Toxicity (Scare Zone)
"Toxicity is an immersive experience set within the walls of a genetics lab that has suffered a toxic explosion that will leave guests screaming as they are attacked by twisted, mutated scientists from all sides."
The creature designs were some of the best that I have ever seen at a haunt and/or scare zone. It would make sense they were so good because they were designed by Larry Bones and his crew at Bone Yard Effects. If you aren't familiar with either Larry or Bone Yard, they are the ones responsible for creating the makeup applications and prosthetics year after year for Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood. All the mutant creatures inside of Toxicity were incredibly interactive with the guests as we walked through the shattered remains of a genetics lab. I have to give props to the people who were the creatures as they moved in ways that were incredibly unnatural and they had no problem getting up in your face if you happen to be on your cell phone (not saying I was, but you know maybe I was). I could have probably used a bit more creepiness throughout the lab and maybe a bit more scares, but overall, I was incredibly impressed with what Larry and his team put together.
“You’ve wandered into the most feared place in the Old West: the Higgins & Co. Work Camp. Can you survive the rowdiest, most dangerousest, most horriblest clan of townsfolk this side of Deadwood? Why don’t y’all come take a gander and see fer yerselves?”
One of the haunts that I wanted to go to last year but unfortunately missed was Higgin’s Manor. This year, it’s one of the top haunts I’m most excited about visiting. Their mini preview, Higgins & Co. Work Camp, was by far the best of the mini-haunts I experienced at Midsummer Scream. The actors were funny. engaging and scary and all the scare actors made sure to put their best foot (if they had one) forward. As for the set design, I was completely blown away with the attention that went into detailing this haunt so that it could resemble a salon straight out of the West. Upon exiting, I knew that Higgins Manor had something special with Higgins & Co. Work Camp. If there is one haunt that you need to have on your radar this Halloween season, it's this one.
“Houston, we have a problem! The notion that in outer space, no one can hear you scream simply isn’t true. Venturing into the depths of an ill-fated spacecraft, everyone will hear you cry for mercy when you face the horrors within.”
When I first walked into Perdition Home's mini-haunt I was initially struck by the creepy vibe I got. There were no scare actors but it didn't take away from this gnawing feeling of isolation. I found this to be incredibly effective, especially for a mini-haunt that didn't have any scare actors, and for the theme which had to do with being in space. My only critique of this haunt was I wish that there was more. It's clear that the designers of Perdition knew how to make the setting creepy but I wish I had known more about the backstory or even had another room or two to explore. Hopefully their bigger haunt will have more for us to look forward to.
The Blackout Anthology
“Step inside THE BLACKOUT Experience. Emmy-Award winning content creation studio Secret Location has partnered with the team behind BLACKOUT to create a new vision of terror. Immerse yourself in a virtual world of horror as different stories from the BLACKOUT Experience come to life. As always, no one under 18. And you must walk through alone.”
If you have been a follower of Nightmarish Conjurings then you probably know I haven't always been the biggest fan of BLACKOUT. However, as I learned more about BLACKOUT my thoughts and opinions about their haunt have begun to shift. I'm not saying definitively that I'm going to do it in anytime soon, but I took my first step by trying out their VR (virtual reality) experience at Midsummer Scream and I absolutely loved it. It was incredibly unique and different from anything else that was in THE HALL OF SHADOWS, or anything I have done in the past. The experience didn't require any set design or actors because you were seeing everything unfold on a screen through a pair of goggles. What the viewer ended up seeing was horrifying and unsettling and it left me curious as to if VR is the next wave for haunted attractions. Afterwards, I talked with the two women running the booth and they were some of the nicest people I had met at Midsummer Scream and they assured me that BLACKOUT was something I needed to try. With that, I think it's safe to say I'm itching to finally attempt the experience that is BLACKOUT.
Dead Zone 805
“Fight for survival at every turn as you enter the zombie-filled apocalyptic world of Dr. Red Eyes and the dreaded D.R.E. Gang; death is the easy way out here. The doctor will see you now…”
This was a fun and creepy romp through the laboratory of Dr. Red Eyes. What set Dead Zone 805 apart from the other haunts is that instead of scare actors this haunt had animatronics throughout that would jump out and scare the guests. There's always positives and negatives with doing something like this and for the most part, with this mini-haunt, it worked. Along with the animatronics, the haunt also had a very well done set, designed to look like a house which was inhabited by a crazy scientist. The designers took their time in making sure you always had something to look at as well as hidden surprises around each corner. This is one of those haunts that has huge potential and I look forward to seeing it grow in the next coming years.
