Tag Archives: Halloween

Halloween 2014; Haunted mazes, and more

This year, halloween was somewhat fun. I was so upset last year that I didn’t do anything. So, this year I made it my business to go out and enjoy myself at some haunted attraction. My housemate wanted to go with me, so off we went. I researched some places, but unfortunately, the places I wanted to go to were not open on a Thursday night. Curses! So, I did a little more research and found a few choices that were open, and we picked the best choice.

We went up into the San Fernando Valley which is North of Los Angeles. The attraction was near a college on a huge suburban farm. I’ve been to dozens of these Halloween attractions. They are very predictable. You go through a maze, and high school students dressed in very fake looking costumes act eerie, and scary and jump out at you trying to scare you. But, sometimes it is unusual or fun. This attractions had a haunted corn field, a corn maze, a factory of horrors, and an insane asylum. We went to the haunted corn field. We walked through and all types of scary creatures jumped out at us. My housemate was so scared and screamed bloody murder each time someone jumped out. I had to put my fingers in my ears it was so loud. I explained that these were high school kids and that this was not real. Her response was, “But, what if it were real?” My response is that we could be driving home and a maniac from hell could come out from nowhere and have a deadly collision with us — but, this was not real.

So, after twelve sessions of her screaming for 45 seconds straight each time (I think the staff appreciated her genuine terror) we got to the point where the guy with the chainsaw singled her out. They didn’t bother me, (that much) because I wasn’t afraid. I knew there was no chain on the saw! But, this was actually fortunate, because the next attraction was much more scary — even for me.

The Factory of Horrors
I don’t remember the exact name, but the name is approximately what I titled this paragraph. I waited in a very short line. During the weekend this line is much worse by the way — 20 times worse. They let me in and I was greeted by a very eerie looking guy in a bell-boy outfit. He ushered me into the elevator and said, “You are very brave…” I wondered if he said this to all the guests or only to me. After all, I entered this horrific and dark place — alone! I prefer these attractions alone. It is scarier that way, you interact more with the scary staff. I don’t remember the order of events that well, but here we go. The elevator shook, the dim lights flickered. I wondered if I had made a mistake in coming there and how bad it would be. I started having serious second thoughts. Then, the shaking stopped, and I was escorted into the maze which was not there when I went into the elevator. This elevator didn’t go down. It just shook while they rearrange the walls. So, I proceeded down the hall. A guy jumped out at me and actually rammed into my leg. I was not hurt, but he hurt his knee on the ground. There was a guy being electrocuted screaming very loudly. A girl told me how she cut her boyfriend into pieces and that now she wanted to cut me with her knife. I walked by them and then there was this huge slamming noise of wood smacking into wood. Another room had the sound of metal drums crashing to the floor, and a loud engine which is kind of a scary sound in itself. I went through a tunnel that was circling around which made me very dizzy. I like that part the best by the way! There were all types of other creatures who jumped out at me and I just wanted to get out of there after a few minutes. Finally I exited the maze, and was relieved. I was so glad my friend hadn’t come with me, because she never would have made it. If she thought the other attraction was scary, this was ten times as bad, especially since it was so dark, and had such realistic sound effects.

Afterwards
We got some funnel cake with apples which was just top-notch. Then, we went home. On our way down the highway, something happened. A crazy guy in a Mercedes raced past us, he cut us off with only inches to spare, and then took off ahead of us. It was time for us to take our Laurel Canyon exit. There was a long light. But, then there were sirens on the highway. We decided that the crazy Mercedes driver had gotten into an accident and that the cops and hopefully an ambulance were there. Neither of us were scared, but I explained to my housemate that the situation two minutes ago was actually life-threatening even though we were not slightly afraid while the scares at the haunted attraction were not real. Interesting!

The good part is that I did not have any nightmares!

Halloween 2014: The Corn Maze and eating corn for dinner!

I wrote another Halloween blog about my experience in the haunted corn field attraction and the Factory of Horrors. Well, I have been to 30+ Halloween mazes and attractions. They are all sort of similar, but each with their individual touches. This time I wanted to try something different. I bet it is common in the Midwest to go into a corn maze. But, if you live in Los Angeles, we don’t have a lot of this type of attraction for obvious reasons. So, I tried it. I was a bit afraid of getting lost in there for a long time. But, the night was young, and we had eaten and had plenty of water to drink, so I figured I’d last an hour. The staff told us it would take 40 minutes to an hour to get in and out of there. From the outside, the cornfield didn’t seem that large. And you could see by the lights and the music which end the exit was. So, we were not in that bad shape.

