Tag: Los Angeles (page 1 of 3)

L.A. Haunted Hayride Celebrates 10th Anniversary

LOS ANGELES HAUNTED HAYRIDE ANNOUNCES THEIR MOST SPECTACULAR SEASON YET AS THE HALLOWEEN ICON CELEBRATES 10 YEARS BY BRINGING BACK ALL THE FAN FAVES OF THE PAST DECADE

 

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (@LAHauntedHayride) returns with the most immersive ride yet as guests are completely transported back to hayrides past. This is sure to be another Halloween feast with the return of the legendary Haunted Hayride, the heart-pounding House Of Shadows Dark Maze, the disturbed neighborhood of Trick Or Treat and everyone’s favorite haunted village, Purgatory.

 

For fans that have been to every hayride, it will be an unforgettable ride through the nightmares the hayride has been inducing for years.  You will also be treated to new surprises and some larger than life additions that one would expect for a celebration as grand as a 10 Year Anniversary. For first-timers, the experience will be a hayride on steroids as every memorable demon and apparition returns to say hello once again. Do you remember the demon church of “The Congregation”? Or the legions of psychopathic clowns from “Through The Eyes Of A Child”? Maybe you’d love to take a ride back through “The Rift”? Then, this is your year and then some! If you haven’t been to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, you will not want to miss out on this limited run special edition.

When you visit the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride your evening will include a stop in Purgatory. The charm and magic of our old world ‘haunted village’ invokes the nostalgia of Halloweens past; smell the freshly cut hay and see the deep, rich, orange glow of jack o’ lanterns as you pass through our gates. Become a part of the show at Theatre Macabre, ride the ‘Scary-Go-Round’, enjoy fair food & drink faves at the Grub Shack, have a clandestine encounter with a psychic, and don’t forget to grab your limited run anniversary swag in the Bootique.

Returning for this massive anniversary, the park will bring back cult favorites House Of Shadows and Trick Or Treat. The legendary House Of Shadows sends you into complete darkness as you grasp onto your group and stumble through Southern California’s only true dark maze! It is a disorienting, claustrophobic experience where you might find yourself totally alone in the shadows. At Trick Or Treat, it’s Halloween every night. Check out our ALL-NEW ghoulish residents as we have amped up the fright factor for this annual freakish block party.

The terror of the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride begins on September 29th, 2018 and will be open select nights until October 31st, 2018. Operating hours are Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 7pm-10:30 pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 7pm-12am, with the exception of September 29th when we close at 11pm. General Admission and VIP passes that surpass the line are available, as well as a Platinum pass that includes VIP parking! There are also a limited number of Hayride Only passes starting at $26, all expected to sell out during the pre-sale. Pre-sale for tickets will end September 1st. Visit www.losangeleshauntedhayride.com for exact nights of operation and other details.

Social Tags: #LAHH, #LAHH2018, #LAHH10Years

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.

Theming: 
Scare Factor: 
Overall Rating: 

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!

Haunt Design: 
Theming: 
Scare Factor:
Overall Rating: 

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: 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

 

Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain Returns With New Scares

Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest is back for another terrifying year, with a full line up of mazes, scare zones, and entertainment. Although they’re sometimes in the shadow of the bigger haunt players in SoCal (like Halloween Horror  Nights or Knott’s Scary Farm), they’ve really improved their event over the past decade or so, creating an impressive Halloween event that shouldn’t be overlooked. They also consistently add new stuff and change things each year, and 2017 is no different. So let’s take a look at what’s new for this year:

New Maze: Dead End

 Luring you to the darkest edges of the Willoughby’s Estate and then leaving you to fend for yourself in the dark abyss.

This sounds like it could be a “black out” type of maze, but with few details this early, it’s hard to tell.

New Scare Zone: Damned ‘N Disguise (*New for 2017)

Change Before Your Eyes! The City of Metropolis is transformed into a first-ever, right-in-front-of-your-eyes, morphing masquerade.

