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What happened to the Halloween Haunt Awards?

Now that the Halloween season has been receding in the rearview mirror for nearly two weeks, our longtime readers may be wondering: Whatever happened to Hollywood Gothique’s Halloween Haunt Awards? This is a very good question. The answer is convoluted, but it us two-fold: in general, the awards were a victim of the old saying “don’t let better be the enemy of good;” specifically, they were killed off by the Queen Mary Hotel killed in 2017.

This probably requires further explanation, which in turn requires a brief history lesson. Please bear with us.

With a couple of gaps, the Halloween Haunt Awards ran from 2006 through 2016, but they were always a bit of an aberration. Hollywood Gothique is not a Halloween blog; it is a year-round online guide to horror, fantasy, and science-fiction events in Los Angeles. The early years were focused on cinema; our very first year-end round up was Best Fantasy Films, Horror Movies & Sci-Fi Cinema of 2004. The year of the first Halloween Haunt Awards also included a separate best-of list, 2006: The Year in Review, which included cinema, theatre, and exhibitions in additional to Halloween haunts. Though the article seems a bit feeble to us now, conceptually it represents the “better” version of the annual awards that we want to replace the Halloween Haunt Awards.

Over the years, separating Halloween events from other topics has increasingly seemed like an arbitrary distinction. Several Halloween haunts operate during other seasons – for example, offering Krampus for Christmas; this year’s Stranger Things Drive-Through has scheduled dates through March of 2021, meaning that the majority of its run will not take place during Halloween. Plays that open in October can run through November and December; others are entirely off-season. Macabre Art and Exhibitions are scheduled throughout the year, such as the I Like Scary Movies experience, which was a hit in spring of 2019. New horror, fantasy, and science-fiction films screen on a weekly basis, as do retrospectives of classic and cult film at specialty theatres in Los Angeles, including the American Cinematheque’s annual festival, which takes place in summer. Horror-themed escape rooms run year-round, along with other non-seasonal events, such as Alita: Battle Angel. All of these events deserve to be included in our year-end roundup, not just Halloween Haunts.

For us, the final nail in the coffin was the Queen Mary’s resurrected version of their Ghosts & Legends Tour. Though not a part of the annual Queen Mary Dark Harbor, Ghosts and Legends was originally scheduled to open in October 2017 before being pushed back to November. Presented as one of the Queen Mary’s many night-time paranormal tours (as advertised with promotional image at top of page), Ghosts & Legends was essentially an attempt to create a year-round haunted house attraction, relying on special effects instead of live actors for scares.

We found Ghosts & Legends superior to many of Dark Harbor’s Halloween mazes. Omitting it from our annual awards would have been absurd, but it would have been equally absurd to include a non-Halloween event in something called the “Halloween Haunt Awards.” So we decided to revert t something closer to 2006’s  “Year in Review” approach, including everything we had seen throughout 2017.

That’s where everything collapsed. There were so many events in Los Angeles – movies, exhibitions, plays – that publication kept getting pushed back to give us to catch up on what we had missed until, finally, so much time had passed that it seemed pointless. Since then, our desire to do something all-inclusive has continually been our undoing. As mentioned at top, our hope of doing something better has prevented us from doing something merely good.

Our plan now, such as it is, is to do some kind of retrospective appreciation for the great events of the past few years, followed by a year-end Hollywood Gothique Awards for 2020 (which, ironically, will be highly Halloween-focused, since so many non-seasonal events were cancelled du to the pandemic). Hopefully, our efforts at being thorough will not stand in our way this time.

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.