Welcome to the Show…Recalling Halloween Horror Nights 17: Carnival of Carnage
In 2007, Jack was let back out of his box. What he brought with him, was The Carnival of Carnage! He also brought with him the New Line Cinema slashers Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface. It was a first in Halloween Horror Nights history with 8 mazes, 4 shows, and 1 scarezone that encompassed the whole park!! I won’t lie, it had its problems, but I do believe the scenery that came through and the houses they had more than made up for it. Not one house that year was a loser in my book, stealing my number one vote for houses. The parts that they did manage to dress came out wonderfully as well. It was like you really were walking into this massive Carnival. It even had a ferris wheel. The Website was also kicked up another notch, adding games to unlock content about the houses. They kept Horror Night fans glued to the computer every week in hopes a new game would go active. It was nuts, and the anticipation was off the chains and out of the straight jacket. So, without wasting anymore words, kick back, relax, and let me take you back….to Jack’s Carnival of Carnage!
The main story of the event was Jack taking over his old stomping ground, Oddfellow’s Dark Carnival and Emporium. Becoming the new Ringmaster of this Carnival, Jack felt it necessary to bring his own brand of mayhem to the show. He traveled long and far across the globe, gathering up acts along the way. Among these acts were the like of Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface. You soon found out though, that wasn’t all that was up Ringmaster’s sleeve. He was going to give everyone a show they wouldn’t soon forget…
I want to shake it up a little, lets start with the houses. The houses this year were nearly flawless. Even the one I did have problems with, I found later it was more a timing error (and not any where as bad as People Under the Stairs: Under Construction.) This is what the Carnival had in store for you:
Dead Silence: The Curse of Mary Shaw- I was one of a select few that really liked this movie. So when I heard it was being made into a house, I was just excited! This was an amazing trip through the movie. You go from the mortuary all the way to the Theater where Mary Shaw was murdered. The effects in this house were all-consuming. From the moment you walked into the mortuary, you were blasted with the smell of embalming fluid! Giving it that extra feel of realism. As you journey through the scenes, you have to beware of not just Mary Shaw, but her victims. Whether it be them coming out of a picture or springing from a trap door, those mutilated beings were sure to catch you off guard. One of the coolest effects I had seen at the time was in this house. There is one scene where you are walking across the rafters of the theater (really you are only about 2 feet off the ground.) Using mirrors they make you feel like you are 50 feet in the air with Mary Shaw staring up at you, just waiting for you to fall! The one scare that got me in the house was pretty sneaky. Using a play on the walls, you see Mary Shaw ahead of you coming toward you, in a blink of the eye she’s gone! So when you start looking around, BAM!! She’s right next to you! I thought this was a very cool use of a very old mirror trick. There was even a funny easter egg in the form of a picture of Elsa Strict, the Storyteller on her parlor wall. It was a very fun experience.
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamwalkers- My favorite house of the night, Dreamwalkers was a trip through one of my favorite childhood horror flicks. The main story was you being exposed to an experimental drug called Sleepwell. Exposed is an understatement as you walk though a freakin’ fogged out tent of it. Thats when you are “transported” right smack in front of 1428 Elm Street. The House facade was every fanboys dream. Just like walking onto the set of the movie. You walk through a torn sheet, when you realize you are actually walking through Johnny Depp’s character’s bed (yes the room is on its side.) From here you are taken through some of the worst Nightmares in the series history. Complete with a trip deep down to the Boiler Room. One of the cooler scenes in the house is in the Boiler Room. You enter a section like a mirror fun house. If you hit it just right, you see three of you in front. The lights flicker, and one of them is replaced with Freddy. The guy is everywhere, around every turn, giving you no escape! There was a funny moment in particular in this house. When we were walking through the second scene, a Freddy got behind me. Now mind you I’m a fanboy walking in a dream world here, so I’m not paying any attention (although my friends behind me were glued to the action.) He took my pony tail up in his claws and said “How about a hair cut girly?” In retrospect that would have made my night, however I didn’t know what was going on until Seras tells me, “You going to let him talk to you like that?” Freddy if you are reading this, you are going to have to do better than that to get this Psychotik! Still my number one of the night.
