Last-Minute Halloween Suggestions for October 31, 2011

Boo-tiful Downtown Burbank Howl-o-ween
Boo-tiful Downtown Burbank Howl-o-ween

We know you’re out there, you prevaricators and procrastinators, wasting the precious days of October until Halloween Night rolls around, when suddenly you realize: This is it, the last chance to visit this year’s Halloween Theme Park Attractions, Halloween Haunted Houses & Hayrides, Halloween Yard Haunts, Community Halloween Haunts, Halloween Haunts for Children, Halloween Parties & Street Fairs, and Halloween Horror Shows & Excursions. Well, it’s too late to see everything, but we are here to sift through the multitude of malevolent Halloween Events in Los Angeles, and tell you which ones you will leave you with the biggest regrets on November 1 if you don’t get to them tonight.

THEME PARK HALLOWEEN EVENTS

If you don’t already have tickets purchase, good luck in this category! You really should have gone to these events during their opening weeks, before the crowds arrived. But if you really feel the need for a last minute trip to one of these large scale Halloween attractions, we would suggest Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, if only because this year’s new maze for THE THING stands out in memory even weeks after we saw it on opening night, back in September.

HALLOWEEN HAUNTED HOUSE EVENTS

This is the actual location, not just a good piece of advertising art.
Delusion: A Haunted Play

Delusion: A Haunted Play (2218 S Harvard Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90018) seems to have elicited shrieks of appreciate terror from everyone who has visited it. We were among the first to scream praises in favor of this startling interactive experience, but we hard deserve credit for recognizing quality so obvious. You really are making a mistake if you don’t try to get to this one.

The Theatre 68 Haunted House (5410 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles) is always worth seeing, as is the Reign of Terror Haunted House in the Janss Marketplace of Thousand Oaks. The FrightFair Screampark is also worthwhile, as is the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride.

HALLOWEEN TOURS & SHOWS

Wicked Lit has two trios of plays taking place live in the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery (2300 Marengo Avenue in Altadena), and there is a two-for-one ticket deal on Halloween Night. The plays offer an immersive  experience unlike traditional proscenium arch theatre, with the audience sitting, standing, and walking through actual locations, along with the actors. Don’t expect the big shocks of other Los Angeles Halloween events, but you will feel your flesh creep.

COMMUNITY HALLOWEEN EVENTS

We had a great time at last year’s Revenge of the Ninja in Torrance (18727 Crenshaw Boulevard), which features both a block party and a walk-through maze, with ghostly ninja out to revenge their slaughter at the hands of deceitful intruders centuries ago.

If the drive to Torrance is too long, you might try Westchester Haunted Park, at the Westchester Recreation Center (7000 West Manchester). We cannot personally vouch for this one, never having attended, but it has been in existence for several years, and it sounds fun.

HALLOWEEN COSTUME CARNIVALS & PARTIES

If you’re in the mood to dress up – or just enjoy costumes worn by others -but you really don’t dig the prospect of paying mucho dinero to listen to bad dance music at some overpriced nightclub Halloween party, then you should head out onto the streets, where the fun is free. The streets we’re thinking of are Hollywood Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, for the Hollywood Halloween Street Fair and the  West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnival. The later, in particular, is quite an eye-opening experience – an amateur parade of drag queens and other exhibitionists, whose costuming creativity fills the night with wonder and amazement.

HALLOWEEN EVENTS FOR CHILDREN

Safe Haven Trick-or-Treating at Heritage Square Museum
Safe Haven Trick-or-Treating at Heritage Square Museum

Let’s face it: you’re a selfish bastard if you’re thinking of yourself tonight. You should have gone to the costume  party on Saturday. Halloween night is for children, not parents, so find some fun events for the whole family!

Are interested in taking your kids out for something more than trick-or-treating? Most of the kid-friendly professional events took place during the weekend, but a few are still open. Chief among these is the ver reliable Los Angeles Live Steamers Ghost Train at Griffith Park, which is supposed to be bigger and better than ever this year. It’s a 20-minute ride atop a scaled-miniature train, past dozens of decorated scenes – rather like riding past a series of yard haunts. No monsters just spooky Halloween fun.

If the lines are too long, or trains are not your thing, you can enjoy the  Safe Haven Trick-or-Treating 2011 event at Heritage Square Museum (3800 Homer Street, Los Angeles) from 4pm to 7:30pm.

Running a little bit later is the Old Town Halloween Celebration (4-10pm in Old Town Pasadena), for which local stores and restaurants throw open their doors, offering a variety of free candy and confections for costumed children. If you’re in the mood for something more terrifying, leave your kids outside (with a trusted guardian, of course) while you descend into the depths of the Old Town Haunt at 20 North Raymond, Pasadena.

A similar event takes place from 4pm to 7pm in Burbank: Boo-tiful Downtown Burbank & Happy Howl-oween invites parents to bring the little goblins and costumed canines for free store-to-store treats.

AMATEUR HALLOWEEN EVENTS

The shadowy House of Restless Spirits offers ethereal shivers.
The House of Restless Spirits offers ethereal shivers.

Your last resort – though far from your least, is to take advantage of the numerous amateur attractions on display this evening. These yard haunts and home-made mazes often rank among the Best Los Angeles Halloween Haunts, matching and even exceeding their professional competition. There are far too many good ones to list them all here, but the perennially popular ones that should be on your annual Halloween list include: the Boney Island Yard Haunt, Rotten Apple 907, The Haunt with No Name Yet, The House at Haunted Hill, the House of Restless Spirits, and the Backwoods Maze. This year, we made our first trek out to Simi Valley, where we found two yard haunts that rank favorably: Mourning Rose Manor and the Helizondo Haunt. You can find all of them, and many more, listed on this page dedicated to home Halloween events.