Posts Tagged ‘scary’

Urban Legend: Sasquatch 

Concept & Story by Joshua Malone

(The read of the treatment is best enjoyed if read along while listening to these two videos simultaneously)



About an hour drive outside of Spokane, Washington there is an idyllic lodge located at the base of Laemmle Mountain. The lodge, known as Grand Cedar Lodge, sits next to a picturesque lake, and has acres of space where people flock to camp to “get away from it all.” Behind it sits the majestic Laemmle Mountain where there are miles of hiking trails (both clearly marked and some that wander a bit off the beaten path,) and incredible game that bring in hunters from all across the world. With its seasonal snow-capped peak, lush dense forests, and prized fish and game it’s easy to see why so many people have made this the number one destination for a retreat since it’s opening in 1955.


But for the last few years attendance to the lodge has been declining. In previous interviews the owners of the lodge, Samuel and Martha Buckner, have just chalked it up to “Well, that’s just the world we live in now. Nobody wants to go camping anymore. Nobody wants to “get away from it all.” They want to stay connected with their gadgets and technology.”

But the surrounding townsfolk know better. In the last three years over thirty people have gone missing, and last year all but put the proverbial nail in the coffin for the great lodge when five young college co-eds were found horribly mangled deep within the forest. A sixth member of the group had gone missing, and after a week of searching she eventually turned up.

Bethany Francis was found in a cave in the forest ten miles from the lodge. She was dehydrated, and had several server lacerations and broken bones she had managed to mend crudely which kept her alive just long enough for help to arrive. She was quickly medevac’d to the nearest hospital. The medical team reported that in the chopper she kept muttering a single word in her sleep: Sasquatch.


Since the first disappearance rumors had been circling about a large monster in the woods, but nothing had ever been confirmed. Nobody had ever seen anything. All there were to go off of was ancient Native American legend and the fact that late at night campers would report hearing something making horrific bellows deep within the forest. But after the latest incident there is no hiding it. Some kind of creature really was living in Laemmle Mountain and it was killing anybody who dared to venture there.


The Buckners weren’t entirely sure what this creature was but it needed to be taken care of. They honestly didn’t think it was really a “Big Foot” monster, but it was something. They could even hear the creature’s roars at night, and since there haven’t been guests in months it seems like whatever it was… it was getting more brazen and coming closer and closer to the lodge and not just hiding out in the forest.

After their last talk Washington Fish and Game, where they refused to help locate this creature, Martha Buckner had an idea- a reward for any hunter who was willing to track down this creature, whatever it was, and kill it. Not only would the hunter be able to get the prestige and the trophy of a lifetime, but the Buckner’s would offer a $50,000 reward upon its death.


Word of this spread like wildfire, and soon the lodge was packed with the most visitors it had had since this all began. Hunters from all over the world had come to locate, trap, and kill this blood thirsty creature. Some wanted the reward. Others just simply wanted their favorite get away resort back. There were even a good number of people who even made the trip just to watch, like this was some kind of “end all” sporting event. Little did they know… that’s exactly what this would be.

The first bloodcurdling screams of hunters came during the sunset on the first night of the “Laemmle Monster Hunt.” A group of hunters hadn’t even gone a mile in to the forest, and they were never seen again. All that was found was blood soaked trees and a camping site that looked like a pack of bears had torn through it. But everybody knew this wasn’t bears after they found a single footprint in the mud. A large footprint that looked like it had been left by something half man and half beast.

This monsters territory had indeed grown because of the lack of visitors, and it was not about to retreat back in to hiding now. Especially not when there was so much east prey around…



You and your friends have traveled to Laemmle Mountain to spectate this great hunt! You’ve packed your camping gear, your drinks, and are ready enjoy the scenery and be on the front end of what will surely be one of the greatest hunts in American history.

Your group ran a little behind schedule in leaving, and you’re already a day behind when you finally arrive and the sun has set and night is quickly invading. But as you come over the hill and see the lodge nestled between the lake and the forest with the great mysterious mountain looming behind it you can’t help but be in awe at the beauty. This will surely be a trip to remember. And you’ve never believed there was a monster anyway. In all likelihood it’s probably a bear, or maybe a family of bears just trying to live their life in the mountainside forest and dumb tourists have always managed to invade their space by wandering too close. You and your friends don’t plan on getting that close to the action, and even so you’ve all prepared. You’ve made your plans, and have proper safety gear. You’re smarter than those people who have gone missing. There’s no such thing as “Big Foot” and this is just going to be an entertaining weekend.

As soon as you drive up to the lodge though, you know something is wrong. You can’t see anybody, and it’s unnervingly quiet except for the sound of the water of the lake, the trees creaking.

As you walk towards the lodge more and more warning alarms start going off in your head. A truck’s windshield has been smashed in. A small tree has seemingly been snapped in half recently.

Suddenly from deep within the woods you hear somebody scream followed by a rifle shot. Then something lets out an unholy roar. THAT… was no bear. You and your friends race towards the lodge for cover, realizing this was not going to be the amazing camping trip you had imagined after all.




You  see the rustic beautiful structure of the lodge with a darkened forest behind it and the great silhouette of Laemmle Mountain just beyond the trees.  A truck has run into a tree and a hunter is screaming for help. Gunshots are heard in the distance as a creature roars. Just outside the entrance of the building there is a GIANT footprint.



A roaring fire provides false warmth an comfort before MARTHA BUCKNER reaches in through a busted window, all bloodied and screaming for help. Through the shades of another window on another wall you see a large figure, stalking



A random CAMPER lies mangled on a tree stump, and SAM BUCKNER comes running out with an AX screaming to “get out of here. It’s HIS land now!” A defining roar sounds close by and you see a large shadow just beyond the trees.


4.)    EXT. WOODS

You follow a path leading into the woods. You hear the echos of hunters whispering cautioned words to each other, and twigs snapping. A hunter comes out suddenly and warns that “It’s COMING” just before, on the opposite side, a large SASQUATCH creature reaches out from between the trees with one of it’s large clawed arms and roars at you.


5.)    EXT. CREEK

You come across a creek bed with a small bridge that goes over it. A camper lays sprawled out, face down. Half their body in the water half on the bank. Their guts have been torn from their body. What sounds like heavy footsteps and a tree crashing comes from behind you as you make your way over the bridge, only to be met with another camper who’s face has been half slashed off/eaten.



There is a small fire and a mangled tent.  We see a couple of giant footprints. A bloodied camper crawls out and dies by the fireside choking on their blood. From the opposite side the great SASQUATCH lunges from the forest again after you, giving a deafening roar with saliva slapping your face.



You round a corner in the forest to be met with a blaring horn of an RV. A hunter comes out of the RV screaming “THERE IT IS!” and fires their gun into the forest. You see the silhouette of *a creature* in the forest. Just before you get out of the camp a giant BEAR stalks forward and slashes at you.


