Halloween Horror Nights at Midsummer Scream

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One of the biggest attractions at Midsummer Scream is always Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Every year fans gather in a room to hear any bit of news from HHN’s creative team, John Murdy and Chris Williams. This panel always draws an enthusiastic bunch of haunt fans, and this year was no exception.

Before jumping into the new stuff, they provided some background information regarding how they became involved in Horror Nights. Both men painted rosy pictures of their childhood love of monsters, and how it inspired them later in life.  None of this was news to me, but Murdy and Williams were as charismatic as usual, so it was still entertaining.

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As for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, they walked the audience through pictures chronicling the process of building The Shining maze. They promised the Grady sisters, room 237, Danny on his tricycle, “Here’s Johnny”, and of course the famous carpet. Murdy stated that his goal with this maze is to capture the slow burning dread of the movie.

They delved into scare zones a bit, too. One of the scare zones will be Hell on Earth set in New York City. Guests can expect to see an assortment of demons roaming the streets. HHN always creates top notch monsters/effects, so haunt lovers will definitely be in for a devilish treat.

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Finally, for those super fans, Universal is bringing back their VIP tours known as the R.I.P. Experience. This walking tour includes front of the line passes to everything in the park, free valet parking, special entry, a buffet dinner, and reserved seats for shows.

Keep your peepers here for updates about Halloween Horror Nights. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter at @HallowsHaunts. We’ve got lots of spooky stuff in store this Halloween season, and you won’t want to miss it.

 

Midsummer Scream’s Hall of Shadows 2017

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Hey weirdos! This article marks the beginning of my Midsummer Scream coverage. My weekend consisted of attending panels, buying spooky shit, and of course walking through haunts in the Hall of Shadows.

For those unfamiliar, the Hall of Shadows is a gigantic blacked out, fogged out space where SoCal haunters set up miniature versions of their Halloween attractions. This year’s Hall of Shadows featured 14 mazes of a wide variety.

My favorites included Hyde Street Massacre, Cold Storage, and The Maritime Horror. Hyde Street Massacre felt like an adaptation of Jack the Ripper. This walk-through included enough blood and screaming girls to keep even Leatherface appeased. The gritty slasher atmosphere made it fun and easy to understand. Some of the other haunts tried to cram complicated stories into their very brief mazes, so the simplicity of Hyde Street Massacre was appreciated.

My 2nd favorite was Cold Storage by Terror Trucks. Cold storage is a high tech haunt trailer. Like Hyde Street Massacre, Cold Storage made use of an easily recognizable genre trope. There is a zombie outbreak, and you’re trying to escape. Cliche? Yes, but what made this maze so special, was all of the little tricks and traps. The maze began with a horde of digital zombies banging on the door in front of you. You’re led down an alternative route with a shaky bridge and one of those puffy marshmallow tunnels that squeezes you as you crawl through it. This one was definitely the most interactive of the 14. While none of the effects were anything groundbreaking, I was quite impressed that they could work all of that stuff into such a small trailer.

Finally, there’s The Maritime Horror. The Maritime Horror utilized a Lovecraftian sea theme to add a bit of literary spice to their attraction. Guests were treated to an assortment of aquatic monsters inspired by the master of weird fiction. This one was pretty quick, so I don’t have much to say about it, but I did like the theme.

Other haunts I enjoyed were Gorelesque, Mutation Analysis Center, Apparition Adventure: Terror Twins, Mable’s 6 Feet Under, and Higgins Manor. I didn’t care for last year’s Gorelesque, so I was pleased to see that they stepped it up this year. Gorelesque is basically exactly what it sounds like, horror combined with burlesque aspects. This year’s attraction used a creepy cult recruitment video, and a talented actress to coerce the audience into taking “pills” designed to make you perfect. This one stood out for me, because it was unique. I liked that it was more performance based than the rest.

Mutation Analysis Center was another “viral outbreak” maze. It used a multitude of glowing elements and neon colors to provide a radioactive feel. This maze was a grand buffet for the eyes.

