The Haunted Rose 2017 Review

The Haunted Rose 2017 brings Maritime Horror to Life!

Hollywood Gothique's first trip to the Haunted Rose in Whittier is a nightmarish journey into abysses of eldritch horror tainted with the brine of dark oceans and their shadowy inhabitants.

The Haunted Rose 2017 Review: Introduction

Reports of strange things in Whittier are nothing new. Long had they seeped into the public consciousness, but always on the outer edge - rumors not to be credited, outrageous tales to be dismissed by the mainstream media. Yet the stories refused to die, gaining currency on the fringes, in less reputable outlets and outright "fake news" sites, whose headlines blared, "The Haunted Rose: Maritime Horror."

Though aware of these "reports," I paid little heed - they provided grist for a late-night horror story by firelight, but little more. Would that they had remained so! Unfortunately, now I know better. It was only when news reached me through personal channels - from trusted colleagues - that I thought the matter might be worth investigating; I curse the day they piqued my interest, and I curse them as well. Knowledge like this is not for the bravest soul, let alone the faint of heart. Better to remain in happy ignorance than to have the scales blasted from ones eyes to see the horrible truth that lies at the heart of creation.

The Haunted Rose 2017 Review: Investigation

Haunted Rose 2017 grave stones and entranceThe long trip east to Groveland Avenue took us through many dark byways; the geography seemed twisted, as if the four angles of a square no longer added up to 360 degrees. Only with the help of modern Global Positioning Satellite Technology were we able to find our way. What first presented itself did not seem particularly sinister: a simple family cemetery.

The gargoyle above the fence added a certain picturesque quality, but only the superstitious mind could have regarded it as an omen of foul things lurking nearby. The gravestones themselves were of some historic interest - of an earlier era, they were old and worn but showed few signs of obvious decay. The names etched on the stones (Talbot, Pickman, Harker) seemed vaguely familiar, as if associated with half-forgotten horrors from our youth, but we put this down to overactive imagination. Yes, the totality of effect suggested a setting from some grim horror story, but surely our investigation would demystify these foreboding portents.

We met the caretaker, who seemed affable enough, though in retrospect there was perhaps a forced quality to his demeanor, as though he were deliberately striving to quell our growing unease. We accepted his offer to lead us through the graveyard to the tomb entrance. Was there a hint of mirth in his eyes as he opened the door, bid us enter, and then sealed the door behind us? We told ourselves he had other duties to attend and could not afford time to guide us on our journey. As for locking the door, no doubt he was obligated not leave it open and unattended. Whatever the reason, we were trapped, and there was nowhere to go but forward.

We steeled our nerves against the gloom, but it was a wasted effort. Before we could begin to adjust to the growing unease engendered by the dreadful surroundings, by tombs bearing names like Juan Romero - who made the transition from life to what we call death in a desert chasm haunted by the Mesoamerican deity Huitzilopochtli - we were confronted by an angry madman, whom the locals name Dr. Macabro. His wild threats, muffled by some kind of mechanical surgical mask, galvanized us into making a rapid exit, rushing from one horror headlong into another.

Haunted Rose 2017 two monstersSoon we found ourselves entering dread Innsmouth, of which we had heard so many stories - tales of miscegenation masking a truth too horrible to contemplate, of humans offspring not fully human, their genes merged with those of strange beings from the ocean depths. Was it these memories that evoked the vision we saw next, of a crustacean humanoid thing lurching toward us with lobster-like claw? And who was the laughing butcher, chopping away at the day's catch, his vicious knife strokes splashing rancid seawater on us as we hurried past?

Deeper into the abyss we went, past the sign for the Esoteric Order of Dagon, behind whose walls who knows what sorts of strange rituals are practiced. Walls - yes, the walls - we heard the scurrying of rats in the walls as we stumbled madly through ominous corridors.

But what truly lay behind that mole-like scrambling that Pickman was so keen to pass off as rats?

Why did that sentence suddenly enter my head? Could this be where my ancestor Walter de la Poer met his fate? I'm rambling, half-insane. Other strange beings lurk in the darkness, but my eyes are too blind to see. Are these the emissaries of the Elder Gods? Ever their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young! I must get out - out now - now!

With a sigh of relief, I emerge into open air - but relief is only temporary. Sitting at home now, reflecting upon my experiences, I try to tell myself that the noxious atmosphere within the tomb had some unexpected hallucinogenic effect on my mind. I wish I could believe that, but the shocking images of what I experienced are too deeply embedded in my psyche to be denied. The Haunted Rose is, as the rumors have said, a hellish den of unspeakable things. Think me mad - dismiss my ravings - but if you value your own sanity, go not near the place, lest you too encounter horrors that no human mind was meant to endure...

The Haunted Rose 2017 Review: Analysis

The Haunted Rose 2017's presentation of "Maritime Horror" evokes the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft, with nods to other classic horror texts (Jonathan and Mina Harker from Bram Stoker's novel Dracula) and even to traditional Gothic horror movies (Talbot from Universal Pictures, The Wolf Man). The result is a horror fanatics dream haunt, sprinkled with Easter eggs that only dedicated geeks will grasp. But whether the average lay person "gets" such obscure references as "Juan Romero," this approach yields a unique haunt that exploits a rich vein of horror tradition, eschewing the killer klowns and cannibal crazies of Halloween theme parks and other high-profile haunted house attractions, in favor of a more esoteric approach that is supremely satisfying to dedicated aficionados - and great fun for the uninitiated as well, who might not recognize the references but will easily see they are getting something much different - and in some ways better - than they would at mainstream haunts.

The set construction is amazing, taking visitors from the tombs to the village of Innsmouth to other dismal places while maintaining a marvelous illusion of reality. The creatures that dwell within are certainly worthy of their environs, bringing the nightmarish imaginary world to vivid life.

To call The Haunted Rose the 800-pound gorilla of yard haunts is an understatement. It's not an 800-pound gorilla that sits wherever it wants; it's the million ton Elder God who drags the world off to a nameless place for a nameless purpose.

The Haunted Rose 2017 concludes on Halloween Night, hours from 7pm to 11pm. The address is 12116 Groveland Avenue, Whittier, CA 90604. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. The official website is thehauntedrosehaunt.weebly.com

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.