10 Creepy Films About Toxic Relationships – Part 1

I have a deep appreciation for human psychology, especially abnormal psych. A big part of psychology is how we relate to each other as human beings. Human relationships can be beautiful, and complex, and they can also be horrific. Today I’m listing some great films that examine the disturbing results that occur when fate brings the wrong people together. I’m breaking this article into two parts, because I don’t want it to get too long. (Keep in mind these are in no particular order.)

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301/302

301/302 is a Korean film that examines what happens when two people’s obsessions clash. The two female characters live next door to each other in an apartment complex, one is a chef and the other is a writer with anorexia. The chef ends up taking desperate measures to force the writer to sample her culinary talents. This film is weird, and funny, and gross. I like how it shows the histories of both women, allowing the viewer to understand how they came to be the way they are. There is an American remake of this film. It’s called Compulsion, and it stars Carrie-Anne Moss and Heather Graham. The original is by far the superior film, though.

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Silver Tongues

Silver Tongues is one of my favorite films about sociopaths. I’m shocked this movie isn’t more popular. It revolves around a couple that moves from place to place, finding people to psychologically toy with. Unlike 301/302, there is no deep reason for why the main characters do what they do, which makes it all the more troubling. They seem to just enjoy destroying the lives of others for kicks.

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Grimm Love

Grimm Love is one of the horror films released by Fangoria as part of their FrightFest. It stars Keri Russell as a psychology student studying a case that is based on Armin Meiwes, aka “The Rohtenburg Cannibal”. As many of you may know, Meiwes is known for convincing a man to let him eat him. Of course for the purposes of the movie, the names of the characters are changed and the details are scrambled about, but it preserves the shocking nature of the real crime. Russell puts in an excellent performance, and the film raises some interesting questions, like “What is love?”. I’m still saying it’s not cutting off a guy’s penis and eating it front of him, but hey, that’s just me.

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Bug

Bug is the story of the insanity that blossoms between a mysterious drifter and a battered woman. Bug can be considered a textbook example of Folie a deux. Folie a deux is a French term that basically means ” a madness of two”. It occurs when two people share a delusion. In order for Folie a deux to occur, there has to be isolation and one of the parties is dominant, while the other just sort falls in line with the delusion. In this William Friedkin film, Michael Shannon’s character convinces a damaged Ashley Judd, that the government has planted insects in their hotel room. It’s all downhill from there.

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Proxy

I don’t feel like I can say much about this film without giving plot points away. I guess I’ll just have to tell you something vague, like “No one is what they appear to be.” While, that’s true, it hardly does this movie justice. Proxy is bursting at the seams with well crafted shots, fascinating characters, and gut-wrenching violence.

What are some of your favorite horror/thrillers about toxic relationships. Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @HallowsHaunts.

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What to Watch on Netflix- May 2017

It occurred to me recently that there are a lot of great movies streaming that get overlooked. It can be difficult when you’re browsing through Netflix and you’ve seen almost everything. Keeping that in mind I’ve decided to do a monthly round up of films that are worth watching. Bear in mind that my picks are only applicable to the American version of platforms. This week I’ll be focusing on Netflix. Ok, let’s do it.

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Para Elisa

This is a super short and sweet movie from Spain. It’s only about 75 minutes and the plot is fairly straightforward. I first saw this film at Screamfest and I was impressed, but since then I haven’t heard much about it. Like many festival favorites, it seems to have skipped the hype and gone straight to the oblivion that is Netflix. I recommend this film to anyone that digs creepy dolls. Just know this isn’t your standard creepy doll film.

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Mine Games

I’d be lying if I said I totally comprehended what occurred in this movie. Still, it’s weird and enjoyable. The story is about a group of friends that go into an old mine, and bizarre events ensue. I’m a big fan of films that are more about atmosphere than plot. To me horror is more effective when it’s not one hundred percent explained. This movie is for those that dig films like Triangle, Southbound, and Coherence.

