Reasons To Visit L.A. For Halloween (Part 4): Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare, The Empty Grave And Wicked Lit

By October 11, 2013
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We have reached week four in my six part series documenting all the nifty things to do in Los Angeles for Halloween. If you’ve missed my coverage so far, you can check out the first three articles here, here and here. Instead of giving you some witty lines of dialog to introduce this piece, I’m just going to get down to it…because well, I’m a bit hungover and exhausted from some late night festivities.

First up is:

Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare

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Rob Zombie has unleashed on the world (more like Pomona, CA) a trilogy of haunt style mazes based on movies the man has directed. Along with these attractions, he has lined up a series of concerts featuring different artists every night for his event, titled Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare. Zombie teamed up with haunted house producer Steve Kopelman on the event.

I had the chance to attend the opening night gala (not a gala) last night where a lovely dinner of cupcakes and beer was ingested. “Cupcake Wars” was there filming their Halloween episode, hence the dinner of champions I just mentioned. And it’s always an odd occasion when you can enjoy a beer and a cupcake right next to the likes of Andy Dick and Ron Jeremy, but I digress.

The three mazes at the event exist all under one roof and are connected. Here’s the run down of each maze, in order of attendance:

Lords Of Salem In Total Black Out

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This harrowing attraction–based on Zombie’s 2012 The Lords Of Salem independent horror film–is designed to twist the mind. It will accentuate some senses while limiting others. Fear of the dark, claustrophobia, and fear of the unknown will be preyed on as the visitor attempts to traverse this sixty-degree maze.

I had to give you the official description of the maze above first. You see, once we entered the maze, each attendant was forced to wear a hood. Mind you, there was a sign that pointed the way to the “Pussy Exit” for those not brave enough. Once you are hooded, everything is pretty much black and you’re pushed into this maze where the object is to feel your way to the end. Aside from some moving floors and random scare actors that I felt up, the only thing in this maze that really shocked me was the actual electric shocks distributed along certain parts of the walls. Oh and let’s not forget the really loud annoying sirens. It was almost like Rob Zombie wanted us to experience what detainees at Guantanamo Bay experience daily. The Lords Of Salem maze is an interesting concept that will probably freak some out more than others but it just left me annoyed.

Upon exit, visitors are immediately placed in line for the next maze which is…

The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto 3D

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Utilizing Chromadepth glasses, this innovative attraction will take the patron right into the middle of the irreverent world of Rob Zombie’s El Superbeasto 2009 animated exploitation musical horror comedy film based on the comic book series of the same name. The attraction’s unique surprise entrance, brilliant colors, sudden chills and startling thrills, and salacious humor will make one scream with fright and laughter.

While I have never seen El Superbeasto, this maze was a nice contrast of the previous one. Instead of being without vision, attendees are given 3D glasses and thrown into a giant vagina. Seriously. A vagina. Once pushing through the pink walls, visitors are suddenly immersed in the 3D cartoon world of El Superbeasto and it was pretty cool. You could tell a lot of hard work was put into this haunt and the scare actors were definitely enjoying themselves.

From here, we were on to the last of the three mazes which was easily the best of the three and also the most offensive:

Haunt Of A Thousand Corpses

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This terrifying attraction pays homage to the 10-year anniversary of the exploitation horror film House Of 1,000 Corpses, directed by Rob Zombie. This extreme, traditional haunted house will take visitors on a walking journey through a recreation of the film’s “Museum of Monsters & Madmen” along with an expanded “Murder Ride,” confronting notorious serial killers along the way. This high impact, highly detailed attraction will use state of the art animatronics, video effects, costuming, sound, scents and lights.

For those of you who experienced the House Of 1,000 Corpses maze at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights some years back, this maze will look familiar. This is the only movie by Rob Zombie I enjoyed and may just be his most popular. The aspects of the maze were recycled from the Universal attraction except since this is Zombie’s own event, he took some of his own liberties and expanded upon the “Murder Ride.” What transpires is what seems like homages to actual serial killers where you actually are walking through the re-enactments of murders by the likes of Richard Ramirez, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy (dressed as Pogo The Clown, masturbating a long balloon in his lap as dead children litter the room). Yeah, like I said…enjoyable but damn offensive.

