The Terry Haunt in Anaheim has been around in one form or another for over ten years. Once a Halloween yard haunt, it expanded beyond the confines of its home and turned into a community haunt a few years ago, benefiting the Loara Band Booster Club. After sitting out 2008 because of location problems, the haunt is now ensconced in the storefront space of a corner shopping mall, with all the appearance of a professional effort, even though it remains a family operation raising money for a non-profit cause.
There are screams a-plenty as you approach the entrance. Once inside, you see that a maze structure has been constructed within the available space; winding your way through is a bit like experiencing the biggest, most elaborate home haunt maze ever made. There are tell-tale signs of the amateur origins - many of the props and decorations are reconizable items available in stores - but the whole thing has the wonderful enthusiasm one associates with a garage band - people putting on a show because they love what they're doing and love sharing their performance with an audience.
Our readers are probably tired of hearing us write that we are tired of the clown theme for Halloween, but the 2009 Terry Haunt is more than just another demented carnival. Instead of nothing but walls painted in black light colors, there are different environments (some left over from previous years). Although the sets are not very elaborate, there are clever touches in terms of providing unexpected hiding places for ghouls and ghosts (e.g., a wall of masks - with the last mask being worn by an actual person whose body blends into the blackness). Our favorite room - something we had never seen in a haunt before - is spider-webbed with laser-like beams of light cutting through the darkness, creating an apparently moving starfield on the black walls. The effect is colorful and disorienting - the perfect setting for a monster to catch you unaware.
There are a handful of nice mechanical effects, such as an apparently stationary mannequin that jolts to life with a pneumatic blast of air, and a corpse that unexpectedly falls halfway down from the ceiling overhead. Most important, although the haunt is not especially lengthy by professional standards, it is reasonably dense with scares - we never felt as if we were walking down empty corridors waiting in vain for something to happen. Combined with the efforts of the eager volunteer cast, the result is probably the perfect Halloween horror experience for local families and friends out for a good time this season - scary enough to be fun but not unpleasant (except for very young children, of course).
This year, the Terry Haunt runs from October 23 through 31, 6:00pm to 11:00pm nightly. Tickets are $7 to benefit the Loara Band Booster Club, a non-profit organization.
THE TERRY HAUNT
1620 West Katella Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92804
Phone: 714 318 0125
Fax: 714 537 4940