Nominees: Halloween & Mourning Tour, Long Beach Zombie Fest, Paramount After Dark Tour, Santa Monica Zombie Crawl
In this category, we feature atypical Halloween events in Los Angeles. These are usually less interested in scaring us than in piggy-backing on the October season to create spooky variations on events that could take place year-round, such as a historical tour with Halloween overlay or a pub crawl with a zombie theme.
A quartet of diverse attractions earned our approbation for Halloween 2016. Here is why each deserves a nomination:
Halloween & Mourning Tours at Heritage Square Museum. This annual event offers a tour through actual Victorian mansions, dressed up to reflect the era's attitude towards death, dying, funerals, and spiritualism. Though the format remains the same from year to year (a funeral procession, a séance, one house decorated for a period Halloween party), the 2016 version showed that Heritage Square Museum revises the details every Halloween, keeping the event fresh and worth revisiting. Our favorite recent additions were information debunking spiritualism and the Diableries 3-D photography in the Colonial Drug Store.
Long Beach Zombie Fest (pictured at top). Though not officially billed as a Halloween event, this festival takes place in October, and it's loaded with zombies, so it certainly qualifies. For 2016, there were numerous attractions: a zombie shooting gallery, a virtual reality "ride," a Walking Dead interactive experience; there was even a walk-through maze (Dead End: Unhallowed), bringing the Long Beach Zombie Fest closer to being a typical Halloween attraction than the other nominees.
Paramount After Dark Tour at Paramount Studios. In its second Halloween season, this night-time version of the Paramount Studios tour offered a lengthy walk through sound stages allegedly haunted by a variety of ghosts, including Heather O'Rourke. Not only that, there was also a creepy diversion through the adjacent Hollywood Forever Cemetery to visit numerous celebrity graves and tombs. Perhaps more appealing to film fans than haunt-seekers, the Paramount After Dark Tour was nonetheless filled with fascinating sights and stories of a macabre nature.
Santa Monica Zombie Crawl on Third Street Promenade. In its fourth year, offered a welcome excuse to dress up like the living dead and then proceed to drink oneself to a point where the distinction between "living" and "dead" was almost non-existent. Starting on the Santa Monica Pier and moving to various bars on and around Third Street Promenade, the Santa Monica Zombie Crawl was a bit like a migrating costume party, whose tone changed from one location to the next, from loud and brash to quaint and cozy (the latter courtesy of our favorite stop, Ye Old Kings Head pub). Drink specials, tasty food, and zombies - oh my!
The Winner: Santa Monica Zombie Crawl
This is a tough decision: Not only are all the nominees worthy, but also they are diverse, creating apples-to-oranges comparisons. In the end, as entertaining and/or educational as the other events were, we simply experienced more pure Halloween joy on the Santa Monica Zombie Crawl.
More in this series:
- It's time for Halloween Haunt Awards 2016 (and past time for 2015)
- (Belated) Halloween Haunt Awards 2015: Winners
- HHA 2016: Best Halloween Stage Presentation/Play in Los Angeles
- HHA 2016: Best Halloween Play in Non-Theatrical Setting
- HHA 2016: Best Short Halloween Play/Performance
- HHA 2016: Best Scare Zone
- HHA 2016: Best Monster
- HHA 2016: Best Addition to an Existing Halloween Haunt
- HHA 2016: Best Professional Halloween Display, Ride, or Simulation
- HHA 2016: Best Halloween Home Haunt Yard Display
- HHA 2016: Best Amateur Halloween Haunted House Walk-Through
- HHA 2016: Best Professional Halloween Haunted House Walk-Through
- HHA 2016: Best Introductory Scene in a Halloween Haunt
- HHA 2016: Honorable Mention - Skeleton Key Rooms
- HHA 2016: Best Halloween Theme Park
- HHA 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award: The Hallowed Haunting Grounds
- Farewell to the Hallowed Haunting Grounds: Gary Corb Interview
- Halloween Haunt Awards: Best Halloween Attraction of 2016
- Halloween Haunt Awards 2016: The Winners