On Halloween Night – the Eve of All Souls – Hollywood Gothique ventured into the terrifying terrain of Los Angeles, seeking strange phenomena at heretofore un-visited Halloween home haunts. We were somewhat over-ambitious in our goals, which led ironically to our reaching fewer locations than we had hoped. Nevertheless, we did observe a variety of paranormal activity at a trio of yard haunts, two in Los Angeles, one in Thousands Oaks.
Before delving into those details, we should mention our biggest disappointment of the night – an aborted attempt to visit the Nightmare on Whiting Woods, a walk-through haunted house on the northern rim of Glendale. This long-running amateur attraction, which operates only on Halloween Night, has almost zero web presence and does little to promote itself; however, promotion is unnecessary – the word is out, and the crowds line up along the street and up narrow walkway leading to the house, which is up the hill and obscured by trees. We have it on the authority of DIY Haunts website (update: no longer in operation) that it’s excellent, and the howls echoing down the hillside were enticing, but we had not time to stand in line for over an hour. We had other places to be….
1307 Opechee Way
Glendale, CA 91208
This yard display, in the Glendale hills not far from Whiting Woods, presented a Halloween themed show via recorded sounds and dialogue. Two talking Jack O’Lanterns hosted “Jack’s Halloween Jam-Boo-ree,” which felt like an old vaudeville act of dubious quality. The running joke was how bad the jokes were. Eventually, the Autumn Wind got fed up and threatened to blow out the Jack O’Lanterns’ candles, but with a little Peter Pan-like audience participation (screaming instead of clapping), everything turned out okay.
The Halloween Jam-BOO-ree didn’t have the mechanical effects of Haunted Groundz (the closest comparison we can make), but the lighting and audio effects were nicely done, and the deliberately unfunny jokes were amusing. The result was perfectly suited for neighborhood trick-or-treaters – fun and not too scary.
The Rosehill Haunt
11560 Acama Street
Studio City, CA 91604 United
The Rosehill Haunt offered a nifty yard display with a bonus feature or two for its Halloween 2017 presentation, El Cucuy. The cemetery scene out front was accompanied by recorded narration relaying the story of the titular figure, the Mexican version of the Boogeyman. trick-or-treaters were then invited to enter a room where a guide explained why his tour had been cancelled: El Cucuy had struck again. His spiel turned out to be a ploy, distracting attention from the motionless figure in the room – which eventually lurched to life, revealing itself as El Cucuy.
Afterward, trick-or-treaters were encourage to continue up the driveway and into the main courtyard, leading to the front door, where candy was awarded. The house is beautiful, perfectly suited, with its large tree, to creating a mysterious cemetery; the courtyard, likewise, offered a nice venue for Halloween decor, including a pair of card-playing skeletons and a view into the dining room, with singing Jack O’Lanterns on the table.
Murder House Productions Haunt: Trick ‘r Treat
Our final stop on Halloween Night was this walk-through haunted house, based on the 2007 film Trick ‘r Treat. of which we had such heard wonderful things that we decided to make the long drive out to Thousand Oaks, sacrificing the opportunity to see one-night haunts closer to home.
Fortunately, we can report that the drive and the sacrifice were worthwhile. Murder House Productions, now in its second season of home haunting, had crafted a Halloween attraction with professional quality production values and scares, mixing a dark ride approach with some amazing sets, particularly an “outdoor” scene with a beautiful full moon, shining down on female vampire and a howling werewolf.
Our only criticism is that Trick ‘r Treat was a little short, but hey – always leave ’em wanting more, right? And better to do something short and do it right than to water it down by attempting too much. This really belongs on every dedicated haunt-seeker’s must-see list for Halloween 2018.
But wait, there’s more – or there will be. As soon as we finish typing this, we intend to head south for the final night of the Haunt at Daisy Avenue and Mystic Motel. Halloween may be officially over, but some ghosts linger…