8.)    EXT. WOODS

You’re lost in a dense misty forest with screaming, gunshots and roars all around you. A bloodied hunter reaches out from between the trees begging for help, before something violently jerks them backward into the darkness of the forest. A SASQUATCH head snaps at you through the trees on the opposite side



You’ve found the lair of the beast but and see the glowing eyes of the creature inside just moments before it charges at you in full glory, roaring and reaching out it’s terrifying claws, just before a lone hunter starts firing his weapon at the beast as you quickly make your way towards the end.



You quickly make your way towards freedom, thinking you can hear the pained dying cries of the beast behind you. That is until you hear a second sound coming from up ahead, just before a SECOND SASQUATCH lunges out trying to rip you to shreds before you can escape.



Wood/Cedar (throughout)

Pine (throughout)

Burned wood/fire (campsites, Lodge)

Monkey fur and/or Wet Dog (Sasquatch encounters)

Gunpowder (Hunter Camp)

Rotting meat (Lair)





rough sketch

Sasquatch rough concept sketch by Joshua Malone












3Once again we are finding ourselves in the approaching shadow of the haunt season, folks. The great thing about Illinois is that no matter where you are there never seems to be a shortage of haunted attractions (professional or non.)

I wrote up a list last year, and figured I’d do the same again this year. While there are tons of haunts that I am looking forward to this year and am hoping to hit in Illinois (including my own past haunt home of  Skellington Manor) I’m going to keep this list narrowed to the greater Chicago area. So without further adieu…



4.) Realm of Terror

(Round Lake Beach, IL)


This is one of those haunts that, every year, gets consistently great reviews by the general public and critics alike. Stellar sets, and actors who are really on point… it is no doubt  a staple of haunts one in/around the Chicago-land area must visit.  Do note though, this isn’t for the faint of heart (well, really none of these haunts on this list are.) The actors are high energy and really invade your space. A general sense of unease creeps over you as soon as you line up in the que.


3.) Basement of the Dead

(Aurora, IL)


Yep, this was on my list last year folks. Why again? BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS FREAKING AMAZING, that’s why! These guys continually build and put on one of the best haunts I have ever had to pleasure of experiencing. High energy acting, amazing sets, and full throttle scares from every direction. This place, no matter the night, usually has an insane line qued up at the entrance, and for good reason. They’re one of the best in the state.


2.) HellsGate

(Lockport, IL)


Kicking up a lot of speculation this year is the infamous Zombie Army Productions latest haunt- HellsGate. Inspired by the urban legends of a haunted house found only in the forest that is multi leveled and so scary that if you make it all the way through… your ticket is free! This attraction is found the woods, is multi-storied, but you can only get your money back if you find a special key. Challenge accepted! While my opinions of Statesville range, there can be no doubt that I am excited about this haunt. Woods? Several floors of scares? Amazing sets and makeup?  SOLD.


1.)Fable’s Fright Nights

(East Dundee, IL)


Topping our list again is Fable’s Studios. Last year their amazing experience Project Chaos was cut criminally short. If it’s any indication of what this group can do with an entire theme park, I’m stoked. For the past several months they’ve been doing a Zombie experience at Santa’s Village that has garnered a lot of praise. This haunt season they are turning the entire park into a nightmare with three haunts, and street experiences, and a chance to meet the legendary Krampus himself (all in all, this is very ala Halloween Horror Nights/Howl-Scream/Knott’s.) Super psyched to see what the talented and passionate creators at Fable’s have in store for us.



That’s it for my list this year! What haunted attractions are you dying to attend?

HHN 25 is only my third time attending the event. The other two years were 2009, and 2013.But I’ve followed the event for many years and consider myself a “fan from afar.” When it was decided that I’d be attending this year I was excited. I’ve never been present during an anniversary year nor a year that Jack was present and he, as clichéd and typical as it is, is my favorite icon. I got really in to this year even before the event started, taking advantage of the whole “Jack’s Maniacs” craze to inspire a short webseries. So, truthfully, I was more than excited for this year. I was excited for the shows, the number of houses as well as the type of houses we were getting this year (save for one,) and I was excited because my girlfriend would be attending with me and she’s never experienced anything like HHN before. Sure, we go to plenty of haunts in our area (suburbs of Chicago) but she had no idea what an event like HHN entailed.  So when we got there on the 24th and waited in line and watched those actors walk up to the gate, I could barely contain myself.

When we first entered we made a B-line for FvJ, which I knew, based on people’s experiences the weekend before, would be a very busy house. So I wanted to get my first walkthrough out of the way as I felt like I’d defiantly want to do it at least twice during our trip.

Freddy vs. Jason

We did end up doing this house twice during our trip. The first time we went through it was still fairly early, and we had only waited in line for ten minutes. The second time was on or second to last night I believe, the 26th, and we did it fairly early as well due to the fact that on Friday it had gotten up to about a 100 min wait time at one point! I was hearing nothing but good things about this house so I had some really high hopes, and boy was I not let down. Doing this house first was a great way to kick off the event for us.

Upon entering and feeling that cold Crystal Lake air hit my face I couldn’t help but smile. My girlfriend latched on to my backpack and tagged behind me, not wanting to go first. Right off the bat, the first Jason got me. As we continued on several more of the hockey masked killers got me. Entering into Freddy’s world was awesome and there were some really cool “kill” scenes (including one of my favorites- “prime time.”) It seems like, in general, the house starts off wanting to scare you with Jason and then turns in to eye candy and less focused on scares during Freddy’s part then ends with a mixture- which makes perfect sense.  The dream/woods area was such a trip, and by far my most favorite section of the house. Defiantly harkens back to La Lloroa but still just as effective. In fact it’s in this area that I got my biggest scare. The last Jason in this area got me really good both times I went through. The final battle scenes were fun, especially with Freddy’s dialogue going on in the background. Both times we went through Jason was the victor, and that final Jason got us good as well.

The sets were amazing, especially once we got to 1428. The woodsy smell pumped in in Crystal Lake and the dream sequence was a nice touch, and (once again) the call backs to some of the best kills in both franchises as well as some great moments from the FvJ film itself really make this a slasher fans dream come true.

Scares: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

Right after FvJ we hopped in line for Body Collectors, since it was right next door. We ended up doing this house twice during our trip as well

Body Collectors: Recollections

I have never experienced a Collectors house and was highly anticipating this one. It ended up being my second favorite house of the event!

Upon entering I just stood in awe of the façade. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, and the snow effect just really was the icing on the cake. But… damn it, why haven’t they done a 30 Days of Night house yet!?… I digress. Anyway, the mood was set before you even enter and once you enter your skin is crawling from start to finish. The atmosphere in this house was nonstop amazing and really made this a complete world for me.

There were startles aplenty to be found here, but the scare that really got me the best was the assistant in the room with the spine. So to your right when you turn you will see one of the Gentlemen ripping out the spine of a poor victim. While you pass by gawking at the act there is one of the assistants who comes out snapping at you. Jesus, those actors got me good both times we walked through. I will say in general I experienced fewer scares the second time I went through, but I feel like timing had a lot to do with it. It’s fine though because the second time going through I got to experience a lot more of the scenery and set which was equally as chilling as the actors.