Psychoscareapy: Home For the Holidays- This was hands down the most fun house of the night. Not scary, but FUN! Kind of like my perfect Christmas. The story here was the transport from the Shady Brook crashes in the suburbs. Letting loose all of the patients on an unsuspecting neighborhood of rich people during Christmas. The path the maze took was following the chaos they left behind. Memorable moments include a kitchen with a crazy baking cookies…made from skin! A workshop that took a terrible turn for the worse. Even a snowman…with an actually human head….a severed human head. It was funny to see Seras go through this house when she had a few in her. Dropped her guard terribly poor girl. We are walking through this house, and she is just wandering around enjoying the scenery. What she didn’t see was that the room filled with six patients, all circling around her. Needless to say she got had! They got her! Another fond memory of the night was walking through the workshop. I was really getting into it at this point. I started singing “Deck the halls with lower intestine…” When out of no where two maniacs drop from the ceiling upside down while another jumps from behind a box singing, “Falalala la! La La La La!!” That memory to this day still make me smile!
Vampyr: Blood Bath: This house was a vampire junkie delight. Instead of a dessert bar, you are given a Vampire night club (boy do those vamps like to party!) Universal really picked an awesome location for this house, as they landed it in Nazermans or what some may call Sting Ally. It gave the house an awesome indoor/outdoor thing. They even had a door man, and for the facade all they needed was a neon business sign. The entrance already looked like an alleyway. Made for a unique time. I will say though, the female vampires looked like they were trying to turn you on more than scare you. I actually turned to Seras when we first got in and said, “I’ll take the one with the Black hair. You take the Brunette!” In a awkward moment, there was one of the vampires that jumped out to scare Seras, only to stop short and apologize. Why? Well he thought we were two Scareactors. We’ve been mistaken by regular people, but never have we been mistaken by an actual Scareactor. Not really a lot of effects in this one. Although there was a scene with a vampire eating a poodle, and I swear it was animatronics because it moved. Other than that, the realism came from the natural setting.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Flesh Wounds- I went in to this house with pretty low expectations. Boy was I ever wrong! You couldn’t have told that from the facade. It was just a little weak for my taste. But once you got inside, it WAS the Hewitt residence. Complete with the sliding doors that could slide open at any minute. It was really cool to see this effect spring. Usually he had a victim in hand, dragging them back in! There was a scene that stopped a dude in front of us. He even threw his girlfriend in front of him! Leatherface was cutting through a wall with his chainsaw (complete with sparks from the wiring and beams.) When you walked through the kitchen there was a person chained inside the freezer. It was also a nice touch having the smell of soup beans in this area too. Like I’ve said, the smells are what sell you on the atmosphere. Even when you thought you were out of the woods, you still got snuck in for one more scare. As you exit, there is an all too familiar scene with sheets hung up on clothes lines. Well as you are trying to make it through, all of a sudden you hear a chainsaw rev up, and then here comes Leatherface! It made for a nice send off to say the least. I also can’t tell you how incredibly epic it was to turn around and look at him, just to see him spinning in place swinging his chainsaw.
Friday the 13th: Camp Blood- This house was a flop the first time through. The first time I hit it, it was still light out. Being in since it was in the Jaws que, you still see a lot of light coming in. Making a lot of the special effects not work. That being said, there were quite a few that relied heavily on the dark. The main story is, Camp Crystal lake is being reopened under new management. The new counselors, however, give you a proper hazing in the old barn where it is said Jason lives. Big mistake as the prank turns real, and Jason does start murdering people. You are met with several visuals from the series that would make any F13 fan grin ear to ear. this experience even comes complete with the shrine to Pamela Voorhees (how that head is still around, I’ll never know. One of the greatest effects they pull in the house is the one that relied a lot of you not seeing how it was done. The way it was supposed to go is, you walk into a room and Jason is on the upper level. A bright light comes on as he hurls a pulley hook at you, when the light goes out you don’t se it travel safely over head. When the light comes on Jason is no longer there, until you look down and he is right in front of you. THAT is how it was supposed to play out like the second time I saw it. The first time I saw it (with light) I walked into a room to see two Jasons standing there. In which one of the dumb goons tossed a rope at me that was tied to another line pulling it out-of-the-way. It was lame. The second time I went through the house though, when it was dark, I thought it was great.
