Category: Haunt Reviews (page 1 of 13)

HAUNT REVIEW: Warner Bros.’Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights’

Are You Ready To Face Your Fears?

(PRNewsfoto/Warner Bros. Studio Tour)

For a few years in a row, Warner Bros. Studios has been hosting a smaller scale Halloween event on select nights in October using their archive of classic and modern horror movie properties. This year they’re ripping off the little kid’s arm and throwing their bloody clawed glove into the ring with a bigger multi-night Halloween event.  We love that they’re making the commitment to present a new haunt event in Southern California and from the preview night, it’s clear to us that Universal Studios (HHN) is no longer the only haunted movie studio in Hollywood.

“We’re not just a scare factory or a haunted house – as the creator of legendary horror films, what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a party on the Warner Bros. backlot? We’re thrilled to welcome guests who are ready to brave their deepest nightmares,” said Gary Soloff, Director of Marketing, WBSTH. “Due to the overwhelming demand from last year’s event, we’ve extended our nights and hours and made this year’s festival, night tour, and mazes bigger, better, and scarier, so our guests can expect more pulse-pounding terror than ever before.”

As with any new major haunt event, there definitely is room for improvement. Over this haunt season, they will have to climb the learning curve to smooth out some of the event’s operations, staff training, and scare actor presence. Given that the WB Studios doesn’t have the infrastructure of a major theme park they’ve done an incredible job at converting their studio backlot into an intimate small-town style Halloween festival. You really feel as though you’re walking through the streets of Derry Maine, Springwood Ohio, or Monroe Connecticut. Off to an impressive start, WB has successfully created an adult-focused Halloween event that we feel is best suited for more mature haunt fans who are either tired of the chaotic HHN experience, seek a nostalgic horror movie experience, or just want more haunts to go to.

Mazes & Experiences 

IT Knows What Scares You

Horror Made Here: IT

From New Line Cinema’s 2017 record-breaking film IT, Pennywise returns with a vengeance in this year’s reimagined maze, with even more chills and thrills than ever before. Guests daring enough will have to brave their way through the Neibolt House and remember that “It Knows What Scares You,” as terror awaits with every twist and turn.

The settings and effects of this maze are impressive and recreate some the most memorable and frightening scenes from the movie. If you’re a fan of ‘IT’ then you’ll be thrilled to explore the Derry neighborhood, sewer tunnels, and hallways of the Neibolt House. As with the other mazes and experiences at Festival of Frights, ‘It’ is a little different than the typical high-intensity, monsters around every corner haunted house.  Here you’ll feel as though you’re exploring the sets of the movie right after they’ve finished filming and some of the characters just haven’t gone home yet; lurking about to give you a few scares. The length of the maze was impressive with effects that are at the level of quality you’d expect from a major Hollywood studio.  If anything, we just wished there were a few more scareactors with better timing. This really would have elevated the ratings. Such as, instead of the town bullies taunting us as we went through the sewer tunnels they should have recreated their grim encounters with Pennywise. There also was a few too many “Georgies” walking around asking for help and giving warnings.  You may not get terrified in this maze but ‘IT’ should still keep you on edge with its creepy atmosphere.

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Escape from Arkham Asylum

Horror Made Here: Joker

For the first time ever, the infamous Gotham City institution for the criminally insane is constructed on the Warner Bros. backlot, where fans will come face-to-face with the iconic and unhinged characters from WB Games’ Batman: Arkham Asylum. Visitors will be driven to the brink of insanity as they navigate through the gruesome asylum, and those unlucky enough will be sentenced by The Joker™ to be a prisoner for life.

The Joker, Harlequin, and other Batman villains aren’t they typical monsters and ghouls that people usually think about for Halloween horrors but WB has successfully utilized these characters for a unique twist on the traditional haunted funhouse and asylum themes.  Years ago, The Joker was also the host character for a clown maze at Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest called The Joker’s Hideout, but here at WB he’s far more menacing. For fans of the darker side of D.C. comics, this maze will bring a Joker’s sized grin to your face as you venture through the asylum’s hallways and encounter some of Gotham City’s worst villains. Similarly to ‘IT’, we just wanted to see some more ghouls and scares. There also could have been a variety of more villains throughout the maze as we didn’t see the scarier goons like Bane, Zsasz, or Killer Croc, which was a little disappointing. Of all the WB mazes this has some of the simpler sets but it does have some of the best scareactors. The Jokers were especially good in recreating the villain as portrayed in the Arkham Asylum video games.

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The Conjuring Universe

Horror Made Here: Annabelle and Nun

A host of satanic spirits will surface as guests get a glimpse inside the world of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren from New Line Cinema’s The Conjuring Universe. Fans will fall victim to Annabelle’s devious games and come face-to-face with The Nun, lurking in the dark shadows behind every corner.

The Conjuring Universe plays out more like a haunted play than a haunted house. Here you go through a few rooms, each from the different movies in The Conjuring Universe as a tour group. As you venture through the rooms, such as the Warrens’ basement occult museum, Annabelle’s bedroom, and the family room from The Conjuring 2, you get to freely explore the sets and props. In each room, a character explains the supernatural dangers of the scene you’re in before the ghostly effects take over. This maze utilizes mostly lighting, sound, and prop effects but there are a few scareactors roaming around for good measure. The last scene features one of the freakiest effects we’ve seen to date in a haunt, making it one hell of a finale! Bravo!

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Nightmare on Camp Crystal Lake

Horror Made Here: Freddy and Jason

Campers beware of the deep, dark woods that conceal the ghastly presence of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, waiting to turn your greatest nightmares into reality. Take a night tour of our iconic backlot with a detour to everyone’s favorite, Camp Crystal Lake. If you survive, you’ll get to explore behind-the-scenes of beloved titles in horror entertainment, including iconic filming locations like New York Street, where the 1953 House of Wax was shot.

Freddy and Jason are finally home on the WB lot and battling it out for your blood in this outdoor haunted trail. The setting is the iconic Camp Crystal Lake, which is perfectly recreated on the WB backlot. It’s actually a far better recreation than we’ve ever seen on Universal’s Terror Tram.  You’ll explore the complete wooded lake with its canoe docks, campgrounds, archery range, and cabins. As you make your way through Camp Crystal Lake, overly hysterical camp counselors come screaming out of the dark woods looking for help and warning you to get out of the paths of Freddy and Jason who are also stalking close by. This maze is a lot of fun but it would be even better if they included some of the well-known music and sound effects from the movies. Without it, the suspense of going through the maze is lacking. Also, once inside the cabins the lighting was way too bright and the scareactors were not well hidden limiting the number actual scares we received in the maze. With some tweaks, this maze could be one of the top terror fueled haunt attractions in Hollywood.

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The Exorcist: Forbidden Screening

Horror Made Here: Church and ReganI

In this 4D experience, guests will enter the safe haven of our backlot church to relive the most terrifying scenes from the 1973 classic The Exorcist, right from the pews.

