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Alone: An Existential Haunt 2014 Review

October 19, 2014

alone

This year Alone wasn’t quite as extreme as it seemed last year, however, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its startle and scare moments.  This year’s edition of the minimalist haunted attraction actually told the story of the Enola Foundation, something that it didn’t seem to portray as pronounced last year.  The haunt takes you in and out of a nondescript building in Downtown Los Angeles that at first glimpse some people might miss.  The actual address is a clothing store on Olympic Boulevard, but walking down the alley on the side of the building one can see where they’re set up.  They use the building extensively bringing visitors in and and out of it, creating some fear inspiring confusion.

We don’t want to give any spoilers as the attraction plays on one’s fears for what is seen as well as what isn’t.  Some moments are spooky or disturbing while others are actually comical, such as a scene where one will find themselves dancing in a small room with a strange, costumed character.

One of the people we went with on media night thought the haunt was incredible.  They mentioned a few of the scenes were really cool and that they loved the background music.  The music as well as the setting really played well on the whole Enola theme which seems to be some kind of pseudo research society.  Before going through the haunt, participants must fill out a sheet which asks questions such as, have you ever had an out-of-body experience?  When first starting the walk-through a lady asks everyone to do deep breathing exercise and meditation.  This it seems is to get you open for what comes next and plays with the overall theme which we think has to do with some kind of spiritualism or psychic experiment.

Alone is an experience that plays on the edge of the psyche.  There are parts that are really scary, but it leaves you feeling really good at the end, once you get past the creepy ending which will have you questioning everything.

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Los Angeles Haunted Hayride Goes to Hell

October 12, 2014

hayride

The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride: Echoes from the Rift had a new theme this year.  Well, it actually seemed like a few new themes.  The themes we noticed were hell, death, the 7 Deadly Sins and the Apocalypse.  The themes were consistent and were portrayed in the Hayride itself as well as the two new mazes (actually one of them was a sideshow

The Hayride seemed more simple this year than it has in the past.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t as good.  It seemed to succeed in its bare knuckles approach to everything death (this is different than the paranormal theme of last year though).  Prevalent seemed to be not only demons and ghouls, but everything one would imagine to see if they were to visit the seven layers of Hell.  A few of our favorite scenes were gone this year such as the demonic church that came to life, the three singers that move in slow motion and the Christmas scene.  New this year was a scene with characters on a giant swing pole which was kind of cool.  Other than that it seemed things were toned down from prior years although there were some really cool special effect (such as a giant eye that follows you while a monster crawls up from the ground).

The In-Between maze once again was one of the best dark mazes we’ve ever been in.  Our group got lost more than once in it.  There was a new maze called House of the Horseman which depicts the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse which sticks to the overall theme.  Although not one of the scariest mazes we’ve ever been it, it was a decent, interactive maze that did have some startling moments.  I don’t know if they were supposed to, but the monsters in the maze touched us on more than one occasion.  Also new was the Seven Sins Sideshow which displayed the 7 Deadly Sins.  This was an entertaining walk-thru, but we don’t know how scary it was meant to be, unless one takes each of the sins as a precaution.

Other attractions included the Blood Drums which was new for this year as well as an interactive macabre show.  We only saw part of the show but it looked like they were having audience members portray scenes from various horror films.  The act we saw was Alien.

Overall, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride continues to be a fun event and the only one of its kind.  Although to us they seemed to tone down the Hayride itself, it still was productive in achieving scares.

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Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest Delivers with Effective Scares

October 12, 2014

redriding

This year Fright Fest went all out with improved and impressive mazes and scare zones.  To compete with the other local theme park haunts they have been continuing to up the ante and 2014 looks like they’ve hit on all cylinders.  Returning mazes this year are The Aftermath, Chupacabra, Toyz of Terror 3D, Willoughby’s Resurrected and Total Darkness.  The returning Scare Zones are Demon’s Door, Zombie Xing, City Under Siege, Exile Hill, Nightmares and The Wastelands.  There seemed to be more monsters in both the mazes and the Scare Zones and the returning mazes all seemed to have something new done inside of all of them, making them seem fresh and relevant.  The new mazes are The Willoughby’s Garden of Darkness, Red’s Revenge, and Vault 666.  The new Scare Zone is Ravenstitch which is filled with creepy scarecrows and ravens.  One other thing that we need to point out is that there seemed to be more sound effects throughout the park as well as more fog.

New Mazes

Willoughby’s Garden of Darkness, a dense labyrinth of man-eating plants and evil apparitions, is inhabited by Innocence, the Willoughby’s youngest daughter, who is always looking for a ghostly playmate…so keep loved ones close.

The camouflage netting inside a labyrinth garden provides great scare opportunities.  The monsters blend effectively into the setting and the video apparitions found throughout the garden give this maze a creepy feel.