The corn maze
We walked into the maze. There were other people mulling about. We decided to go to the far end which was not difficult to get to. At the far end we saw a map of the maze. I never knew that these mazes had maps, but I’ve never been to a maze like this before either. Luckily I brought my keychain flashlight with me so we could actually see the signs. The sign was a map of the maze with a you are here dot. I decided it would be fun to walk to the other side of the maze just to see what it was like. We had to walk almost all the way to the front, and then to the right and then all the way to the back. We saw another sign in the back. It was fun, and now it was time to leave. Little did I know we would get stuck. We walked for a few minutes to the front of the maze. We got to yet another sign. There was a small circle in the corner of the field where we were and four paths that diverged from a spot twenty feet behind where we were standing. The problem was that each of these four paths branched out and got twisty and confusing. As an experienced navigator and road trip taker, I figured I would just look at the map and get it right the first or second time. Each route I took led us the wrong direction. Then, I tried a third approach being very careful this time. That led us back to the circle. My last attempt was the fourth attempt and did get me out of there to the front where we easily found an exit. We were only somewhat lost for about ten minutes, and it added to the excitement.

Grilled Corn
After the maze, we waited in a two hour line to go back to the Factory of Horrors that I wrote about in another recent blog. The Thursday line was 10 minutes, the Saturday night line was close to two hours. So, we decided to have a discussion about all the countries in the world. My house mate had been studying up and knew almost all 192 countries. I didn’t know that Trinidad was not a country. The name of the country is “Trinidad and Tobago.” Well, excuse me! The discussions we had were very interesting and probably never would have happened if were were not stuck somewhere for a long time. It reminded me of an adventure we had had in 2001 when we went to the Grand Canyon together and we were imitating all of the different languages on the headset for the tour guide of an air tour we signed up to take (which was really expensive for 45 minutes.) We had a lot of fun on that trip, and were having a lot of fun on this adventure too. The Factory of Horrors was a lot different with all those people going in at the same time. There was no more elevator, and I already knew what the scares were, so I was not that scared. Oh well. You live and you learn.

So, after the mazes, we couldn’t figure out what to eat. Should I get a hot dog? No! I’ll get corn. There were some older ladies grilling corn. I bought one for $3 and she showed me all the seasonings. I love cajun, so I put some on. I bit into the corn and said, “Wow, this is the best corn I’ve ever had in my life.” It was very fresh since they are based in a cornfield. It was so good I got a second piece, and my housemate got an ear too. This time the lady recommended I try the “Slap ya mama” seasoning — in moderation because it was hot. Wow! It was excellent. I’ll remember that simple pleasure of eating fresh corn for a long time. She mentioned that her son created the mazes. And then out of nowhere her son appeared. He was about 50-ish. I talked to him for about 20 minutes about the business aspect of running a haunted attraction since that is one of my goals. He told me the realities, the costs, the profits, and market segments, etc. I wanted something more realistic and scarier, and he said that would appeal to a smaller market segment and would be harder to find a following for. It was great talking to him, especially since I’ve been dying (no pun intended) to talk to someone who had a haunted attraction about ideas.

Halloween: instead of the typical attractions, what about this?

I’m a little worn out of the typical Halloween attractions. You go through a dark and twisty maze and people in weird make up and outfits jump out at you. It is too predictable. The sound effects are predictable too. There is the boiler room, the train, the chainsaw, eerie music, and then techno beats to go with flashing lights. My favorite part of the last attraction I went to was the room with the white strobe light. It was so bright, you couldn’t see anything in front of you. You had to cling to the wall. It was very interesting and a little scary.

I like the idea of haunted mazes, but I would like more interaction with the actors. I think that I would prefer if they would be scary without trying to be scary. They should just give you the creeps, and let the feeling of terror build up in you until you reach an apex! Unfortunately for me, the haunted attraction industry specializes in catering to the 19 year old market segment which is the largest. High school kids don’t go as much to these attractions because it is expensive, and they often don’t have transportation. Adults seem to not go so often to these attractions. So, it makes business sense to appeal to 19 year olds in particular, but that is not interesting for me. I am 45, and consider myself to be a connoisseur of experiences.

A haunted bar?
There are many interesting and perhaps cost effective alternatives to the traditional haunted maze made of plywood sets. The thing that makes the maze interesting might be the sound effects or your interactions with the staff. But, at a haunted bar, you could really interact with some very creepy people without a lot of sets.

