Halloween 2014 Mini-Reviews: Fright Fair, Night of the Living Zoo, Long Beach Cemetery & Eek at the Greek

Hollywood Gothique has been busy making the most of the last full weekend in October, visiting no less than four Halloween events in Los Angeles, with a trip to the Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest planned for tomorrow. The downside of summoning spirits in so many different locations is that it leaves little time to keep you, dear reader, informed of our ghost hunting. Therefore, we submit these mini-reviews - terrifying tidbits to keep you satisfied until we can supply a full accounting of all the gory details.

The FrightFair Screampark is having its final Halloween at Pierce College. The Creatures of the Corn Trail is spooky fun as always; the haunt's signature Tesla coil (retired for several years) is crackling in full glory in the Insane Reaction Maze; and the Factory of Nightmares Haunted House has had a do-over that makes it feel like new. Though a bit old-school in its approach (it's more fun house than haunted house), the Factory of Nightmares retains its ability to shock and surprise, thanks to the Herculean efforts of its cast, for whom a single jump-scare is never enough. FrightFair runs through November 2, and you really should not miss this final opportunity to enjoy the haunt's horrifying offerings.

Night of the Living Zoo returned for its second year on Friday, October 24. This one-night-only event is basically a trip to the zoo at night, with a Halloween layover, but that layover has been trimmed back for the event's sophomore year (probably to avoid disturbing the animal inhabitants). Fortunately, whatever was lost was balanced by the addition of Drama After Dark, which performed nine short plays based on stories by Poe and Gorey, staged at various locations throughout the Los Angeles Zoo. The Cask of Amontillado, set in the zoo's simulated caves, was a chilling stand-out.

The Historical Cemetery Tour in Long Beach is a non-scary, daytime event, in which actors portray the interred residents of the Willow and Municipal Cemeteries, telling intriguing true stories of times past. Saturday, October 25 was Hollywood Gothique's first trip out, and we were impressed by the quality of the performances and the variety of tales, which ranged from tragic to comic. The Historical Society of Long Beach will be presenting its 20th anniversary version of the tour next October, on the final Saturday before Halloween; mark your calendars

Eek at the Greek delivered stirring performances of sinister symphonic music on Saturday night, along with an amusing children's costume contest and an emphatic performance of Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart," read by Bruce Boxleitner, backed by Arthur Rubinstein, conducting the Symphony in the Glen in a performance of his own music, scored to enhance the story. This is a family-friendly event, with a focus on engendering an interest in classical music among young listeners, but the quality of the musical performances will hold the attention of any discerning adult.