Knott’s Scary Farm- Tricks, Treats, and Halloween Scares

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Official Knott’s Scary Farm promotional photo

Knott’s Scary Farm is always one of the top haunts on the AHH list, and the 2017 season did not disappoint. This year’s Scary Farm offered guests two new mazes, an updated Trick or Treat, and the final Elvira: Mistress of the Dark show. In addition to the new attractions, attendees were given the opportunity to revisit classic attractions from previous years. Ok, let’s take this step by step, maze by maze.

THE MAZES

Dark Ride– Dark Ride was one of the two new mazes. This was my 2nd favorite maze. The theme is pretty straight forward. It’s modeled after an old carnival dark ride. In my opinion, this was an excellent theme choice. It’s something that seems obvious, but I haven’t seen almost anyone else try this concept. I loved almost everything about this it. It had colors, glowing elements, and mechanical wizards. You name it, it was probably in Dark Ride. This maze gave off a deep appreciation for the theme parks and rides of the past. It reminded me of everything I loved about going through the haunted house at the state fair.

Pumpkin Eater– Pumpkin Eater was the other new maze for 2017. Like Dark Ride, Pumpkin Eater appealed to my nostalgia. If Dark Ride was an ode to theme parks of the past, Pumpkin Eater served as an ode to Halloweens of the past. I loved all of the jack o’ lantern motifs and the many different textures within the maze. There were so many wonderful classic Halloween elements. It was a delight being able to walk through the inside of a pumpkin right into a corn maze. If I had one complaint about Pumpkin Eater, it’s that I didn’t completely understand the story they were trying to convey. However, overall the maze was a win.

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Photo by Andy Shultz

Trick or Treat: Lights Out– I don’t have much to say about Trick or Treat. It was kind of fun being able to walk through the maze with a flashlight, but I liked the previous year’s maze better. I have to agree with my friend who felt that making everything so dark rendered all the creative details  insignificant.

Red Barn– This maze has consistently been my least favorite. I don’t hate it. In fact, I quite like the giant diseased horse. Still, the whole cannibal farm theme feels a bit uninspired.

Shadowlands– From my least favorite to my most favorite. Shadowlands is once again my number one. A big part of that is the Japanese theme. I have a strong interest in Japanese culture, particularly J-horror. I noticed a lot of cool stuff about Shadowlands. For example many of the classic youkai like Rokurokubi, (a very, very long necked woman) could be found within the maze. I definitely appreciated the designer’s commitment to historical accuracy.

Tooth Fairy– Tooth Fairy is another Knott’s staple. This maze is like your wort dentist trip times ten. Like Pumpkin Eater, Tooth Fairy has some wonderful textures. I particularly liked the walls that are made to look like gums. While I wouldn’t call Tooth Fairy one of my favorites, it’s absolutely worth checking out.

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The AHH Team- Photo by Brandon Scullion

Voodoo– Voodoo is another maze that stands out for me. I like these mazes with a heavy cultural aspect, and Voodoo provided it in spades. The maze guided you through all of the types of places associated with Louisiana voodoo. One highlight from this maze is the scene of a mechanical alligator being served a living man as a sacrifice.

Paranormal Inc.- The maze Paranormal Inc. is what occurs when an episode of Ghost Adventures goes terribly wrong. Like Dark Ride, Paranormal Inc. is so enjoyable because it contains many campy elements such as glowing lights and vibrating floors.

Special Ops: Infected– I’ll be honest, I didn’t have the opportunity to try this real life zombie shooting game.

THE SCARE ZONES

Fiesta de los Muertos– Once again, Fiesta de los Muertos provided all of the bright hues and sugar skulls associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

CarnEvil– I’m obsessed with anything circus or carnival themed, but even I think clowns are getting a bit overdone. For that reason, I wasn’t too excited about this scare zone.

The Hollow– The classic “Halloween” aesthetic pairs perfectly with the new maze, Pumpkin Eater. I liked this scare zone, because it contained some unique light up tree trunk props.

Ghost Town Streets– This was my favorite scare zone, because it had the best monsters. This was also probably the foggiest part of the park, and I love fog.

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Official Knott’s Scary Farm promotional photo

THE SHOWS

The Hanging– I didn’t care for The Hanging. The stunts were exceptional, but the show was way too frantic. The writing felt like it was trying to cram the top 100 pop culture moments of the year into about 30 minutes. I can see why people might enjoy it, but it wasn’t for me.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark– I couldn’t think of a better sendoff to the “Queen of Halloween”. Elvira was as vivacious as ever, and her dancers were equally impressive. The show had some priceless moments like Elvira recreating that famous Flashdance sequence. I was so happy I got to see her final show at Knott’s.