This attraction really surprised us! We thought that this was just going to be a “best of ” clips show from the classic movie with some added sound and lighting effects in the theater. Well, it was more than that. They do a great job in creating an original story on how the movie, which should never be screened inside a church, triggers demonic activity and brings it to life around the audience.  The effects and surprises were more than expected in this fun and scary experience featuring the enduring horror classic. We suggest sitting the first four rows for the full effect.

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Additional Attractions

Additionally, Horror Made Here features carnival games, live entertainment, a “Little Shop of Horrors” where guests can purchase Halloween and Horror Made Here merchandise, plus fun food and beverage options, including the goth-punk Fangtasia Bar featured in the HBO series True Blood, serving regular drinks for humans and “Tru-Blood” for vampires It also offers a series of attractions and activities, including:

  • Stage 48: Script to Scream: Enter the world of Tim Burton and see authentic props and costumes from his iconic movies Sweeney ToddThe Corpse BrideMars Attacks! and for the first time ever on display at Warner Bros., original props from the Halloween classic, Beetlejuice.
  • Devil’s Drop Tower: Adventurous visitors will have the opportunity to take the 90-foot plunge into the air for the scream of their life.
  • Horror Makeup Demonstrations: Learn how makeup artists bring terrifying characters to life with our special Horror Made Here SFX makeup demonstrations throughout the night.
  • The Lost Boys Arcade: Play iconic games in the retro Lost Boys-themed arcade. Games include titles like Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Mario Bros., Space Invaders and Terminator 2 Pinball.

REPASS

What we could be witnessing is the rise of an all-new annual Halloween haunt experience in Hollywood. Remember when HHN was rebooted in 2006 they only had two mazes, the terror tram. and some scare zones.  If WB Festival of Frights continues to build up, haunt stalkers could have an equally scary and fun alternative to the ever so popular (and crowded) HHN. Don’t get us wrong we’re not saying to pick one over the other but having both provides an alternative to feeling trapped among crowds at HHN and allows die-hard haunt stalkers to double down on two Haunted movie studio attractions. Plus, WB has Pennywise, Freddy, and Jason which probably means that HHN is S.O.L. in seeing these guys on their lot again anytime soon.

We went on a preview night and it was busy.  Not sure what the crowd flow will be on regular operating nights but we suspect that it will be popular this season so we do think it’s worth to splurge on the VIP pass as it also includes additional perks like parking and drinks. Some of the attractions like The Conjuring Universe and The Exorcist have longer waits due to them having “show” elements that takes time to reset between groups so we recommend seeing those first with or without the pass.

For 2018, Horror Made Here has been extended from six to 13 nights starting October 5, 2018. Tickets start at $59 per person at horrormadehere.com. This year introduces the “VIP Fright Pass” to accommodate those looking to jump to the front of the line for each attraction and night tour, as well as providing free priority parking and two complimentary beverages.

Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights is a special ticketed event, held on October 5-6October 11-13October 18-21 and October 25-28, open from 7PM to 1AM. The event ticket includes access to the festival, all scare mazes, and the night tour. Visit horrormadehere.com for more information.

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Haunt Review: HorrorWorld 2018

Into the Black burst onto the Southern California haunt scene in 2017, and it quickly shattered some of the long-running standards we’ve come to expect from haunts. Gone were the conga lines and large groups of people spoiling the scares, because in this maze, you had to walk through alone. And yet, it wasn’t an extreme haunt but rather one that packed plenty of scares but could still appeal to even casual haunt-goers. We were sure Larry Bones had found the right formula for something really unique, and we gave Into the Black a 666 rating last year.

This year, Into the Black makes up just one of three mazes in the newly expanded, multi-haunt event called HorrorWorld, located in the Puente Hills mall in the City of Industry. We were able to experience all three haunts during a media preview event before the official opening. Read on for our reviews.

Location

First of all, a word on the location. The Puente Hills Mall has certainly seen better days. Many stores stand empty, and if you’re so inclined, it would be easy to act out scenes from Dawn of the Dead or Night of the Comet here. Haunts all over the country seem to be taking advantage of the decline in retail, using abandoned stores as locations. Although this might be convenient and cost-effective, the mall setting does detract somewhat from the atmosphere as you wait in line. Gazing into the window of a Foot Locker while 90s music plays overhead just doesn’t get us into the haunt mood.

 

HorrorWorld occupies three storefronts on the second level near Macy’s. The main store houses the ticket booth; spooky vendors selling everything from t-shirts, to Halloween masks, to home decor; and food vendors, such as Morbid Cupcakes and Rad Coffee (try the Cookies and Scream coffee!). It’s also the location of the asylum-themed maze.

Mazes

Psycho Sanitarium

On the night we visited, this maze had its lights on. This actually might be the normal state of things, since it’s located inside the same room as the vendors and ticket booth, and we’re not sure how they could effectively dim the lights enough to work for both the vendors and the maze. Nevertheless, the actors were going full throttle inside. Demented asylum patients assaulted us around every corner and got right up in our faces. However, the overall set design did lack detail, as the walls were mostly just white with plastered papers and smears of blood. It was also a relatively short maze. But it serves as a good warm-up for the others, so if you get the all-access pass, we definitely recommend you check this one out first.

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The Fleshyard

The Fleshyard was previously located in Anaheim, most recently at a pumpkin patch, and over the years it’s earned a reputation as one of the best stand-alone, independent haunts in Orange County. This year, it’s found a perfect home at HorrorWorld. While we waited in line, we saw many groups run out of the exit looking terrified and/or exhilarated. We could tell from the guest reactions alone that this maze is special.

The beginning of the maze was a dark church scene, where a distraught young girl knelt at the altar while the priest provided the backstory of the doomed Kearny family. After hearing what befell the family, we were soon ushered out and began our journey through the Kearny house of horrors. As we traveled through the dilapidated farmhouse, we encountered various family members. Some of the scenes included the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. The maze also includes some “outdoor” scenes.

We found the sets to be impressively detailed with effective lighting and sound to set the frenzied mood. The maze uses unique scare tactics, and although it was a preview night, these actors had the scares down already.  There’s also a narrow hallway section that might have you turning sideways to get through (although there is an alternative, “easy” path for claustrophobic or larger guests). The finale scene was particularly impressive, and it’s what had some guests actually running out of the maze.

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Into the Black

The main attraction at HorrorWorld is still Into the Black. This maze takes up the largest space in the event and still requires guests to go through alone. However, the timed tickets from last year have been abandoned, and instead guests simply wait in line for their turn.

This maze relies heavily on darkness to set the mood. Although they’ve done a good job blocking out most of the mall’s harsh fluorescent lighting, we did find some light leakage coming through the scenes at the very front of the maze. But instead of being a distraction, it actually allowed us to observe the amazing detail in the sets and masks of the actors. However, this affects only a couple of scenes, and as you travel to the back of the maze, the darkness quickly envelops everything once again.