Apparition Adventure: Terror Twins contained a found footage theme. Guests were ushered into a small room and shown a video of a ghost hunter assuring people that the hauntings had stopped. Of course, right at that moment two ghostly twins flashed by on the screen. Then haunt fans were led into the maze full of spirit children and paranormal activity. This one was very cute in a home haunt kind of way. I could tell they put a lot of work into it, and their efforts showed.

Mable’s 6 Feet Under was the only haunt that was an actual maze. Throughout the maze, you think you’re walking towards the exit, but you’re actually being led to a dead end. You’re then forced to turn around and go back towards the front, where there was a secret exit. The maze’s best feature was the confusing signs labeled with the names of the other mini haunts with arrows pointing in every direction.

Higgins Manor was your typical gothic mansion full of Victorian decor and brooding characters with homicidal inclinations. This one wasn’t a standout for me, but it intrigued me enough that I’d be willing to check out a full length version.

As for the ones I didn’t care for, I wouldn’t say there were any I actively disliked. However, there were a few that just didn’t quite measure up. Mazes like The Fleshyard, The Last of Man, and Grimm’s Hallow failed to deliver.

The Fleshyard was a bizarre space themed haunt, that seemed to be lacking in actors. It consisted of a few hallways that all looked the same and a giant pit of packing peanuts at the end. I’ve heard from others that there were more actors in it, so maybe when I went through they were just all on break. Still, this one didn’t impress me.

The Last of Man by Unhallowed wasn’t too bad. I liked the front facade and the characters in gas masks. However, when writing this article, this one was the most difficult to recall which leads me to believe it wasn’t especially memorable.

Then there’s Grimm’s Hallow by Phobia Productions. To be honest, I couldn’t even figure out what the theme of this maze was supposed to be until I checked the program. Apparently, Grimm’s Hallow was supposed to be based on fairy tales and old world horror. The concept sounds amazing, but the talking trees and elves just left me perplexed. I’d like to see this haunt on a bigger scale, because I have a feeling it could turn out well if given more time and more space to work with.

Overall the Hall of Shadows offered a delightful sample of the treats Halloween season has in store. I had a blast going through each individual maze and seeing the tricks each haunt group had up their sleeve. Unfortunately the Hall of Shadows was limited by the same thing that limits all attractions- there are just too many people. The lines were long, due to the fact that each haunt could only allow so many people through at one time. I also thought the entryway theme by CalHaunts was a tad weak. It was supposed to be based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell if I hadn’t already known. Problems aside, I still believe the Hall of Shadows was a necessary addition to an already fantastic convention.

Eli Roth Takes Over the Terror Tram

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Universal has announced the theme of this year’s Terror Tram. That’s right folks, 2016’s Terror Tram is going full on Eli Roth. The Roth run tram will revolve around celebrity clown, “Hollywood Harry”. Harry provides fun and giggles to his many fans. Then the laughs turn to screams when Harry snaps and goes on a murderous spree.

I have to admit the Terror Tram has always been my least favorite part of Horror Nights. Sure, it’s a fun experience to be able to walk through the back lot, but one time is plenty. To me, the Tram lacks scare actors and sets, takes up too much time, and is just way too much walking.

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Nevertheless, this year’s theme has me intrigued. I have long standing mixed emotions about Eli Roth. In high school, I absolutely hated him. I thought he was a plague on modern horror. I’ve also had some personal conflicts with his company Crypt TV, but let’s not go into that.

I’ve calmed down a bit since then. I still don’t have much love for Hostel, (Did we really have to watch those bros party for an hour before getting to the good stuff?) but The Green Inferno was brilliant. It was a risky film to make, and I commend him for taking that gamble. I’m eager to see how this collaboration plays out. No matter what your opinion of Roth, there’s no doubt he’s a major player in the horror scene. His influence just might provide a desperately needed update for the Terror Tram.

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What do you make of this news? Are you an Eli Roth fan? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter. Stay tuned for more updates on Halloween Horror Nights.

