Hollywood Gothique
The Vault

Return to Pioneer Memorial Cemetery

A recent trip to Sylmar (don’t ask!) afforded Hollywood Gothique an opportunity to revisit Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, the setting for Voices of Pioneer Cemetery, which presented a Flashlight Ghost Tour in 2010 and Almas: A Day of the Dead Celebration in 2013. These were early examples of immersive-theatrical Halloween events staged in real locations, using actors to embody the ghosts of the dead interred in the cemetery. Unfortunately, these fundraisers were retired after they had served their purpose (raising money to replace gravestones stolen or destroyed by vandals).

Seeing the cemetery by daylight was quite a revelation. Though the non-profit San Fernando Valley Historical Society maintains the location, the cemetery is not particularly photogenic. The entrance area, gate, and sign are in great shape, but the actual grounds are somewhat arid. It’s interesting to realize that what by night seemed like a shadowy realm bridging the land of the dead and the living is actually rather prosaic.

Still, the visit was a pleasant reminder of an innovative, historically-themed show that relied on subtle shivers rather than shocks. It would be nice to see the presentation revived, now that interactive theatre has become a much bigger part of the Halloween landscape in Los Angeles.

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.