Also New for 2017:

Club 6-Feet Under (Metro Park Pub)

Party with a deadly DJ spinning hot jams until the wee hours of the night. Enjoy ghoulish grub and grog plus plenty of ghouls and scares.

Hidden Haunts VIP Tour

Visit obscure areas around the park and hear real-life haunting tales. Plus, get your fill of thrills and chills with access to mazes and attractions.

Returning Mazes

Toyz of Terror in 3D

Wicked wind-ups, freakish stuffed animals, and deranged dolls haunt those who dare to enter the factory.

Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising

A renegade faction is threatening to destroy the only livable space with the release of a dangerous toxin. 

Willoughby’s Resurrected

The Willoughby’s Family mansion tale unfolds before your eyes at this once affluent Victorian mansion that has become a haven for evil.

Vault 666

If you dare to enter, be aware of your surroundings at all times, unknown animal like screams have been heard deep within this unsecured vault.

Chupacabra

Come face to face with this elusive blood-thirsty creature as it terrorizes a local Dia de Los Muertos festival.

Red’s Revenge

Over the hill and through the woods to Grandmother’s house you go. Enter the world of Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.

Returning Scare Zones

Exile Hill

The dead have risen and are looking for new souls to take on this dark and sinister hill.

Nightmares: A Twisted Fantasy

This evil nightmare has never been so edgy as your favorite bedtime stories take on a new and twisted tale.

TERRORtory Twisted

Steam-spewing mechanical beasts relentlessly hunt down their victims.

Demon’s Door

Welcome to HELL…be prepared for your mind and body to be completely taken over by the evil spirits that await you.

Suicide Squad: The Six Flags Fright Fest Experience

Darkness and chaos will reign in the park’s DC UNIVERSE as some of DC Comics’ most famous Super-Villains will be roaming.

*****

As usual, several coasters will be running “in the dark” as part of the event. For those who’ve never been to Fright Fest, it works a bit differently from other haunts; instead of a ticket to the Halloween event, a “maze pass” is sold in addition to regular day admission. So the park doesn’t close to change over to the haunt.

Six Flags hasn’t released the maze pass prices yet, but it’s usually around $30. The Hidden Haunts VIP tour will also be a separate charge, and prices are pending on that as well.

Fright Fest begins Saturday, September 16 and runs Fridays through Sundays until Halloween. Check out the website for more info.

ScareLA 2017

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the second Southern California Halloween Convention of the year will be taking place this weekend.

ScareLA is the world’s first summer Halloween convention. Situated in the entertainment capital of the world, the event celebrates the American scare season traditions and the diverse cultural heritage of the Greater Los Angeles region. Featuring hundreds of specialty vendors, education programming, world-class industry presentations, ScareLA draws thousands of professionals, fans and families from the U.S. and abroad to celebrate Halloween early every summer. ScareLA is one of the fastest growing independent fan conventions in the U.S. addressing a $10 billion Halloween industry worldwide.

To celebrate their 5th anniversary, they are making 2017 EXTRA scary with the special appearance of John Kassir, the Cryptkeeper of “Tales from the Crypt,” ScareLA’s 2017 Host! Listen to his iconic voice over the loudspeakers of the entire convention all weekend long as he announces special programming and more surprises right from the ScareLA show floor.

The fun will continue into the night in our Saturday night-party venue: Clifton’s Shadowbox Room (Clifton’s Republic, 648 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014). You’ve heard of the famed Tiki Room, Gothic Bar and five stories of incredible themed-entertainment space at this coveted DTLA staple. But did you know that lurking below the ground there is a room called “The Shadowbox”?!? Few have set foot inside and even fewer have ever left! Open only for ScareLA attendees from 8PM-2AM!

This will be a tale you will never forget: August 5-6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Tickets for the convention are still available for purchase, but all monsters must act now before quantities die out!

For more information, visit www.scarela.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Haunt Review: Creep Los Angeles

! creep

But I’m a creep

I’m a weirdo

What the hell am I doing here?

I don’t belong here.

