The Rotten Apple 907 home haunt has delivered high-quality Halloween horror for so many years that making its 25th anniversary into a stand-out special event must have been quite a challenge. Fortunately, the Rotten Apple team rises to the challenge with their 2015 presentation: Rotten Apple Hollow - an old western mine and ghost town realized with impressive verisimilitude. The result is another must-see event for Los Angeles fright fans.
The basic template of recent years remains: after an introductory scene with a cackling madman, you follow a familiar pattern of twists and turns as you make your way through the maze; however, the new theme yields an almost completely different haunt experience, and even the one or two recycled bits (e.g., a chaotic elevator descent to doom) feel perfectly integrated.
Two elements stand out this Halloween:
First, the sets are amazing. Any other home haunt would have confined itself simply to the mine shaft - and would have been rightfully proud of the achievement. Rotten Apple Hollow, however, follows up with a saloon, an "exterior" street scene, and even an outhouse! Not only is the construction impressive as any professional haunt; the profusion of settings makes the five-minute walk-through seem far more extensive than its actual length.
Second, Rotten Apple mostly eschews mechanical jump-scares in favor of actors this year. Outside of a spring-loaded spider, most of the maze's inhabitants were human ghosts of the old west, who insured that our journey through the Hollow was fraught with thrills from beginning to end - not to mention a few laughs.
Somehow, Rotten Apple always manages to tread a fine line, providing scares with tongue planted firmly in cheek (even if the cheek belongs to a desiccated corpse). The result is an enjoyable form of Halloween horror that elicits screams without disturbing the more timid trick-or-treaters - or to put it another way, you have no reason to skip this haunt, even if you're chicken, because as scared as you get, you'll make it out alive and laughing and glad you took the trip.
Though the Haunted Wilsley Manor of 2012 and 2013 was more to our personal taste, Rotten Apple Hollow may be the 907 team's greatest achievement yet, maintaining their haunt's reputation as one of the most entertaining Halloween mazes in Los Angeles, amateur or professional.
Rotten Apple Hollow will be open this weekend, Friday and Saturday, October 30-31, 7pm to 10pm. There will also be a "Haunter's Night" on Sunday, November 1, open only to other home haunters (who are too busy to visit during regular hours). The address is 907 N. California Street in Burbank, CA. For more information, visit www.rottenapple907.com. Rotten Apple 907 is free, but donations are accepted for the Burbank Temporary AID Center.