As we made our way through the crumbling Black family home, we encountered truly scary demons lurking around every corner (as well as in many other unexpected places). And these are no average demons…the amazing quality of the Bone Yard Effects masks gives them an extra unsettling, sinister appearance. Additionally, the maze uses a minimalist soundscape to heighten the suspense. The paths near the back of the maze are so disturbingly quiet, that any shuffling sound raises the hairs on your arm and puts you on full alert. The actors exploit this by moving nearly soundlessly until they are right next to you, or they may build the scare first by quietly scraping walls, finally letting out their terrifying shrieking growls right in your ear.

Into the Black remains one of the best mazes in Southern California right now. If you didn’t catch it last year, this should be near the top of your list for 2018.

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Summary

In its inaugural year, HorrorWorld has entered the Southern California haunt scene as major player, and we highly recommend a visit. Although you can buy tickets individually for each maze, the best value is the $45 all-access pass, which allows you to experience all three mazes. There is also a VR experience (we ran out of time and didn’t experience it this year).

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All-Access Pass

Overall Rating of HorrorWorld 2018:

Check our ratings guide for further details

Tickets and Dates

HorrorWorld is open Fridays through Sundays in October, as well as October 29-31. Tickets are now on sale 

Experience a variety of Haunted Attractions at Southern California’s Most Anticipated Halloween Event. Not only do we offer the Scariest Haunted Houses, but Horrorworld has partnered with a team of terrifying vendors to create a Truly Frightening Experience.

HAUNT REVIEW: DARK HARBOR 2018

Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor charts a course to scare and delight visitors with 6 mazes,  secret bars, and plenty of sideshows and attractions.

With no new mazes this year, Dark Harbor shifts its focus to revamping previous mazes and highlighting its sideshow offerings such as acrobatic performances, carnival rides, and enhanced bar options. While it may be a little unfair to compare the design and theming to other SoCal attractions like HHN, Dark Harbor continues to be a formidable Halloween Haunt thanks to the extremely dedicated scareactors and the naturally creepy aura of the Queen Mary ship. All the mazes benefit from the location and while some may rely a little too heavily on that, they all have unique elements whether it be climbing up ropes, going down slides, or crawling through some of the ship’s passageways.

We recommend that you consider purchasing the “Fast Fright” ticket, as wait times ranged from 60 – 90 minutes during peak hours. All in all, for its affordable price point, the number of mazes, and unique experiences, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is a fun date/friends night out at a haunt worth cruising through.

 

Mazes

LULLABY

It has been long rumored that Mary, the little girl who drowned in the Queen Mary First Class Swimming Pool in 1952, has haunted the dark corners of the luxury liner since her untimely demise. Many experts theorize the haunting derives from Mary’s spirit attaching itself to the little girl’s stuffed toy bear. Perhaps the bear holds the gloomy secrets behind the wicked ghost of Scary Mary and why she still sings her eternal Lullaby.

Our night began at Lullaby, which I can truly say lived up to its name, as the spirit of Scary Mary put me in an eternal sleep. The first section of the maze gives hope that Lullaby will be creepy, as guests have to crawl through a small corridor, which leads to a room pumped with fog and LED lighting, to mimic a swimming pool. This effect was a great tool for scare actors to crawl and jump up at you while you maneuver around the room. But pretty quickly the maze disappoints as guests end up walking down long narrow hallways with sparse actors and predictable scares. Another reason this maze was a letdown, was because the overall story was hard to grab onto. For example, Mary’s teddy bear was supposed to be a big plot point, but there was never any mention of it, and instead, there is an actor dressed up as a monkey following you during parts of the maze. Eventually, you end up exiting to one of Dark Harbor’s secret bars, which makes you wonder if Scary Mary had a fake ID?

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B340

A series of inhuman crimes tormented the Queen Mary passengers during a routine cross-Atlantic voyage in October of 1948. Follow the lead detective on the scene as he uncovers the evil truth behind one of the most notorious criminals to ever invade the luxury liner: Samuel the Savage.

Samuel the Savage continues to haunt the Queen Mary and invites guests to enter a well designed and scary journey to discover the fates of his victims. B340 utilized the various victims, such as distorted demons, nuns, and crewmates to give each room a distinct theme. Similar to the other mazes, B340 also had long narrow hallways but managed to still have unique scares, such as actors hanging from the ceilings. Keep a close eye at the beginning for a trap door that leads to a secret bar with a two-way mirror where you can scare other guests.

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FEAST

Chop-chop! It’s time to report for duty as the new line cook on board the world famous Queen Mary. However, all is not what it seems as the kitchens have gone dark and the smell of rank, rotting meat fills the air. From dinner service to the kitchens, the angry spirit of an evil Chef washes back from a watery grave to serve the high-class Queen Mary passengers of 1948. Face the souls of poisoned travelers, gruesome ship staff and of course, the horrific Chef now serving the living to the dead. Let The Feast begin.

For a maze with an overall fun theme of a haunted kitchen, and a cool central character in The Chef, we were disappointed that Feast didn’t take advantage of its potential. While Queen Mary tried to design the maze to feel like a gruesome kitchen, with hanging meat bags, cooking machinery, and a walk-in oven, it was hard not to notice that the maze was actually located in the engineering section of the ship – not quite the proper setting for a “dinner service gone wrong.” Strangely, there was no foul smell anywhere in the maze – which could have been used to create an unsettling environment. Finally, the maze had an awkward ending, with guests having to climb down 3 different flights of stairs, before going through the last room with a single unthreatening character. This is where The Chef could have been utilized, by including him in a big final scare. Also, why not a secret bar in the kitchen themed maze?

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CIRCUS

It’s the night before a dust-covered, rickety old circus opens to the public. Sneak beyond the curtains to unveil the horrors lurking within the shadows of the big top. Hosting a menagerie of monsters and sinister creatures, the one and only Ringmaster returns with unadulterated and unbelievable horrors for all who step inside Circus!

Circus has a unique twist on a classic theme, by showcasing a grim “behind the scenes” look at Circus life. Guests pass through rooms filled with scare actors that are dressed like drunken and tired carnival workers. This maze housed one of the most effective scares of the night, by utilizing a trapeze artist (so don’t forget to look up). However, despite this, the maze overall was lacking on the number of scares. It felt more like you were walking around and enjoying the fun elements such as the vertigo tunnel and mirror maze instead of being scared. All in all, the colorful setting and costumes make it a fun contrast with the dreary elements of Dark Harbor. PS: When you get to the ball pit room, look for a side door that takes you to the next secret bar.

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INTREPID

All Aboard! The Ghost Train Waits…A phantom coach forces the Queen Mary’s original shipbuilder to relive his wicked wrongdoings to shipyard mates, Scottish brethren and plagued family that led to the Iron Hell his soul rots away in. Follow the spine-chilling path to an evil sea witch where a deadly pact was made spawning the horrific half-metal, half-creature known as the Iron Master.