These are the lyrics to the unsettling, slow choral version of the Radiohead song that plays while you wait your turn for the new Creep Los Angeles haunt. But don’t listen to those words—you do belong here, because Creep Los Angeles is a seriously scary, demented, and innovative new haunt experience that you should definitely put on your list this October.

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Warning: Slight spoilers ahead.

Creep Los Angeles is located in the Arts District, only a couple of miles from another new haunt, Drunken Devil. The location is unassuming and bit deserted at night. The haunt is housed inside an abandoned warehouse, with the only indication there’s a haunt inside being the word “Creep” projected on the outside wall and the line of people on the sidewalk. We were unsure what to expect from this haunt as the website was deliberately vague on details, although it did tell us that we’d be forced to run and crawl. Some of the other people waiting in line with us were hoping the experience would be on the level of “Blackout” or “Alone.” We can report that it’s certainly not as intense as those two haunts, but it’s definitely more extreme than the standard theme park haunt experience. So for us, it’s a nice mixture of something a little more extreme without being too uncomfortable.

This haunt sends groups of six people through at one time, with groups going through every 8 minutes or so. We were forced to sign a waiver to enter the haunt, and we were warned that we’d probably be touched. After signing the form, we were ushered in a small holding area, where an older woman told us we’d meet her “creepy son” inside. Then she proceeded to stare us down for the next uncomfortable 5 or 7 minutes. Suddenly, a “creepy guy” burst out of the darkness and took one of us—alone—into the haunt. Immediately, this was different from most other experiences out there. We don’t really want to give away what happens if you end up being chosen for this “alone” experience, but we’ll say that it’s not too intense, but certainly helps to build suspense. Eventually, the group is reunited, and the haunt proceeds.

Overall, there’s not a very coherent story line behind the haunt; instead, there is a sequence of different scenes featuring actors who put on a bit of a performance where they might warn you about something, and then something scary happens (Bloody Mary, for example). The actors we thought of as the “creeps” are men and women who are mostly wearing masks that look like they’re from the The Purge, with the odd gorilla or scary baby mask thrown in. One of the more intense scenes involves hiding from a killer inside a dark box, with peep holes you can look out to see the killer stalking you.

Despite the fact that we didn’t gather a distinct story from the experience, we still felt that the scenes had a good flow and connection to them. The overall aesthetic is sparse, with an almost black-and-white feeling to the scenes. Some of the rooms have a surreal, “arty” quality. Lighting and effects are kept to a minimum, and the presence of a single actor in the room can sometimes be scarier than any scene full of monsters in a theme park haunt.

As for the running and crawling: yes, you will be doing these things. But no, it’s not that bad. You will most definitely be touched at some point, but it’s not too invasive. The actors occasionally pull people away from the group, but the separation doesn’t last long. Overall, Creep Los Angeles strikes a really good balance between something a little more extreme than the typical haunt without being over the top. You will feel uncomfortable, but not violated.

We definitely recommend that our readers check out Creep Los Angeles. The haunt is scary, unique, and good for haunt stalkers tired of the typical, “monster around the corner” scare. We also feel that the $25-$35 ticket price is a decent value, as the haunt lasted about 20 minutes, and with the small group size, everyone was guaranteed to get scared at least once.

 

Ratings

Haunt Design: 4.5 Skulls
Theming: 3.5 Skulls
Scare Factor: 4.5 Skulls
Fright Value: 4 skulls

Overall Rating: 4.5 Skulls

Scare Zone’s Guide to Scare L.A.

scare-la

Scare L.A. is turning into one of the biggest and best haunt conventions in the country, and by now, you’ve probably been inundated with e-mail blasts, social media updates, and ticket promo codes for the event. But if you haven’t attended Scare L.A. in either of the past 2 years, you might be wondering how to prioritize your time over the weekend. Never fear, Scare Zone is here with the list of our recommendations that our haunt stalkers should put at the top of their “to-do” lists.

Fear STation

1. Mini-Haunts

One of our favorite activities from last year was going through the mini-haunts that are scattered about the convention floor. They can be scary, fun, or both—and who doesn’t love a little taste of an actual haunt in August? If there’s no admission charge, be sure to leave a donation for each one you visit, because building a haunt (even a mini-one) is hard work, and we want to see these mini-haunts return each year.

