Hollywood Gothique
LA Attractions GothiqueTheme Parks

Knott’s Halloween Haunt History 2007

Halloween 2007 seemed to be business as usual at Knott’s Berry Farm Halloween Haunt, though in retrospect one suspects changes were afoot due to competition from Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, which was busy licensing rights to famous horror movie franchises for use in mazes and on the back lot.

Along those lines, Knott’s Berry Farm had two film-based mazes for Halloween 2007: The Grudge 2 (held over from Halloween 2006) and Beowulf, one of five new attractions. The very fact that there were five new attractions suggested that Knott’s Halloween Haunt was trying to stay ahead of the new threat from Universal.

The Doll Factory was the best of the newcomers, a walk-through featuring a macabre mechanical assembly line and weird toys, along with actresses dressed up like living dolls. The twisted depiction of items associated with childhood innocence evoked a creepy sense of the uncanny, and the maze proved popular enough to be continued for four years afterward.

Knott's Halloween Haunt Doll Factory entrance
The Doll Factory

Black Widow’s Cavern redressed the Calico Mine Ride train, replacing the spirits from the “Cavern of Lost Souls” with giant mechanical spiders (apparently leftover props from the old Curse of the Spider maze, which had retired after 2004). The caverns provided a perfect hiding place for these evil arachnids, whose presence explained the presence of those invisible spider webs that had been dangling in the tunnels for the past couple seasons. This is a relatively rare example of a Halloween theme that that lasted more than one year on the mine ride, returning in 2008.

Beowulf (based on director Robert Zemickis’ computer-animated film) was more dark fantasy than horror. Nevertheless, the film adaptation of the ancient legend did provide inspiration for a few terrifying characters, including a huge mechanical Grendel and an even more impressive giant mechanical dragon, whose head was seen leering over a wall, puffing smoke. There were also several seductive female sirens to distract male visitors so that the scarier characters could sneak up on them unaware. Beowful was one of the few mazes to appear for only a single season.

Lower on this list of newcomers were Pyromaniax and Killer Klown Kollege. The former was essentially the log ride dressed up for Halloween. The latter lived up to its name by including a college full of killer klowns (an overused cliche during this era, much to the chagrin of the creators of Killer Klowns from Outer Space). Although “new,” this maze felt unduly derivative – a combination of Hatchet High and the Carnivorous Clowns from Outer Space. Along with the returning Viva Lost Vegas, Killer Klowns was one of two comical mazes, which made it harder to justify Killer Klowns as a change of pace. That did not stop Knott’s Scary Farm from bringing back both mazes the following year.

Other returning mazes were Red Beard’s Revenge, 13 Axe Murder Manor, the Asylum, Lore of the Vampire, and Feary Tales in 3D. All but the last two would return next year, along with Black Widow’s Cavern and Viva Lost Vegas.

A couple of minor historical points:

  1. The strategy of avoiding the crowded main entrance by parking on Western Avenue and using the back entrance came to an end; only the main entrance on Beach Boulevard was open. This would remain true during subsequent Halloween seasons. However, by attending early in the season, it was still possible to visit all the mazes – some multiple times – without paying extra for a fast-pass ticket.
  2. 2007 was one of the few years when Knott’s Scary Farm booked a musical act truly suited for the season. The Rocketz, a three-piece rock-and-roll band, had recently release an album titled “Rise of the Undead,” and their blistering performance of the song “Die, Zombie, Die” was enough to lure even Hollywood Gothique away from the other attractions – the only occasion when we felt our time at Knott’s was better spent sitting and listening instead of walking through mazes..

Overall, the 2007 Knott’s Halloween Haunt provided more than enough new sights and sounds to satisfy determined scare seekers, but the old mazes were getting tired, and “new” like Killer Klown Kollege were mazes recycling bits from previous attractions, with only The Doll Factory ranking among the very best of what Knott’s Halloween Haunt could achieve.

Wondering how our opinion has changed over the years? Read our original Knott’s Scary Farm 2007 Review.

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.