Upon entering the maze, Intrepid grabs your attention thanks to a frightful train car scare, and an awesome exterior setting of Edinburgh Station with falling snow. However, you quickly forget that this maze is supposed to be about going on a ghost train with the Iron Master and learning about his cursed construction of the Queen Mary. Makes you wonder if you missed the train and got left behind. The rest of the maze is filled with hallways covered in rope and mechanical parts, a room with fog/lighting effects to create a body of water like the Lullaby, and characters dressed in raven beaks. These elements seemed better suited for a shipwreck-themed maze. Overall, while the maze had some good scares, it was hard to follow the story of the Iron Master and felt half-finished.

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DEADRISE

The Grey Ghost rises once again, set out on its annual ghastly voyage damned to its eternal battle on the living. With the fearless captain at the helm, guests will walk among the rusted carcass of the Grey Ghost as its full steam ahead into the flames of war. Those unfortunate enough to be caught in the ships warpath may either salute the captain or like an anchor, sink to the depths of the watery tombs.

Deadrise is a needed break from the typical walk the same path maze, thanks to its “choose your own adventure” layout. Be prepared to crawl, climb, and go down slides at different parts of this maze. And don’t be discouraged if you end up getting lost, as this maze relies on confusing guests so they are disoriented and easily scared. Deadrise is simple enough with its setup and backstory but is one of the best mazes at Dark Harbor thanks to a great group of actors, and the physical components of getting through the experience.

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Queen Mary”s Dark Harbor continues to scare those who dare on select nights through November 2. General Admission ticket prices start at just $20 online with optional limited upgrades to Fast Fright, Evil Express, VIP, Ultimate Scream, Creepy Cabanas, and Private Patios (available while supplies last). For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.queenmary.com/dark-harbor.

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Check our ratings guide for further details

HAUNT REVIEW: Knott’s Scary Farm 2018

Knott’s Scary Farm sincerely carries on traditions for it’s 2018  Halloween Haunt. With two new mazes, returning popular mazes, and shows Knott’s will get (keep) you in the Halloween spirit all night long.

We do our best not to spoil the mazes for those who’ve yet to experience them, so we won’t provide scare-by-scare reviews, but we will share highlights and our overall opinions from our own experiences in the mazes. Haunts are rated on a 1-5 “skull” system.

New Mazes and Attractions

THE DEPTHS

A heavy fog drapes over an abandoned port village where ancient creatures lurk inside the pitch-black underground caves hidden below the seaside shores. The Nightwatch Mining Crew has mysteriously disappeared and village rumors point to the eerie tunnels the town sits upon. Myths of the terrifying horrors that lurk within the cave have often been whispered but never confirmed.  Did the crew meet their demise at the hand of vicious creatures that live within the cave? Journey into the ominous caverns and follow the crew’s path into The Depths, discover if the superstition revolving around the cave is true or not. But be warned! All who have entered have never resurfaced.

The Depths is another visually invigorating maze added to this year’s lineup. Similarly to mazes like Shadowlands and Dark Ride, this maze has a very distinct theme that we’ve never seen anywhere else showcasing some stunning scenes, effects, and set pieces. There are also some distinct scares such as a scene with sea creatures jumping out from below the surface of the water as you’re descending underwater, which is effectively pulled off with low lying fog and laser light effects. There’s also massive Kraken monster that rocks the hull of the ship back and forth as you make your way through. One of the final scares features a giant zombified shark whose sharp teeth and jaws get terrifyingly close as you try to pass. The story is a little hard to follow as you somehow start off in a mineshaft going through the barracks of some ill-fated miners and then end up underwater. Nonetheless, we liked this maze and think it’s a solid new entry to the Scary Farm line-up.

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DARK ENTITIES

Teleport beyond earth and into a realm where the darkness is absolute. In the depths of space, a lone station faces terror beyond all imagination. An extraterrestrial mutation has invaded the station, and it’s on the prowl for new hosts. The unearthly inhabitants’ force increases as it feeds on its unwilling victims. Escape the dark entities before its deathly force eliminates all living form aboard the station. There’s nowhere to escape when time is running out!

This maze has so much potential that it never lives up to. Perhaps we went through at the wrong time but there were hardly any monsters or scares inside. The attempted scares it did have were all the predictable “monster around the corner” type. The settings and props were fun and interesting, reminding us of the old school maze Alien Attack (which was far scarier). This maze would be so much more with better lighting, scare timing, and the monster talent. Dark Entities disappointingly failed to make any significant impact and really needs some reworking to make it something worthwhile. They get a solid ‘B’ for effort but it falls far below average for the execution.

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Returning Mazes

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URBAN DEATH TOUR OF TERROR: Haunted Theatre Attraction! Returns for the 2018 Haunt Season.

Our favorite theatrical haunters Zombie Joe and company return for a 6th season of shock and delight with their fun n’ freaky twist on the haunted house.

2017 SZ Haunt Review

Coming off of a critically acclaimed, sell-out run at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe — the largest performing arts festival in the world — Urban Death returns to their North Hollywood home to once again unleash their monsters upon the world.

“This has been an amazing year for Urban Death,” says Zombie Joe. “We have spread our wings overseas and are now looking forward to returning home with a big sloppy ‘thank you’ kiss to our beloved fan base with our kick-ass haunted house. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been brewing up for your screaming pleasure!”

Created by Zombie Joe and Jana Wimer, Urban Death first shocked audiences in 2005, revealing our deepest fears through a series of wordless, non-linear vignettes and intense physical performances.  URBAN DEATH TOUR OF TERROR: Haunted Theatre Attraction! is bold, terrifying, and entirely unique. You are advised to purchase tickets early as this event consistently sells out.

Don’t come alone.

WARNING: Graphic content, trigger warnings, and full nudity.

(Now you really want to go, don’t ya? )

Social Media:  @urbandeath_zju [Instagram] [Twitter] https://www.facebook.com/UrbanDeathZJU/

The Pyramid: Escape Room L.A.’s Exicting New Room

Escape Room L.A., Southern California’s largest escape room experience, adds yet another adventure to their already exciting roster of four escape rooms with The Pyramid, inspired by the secrets and rituals of the ancient Mayans. The Pyramid offers participants a fully-immersive journey through a series of rooms as they solve puzzles, challenges, and even must offer sacrifices to the gods. Upon entering, players realize they have been summoned to save a Mayan civilization by restoring the mask of the jade warrior.

“This game is loosely based on histories and traditions within the Mayan culture. I started by researching the civilization and then taking a few creative liberties to give the game a well-rounded, fully-realized experience,” says creator and founder John Hennessey of Escape Room LA. “We’re combining new technology with ancient and authentic Mayan elements to create a thrilling game full of many surprises!”