 

 

Bus7wzvIcAAixnQ2. Presentations

Plan out ahead of time which presentations you’d like to see, and be sure to line up EARLY for the most popular ones (but if you got the Fear Freak pass, you’ll get front-of-the-line access). The panels on Halloween Horror Nights and Knott’s Scary Farm will definitely have some of the longest lines. We suspect that the Hatbox Ghost and “Making Monsters” panels will also be extremely popular this year.

 

 

socal haunters

3. Classes

Scare L.A. features a great line-up of instructional classes, with some even resulting in a prop  you can take home and use in your own Halloween display. We highly recommend one of the classes given by the SoCal Valley Haunters group (if you can’t decide, go with the Tombstone workshop).

 

Urban Death Flyer

4. Zombie Joe’s Urban Death

We’re big fans of Zombie Joe and his twisted Underground Theatre. Short performances excerpted from the excellent Urban Death are presented throughout the weekend at Scare L.A., and they are not to be missed. The performances are funny, disturbing, and even a bit scary at times. No other haunt convention has anything remotely like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5. The Show Floor

The bread and butter of any convention is in its vendors, so be sure to plan time to stroll up and down the show floor aisles. But most importantly, we urge all of our haunt stalkers to BUY SOMETHING! Vendors will return to a convention only if it’s worth their while, which means they gotta sell their stuff. Support your local haunt and horror creators by being a good American and opening your wallet, even if it’s for something small.

New for 2015

There are several new experiences coming to Scare L.A. this year that we can’t wait to check out. These are at the top of our list:

  • Apocalypse: “the first ever real-time zombie infection game.” We’re curious to see how this plays out during the weekend, and whether the crowds we expect to show up for the convention get in the way of the gameplay.
  • The Vault of Darkness: This sounds like 50% haunt/50% vendor display for low-light products. But 100% awesome!
  • Serial Killer Speed Dating: Unfortunately, we at Scare Zone are not single; otherwise, we’d be totally trying this! It’s speed dating with what seems like a murder-mystery element. If any of our readers finds love at the convention, let us know!

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Scare L.A. is shaping up to be the haunt convention to attend. The only thing missing? Haunt tours! Maybe in 2016…?

For all the official information about Scare L.A., visit their website.  Scare Zone will be tweeting and Facebooking live from the convention all weekend. Be sure to follow us for updates and pictures of the event. And if you see us, stop and say hello. We won’t bite…much.

Haunt Review: Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2013

Purge Scare Zone

At this year’s Scare LA convention, John Murdy, creative director of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) Hollywood was asked, “What is best time to visit HHN?” His quickly responded that the second weekend of the event was the best. He said the scareactors have had time to work out their scares, opening weekend crowds have died down a bit, and operations have worked out some kinks. So, after usually visiting on opening weekend, we decided to take his advice this year and attend on Friday, September 27, the second weekend of HHN’s run.

Reviews of opening weekend were mixed, but a common theme was that the lines were LONG and the park was crowded. And that has certainly been our experience in the past few years, so much that we won’t even consider going anymore without buying a front-of-the-line (FOL) pass. The last time we did not have that pass, we weren’t able to get into all the mazes because of the lines. And this is terrible, because of course, not everyone can (or wants to) buy an FOL pass. At $119, it’s crazy expensive. So we’re very happy to report that the second Friday of the season is an excellent time to visit HHN, and with some good planning, the FOL pass doesn’t seem necessary. We made it through 3 different mazes in the first hour alone, and we were even able to go through 2 of those mazes twice. This means we did 5 mazes in that first hour. Note that we followed our own Terror Tip and arrived well before park opening, which is important  because the lines did grow as the night went on.

