On November 1, 2015 - the Day After Halloween, otherwise known as All Saint's Day or Dia De Los Muertos - Hollywood Gothique took the long ride down to Orange County to do something we had been promising to do for two years: visit Perdition Home in Yorba Linda. We had enjoyed a condensed version of this Halloween attraction at at ScareLA 2013 - somewhat in the tradition of The Backwoods Maze Home Haunt - but we had never partaken of the full experience. Fortunately, Perdition Home not only lived up to our expectations but also exceeded them. Even better, there was a surprise thrown in for good measure: a subsidiary, professional haunt in nearby Anaheim, called The Flesh Yard, which featured contributions from the creators of Perdition Home. The result was a bracing one-two punch that showed no signs of the haunters spreading overextending themselves.
Perdition Home describes itself as "goriest and most disturbing local home haunt," but it turns out to be quite a bit more than a grizzly gorefest. Yes, it features eviscerated bodies, severed limbs, and cranial cavities with exposed brains, but instead of a simple "cannibal crazies in the cabin" theme, the 2015 iteration of the home haunt was dubbed "Necro Space," and it managed to simulate (if on a much smaller scale) the effectiveness of the Aliens Vs. Predator maze on view in Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The first thing that amazed us was the crashed rocket ship seen almost immediately after entering - a truly impressive piece of construction. We also sensed a certain playfulness in the layout. After initially passing the nose cone of the down smoldering vehicle, we saw the facade of a house - maybe a cabin - which suggested that after the rest of the haunt would be more along the lines of we anticipated: a typical cabin in the woods. But those expectations were overthrown when a monster emerged from hiding to chase away from the house and back toward the downed ship.
Even better: though we expected to only be allowed to view the ship from outside, the path actually took us within, where we encountered all manner of mutant astronauts and monsters. The interiors were not high-tech and glossy; they were more working-class and grungy (think Alien), and honestly, some of the sets (lockers, bunkers) could easily have been recycled from previous, non-extraterrestrial themes, but the overall effect was convincing enough to sustain itself for the duration of the walk-through.
Even on a slow Sunday night, Perdition Home offered a high quota of jump-scares, delivered through some clever hiding places (e.g., a hole in the wall covered by a space suit hanging from a hook). We did catch a couple of characters napping - actually chatting - when we entered a room; other than that, the monsters were in fine form. The astronaut costumes were convincing; pullover masks and simple makeup were quite effective - usually glimpsed briefly, during sudden scares. We noticed one or two mail-order props, but the Necro Space theme lent a distinctive aura to the visual atrocities, setting Perdition Home apart as memorable deviation from the norm - strange, weird, and unusual in its own right.
While we were waiting for Perdition Home to open, our ghoulish hosts had informed us that they had opened a professional haunt in Anaheim, using props from previous years. This was apparently intended as a trial balloon: if profitable, the new endeavor could become an annual Halloween attraction.
Needless to say, as soon as our blood pressure returned to normal following our escape from Perdition Home, we hurried over to 5702 E. La Palma Avenue to check out this affiliated attraction, which went by the full name of Pumpkin Patch Haunt: The Flesh Yard (probably because it was set up in a pumpkin patch on a busy street corner).
Though not extraordinarily blood-soaked, The Flesh Yard did live up to its name, its creepy sets bedecked with animal skins and corpses. Like Perdition Home, The Flesh Yard served up more than it advertised, including not only slaughterhouse crazies in pig masks wielding chainsaws but also an athletic werewolf and a trip to the infernal region, with a demonic character welcoming visitors to hell.
The walk-through was not particularly long, but it made good use of its available space, with some clever touches that turned the experience into something more than maze with monsters around every corner. There was an early interactive scene with a hidden exit (the Devil and his accomplice dropped hints to its whereabouts while mocking our inability to find it quickly). Later, there was a misty room - and we don't mean fog but drops of water, simulating an outdoor environment, where the monster could sneak up while hapless customers were hurrying to get out of the rain. Toward the end there was a crawl space, followed by a chainsaw-chase to the exit - familiar tropes but effective.
Also effective was the cast's ability to catch us unawares, which doesn't happen too often, insuring that The Flesh Yard was an enjoyable scare experience, on par with its progenitor - though as a professional haunt charging for admission, The Flesh Yard should probably have been not only on par with Perdition Home but considerably better (not an easy task when you consider that Perdition Home rivals the quality of some professional haunts). The production values of The Flesh Yard - costumes, masks, makeup, and sets - were solid, but there was nothing quite as impressive as the downed rocket ship we had seen at Perdition Home, and the "Flesh Yard" theme was not as distinctive as "Necro Space." We might say that all the moving parts were running like clockwork; they just needed a slightly stronger concept to tie them together into a unique whole.
This minor reservation aside, Perdition Home and The Flesh Yard provided a great double bill of Halloween horror, extending the haunting season into the first day of November and helping us battle our post-October 31 withdrawal pains. Hopefully, both will return next year - even for Los Angeles Halloween fans who think they have seen it all, these two are worth the drive.
The double bill of Perdition Home and The Fleshyard represent only the first half of our Day After Halloween haunt experience. From thence, we sped through the night to Motel 6 Feet Under and The Empty Grave. Check out the links below...if you dare!
More: The Day After Halloween
Orange County Haunt Ratings
Entertaining double bill of complimentary Halloween haunts, with similarly aggressive styles but each with its own distinctive theme.