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Haunted Adventure 2018 Review: ’80s Fright Night

Can a humble community haunt deliver as many scares as a professional haunted house? Read our Burbank Haunted Adventure 2018 Review to find out…

Of all the community haunts in Los Angeles community centers and recreation areas, Burbank Haunted Adventure comes closest to emulating a professional attraction. Set in the Starlight Bowl above Stough Canyon Park, the annual Halloween event has enough room for half a dozen mazes, but instead it provides one long trek inside and outside the venue, and the volunteers for the City of Burbank Parks & Recreation fill every crevice with creeping terror. The length and breadth of the walk-through, combined with the enthusiasm and energy of the cast, easily eclipse any budgetary limitations, creating an experience superior to many for-profit haunts.

Haunted Adventure 2018 Review: ’80s Fright Night

BHA’s 2018’s theme is ’80s Fright Night, which expands on some ideas seen in previous years (brief scenes based on horror movies or television shows such as American Horror Story).  The emphasis is on slasher movies from the 1980s, but ’80s Fright Night features horror from other decades as well. As you traverse the terrain around Camp Crystal Lake (from 1980’s Friday the 13th), pass the Pet Sematary (from the 1992 film of the same name), and wander through a corridor of the Overlook Hotel (from 1980’s The Shining), you will rub shoulders (sometimes literally) with Norman Bates (from 1960’s Psycho), Regan Therese MacNeil (from 1973’s The Exorcist), and Michael Myers (from 1978’s Halloween). These genre icons are supported by a rogue’s gallery of demons, zombies, and maniacs, insuring that no victim escapes unscathed.

In keeping with BHA’s status as a community-oriented haunt, most of the scares are fun rather than disturbing. There are plenty of sudden appearances in the dark, along with some more subtle moments (such as the endlessly repetitive typewritten pages from The Shining, indicating their author’s madness). Occasionally a mini-scene plays out, though sadly the most memorable one this year was a misfire: the exorcism scene seemed rigged to showcase some kind of effect, but on the night we attended, nothing happened – like a joke with a dropped punchline.

Production values are good this year. Although some cost-saving strategies are employed (dividing empty space into corridors with tarp for walls), for the most part the building’s actual passageways and rooms provide a sense of authenticity. Likewise, the cast sometimes relies on the strategic use of darkness to disguise their pullover masks or limited makeup, but we saw more characters in full makeup and costumes. The figure of Pinhead (from 1987’s Hellraiser) is awesome in his red-tinged torture chamber, and a wonderfully realized Pennywise (from either the 1990 TV miniseries or the 2017 feature film) is lurking in the shadows outside, surrounded by a squad of other demented clowns, in equally impressive makeup and costumes.

With sights like these, it is safe to say that, if you were kidnapped, blindfolded, and dropped into the middle of ’80s Fright Night, you probably would not realize you were in an amateur haunt.

’80s Fright Night Review: Conclusion

As usual, Burbank Haunted Adventure includes a block-party type event in Stough Canyon Park, filled with fun and games appropriate for families with children, including a Thriller flash mob. But even if you have no desire to see costumed children dancing to the Michael Jackson song, you will enjoy the haunted tour through Starlight Bowl.  The walk-through may not feature elaborate production values and technical effects, but at $5 a head for a fifteen-minute trek through terror, Burbank Haunted Adventure is a Halloween bargain you cannot afford to miss.

Note: Unfortunately, this event runs only a few nights every mid-October. Burbank does not want Haunted Adventure to compete with the several other Halloween events the city offers later in the month.

'80s Fright Night Rating
  • 90%
    Halloween Horror - 90%

Bottom Line

if you were kidnapped, blindfolded, and dropped into the middle of ’80s Fright Night, you might mistake the community haunt for a professional haunted house attraction. It may not feature elaborate production values and technical effects, but at $5 a head, this fifteen-minute trek through terror is a Halloween bargain you cannot afford to miss.

’80s Fright Night returns for its third and final night on Friday, October 19, 7-9pm. The location is Stough Canyon Park, 1335 Lockhead View Drive, Burbank. Call (818) 238-5440 for more information, or visit hauntedadventure.info or www.burbankca.gov/haunted adventure. 

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.