Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Unveils Chef

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.

Midsummer Scream Tickets on Sale Now!

Midsummer-Scream-2017_Postcard-696x1024Alright all you Halloween, horror, and haunt enthusiasts! Tickets are now on sale for Midsummer Scream, the biggest Halloween festival of the year. In case you’re unfamiliar with Midsummer Scream, it’s a summertime extravaganza dedicated to Halloween and haunts. Many of the California based haunts and theme parks, including Knott’s, Universal Studios, and Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, made their official Halloween announcements at Midsummer Scream.

Theme Park Adventure (@TPAMagazine), the co-creators of Midsummer Scream, have announced some of the lineup for this year’s event that includes the Decayed Brigade, Zombie Joe’s Underground, Return Home Podcast, Force of Nature Productions, Mudd The Magnificent, and many more to be announced.

They also announced the return of the Hall of Shadows, Midsummer Scream’s own scarezone which features numerous mini-haunts.

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For you party ghouls, this year’s party will be hosted aboard the Queen Mary by Dark Harbor’s Sinister Circus!

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I know that I speak for the whole All Hallows’ Haunts team when I say last year’s Midsummer Scream was not just the best Halloween convention we had been to, but it was the best overall convention that any of us had ever attended. We can’t wait for July when Midsummer Scream returns!!!

Midsummer Scream takes place Saturday July 29th and Sunday July 30th, 2017 at the Long Beach convention center. Tickets are on sale and can be bought at MidsummerScream.org . You can also follow them on Twitter/Periscope: @MidsummerScream, and Instagram: @MidsummerScream.

Be sure to follow All Hallows’ Haunts here and on Twitter (@HallowsHaunts) for more information on Midsummer Scream as more announcements are made.

(Midsummer Scream Poster by Midsummer Scream.)

 

Urban Death: Tour of Terror 2016

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As many of you  may already know, I have an intimate relationship with Urban Death. I’ve experienced it from all perspectives, I’ve been a fan, I’ve been a performer, I’ve loved it dearly, and I’ve even bled for it. With that being said, I’ll try to keep this review as objective as possible.

The standard Urban Death is a one hour show, full of silent vignettes of terror. Actors that look like they’ve been plucked out of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari shock the audience with graphic scenes of violence and existential dread.

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Urban Death: Tour of Terror changes things up a bit for Halloween. The theater is transformed into a maze and the show is shortened to about 15 minutes. Audiences must walk through the maze to see the show. On the way out they go back through the maze, which has changed entirely during the show.

I’m not a huge fan of the maze. As both a performer and audience member, I think it’s too dark. I like the darkness, but I couldn’t see the characters at all. If they brightened it up just a tad, it’d be much more enjoyable. My companion disagreed with me. He liked the level of darkness. What I did see, was creepy to the core. My favorite part of the maze involves some sort of creature with  long fingers caressing herself.

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This year’s show was one of my favorites ever. Urban Death is at its best when it focuses on creating illusions and psychological horror. Everything you ever imagined lurking in the infinite blackness, resides within the confines of Urban Death.

Those intrigued by this article should visit the official ZJU website and check out the upcoming shows. Also check out the Urban Death site. http://zombiejoes.com/ and http://www.urbandeath.com/

 

 

 

A New Room Has Been Discovered At The Winchester Mystery House

Officials at the Winchester Mystery House revealed this week that a new room has been discovered in the mansion and that is now open to the public.

The room, being called “Sarah’s Attic,” appears to have been sealed in 1906 after the San Francisco earthquake. The room contains numerous items including a pump organ, a couch, numerous paintings, and more. It’s speculated that Sarah Winchester sealed the attic after being almost trapped in the attic due to the earthquake, which she believed was caused by angry spirits.

The attic now brings the total to 161 rooms at the Winchester House. It’s believed that there may still be more hidden throughout the property.

Construction on the mansion began in 1884 after Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle Company, built the mansion believing it would be the only way to protect herself from malevolent spirits. The mansion was under constant construction for nearly 40 years, until her death in 1922. Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction and hotspot for paranormal activity.

For more information on the Winchester Mystery House, please visit http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com.

(All Photos by Winchester Mystery House.)

Reign of Terror 2016 Review

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So last night I hit up Reign of Terror haunted house in Thousand Oaks. It’s my second year in a row attending. Reign of Terror is a gigantic haunt featuring 95 individual rooms. There are eight different themes including a Victorian haunted house, a creepy circus, and an insane asylum.

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I have a big appreciation for ROT, because it offers the classic haunted house experience for a fair price. I think when people envision a haunted house in their mind, they’re picturing something like Reign of Terror. ROT relies on detailed props, sets, and costumes. The actors go all out to provide a fun experience for guests, and the animatronics are top notch.

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Unlike other haunts, ROT isn’t trying to push boundaries or tell an elaborate story. Instead, it offers good old fashioned Halloween fun. It might not appeal to those who demand a certain level of intensity from their haunts. Still, Reign of Terror has a lot to offer. Those who appreciate the artistry of production design, will definitely adore it. ROT doesn’t cut any corners. I’d also recommend it to those who feel they aren’t getting enough bang for their buck from other Halloween events.

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I think Reign of Terror could use a few more actors, other than that I have no complaints. I’d recommend getting a VIP ticket. It’s only $10 more, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy. I’d compare Reign of Terror to a vintage Halloween decoration. It’s like a cute cardboard ghost in that evokes nostalgia and possesses a unique charm all its own. It’ll have you pining for the crisp Autumn nights of your childhood.

Tickets and times can be found on the official Reign of Terror website. All photo credits belong to ROT. 

http://www.rothauntedhouse.com/

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.

Midsummer Scream Provides the Scares of the Summer!

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Disclaimer: We’ve posted a lot about Midsummer Scream over the last couple weeks, and our coverage is now coming to a close. We decided it was time to share our final thoughts. Though, I’m the one writing this, we discussed our opinions together, so this article represents AHH as a whole. Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, let’s get started!

This was the first year of Midsummer Scream, so there was great potential for disaster. However, the forces behind this new convention are experienced event coordinators. Their expertise coupled with excellent vendors, speakers, and haunts created an outstanding experience for Halloween enthusiasts. Midsummer Scream was perhaps the best convention I’ve ever attended. If I didn’t know it was the first year, I would’ve assumed it’s been going on for at least a decade.

A big part of what made Midsummer Scream such a spectacular event, was the venue. The Long Beach Convention Center was the perfect location. Sure it’s quite a trip for us Los Angeles dwellers, but the drive wasn’t too bad and Long Beach is a breathtaking area. The building has plenty of room, so everyone had space to breathe. It was also well air conditioned, which is a major step up from most conventions. (I’m talking to you, Monsterpalooza.)

In addition to the fantastic venue, Midsummer Scream also provided a huge supply of entertainment. All the local haunts were in attendance. Everyone from mainstream players like Knott’s Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights, to popular home haunts unveiled their plans for the 2016 season. Those who couldn’t wait for October could hit up the mini haunts in the Hall of Shadows. Of course it wouldn’t be a horror convention without the vendors. In the vendors hall, guests could find all sorts of freaky swag. To top it all off, those willing to spend a little extra could hit up the costumed dance party, headlined by Oingo Boingo.

I can’t say that I have any complaints about the convention. I’d be hard pressed to come up with anything I would change. Midsummer Scream was just what I needed to get me in the Halloween spirit, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

What did you think of Midsummer Scream? Be sure to let us know in the comments, or on any of our social media sites.

 

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.