Another note is the theatrical techniques used in this house are absolutely splendid. This is actually across the board true at HHN but there were some real stand out moments in the event this year and BC has some of those moments. The shadow and scrim work in various points of the house along with the audio tracks on top of all of the splendid acting just sold this house for me. There was no weak link in this house. Also- that opening music at the façade, the edited version of Voca Me sends chills down my spine, I love it. I wish I could find it some place.

Scares: 4/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

After leaving Body Collectors we decided to take a walk through some of the street zones since it was getting later and the sun was finally starting to go down.

PsychoScareapy: Unleashed

This was probably the zone we spent the most time in during our four days, as was my second favorite scarezone. While actors are obviously the key element to all of HHN, the actors really sold this zone for me. Especially on the stages where they would ask people from the crowd to come closer and tell them very intimate, deranged stories. It was freaking fantastic and if you have an opportunity, listen.

Also the actors in the street were just plain fun. They were scary, but they were fun at the same time. They actually acted along with you a lot of times, building a really nice sense of security that they weren’t going to “do anything” but then when you least expect it is when they’d absolutely turn or come at you with a weapon. It was great. And the set pieces, especially the flaming gazebo were also really nice and helped set a mood for the area.

Scares: 3/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

Scary Tales: ScreamPunk

This is the first scarezone you encounter once you enter the park.  While the centerpiece and the gobos (once it’s actually dark outside) offer some great sources of atmosphere this zone offered very little for me. It really depended on the actors for me as far as my level of enjoyment of the zone. My favorite one by far was the Wicked Witch whenever she was out. The costumes and makeup is gorgeous, it’s just that the actors seemed to do nothing but roam around, and only really ever tried to scare you if a.) you had a camera, or b.) already looked scared.

Scares: 1/5 (I will give kudos to a Wicked Witch at around 9 on the 25th though because as I came through the fog she leapt out at me and startled me)

Atmosphere: 2/5

Overall 2.5/5

RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears

This was the third house we did, and we only ended up doing it once. We could’ve easily had done it two or three times during our visit and a little part of me wishes we had been able to but at the same time it’s not that big of a deal for me.

I was excited for this house just because, once again, I had never experienced a RUN house. Judging by what others had said RUN was either a love or hate house in the past. Houses that have been in this location (Disaster) before in years that I’ve attended (which would be Havoc: Derailed and Leave it to Cleaver) were never houses that I enjoyed so I tried to remain neutral overall, and I’m glad I did. By not really expecting much I think I had a better time but this still proved to be the first house of the event to fall a little flat for me.

The sets were amazing, and the actors looked intimidating and great… there just weren’t a lot of scares going on. It was a lot of noise in this house and it just got to the point of a sensory overload for me so I kind of shut down during my walk through of it. While I loved the premise of it being in Hellgate and the general idea of the house I couldn’t help but feel like sections were simply just recycled scares from when the prison was used for TWD in HHN 23. Not a big gripe though as, once again, the sets are stellar to look at and the same thing was kind of done in FvJ as I’ve mentioned before. The actors though, for me, really lacked the energy that I was expecting- which is exactly what happened in Derailed a few years ago. In a house like this the actor energy is going to be everything and most of the time they just seemed to stand there. The only ones that seemed active to me were the ones you experienced once you got “outside” in the fenced area.

Scares: 2-2.5/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 2.5-3/5

All Night Die-In: Double Feature

Once you leave RUN you enter the Double Feature. This is probably my third favorite scarezone and while it does offer up many a chance for pictures, the actors do a brilliant job of scaring as well. Never once did I see one break character.

I keep going back and forth about which “feature” I like more, the old or the new but I think ultimately I have to go with the new. While I LOVE the costumes and makeup of the classic monsters and seeing so many of them in one place, the new slashers and monsters are obviously more vivacious and active.

There are some really good moments here like Jason trying to kill a young girl who then runs away in terror, and others. I always seem to get scared the worse in street zones when I try and take pictures. That’d probably because I’m so preoccupied trying to snap the shot that for a few seconds I don’t mind my surroundings. In the middle of trying to snap
a shot of one of the Strangers one of the female vampires snuck up behind me and hissed. I nearly toppled over. The same thing happened to me at a zone in HHN 23! My girlfriend had a good laugh!

Scares: 2.5-3/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

After this point the rest of the event and the order we did things kind of becomes a big jumble to me, so the rest happened in no particular order.

American Werewolf in London

This was my favorite house in HHN 23 and while obviously I’d love for newer things I was still excited to experience this house again. My girlfriend and I had watched the film a few days before hand (her first time seeing it.)

Not a whole lot to say about this house other than it’s still great for all the same reasons it was before, and the few added scares were a welcomed change. Another welcomed change was the size of the wolves… just… wow. I loved the puppets from HHN 23 but these new puppets made those old ones look like puppies.

While I did coax her in to doing it twice, this was my girlfriend’s most “hated” house just because it freaked her out so much. Seriously. After the second time through she B-lined it out of the exit to the nearest bench and said “we’re sitting until I’m ready.” She refused to do it a third time, although wait times would have easily permitted a third walkthrough.

Scares: 4/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Asylum in Wonderland 3D

I’m not a fan of 3D houses. Never have been and don’t think I ever will be. I don’t know but I just feel like the sensory overload that I experience when walking through these houses just makes it impossible for scares to really be effective in any way.

I will say though that AiW3D had some really awesome costumes and characters so even if 3D houses aren’t your thing there is plenty to at least look at in this house. It’s better than Afterlife, for me at least, which was probably the house I like the least in HHN 23. But still I only hit AiW once and that’s okay with me, although my girlfriend actually loved this house.

Scares: 0/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 2/5

The Purge

I was torn when what happened, well… happened to this house. I was looking forward to a house based off the Scream films but not the show. But a Purge house was something I always thought could work well and I was very interested to see what A&D did to the house post-debacle to turn it in to the Purge and to see if I could make out any of Scream influence anywhere.

You defiantly can, if you know the films and that’s all I’ll really say on the matter.

As far as it being a Purge house I thought that the creative team did a good job of changing things up. While I really disliked the constant gratified on the walls (some would have been okay but to me it was just absolute overload) other changes such as “purge security systems,” anti-NFA members, and other things here and there were welcomed additions. Something that people who have seen the Purge films would recognize and obviously something that really had to be worked on and added to the house.

Also the actor energy seemed to always be really good in this house, although the scares really depended on timing (although that’s really true of any house at HHN.)