Knott’s Scary Farm Sets Sights On Halloween 

Halloween and haunt enthusiasts were treated to quite a few surprises over the last few weeks as Knott’s Scary Farm made back to back appearances at both Midsummer Scream and ScareLA Halloween to announce some of what they have planned for this upcoming Halloween Season.

First appearing at the inaugural Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival in Long Beach, California, Knott’s gave fans a brief history of audio mechanics for the mazes before making a few major announcements.

The first announcement  was met with many cheers as they announced last year’s Paranormal Inc. maze would be returning to Knott’s for 2016. When asked if the story or maze would be different, Knott’s representatives stated that only a few tweaks were made to create a better experience.

The second major announcement from Knott’s  concerned the Skeleton Key rooms. With the growing interest in escape rooms, Knott’s has decided that the Skeleton Key rooms for 2016 would consist of an escape room element. The rooms are: Visions, Zozo, Slasher, and Prey.


These new additions to the Skeleton Key rooms definitely add a new factor of terror and excitement to an already incredible event.

The news from Knott’s didn’t end at Midsummer Scream. The following weekend at ScareLA, Knott’s continued the show. The panel at ScareLA started off as a history of Knott’s and Halloween, where they explained the evolution of Knott’s Scary Farm.

They began to speak of the many celebrity hosts of Knott’s Scary Farm, when the official ScareLA host, Elvira, crashed their panel. Elvira announced that she would be returning to Knott’s Scary Farm this year with a new show!

The announcements didn’t end there as they announced that the popular laser tag and paint ball inspired Infected: Special Ops will be replaced this year with an updated version called Infected: Black Ops.

This new version of Infected will introduce a whole new style to the game as it will be in a new area of the park. It will also have a standard queue system instead of special times, new terrain to cover, unlimited ammo, and a whole new boss at the end.

Knott’s plans to announce the remainder of their mazes and shows for this year at a special Knott’s pass holders event on August 25th.

Between the announcements made at Midsummer Scream, ScareLA, and the few made online, Knott’s is shaping up to be the main event for this Halloween season.

Be sure to follow All Hallows’ Haunts here on our site or on Twitter- @HallowsHaunts for more information on Knott’s Scary Farm and other Halloween, horror, and haunt events in Southern California.

The Winchester Mystery House Had A Few Surprises At Midsummer Scream 

Front of House SunsetHistory has shown that the world is full of mysteries and wonder. There are places that can mystify, terrify, and captivate the mind in ways that one might not have ever imagined. One of those places lies in San Jose, California- The Winchester Mystery House. At the first annual Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival, The Winchester Mystery House shared what makes it one of the most haunted places on Earth, and what it has in store for its visitors!

For those who are unfamiliar with the Winchester Mystery House, it’s construction began in 1884. Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arm Company, fearing for her life and believing her family to be cursed, built the mansion in a way to give a home to the spirits who were killed by Winchester rifles. The house was under constant construction for 38 years, until Sarah Winchester passed away in 1922. Given the history and rumors surrounding the mansion, folks travel to the estate hoping to see spirits. Eventually the mansion was turned into a museum of sorts for visitors. Today, the house is a California landmark and hotbed for spiritual activity!

Leading the panel at Midsummer Scream were Winchester Mystery House staff members Walter Magnuson and Tim O’Day. They discussed the histories of both Sarah Winchester and the Winchester Mystery House. They discussed its current status as a travel destination for tourists, history buffs, and paranormal fans and investigators. They admitted that to this very day they are still finding new secrets and rooms. There are no actual blueprints to the property.

Towards the end of the panel, they were joined on stage by Peter Overstreet, the manager of special events at the Winchester Mystery House. The three together revealed the big plan for the Winchester’s Halloween season as they will be introducing the brand new Halloween Candle Light Tours. This new experience will allow visitors to go on a haunted guided tour of the mansion where the only light is candle light. Overstreet said that visitors will actually feel that “They are going through a real haunted house.”

They ended the panel by introducing the brand new “Skeleton Key” annual pass that grants members access to parts of the mansion that have never been open to the public before. As a treat, all those attending their panel at Midsummer Scream were made honorary Skeleton Key members.