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Almost Mercy

This indie film features appearances from horror favorites Bill Moseley and Kane Hodder, but it’s lead, Danielle Guldin that steals the show. The story follows two teen psychos who fight back against those that have abused them. The movie makes you think it’s going in one direction, and then swerves and goes the other way. If you like revenge stories, or character studies of sociopaths, then this is the one for you. Think American Psycho, the teen edition.

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Baskin

I don’t know if I would say that I like this movie, but it’s definitely worth the watch. This film from Turkey follows a group of corrupt policeman who venture into an abandoned building and discover Hell. There are many cool elements in this movie. I’m a fan of its depiction of Hell, and there are some awesome scenes of depravity. Some of the concepts are bit too literal for my liking. For example, one character has an actual lock on his head that another character must stick a key into to gain knowledge. Still, this Turkish gore fest is a safe bet for those looking for something on the extreme side of the genre.

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Mockingbird

If you check IMDB, you’ll notice that viewers hated this film. I actually found it to be quite entertaining. It’s a sloppy mess, and the ending is one of the WTF variety. Yet it’s captivating in the way it weaves together a couple different found footage perspectives. The story revolves around a couple that are forced to follow an anonymous set of instructions or else someone will die. Across town a man puts on a clown outfit after being informed that he could win a large sum of money if he plays along. There’s a sense of dread wondering how these two stories will overlap. Although, the resolution is a let down, I’ll still vouch for this found footage film by the director of The Strangers.

A Cure For Wellness- A Gothic Spectacular

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Visionary director, Gore Verbinski is back with his first horror film since The Ring. 2017’s A Cure for Wellness blends Verbinski’s meticulous attention to detail with elements from gothic and weird fiction. The resulting film contains a few flaws, but overall is a beautiful and unique cinematic experience.

A Cure for Wellness follows ruthless young businessman, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), on his mission to Switzerland to convince his company’s head to return to his life in New York. Lockhart is the kind of guy who will do anything to achieve a goal, and he isn’t afraid to push people around in order to get what he wants. His arrogance leads him to believe that retrieving his boss will be a simple task, but he quickly discovers the sanitarium is hiding secrets in every corner, most of them related to the water.

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From a technical perspective, A Cure For Wellness is a feast for the eyes. Verbinski’s clear understanding of visual storytelling, creates a tense atmosphere of foreboding that is present in every scene. Whether the camera is following the dizzying movements of a group of white robed dancers, or showing a static image reflected in the eye of an animal bust, there is a grandness created within the frame. His indulgent style is an excellent fit with the dramatic storyline.

As for the story itself, there’s a bit of everything for all types horror fans. Fans of gothic horror will be attracted to the old buildings, incestuous relationships, and the forbidden romance. Those more drawn to Lovecraftian themes will enjoy the slimy creatures, the body horror, and the overall sense of individual oppression by the seemingly larger than life institution.

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The mystery behind the water in A Cure For Wellness is compelling, but a bit predictable. Chances are, most viewers will figure out what’s going on, pretty fast. That doesn’t make the film less enjoyable, just don’t expect to be shocked. It’s also a little on the long side, but because Lockhart is learning more and more with each scene, it doesn’t seem slow or boring. However, it might upon repeat viewings.

The film is at its very best when it relies on the creepiness of the characters and the cult-like mindset of the institution. The weird water based treatments, the polite but stiff staff, and the zombified patients in white are what makes the movie so spine chilling.

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The film is at its worst when ventures beyond the atmospheric and the psychological. The climax boils down to a physical fistfight between Lockhart and a character that basically transforms into Skeletor (No spoilers, here.). For a film that spent two hours being so thought provoking, it seems jarring and out of place for a high action scene to occur. For some this borderline comedic resolution may ruin the film. For others it’ll just seem like a sizeable bump in the road.

A Cure For Wellness is likely to be on many top 10 lists for 2017. Even though, it contains some significant blemishes, it still possesses many brilliant qualities. Like Crimson Peak, its gothic aesthetic and precise performances more than make up for its basic storyline. Verbinski may not have created a genre masterpiece, but A Cure For Wellness still way exceeds most studio horror productions.

