We've been reviewing lots of Halloween Haunts this season; unfortunately, we will not be reviewing one of our favorites. Fright Fair ScreamPark, a large and extremely intense stand-alone maze, will not be in operation this season. A brief message on the haunt's website explains why:
It was decided in September to pull FrightFair this year due to our parent company commitments overseas and in the states.
We are sad to pull the attraction this year but will open back next year wiht a series of new shows that will raise the bar in Los Angeles.
If you are in the Orlando area, you can see the Large Tesla Coil used in the FrightFair attraction at Universal's Islands of Adventure in October.
With so many haunts to see in one short month's time, it is easy for many of them to blend together in one's mind. Fright Fair had one big advantage in this regard, the giant Tesla Coil mentioned in their message. This sent off huge loud crackling sparks of electricity like something out of Frankenstien's laboratory; each year as you made the rounds of old, familiar mazes, you would think, "Oh yeah, I remember this one -- with the Tesla Coil."
If that's all there was to it, there would be no reason to lament the absence of Fright Fair from the Halloween scene this year. Fortunately, there was more to the maze than its memorable prop. Fright Fair bills itself as "Four Haunts Slammed into One." How they came up with that number is not exactly clear from walking through the single maze; what is clear is that, during the previous two Halloween seasons, the lengthy attraction was loaded with some of the best scares in Los Angeles.
Unlike Spooky House and the Haunted Vineyard, Fright Fair was located in a temporary structure, usually set up in a parking lot on the corner of an intersection (last year they've moved to the parking lot at Pierce College in the Valley). The set designs and props were not as elaborate as those seen in other haunts, but that didn't matter once the ghouls came out to play.
Fright Fair featured the most aggressive actors of any haunt in the Southland -- those people meant business when they tried to scare you! Often in mazes, a group passes through, and whoever is at the front of the line gets the "benefit" (if that's the right word) of the scare as they round the corner and find a waiting monster ready to jump out at them.
At Fright Fair, on the other hand, you didn't miss anything by being at the end of the line. The actors would keep their performances at full pitch until each guest had left the room. The cast also showed a knack for zeroing in on timid patrons and ratcheting up the fear factor until everyone had a good scare before moving on to the next scene.
Often times, the monsters would follow as the group moved to the next room, and if someone at the front of the line slowed down in fear of what was around the next corner, the ghoul from behind would shout at full volume, 'KEEP MOVING!!" The effect created the sensation of being caught in the proverbial situation of being in between a rock and a hard place.
Not only the voices were loud, so were the sound effects, with hidden monsters slamming trashcan lids together in the dark to make you jump. Combined with some blinding strobe lights, the effect could be extremely disorienting and nerve-wracking.
It was not all just screaming and banging. There were also some more subtle moments. One highlight was an outdoor maze, with the walls made of chain-link fence. At night, beneath a strobe light, it was almost impossible to tell where the gaps in the fence were, and you could easily find yourself spending five/ten/fifteen minutes trying to find the exit. And all this time you would be pursued by some black-clad ghoul taunting you because of your inability to escape. In all my many trips to Halloween haunts, the only time I ever saw someone dive out the "chicken exit" was during a trip through this chain link fence maze two years ago.
There are plenty of other L.A. haunts to chill your blood this Halloween. Nevertheless, Fright Fair will be missed. We'll look forward to seeing them again next year.