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.

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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/

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.

Urban Death Returns To Zombie Joe’s Underground

(Postcard by Zombie Joe)

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group proudly presents the return of their annual marquee event- Urban Death. For those unfamiliar with this modern Grand Guignol, Urban Death is a vignette show, featuring scenes of dark, twisted horror, death, and nightmares. Urban Death is unlike any show you have seen and should not be missed.

Per their official press release, Zombie Joe describes Urban Death as:

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group’s signature horror production that dives deep into the depths of ALL-NEW inexplicable horrors, unfathomable monstrosities, and the disturbed spirits that walk among us! 

 Returning to helm this year’s Urban Death are co-directors Zombie Joe and Jana Wimer.

We are also thrilled to announce that All Hallows’ Haunts’ very own Lola Tarantula will be among the cast of Urban Death.

Urban Death runs Friday and Saturday Nights, April 29th through May 28th, 2016, at 11pm. The show is designed for ages 15 and up!

Tickets are $15 and can be bought at the door or online at ZombieJoes.Tix.com . You can also call the official ZJU reservation hotline at (818) 202-4120.

ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.

This event WILL SELL OUT. It is highly recommended that you buy your tickets early and arrive to the theatre early to get a good seat!

 

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?

Serial Killer Speed Dating returns this April with Spring Fever!

springfeverOur pal Abel Horwitz (@abelhorwitz, http://abelhorwitz.tumblr.com/) just announced that he is bringing Los Angeles another awesome edition of Serial Killer Speed Dating (@skspeeddating), entitled Serial Killer Speed Dating Spring Fever. “The show just keeps getting better,” says Horwitz, creator of Serial Killer Speed Dating. “After selling out our Valentine’s Day show our killers couldn’t wait to come out and play again.” This is a personal favorite event of the folks here at All Hallows’ Haunts and with its growing popularity and ability to sell out quickly, we wanted to spread the news of this awesome event ASAP!

For those unfamiliar with Serial Killer Speed Dating, It’s an actual speed dating event, in which a participant will go on numerous mini dates over a two hour period. There is a twist however, hidden among all the participants is a killer! You now have to guess which one of the participants is the killer, all while looking for a possible match.

spring1Serial Killer Speed Dating has turned out to be a real hit as it separates itself from both online dating and other speed dating events. “Part of the appeal of speed dating is that you get a face-to-face date,” continues Horwitz. “The twist that it might be a killer sitting across from you gives it just a little bit of spice.”

Serial Killer Speed Dating first appeared at Scare LA in August 2015, and has since been brought back several times over the last few months, each one a success. This is one of those events that really sets its self apart from any other interactive haunt type events. Serial Killer Speed Dating has a very bright, exciting future and we can’t wait to see what it has in store, or the amount of bodies left behind!

spring 2Whether you’re looking for love or testing out your detective skills, this special Spring time edition of Serial Killer Speed Dating, hosted by Horwitz, will be sure to provide a killer evening of excitement. Serial Killer Speed Dating Spring Fever takes place Wednesday April 13th, 2016 from 8pm to 10pm at BarFood LA- 12217 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

Tickets are $20 and there is also $10 minimum at the bar. Be sure to use the promo code “SPRING FEVER” for 25% off the ticket price. If you want to come and check out Serial Killer Speed Dating, but wish not to participate, you’re welcome to do so. You will be required to do the $10 minimum at the bar! You can buy tickets and get more info at www.serialkillerspeeddating.com ! This event will sell out, so buy your tickets ASAP!

For more information on Serial Killer Speed Dating, please check out our recent interview S.K.S.D. creator, Abel Horwitz at https://allhallowshaunts.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/exclusive-interview-abel-horwitz-creator-of-serial-killer-speed-dating/