2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Gore Effect

Unsuccessful surgery in Reign of Terror
Drastic surgery in Reign of Terror

Although Hollywood Gothique prefers Halloween horrors of the spooky variety, we will admit to a certain bloodlust; after all, when in Transylvania, do as the vampires do. Numerous attractions cater to this sanguinary thirst in an amazing variety of ways: not only haunted houses but also legitimate theatre provide doses that range closer to deluge than droplets, and squeamish visitors are advised to raincoats and umbrellas to protect themselves from October showers.

Generally speaking, this is a wet category. There are many grizzly sights that do not qualify: dried bones, shriveled skin, etc. We are also not interested in mere after-effects, such blood-spattered walls and blood-stained clothing. No, to quality this this category, the special effects need to provide open wounds and/or arterial spray that can be seen and, hopefully, felt.

And the nominees are...

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Halloween Horror Nights 2014: Aalien v Predator skeletal woman

The Half-Eaten Woman in Alien vs. Predator at Halloween Horror Nights

Hollywood Gothique perused at least three versions of the "surgery" scene gag this Halloween: it consists of of an prosthetic body on a slab, gurney, or table, with the head of a live actor (usually female) thrust up through a hole and carefully aligned to give the semblance of life to the carcass, which typically displayed a cavity in its abdomen, from which intestines or other organs could be removed. Alien vs. Predator at Halloween Horror Nights did the most graphically memorable variation on this theme: the body did not merely have a gaping hole; it was half-eaten. (Interestingly enough, the nifty chest-burster scene in the same walk-through was nearly bloodless.)

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Dominion of the Damned Skeleton Key Room at Knotts Scary Farm

Knotts Scary Farm 2014: Dominion of the Damned Skeleton Key RoomBefore embarking on Dominion of the Damned's tour through a world of vampires, key-holders at Knotts Scary Farm had a close encounter with Renfield, who kept a trio of heads alive in a greenhouse. A lucky volunteer helped feed the hungry craniums, squeezing drops of blood from a heart into their mouths. This ghastly repast had an unfortunate side effect: an explosive blast of blood-spray that doused visitors (not to mention eyeglasses and camera lenses).

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Graham Skipper as Herbert West with the decapitated Dr. Hill (Jesse Merlin). Photo by Thomas Hargis.
Graham Skipper as Herbert West with the decapitated Dr. Hill (Jesse Merlin). Photo by Thomas Hargis.

Spewing Intestine in Re-Animator: The Musical

Befitting the stage adaptation of an unrated horror film, Re-Animator: The Musical features a tidal wave of blood and entrails far beyond anything else we encountered this Halloween. Heads were severed and crushed; eyeballs popped from their sockets. Best of all, Herbert West (Graham Skipper) delivers a final farewell in song while being strangled by angry intestines, which he directs toward the audience like a garden hose. Hilarity - and several soggy wardrobes - ensue.

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Z for Zombie EffectSplatter in The Zombie Effect

Putting down the walking dead is not easy, especially when it's not clear that they conform to the zombie rules established in Night of the Living Dead (i.e., kill the brain). Consequently, there is much shooting and bludgeoning in the horror-comedy The Zombie Effect, and it isn't pretty - nor is it neat. During most shows, the splash zone is restricted to the front rows, but a special Halloween Night show really turned up the geyser.

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