Lola’s Top Ten Worst Films of 2016

While 2016 was mostly a good year for the horror genre, there were still some major flops that slipped through the cracks. My list consists of the films that were not necessarily the worst, but the ones that I found most annoying. I’ve ranked them accordingly.

disappoint5.jpg10. The Disappointments Room

There isn’t much to say here. I think Wentworth Miller had some sort of gothic trope check list that he used to create this script. The sad thing is, he’s an excellent writer. Stoker is a favorite of mine. If you want to see a good gothic thriller starring Kate Beckinsale, I’d go with Stonehurst Asylum.

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9. Holidays

There have been some great anthology films of late. Unfortunately, Holidays falls into the weird and stupid category next to The ABCs of Death. The best segment of the batch is the Kevin Smith one, but even Smith’s piece seems lacking. The worst one is the Saint Patrick’s Day one, which crams a shitty 90 minute film into about 15 minutes.

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I know many of you are going to disagree with me about this one. I liked the director’s first film, Blue Ruin, but Green Room seemed sloppy and nonsensical. It was drastically underlit, and I frequently couldn’t tell where the characters were in relation to one another. I’m also confused as to why this massive group of white supremacists couldn’t wipe out a few punk rockers. Finally, I have to talk about Patrick Stewart. His performance was almost unwatchable. He mumbles his way through the whole damn movie, like he’s sedated or something.

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7. Intruder

If I were ranking these films based on how poorly they were made, Intruder would be at the very top. This Netflix original had little to offer except unintended laughs. The most cringe worthy scenes are the ones where Moby attempts to act. Also, why can’t that girl see her stalker when he’s standing right next to her while she’s in the shower? She better get her peripheral vision checked.

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6. The Purge: Election Year

The Purge is a fun concept, and I enjoyed the first film and parts on Anarchy. However, Election Year just took it way too far. I didn’t hate this film, but it was just trying too hard. There were moments and characters I enjoyed, but the film as a whole felt like silly political propaganda.

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5. Ghostbusters

Ok, so Ghostbusters isn’t a horror movie, but horror sites covered the hell out of it and it has ghosts. To be honest, I couldn’t sit through the entirety of this film. The jokes fell flat as a pancake, and the characters made my flesh crawl. Whoever thought this script was good must’ve had their streams crossed.

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4. Morgan

This film had so much potential to be smart and scary. Instead, audiences were forced to endure some needless action scenes and an obvious plot twist.

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3. Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever gets the award for most pointless remake of 2016. Ever wonder what would happen if you took the exact same script, and reshot it with different actors? Yeah, neither did anyone else.

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2. Blair Witch

The Blair Witch happens to be one of my very favorite films. When I heard about the new film, I was pretty excited. The trailer looked good, and I knew it was in the capable hands of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a messy, confusing rehash of the original. Dumbest part of the movie? The drone, definitely the drone. They set it up to be an important part of the film, and then did nothing with it, what a waste.

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1. The Darkness

This film is so rubbish, it’d be comical if it wasn’t so sad. The trailer offered promise of an unusual ghost story, with Anasazi gods at the heart of it. Unfortunately, the Anasazi gods were only a minor part of the film. Instead, the audience was forced to endure haunted house 101 gimmicks, and a family that is full of dysfunction and low on likability. Kevin Bacon, you can do so much better.

 

 

Lola’s Creepy Christmas Countdown- Part 2

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(I do not own any of the images featured.)

Alright guys, it’s round 2 of my Creepy Christmas Countdown! We’ve reached the top five, and there’s no turning back. Please let me know in the comments or on Twitter what your favorite films of the holiday season are.

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5. Dead End

There are so many reasons to love this movie. From the flesh eating lady in white to the severe psychotic breakdowns, Dead End is the gift that keeps on giving. Dead End follows a family on their way to a holiday gathering. They become lost, and all hell breaks loose as they face their deep-rooted resentments and the evils that lurk in the surrounding forest. You thought your family holidays were hell, just wait until you see what these people end up going through.

