2012 Halloween Mini-Reviews: Boney Island & Theatre 68 Haunted House

A skeleton fire-walker at Boney Island
A skeleton fire-walker at Boney Island

Last night, Hollywood Gothique trekked out to two of its favorite Halloween treats: the Boney Island Yard Haunt in Sherman Oaks and the Theatre 68 Haunted House in Hollywood. The two attractions could not be farther apart on the spectrum: Boney Island is an amateur yard haunt that appeals to kids of all ages with its whimsical skeleton magic show; Theatre 68 offers a terrifying in-your-face haunt that directs its intimate scares straight at you. We have lauded both haunts numerous times in the past, so for the time being, let's focus on what's new for Halloween 2012.

Boney Island is much as it was last year. The layout has been slightly altered, but highlight of the show is Maestro Maxilla's Musical Cauldrons - a light-and-water-fountain show set to music, in which Maxilla insists on classical, while his cauldrons opt for Halloween novelty songs.

We saw a few unfamiliar gags last night, such as a skeleton fire-walker, whose cries of pain seemed to suggest he was not doing such a good job on the hot coals. We spotted a subtle but impressive light display: while a skeleton magician poised on the edge of the roof, waving his wand, tiny lights floated nearby, their rays speckling the grass beneath our feet. There was also some strange contraption nestled on the chimney; it looked as if it were supposed to be moving, like a see-saw or a merry-go-round, but it remained stationary last night. Perhaps it will be up and running soon. Even without this new device, Boney Island is always worth a visit.

Theatre 68 Haunted House 2012 clown
In Theatre 68, the scares come right at you.

Theatre 68's retains the essential strategy from its previous Halloween seasons (scares are triggered when you enter the room, as if staged specifically for your benefit), but this year's haunted house features a totally new theme in a revamped layout. You walk through Dr. Death's Freakshow, and it seems the not-so-good doctor has not merely found the freaks - but created them. There is more darkness this Halloween, and more confusion - with corridors, mirrors, and doors positioned so that you would have a hard time deciding where to go next, even if you weren't being harassed by Dr. Death's creepy creations. As expected, Theatre 68's is dense with surprises and shivers, delivered by an enthusiastic cast that knows how to milk a scene - and takes full advantage of the fact  the labyrinthine walk-through frequently provides them with a literally captive audience.