Aside from the mazes, visitors will also find vendors outside where one can partake in an $11.75 “big ass sausage.” Seriously, a 12 dollar hot dog. Also, it’s worth repeating for those of you out there that like kicking out the jams, each night will feature three different musical groups with Rob Zombie performing the closing night. You can find the roster of bands scheduled to perform here.

Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare takes place as the Fairplex (or FEARplex) in Pomona, CA every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from October 10 through November 2. You can find all the information on tickets here.

Up next on our journey is:

The Empty Grave

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Down the street from Disneyland is a sinister looking event that happens yearly in Anaheim, California. The Empty Grave is a haunt event with just one maze where visitors journey through an old cemetery inhabited by the undead, ghouls and the like; their mission being to fill the empty graves around them.

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The sets of the maze take attendees through inside and outside portions where the scare actors apparently stalk you. Also, it seems there is a point in the maze where visitors simply get “trapped” and have to find their own way out. From what I’ve read, The Empty Grave does something I really appreciate with these types of events: they only allow small groups in at a time, which gives the monsters inside enough time to really set up and achieve some lovely scares.

The Empty Grave takes place at The Anaheim GardenWalk most nights through the month of October. For all ticketing info and details, click here.

And finally, I bring this piece to a close with:

Wicked Lit: A Halloween Theater Festival

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In its 5th year, Unbound Productions have brought their popular horror story adaptation series WICKED LIT to the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetary in Altadena, California. What you have here is an immersive live theater experience that brings to life the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Washington Irving.

I was lucky enough to attend the event last week and I must say, it surpassed my expectations. Honestly, I had no idea what was in store for me as it was a last minute invite from a friend that got me into the event. First and foremost, I must reiterate that this event mostly takes place inside a real mausoleum! Being surrounded by the dead makes for a rather eerie and surreal experience.

The event was at capacity and we were split up into groups. Once in your assigned group, visitors are taken by a guide/actor to experience three short plays. WICKED LIT is an immersive experience and involves a decent amount of walking, so wear comfortable shoes! Roughly a four hour experience, here are the plays I experienced in the order I experienced them in:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The New Catacomb

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Burger, the American, and Kennedy, the Brit, are great friends, and have been since their days at university. But when Burger makes a life-altering discovery in the depths of a long-since forgotten Roman crypt – their friendship may be put to the ultimate test.

This one was by far my favorite as the audience gets to trek deeper and deeper into a hauntingly beautiful mausoleum. Let me remind you, we the audience get to follow the actors through the story so that immersive experience led to a very captivating performance. The actors were surprisingly top notch and the fact that we were going deeper into this dark place where at multiple points we only had a string to guide us made this one the most memorable.

Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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A lyrical reimaging of the beloved tale of the good-hearted schoolmaster Ichabod Crane and his deadly encounter with the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

One of my favorite childhood stories, this depiction of The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow hearkens back to that. A much-needed light-hearted comedy relief, the story ends with the audience crossing the street into the rather creepy old cemetery to watch the battle between Ichabod Crane and The Headless Horseman play out.

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear

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There’s something out there, and it’s taking our women. We need to find it, kill it – or die trying.

The strength of this rendition of The Lurking Fear lies in the use of the urgency in which our guides take us through the experience as well as the creepy, hooded cult members that popped up to slowly stalk us with the intention of making a sacrifice to Cthulhu.

WICKED LIT is set to take place on select days from October 4th  through November 2, 2013. All performances are scheduled to begin promptly at 7:30 p.m. For complete ticket pricing info, scheduling details, and event location, visit the official website here.

Well, that’s all for this week. Have you done anything awesome for Halloween yet? If so, I wanna hear about it in the comments below! As always, my tasty little morsels, stay tuned as I will be delving into some costume-centric, party-tastic, Mexican wrestler-riffic content next week. Until then, please don’t go into the basement!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.