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4. Dead of Night- Christmas Party

Dead of Night is one of my all time favorite films. Unfortunately it’s a little tricky to find. I used to have it on dvd, but then I got in a car accident and someone stole my movie case from my car. It’s a long story. Car crashes and theft aside, Dead of Night is well worth seeking out. The Christmas portion of the anthology film is the nightmarish tale of a young girl who attends a party at an old mansion. While playing hide and seek, she ends up finding a young boy who wants her to stay and care for him forever. Like the rest of the film, Christmas Party is understated and provides a lurking dread that is like the falling snow, light but constant.

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3. Gremlins

I don’t like to judge the tastes of others, but if you don’t enjoy Gremlins than you’re just a big Scrooge. Gremlins takes the third spot on my list for its originality, its charm, and for the adorable Gizmo. Although it’s a film that can and should be enjoyed by the whole family, in my book it’s still a horror movie. If you have doubts, just watch that scene where Gizmo first starts spawning furry little demons. If that doesn’t constitute as body horror, then I don’t know what does. As a final word of warning, if you’re planning on getting anyone a gremlin this Christmas, I’d recommend you thoroughly go through all the rules.

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2. Black Christmas

It’s weird to think that Bob Clark directed Black Christmas and A Christmas Story. I guess he had a lot of Christmas to get out of his system. Black Christmas is one of the few slashers where the killer is never fully identified. This makes the film terrifying on a whole different level. My favorite part of watching Black Christmas is trying to discern WTF is going on in those weird phone calls. To this day when the phone rings, I still worry that the call is coming from inside the house.

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1. The Nightmare Before Christmas

For my top favorite creepy Christmas film, I’m going full on cliche. It may be the obvious choice, but that doesn’t make The Nightmare Before Christmas any less brilliant. This movie has everything! It’s got glorious stop-motion, a touching love story, life lessons, and best of all both Christmas and Halloween.

 

 

 

 

Lola’s Creepy Christmas Countdown- Part 1

It’s that time of year again, folks. Yes, the time of year where shoppers lose their minds, families are forced to bond against their will, and everyone feels the acute sting of loneliness. All joking aside, Christmas is a blast! One of my favorite ways of celebrating is to pull out my favorite spooky Christmas films and TV episodes. I’ve always felt that these little pearls of holiday gore are rare and hard to come by. However, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that there’s actually quite the selection available. So today, I present part 1 of my top 10 creepy tales of Christmas, wrapped in human flesh and topped with a bow. Enjoy!

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10. The Children

I’m going to be honest, I don’t like kids. I don’t like them at all. I didn’t even like kids when I was one. That’s why The Children has so much appeal for me. The Children follows a family on Christmas vacation that becomes the prey of their own rabid offspring. These little shits are vicious, and the result is a delightful bloodbath.

 

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9. Wind Chill

I love a good stuck on the road film. Car travel lends itself well to horror. In Wind Chill, two young college students are forced to battle the elements, each other, and the supernatural. This film stars Emily Blunt before she exploded into Hollywood stardom. The Christmas aspect of the movie is relegated to the background, but the winter atmosphere is front and center. The supernatural mystery is compelling, but the real star of Wind Chill is the relationship between the two main characters.

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8. Krampus

If I were to crown a king of holiday horror, it’d be Michael Dougherty. With Krampus, Dougherty takes the humor of Christmas Vacation and gives it a macabre makeover. Fans of horror, have been waiting a long time to see the legend of Krampus come to life on the big screen and Dougherty doesn’t disappoint. The creature design is spot on. From the toys, to the elves, to of course Krampus, it’s clear that there was a good deal of consideration put in to creating a world that could stand on its own. The humans that populate this realm manage to hold their own as well. My favorite performances come from David Koechner and Conchata Ferrell. If you’re looking for a horror film that completely embodies the spirit of the season, look no further.