I can honestly say that I’m extremely excited for everything that the Winchester Mystery House has to offer this upcoming Halloween season and year. The Halloween Candlelight Tour sounds absolutely amazing. To go through a haunted house only by candle light is a once in a life time experience. As for the Skelton Key, who wouldn’t want the chance to explore new sections of the mansion? I for one can’t wait to visit the Winchester Mystery House!

The Halloween Candlelight Tours will take place on 10 nights only! October 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st! Tickets range from $35 to $49, and go on sale September 2nd.

For more information on The Winchester Mystery House, the Halloween Candlelight Tours, and more, visit http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com and follow them on Twitter- @WinchesterHouse . The Winchester Mystery House is located at 525 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128.

Knott’s Makes a Big Announcement!

Well folks, the Halloween season is approaching fast. In less than two weeks, it’ll be time for the Midsummer Scream Convention, followed by ScareLA. To tide us over, Knott’s Scary Farm has released the names of the returning Scare Zones and a short trailer. Back for 2016 are Ghost Town Streets, Fiesta de los Muertos, and CarnEVIL.

Ghost Town Streets is a literal ghost town. This scare zone mixes the aesthetic of old Western films, with the mysterious allure of the supernatural. Did someone say High Plains Drifter?

Fiesta de los Muertos is a favorite of mine. The brightly colored sugar skulls and fun atmosphere are a perfect complement to the brooding, unwavering finality of death.

CarnEVIL is your standard spooky freakshow, in the tradition of Mr. Dark’s Carnival. I’m a sucker for anything with a macabre circus theme. This one never disappoints.

Be sure to check back with us, for more updates regarding Knott’s Scary Farm and the 2016 Halloween season.

 

Lola Tarantula’s Top 10 Halloween Party Songs

 

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With all of the major Halloween conventions right around the corner, we decided it was time we release a playlist of our favorite Halloween party songs. Most of the songs I’ve selected are a little bit funky, definitely spooky, and maybe just a tad tongue in cheek. I tried to steer clear of the obvious choices, like The Monster Mash and Don’t Fear the Reaper. Those are amazing songs, but I wanted  to create a list that might introduce readers to some new creepy gems. With that being said, let’s get started.

  1. Carousel- Melanie Martinez

 

Melanie Martinez gained recognition on the TV show, The Voice. After leaving The Voice, Martinez released her debut album Cry Baby. I’m a big fan of this whole album. Martinez uses her poppy sound to address dark topics like murder, rape, excessive plastic surgery, and substance abuse. Though all of her songs are disturbing, Carousel is definitely her most Halloween sounding track. Carousel has a wicked circus vibe, combined with a hip hop beat. In 2014, a remixed version of Carousel was used as the theme for American Horror Story: Freakshow.

 

2. Love Me Dead- Ludo

 

First, let it be said that Ludo is an amazing rock band that deserves more attention than they get. Everything these guys make is like a massive rock opera. There were plenty of Ludo songs that could make this list, but I picked Love Me Dead, because it’s so deliciously snarky. Also this video is a masterpiece. If you like this song, also give Skeletons on Parade and Lake Pontchartrain a listen.

 

3. Lie Lie Lie- Serj Tankian

 

Those who recall the short lived series Fear Itself, will remember this song from the opening credits. Most of Tankian’s work is too political for my taste, but this song has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve heard that it’s possibly about the Iraq War, but I prefer to take the lyrics literally. On the surface, this song is about a cruel man that makes a suicide pact with his lover… then breaks his promise.

 

4. In the Room Where You Sleep- Dead Man’s Bones

Ok, so everyone knows Ryan Gosling the Hollywood heart throb, but few are aware of his band Dead Man’s Bones. The band only has one album, but it’s one hell of a record. The self titled album contains 12 tracks about werewolves, zombies, and secret underwater societies. Gosling’s haunting voice coupled with the little voices of the Silverlake Children’s Choir, is pure Halloween magic. This whole album is one I like to rock out to in October.

