On a rainy Sunday night, Hollywood Gothique headed west to visit two of our long-time favorite haunts: The House at Haunted Hill in Woodland Hills and The Haunt with No Name Yet in Tarzana. Since we have been covering both of these Halloween yard displays for over a decade, it may seem there is little more to say about either one, but here's an important point: It's ten years later. We're older, and more important, the proprietors are older. They're not going to go on forever, so don't make the mistake of thinking, "Maybe I'll pass this year and go next Halloween" - because there is no guarantee they will be back. So if you yet to visit them this season, make the effort today. (Just to be clear: I'm not dropping any hints that either haunt is planning to shut down. Rather, in both cases, the husband-and-wife teams behind the productions mentioned the increasing difficulties that come with age, making their ability to continue their work less certain - not because they want to quit but because obstacles that were once easy to surmount now come closer and closer to thwarting their efforts.)
The House at Haunted Hill features only one innovation this Halloween: instead of remaining stationary, the baleful bride emerges from her tomb in the cemetery, for a little extra dramatic effect. Nevertheless, the attraction is worth seeing again and again, because it is such a sensory overload of effects and imagery that the human brain can hardly process it all - which means that you are likely to notice previously overlooked details with each new viewing. We watch the haunt cycle through its show three times (telling a story with effects synchronized with music and narration) and "discovered" numerous effects that were "new" to use: a floating cat in an upstairs window, the vivid facial detail on the bride as she appears on the balcony, the fact that the tomb of the vengeful first wife rises as her ghostly face begins to speak, and the ghoulish joke on the tombstone near the front fence (there are half a dozen with the same name because the murder victim was buried in pieces; hence, "Lolita Lush - Head," "Lolita Lush - Arm," "Lolita Lush - Assorted," etc). More info here.
The Haunt with No Name Yet has added a new section to its cemetery setting. Unfortunately, not all the effects were working last night, but we did see a strange, unnatural stone emitting an ethereal blue light from beyond our earthly plane. As always, this low-key haunt imbues your senses with a mystical aura as if you have left the mundane world behind to enter an ephemeral realm, both nameless and times, that manifests briefly every Halloween. Mechanical effects are minimal, but the carved runes and cryptic incantations seem to summon arcane forces into existence, more eerie than frightening. More info here.
Located approximately ten minutes from each other, The House at Haunted Hill and The Haunt with No Name Yet are perennials on the Los Angeles Halloween scene - always worth another visit. House at Haunted Hill is open from 7pm to 10pm tonight; The Haunt with No Name's hours are 6:30pm to 9:30pm.