The epic adventure takes participants on a journey into an undiscovered Mayan pyramid, where players solve puzzles involving cryptic Aztec calendars, battling the elements, and fighting indigenous creatures—to name a few. The mysteries deepen as players advance to the ultimate challenges in the final tomb. Unlike other puzzle-solving escape rooms, The Pyramid takes players through a multi-sensory journey. The set of the game was designed by Jeff McLaughlin, who has won numerous LA Drama Critics Circle Awards and LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, accompanied by Industrial Designer Mazin Dajani and Construction Coordinator Kyle Rettinger.

 

The Scare Zone crew was able to preview the new experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The settings are reminiscent of being inside a live version of the the popular Uncharted Game or being able to walk through the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. The puzzles are challenging as this room is rated higher in difficulty. However, the intricate sets and mysterious atmosphere will keep you excited and actively involved throughout the adventure.   There are also a few creepy moments inside the attraction with skeleton filled catacombs and the lingering  threat of an unseen adversary that’ s in pursuit.

Located in Downtown LA, Escape Room L.A. brought over 25,000 people to the neighborhood last year, offering more than 80 games per week. Visitors range from escape room connoisseurs; corporate employees seeking unique team bonding experiences; celebrities like Billy Crystal, Conan O’Brien, Neil Patrick Harris, Seth McFarlane, and Emma Stone; and folks looking for unique and out of the box activities. Prospective players can try their luck at any of the five rooms Tuesday through Friday evenings (every 30 minutes from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.), and weekend afternoons and evenings (every 30 minutes from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.). Tickets range from $32 to $37, depending on the date and time. For bookings and additional information, visit www.escaperoomla.com, or call 213.689.3229.

 

HAUNT REVIEW: Into the Black

It’s safe to say that Into the Black was one of 2017’s most highly anticipated haunted attractions   Not only because it’s brand new and was created by legend Larry Bones (of Boneyard Effects), but also because of its twist: You must go through alone.  Now, there have been a few haunts with this premise before, most notably, Alone and Blackout. But those are always characterized as “extreme” haunts with a particular tone bordering on torture—or at least focused on making you extremely uncomfortable. But Into the Black promised something else: a truly scary experience with an extensive back story and overall theme. We can easily say that not only did Into the Black deliver on this promise, but it blasted past our expectations to become our favorite haunt this year.

The attraction is split into two different experiences: A virtual reality experience and the walk-through haunted house. We review both here.

The VR Experience

This short VR film provides the back story for the attraction where we learn the origins of the evil inside the Black house. The film is really well done, and a few added “touches” during the experience make it fun and scary. We think it’s definitely worth purchasing the separate ticket for this. However, if you’re on a really tight budget, the film isn’t necessary to enjoy the haunt; it just makes the theme a bit more understandable.

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The Haunted House

First, let’s get this question out of the way: YES, you will be alone the entire time in this haunt. Although people are let in only about 1 minute apart, the actors are superb in making sure you’ll never catch up with the person in front of you. You can try to run, but the demons will find a way to block you. If you hesitate and linger, they will not-so-gently nudge you along. All while terrifying the crap out of you, of course.

The haunt itself takes you through the darkened, decaying rooms of the Black house, the disturbed family we meet in the VR experience. Along the way, there are also long, dark corridors and bricked passageways to break things up. While the rooms of the house are elaborately detailed, the corridors are more sparse, and this is mostly where the demons lurk in the shadows. We liked the way this works to create a true transition between the separate worlds of the living realm and the underworld. All of the actors are demons in some form, with full body suits and impressive masks. Of course, we’d expect no less from Larry Bones, whose studio has been supplying masks and makeup for Halloween Horrors Nights since its return in 2006.  But the facial details of the monsters are even more impressive than we’d anticipated, adding an extra layer to the scares.

The haunt is long, with a labyrinth-like layout that seems to never end. The scares are thoughtful and well orchestrated, which means you don’t always see them coming. There’s an extreme layer of darkness that’s used to create a sense of dread that permeates the entire walk-through. You never quite know what you’re looking at in the corners and shadows of the rooms. While you’re attempting to gain focus on a barely illuminated scene or prop, the actors use the darkness and your distraction as an advantage in their scares. With their howling and snarling vocalizations coming at you from the blackness, the haunt achieves a level of suspense that puts you on edge the entire time.

We were truly scared in this attraction in a way that we haven’t been in a long, long time. For this reason, we’re breaking our usual 5-skull rating and giving Into the Black a well-earned 6 SKULLS for scare factor!

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Final Thoughts

We loved this haunt and have our fingers triple-crossed that it returns next year. It wasn’t particularly busy the night we attended, and we’re worried that the “go it alone” concept is scaring people away. Going through alone does take it to another level, but we feel most haunt fans would be able to handle it. To increase business, they could consider offering a 2-person or group option, maybe only on certain nights. We just think it would be a complete shame if this haunt isn’t successful.

Yes, this haunt is scary, but we wouldn’t characterize it as “extreme.” There’s some light touching by the monsters, but it’s innocuous for the most part. There’s no crawling or eating bugs or any of that. This haunt strikes the perfect balance between suspense, fear, and a good theme. So if it usually takes a lot to scare you and you’re looking for something with a bit more to it than the typical haunted attraction, you should definitely put Into the Black on your list.

Into the Black runs through October 31 and is located at the Pomona Fairgrounds. Tickets are $13 for the VR experience and $29 for the haunted house.

 

Into the Black Overall Fright Value:

Overall Rating of Into the Black 2017:

Check our ratings guide for further details

 

HAUNT REVIEW: Knott’s Scary Farm 2017

With some chaos Knott’s Scary Farm‘s 45th Halloween Haunt brings back many popular mazes, revamps others, introduces a couple new ones, and gives a final send off to the first Mistress of Haunt.

Well, we decided to forego the early season visit (and our own advice) and went to Knott’s Scary Farm on a mid-October Saturday night. You know, a night when everyone else in Southern California typically visits. Actually we just couldn’t find another time to go this season as we’ve been prioritizing haunts that are offering newer experiences. We also wanted to mix it up a little and report on what it’s like for real-everyday guests (with Fright Lane) and not a press media outlet that has the red carpet rolled out for them,  to which there’s a significant difference in the experiences.

So after 45 years one would think that Knott’s would have it’s haunt operations running smoothly but sadly chaos ensued from the moment we arrived at the front gates. We lucked out a little on parking but even that was a mess (so was our car after paying $20 to park in a dusty lot). The process to get through the turnstile, using their mobile tickets, and getting a Fright Lane wristband was frustratingly slow. It makes no sense as to why they don’t just hand out the fright lane wrist bands to guest who’ve purchased them as they enter the park as the system for the getting the passes at designated stations within the park is aggravatingly slow and disorganized. It completely diminishes  the value of the Fright Lane’s triple admission price and causes a big crowd of confused and angry people form right inside the park’s front gates.

In addition, many employees we encountered seemed clueless as to what they were doing, where things were, and what was going on in general. Line control and crowd flow was confusing and chaotic all over the park. These things matter just as much as having good mazes. The fun spirit of the evening can be quickly killed for guests if they have to endure what seems to be unnecessary frustrations. It nearly killed it for us. Being “sold out” is not an excuse for guests to have a shitty experience.