Imagine that you sign up for a haunted tour, or maze. But, before the tour begins, you sit at the bar. It is more fun if the scares are unexpected. The bar turns out to be way more scary than the maze (perhaps.) You talk to a seemingly normal bar tender. You order a drink. Since liquor licenses are hard to get, your drink might be a non-alcoholic drink. The bar tender drops to the floor after a ghoulish guy with haunted make up murders him with a huge ax from the 1400’s and then says, “I was sick of him anyway.” Your drink comes. There might be blood dripping down the side of the glass, or perhaps not. If you ordered tea, the spoon in the tea cup starts moving around on its own. That would scare the daylights out of me. Next, some very creepy girls with horror movie make up sit next to you. They look like they had a throat operation and have sharp metal objects surgically implanted into their lips which are a costume of course. They can tell you about their former boyfriend and how he did something they didn’t like and how they took care of him. Then, they come right next to you and say, “Want a date?” After they leave, some other creepy characters would sit next to you at the bar. When you turn around, the entire bar could be filled with creeps. What an experience — if done right.

The Star Wars scenario
What if on your way to your haunted maze, you had to walk down a series of long hall ways. Imagine if these long hallways had Star Wars characters walking past you in perfect outfits. I’m not talking about inexpensive costumes. Professional quality costumes that might cost $2000 or more per piece. They could be making small talk with each other about how the Federation raised taxes or why making the jump to light speed is overrated. It would be really fun to go to a Star Wars bar with that kooky music in the background. You could meet Jaba the hut and other creatures from outer space.

The Victorian House
What if you went into a house, and there was a small party in one of the lower rooms. Perhaps wine and cheese. Perhaps spooky organ music. But, what if you were to take turns moving around the house alone? Strange footsteps, odd sounds, cold spots, heavy breathing when nobody is there. There are ways to creep people out, and I wish people who ran haunted attractions would go for more subtle scares rather than assembly line people jumping out at you. They do a lot of slamming sounds in commercial haunted mazes, but there is a correct way to use slamming sounds. According to the classical haunted tales in Victorian houses, it is absolutely silent, except for the creaky sounds of the floorboards below you. You walk in darkness, or perhaps go up the stairs to an eerie second floor. You open a door — then all of a sudden there is a huge crash, and the sounds of glass breaking, pots falling, or other abrupt noises startles you. If it happens again and again it is not an authentic Halloween scare, but only a cheap commercial imitation.

With a little imagination, people could create very interesting haunted attractions. Unfortunately, this industry is only active one month a year and you have to make whatever profits you can in that limited time. It makes it kind of hard to do anything artistic in that time frame.

This Halloween I got a real scare that was very creepy and real!

I wrote two other quick blog posts about my Halloween. It was actually interesting since I got to meet the owner of one of the attractions. But, going to these predictable Halloween events is a bit unsatisfying year after year. I always complain that the scares are not authentic Halloween scares. They are disturbing, but not eerie like they are supposed to be. Having people in cheap costumes “trying” to be scary jumping out at you gets old very quickly.

Well, it was Halloween night. I had my steak at Wood Ranch. I walked home and saw some people with great face make up. One girl had Avatar face make up on and it was shiny blue. How professional looking and impressive! I saw a stormtrooper on my afternoon walk and talked to him about how he put together his outfit. But, it was later on when the real action took place.

I was doing my work on my computer as I usually do. I took a break to watch television. They had a 1980’s Halloween zombie movie playing. Eight people were trapped in a house and zombies were slowly walking towards to house trying to break in. Their eyes were white. They were dead, but perhaps possessed, so they could still move around. The people were boarding up the house and the music for this movie was eerie. If you ask me, the month of October is creepy in general. I tend to get a chilling feeling quite easily, and certain parts of town are just plain spooky.

So, as I was doing my work, a spirit came behind me. For those of you who don’t know, I see spirits quite easily. I generally only experience the spirit of my guru who comes to give me spiritual help. But, this time it was a very spooky and creepy spirit. I felt a sudden chill which is an authentic reaction to being near a ghost. This was a spirit, not a ghost, but then what is the difference? You can physically see a ghost, while you cannot physically see a spirit. I felt afraid, and that cold spot got me to close the windows and crank my heater up full blast.

But, after that experience was over, I said to myself — this is how Halloween is supposed to be, and that was an authentic eerie, spooky, and creepy Halloween scare! That is the one thing these haunted attractions never give me no matter how much I pay, or how many reviews I read!