Overall, my Knott’s experience was well worth the price of admission. Knott’s has been one of the few attractions that I feel is consistently outdoing themselves. I always tell those who are short on money/time and want the best Halloween experience for their dollar to go to Knott’s Scary Farm. That advice still stands.

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10 Great Overlooked Halloween Movies

Halloween is the best time of year. One of the best ways to celebrate the best time of year is to watch Halloween movies. There are of course a limitless amount of films you could watch. However, many online lists seem to only acknowledge the usual suspects. I totally support watching John Carpenter’s Halloween or Hocus Pocus a few thousand times. Still, there are many other seasonal movies out there that deserve a view. I put together a list to spotlight a few of those hidden gems. My only criteria is that Halloween/Autumn must play a major role in the film. Ok, with that out of the way, let’s get to it.

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WNUF Halloween Special

The WNUF Halloween Special is one of the most charming films on this list. This found-footage treasure is designed to mimic a late 80s live news broadcast. The film takes place on Halloween. It follows a reporter and psychic duo that go to film inside an allegedly haunted house with a violent history. Needless to say things go wrong, very wrong. The best aspect of this film is that the filmmakers inserted faux commercials into the movie. If you’re feeling nostalgic for the VHS/cable years, give this film a go.

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Hell House LLC

I’m surprised this one hasn’t been more popular. It has positive reviews, but still it seems to have slipped under the radar. The film opens with glitchy footage of a massacre unfolding at a haunted house attraction. From there, the film moves backwards showing the team dealing with strange occurrences while building the haunt of their dreams. I like this film, because it paints a solid picture of the amount of work and stress involved in running a haunt, even without the genuine paranormal happenings.

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Boys in the Trees

If you follow me on Twitter, then you probably already know I’m a fan of this one. This Australian supernatural drama follows two teen boys reconnecting on Halloween night. Throughout the night the boys are forced to confront death and learn some very painful, very adult lessons. Like the works of Ray Bradbury, this film captures the beauty and sadness of Halloween.

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Riding the Bullet

I think many people didn’t enjoy this one, but I’m a big fan. This Mick Garris film is an adaptation of a Stephen King story. It revolves around a suicidal artist forced to hitchhike on Halloween night to see his dying mother. During his trip he is pursued by a phantom driver, who wants him to choose between his own life and his mom’s. The film is set in 1969 and uses some of the best music of that era. In addition to the music, there is an uncanny quality to much of the imagery. Take for example, the school bus full of people in costumes on an otherwise empty road. It’s this poetic nature of Riding the Bullet that keeps me coming back over and over again.

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The American Scream

The American Scream is a 2012 documentary about home haunts. The documentary details the experiences of three different families as they plan, build, and tear down their haunts. The film’s director, Michael Stephenson was the kid from Troll 2. He went on to direct Best Worst Movie, a documentary that explored the making of Troll 2. Like Best Worst Movie, The American Scream paints honest portraits of its subjects, warts and all. The film manages to be humorous, awkward, and endearing all at the same time.

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Murder Party

This is a low budget, high enjoyment film. The plot follows a loser guy who finds a mysterious invitation to a Halloween “murder” party. He puts on his finest cardboard robot costume and heads to the address on the card. When he arrives he discovers a group of college students who wish to murder him in the name of art. This situation would be terrifying, except the group of wannabe creators are woefully incompetent. Having run in the “art school” crowd, I was amused by many of the character tropes in this movie. Combine the wacky cast with Halloween mischief, and this film is an all around win.

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Satan’s Little Helper

When I first watched this movie, I thought it was going to be awful. I mean, the cover looks dreadful. However, it ended up being an excellent Halloween treat. This dark comedy involves a little boy with a sister complex that teams up with a serial killer to get rid of his sister’s boyfriend. The boy is a fan of a game called “Satan’s Little Helper”. In the game, you have to help Satan kill people to win. When he spots a guy dressed as the devil killing someone, he interprets it as fate and this is where their merry killing spree begins. This film is both wildly funny and twisted. If you’ve got a wicked sense of humor, this film should tickle your funny bone.