While this house wasn’t my favorite house I will say that it probably incorporated one of my most favorite elements of ANY haunted house I have ever visited (or been a part of for that matter, since I’ve worked haunts for ten years.) That actually threw in “victims” into the crowd of guests who would then be taken by the purgers and killed. While this sort of thing has happened plenty of times before at HHN (see All Night Die-In: Double Feature review, as well as throwing in civilians into other street zones this year and past years) this was the first time that I ever really experienced it very intimately in a house setting. The first time it happened was the first time we went through the house and this young woman came out of a corner and cut us (my girlfriend actually went in before me our first time through.) This young woman said “sorry and she had gotten cut off from her group” and was wearing a Universal Orlando hoodie so we said it was no problem and that she could go in front of us. As soon as we rounded a corner a purger grabbed hold of this girl with a knife and dragged her screaming into a closet and slammed the door. My girlfriend screamed and had reached out for a second and I was just dumbfounded at what had just happened. We looked at each other and it had taken a full moment to realize that it was a part of the show. It happened again when were outside waiting in line to do the house a second time, only this time to the people in front of us. Another lady with a Universal hoodie, without asking, just cut them and they were all like “hey, what the hell” and the male purger with the mic outside noticed and said “Oh, you think it’s okay to cut in line?” and that started a back and forth between them which eventually ended with him saying “I think it’s time to purge. What do you people think?” I looked around and the crowed was all kind of looking at one another or awkwardly smiling so… I yelled out “PURGE!” This actress spun around and looked at me in shock (whether she was simply acting or just not used to people saying anything I don’t know) but that’s all the purger needed to start his advance towards her and then they ended “off stage” and we heard a big bang. This kind of visceral interaction is exactly what I want to see more of from HHN and the haunt industry in general. We’re starting to see it more and more with houses but I was glad that Universal’s creative team added that in because it was such a huge thing to me and just made the experience that much better for me.


Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

The Walking Dead: The Living and the Dead

This was the worst house for me, as it was for many other people. It also consistently, during or visit, had the lowest wait time of any of the houses at the event at any one time. I think the longest I saw it get was around 35 minutes on Saturday, but in general I don’t remember seeing it going about 25 most of the time we were at the event.

While the sets looked great and some of the gags were cool in the house (the slit throat at the beginning was probably the most wet I ever got in a blood gag in a house, and that poor horse (although awesome looking) was a low blow) in general there was just nothing. No energy from the actors and most of the other effects that were there just didn’t work… it just felt like it was thrown together because it “had to be there” (which depending on who you ask, that may be the case.)

Scares: 0/5

Atmosphere: 2/5

Overall: 1/5

Evil’s Roots

This was by far my favorite scarezone. Full of creepy atmosphere and amazing imagery it’s really what I wished HHN 23: Evil Takes Root was instead of full on Walking Dead fest (while I love the show it was just too much that year.)

The actors in this zone were really spot on for the most part really playing into the darkness and fog. During the day it’s not as powerful or intense as it is as night progresses. It’s really a zone made by Halloween lovers for Halloween lovers.

Scares: 3.5/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Overall: 4/5


This house… I only got to do this house once during our visit, and it was on the last day, and it frustrates me to no end. It was a great house, and I mean absolutely great in every way. The problem was everyone else seemed to think so too as the wait times typically ranged between 45 min to an hour or more while we were there. On our last day we B-lined it to this house wanted were some of the first people to go through it that Sunday.

The sets were amazing and intricate and there were a lot of really great memorable moments from the films present in this house. Now typically when there are “scenes” from the films being staged the scares (for me) generally lack in those moments in the past, but that was not the case here. Even though you were watching the scene played out the scares were perfectly positioned to get you at exactly the right moments. The timing is EVERYTHING in this house and every single actor was spot on from start to finish. Some hard work from the creative team and the actors was put into this house, and it pays off.

Scares: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Overall: 4/5


This scarezone may not have been the scariest one but it had some really great atmosphere and some amazing vignettes by the main icons from Horror Nights past. My biggest gripe… where the hell is Bloody Mary!?

Defiantly spend some time here if you can, just to watch the stage shows. I wasn’t able to catch them all but I’m sure eventually they’ll all pop up on YouTube.  Also it’s great to see a bunch of lesser known characters and icons traveling around in the streets as well.

Scares: 2.5-3/5

Atmosphere: 3-4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Jack Presents 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem

My absolutely favorite house at HHN25. It’s funny to me because really this is the kind of haunted house I’m used to- the kind where it’s mainly a bunch of random rooms thrown together that cover a wide range of fears and characters.

From start to finish this house oozes atmosphere and character. Some really great moments and characters that I have never experienced before were all present in this house and it made me so happy as a Horror Nights fan. I loved how it not only covered the history of HHN but also, in part, the horror history of Universal- including monsters such as The Wolfman, Hunchback, and Frankenstein. This house reminded me a lot of Silver Screams which is one of my favorite houses from 2009.

A lot of actors got me good in this house, but the one that consistently got be both times I went through was the first Ringmaster Jack, so kudos.

This house, on top of some spot on acting and breathtaking sets had some really neat effects as well- my favorite one being the scrim used in the picture hallway. As you walk towards the picture of Jack, if you look to your right there will be a ghost which appears through the wall and seemingly floats by you. As you’re distracted of course there is a scare (which admittedly got me as well.) But that effect is just brilliant and absolutely amazing. That was one of those moments that will be engrained into my memory forever.

Scares: 4.5/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Overall: 4.5-5/5

The shows this year are amazing. Bill and Ted I don’t have much to say about other than it was funny as per usual, and The Carnage Returns was just plain fun. Defiantly hope that Universal decides to keep doing shows like Carnage because it’s incredibly obvious that the creative team loves putting them on. The number of inside jokes was well appreciated and the kills were brilliant. Wish that there was more of a “big finish” like there was in the original Carnival of Carnage show, but beggars can’t be choosers and overall the show was really entertaining.

I loved this event overall. I felt like there was a real return to some great creativity as well as a ton of callbacks to various things that has made this event so great for the past 25 years. Universal’s creative team really went all in with this year and it shows. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to another 25 years of this horrific event.

The haunt season is upon us faster than a drunk jock in a horror film. With many haunted houses opening their doors next week I’ve been trying to prepare myself (as well as my wallet,) planning which haunts I will for sure be wanting to attend this year. I live in the greater Chicago area so there are plenty to choose from!  I’ve managed to narrow down my five top choices which is what I’ll be sharing with you all. So without further adieu, let’s get started…

4.) 13th Floor Chicago

1940 George St., Melrose Park, Illinois 60160

I unfortunately missed his house last year, their first year in the area. While I heard a lot of mixed reviews as far as the scares go there was nothing overly negative, like some other first time haunts in the area. The sets and makeup are said to be spectacular, and with several other locations across the U.S they have to be doing something right!

They have two different houses  this year. One of them, Feral Moon, probably excites me the most! It sound very classic and deals with werewolves. This excites me as The Wolfman is one of my favorite classic monsters.  Dead End District: Wrong Turn seems like a pseudo Evil Dead/28 Days Later mashup of some kind in plot- which will be interesting. I’m not sure based on the description if these things are evil or if they are more zombie like. Either way, bring it on!

3.) Evil Intentions

900 Grace Street Elgin, IL 60120

Their story this year, The Awakening, sounds intriguing- basically centering around the idea that some ghost hunters have awakened a great evil in a local mortuary. I love houses with a story , so that just makes it all the better.  And this house just looks intense, and intense is what I like. Really expecting some great acting, on top of the stellar looking makeup and location they have going on.

