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Review: Haunted Adventure’s Harvest of Horror

Horrors within the Starlight Bowl

Haunted Adventure is back tonight and tomorrow with Harvest of Horror, the title of this year’s presentation, which debuted last weekend. Presented by Burbank Parks and Recreation, the long-running Halloween attraction offers fun, food, games, and a Thriller flash mob on the grounds of Stough Canyon Park, but the main attraction lies up the hill: a self-guided tour of terror in and around Starlight Bowl.

Haunted Adventure has always been a community-oriented event with a DIY vibe, relying on diligence rather than dollars for its effectiveness, and after nearly three decades, its template is well established. Nevertheless, there are surprises. The budgetary limitations are less apparent this year. Partially this is the result of a few high-quality props such as the giant skeleton looming over the entrance, but it’s more a matter of leaning into this year’s theme.

The woodsy area surrounding Starlight Bowl lends a rural feel to Haunted Adventure, which is well suited to the Harvest of Horror theme. There is still plenty of tarp to create narrow pathways, but the exteriors can easily pass for a backwoods area inhabited by homicidal killers, and the interiors (behind-the-scenes service areas of the bowl) easily pass for some rundown structure where these demented maniacs would lock away their victims. The horror highlight is a room bedecked with dangling limbs and bloody handprints, where chained victims plead for mercy while being tormented by their vicious captors – pretty grim stuff for a haunt that usually aims for a family-safe PG tone.

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In keeping with theme, there are fewer actors in cheap masks pretending to be monsters (the one or two masks we saw looked pretty good in the dark). As always, the cast is bristling with enthusiasm. There are jump-scares peppered throughout the 15-minute journey, but the best scenes give the actors a moment or two to get up close and personal, blocking your path to issue dire warnings or threats.

Still, the scares are fun for both audiences and actors, and only the very young and timid are likely to suffer nightmares as a result. As always, Haunted Adventure delivers a big show on a small budget, thanks partly to a large location loaded with scare-opportunities and to a cast that does their best to exploit those opportunities.

Haunted Adventure: Harvest of Horror Photo Gallery

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Haunted Adventure: Harvest of Horror

Rating Scale

1 – Avoid
2 – Not all bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See

If you are looking for the production values of a Halloween theme park, look elsewhere, but if you are looking for something cobbled together from spit and baling wire that nevertheless manages to work better than it seems possible, then Haunted Adventure’s Harvest of Horrors is for you.

Harvest of Horror continues at Starlight Bowl on October 20-21, 7-10pm. The address is Stough Canyon Park, 1249 Lockhead View Drive in Burbank. Tickets are $5 for children under 13 and $10 for adults online, $7 for children under 13 and $12 for adults at the event. Get more information at: hauntedadventure.info. or burbankparks.com.

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.