 

5. Sticks & Stones- The Pierces

 

The Pierces are one of my absolute favorite bands and this is my favorite song of theirs. There is something decidedly witchy about all their music, and in Sticks & Stones they’re in full on bad witch mode. The Blair Witch style video is just as spellbinding as the song. Enjoy!

 

6. Zombie Prostitute- Voltaire

 

If I could, I’d book Voltaire to play my Halloween party. This guy has the horror novelty song down. If you don’t know his work, Zombie Prostitute is a good place to start. I laugh every time I hear it.

 

7.  Halloween- Sioxsie and the Banshees

I had to have this song on my list. This is a perfect ode to a day ruled by candy, mischief, and of course the dead. In Halloween, Siouxsie perfectly captures the fun you had as a child tearing through the neighborhood in search of treats, but there’s also something sinister there. Come to think of it, they should’ve used this song in Trick R’ Treat.

 

8. Supernaturally- Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

 

I’m a major Nick Cave fan, and of all his songs, this one is my favorite. The drama and passion in this song floors me every time. It’s a great song for dancing alone at 3AM. It’s also a great song to get people moving at your party. In addition to the beat, the lyrics of this song are fun to unravel. There’s something intriguing about the notion of a girl being so unattainable that Cave thinks of her as something otherworldly. It’s profound, and perhaps a bit Schizophrenic.

 

9. Ghost Town- Shiny Toy Guns

 

I remember reading that fans didn’t like the new direction Shiny Toy Guns went in on their album Season of Poison. This baffles me, because I love that album, and this song in particular. It’s a great one for some air guitar and headbanging. Plus, check out the epic animated video.

 

10. Hammer Horror- Kate Bush

 

Kate Bush has stated that as a child she was terrified after watching the Hammer films. Movies like The Horror of Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein often prevented her from sleeping at night. As an adult, she found this feeling comparable to the fear of love. In Hammer Horror, she expresses those anxieties with her usual dramatic flair and wailing voice. This song is actually quite similar in theme to her other song Hounds of Love.

Blackout Has Been Cancelled!

12734110_930720373693447_5784245875682128321_nHello haunters, we have just received word that all upcoming Blackout events in Los Angeles have been cancelled. It seems that the creative forces behind the haunt have been having some difficulty securing insurance. Therefore, they’ve chosen to halt the production for the time being. We have provided their official statement below. We’ll keep you posted on any updates

Ladies and gentlemen, as many of you know, one of the most important reasons BLACKOUT has gained its reputation is because of the value we place on our audience’s safety. We want to push limits but would never jeopardize the health and safety of our actors or our audience by moving forward without the proper permits in place… most notably, insurance.

There are those shows that would move forward without proper safeguards…those that would jeopardize the safety of the audience. We do not count ourselves among those types of experiences. It is for this reason that we unfortunately are going to have to cancel our upcoming Los Angeles off-season.

After running for over 6 years and 25+ shows, all with a strong safety record, we currently find ourselves being held hostage by our insurance company. We refuse to jeopardize your safety just to accommodate their greed. Regretfully, we do not feel comfortable moving forward with the show unless we can guarantee the safety and coverage for both the actors and our audience. While it pains us to do it, we feel it is the safest, and only, option we have right now.

Anyone who has purchased a ticket to the upcoming Los Angeles show, you will be receiving a refund on your purchase this evening. It should take approximately 3-5 days to show up on your account.

On a personal note, we’ve seen this show grow a lot in the last six years. We began as a tiny show in NYC that gave you a shot of whiskey at the door. Now, we are lucky enough to design experiences at the Forum alongside Queens of the Stone Age. We are proud of what we’ve built and so appreciative of the support we’ve had from you, our audience. It is always been you who has held us up.

Thank you everyone for your support – we apologize again for any inconvenience . We hope we are able to make it up to you soon.

Sincerely,
Josh, Kris, and John
BLACKOUT

We want to hear from you. Have you attended Blackout before? Were you planning on attending the upcoming event?