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7. Tales From the Crypt- And All Through the House

Before the HBO TV series, Tales From the Crypt was adapted into one hell of a movie. The 1972 film opens with “And All Through the House“, the tale of a woman who murders her husband and becomes the target of a homicidal Santa. This story was later used on the show, but I prefer the film version. The story itself is way wacky. The show takes the over the top script in the expected humorous direction, and the result is fun and strange. However it can’t compare to the solemn approach of the movie. The serious nature of the the film version, creates a startling surrealistic contrast between the story and the overall vibe. This is what makes and “All Through the House” so downright freaky. My advice, don’t pick Christmas to murder your spouse.

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6. The X-Files – How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

As much as I love The X-Files, it’s easy to become annoyed with Mulder and Scully. They’re two characters that are flawed to the core, and that’s what makes them seem so human, so real. Still, there’s a lot of stuff I always wanted to rip them each a new asshole over. Well that’s exactly what happens in the season 6 episode “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas“. Over the course of the episode, Mulder and Scully become trapped on Christmas Eve inside a haunted house. There they meet two annoying ghosts played by Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner. These ghosts psychoanalyze the partners exposing their shortcomings and doubts. The episode features a fantastic set and some seriously witty dialogue. To this day, I still use the phrase “paramasturbatory”.

 

Sun Choke-An Artsy Exercise in Dread

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Sun Choke is the second feature by writer/director Ben Cresciman. This horror/thriller follows in the footsteps of other abstract films of late such as Darling and Proxy. Like these examples, Sun Choke focuses on the deep-rooted dysfunction of an individual character, rather than the tangible horror of demons or killers.

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The story follows Janie (Sarah Hagan), a young woman who lives under the control of the possessive Irma (Barbara Crampton). Irma gives Janie increasingly bizarre treatments for an unspecified condition. Irma subjects Janie to vile looking smoothies, magnets, and some grueling yoga sessions. Janie goes along with all of this until she is given some freedom. One day, Janie is allowed out and she spots Savannah (Sara Malakul Lane), and initially mistakes her for a doppleganger. Feeling drawn to Savannah, Janie begins to follow her every chance she gets. She attempts to assume her character. As her obsession grows, so do her violent inclinations. This sets all three women on a blood soaked path of madness.

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The film features bold performances from all three women. Barbara Crampton is particularly compelling as the caretaker whose motives are never quite clear. Sarah Hagan’s performance compliments Crampton’s. Hagan rocks between wounded naivete and animalistic insanity. Sara Malakul Lane completes the triangle with her sexy and compassionate demeanor.

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Sun Choke may appeal to a rather select crowd, but those with a taste for psychological arthouse are bound to love it. The film is most reminiscent of Bergman’s Persona. There are many parallels including an exchange of personality and the bitter love/hate relationship between a patient and a caretaker. While Sun Choke may not be Persona, it is a great film in its own right. It is full to the brim of layered characters, poetic images, and unrelenting tension. This is a film that sticks with the viewer and demands to be analyzed and explored.

What did you think of Sun Choke? Have any recommendation similar to this film? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

3 Horror Films I’m Thankful For

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With Thanksgiving weekend coming to an end, now seemed like the perfect time to analyze what horror films have had a major impact on my life. The films on this list will nod be judged by their popularity or even how good they are, rather this will be a list of personal significance. With that being said, let’s get rolling.

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May– When I think of personal movies, the first film that comes to mind is May. Psychological horror films revolving around disturbed girls hold a dear place in my bloody heart. May came into my life at a time when I was practically hemorrhaging loneliness. To this day I feel like May is a kindred spirit. Ok, so she’s a bit more axe crazy than I am (a bit), but at her core, she’s just a sad, weird girl who wants a friend. From a filmmaking standpoint, Lucky McKee’s little gem taught me that horror films can be quirky, heartfelt, and creepy all at the same time.