Enter the world of Red’s Revenge…over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house you go, but in this fairytale, guests and the wolf are hunted by Red and her demonic minions.

This is the most impressive maze that Six Flags has ever done.  When you first enter the maze you’re shown on a TV how Red has turned evil.  Throughout the maze you encounter characters such as the Wolf, Grandma and an evil Red.  There are quite a few animatronics situated throughout the maze that would equal anything seen at Knott’s.  The actors in this maze are also impressive as they stay in character and seem to know when to provide a fright.

Vault 666 is an old abandoned research facility where genetic experiments crossing humans with animals were once conducted and just recently the frightening secrets have been unearthed, exposing terror and mayhem from deep within the unsecured vault.

This maze is different from other Fright Fest mazes as it actually tells a complete story.  Visitors explore a laboratory where experiments are being done on both animals and humans.  After a pre-show to the maze that goes wrong, guests must find their way out of the elaborate set pieces and freakish characters.  The special effects and sets have really been paid attention to in this maze,  This is another maze that’s comparable to anything at Knott’s.

As far as the returning mazes, Aftermath is a post-apocalyptic themed maze that really impresses while Willoughby’s
Resurrected is one of the best “haunted house” themed mazes around.

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Raymond Hill Mortuary Haunted House We deal in the DEAD

October 4, 2014

raymondhill

Evil Twin Studios’ Haunted House “Resurrected” at South Pasadena’s Fremont
Centre Theatre (South Pasadena, CA)
This Halloween season, Evil Twin Studios will transform South Pasadena’s Fremont
Centre Theatre back to its original mortuary roots, where the operators of the Raymond
Hill Mortuary have a very, shall we say, “unique” way of dealing with the dead.
The Raymond Hill Mortuary is a follow-up to Evil Twin Studios’ “Theatre of Terror”
which was ranked as one of LA’s top ten haunts in 2013. It garnered rave reviews online
and received extensive coverage in mainstream media including KIIS FM and
KCBS/KCAL News. The haunting industry has embraced Evil Twin Studios as a rising
star, inviting them to speak at the New Haunts Panel at ScareLA, Southern California’s
premiere Halloween convention. Read the rest of this entry »

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Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Delivers Plenty of Scares on Land and Sea

October 4, 2014

darkharbor

Golden State Haunts and Events recently had the opportunity to visit the Queen Mary for the opening of Dark Harbor.  This year seemed to have more talent and scares than last year, if that’s possible.  Not only does it have the best setting for a haunt (the Queen Mary), but it seems to up the ante year after year.  This year we could confidently say that it’s on the same level as the theme park haunts.  There are three new mazes this year; B340, Soulmate and Voodoo Village.  Returning was Deadrise, Circus and Submerged.  We’ll comment on the three new ones.  There is also a new up-price Encounter attraction which places you face-to-face with the spirits of the ship.

Returning to Dark Harbor is the gothic punk band Rhythm Coffins.  Also, there is a giant swing ride that came from Neverland Ranch.  The Ringmaster also makes an appearance on the center stage featuring the story of The Captain, Graceful Gale, Samuel the Savage, Half Hatch Henry, Scary Mary and new for this year, the Voodoo Priestess.

B340 takes you through the demented mind of Samuel the Savage.  It takes you through stateroom B340 where a great tragedy occurred involving Samuel.  This was by far the scariest maze as it was the darkest and most suspenseful.  Watch out for other spirits on the ship besides the Savage.  The dark maze takes you through different sets related to the stateroom.  It looked like there was even a laundry room setting on the maze and the ending is both chilling and beautiful (if a haunt could be beautiful).

Soulmate is where Graceful Gale can be found.  Don’t be tricked though by her beauty.  The story of Graceful Gale is a depressing one and you’ll experience everything from her point of view.  The maze uses the setting of the ship to perfection and delivers thrill and chills using both props and live actors.

Voodoo Village is where Village of the Damned used to be.  It uses the same pathway as the previous maze but this time it has a totally different theme.  Be aware of the Cajun monsters as well as the Voodoo priestess.  If you’re not lucky they may put a curse on you.  Voodoo Village is a unique maze that sticks well to its theme.

Encounters is the exclusive attraction that takes you face-to-face with the paranormal.  While the attraction can by somewhat campy at times, we definitely encourage visitors to try it and see what ghouls they come across.  We’ve never been on the Ghosts and Legends tour, but we imagine it’s somewhat similar to this.  With a reasonable $15 up-charge we definitely recommend this be added to any Dark Harbor itinerary.