2.) Basement of the Dead

42 West New York Street, Aurora, IL

This house launched itself into one of my top top five scariest haunt experiences ever last year. This house is utterly fantastic with some spot on acting and energy from beginning to end in the house, great twists and turns, great line entertainment. The website is advertising itself as bigger better and scarier this year and that the audience will ‘not recognize it from last year’ which really has me pumped. I am anxiously awaiting it again this year in all of it’s gory.

1.) Project Chaos

Right next to Evil Intentions

The latest from Fables Studios, advertising itself as a interactive haunted house- which just makes my life. Anybody who knows me know how much I love experiences like this. To actually be a part of the story make it all the more horrifying. They have a really planned out story for this year, and a great vision driving the haunt forward this year. I’m expecting an experience unlike anything else in the area with this haunt. Plus the fact that it’s right next door to Evil Intentions (in fact they have a partnership deal going on for tickets to both for just $40) is just an added bonus.

While these are just my top four, there are plenty others that I am looking forward too as well in the area. That’s the great thing about living near a populated area- never running short of haunts. Like last year, you can expect some reviews of haunts I’ll be visiting to pop up.

If you have any haunts in the greater Chicago-land area that you think are worth checking out, let me know in the comments!


I have been a scareactor for many different haunted houses over the past ten years.  It’s a form of acting that I find a great amount of joy in, and I also take a lot of pride in. That’s why when I’m told by people that it’s not “real acting” I get really defensive.

Often times the directors, actors, etc. who says things like that typically dislike haunts/horror or have never been on the production side of these types of shows. Look, I get it. I understand how someone can go into a haunt and think that the actors doing the scaring are just fooling around or how it doesn’t take any skill to pop out and say “boo.” I get that thought process because the rub is it doesn’t take a lot skill to just say boo; to just be able to do the minimal in a haunt. The skill comes from the planning, the prep, the ability to read the audience, and the overall craft that goes in to real scaring. It’s the same amount of prep I’d put in to any performance on screen or on stage, and it pisses me off when people just discount the work that I and so many other talented people put in.

I believe this is a sort of paradox that any off stage live theatre performer deals with. You’re told that there is no real place for performances like this to be on your resume, and that it doesn’t take any real talent. That’s such bull to me. You can tell a good scareactor from a bad one in an instant. The good ones put in the time and devotion to the characters that we create, and that effort shows. I also go to plenty of haunt events and the ones that scare me or entertain me the most are always the ones where you can tell that the actors believe in their characters and put in the time and passion to flesh them out in their own heads. One of the first things you lean in theatre is if you as an actor believe in the action taking place, it’s that much easier for the audience to believe it. That is true on stage/film, but it’s even more true I believe in more visceral performances like haunted houses, or these interactive experiences like ALONE, Delusion, or Fables.2

Along with the process of creating these characters from the ground up, the ability to hone in and read the audience is so important to performances in haunts. It’s something that you have to continually work on, and perfect and is unlike anything you’d ever experience in stage theatre and especially film. With stage theatre, yes, you need to be able to read your audience- sure. But that is nothing compared to the way you need to read your audience in a haunt environment. First and foremost there is safety. You need to protect yourself as well as make sure the audience is never in any real danger. People have different reactions to being scared. I’ve been punched, slapped, kicked, scratched. elbowed, and have also had to deal with people crawling away into a corner, running backwards, and crapping themselves. There are so many different ways people deal with fear, and you have to be able to read that and be able to react to that so that you can still give a performance while making sure your safe, not holding the line up, or making the guests destroy the set or themselves.

You also have to be able to read what scares your audience. Not everyone scares the same way or is afraid of the same thing. So you may get one person who is petrified after you burst through a doorway screaming, but the next person may think that it’s scarier to see you crawling on all fours towards them. You need to have your character and the given circumstances in your mind, but you also have to allow yourself to be malleable to what the audience wants to experience. Really- if you ever want a great improv experience, try working a haunted house for a season.

While there are plenty of scareactors who are ostracized in theatre, the same happens in film. An example is the actors who have played Michael Myers. There have been many different actors to don the mask, and it sounds like a really basic and simple role. But to me it’s much more. Those actors have to not only portray him physically but all they have to act with is tiny gestures and their eyes- that’s it. That, to me, takes a lot of skill but I know a lot of people who don’t think that it takes talent.

1There needs to be more acceptance for scareactors in the world of theatre as well as film.  I do understand that just because a person is able to create a character and scare others it doesn’t mean that they can memorize lines or do other basic things and interactions with others on stage, but it’s all still importance and working haunted houses teaches actors a lot about improv, staying in character through distractions, reading the audience, and so much more. It actually pains me that after the hours, and years of devotion to this art I’m actually told that I should add this work to my acting resume; that I’m told that essentially all the work I’ve put in doesn’t count. It does count, and it matters. Acting is about creating an experience for the audience, and you can ask any number of the thousands of “victims” I’ve had over the past ten years and they’d tell you that I along with my fellow cast member did indeed create an experience for them.

When I started this blog I intended on it being nothing more than a place where I can review and discuss films, plays, and books- mainly those of a horror persuasion. Obviously it has evolved in to a little more than that, but still it has been built on that basic cornerstone.

As I was going through some of my past posts though I couldn’t help but notice… there is only one [horror] book review, for Let’s Go Play at the Adams’. And the review, if you notice, isn’t super positive. Now Let’s Go Play was a book that was not just recommended to me by several acquaintances but was on pretty much every “must read” list for those wanting a terrifying story. Yet when I read it… at no point was I terrified. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately on top of the fact that I haven’t written any other horror book reviews. It isn’t for lack of reading any. I’ve read Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted, Ray Bradbury’s  Something Wicked This Way Comes and several others and it’s not that I didn’t enjoy any of these books (on the contrary many of them are very well written and gripping in their own right) it’s just that they aren’t scary and I want to write reviews about books that really put me on edge- books I’d gladly recommend to others who are constantly on a search for stories that chill you to the bone. I have spent hours on the internet looking up horror novel/story recommendations and reviews in search for those tales that keep me up late at night, both because they have me in their clutches and because I’m afraid to turn out the lights. But for some reason… it’s really hard to find such books.

Now before any of you go and crucify me I understand that good horror is actually not that hard to find. All you really have to do is go to the library isle that is marked F – Kin, and walk only a few feet in. At the same time though horror really is difficult to accomplish through literature, I feel and I think that boils down to two main reasons: 1.) it’s hard to sustain suspenseful/terrifying tension in literature and 2.) horror is subjective.

For reason #1 – Some of the best horror I have ever read are short[er] stories. The Hellbound HeartPsycho, any of Poe’s work, most Lovecraft, tons of works put in to anthologies of horror, and (not even joking on this) Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. There is obviously plenty of good longer horror stories, once again- look back to the master, King. But even some of his best work is short stories/novellas.

