Reign of Terror Haunted House 2017 Review

100 Rooms of Horror - All of Them Haunted. Follow in our footsteps to explore them - if you dare!

After winning Hollywood Gothique's Halloween Haunt Awards: Best Halloween Attraction of 2016, Reign of Terror would seem to have little space for improvement, yet somehow the decaying manor has summoned enough fresh ectoplasm to fill its 100-plus rooms with an even denser atmosphere of dread. The Reign of Terror Haunted House 2017 features the same elements as last year, but the 25-minute walk-through has been rearranged to show off its spooks to better advantage, yielding an even more effective haunt experience.

Reign of Terror Haunted House 2017 Review: What's Different?
Reign of Terror Haunted House 2017 Review swamp
Reign of Terror's Swamp

The most obvious addition is an introductory room where a screen displays a ghoulish miner, who spells out the rules (do not touch the monsters, etc). The video whets the appetite by naming Reign of Terror's eight sections (Miner's Revenge, the Asylum, the Haunted Victorian Mansion, Backwoods, Casa Blood, Infected, Quarantine, and Fun House), thus cluing visitors in to the extensive and variegated experience that lies ahead.

That experience has been enhanced by new construction, most notably in the transitional areas between the eight attractions. The interstices have been tightened up, making it clearer that one themed section is ending and another beginning. The biggest improvement is in the swamp area separating Miner's Revenge from the Asylum: once a low-lying mist, the laser-light effect now suggests a waist-high bog, beneath whose surface all manner of strange creatures are lying in wait - if we are to judge by the ominous sounds emanating from below the surface.

Reign of Terror 2017 feature a few new pieces, including a zombie-attack animatronic inside Infected, which is every bit as good as the Scylla-and-Charybdis zombie corridor. Equally important, previously seen effects and props have been relocated to places where they are more easily seen, deliver a bigger scare, or fit better thematically - insuring that frightened victims are more likely to feel the full thrill of every monster and maniac.

Reign of Terror Haunted House 2017 Review: Conclusion
Reign of Terror Haunted House 2017 Review: Victorian Mansion facade
Reign of Terror's Haunted Victorian Mansion

If ever there were a problem with the Reign of Terror's Halloween haunt, it was this: it was easy to overlook some of its frights, and the demarcations between a few of its sections were not completely clear. The changes for Halloween 2017 are subtle, but they address these issues, setting up expectations so that visitors know what to look for, then spotlighting the anticipated scares for maximum impact. The result feels even more new than it is, because previously unseen elements are now more visible. The ghosts that haunt this house are more eager than ever to be seen

One more note: Reign of Terror's first two nights have been very busy, so expect longer lines. Even so, the haunt is worth the wait. And as we have noted in the past, Reign of Terror is one of the few haunts for which a fast pass is almost a cheat, because waiting in the lobby area is so much fun - filled, as it is, with props, sets, and effects that set the mood for what follows. This year we noticed a lovely painted wall: seen in black light, a few glowing edges suggested some Gothic landscape, which became fully visible only in occasional flashes of lightning, resembling a matte painting from a 1960s Edgar Alan Poe movie. We rather wished we had been in the general admission line, for a better view.

The Reign of Terror Haunted House 2017 continues at Jann's Marketplace on October 7, 13-14, 20-22, 27-31. The address is 197 North Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks, 91360. The official website is: rothauntedhouse.com.

Find other Halloween Mazes and Rides in A Halloween Haunts Master List.

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.