It’s important to have a plan of attack before going into HHN. This year, the mazes are more spread out, as there is only 1 maze in the upper lot (plus the House of Horrors), 2 mazes in the lower lot, and 2 mazes in the newly used location of the backlot, which requires boarding a tram. On the night we visited, the two mazes on the backlot (Black Sabbath 13 and Walking Dead) had the longest lines throughout the night. We progressed from front to back and will present our reviews in the order in which we visited them.

So, onto the reviews!

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.

MAZES

El Cucuy: The Boogeyman

El Cucuy

El Cucuy is based on the Mexican legend of a “shape-shifting” monster with sharp teeth and claws who comes in the night to eat children. Throughout the maze, we hear actor Danny Trejo’s voice narrating the story for those who are unfamiliar with it. The narration is not too intrusive, and there’s also the voice of El Cucuy himself following you as you walk through, growling about how he’s going to kill your children, which is pretty creepy. The maze goes through scenes of a movie theatre, a birthday party gone wrong, and a destroyed living room, and then it takes you into the caves where El Cucuy has his dark lair of imprisoned victims with pumpkin heads. This was the first HHN maze we walked through that actually smelled good--they seem to be piping in the smell of pumpkin spice (or something) in some of the rooms.

This is one of the mazes at HHN this year that is not based on an existing TV or movie property. These original maze concepts can sometimes be more engaging to walk through, as y0u’re forced to piece together the overall story on your own. We found El Cucuy to be dark and disturbing, with decent scares and very good sets. There were a lot of scareactors in the same masks, and the pumpkin heads on the victims was sort of confusing, but the pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns in the maze did add a bit of Halloween spirit to HHN, which is lacking from the event overall. Overall, the originality of El Cucuy and the sinister nature of the story itself made it one of our favorite mazes of the night.

El Cucuy facade

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4.5 skulls
  • Theming: 4 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4 skulls

Overall Rating: 4 skulls 

Evil Dead: Book of the Dead

Evil Dead

Evil Dead is the property that more fans have requested be turned into a maze than any other. We never got a maze based on the classic Bruce Campbell version, so fans have had to settle for this year’s maze based on the 2013 remake. But excitement has still been high for this one. This maze is located in the lower lot behind The Mummy. The maze starts out in the woods, where you see Mia being attacked by the tree (which, unfortunately, was just a writhing dummy rather than an actual actor). From there, we see the facade of the cabin bathed in red light, which makes for a cool entrance. The cabin has some cool blacklight and regular lighting effects, but there’s another dummy just sitting there at a table. This is where we began to notice that HHN seems to be using a lot more static dummies this year. Some of them looked rather cheap and actually took a lot away from the realism HHN is usually known for.

In the cabin, we go through the most horrific and gruesome kill scenes from the movie.  This maze is a lot of eye candy, and it’s a great translation of the film to a maze, down to the re-creation of the rainstorm at the end. But that’s also the maze’s main downfall: it’s almost a scene-by-scene retelling of the movie. Sure, it’s important to capture the story and characters of the property you’re turning into a maze, but we’d like to see something unexpected or surprising.

Most of the main actors in this maze were female, and they were going full throttle in bringing the creepiness of the movie to life, especially the tongue-splitting character. Although we loved the detail and sets in this maze, the scares just didn’t live up to our expectations.

Evil Dead puke scene

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4 skulls
  • Theming: 4.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 3 skulls

Overall Rating: 3.5 skulls 

Insidious: Into the Further

Insidious Logo

Insidious is HHN Hollywood’s first attempt at a truly paranormal maze. Paranormal mazes are notoriously hard to pull off, because it’s much easier to scare people by putting a mask on a huge guy and giving him a chainsaw than to re-create the tension and mood needed to build the suspense of a “ghost” scare. But Insidious works well as a maze because HHN has focused their scenes on all the interesting demons and spirit characters from the two movies, while also adding in ghostly elements that bring the paranormal feeling to life.