The kind of strain and tension created by horror is hard enough to sustain with visual images (be it film, or theater), but I think it’s even harder to an extent with literature/words. Yes, the imagination is sometimes worse than reality or pictures but to initially be able to tap in to the imagination of your audience in the first place I think is a struggle. Then to hold their attention is a whole other issue. That was one of my biggest complaints with Haunted. Palahniuk wrote an amazing first chapter (Guts) which, while not scary, really had me reeling because of how I was able to picture it in my mind. But after that chapter the book just became a bore because he never was able to match the magic he worked in that initial chapter. And you are a straight up liar if you think classics like Dracula don’t have the same problem. They’re classics, and yes- Dracula does have some scary moment, but it is a bear to get through. Same with Frankenstein, which is actually one of my top five books.

If you can hook your audience and keep them on the line for an entire novel… that’s a feat. That’s why I think shorter works work better sometimes with horror. You hook your audience, and then proverbially release them soon after (although, the best stories never truly “leave” us do they?)

Now, for reason #2- Horror is subjective. What scares you may not be the same thing that scares me. Let’s Go Play is a prime example. Rape, to me, is not scary. It is a horrific act that is evil, but it’s not scary. I believe that it is a super cheap way to get under the audience’s skin. But plenty of people have read this book and love it and said that it really messed with them and was one of the scariest books they ever read.

Another issue is that the way you picture something the author is describing may not be the same way I picture something. With film, theater, or even comic books/graphic novels- it’s all laid out. You see the image they want you to see, and it’s in the open.  But in a book the author has to paint that picture for the audience and sometimes it’s very specific (ala King,) sometimes it’s left more to the imagination, and other times it sits right in the middle.  Horror is a mixture of describing the scene/atmosphere, the emotions, and the ultimate horror the characters are facing. That’s a lot of factors the author has to mesh together. And with horror being such an unstable craft it’s hard to get all those factors right. Now I’m not saying that ALL of them need to be spot on, but that general mixture needs to be at least somewhat solid for the terror to resonate with your audience. A lot of times, in longer texts, authors start off really well or eventually get to a nice spot where all the factors come together… but at some point it just kind of fizzles and the author tends to pull focus on only one of the elements, and forgets to give the others some attention. House, by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker is actually a book I think combines all of these elements well. Say what you want about Christian horror but this book, I think, combines a great atmosphere, with some great horror moments, and some real emotions. This formula is also why I think Pet Semetery is one of Stephen King’s greatest works. He crafted an absolutely heart wrenching story about a family losing their child, and then built out the atmosphere and some of the most horrific moments I have ever read. Some of the latter parts of that book still stain my mind with imagery that makes me shutter. I read that book about three years ago, and it was the last book I’ve read that really ever scared me to the point that I had to stop reading it for a length of time.

While there is plenty of good horror in the world of literature, both short and long, I believe that it’s a hard craft to crack. Also, ultimately you have to be the own judge of what scares you. I’ve read many a recommended stories that people have claimed to be “real shockers” only to read them and have my psyche unscathed by the encounter. Obviously I won’t stop taking recommendations, and if any of you readers have some out there (that I haven’t ready (which there is plenty I haven’t listed)) go ahead and post them and I’ll give them a read!

I really would like to start doing more horror lit reviews, which maybe I’ll just have to start doing reviews on short stories and from time to time do some novels- should I find one I think is scary enough. But until then I’ll remain on the lookout, for that elusive book that I hope will be so scary… that I have to force myself to finish it. That’s the kind of horror novel I want.

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a while, but things have been pretty crazy as of late for me and it’s not letting up in the immediate future. That being said I wanted to give this little update:

With having just wrapped production on Traveling Without Moving in Aurora, IL I am now focusing my creativity on a mini-webseries based around Halloween Horror Nights 25 at Universal Orlando. Jack’s Maniacs will look at a variety of different characters essentially “prepping” themselves for the event. While some of the various videos will be inspired directly from themes or houses that will be present at the event I’m creating this series as an overall commentary on us HHN fans. Many of these videos start off with average, fairly ordinary people… but we slowly discover that each one of them has something that they are hiding or something dark they are preparing for. Just like us. We are all ordinary people by day, but come this time of year we bask in that small thirst for darkness. Something inside us loves the macabre and the terror, and we relish it… just like the people in these videos.

I hope all who watch enjoy the series. As of the time of this post we have posted the first two and there is more to come, leading up to (and possibly after) the opening of Halloween Horror Nights 25. You can find the videos on the Forever Malone Productions YouTube channel- here!

Note: Halloween Horror Nights, and Jack the Clown are properties and copyright of Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Entertainment. All rights reserved.

I couldn’t let Halloween come to pass and not review one of these films! Plus this series is my favorite slasher series. Yep, I’m a Myers boy. I was originally going to review the first film but I kind of ran into the same problem I did with the Alien review (it’s too complicated to just hammer out in one sitting.) I’ll get there eventually I’m sure, but this is not a bad one to begin with! In fact I rate this in my top three of the Halloween films (coming in just after the original and the sequel.)

This film picks up ten years after the original film and it’s sequel. We’re going to skip over the fact that Halloween 3: Season of the Witch happened. It begins with out infamous murderer Michael Myers, who is now thought to be an invalid after the events of Halloween 2,  being transferred back to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. But once he overhears the fact that he has a niece the evil awakes once more inside him, and he escapes again. Jump to Haddonfield, Illinois where young Jamie Loyd is having nightmares of a boogeyman coming after her. She is the daughter of Laurie Strode (who is “dead” after a fatal car accident of some kind, leaving her an orphan.) This fact means that she is unfortunately the niece of Michael Myers, and obviously his new target. Never fear, because Dr. Sam Loomis is on Michael’s trail of terror as he begins to tracked the masked killed back to Haddonfield. Loomis warns the police, and puts everyone on high alert. But that is still not enough. Michael begins his bloody rampage through the small Midwestern town, searching for Jamie with more brutality than ever.

This film brings back the series’ beloved Shape after a threequel that disappointing many fans- mainly because of the fact that it didn’t involved Michael Myers at all! And boy does this film bring him back with a vengance. By now Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th had, by now, stormed on to the slasher scene so Myers has some competition. Well, within the first few minutes of this film we get a taste of Michael’s new brutality with a thumb to the head! While Halloween 2 defiantly upped the level of gore and violence, we have never seen Michael like this. He kills people with his bare hands, breaking their faces and ripping them apart. He shoves guns through people, and electrocutes them. About the only thing we don’t see him do in this movie is actually stab someone with a knife. And not only does Myer’s do this but he is able to be “The Shape” while doing that. Meaning that, at no point, does this feel like a Friday film or something of the like. Michael is exactly what he was in the original film, omnipresent and evil, It feels like no matter where the character’s turn he will be there. He has some genuinely creepy scenes that I actually feel are some of the best moments in the entire series. Like this one:

Every time I watch that scene it sends chills up my spine. It is such a sinister moment that captures the essence of Michael Myers.

