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Review: A Place to Scare inflicts Nightmares

After going on hiatus last year, A Place to Scare is back in action for Halloween 2023, with a new theme, Nightmare. Although this is a fundraiser, three years of experience have brought it to a level at least on part with the professional popup haunts that used to proliferate in Los Angeles before Halloween theme parks drove them to extinction. This means you will not see sets and makeup on par with Halloween Horror Nights, but you will experience a handmade haunt geared to deliver personalized scares to victims walking through in small groups.

This year, A Place to Scare has expanded to include indoor and outdoor sections at BCR: A Place to Grow, the community center producing the attraction. This affords an opportunity for different environments, and the Nightmare theme provides a variety of scary situations to fill the space: demons, clowns, aliens, cannibals, and urban legends. Not bad for a scrappy little DIY effort.

Nightmare Review: Walkthrough

After purchasing your tickets at a table outside, you will probably be menaced by a couple of silent characters lurking nearby as you wait your turn to enter the house of horrors. Inside the building, you find yourself immersed in darkness inhabited by strange being skittering through the shadows, sometimes on all fours. Apparently aliens (in nicely made full-body suits!), these silent creatures rely on their creepy appearance and movements to send shivers down your spine.

Place to Scare 2023 Review
Welcoming Committee

Escaping from these strange invaders takes you outside to a tea party where human meat is on the menu. In contrast to the aliens, the knife-wielding hostess is quite voluble about inviting your to her little tea party, insistently offering some rather unappetizing appetizers. Dad and daughter lurking nearby; if you’re lucky, the little girl will give you a treat, but watch out for dad’s carving knife!

Next there is an outdoor maze with the title “Slaughter is the Best Medicine” above the entrance. As the pun suggests, demented clowns lurk inside. One spins a wheel of fortune to determine your fate, but beware – the game is rigged! Further along, bright circus colors give way to dim candlelight, and a find a foolish girl invoking Bloody Mary in a mirror – with predictably horrible results, though Mary’s actual entrance is a clever surprise. Lastly, you pass through a cobwebbed cave inhabited by a colossal arachnid. Fortunately for you, the spider is probably not hungry, judging by the partial human remains dangling from his claws.

Nightmare Review: Conclusion

Nightmare delivers a good mix. The alien scene inside the building comes closest to a traditional haunted house, with scary things suddenly appearing from the shadows. The more colorfully lit clown and spider sections provide tongue-in-cheek terror and gruesome thrills, respectively. The cannibal tea party and the Bloody Mary are short vignettes which the audiences pauses to experience: the former is all about interacting with a crazy character; the second is built around the suspense of waiting for the anticipated outcome. All of this is spiced with a few random jump-scares as you move between sections.

A Place to Scare is an imaginative fundraiser in service of a good cause. Working with limited resources, they manage to deliver pro-quality results like a full-body spider and aliens. More important, they provide that personal touch missing from overcrowded for-profit events – allowing visitors to stop and savor the scares.

A Place to Scare: Nightmares

Rating Scale

1 – Avoid
2 – Not All Bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See

A Place to Scare Nightmare ReviewNightmares is definitely worth the price of admission. Recommended for locals in need of a good scare, and fans of popup haunts may find it worth a special trip.

A Place to Scare’s presentation of Nightmares continues on October 28-29, 6-10pm at BCR: A Place to Grow. Tickets are $10 for children, $20 for adults. The money supports BCR’s community center, which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental needs. The address is 230 Amherst Drive in Burbank. Free street parking nearby. Find more information at facebook.com/bcraplacetoscare.


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.