Hollywood Gothique
The Vault

2015: Year of the Great Halloween Drought?

Above: Hollywood Gothique correspondents survey the current Halloween landscape.

Only last week I was waxing poetic about the approaching Halloween season, which I expected to be “truly enchanting.” Now, I begin to worry that Los Angeles may be facing an ectoplasmic drought on par with our water shortage. There seems to be an alarmingly high number of Halloween events and attractions drying up like ashes and dust, their rusty cemetery gates doomed to remain locked this October: haunted houses, multi-maze attractions, yard haunts, and other Halloween events. In other words, we’re not seeing a shift in favor of one type over another; we seeing diminishing returns across the spectrum of Halloween entertainment.

This sad group includes Delusion: A Haunted Play, Fright Fair Screampark, Crossroads Haunted Village, the House at Haunted Hill, Big Worm’s Sherwood Scare, and the Night of the Living Zoo. Additionally, Blumhouse of Horrors has nothing on its schedule; Haunted Hollywood Sports is cutting back to one week only at the end of October (though even that is not confirmed), and Fear Station, having lost its lease, is hoping to return to home haunt status, if possible.

Of course, it was widely known that 2014 would probably be Fright Fair’s last Halloween, and most of the other haunts are going on hiatus rather than closing permanently. But a hiatus has a funny way of extending beyond its intended time. Which brings me to my second set of heart-breaking non-events for Halloween 2015.

In 2014, home haunts the House of Restless Spirits and the Eternal Rest Cemetery went on hiatus; neither is returning this Halloween. The Heritage Haunt abandoned the haunted maze that made it famous, opting for an allegedly authentic paranormal investigation instead; there is no word yet on whether it will return to its former glory. Horror on Frankel Street, another yard haunt, also took a break in 2014, but so far there is no sign that its promise to return will be fulfilled. And the Pomona Fairgrounds once again has no Halloween event scheduled for October. A slightly separate case, though still vexing in this context, is the Forest of Mirrors, which went low-profile in 2014 – not closing but no longer inviting outsiders.

I know I should try to not sound alarmist. After all, only Night of the Living Zoo seems permanently interred. Delusion should be safely ensconced in a permanent year-round location early next year; hopefully, Crossroads Haunted Village, House at Haunted Hill, and Sherwood Scare will return, too. Maybe Fear Station will find a new location, and maybe last year’s shuttered haunts will open their doors sometime in the future, if not this Halloween. But that’s an awful lot of wishing and hoping.

It’s enough to drive a depressed haunt-seeker north. The Sacramento Zombie Train sounds cool.

Update – September 18, 2015: Add the Pumkin Jack Haunted House to the list of fine Los Angeles yard haunts going dark this Halloween.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.