Also the fact that this time around Michael is hunting down a child makes this movie, to me, that much scarier. I was around seven or eight the first time I saw this movie and it terrified me to my bones. Not even Halloween 2, which is actually the first horror film I ever saw, did that. This film to me had no boundaries. If Michael was going after a kid, then all bets were off. Nobody stood a chance.

Now, there are plenty of cliche and eye-roll inducing moments in the movie, usually containing our teenage characters. In fact, they are ofter downright infuriating characters to listen to. Super arrogant and ignorant like… well, teenagers.

While I do wish that there would be a Halloween film that truly dives into how Haddonfield views the holiday of Halloween post Michael Myers (come on, that would be such an interesting story!) I love the addition of the town folk trying to hunt down Michael for revenge. I just wish that it was more flushed out in the end. Time and time again in these films we get moments like this that could lead to some interesting depth on the town and individual characters, but they are generally glossed over to continue on. After all the death that has happened I’m super surprised Halloween is even celebrated in Haddonfield any more.

This film also does an amazing job of getting that “Halloween feeling” down. That same feeling I talked about in my Trick ‘r Treat review. I don’t know how to specifically describe it but there is a feeling to Halloween as a holiday and a season in general. It’s a general atmosphere, and it’s a tone that is often not captured in the Halloween films which strikes me as really odd. Out of all of the films (which there are ten now) I feel like only three of them truly capture that feeling of the holiday. And Halloween 4 is one of them. Right from the bat we are give a series of images associated with the harvest, and fall. It sets the tone perfectly. And later on during the school day, and at night during trick or treating and the “Multiple Myers” scene it’s there.

And then, above all, the reason I love this movie… the ending. Dear God, that ending. It was a such a sinister and ballsy move. It still makes my eyes widen and limbs freeze when I watch the movie. As I said, I was young when I first saw this movie on AMC Fear Fest. And that ending legitimately gave me nightmares. It’s such a dark twist and one that I, and probably nobody else, never saw coming. The sound of Loomis’ scream mixed with the horror you’re actually seeing makes for one of the single best moments in, frankly, any slasher film ever made as far as I’m concerned.

All in all I love this film. I often consider it as good as the original Halloween 2, making them tied for my second favorite Halloween film. While I love this series and there are some genuinely frightening movements in some of the other films, this was the only one to truly terrify me and it’s mainly due to the ending. A few of the characters get annoying but their deaths make putting up with them tolerable and while there is some sense of “been there, done that” at moments in the film, most of it is generally done in a way that for the most part it feels fresh and new. Plus Myers’ new brutality mixed with his evil and ubiquity makes for one of the most frightening portrayals of the classic slasher. It’s the comeback of a life time for Michael Myers, as he reminds us that you truly cannot kill damnation.

Another weekend has come, and that means more opportunities to visit some haunts! I did some looking around this week before deciding which one to go to and Basement of the Dead has been getting some stellar reviews as well and was in the top 31 haunts in Haunt World mag last year. I often don’t heavily rely on other’s reviews and such because, in all honesty, the haunt world is actually very political. But no doubt about it- there is some buzz about this house. So my friend and I decided to see is Basement is really all that people have been making it out to be. And boy, was I pleasantly surprised that it is.

Basement of the Dead is the main attraction and there is a secondary haunt that you can add-on to your experience called Shattered, which is a 3D haunt which labels itself as “The World’s Best 3D Nightmare,” but we’ll get to that later.

The main entrance of the house itself is tucked away behind a large brick building on New York St. in Aurora, past the Hollywood Casino on the left. While the site does say that there are different kinds of parking options you shouldn’t have trouble finding free parking anywhere in the numerous amounts of lots and street spots available in the surrounding area.  It isn’t overly visible at first until you get to the intersection of New York St. and River St, They have a small banner up, and you will for sure see the line of people going to the event. It’s literally behind/connected to a great looking Irish pub called Ballydoyle’s. Anyway, unless you get their right at the opening, chances are you are going to run in to the same kind of line, for the rest of the season, that we ran in to.


When you get there (if you haven’t prepurchased your tickets) you need to find the window with the red light, which means you pass the line, buy the tickets, then walk all the way back to the end of the line, all the while you have opportunities to buy food as well as interact with the actors. You line actors were more than willing to take photos, but also were really aware of when a good opportunity to scare was around. They were fun, funny, scary, and overall really entertaining. The makeup, masks, and detailed costumes that they wore gave you just a glimpse at what exactly to expect inside. There was also a fire dancer show, as well as an awesome DJ (whom I will talk more about in a minute.)

1        2

Overall the line entertainment was great. They also had the movie IT playing, and as you read in my last review, I’m not a big fan of when houses have regular movies playing in lines just because I feel like with the fact that you have all of these sets and actors it would be fairly easy for you to make your own video/short film about the haunt itself. It’s not really a critique in any way, it’s just something I would like to see done more in general with haunts.

Now, our wait was nearly two and a half hours. We went on Friday, October 17th and arrived at around 9: 30 PM. We didn’t get into Basement until 11: 50-ish. Near the end of our time in line the DJ said that the numbers came in and it was actually a record attendance night for them at Basement, which I clapped and cheered at. I’m glad when I can add to a milestone for a haunt. And while the line and the wait did indeed feel long, and was boring at times for the most part, because of the entertainment from the actors, dancer, and DJ, it was enjoyable. It also reassured me that the haunt was at least trying to fairly space out the groups which I highly appreciate. Nothing pisses me off more than a haunt that just intentionally conga-lines people through, that isn’t built for that kind of crowd. Basement was taking their time and tried to make sure that everyone would get a good show. I also liked how at around 11:30 PM it looked like they cut ticket sales. It made me have massive respect for the house and the workers/owners because they realized that the line they had was already going to clear 12 AM and go on into 1 AM, and they didn’t want to kill their actors; they cared about their staff and I give major kudos to them for that. I’ve worked a haunt before where the staff didn’t care about the actors and just let people buy tickets past 12 AM (closing) and worked us until later without warning. A.) It isn’t fun, and B.) it’s disrespectful. So props Basement people.


I also want to give a shout out to the DJ, Sir, I just wanted to give you a big high-five last night. You dealt with so many annoying drunks and high people, you had some malfunctioning equipment, and you just stayed cool about it. You gave out free stuff and candy (wearing my wrist band right now) and told jokes and played one hell of a mix. Your work is greatly appreciated by this individual. You, and the work of your fellow line entertainers made the wait bearable.

My one main critique about the line experience was that there were no (none, that I could see) garbage cans, so there was trash here and there. If you’re selling food and drinks at an event like this, and you have this many people, there should be quite a few cans spaced out in the line. It’ll help you guys and the environment out!

