By Charly SHELTON
It’s Halloween time again and that means candy, horror movies and haunted houses. And in L.A., the haunted walkthrough capital of America, we have the best parks with the best walkthroughs. The original Halloween Haunt at Knott’s Scary Farm has been around since 1973, delighting and terrifying guests with vampire mazes, zombie mazes, Old West ghost town scare zones and crazy clowns running in the mist. This year there are 10 walkthroughs, so let’s break them down one by one.
Harry Houdini is summoned back from the grave and he is bringing all manner of stage magic demons with him. Set in an old theatre and inspired by some of Houdini’s greatest tricks, this is a haunted trick that relives the great days of magic.
Pros: Cool sets, interesting premise and high production values.
Cons: Not many “scares.” Lots of cool visuals and people sitting there cut open or chained up, but not many jump out scares.
Time worth waiting: 10 minutes.
A nightmare come to life. Worms and giant beasts and lost crazy children. A bat-poop insane fall down the rabbit hole.
Pros: Lighting is great. Clever ideas for nightmares.
Cons: Monsters don’t really know how to scare. The sets are built with obvious hides for scarers to wait in, yet the scare-actors just stand there in plain sight. When you walk up to them, you expect another monster to jump out from behind you or from the side or something but there isn’t anyone else. Just one monster that growls as you pass. This is in most of the mazes, but painfully apparent here.
Time worth waiting: 10 minutes
Dominion of the Damned
A vampire mansion. That’s it.
Pros: Eh. Seen it before. Generic vampire maze. Sets are nice though.
Cons: Monsters are lame again. No really good scares. Girlfriend liked the hot vampires.
Time worth waiting: This is the first of two mazes in a line, so for the same 10-minute wait, you get this one and then Delirium.
A pseudo “Hunger Games” idea. It’s a war torn, post apocalyptic Los Angeles where the rich enslave the poor and use them as ultimate fighters, pitting them against each other for the entertainment of the rich.
Pros: Incredible set pieces – really breathtaking. Especially the finale piece.
Cons: Absolutely no scares. There are maybe five people standing throughout the maze. The rest is just props. Generic dead bodies that have nothing to do with the plot. Also, instead of pitting the poor against each other in a fight, they pit monster against monster. Not sure how that plays into the class warfare angle. Maybe the rock monster defaulted on a few credit cards and the toad monster is still trying to catch up on his back alimony payments.
Time worth waiting: 2 minutes.
A serial killer is murdering his captives in the style of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Each room and each kill is based on a different poem or story by the master of terror.
Pros: Really cool idea. Throughout the maze, each room is smeared in blood with the title of the story it is based on: ‘The Raven,” “The Tell Tale Heart,” “Murder in the Rue Morgue,” “Pit and the Pendulum” and many more. In each room, the poem is read from speakers in lieu of a soundtrack, leaving the room filled with the eerie prose of Poe and the sounds of creaking doors, rattling chains and screams.
Cons: The initial idea for the room is cemented in the opening visual, but after that it resorts to generic dead bodies. The “Tell Tale Heart” has the blood, the red light from the floor and the heartbeat, but that’s the whole story. So to populate the room, there are bodies scattered about. If it were more in depth, the immersion would be better.
Time worth waiting: 1 hr.
A mirror maze. That’s all I will say.
Pros: One of the best mazes I have ever been through. My brevity will behoove the reader in this instance.
Cons: I can’t tell you anything more. It will give too much away. It is a surprise. And it is worth it.
Time worth waiting: 45 minutes.
Geppetto is making a puppet. Not out of wood and fabric but out of people.
Pros: Great final set piece.
Cons: Like many of the scare zones, it is too full of fog. You can’t see much. The mazes are pretty good about ventilation but not in this one.
Time worth waiting: 20 minutes.
The Gunslinger’s Grave
An old west town come to life with zombie cowboys.
Pros: It really is an old west town. Not just a saloon, not just a bordello, not just a graveyard. All of it. The whole town. And out in the Main Street. Also there are cool effects with some of the guns.
Cons: Generic cowboy stuff. No real pizzazz.
Time worth waiting: 20 minutes.
Trick or Treat
A classic haunted house celebrating the quintessential Halloween. A witch is throwing a Halloween party for her monster friends at her haunted house.
Pros: Classic Halloween. There is no spin, no clever take on something – just real classic Halloween done right. High-production values and cool effects.
Cons: Once again, not many scares but that’s okay in this one because you are admiring the scenery and scares aren’t really necessary.
Time worth waiting: 30 minutes.
Uncle Willy’s Slaughter House
A psycho hillbilly slaughterhouse and barbecue joint.
Pros: It’s short so you don’t have to be in there too long.
Cons: It exists.
Time worth waiting: Skip it. Go stare at a wall or pick up some trash or something. It will be better than this.