 

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BLACKOUT Is Back: New Show, New Rules — Opens Oct 9 in NYC, Oct 16 in LA

September 29, 2014

blackout

Deemed the ‘the most terrifying of the United State’s 3,000 haunted houses’ (The Guardian), BLACKOUT celebrates its 5th anniversary this year opening this month in NYC (Oct 9) and LA (Oct 16) — with a new show, BLACKOUT: house and a new set of rules.

Preview trailer: http://youtu.be/D5ZmAZIU6o4

Infamous for its strict solo-entry policy, forcing participants to face their darkest fears alone, BLACKOUT: house will be a group experience this year. And if you think that means the experience will be any easier — think again. This year’s iteration takes the creators’ special brand of immersive horror to the next level by breaking even more conventions than previous years and incorporating group dynamics into the experience.

BLACKOUT: house will host groups on most nights. A handful of solo shows will be hosted on select nights (to be announced). All participants will have a safety word should they wish to be removed from the house at any time. BLACKOUT: house will run between 20-30 minutes and guests will encounter tight spaces, complete darkness, strobe lights, fog, crawling, stairs, loud noises, nudity, violent and sexual situations, and physical contact. Full rules to follow.

Since 2009, BLACKOUT has set the standard for haunted house experiences with its use of deep immersion, sensory deprivation and physical interaction to create ‘a probing, psychosexual thrill ride of the soul’ (LA Weekly) that ‘puts you at the center of your own story. Or nightmare’ (Chicago Tribune). The brainchild of film and experimental-theater veterans Josh Randall and Kristjan Thor, the show is produced by John Harper and this year announced a new partnership with Michael Cohl’s S2BN Entertainment.

In addition to stand-alone houses in NYC and LA, Blackout is also hosting a special sold-out event with the Queens of The Stone Age in LA on Halloween. Announcements for shows in Chicago and in Miami during Art Basel to come soon.

BLACKOUT: house 2014

NYC
When: NYC, October 9 – mid-November; Thursdays through Saturdays from 7-11pm
Where: 225 E Houston Street (at Essex St.), NY, NY
Tickets: $35+, www.theblackoutexperience.com (on sale 9.26 at 11:59pm)

LOS ANGELES
When: October 16 – mid-November; Thursdays through Saturdays from 7-11pm
Where: Downtown LA
Tickets: $35+, www.theblackoutexperience.com (on sale information coming soon)

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Voodoo and Special Ops: Infected are Winners for Knott’s Scary Farm

September 28, 2014

girl

The haunt industry continues to get more saturated and competitive which means the original and still biggest, Knott’s Halloween Haunt has been trying new things to stay ahead of the pack. Two years was the debut of “Trapped: Lock and Key. This year it was the choose-your-own-adventure maze Voodoo and the zombie shooting attraction Special Ops: Infected.

Once again they brought in Elvira who is featured in “Elvira’s Big Top”. She’s the host for the show which features a guy who swallows swords as well as a contortionist. In between acts, Elvira played to the audience and told some pretty funny jokes.

Infected

Special Ops: Infected is situated in the Camp Snoopy area of the park where those with a special card are either part of Team Alpha or Team Bravo. The scenario is that people have been taken hostage by zombies during an infection outbreak and teams of up to twelve are there to help rescue them. They are given a laser gun and told to shoot the zombies in the head.

toothfairy2

One of the two new mazes this year is “Tooth Fairy”. The premise is that the good tooth fairy has been captured by the evil tooth fairy. The evil tooth fairy visits the children at night who have teeth under their pillow and takes them to the dental chair where all kinds of cruel and painful dental work will be done. This maze is very gory and tells the story well.

voodoo

The other new maze is “Voodoo” which had one of the longest lines. This maze sends visitors deep into the swamps of Cajun Country where voodoo priests and priestesses roam along with zombies. Depending on which path you take, you’ll either experience an exorcism or a sacrifice. This is one of the best mazes we’ve seen in a long time. We heard a lot of people talking about how well attention was paid to detail and how effective the lighting was.

pinnochio

Of course there are returning mazes such as The Gunslinger’s Grave, , Pinocchio Unstrung, Black Magic and Dominion of the Damned. The hanging was really good and funny this year, parodying everyone from mayor Rob Ford to Beyonce and of course Disney properties such as those from “Frozen”. This year this is actually a double hanging which we won’t comment on since we want everyone to have the experience of discovering it for themselves.

We really enjoyed Knott’s this year. The old mazes got some fresh detail added to them and Special Ops: Infected is a cool military/zombie attraction that we think should stay for a long while. Maybe next year they can add more of a specialized theme to it. “The Tooth Fairy” was a lot of fun. The lighting in it and “Voodoo” were really effective. The maze was well laid out and seemed as realistic as can be. “Voodoo” also had a realistic feel and a great Skeleton Key added attraction.

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