Perhaps they need to reduce the cap on the number of nightly admissions. Or maybe they need to hire more operations employees and if they’re hiring a lot of seasonal help during haunt they should take the time to properly train ALL of them. This would really make a difference on how efficient everything is ran inside the park. Compared to Universal, Magic Mountain, and Queen Mary,  Knott’s lands in last place for its operations this year… a solid buried skull. Just go onto social media to see the never ending guest rants about this year’s operations.

Now on to the good stuff. While most of it is the same things we’ve all seen and loved before at Knott’s Scary Farm, part of the charm is the Halloween tradition that carries on year-after-year at the park. The new maze themes and the traditional Halloween ambiance that’s showcased across the foggy landscape is actually even more captivating this year with top notch park decorations along with high caliber and some truly scary maze designs. What distinguishes Knott’s in the Southern California theme park market is the originality of their mazes that are not confined to structured movie themes like Universal’s.

In particular, the new Dark Ride maze is probably one of the best themed and designed mazes we’ve ever experienced at  Scary Farm in our past 25 years of visiting! Paranormal Inc. also continues its reign as the most terrifying maze at KSF with Shadowlands, Pumpkin Eater, and Trick or Treat: Lights Out rounding out the slate of our top mazes this year. We’re very happy that they brought back an overlay to the Timber Mountain Log Ride, even if it’s just “family friendly”. Now we hope they can get the Calico Mine Train back on board. Finally, rounding out the festivities, the anything but family friendly Elvira goes out with a (double) bang for her final season at Knott’s… sad so sad.

Now here’s our full Knott’s Scary Farm maze reviews featuring some incredible full maze videos from our friends at Theme Park HD.

 New Mazes and Attractions

DARK RIDE

Journey through an abandoned carnival ride where cruel characters still linger in the shadows in the NEW maze, Dark Ride. The carnival attraction has become a refuge for sideshow freaks and now those shunned performers have created an ominous world where they plan to unleash terror on those who enter.

This is the Scary Farm maze everyone has been screaming for! Dark Ride looked spectacular and is probably one of the most imaginative and well designed mazes we’ve ever seen at Knott’s. Paying tribute to the old school carnival haunted – fun houses, Dark Ride takes guests on a twisted pathway through and behind the scenes of one of the most elaborate mazes in the history of Scary Farm. There are some fun scares but this maze is more about the story and design. It’s almost ironic how a maze based on a simplistic carnival haunted house ride features the most incredible special effects we’ve seen featured in a KSF maze. The scale of the sets, use of animatronics, music, and craftsmanship is definitely Knott’s warning shot back at HHN and others who have tried to run off with the  haunt  maze blueprint that they originated.  A few more scares might have made this maze beyond perfect but we’re almost glad it wasn’t any scarier as we may have then missed seeing the full glory of this awesome maze by trying to cover our eyes (lol). All in all this maze definitely earns the trophy for haunt theme of the year and for the first time in our Knott’s Scary Farm history, it earns our top 666 skull rating for Haunt Design.

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PUMPKIN EATER

Daring guests will attempt to survive the wrath of the murderous 7-foot tall creature that haunts the old woods surrounding The Hollow in this year’s NEW MAZE, Pumpkin Eater. The notorious creature is on the prowl, hidden within the dark confines of the haunted town he once terrorized. To escape the sinister Pumpkin Eater’s wrath all who enter must go on a quest through the silent town of victims, face a cave of crawling insects and solve the labyrinth of thorns that blocks the only way out.

The nursery rhyme of Peter Peter Pumpkin eater is brought to life (and death) in this very imaginative maze concept.  It reminded us of a mix of 1992’s Mother Noose and the more recent Cornstalkers mazes. Just like Dark Ride, Pumpkin Eater demonstrates that Knott’s has really graduated up into a new level of immersive maze theming, storytelling, and design. This maze also had quite a few good scares throughout with a high energy cast that really knows how to work within the maze’s long layout. The makeup and costuming were also well done with monstrous  pumpkins and people with carved faces lurking about. There’s also some grotesque scenes but nothing that’s over the top like in the the Red Barn maze. The spiraling journey through the rotted pumpkins that requires guests to push through dripping wet passageways was a highlight of the maze. Due to many of the outdoor sections this maze is much scarier at night but all in all it really is a fun and fright inducing Halloween maze adventure.

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TRICK OR TREAT: LIGHTS OUT

Are you afraid of the dark? You will be. Armed with only a faulty flashlight, explore the creepy house at the end of the street, in the upgraded Trick-or-Treat: Lights Out maze. Face the terrors  of the house in complete darkness as your interactive flashlight reveals the horrors hiding in the shadows.  Featuring new state-of-the-art effects, unexpected scares and other eerie surprises, Trick-or-Treat: Lights Out will terrorize you like never before.

When we first heard about this maze we thought that it was going to just be the same old Trick or Treat maze where all they’ve done now is shut off the lights so that they could promote it as something new. While this is somewhat true, it works really well with the result being more than just a gimmick. ‘Trick or Treat’ actually has never really been a scary maze to us but the “lights out” element adds a new layer of suspense and scariness to the maze this year. Each guest has their own flashlight so the rooms and settings are somewhat illuminated as the groups walk through but now the ghouls and monsters have the full advantage of seeing  you before you get to see them. They also added some fantastic looking new characters and set redresses. Trick or Treat has established itself as one of the most popular Scary Farm mazes that doesn’t seem to get old. With the new lights out Trick we expect it continue to be treating guests for more years to come.

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TIMBER MOUNTAIN LOG RIDE HALLOWEEN HOOTENANNY

This season the Timber Mountain Log Ride becomes the Halloween Hootenanny. This is a family friendly Halloween overlay to our classic Timber Mountain Log Ride. This attraction will be open every day during the Halloween season and features a brand new original song sung by Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies.

After a hiatus that lasted for a few years, it’s so good to finally have the haunted log ride back at Scary Farm. For us this was always one of the quintessential and unique haunt experiences. This new version isn’t designed to be an overly scary experience but the upgraded props, effects and soundtrack make it one of the funnest things to do at Scary Farm and a nice break from walking around. We also appreciate that in spite of the stricter OSHA regulations they still managed to get a handful of live monsters to lurk about in the dark corners around the flume.

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Returning Mazes

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HAUNT REVIEW: Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2017: The Remix Year

Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) 2017 is fun, scary, and still the best haunt in town. But is there a limit to how many different ways they can repackage Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface?

In our HHN review last year, we wondered whether Universal was running out of different ways they could reuse the same properties and still sell their mazes as “new” experiences. Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Saw, the Walking Dead—all of these well-loved and familiar faces have made multiple appearances over the years. And these characters are some of our very favorites, too. But when would the tide turn and see HHN Hollywood bring back more original concepts, like HHN Orlando does? Well, the answer is not 2017.

