It’s a disaster of cyclopean proportions: the FrightFair Screampark is celebrating is final Halloween at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. Long one of Hollywood Gothique’s favorites, FrightFair has been haunting longer than any other independent Halloween attraction in Los Angeles – first as the stand-alone maze (billed as “four haunts slammed into one”) in the 1990s, then for a decade as a multi-attraction haunt at its current location. If you have never experienced FrightFair, you should place it at the top of your priority list for Halloween 2014; if you have survived a trip through the haunt’s terrors, take advantage of this opportunity to bid a fond farewell with one last journey into fear.
Back when most haunted houses were little more than strobe lights and jump-scares, FrightFair pioneered a more aggressive style of haunting. Instead of merely hiding around a corner and jumping out to shout, “Boo!” – providing an effective but brief shock – the FrightFair ghouls would pursue their victims through the corridors, breathing down their shoulders and/or whispering in their ears. If they could pick up on the name of a particularly frightened guest, they would use it, mocking the person’s fear. When the more timid haunt-goers froze in their tracks, apprehensive about advancing toward the next terror awaiting them, the monsters from behind would verbally cattle-prod the paralyzed victims with shouts of, “Keep Moving!” In a sense, Factory of Nightmares paved the way for the interactive, immersive scare tactics of today’s Halloween events.
FrightFair has had some ups and downs over the years. After the move to Pierce College, the gigantic Tesla coil – the haunt’s crackling signature set piece, suggesting a piece of a mad scientist’s lab equipment- was removed because of problems securing a permit. The haunt expanded to include a Halloween Harvest Festival. The old single-maze was rechristened the Factory of Nightmares haunted house, and new attractions were added: an outdoor Creatures of the Corn haunted trail; and Insane Reaction, a literal maze of glass walls in which victims could become hopelessly lost.
The expansion came with a cost: at times FrightFair seemed stretched thin, without enough actors to fill all the attractions, which sometimes were not ready to go at the beginning of the Halloween season, forcing frustrated fans to return later in the month. Fortunately, after hitting its nadir in 2006, FrightFair made a comeback over the following years, recovering its former glory.
FrightFair has been going strong ever since, and we understand that the centerpiece Factory of Nightmares has been upgraded for Halloween 2014, making this a must-see event,
Why is all of this coming to an end? Owner and operator Robert McBroom rents a corner lot from Pierce College, whose administrators apparently want to use the space for something else. FrightFair’s attractions are actually situated on a “Farm Center” that operates year round, growing and selling produce while providing jobs for the students of the agricultural college. FrightFair is part of the Farm Center’s annual harvest festival, which provides family-friendly Halloween fun by day, reserving the scare tactics for after dark.
McBroom hopes to resurrect FrightFair at a new location, but there are no guarantees. He and his wife have teamed up with Valley Fair, another organization looking for a new home. McBroom told the Daily News:
“If we can’t find (another) opportunity, it’s just gone.”
FrightFair’s remaining dates are October 3-5, 9-12, 15-19, 21-26,28-31; November 1-2. The address is 20800 Victory Boulevard in Woodland Hills, CA, on the corner of the Pierce College campus. For their official website, click here.