Great Halloween haunts require great monsters. There was an incredible variety on view this Halloween - all shapes, sizes, and species. Some were mechanical; others were men in suits. A few were Kong-size in their proportions.
We're not sure we spot a trend in all this, except a tendency to show off good-looking original work instead of hiding off-the-shelf masks in shadows. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a movement toward filtering out generic monsters in favor of unique creatures designed to fit a theme, but it's too early to say.
In any case, there will always be a place for the shadowy, lesser seen goblins who haunt Halloween attractions, lying in wait to pounce from hidden passages, but in this category we celebrate those Creatures of the Night who relish the spotlight, emerging into full view so that we can admire their incredible awesomeness.
And the nominees are...
Alien Queen in Aliens vs. Predators at Halloween Horror Nights
The Alien design by the late artist H.R. Giger is one of the iconic images of Hollywood horror; the larger, maternal version from the sequel Aliens is not quite as elegant, but it does have the advantage of colossal size. This beast was realized to perfection near the end of the Aliens vs. Predator walk-through at Halloween Horror Nights - so eye-catching that one almost forgot to be scared.
Bird-People from Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
One of the least auspicious first-glimpses this season turned out to be one of the most amazing sights. As the haunted hayride pulled passenger through a field, they saw bodies suspended on poles high in the night sky - an overly familiar sight, suggesting the victims of Vlad the Impaler. However, these "bodies" turned out not to be corpses; they were strange, winged creatures with humanoid form and bird-like beaks, who sprang to life and flapped their way through the night sky, descending upon the watchers below and then spring back into the heavens, again and again. The absolutely amazing aerial display was unlike anything seen at another other Halloween event in Los Angeles.
Cerberus from Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
A bit less dexterous than the bird-creatures, the three-headed dog from Greek mythology was seen in the woods, apparently guarding the entrance to the underworld. Huge and imposing, Cerberus impressed with his detailed design and also with his great size. Subtle details are sometimes lost in the darkness of the L.A. Haunted Hayride, but there was no losing sight of this behemoth.
Fireplace Phantom in Delusion Lies Within
Early in the interactive play Delusion Lies Within, there is a room hiding an incredible illusion that is completely startling and unexpected. Even more impressive, in retrospect, it is apparent that one should have anticipated the shock, because a clue was given in the form of a painting showing an ill-defined phantasmal figure near the fireplace. When, after several minutes, the figure actually materializes in the flesh, audiences scream with shock, then pause to gaze in wonder at the design which allowed the being to remain hidden in plain sight, like a chameleon. It looks rather like a cloud of dust with lights inside - something that could reside, unnoticed, in a fireplace, until springing to life.
Spindle Monster in Delusion Lies Within
The Fireplace Phantom would seem impossible to top, and yet later audiences encounter something even more incredible. One of the play's main characters is found trapped in what looks like a cocoon. To save him requires navigating a maze of web, which must not be touched, for fear of awakening some kind of hidden monster. Alas, the task is impossible; inevitably, a strand of web is touched, and the monster emerges - a kind of demented spider-man that literally climbs the walls. The highest praise to be given to this creature is that it is an even bigger nightmare than the Fireplace Phantom; thanks largely to its amazingly agility, it looks like a real threat, not just an impressive stunt.
More: 2014 Halloween Haunt Awards
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Awards: Introduction
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Home Haunt Yard Display
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Professional Display or Ride
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Play in a Theatrical Setting
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Short Play or Vignette
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Play in a Non-Theatrical Setting
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Interactive Horror Experience
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Scare Zone
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Introductory Scene
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Gore Effect
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Addition or Improvement to an Existing Haunt
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Non-Haunt Halloween Event
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Amateur Haunted House Walk-Through
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Professional Haunted House Walk-Through
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Multi-Maze Attraction
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Theme Park Attraction
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Lifetime Achievement
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Awards: Winners
- 2014 Halloween Haunt Award Winner: Best Home Haunt Yard Display - Boney Island