Better late than never: Following up on our review of this year's Haunted Queen Mary, here is our first video of the Long Beach Halloween attraction, featuring a walk through Vampire Village and the Graveyard of Lost Souls. As we have mentioned in the past, the Queen Mary's annual Halloween event gets little respect but we have always enjoyed it. The budget is no doubt lower than that of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood or the Knott's Berry Farm Halloween Haunt, but that is more than off-set by the presence of the ship itself, which provides a haunting space equivalent to half a dozen multi-million dollar sets.
This year, a new company took over the haunt and, in an obvious cost-cutting movie, hired acting students from the nearby California State University of Long Beach. The non-professional cast, working for course credit rather than cash, did a good job, but there was an obvious downside: virtually all of the monsters are 20-something.
Despite this, the Vampire Village works very well. Although set on land, it is located in the old Fishing Village, whose architecture is well suited to creating a wonderful old-fashioned Gothic ambiance perfectly suited to a Halloween haunt. There were some glitches the night we attended: the maze started late, and the sound effects and background music dropped out once or twice. (We have edited these out of the video.)
Nevertheless, we enjoyed this maze immensely, at least partly because it last so long: even if a few things go wrong, there are still more than enough scares to make for a satisfying experience. At least twice, you exit a building and think you have come to the end, only to find your path taking you back inside for even more horror.
After the Vampire Village, the video ends with a walk through the Graveyard, an outside scare zone that you pass as you approach the Queen Mary. Without hiding places, the monsters cannot really sneak up on you, but the area has good spooky atmosphere, making for a fun fright experience that is enjoyable but not too intense.