Halloween in Los Angeles began in earnest last week with the simultaneous opening of two major theme park events, the Knotts Berry Farm Halloween Haunt and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. The monstrous momentum continues this weekend with the early opening of several major professional Halloween events in Los Angeles and the surrounding area: Sinister Pointe and Delusion: The Blood Rite start on Thursday, followed by FrightFair, The Empty Grave, Fearsgate, and the new Paranoia Haunted Attraction on Friday. We expect the big Halloween Theme Park Attractions to get a jump on the scary season, but it is a little unusual for the smaller Halloween Haunted Houses and Hayrides to begin before October. Nevertheless, we celebrate the opportunity to attend early and often.
THURSDAY HAUNTED HOUSE OPENINGS
The big news is the return of Delusion: Presented by Haunted Play, which created such a bloody big splash when it made its debut last Halloween in downtown Los Angeles. This year's version, Delusion 2012: The Blood Rite promises to be even bigger and better, with its outstanding combination of dramatic presentation, interactive scares, and stunts and special effects, which bring the haunted house experience to life like no other Halloween event in Los Angeles. Located at 2218 S Harvard Boulevard, Los Angeles, Delusion: The Blood Rite runs on September 27-29; October 4-6, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 30-31; November 1-3, 8-10. The official website is here.
Also exciting is the return of the Sinister Pointe Haunted Attraction in Brea. This impressive walk-through haunted house offers some novel optical illusions and effects; more important if features a truly interactive element that requires visitors to choose their path through the maze and/or perform certain shudder-inducing actions (such as putting your hand down a garbage disposal) in order to escape locked rooms. This Halloween, the new Trapped maze at Knotts Scary Farm 2012 uses a similar strategy, but Sinister Pointe is more extensive and much scarier. Dates are September 27-29, October 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 31. The address is 195 Arovista Circle, Brea, CA 92821. The website is here.
FRIDAY HAUNTED HOUSE OPENINGS
New this year is the Paranoia Haunted Attraction in Santa Monica. We hear that this Halloween event incorporates props and settings from the defunct Molar Manor Haunted Attraction, which once upon a time offered an amusing if not necessarily intensely frightening Halloween experience. The old Molar Manor experience was a bit like walking through a museum - visiting a series of rooms, each containing some mechanical prop or effect, with only a few live actors on hand. If those old accouterments are enhanced with more subversive scare strategies, this could turn out to be something great. And Los Angeles certainly needs some professional Halloween events in the West L.A. and Santa Monica areas - which have been barren for years. Paranoia is situated on the second level of the Santa Monica Place Mall, at 315 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica. It runs on September 28-30; October 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 30 & 31. Click here for the website.
FrightFair ScreamPark - the scary night-time portion of the annual Halloween Harvest Festival at Pierce College - unleashes its screams this weekend. However, we have heard through the grapevine that the spooky attractions (the Factory of Nightmares Haunted House, the Creatures of the Corn Trail, and the Insane Reaction Maze) have been revamped for Halloween 2012, which may necessitate some tinkering before all the mad scientist machinery is fully operational. No doubt the show will go on, and the average haunt-goer will be none the wiser; true connoisseurs of fear, however, may want to hold off until the second or third weekend before attending. Of course, if you are a family with young children, looking for fun way to enjoy Halloween in Los Angeles, the Harvest Festival will be more than enough to make your day. FrightFair is located at 20800 Victory Boulevard, Woodland Hills, CA. It runs on September 28-30, October 5-7, 11-14, 17-21,23-31.
The Empty Grave in Anaheim opens once again. The spacious interior of this walk-through attraction distinguishes it from other Halloween events; with its dim light and billowing fog, it feels like walking through limbo. Whether this approach was dictated by artistry or economics (the attraction was short on sets when we visited back in 2009), the effect was impressive. We understand that crew from the Tustin Haunt (a long-running and elaborate yard haunt in Orange County) have come on board, so we expect that the interior decor will be expanded this year. The Empty Grave is located in the Anaheim Garden Walk at 321 W. Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92803. Dates of operation are September 28-30; October 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 25-31. Check out their website here.
Finally, Fearsgate unleashes Zombie 2012 Apocalypse in the Ace Hardware Building in the Fremont Square Shopping Center, 816 North Ventura Road, Oxnard, CA 93030. This Halloween attraction made its debut in Los Angeles as the Forbidden Haunt in 2010, before changing its name and moving north last year. This Halloween, they seem to be expanding their horizons, offering two attractions: besides Zombie 2012 Apocalypse, there is also Abyss. Combo tickets and coupons are available; check out their website for information. Fearsgate will be open on September 28-30; October 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-31; November 1-3 (Day of the Dead celebration).
Hopefully, these five haunted houses will be more than enough to keep Halloween fans in Los Angeles busy all weekend. As always, take our advice: Do not put these attractions off until later in the season, when a multitude of other Halloween events will be swooping down on us like bats out of hell: Old Town Haunt 2012, The Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest, The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, The Reign of Terror Haunted House, The Blumhouse of Horrors, Coffin Creek 2012, and the Queen Mary Dark Harbor.