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UzumakiTomie was actually my first introduction to Junji Ito. While I love Tomie, Uzumaki is the manga/film that most resembles my own spiral into madness. Confused? Let me explain. For as long as I can remember I’ve dealt with some form of OCD. My case is quite severe, and has been a major hindrance in my life. Uzumaki revolves around a town that becomes obsessed with spirals. Although, the characters in Uzumaki are being controlled by supernatural forces, and my own condition is related to brain chemicals, I still see parallels. The movie follows the manga fairly closely. It even retains its chapter format. I think fans of Lovecraft will embrace Junji Ito and his bizarre spiral fascination.

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Freaks– Anyone that knows me knows I love a good circus. Whether it’s Cirque du Soleil or some barely functioning traveling circus, I love them all. Like May, Freaks, is  a heartwarming, yet gruesome tale of outsiders struggling to be who they are. The film stars actual freaks, and was considered quite shocking for its time. I applaud Tod Browning for taking such a controversial risk. Browning was a major player in Hollywood, but he was still an out of the box thinker. I hope to always show such courage in my own artistic feats.

There you have it, the top 3 horror films I’m thankful for. What  horror movies are you thankful for? Let me know in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter. Happy Thanksgiving!

Halloween Horror Nights 2016- Part 2

In the first article we did, I told you I was going to go back to HHN to try and experience the mazes I missed the first time around. Well I did it, and I’m sure glad I did. Here’s the breakdown of my night.

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American Horror Story

This was the first maze I hit up. With early entry at 5 now, I was able to get right in and down to the lower lot in record speed. This maze was really enjoyable. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll definitely want to check this one out. I have pretty mixed feelings about AHS, but I loved the first couple seasons and getting to see some of the iconic stuff like the “Gimp Suit Guy” and the Infantata is a feast for the eyes. All of the seasons up to the current one are incorporated and they manage to make them all flow together in a cohesive manner. I will say this maze seemed like it wasn’t as well lit as the others, but that may be because when I went in it was still daylight out and my eyes needed to adjust.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers

I liked this maze, but I didn’t love it. It was great to see a maze based on TCM 2, but I felt like many of the rooms were too similar. I’m a fan of Leatherface, and especially Chop Top, but other than them, this maze could’ve been related to almost any gory property. There are an excess of bloody body props that were probably leftovers from Saw or Hostel. The best part of this maze is getting to see Chop Top and Leatherface’s rooms. Other than that nothing really stands out.

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The Exorcist

 The Exorcist is my 2nd favorite maze, right behind Halloween. I had heard a major amount of hate for this maze going in, so I was more than a little surprised by the quality. I think Universal made some changes to it, after receiving unfavorable reviews. What ever they did, it paid off. One of my favorite features from the maze is an animatronic  Regan that scales the stares in the infamous backbend pose from the film. Other highlights include projections on the walls of Pazuzu’s face and Regan spitting vomit at you as you walk by.

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The Jabbawockeez

I was giddy going into this show. I’ve long been a fan of dance, and I’ve been meaning to see the Jabbawockeez perform for years. Unfortunately, I didn’t care much for this particular show. There is no denying that the Jabbawockeez are talented to the extreme. The dancing was great, but the overall direction of the show felt lacking. There was just too much cheese and too much focus on positive philosophy cliches. Right when they started talking about the colors of the rainbow and living your dreams I tuned out. My companion loved it, and I’m sure there are plenty of others that will enjoy it, but it jut wasn’t for me. Also, don’t go in expecting anything to be horror or Halloween related, because it’s not.

I’m glad I made it back to Universal for round 2. The new 5PM early entry makes all the difference in the world. The longest line I waited in was about 50 minutes. The shorter wait times made the overall experience so much better, and I felt like I a could appreciate the mazes more without worrying about making it through every attraction. It was probably the best time I’ve had at HHN in years.

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 2016

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With haunt season officially upon us, the team here at All Hallows’ Haunts kicked it off by visiting Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Now because we had different views and thoughts on the event, we decided to list each of our opinions on the event. Below you will see the opinions of AHH members Andy Shultz (@Andy1701) and Lola Tarantula (@Lolatarantula).