We enter the maze through the front door of the Lambert’s (first) home from the first movie. As we progress through the house, we see the Old Woman and various demons haunting the childrens’ rooms. Eventually, we pass through the red door and enter The Further. The low-lying fog was a cool effect here, but when we passed through this maze again later in the night, it didn’t seem to be working. Scenes from the Chapter 2 movie sequel were scary, especially the woman in white, who looked like she stepped right out of the film. This was our favorite maze of the night, as it had the best effects and best scares.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4.5 skulls
  • Theming: 4.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4.5 skulls

Overall Rating: 4.5 skulls 

Black Sabbath 13

Black Sabbath 13

Black Sabbath 13 is this year’s “Horror Rock” maze, following in the footsteps of the Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper mazes of previous years. It’s a bright, psychedelic walk through scenes depicting some of the most popular Black Sabbath songs, such as “War Pigs,” “Paranoid,” and “Iron Man.” As expected, loud Black Sabbath music plays over everything. Because each scene has its own song, if you walk too fast, it can be kind of jarring to hear the songs change so quickly. Fans of Black Sabbath will probably like this maze, but if  you’re not a serious fan, you might find this one to be just mediocre. The 3D effects were pretty cool but very similar to what we saw in the Alice Cooper maze last year. We just didn’t get a lot of scares in here.

We know that John Murdy loves to create mazes based on his favorite bands/music artists, so our fingers are crossed for a “Smiths” maze next year.

Black Sabbath interior

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 3 skulls
  • Theming: 3 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 3 skulls

Overall Rating: 3 skulls 

The Walking Dead:  No Safe Haven

Walking dead HHN

This year’s Walking Dead maze features the prison from season 3 of the series as well as Woodbury and the Governor. As with the other mazes, the sets were detailed and looked straight out of the show, but the scares just weren’t there. Maybe it was the long conga line that was forming inside that prevented most of the scareactors from surprising anyone. There was one really great scare that got us that involved a whole horde of zombies that lunged right at us, but for the most part, it was a typical zombie maze, with actors staggering around slowly and lots of gross-looking festering sores and detached body parts.

Walking dead prison

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 3.5 skulls
  • Theming: 3.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2.5 skulls

Overall Rating: 3 skulls 

Universal Monsters Remix: Resurrection

monsters remix

What is there to say about this maze, really? It’s more or less a rerun of last year’s, supposedly featuring “Figure,” but we couldn’t tell any difference. There are basically no scares in here. It’s a mish-mash of monsters from Universal’s old films, and the highlight was getting to see the Invisible Man DJ in the laboratory room, who was designed by a fan as part of a contest orchestrated by John Murdy.  There were also Frankenstein characters created on the show Face Off. This maze is worth going through only if there’s a short line; we suggest skipping past it on your way in and visiting toward the end of the night, when there is usually no line at all.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2 skulls
  • Theming: 2 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 1 skull

Overall Rating: 1.5 skulls 

Terror Tram: Invaded by the Walking Dead

Terror Tram

Like last year, the 2013 Terror Tram features The Walking Dead and covers the same ground as all years before. As you exit the tram, a line of chainsaws greets you, ushering you up the path toward the Bates Motel. Walkers stumble around, attempting to scare but moving just too slowly to really cause anyone alarm. The trail takes you past the Bates house, through some zombie sets, through the War of the Worlds sets, and back onto the Tram. There is nothing really new this year, and we suggest that if you’re running out of time in your evening, this is the attraction to skip.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 1 skull
  • Theming: 1 skull
  • Scare Factor: 1 skull

Overall Rating: 1 skull

SCARE ZONES

 

The Purge: Survive the Night: This year, the main entrance into HHN is taken over by The Purge scare zone. This was a fantastic use of a movie as a scare zone, as its placement is perfect at the beginning of the park, where most of the mayhem and disorder take place. This area is always the most chaotic, so The Purge is a great setting for that. The opening “Scare-amonies” feature a line of sinister-looking folks (“purgers”?) with chainsaws, wearing those creepy expression-less masks from the movie. There’s also an actor portraying the “Polite Leader” at the head of the scare zone, and one of these actors looked so much like the guy in the movie, we had to watch him for several minutes to decide whether or not the real actor had joined the ranks of HHN this year. 4 skulls

