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,
Hello, Freaky Darlings! As some may or may not know, Halloween Horror Nights released all info on the 31st. I’ve waited a bit to post this, if not only for the fact I wanted to see what else the website was going to do. The wait was worth it, because the site still has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. I’ll get to all of that in due time. For now, I want to talk about the houses and zones. This is the first year I’ve gotten around to doing so much with HHN before the event, so I think now will be the time to make my predictions for how I’m going to rank the houses and zones. I feel this early in the game with knowing only what the website says will make my opinion a little less biased. This year is going to be hard. I have like 4 houses tied for the number one spot! Alas, I will try to be fair….
(Editor’s Note: I broke my own rule in the process of doing this article. Opening night came and went and I had to sneak a peek at the scarezones. So far no videos for the houses…so it’s only a little cheat…DON’T JUDGE ME!!!)
(I’ll start in reverse. Kind of like a count down…)
8. The In-Between- This one rounds out my bottom. Not because I don’t think it will be a good house, but because I don’t think it will be near as awesome as the others. I could be wrong! This house is another 3D house, which is not really a bad thing. I believe the last I was in that was 3D was in 07′ (Jacks Funhouse in Clown-O-Vision). Even then, that house wasn’t bad, it was just more a trippy thrill ride. I tend to rank this type of house more like a fun house. The description, however, tells a different tale. According to the website, this house is supposed to be in your face terror as you step into a third dimension with terrible creatures around every corner. So you never know, this one could push its way up the list!
Using the website as a tool to imagine what we will be dealing with, I can’t tell much. On the HHN Facebook page, they have released a picture from inside the house. It didn’t seem really “scary”…more it looked like something out of a black light painting. This house was represented by the Green Card in the backroom (“Certain Rune”). There really isn’t much that you can figure out from that game. Although now the Carnival of Carnage ferris wheel makes a lot more sense! Maybe when the second game goes active and I can unlock the special pages, I will have more to add to this article. I will note that this house is in the newer Parade building, and that spot does have a tendency to yield very pleasing houses.
(Editor Note: Since I have started writing this, a few things have been said about this house. Uni is claiming that this house will be like no other 3D house to date. They also promise there is a scene in this house so epic, they need not tell you what it is. You will know it when you see it. And when you see it, you will talk about it for years to come…)
7. H.R Bloodengutz presents Holidays of Horror- This one pulls into my number 7 only because I know this one is going to be a hilarious house, not a frightening one. Not to say that it is bad, but again I just don’t think it will hold up to the others. Keep in mind, the funny house from last year nearly took the number 1 spot. Don’t count it out! The story is of a horror host at the end of his career, and he is going to make sure you never forget him. The house boasts that it will be a collage of various B rated holiday horror films. (Home for the Holidays ala 2007 anyone?)
From what I have unlocked on the site, the story behind the house is pretty tight. H.R Bloodengutz is a failed theatrical actor that had to turn to Horror Hosting to stay in the biz. Now, years later, he finds himself canceled and out the door. This doesn’t sit well with him. After delivering so many years of faithful service, he deserves a grand exit…and he’s going to give it to you. There is a piece of a police report detailing an assault on the station manager. Also, there is a recording from H.R’s answering machine. You really get the feeling that this is something he didn’t want to do, Horror Hosting. He wanted a position in a more theatrical environment. I’m not sure if it will be important that his uncle was a taxidermist, and he was going to work with him…but it was mentioned. Incase you want to know how to unlock it, you will have to play both Yellow card games. Last, I will mention this house is going to be in the Disaster que. Houses in this area have been pretty good, but so far I belive there has only been one that really blew me away. We will see.
6. The Forsaken- I picked this as my number 6. I do believe that this house has potential to move further along up the list. The concept is really cool and I enjoy any house that is mixed with real history. Gives it a bit of a realistic element. Also, this house is firmly planted in the parade building. So far, I have yet to see a sour house come out of that building. INFACT…the last two years Encyclopedia Psychotika has went to HHN (2008 and 2010) that building has housed my favorite house for that year. Not that the location really matters, but if it did, that would set the bar pretty high.