 

the-purge-at-universal-halloween-horror-nights-hollywoodScare Zone: The Purge Anarchy

Andy- Going into HHN I wasn’t too excited about The Purge Scare Zone. Universal has used The Purge as its main Scare Zone the last few years and it gets rather repetitive, so I was expecting to see the same thing as before. Though, I am rather happy to say that I really enjoyed it this year. Universal made the choice of having only one theme throughout all its Scare Zones, and I think it really worked. It would be interesting to see how it grows in upcoming years.

Lola- I didn’t enjoy this year’s Scare Zone theme very much. I will say that The Purge functions better as a haunt theme than a film, but still after several years of The Purge, I’m just over it. It’s the same stuff you’ve seen for the past several years, and nothing else. I will say that in the upper lot there is a part of a scare zone that’s basically a maze but without a wait. This part is actually kind of neat. There’s some weird art projects made from old doors, spray paint, and trash heaps. If you get a chance, walk through it. Other than that one exceptional part, I think this theme has overstayed its welcome.

 

hhn_2016_terrortram_8003_ver1-0Terror Tram: Presented By Eli Roth

Andy- The Terror Tram in the past has always been hit or miss with me. Still, I’m a fan of Eli Roth’s work and I was really looking forward to seeing how this evil clown infused Terror Tram would stack up. I left the Terror Tram very disappointed. I thought there were quite a few operational issues. I noticed in two main areas of the Terror Tram: 1) They chose to use shipping containers as tunnels, which caused the lines to back up and bottle neck as only a few could walk through at a time. 2) They crammed way too many people down there at one time, which made the usual 15 to 20 minute experience more like 40 minutes, but not in a good way. To make things worse, we had to wait almost 20 minutes at the end for a tram to pick us up.

Lola- As usual, the Terror Tram is the worst attraction at HHN. I had hoped that Eli Roth’s influence would be enough to transform the generally lackluster Terror Tram into something different. However, I think this year’s Terror Tram is among the worst I’ve ever seen. Like Andy said, the way the route was layed out caused major foot traffic, which made it take way longer than it ever has before. Not to mention, there’s nothing unique about the creepy clowns. By the time we got to the end of the trail I was one cranky spider.

 

Mazes

halloween-horror-nights     Krampus

Andy- I really enjoyed this maze. I know most people don’t want to think about Christmas this time of the year, but with the added horror of Krampus, it was a lot of fun. Now, I haven’t seen the film yet, so I can’t really compare the film to the maze, but it was really cool walking through this house that’s being terrorized by a monster over the holidays. My favorite thing about the maze was the use of scents in each room. Some rooms smelled like ginger bread,  or vanilla, and even Christmas trees. Yet, it wouldn’t be HHN with out some of the burning disgusting smells as well. Overall, the maze is fun and now gives us a good excuse to extend Halloween all through Christmas.

Lola- I’m a fan of the Krampus film and the maze definitely captures the spirit of the movie. My favorite part of this maze, besides the smells, is seeing the toys in the attic come to life. Those who’ve seen the film will know what I’m talking about.

 

hhn_2016_freddyjason_7608_ver1-0Freddy vs Jason

Andy- Going into the event, a lot of friends who attended the preview night said that this was the best maze of the event, so I went in with some high expectations. I’ll tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. Universal took their own approach with the story and brought these two juggernauts of horror together into one epic show down. I felt the maze was fantastic. The story was compelling; the maze itself was perfectly dressed with some amazing scenes to walk through. Most of all, it was the only maze of the night to get a few scares out of me, which is rather difficult to do. Most of all, it did both Freddy and Jason justice.

Lola- The Freddy Vs. Jason maze is pretty damn cool. While quite a bit of it is stuff fans have seen before, there were a few unique touches that helped elevate it to a new level. Unlike Andy, though, I didn’t necessarily feel that they hit all of their story beats. That is to say I didn’t feel the story they were trying to convey was mapped out quite as well as it could’ve been. Still, it’s worth the wait. I like that they have alternate endings, depending on the night you attend. Some nights Freddy wins, and some nights Jason comes out on top.