“Not every home is safe. Madness lingers beyond the threshold of a decrepit old cabin, concealing evil so vile that those who manage to escape will never be the same. The Fleshyard is a bad place. A very, very bad place…”
I was able to go through this haunt twice and each time, I was hard pressed not to laugh. I don't mean that in a negative way but in a positive one as their scare actors were on point and entertaining as well as engaging and interactive - the one that caught my attention the most was the individual who seemed to have just stepped off the set of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. He was dirty, unkempt, and creepy but also humorous and he was able to make my group and I laugh on more than one occasion. The Fleshyard has a lot of potential and if there scare actors are all as good as this one was then this is going to be one hell of a haunt this season.
Fear Station: Escape the Wendigo
“The harvest moon has awoken the Wendigo from its slumber, and the creature is hungry for blood. No one is safe from the beast as it hunts its prey in the darkness. Will you escape the season of the Wendigo?
I was a bit confused with what was going on with Fear Station: Escape the Wendigo at Midsummer Scream. Their mini-haunt wasn't really a haunt at all but more of a fun carnival experience. I'm not sure if something happened and they weren't able to do what they were planning but regardless I had a blast in their mini-experience. As I mentioned it was designed to look like a carnival/circus and they had games for people to participate in and to win bags of popcorn (I totally won and the popcorn was absolutely delicious). I'm not sure what to expect this Halloween season from them but I've heard from other haunt enthusiasts that Fear Station puts on one hell of a haunted house. With that said, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will do a haunt based around the legend of Wendigo.
“Follow the trail of a madman through the basin swampland, where he attempted and failed to achieve mortality. Through sick and twisted science experiments, he left a trail of wasted souls in his wake before falling victim to his own worst nightmares.”
I have to give props to Spooky Hollows, they hands down had the best set design of all the mini-haunts at Midsummer Scream. When you are greeted with glowing pumpkins, spooky sounds and tendrils of fog you know you are in for a good time and I happily loved everything about Spooky Hollows. As an interior designer I was impressed with the detail that they put into their haunt not only on the outside but on the inside as well. They combined the use of scare actors and videos to keep the line moving along and to tell the story of what is so spooky about Spooky Hollows. Each time we encountered a scare actor they were incredibly engaging with us and made the experience that much more entertaining. This is a haunt that I'm incredibly excited for and is on my list of places to visit this Halloween.
Scareventures Presents: Sea of Terror
“To date, man has explored less than 5% of Earth’s oceans. Perhaps there’s a reason why… Take a terror trip into the depths where undersea creatures lie in wait as you attempt to escape your watery grave. If dead men tell no tales, then where do the stores come from?
I had some knowledge of Scareventures prior to going into their haunt, so I eager to see what they had to offer in their newest haunt design. The theme was oceanic and once inside it felt like you were on a seaside dock being watched by the ghosts of captains and mates who had perished at sea. I really liked the premise of a seaside haunt and I think Scareventures did a great job of bringing their story to life in Sea of Terror. I liked that they incorporated scare actors throughout and they did something that not many other haunts did, which was hide them in a way that you did not see coming. Too many times you know when an actor is going to jump out at you so I commend Scareventures for putting in the time and effort to make sure these characters were as hidden as possible. Sea of Terror is now definitely on my radar and I hope that they will have a full size haunt come Halloween.
Gorlesque: The Haunted Burlesque
“Are you ‘perfect’ enough to join the Weltschmerz Society? Come find out and experience a naughty taste of the frights, frills, and frolic that awaits you this Halloween in Los Angeles.”
If there was one haunt I was looking forward to experiencing the most at Midsummer Scream, it was definitely Gorlesque. I learned about this haunt a few months prior when attending Monsterpalooza and their combination of high-end burlesque inside of a haunt was something that I was definitely keen on seeing. When we first walked in we brought into a very pristine room with larger banners from The Weltschmerz Society welcoming us and informing us that HE (Dr. Weltschmerz) could lead us to paradise (it's very reminiscent of stories we have all heard about Scientology). In return, we just have to be perfect. We then meet one his hench-women, who demands perfection, and upon finding that we lack that, brings us into another room where all hell breaks loose and we come face to face with the horror that awaits those who fall short of what Dr. Welstchmerz demands. Everything about this mini-haunt had me convinced that this was going to be one of the premiere events this Halloween season.
All in all, all these haunts were spectacular and everyone did such an amazing job. The Hall of Shadows still stands as one of the most unique aspects about Midsummer Scream and I have a feeling it will be something that is cemented into their programming for years to come.
Now, who's ready for Halloween?