The story follows the fate of the doomed 4th ship of Columbus’ Voyage. With the flip of a coin, the captain and crews fate was sealed. Years later, the crew still haunts their final resting place. Filled with rage from a terrible death, you will feel their wrath. Looking to the website for clues, their isn’t a whole lot more than what I’ve mentioned. The back of a picture frame on the desk establishes the ship as a member of Columbus’ fleet. A piece of parchment shows you a decree by the Queen. This decree says the leader of the voyage should be decided by a coin toss. The last piece of paper is a decree, seems to be written in blood, that states that 4th ship should be erased from history. That no one is to ever speak of the captain or the crew ever again. I’m guessing this has pissed them off. I’m curious to see what the actual house will tell us.
5. Saws N’ Steam: Into the Machine- I toiled over this one. The next houses in this series are very hard to rank. Mostly because they all look awesome. This is the first year I have had this big of a tie for number one!! Usually it’s only between 2, but this year…just wow. Back to the maze, this is the first time HHN has ever taken a past Scarezone and turned it into a house. Last year Saws N’ Steam got my number 1 for Scarezones. The only reason it is further down on the list is because of the sheer number of great looking houses. I have extremely high hopes for this one. The only check I see so far, is the location. The house is located in the Jaws que. Not that every house that comes out of this area is bad…I’ve just not had a favorite yet. The area is limited with what you can do. I’m just hoping the area doesn’t clash with the Steam Punk atmosphere.
From what I can tell from the info available, it seems this houses back story involves a fake cult. The people who were featured in Saws N’ Steam the zone need people to take water from. I’m guessing that they have created a cult or some sort of community that promises a better life if you give everything to them. So as you might have guessed, once you get in…your not leaving. At least not with all of your bodily fluids. Last I checked, water in your body was a good thing.
4. Nevermore: The Madness of Poe- This spot nearly went to Saw N’ Steam: Into the Machine. However the little goth kid in me would have slashed my insides until I bled out! I love Edgar Alan Poe and am thrilled to see a house built around him and his books. I especially love the tie in to Lady Luck, and can’t wait to know more. I’ll get to that in a minute, for now allow me to get giddie. Some of you may ask yourselves in a Canadian accent, “Why didn’t he put this at number one if like’s it so much, eh?’ Well, from here on out, these houses are all tied for number one!!!They are just all so damn good! The only thing I find disappointing about this house is it is in a Sprung Tent. I would have loved to see this house get the Soundstage treatment.
Now…about the house. The Madness of Poe is supposed to be a trip into one of the darkest literary minds known to man! From the website you can see there was a choice that Lady Luck had influence over. He was on the wrong end of that choice, thus giving a reason to his mysterious death (I love you Universal Creative!!). Not much is clickable on the hints for this house. There is a news article establishing the winner of the game of chance gone wrong. There is also a nifty poem written by Poe about Lady Luck. I’m assuming there will be more of a story told within the house. I might also add that a preview video spread around online revealed a few books used as scenes in the house. I was able to pick out: “Tale Tell Heart,” “The Raven,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “Fall of the House of Usher,” “Pit Pendulum,” and “Masque of the Red Death.” I can only hope there will be more! Moving on…
3. Nightingales: Blood Prey- I love that Universal has elected to add so many real-world elements into some of these houses. This is the third I have mentioned so far that is actually based in history. Might I also add how cool it is they chose WWI instead of WWII. I always love what they do with soundstage houses. Even if they aren’t great, they look fantastic. The house setting win’s me over as well. Trench warfare is terrifying to think about in general. So many hiding places…I’m giddy with delight!
The story behind this follows a victim of Lady Luck that decided to go overseas instead of helping his family business back home, (See kid’s…Family First…they keep you from being mauled to death by fanged blood-sucking freaks!!) Following the hints given, you can tell the soldier in question has become injured. His crossing of paths with Nightingales comes from his stay in the military hospital. You see by night the nurses have a deadly secret…they aren’t nurses at all (I wonder if his HMO knows this?!) You see the Nightingales stalk their prey when they are injured until they are at their weakest. Unfortunately for our soldier, I think he is at that point…and what do you know….He’s just in time for supper. Fortunatly…so are we…or unfortunatly depending on how adventurous you are!