 

hhn_2016_halloween_7601_ver1-0Halloween: Hell Comes To Haddonfield

Andy- Let me just start off by saying that this is by far my favorite maze of all time. The maze looked beautiful. The scares were great and it continued to tell the story of Michael Myers. Some of the rooms used the glow in the dark effects brilliantly. It really set a new standard for mazes. What blew me away were the giant pumpkin rooms we walked through. We were literally inside giant pumpkins! It was my favorite thing ever.

 

Lola- I have to agree with Andy, this maze is probably the best thing I’ve ever seen at HHN. I can’t add much more than that. My favorite part of the maze is the black out room with multiple glow in the dark pumpkin masks. Some are props and some are actors. The actors jump out at you as you walk past. This is what I think Horror Nights does best, it uses a movie a springboard, to create something entirely new, but still resembles the original film or films.

 

img_2741The Walking Dead

Andy- Now this maze obviously differs from Walking Dead mazes of the past as it is now year-round. Obviously, this maze had the most attention to detail as it is permanent, which definitely keeps you in awe. There were times when I thought I was really on the TV show, which was fantastic. The performers were top notch and on point. My only complaint is that I feel that the walk-through was way too short, especially for something that’s a year-round attraction.

Lola- I love The Walking Dead, and it was such a treat to be able to see the show come to life like this. I’ll agree with Andy, that the attraction felt a bit short, especially considering how much material TWD has to pick from. However, it’s still a near perfect depiction of what life is like amongst walkers. Those who’ve been through HHN’s previous Walking Dead mazes will probably recognize some props and ideas, but it’s been revamped enough that it still feels like a completely new experience. Consider this year-round haunt to be a love letter to walker fans, everywhere.

 

American Horror Story, The Exorcist, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre Mazes

Andy- Due to the extreme wait times for the mazes, we were unable to get into these mazes before the event was over for the night. Wait times were averaging three hours, and with the park being sold out, we couldn’t hit up all the mazes.

Lola- The fact that we weren’t able to see three mazes pissed me off. If you have to spend the kind of money HHN is asking for then I think you should be able to see all of the attractions. Now with that being said, I wrote to Horror Nights to tell them I was upset, and they were surprisingly reasonable. They offered me a comp ticket, so I plan to return and go through these mazes.

The Jabbawockeez

Andy- I’m not a huge dance fan and with the long wait times for the evening, we opted not to see The Jabbawockeez show.

Lola- Unlike Andy, I am a huge dance fan. I danced almost every style for several years, but the time constraints just didn’t allow enough time to check out the show.

 

 

Overall Thoughts

Andy- From an artistic, design and performance standpoint, and from what attractions we saw, this was easily one of the best HHNs in years. Each maze was enjoyable and they were fun. From operational standpoint, this one of the worst I’ve seen. Three hours is way too long to wait for a maze, let alone most of the mazes. Universal needs to either lower the number of people allowed in to HHN each night or add additional attractions. There were just too many people, which resulted in a less enjoyable evening. I understand Universal is trying to make money, but at some point, there is a huge loss in quality. It is also our understanding that in an attempt to correct this issue, Universal has started to do early entry earlier to reduce overall wait times. So hopefully, future HHNs will run a little better.

 

Lola- I’ve had a love/hate affair with HHN for years. With the exception of the Terror Tram, most of the mazes were high quality. Of course, I’ve yet to see three of them. The mazes seemed more creative this year than in the past. Still, 3 hour wait times can sure spoil anyone’s Halloween fun. The ticket prices and the wait times seem to go up every year. I must say, though it seems like Horror Nights is starting to take steps to correct some of this nonsense. I was impressed by their speedy response to my complaints. Also, I guess early entry has been moved up to 5PM. Hopefully, this helps make the HHN run in a more efficient manner.

 

 

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights runs select nights throughout October and the first week of November. Visit www.halloweenhorrornights.com for event info and to buy tickets. We do recommend buying tickets ASAP as the event has sold out almost every night of the run so far. We also recommend getting their early and doing early entry as wait times are long.

 

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