When our wait was finally over, I was amped. I was ready to go into the abyss of the house, although I admit I was concerned that with it being 11:50 PM we’d get some tired actors. Man, was I wrong. The actors were every bit as amped as I was, even more so! Immediately in the first room I had an actor running full force at me, ready to go. That was exactly how the actors were throughout the entire house. They were on their game at Basement last night, and it made the wait so worth it. It has been a while since I was scared at a haunt, to the point of actually yelling out. I’ve been to them where they’ve made me jump. But to actually make me yell and jump backwards in defense… it hardly ever happens. It happened here. And when it did, it just fed the actors. They didn’t relent. It didn’t matter that I’m a big guy, they just went for it- which I loved. And they went for everyone. Often you’ll have actors who, once they’ve done their one scare either retreat of just stand there. That hardly ever happened in this haunt. They really tried to give everyone a great show, I feel.

Now, about half way through we did unfortunately catch up to the group in front of us. I don’t think it was so much of a pacing thing on the haunt side, but because they were scared as well as messing around.  The lady in front of us was so annoying, and was really pissing me off. She was obnoxious and belligerent and dampened the experience for a bit, until an actor would come by and scare her or myself and then all was right with the world. We did have to put up with her and her group the rest of the house but I tried to put some distance between us at parts and we still got a pretty good show. That group was my only real complaint with the experience, and that isn’t the haunt’s fault! Because of them we didn’t get all of the scares near the end, but in general we still had a great time.

Another plus I have for the actors is that at no time did they ever have to go into vulgar territory. In my last review I stated how much I hate when actors, especially towards males that are going through haunts, will often “go Deliverance” on patrons in order to creep them out. It’s a tired, and unoriginal gag. It may work sometimes, but it often just is boring and annoying. Plus rape is just an easy way to get under people’s skin (that goes for films, books, haunts, anything.) It’s cheap scares, And the Basement crew  knew they were better than to stoop to that level, because they didn’t use it and obviously didn’t need it.

The sets were stellar. There were some of the best environments I have ever seen in a haunt. Mixed with the costumes and makeup and masks that the actors donned it created a really hellishly real experience. Everything was so meticulously done, and thought out it seemed like. The animatronics and props blended perfectly with their environments, and everything really felt organic and spot on.

Overall the house was just a sensory overload from start to finish, which really added to the scare factor. At no point did you ever feel settled or oriented in any way. It kept you on your toes and on edge the entire way. The lights, the sounds and effects, and above all the acting, just made for one hell of a time.


Once you come out of Basement of the Dead you can walk over to the line for Shattered, the 3D haunt. At first I was kind of surprised that there wasn’t a long line for Shattered, because with the combo ticket option I assumed that people would just be doing both houses. But then I got kind of worried that it wasn’t good. Unfortunately that feeling turned out to be correct. While the actors that were in the house gave it a fair go, they couldn’t save this uneventful haunt. The 3D effects were admittedly really good, and the costumes and makeup rocked (on the same par with Basement’s,) but there were no scares at all. The house only seemed to have a few actors in it, and they didn’t seem very energized. Like I said, they gave it a fair shot. After coming out of Basement though, Shattered paled in comparison. I don’t know how the building is set up inside, but if it is possible I’d just assume Basement of the Dead extend to where Shattered is, and remove the 3D haunt all together. Next time I’ll just pay for Basement of the Dead.

All in all I had a great time. Yes, if you go between now and the end of the season, I’d expect a pretty long wait unless you get their near the opening of the haunt. Even the VIP line was pretty long by the end of the night. But the line entertainers make the wait bearable and fun, and it (to me) is worth having groups spaced out like that so that everyone gets a great experience.

Basement of the Dead is a terrifying romp that violates your senses as soon as you step inside, and doesn’t let up until to step through the threshold at the end. And even then you’re not even guaranteed you’re safe (*cough, cough* remember the line actors…*cough*).

For the price I don’t think there is anything this side of Illinois that can beat it. Save the money on Shattered 3D though, and instead treat yourself to a Basement of the Dead shirt or a visit to the pub.

Rating of Basement of the Dead:  9/10

Basement of the Dead General Admission: $18

Shattered 3D: $10

Combo Ticket: $25

VIP (Both houses and front of the line access): $45


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Twitter: @BasementofDead



Tonight was/is Halloween Horror Nights Orlando’s Media Preview night and next Friday is HHN Hollywood’s annual Eyegore Awards. After seeing the numerous images and videos already, all I can say is wow, this year looks amazing and I am totally jelly that I won’t be able to attend this year. I keep staying up late at night number crunching to see if I can swing it, but alas, it won’t happen. I just need to face the facts. The one year that collects some of my favorite horror franchises, as well as some really cool original content I won’t be able to experience. Oh, WOE IS ME!

But seriously, this year looks like it is gonna’ kick some major tail. Halloween alone is worth going in book. But The AVP house along with The Purge scarezone, and a Walking Dead house larger than any other house in history at HHN just clenches it. This year will rock, period. Plus houses like Dollhouse of the Damned, and Roanoke provide the potential to go into some pretty dark places HHN hasn’t fully ventured in recent years. I loved HHN last year when I went, don’t get me wrong. But things felt a little restrained somewhat. This year, based off what I have seen, it looks like HHN creative has just thrown everything they can at the event as a whole this year. This Purge scarezone is MASSIVE, and rightfully so. I am so glad to see the return of scarezones this year. I love Walking Dead as much as the next person, and the streets last year were amazing, but it was just all too much last year. Besides, unique scarezones are just a part of HHN’s blood. And Purge is one of those IP’s that screams potential for HHN zones. In my interview last year with Universal Hollywood’s John Murdy (director of HHN Hollywood) I exchanged words at how impressive their scarezone dedicated to the Purge looked. In fact I told him the opening scaremonies, which used the Purge’s now mildly iconic sirens and “broadcast announcing the annual commencement,” for the event sent literal chills down my spine. And that was only through videos I saw on YouTube, since I did not attend HHN Hollywood last year. I can only imagine what it is like to go through the streets with characters trying to purge.  Universal will do the property proud at the event… dare I say probably more so than the movies actually do.

When doing my research for my SI project, which I even now am still working on (I’ve since graduated) I would constantly go back to HHN and compare other houses and events to them. Universal does it the best. Through the years, yes you can see ebb and flow of interests and creativity, but no matter what Universal has always done it the best and always will. Horror is in their blood and they take pride in their work. My main critique this year is the lack of marketing and the website. Maybe it’s because fans such as myself have been so spoiled in the past with in depth characters, stories, and what not that were released over a period of months leading up to the full reveal. Last year we even got the LT game, as well as the mysterious PS giving vlog updates along the way which helped reveal houses. This year it was just house reveals via twitter and FB and the website, for Orlando at least, it just a typical scrolling site with info on it. But that is my only complaint, and it probably has more to do with the fact that since in the past when I couldn’t go I could at least always rely on the website for HHN to offer some fun and entertainment for me. This year not so much. So, once again, woe.

But really, I think this has got to be the year that I am the most saddened that I cannot go. Because marketing flaws or not, the event will rock. I want to come face to face with Michael Myers and xenomorphs dang it!


I’m going to continue watching the event though, hoping that some good videos pop up so that I can experience it vicariously through them! And I’ll also be trying to get in contact with people again, for more interviews for my paper/book.

Universal parks do it best due to their scope and quality. And I’m sure it’ll only get better year after year.