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Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman & Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein

I included these two together, because I bought them in a double feature pack. Though only the Wolfman one seems to be set around Halloween. Anyway, these straight to video movies were meant to be homages to the Abbott and Costello Universal horror-comedies. While these films may have been marketed to kids, I think the adult fan will enjoy them even more. Both films contain plenty of references to the Universal monster movies . For example, Alvin believes his neighbor, Lawrence Talbot is a werewolf. If you like the Chipmunks, classic horror, or animation you need to see these movies.

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Once Bitten

Most of the old Jim Carrey films seem to have long lifespans in the public consciousness. Yet Once Bitten was poorly received, so I almost never hear it mentioned. Yes it’s juvenile as hell, yet I personally find this film to be a lot of fun. It uses every vampire joke ever. However, those tired jokes feel right at home with Carrey’s exaggerated acting in this cheesy 80s romp. The best part of the film involves a dance off at a high school Halloween party. What more could you ask for?

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I’ve Been Waiting For You

This movie is really hard to find. I mean, it was hard to even find an image from the film. It’s possible, but not easy. It’s a made for TV movie based on a Lois Duncan novel. The plot follows a teen girl that moves to a town in New England. The mystery begins when a stranger calls and tells her “I’ve been waiting for you.” From then on, she is buried neck deep in the town’s secrets. The film is set in Autumn and involves witchcraft and curses. If you’re a fan of Practical Magic or The Craft, you’ll probably like this movie too.

There you go. Ten great Halloween films that you might have missed. If you have more recommendations or you want to discuss my list, drop me a comment or hit me up on Twitter @HallowsHaunts.

10 Lady Horror Villain Costumes to rock this Halloween.

Halloween is a great opportunity to dress like some of our favorite characters. While most of our horror icons, are dastardly lads, there are plenty of wicked ladies out there too. Maybe you’re a girl who’s bored with the whole female Freddy thing. Perhaps you’re a dude who’d like to get in on the whole gender-bending craze. Either way, here’s a list of costume concepts that will excite any horror fan!

1. Lola – The Loved Ones

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When talking about psycho prom dates, Carrie is the queen supreme. Still, Lola from The Loved Ones is not a girl to take lightly. When she fails to obtain the attention of her high school crush, she sets up her own prom for just the two of them. Lola’s idea of prom includes torture and lobotomy, all with a little help from her daddy. For this costume just get a hot pink dress, a crown, a drill, and maybe some blood. Also this could make a cool couple’s costume, if your significant other wants to go as her date, Brent.

2. Esther- Orphan

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She’s just an unloved orphan having difficulty adjusting to her new home, right? Wrong! In reality, Esther is a childlike adult with psychotic tendencies. Once she sets her eyes on her new father, it’s just a matter of getting rid of her other inconvenient family members. Dressing as Esther presents a range of options. The easiest Esther look requires an old school blue dress, pigtails, bows, and maybe some white tights.

3. Sadako- Ringu

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A cursed videotape, a well, a vengeful ghost? Yep, we’re talking about Sadako from Ringu. Sadako is possibly the most well known onryo (vengeful ghost) in Japanese cinema. There are at least 6 books, and 7 movies existing in the Ringu universe. Over the course of time, Sadako’s history has become muddled. Still, her appearance has always remained the same. To rock Sadako’s look, you need a tattered white dress, long black hair, and the ability to crawl out of the television. I wish you luck with that last part.

4. Thomasin- The Witch

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The 1600s were a tough time to be alive, especially when there’s witchery afoot. In The Witch, poor Thomasin and her family are banished to the woods. As their religious zealotry grows, so does the power of evil. A proper Thomasin outfit needs Puritan garments and a bonnet. To really make it clear who you are, find a stuffed black goat.

5. Mary – American Mary

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Katharine Isabelle is something of a horror goddess, and Mary Mason is one of her best characters to date. For those who haven’t seen the film, Mary starts out as an on edge med student. Then she is raped as her professor’s party. Mary decides to put her surgical skills to work. She uses her medical capabilities to seek revenge on those that abused her, but can she stop at simple revenge? Mary’s outfit is easy to master. You just need a basic white top, black pencil skirt with tights, a pair of black heels, and a black vinyl apron. I’d also add a surgical mask,  some gloves, and some bloody surgical tools.

6. Baby Jane Hudson- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

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Bette Davis is my absolute favorite actress, because she just got better with age. Her finest work is Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Those of us who’ve seen the movie know that Baby Jane grew up to be a bitter alcoholic, who dominates her paralyzed sister. As the film goes on Jane becomes more and more delusional. Jane believes in all sincerity that she will become a Hollywood star again, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her dream alive. If you want to transform into Baby Jane Hudson, you’ll need a frilly light colored dress, red lipstick, messy curls, and a baby doll. It also helps if you walk around singing “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy”.

