas Eve. This 1980s hit was written by Chris Columbus and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, and is not recommended for your littlest monsters.
This is perhaps the best-known and probably best-quality movie on this list, and it’s a true classic from the 1980s.
Black Christmas (1974)
Terror reigns inside a sorority house a few days before Christmas break as a series of menacing phone calls — and the discovery of a dead girl’s body — transform yuletide cheer into fear. Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey and Andrea Martin (“SCTV”) co-star as just a few of the petrified sisters at the mercy of an unseen stalker in this 1970s horror gem from director Robert Clark, who told a much happier holiday tale with his 1983 classic, A Christmas Story.
This movie was filled with a lot of just…weirdness.
And of course, they remade this movie in 2006.
The Shining (1980)
While this isn’t directly a Christmas movie the winter setting creates a sense of holiday of terror unlike any other movie. This is also high on our “wish list” for a haunted attraction, well suited for Universal.
The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd. The film is based on the novel of the same name, by Stephen King, about a writer with a wife and young son who accepts the job of off-season caretaker at an isolated hotel. The son, who possesses psychic abilities, is able to see things in the future or past, such as the ghosts in the hotel. Soon after moving in, and after a paralyzing winter storm that leaves the family snowbound, the father becomes influenced by the supernatural presence in the haunted hotel; he descends into madness and attempts to kill his wife and son.
Jack Frost (1996)
When his prison transport collides with a truck full of “genetic material,” condemned serial killer Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) is inexplicably transformed into a terrifying, murderous snowman. With a red plaid scarf, a carrot nose and a heart made out of coal, the icy madman sets his sights on a small rural town and goes on an old-fashioned killing spree. Shannon Elizabeth co-stars in this chilling horror flick directed by Michael Cooney.
The description of this movie made us wonder what exactly they mean by “genetic material”? (Kids, don’t eat the slimy snow.) This movie is so beyond ridiculous that it’s really a comedy rather than horror. It’s best watched after consuming a pitcher of spiked eggnog.
Pinocchio’s Revenge (1996)
Defense attorney, Jennifer Garrick, acquires a Pinocchio puppet from a condemned serial killer. Her pre-teen daughter, Zoe, mistakes the puppet as a birthday present and grows really attached to her new doll friend. Suddenly, accidents begin to happen to those who cross Zoe. Zoe claims it’s her Pinocchio doll. Zoe’s therapist thinks otherwise. Soon Pinocchio and Zoe are conversing about his bad behavior. Pinocchio promises he’ll behave if Zoe will cut his strings. Zoe complies, and the mysterious murders begin…
Christmas Evil (1980)
The winter weather isn’t the only thing that’s frightful about this unconventional holiday offering about a toy maker whose obsession with Christmas spirals dangerously out of control. After enduring a traumatic childhood in which he learned there was no such thing as Santa Claus, Harry Stadling (Brandon Maggart) takes it upon himself to judge the “naughty” and the “nice.” But instead of spreading cheer, he opts for fear.
Here’s a great bunch of clips from the movie:
Don’t Open ‘Till Christmas (1984)
A murderer is running loose through the streets of London, hunting down men dressed as Santa and killing them all in different, extremely violent, and quite colorful fashions. Inspector Harris has decided to take on the seemingly impossible task of tracking down the psychopath, but he’s going to have his work cut out for him. Only the suspicious reporter, Giles, seems to offer the Inspector any promising leads.
You can watch the entire movie on YouTube.
Santa Claws (1996)
Under normal conditions, a man in a jolly red suit can be delightful. But when the outfit belongs to a demented psycho (Grant Kramer) who’s convinced he’s Santa Claus, it’s absolutely frightful. Raven Quinn (Debbie Rochon), a sexy B-movie scream queen whose marriage is crumbling, is already dreading the Christmas season. When her creepy next-door neighbor starts dishing out his own brand of holiday cheer, things only go south from there.
Santa’s Slay (2005)
Jolly old Saint Nick (Bill Goldberg [yes, the wrestler]) isn’t making a gift list this year — he’s making a hit list, checking it twice and unleashing his inner demon for an unforgettably terrifying Christmas. A bet that Santa lost to an angel 1,000 years ago has expired, and now he’s hell-bent on spreading some holiday fear. As the big day approaches, only young Nicholas Yuleson (Douglas Smith) and his grandfather (Robert Culp) can stop him.
Santa Claws Conquers the Martians (1964)
The Martians are irked that their children spend so much time watching TV shows from Earth that sing the praises of Santa Claus, so they decide to make a trek to the planet to capture Mr. Claus. During their mission, they also abduct two children who lead the aliens to the North Pole and Santa. The Martians take all three earthlings back to Mars, where, with the help of a native, they manage to spread Christmas cheer throughout the red planet.
A serious B-movie classic; so great, it was featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
If you’re so inclined, you can actually watch the entire movie on YouTube.
Today we’re 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 (we calculate approximately 305 days until the first major haunts open next September).
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. Uwe Boll, Eli Roth, Jason Blum perhaps? Anyone?
Eli Roth actually has teased the possibility with this fake trailer for the “Thanksgiving” horror movie that was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse.
We did find a few handful of real movies for you, including the new holiday horror “franchise” ThanksKilling. So, when you’re done stuffing yourself you can watch these psychos and turkeys take their turns at slicing :
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.]
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″.
If watching the edited and out of order Halloween movies Marathon on AMC doesn’t slice it the right way for you; then take a stroll to your local movie theater where the infamous boogeyman will be waiting for you!
Forget Paranormal Activity 4 and Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, here’s a real way to get into the Halloween spirit with the rerelease of the classic, “John Carpenter’s Halloween” showing all across the US and UK this week.
Check this linkto find a U.S. theater near you and get your tickets before they sell out (looks like Michael will be busy once again)!
This weekend is both happy and mournful for all of us haunt stalkers and creators. Happy because we still have a good 5 nights of looking and behaving like monsters in public without being considered a disturbance to the peace. Sad because less than a week from now, the Haunt Season of 2012 will be nothing more another memory.
We won’t turn to despair yet as there’s still enough time to celebrate and “get your scare on”. In addition to going out to experience all the Open Haunts, you can also experience some of the most elaborate home haunts from the comforts of your living room with Chiller’s new documentary movie ‘The American Scream’.If you’re going to be out Haunt Stalking or early Trick O’ Treating this Sunday Night, as you should be, then be sure to set your DVR to Chiller at 8P ET.
From the same director/producer of the critically-acclaimed hit documentary Best Worst Movie, The American Scream is an unconventional look at the Halloween cultural phenomenon of homemade haunted houses and the enthusiasts behind the scenes. Filmed in the sleepy enclave of Fairhaven, MA, The American Scream follows the creative minds behind three local homemade haunts and their passionate – and sometimes harrowing – efforts in igniting their town’s Halloween spirit each year.
Filled with personality, humor, trouble and triumph, The American Scream offers a moving, real-life look into the lives of people for whom horror is much more than just a hobby.