Jack’s Funhouse: In Clown-O-Vision- You ever wanted to see what it was like to live in a psychedelic acid trip? Or an Andy Worhol taken over by twisted clowns? This was the house for you! This was the first 3-D house I had ever experienced. I really didn’t know what to expect. So I strolled up to it, put on my special Clown-O-Vision glasses and hoped for the best. There wasn’t really what you could call scenes, more like a series of rooms that looked like black light painting come to life. The floors were off set in some rooms, they used mirror tricks, trap doors. Everything you could expect in a fun house. Paintings jumped right off the wall! And then to some peoples surprise, the painting jumped of the wall and ran toward you! It was a real fun time. It definitely kept you off-balance, and I would have hated to do that one drunk! I did this one last on one of the nights, and I have to say it made a perfect end to your night. This house would have been a pretty good opener too, as it sets the whole circus atmosphere.
The Thing: Assimilation- There is nothing like stumbling into one of your favorite movies from the early 80’s. The story behind this house was the tightest of them all. It was sort of like a sequel. An expedition to Antarctica yielded the bodies of MacReady and Childs…but was it really them? What they did bring back to the Florida research facility was the same THING that caused the chaos so many years ago. When you walk into the facility, there are alarms going off and Marines trying to get you to follow them. You walk into the first room and see MacReady and Childs in stasis. However there is another chamber busted open. As you get further in, a lot of THING’s begin to take shape. Many of your favorite creatures from the movie are brought to life using animatronics. It’s really awe-inspiring the level of detail put into this house. During the middle of your escape you start to notice instead of the Marines helping you to an exit, they are SHOOTING at you! There is even a stomach churning part where the Thing is all around you and you feel something drip on to you from above. I was surprised when they decided to do this house (and thankful!)
Now as far as Scarezones go this year, there weren’t many. There wasn’t many because the whole event was one giant Scarezone! This is where the problem came. As good as an idea as this seems, it becomes problematic making sure that the whole park is dressed and there are enough Scareactors. So really it ended up turning into zones anyway. Creative really dropped the ball on this one. The only saving area where the one’s that were able to get the theming. Those areas were all at the front of the park. I did find the areas closest to Jack’s Carnival of Carnage the most entertaining. But beyond that, I just wasn’t wowed by the complete absence in most areas of the park.
The shows this year were a bit lacking too. Not my favorite year for them, but the Jack’s Carnival of Carnage became my favorite arrival show. Still out of four, one good one wasn’t enough.
The Freakshow- The only reason I say this show was lack luster is, it just didn’t deliver like the hype said. It was supposed to be a real Freakshow (or as close as possible.) The only act I really saw that was like a Freakshow was Enigma. He was out there as usual, not a bad thing. But I noticed about two weeks in the whole Freakshow thing was dropped in favor of Brian Brushwood. Not a bad illusionist, and he sort of fit in to the freakshow aspect, but it still wasn’t as grand as it was supposed to be.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: A Tribute- This was doomed to start. You just can’t condense the masterpiece that is RHPS into a 30 minute slot…you just CAN’T!!! It just felt too rushed. I almost feel they would have done better by just showing clips. I just didn’t feel it at all. In my opinion the worst show in my 4 years.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure- This was my least favorite year. They dwelled too much on the screwed up wannabe divas (Paris Hilton, Lindsy Lohan, and Brittney Spears) There were a few chuckles, but nothing that floored me. You found out more about a lawsuit over the previous years use of Jack Sparrow. So this year they made fun of it and substituted the characters from Blazing Glory. It just left you with a feeling of, ‘eh it’s ok….”
Jack’s Carnival of Carnage- This show was the best show that year, and my all time favorite arrival show. The level of detail that went into this show was insane. They even brought in an illusionist to work with this show. A damn good one I might add. Illusions included: A man being ripped in half, a person’s head being smashed in, climbing through another one’s torso…and that doesn’t even touch the most shocking. So rather than tell you…why don’t I show you! Look below where you will find the Arrival show in all it’s glory!!
With the short comings this one had, what it did have more than made up for it. In my opinion this was the best year for houses. The arrival show was at such a level it really made up for the other three (and the Enigma was there so hey…) This year was home to 2 of my top favorites (Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamwalkers and The Thing: Assimilation.) As the Carnival died down though, you could feel something more on the horizon…something you could be sure would REFLECT your worst fears….
Until Next Time, My Freaky Darlings,
P.S. Here is an Uncensored version of the commercial! Enjoy…