7.  Nina – Black Swan

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Like Baby Jane, Black Swan’s Nina cracks under the pressure of trying to be a star in a competitive field. Ballet is tough enough as it is. If you throw in an overbearing mother, a lecherous choreographer, some repressed sexual desires, and few hallucinations you get the absolute insanity that is Black Swan. To look like Nina as the Black Swan, wear a black tutu, tights, some ballet style shoes, a tiara, some dark makeup, and red contacts.

8.  The Female- Hellraiser Series

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Huge Clive Barker fan? Are you a master at makeup? Maybe The Female is the right costume for you. The Female was a nun until she opened the box. She was then whisked away to Hell, where she became a cenobite. If you’re a diehard horror fan looking to impress with your costume, give this one a shot. To turn into the lovely female cenobite, you’re going to need some FX supplies, a wig cap, a ton of blue and grey makeup, and a black leather wardrobe.

9. Moira- American Horror Story

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I’m hesitant to bring up American Horror Story. I was really into the first couple seasons, but then it just kind of descended into self indulgent chaos. Still, Murder House was pretty awesome. If you’re interested in going as one of the AHS ladies, I suggest sexy maid, Moira. While Moira is seen by women as her true age, men see her as a young pin-up babe. This is her curse to carry. Before the events of Murder House, Moira made the mistake of becoming involved with Constance’s (Jessica Lange) husband. This led to rape attempts, jealousy, and ultimately Constance shooting Moira’s eye out. To perfect this costume, pick up some maid attire and play around with retro makeup and hair. I’d also make one eye nice and gross.

10. Dracula’s Brides- Dracula

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This costume really only works in a trio, but what devilish beauties you will be.  The Brides are timeless icons. There have been many depictions of the bloodsucking group throughout the years. Usually they’re depicted as mysterious and captivating. I can picture tons of options when it comes to these vampiric vixens. I like the traditionally elegant look, but a modern twist could be fun too. Let your creativity take over and see what you come up with. My only advice is to make sure the three of you at least kind of match.

There you go! Hopefully this list helps you to come up with a unique Halloween costume that you feel proud of. If you liked this article, please follow us here on the blog and also on Twitter. @HallowsHaunts Happy Haunting!

The Shining announced at HHN Hollywood

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As we creep towards Halloween, we’re beginning to get some great news about upcoming haunt events. The best news so far, comes from Universal Studios. Universal Studios has just announced that The Shining will be a maze theme at Halloween Horror Nights. Guests at HHN in Orlando and Hollywood will be given the chance to wander the dizzying corridors of the Overlook.

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Universal promises to include many iconic scenes from the film, while adding their own creative flair. Those brave enough to enter will encounter a crazed Jack Torrance as well as the spirit of room 237. While not explicitly stated, the maze is also expected to include the eerie little girls Danny encounters in the famous hallway scene. Hopefully, we’ll also be treated to the blood gushing elevator and the guy in the bear suit blowing another guy. Seriously, it’s the weirdest part of The Shining.

HHN The Shining Trailer

Click the link above to view the official maze teaser. Also follow us right here on All Hallows’ Haunts and on Twitter @allhallowshaunts for more Halloween updates.

Halloween Wars is Back!

Food Network’s annual Halloween treat Halloween Wars returns this Sunday (October 2nd) for another season of horror and deliciousness.

For those unfamiliar with Halloween Wars, five teams consisting of a pastry chef, sugar/candy specialist, and a professional pumpkin carver, will battle it out each week by combining their skills to create deliciously scary dioramas based on a different horror theme. Then, each week a panel of judges will eliminate a team until only one team is left standing to take home the grand prize of $50,000.

The themes of each battle range from scary stories, to horror movie classics, to something completely out of this world. The team then is required to combine their respective talents to create a scene that embodies the theme, showcases their skills, and has an edible element to it.

While it’s not your usual scary Halloween show, it’s great for anyone who likes Halloween, art, pumpkin carving, baking, and if you’re like me, is a foodie.

Joining Halloween Wars this season on Food Network will be the Halloween Baking Championship (airing Monday Nights in October), making Food Network a fun Halloween alternative to horror movies and scary shows, plus it’s fun for the whole family.

Halloween Wars airs Sunday nights in October on the Food Network. Check your local listings for times.

(All Photos from The Food Network)