Once again, HHN Hollywood brought back fan favorites Jason, Freddy, and Leatherface and repackaged them as the “Titans of Terror,” this time combining their stories into a single maze and Terror Tram experience. Jigsaw returns to HHN for the third time in a “best of” maze featuring popular kill scenes (as well as some scenes from the new movie). Blumhouse has a huge returning presence in their mashup maze of three of their movies, as well as an additional standalone maze based on their next installment of the Insidious franchise. Ash vs. Evil Dead reprises some of the themes of the 2013 Evil Dead maze (although most is brand new.) And American Horror Story is back for a second year, in Roanoke form. The only brand new property we hadn’t seen before was Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining maze.

Now, each of these mazes  can definitely be considered “new.” But the properties are getting a little worn and predictable. In fact, we’re already predicting that 2018 will bring back Michael Myers, since he’ll be slashing up the screens in a new movie next October. But if you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience HHN Orlando’s original concept houses, you know how amazing they are, and they usually blow the existing property houses out of the water. We got a glimpse of that in Hollywood with previous mazes such as La Llorona and El Cucuy. So each year, we hold our breath a little bit during the maze announcements in the hope that John Murdy will get a chance to put his amazing creative talent to use on a wholly original maze idea. Because we know what he can do when given the leeway, and it’s brilliant.

But as much as we’d like to see it happen, there are a couple of signs that HHN might not be changing course into more original territory any time soon. A guest survey sent out this season is asking people for their opinions about what they consider to be a “new” maze and whether having a maze return the next year is acceptable or not. In the early years of HHN, this was just standard–a maze would be around for a couple years before being replaced with something new. This happens at all the theme park haunts. But somewhere along the way, HHN began differentiating itself by being “completely new” every year. And that’s hard to sustain if you’re going to base your event solely on existing horror movie properties. So it seems Universal is considering “returning mazes” as an option. We’ll see what happens in 2018.

Now, on to our maze reviews featuring videos from our friends at ThemeParkHD!

Reviews

First, we need to tell you about something that may change your life. Or at least your HHN experience: EARLY ENTRY. If you don’t buy a front of the line pass, you MUST TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EARLY ENTRY.  There is no charge for this. It’s free with your regular ticket. This brilliantly simple solution to the excruciating lines at HHN absolutely made our night and saved us tons of money. Not willing to fork over 200 bucks for the FOL pass, we decided to try out early entry. Here’s the deal: Get there EARLY, duh. On the night we were there, they opened the gates at 4:20 pm, and from what we understand, they closed them again at about 5:15.  Everyone who enters the park in that window gets a wristband. You have to show your wristband to enter the mazes. The mazes in the lower lot (5 of 7 total mazes!) began opening at 5:15. By the time the park officially opened at 7 pm, we had done all 5 of the lower lot mazes, and we never waited longer than 20 minutes. These wait times jumped to 60-90 minutes once the park opened, so you can see what an advantage this is. We pray to the haunt gods that early entry will return next year.

Mazes

Titans of Terror

This maze combines the stories of Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface, but don’t expect to see them interacting with each other. Their stories are completely separated, using swirling colored lights to transition from one horror icon’s section to the other. The opening scene is the outside of a house on Halloween, perhaps a tribute to home haunters. We see a boy’s bedroom decked out in worship to these characters, and the boy himself is watching a triple horror feature on TV. So that’s how they they’re tying these stories together. The scenes for each of the icons are similar to what we’ve seen before: boiler room stuff for Freddy, campground scenes for Jason, and depraved butchery for Leatherface. The Jason sets do change it up a bit by focusing a lot on his “underground lair,” which was a big feature of the 2009 remake film.

These icons return to HHN year after year for a good reason: They’re scary. And the actors didn’t disappoint here. We had some great scares. However, this was the last maze of the night for us, and the longest line, and there were several spots inside where the “conga line” was in full effect.

 

Haunt Design4-skulls
Theming: 4-skulls
Scare Factor: 4-skulls
Overall Rating: 4-skulls

The Horrors of Blumhouse

This is the other maze on the upper lot, and it takes you through scenes from The Purge, Happy Death Day, and Sinister.  The Purge section begins with an outdoor portion that’s very similar to last year’s Purge scare zone. Urban depravity and creepy creeps terrorize from behind barrels, busted police cars, and illuminated American flags. Although not too scary to us, the imagery and lighting is effective.

After a short indoor section of hanging bodies, etc., you leave the Purge and enter a movie theater for “Happy Death Day,” Blumhouse’s horror offering in theaters this October. Because the movie hadn’t even been released yet when we went, we had only vague knowledge of the overall story line. But even so, we found this part of the maze to be scariest, with more suspense and jump scares than the other portions. Freaks in baby masks were coming at us from all sides.  However, the maze didn’t really make us want to see the actual movie, as some of it just reminded us how annoying college students can be.

The Sinister scenes are darker, and there are a couple of well-known moments from the film re-created in disturbing detail. This had a more atmospheric feeling and not a lot of scares for us.

Although we did get one of the best scares of the night in here (involving a projection screen), and although it’s exciting to get three themes for the price of one in this maze, we felt that the overall tones of the films were too different, leading to transitions that were too jarring and not allowing us to get that build up of suspense that makes a maze successful.

Haunt Design: 3-5-skulls
Theming: 3-skulls
Scare Factor: 4-skulls
Overall Rating: 3-5-skulls

Insidious: Beyond the Further

Insidious-Beyond-the-Further Insidious returns to HHN this year, this time featuring scenes from the new movie…which won’t be released until January 2018. But if you’ve seen the other Insidious movies (or have been through the mazes), the general story will be familiar enough. We’ve always enjoyed the Insidious mazes, and this year was another impressive incarnation. With its creepy atmosphere and excellent scareactors, we got quite a few scares in here. The addition of a couple of video screen effects was interesting but felt a little jarring  in a maze with a traditional “haunted house” feel.

Haunt Design: 3-5-skulls
Theming: 4-skulls
Scare Factor: 4-skulls
Overall Rating: 4-skulls

American Horror Story: Roanoke

Full disclosure: We never got through the entire season of Roanoke last year. But it turns out that didn’t matter much, because this maze tops our list as the best HHN maze of 2017! This maze also uses video screens, which seems to be a growing haunt trend this year. But its strengths are in the impressive attention to detail, theming, and well-positioned scares. The maze begins with a stroll through depraved outdoor scenes in the colonial village, followed by an entrance into the house, where we were assaulted by a diverse cast of ghoulish characters. The actors were relentless when we walked through, seemingly coming within centimeters of our faces with their axes and knives. This maze really caught us off guard, maybe because our expectations were somewhat low. But we love the pleasant surprise of an absolutely terrifying and well-done maze.