The Curse of Chucky: Supposedly there are Chuckies running around this area, but we didn’t see any as we walked through. Chucky does make appearances on the balcony to insult people, which can be a funny way to kill a few minutes, if you’re into that sort of thing. We’d rather be in the mazes. 1 skull

Cirque Du Klownz: The clowns are back, this time in French clothes. Unfortunately, weird French makeup does not make clowns scarier. 2 skulls

Scarecrowz: This was probably a good idea on paper, but the execution was terrible. This “scare zone” is basically the area on the lower level at the bottom of the “Star Way” and consists of about 4 or 5 stilt walkers in masks that only sort of look like scarecrows, while the lighted word “Scarecrowz” twirls around the area (probably because you wouldn’t know you’re in the scare zone otherwise). It was interesting to see some of the stilt walkers scaring people as they exited the restroom, and we have to admire these guys for their agility on the stilts. 2.5 skulls

The Walking Dead: Dead on Arrival: This scare zone is located in the New York streets backlot area, used this year for the first time at HHN. We’ve always thought it would be so cool to have mazes in a backlot area, and our wish finally came true this year. It really did add a lot to the whole event, since the backlot area is so immersive and completely themed already. Although we didn’t really get scared by the zombies in this area, the setting is really great and we hope it returns next year. 4 skulls

Long lines at HHN

 

SUMMARY

From 2007 through 2011, if you wanted to be scared at a major haunt, HHN was the place to go. Unfortunately, the past 2 years of HHN have left us disappointed with regard to the scare factor. The sets and theming are still top notch and the best of any haunt out there, but the scares are just not coming through effectively. We think this is due to a number of factors, number one probably being the overcrowding at the event. A Front of the Line pass will get you past the long lines outside, but it doesn’t do anything about the conga lines inside the mazes. It’s just impossible to be scared when you’ve seen the same actor come out and scare people 10 feet ahead of you.

Could the other factor be that the mazes are too well done? The sets are amazingly detailed and perfectly lit, which doesn’t always allow for the shadows needed to hide an actor. And where there are shadows, they’re in the perfect place to hide an actor, so you can easily guess he’s there. The mazes also have a lot of scenes that are made up of really large rooms. So as soon as you enter a scene, you have almost the entire room in your eyeline, and it’s easy to immediately spot the closet door, the picture frame, the shower curtain, or some other device behind which the actor will be hidden. Compare this to Knott’s, which has a lot of narrow hallways (although that setup is often limited to the “monster around the corner” scare). The best haunts have a mixture of expansive sets and narrow passages, scares from different directions and using different gimmicks, and also use of lighting that throws your sense of perception off balance, creating that sense of tension that’s required to set up a really good scare. Of the HHN Hollywood mazes, Insidious came the closest to meeting these criteria, and that’s why we’re ranking it as our favorite at HHN this year.

Despite the low scare rating this year, we still found HHN to be a fun event. The addition of the backlot area was fantastic and a good way to space out the mazes. The walkways and paths didn’t feel as crowded this year, and we think that’s partially because more guests were trapped in that backlot area. We hope they continue to use this area in the future, and we still hope every year for a revamped Terror Tram experience. We’ll see what 2014 brings!

For great videos of all the mazes at HHN Hollywood this year, be sure to check out ThemePark HD’s YouTube channel.

 

Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights Overall Fright Value: 3.5 Skulls

Overall Rating of HHN Hollywood 2013: 4 Skulls

 

Check our ratings guide for further details.

Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare

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Rob Zombie and his twisted world of horror characters have become familiar Halloween and Haunt icons, especially at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). Now, after 2 HHN haunt incarnations of House of a 1,000 Corpses (in 2000 and then again in both 2010 and 2011) Zombie is now ready to breakout on his own. For 15 nights in October the L.A. County Fairgrounds (FAIRplex), will be transformed in Zombie’s own nightmarish playground aka FEARplex. Highlights will include 3 haunts based on his movies and characters along with music acts.