2. Winter’s Night: The Haunting of Hawthorn Cemetery– Seras and Myself have very high expectations for this house. It has an interesting back story, it’s in an old style graveyard, it’s winter time, AND it’s in a soundstage. A few F/X have been released. Of course there is a cold effect. To top that off there is supposed to be real snow! I’m curious as to whether they are going to handle the scareactors as zombies or ghosts. I’m hoping both!! I want the type of ghost F/X they used in Wyndott Estate from last year.
Lady Luck sinks her teeth into a victim here with a choice. That choice was as simple as where a newly wed couple wanted to pick the land for their new home. Apparently, Mr. Hawthorn chose wrong, because his wife died of mysterious circumstance. After her death, he turned the land into a cemetery. Now there is a legend saying that the dead come back to life once every hundred years…and what do you know…Happy Anniversary!
1. The Thing- One of my favorite houses from 2007 is back with a vengence…sort of. This one is based off of the new prequal coming out soon and this time it get’s the soundstage treatment. So what happens when one of Malice’s all time favorite movies get’s the treatment it deserves? It makes me bounce of the walls with excitement! They also manage to tie it in pretty well to the Lady Luck theme.
Apparently one of the characters from the movie (or so I am guessing) is flying a Helicopter and needs some gas. She has the choice, either land in a village close by and take longer to get back in the air or land at a research facility and barely make it. You guessed it…that research base is the one with the copycat alien running amok. Judging off of the last Thing house, Uni knows what they are doing. Taking what they already know they should be able to kick it up another notch. Keep in mind this house is tied with three others, so you never know it may end up lower down. Time will tell.
Okay, when ranking these, I’m not going to go to far into the description. More I’ll give you a short summary as to what I’m looking forward to from what I have seen online.
6. Canyon of Dark Souls- I put this one last only because there wasn’t anything that really blew me away in the videos I have seen. Then again, camera angles are everything. In person it could be completely different.
5. 7- I would like to put 7 higher, but the main draw is going to be the outfit changes. There are three outfit changes through the night. Seeing all of them together may paint a better picture and make me love this one more.
4. Nightmaze- As much as I would love to put this higher, you really can’t see much here. Yes, I’m aware that’s the point…but still. I didn’t see any scareactors in the area, but then again you really just couldn’t see much! It could be really good in person.
3. Grown Evil- Every picture I’ve seen from this zone intrigues me. The characters look very cool and the scenery looks even better. I must add, I also gave it kudos because they use a main theme from Silent Hill in the area! It’s just one of those themes that add an extra air of eerieness.
2. Your Luck Has Run Out- I have to put the Icon Scarezone high up. I love this years Icon and her back story. I love the 20’s speak easy feel and am expecting a lot out of this zone. Maybe I’m setting myself up for disappointment? I don’t know…
1. Acid Assault- From everything I have seen, this Scarezone looks like hands down the best. The effects in the zone look top-notch. My only concern is lack of scareactors. It’s still to early to tell though. That zone is really open, and the opening nights rained out. Taking that into account, the scareactors may have not been so active. Still, the acid damaged building falling apart look great.
That’s pretty much all I can say at this time. The website looks really nice in all of its entirety. This year looks like it’s going to be legendary. It just seems like the 19th isn’t coming soon enough…THAT REMINDS ME!!!!
ATTENTION ALL FREAKY DARLINGS!!!
Enyclopedia Psychotika will be at Halloween Horror Nights October, 19th 2011! We will be there all day. I’m currently planning a few things to tell you all where we will be and when. If you are going to be in the area, come out and say hi! Anybody I see that day will have their picture taken and used on the review for the event! DETAILS COMING SOON!!!
Until Next Time, My Freaky Darlings,