Evil Taking Root…Halloween Horror Nights 23 Reviewed
Yes Darlings, it’s that time of year once again. We made it through another great year of HHN and it’s time to tell you what my thoughts were this year round. Over all, not a bad year. The houses were pretty good. The ones that didn’t meet up to snuff, were more than carried by the ones that were over the top. The atmosphere was decent to keep the vibe, but the street scareactors were nowhere near as good as last year for sure. We also managed to visit for the first time ever the Transformers 3D attraction and the Springfield area. I’m going to leave those out though, I think they deserve their very own article. I may do that leading into the Thanksgiving leg of the Holiday season..who knows.
Evil Taking Root…Halloween Horror Nights 23 Reviewed
Anyway, I’m sure you are all chomping at the bit to know what I thought. This years trip was a little late some I’m sure you have heard everyone, but mine (Next year I’m going to try to do two times. Once at opening and once more toward the middle) get the dirty business of Scarezones out of the way first:
So for the last two years I get the feeling they are either trying to phase them out or just make them a bit easier to do…or something. Last year you had the theme of the roaming hoards with no safe zones. I rather liked that idea. I thought that they were going to continue that idea this year. Instead it seemed, they were going to marry the two concepts into one. You were going to have roaming hoards with the added effect of themed areas related to The Walking Dead. Sounds good…on paper. The only areas that really seemed to take your breath away were the area themed after the farm and the one themed after the camp site. All of the others were merely set dressing, I felt, with vehicles strewn about. The Atlanta area could have been a lot better. They can do zombie war zones! They did it in Deadtropolis pretty successfully. Maybe if they had firing weapons or soldiers…I don’t know. Also, every zone could have used more zombies. All of the areas just felt spread too thin. I just think the idea was there, but the execution was lacking. Maybe it’s better on a peak night? I don’t know, but I just felt kind of luke warm and was annoyed with the zombies more than afraid. I liked the idea of having victims though…just wish maybe they would have played that idea better.
Again this year I did NOT attend the shows. I didn’t have enough time and…wasn’t interested. The last 2 times I had seen the Bill and Ted show, it was pretty lacking. I feel like the internet has killed the Bill and Ted show. By the time October rolls around a lot of the pop culture references are either: played out, not relevant, internet did it, or they just did it better. I know most don’t care about that sort of thing and I’m sure if you don’t keep up with the internet it would be hilarious to you. I just don’t find it funny. Before we went I heard from several other people who it was what you have come to expect from the last couple of years….that didn’t make me hopeful. As far as Rocky Horror goes, I like that they add in Rocky Horror to the Halloween season. If I feel like watching it, I’ll watch the movie. 20 minutes seems pretty rushed to me. It sounded good while I was waiting for HAVOC: Derailed. So no shows again…to be fair though…I didn’t see them…So I can’t judge them too harshly.
Now for the meat and potatoes! Countdown begins with:
8. Afterlife Death’s Vengeance– I was disappointed with this house. Everyone played it up so much for me. I’ve grown to get excited when I see a 3D house. I’ve been pretty impressed since HHN 17. The In Between from HHN 21 was the best out of that style of houses. This one seemed like a bad attempt of a repeat. The scares were few and far. The characters weren’t original. I sort of liked the concept of going into a executed murderers personal hell. I just don’t think they delivered on that at all. The torment aspect wasn’t there. It more seemed like you were going through his head or…I was just very confused and didn’t like it. A lot of the 3D effects were very recycled and repeated. I wasn’t wowed at all. Maybe give the 3D thing a break next year…
7. HAVOC: Derailed- I will give them this, it was better than the first HAVOC: Dogs of War. I really didn’t like that house. This one was pretty decent in the last couple of scenes. The first few were very basic and sort of lazy. You really just walked in a straight line down the “Train” as the Dogs of War rattled cages and tried to slip out. The better parts came when the train derailed and you were left outside with them. I got one good scare almost by chance. I walked into the scene and one scareactor stand alone in the darkness. He looks at me and says “Nice Hat.” Before I could answer he gives the command “TARGET!” and before I knew it i was surrounded by about 8 scareactors all with guns trained on me. Pretty intense…That was about it though. I don’t find soldier people scary…sorry
6. The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven- This wasn’t a bad house. It was pretty decent, just the others were better. I think maybe if they would jump away from trying to take you through that seasons events, they could do better. I know at that point though, how would you know it was The Walking Dead? Like I said though, it wasn’t bad. I liked getting to walk through my favorite scenes. Seeing them come to life had a bit of a wow factor. I enjoyed the whole making you crawl down by the ankle bitter zombies. I know what they were going for with multiple versions of the “Penny” zombie, but it ruins the illusion when you see several at the same time. The phone trigger was really cool. I just wish you could hear it better is all. The final scene is the best. Walking the cell block over run by zombie was pretty cool. The scareactors were a bit better there as well. On a final note, I’m a bit tired of The Walking Dead being at HHN. I’ll touch on it more towards the end, but I do hope they give it a break next year.
5. Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City- I loved this house! It was a lot better than I thought. I will say it could have been terrifying with a few tweaks or if they would have used the films, but still top-notch job. You had all kinds of nods to game fans. Look for herbs or other items lit up especially for you to find like in the game. The scenes as well as the monsters look very authentic to the game. You do feel like you are dropped into the game. You especially get that feeling once you walk through the type writer room and into the “PAUSE” room. There you are greeted by a falling Leon being attacked by a Tyrant…frozen in mid-air. You get a few good scares from some zombie dogs, some lickers, and Tyrant in the wall. I actually really liked this house. It was all topped off by the “Your Dead” at the end. Would love to see more.
4. Urban Legends: La Llorona- This house came out of left field to surprise me. Most people had been saying how much they disliked this house. I think it was just because they didn’t do any research. The story of Llorona is a very spooky one indeed. Also very emotional and dramatic. The scareactors were the ones that made this what it was. Again i have to say, I was missing some scenes that were absent but present in the Hollywood version. The actors made up for it though. The Lloronas that populated this house had this way of looking menacing a disturbing even when they weren’t actively scaring you. The amount of pain that was conveyed was fantastic. The very first one you see comes out moaning and bends over backwards over a childs coffin…creepsville man! The scene with the children face down in the water was pretty intense. A LOT of misdirection. I enjoyed the whole thing. Don’t miss this house!
3. Evil Dead- I’m usually pretty harsh on the houses that just take you through the motions of a movie. But I have to say, this house does it like no other. You walk through a room that sets you up with the book and pages above your head. Then you walk through the title logo accompanied by the dramatic opening music. From there it’s pretty much the movie summed up and in your face! Pay close attention while the character is reading from the book. They use a projections system to still show you the demon coming through the woods. All of the effects were great. The way you were taken in the cabin out of the cabin, and back in was smooth. Usually houses like this have a rough transition. Wasn’t a problem here. You even get to see the epic final showdown between Mia and the Abomination. Surprisingly had a low wait all night. Don’t miss it!
2. American Werewolf in London- First house of the night and boy did it set the pace! Amazing! Just amazing! I would have never expected to see such craftsmanship in the puppets. The special effects were what get you the most. That and those puppets. Every time you see a wolf whether you see it coming or not, it gets you good. I also like the Police Box…I KNOW IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE THE TARDIS!! BUT WE CAN ALL DREAM RIGHT?! Doctor Who reference aside, you will love this house from beginning to end.
1. Cabin in the Woods- Not only is this number one of the year….NUMBER ONE OF ALL TIME! Never before have I seen scenes from a movie replicated so well. Never before have I been actually “Scared” in a house. And never before have those images stuck with me when I’m trying to sleep! This is the house to see. You don’t have to watch the movie, but you will appreciate the terror a bit more if you have seen it. The elevator scene gives you the best “HOLY SHIT!! OMG!! WTF!!!” feeling in the world. Stay in there until it dings…don’t leave until the elevator dings. All of the monsters are recreated with the most epic detail. Don’t miss this house. Hit it early, the wait time is killer. This one WILL be a white buffalo if you miss it. Promise that
After taking everything in. this year was cemented at the top! I will definitely remember this year for years to come. That being said…Can we please NOT have Walking Dead have anything to do with next year? I was so sick of it by the end of this year. The logo was all over everything. The scarezone didn’t execute well, the house was so-so, and it covered the merchandise. Time to grow a pair again Uni. Do your own thing. Don’t ride the fads. The IP houses were pretty good, the best ones this year. But don’t forget you started this shit, and you kept it going for a while doing your own thing. More so your own than with IP houses ((IP= Intellectual properties)) Don’t forget Universals 100 year Legacy of Horror. It means you guys know your shit!
Until Next Time, My Freaky Darlings,