This is not the first time the FAIRplex has been given a haunt layover. In the mid 2000’s it was transformed into SCAREplex.  That event wasn’t much to remember besides just being something else haunted to do during Halloween season in Southern California. The mazes were generic and lacked any kind of scare factor. However, Zombie is now breathing new life (or death) into the fairgrounds and from how it sounds, he will be offering a new must-see haunt attraction for the ever growing Los Angeles/SoCal haunt market. With his experience in working with Universal’s HHN team we’re hoping his new FEARplex will prove to be a fresh and  intense experience. Perhaps since he’s freed from the limits of what could feasibly be done inside Universal he’ll now take his mazes to a higher level of terror. You can bet that we’ll be there this season to find out and go through the 3rd haunt version of the House of a 1,000 Corpses. This also kills the rumors that there’ll be a Lords of Salem maze featured at HHN.

Tickets for Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare are available starting at only $30 and going up for VIP packages beginning Saturday, June 29 at www.GreatAmericanNightmare.com. Each ticket includes access to all haunted house attractions, concerts and midway activities.

**Excerpts from the Official Press Release**

Groundbreaking musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie will unleash his Great American Nightmare on Los Angeles this Halloween season. This bone-chilling experience will combine the most advanced haunted house attractions with a not-to-be-missed music festival from top artists in hard rock, alternative, EDM, and more, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from October 10 through November 2, 2013 at the Fairplex FEARplex in Pomona, CA, just outside Los Angeles.

A creative collaboration between masters of the macabre Rob Zombie and preeminent haunted house producer Steve Kopelman, the fully immersive haunted house experience will feature three attractions based on Zombie’s own horror films: Lords Of Salem Total Black OutThe Haunted World Of El Superbeasto 3D, and Haunt Of 1,000 Corpses. The shocking–and sometimes disturbing–fright attractions will offer a three-dimensional experience with animatronics and effects, a maze that is the ultimate definition of claustrophobia and fear, sudden chills and startling thrills, and salacious humor that will make one scream with fright and laughter.

Each haunted house will  be completely different in look, theme and effects:

  •  losSalem In Total Black Out: This harrowing attraction–based on Zombie’s 2012 The Lords Of Salem independent horror film–is designed to twist the mind. It will accentuate some senses while limiting others. Fear of the dark, claustrophobia, and fear of the unknown will be preyed on as the visitor attempts to traverse this sixty-degree maze.
  •  elsbHaunted World Of El Superbeasto 3D: Utilizing Chromadepth glasses, this innovative attraction will take the patron right into the middle of the irreverent world ofRob Zombie’s El Superbeasto 2009 animated exploitation musical horror comedy film based on the comic book series of the same name. The attraction’s unique surprise entrance, brilliant colors, sudden chills and startling thrills, and salacious humor will make one scream with fright and laughter.
  •  hotcHaunt Of 1,000 Corpses: This terrifying attraction pays homage to the 10-year anniversary of the exploitation horror film House Of 1,000 Corpses, directed by Rob Zombie. This extreme, traditional haunted house will take visitors on a walking journey through a recreation of the film’s “Museum of Monsters & Madmen” along with an expanded “Murder Ride,” confronting notorious serial killers along the way. This high impact, highly detailed attraction will use state of the art animatronics, video effects, costuming, sound, scents and lights.

As if these sinister attractions weren’t enough, Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare will also feature 15 nights of music from top national and regional artists in the indie/punk, EDM, metal, rock and Latin genres including Andrew WKBL3ND,Blood On The Dance FloorDirtyloudDirtyphonicsDoctor PEmilie Autumn,Evol IntentFei-FeiGoldfingerHeavygrinderKottonmouth KingsMetalachi,One More TimeOzomatliReel Big FishTerravitaThe UsedTwiztidWilliam ControlZomboy, and many more. In addition to music, one special night will also feature the outrageous pro wrestling sensations Lucha Libre USA. Look for details about the music performance schedule–including additional major headlining acts–to be announced on June 29 and visit www.GreatAmericanNightmare.com for details.

Monsterpalooza 2013: THIS WEEKEND!

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.

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