Haunt Design: 5-skulls
Theming: 5-skulls
Scare Factor: 5-skulls
Overall Rating: 5-skulls

 

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

This was probably the most highly anticipated 2017 maze, as fans have been clamoring for something from Stephen King for years, and The Shining has certainly been on the top of that list. With Stephen King ruling all aspects of the media this year, it was the perfect time for HHN to take advantage of his popularity. This maze was an impressive adaptation of the Kubrick film, representing all the most crucial scenes. Key audio components were re-created, and scents were added. The Jack Nicholson masks were just a tiny bit “off” in their resemblance, but it totally worked in providing an uncanny feeling to the scareactors. Once again, this maze used a few video screens, and this might be our only complaint. The much-touted “Blood Hallway” scene was a complete failure. We were hoping there was just a glitch with the effect during our walk through, but alas, online videos show otherwise. The close-ups of the twins on the video screen completely ruined the illusion of walking through the actual hallway. There are no close cuts in real life; using clips from the movie here was just an instant reminder that you were looking at a video screen. We know this was a highly ambitious maze and appreciate the attempt to incorporate projection technology. But overall, we feel that the projections only detract from the mazes and hope they don’t return next year.

Haunt Design: 3-5-skulls
Theming: 5-skulls
Scare Factor: 4-skulls
Overall Rating:  4-5-skulls

 

Ash Vs. Evil Dead

Ash-Versus-Evil-Dead-Halloween-Horror-NightsWith a lot of sight gags and goofy characters, this maze was a little more fun than scary. You enter the maze through Ash’s trailer, where the evil dead begin attacking immediately. Instead of being scared, we found ourselves consumed by looking at all the crazy details of the scene. After making it past Grandma Dead, the maze opens up to an outdoor scene, followed by an entrance into the notorious cabin. This maze has a lot of standard HHN “door” scares and few dark passageways that also seem to be used more frequently in HHN mazes as transitions between scenes.

Haunt Design:  4-skulls
Theming:  4-skulls
Scare Factor: 3-skulls
Overall Rating: 4-skulls

 

Saw: The Games of Jigsaw

Jigsaw returns to HHN this year in a maze showcasing the best “games” of the series. Since we’ve seen the other iterations of Saw at HHN, much of this maze looked familiar to us, from the pig-faced creeps, to the face traps, to the water torture, to the bathroom scene and the return of its unholy stench. If you’re a fan of Saw, you’ll probably love this maze and its “greatest hits” feeling. Also included is a trap from the new movie, which was probably the best, visually. We didn’t find this maze too scary, but its gore and “ick” factor are enough to put you on edge.

Haunt Design:  4-skulls
Theming:  4-skulls
Scare Factor: 3-skulls
Overall Rating: 3-5-skulls

Titans of Terror Tram

Terror-Tram-Jason-Halloween-Horror-Nights

Chucky is back to hijack the Terror Tram and, of course, promote his new Netflix movie. The tram also features appearances by Jason (Bates Motel scene), Freddy (War of the Worlds set), and Leatherface (sheet maze area).  There’s not a whole lot to say about the tram that hasn’t been said in previous years, but one thing that stood out to us was the fact that there were no chainsaws in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre scenes! We can easily guess this is because of noise complaints from nearby residents in previous years. But chainsaws are used earlier in the tram (which is farther from the homes on the hill), so perhaps they should’ve had Leatherface swinging the chainsaw as you get off the tram rather than Chucky. The tram is fun, but it’s never scary to us. But it’s a good way to get off your feet for a few minutes.

Haunt Design: 2-skulls
Theming: 2-skulls
Scare Factor: 1-5-skulls
Overall Rating: 2-skulls

Final Thoughts

We had a blast at HHN this year, and a lot of that was due to Early Entry. Without having to pay the exorbitant price for Front of the Line, the Fright Value for this event has gone way up this year. The mazes were well done, and some were terrifying. On the downside, the scare zones were scaled back (and not worth a review this year), and the return of several properties (which themselves date back to the 1970s-1980s) made the event feel a bit stale. We hope to see more original concepts next year, but we know that whatever the maze theme, the attention to detail will be unmatched by any other haunt out there.


HHN Hollywood Overall Fright Value:

4-skulls

Overall Rating of HHN Hollywood 2017:

4-5-skulls

 

HAUNT REVIEW: CREEP LA’s LORE

Creep LA, the masters of haunt experiences in LA, have teamed up with Amazon Prime Video to create a truly unique immersive theater experience this Halloween season.

Past Creep LA experiences have been highly rated  here on The  Scare Zone and this year continues the tradition of the well produced interactive theatrical haunt experience.  Unlike the previous years  (“Creep Los Angeles”, “The Willows”) , this year’s CreepLA is closely tied to an intellectual property. Derived from Aaron Mahnke’s popular podcast, Lore is  an Amazon Prime Exclusive’s new six-episode anthology series that presents the frightening and often disturbing tales based on real people and events that have led to our modern-day myths and legends. Celebrating the origins of the horror genre, Lore explores the real-life tales behind pop culture’s most legendary horror myths, such as vampires, changelings, werewolves, séances and possessed dolls.

Creep LA: Lore takes small groups of eight inside an imagined universe where they’ll travel through a fully engaging, multi-sensory, 1-hour walk-thru experience. At Creep LA: Lore, everyone is part of the experience whether they intend to be or not. To be clear this is not one of those torture and humiliation haunt concepts.  Guests may get touched (or kissed) but it’s all within boundaries.

This year’s show has definitely taken the production to a new level (having the corporate partnership is always a good thing). The size and scope of the venue is huge and each scene is  intricately  designed. The settings create dynamic and diverse environments. The talent is also top notch. Some of the highlighted performances include the nurse that recites a spooky bedtime story to the group and room of disturbed orphans, a woman looking for her son that has disappeared with a rather creepy looking doll,  and a lobotomy doctor with his disembodied assistants.

One of the challenges of performing a haunt show is that the actors do have to rely on the audience actively participating, which can lead to some unpredictable outcomes from show to show. We strongly suggest that you don’t try to hide or act too smug as you will then be the person who is picked on. During the show everyone can expect to be separated from the group at some point.

Being honest, there were a few WTF moments in the show as some of the scenes didn’t seem to flow smoothly or provide a satisfactory finale. Perhaps it’s because we weren’t fully familiar with Lore yet. We remember the previous years having more suspense and scares built into the experiences. Nonetheless, this year’s show is able to compensate with it’s overall higher quality of production and is a high caliber Halloween theatrical haunt experience. Plus, with the themed bar at the end, it’s setup as the perfect Halloween season date, friends, or all to yourself night out.

Scare Zone Rating

DETAILS

Creep LA: Lore is taking place at Mag1ic Box LA in Downtown LA on select dates from October  5th  through November 12th. Creep LA has continuously sold out their previous event series almost immediately upon going on sale. So be sure to get yours quickly or you may just end up reading about it here on The Scare Zone.

Tickets for Creep LA: Lore are for ADULTS ONLY. Ticket prices start at $65. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: www.CreepLA.com.

Engage with and follow Creep LA on social media at: #creepla @creeplosangeles

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