Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Countdown to Halloween 2013: Real Live Horror!

A welcome to our regulars and a special growl of appreciation to all you creepy kids who've made your way here from Countdown to Halloween 2013! I hope you enjoy your time at The Haunted Drive-in, and come back and visit us often. We would love to discuss horror and science fiction of all kinds with you until the sun rises and the projector fades.

We don't plan on posting every single day, simply because Daffy and I are very busy folks, and we want the Drive-in to be a labor of love, not just labor. We do plan on adding new material often though, so please add us to your blogroll, follow us on Twitter and Tumblr, like us on Facebook, and above all else, comment! We love getting feedback and hearing suggestions.

So, to keep our focus during the countdown (and not just write about every single thing we love about Halloween), my writing partner and I have decided to give each week of October a theme for us to work with. This first week we've decided to focus on one of the oldest and most enjoyable of Halloween traditions, the walk-through haunted house attraction.

"Dear God! That guy over there... he isn't wearing ANY hair gel!"

Although it's difficult to trace an accurate history, the haunted house attraction more or less began in the early 1970s. These primitive walk-throughs were operated and experienced by youth groups and were generally considered an adolescent entertainment. Of course, haunted attractions are big business nowadays, with some operations going year-round. There are traditional walk-throughs, hayrides, big-budget makeovers of theme parks such as Knott's Scary Farm, and hell houses, in which church organizations capitalize on the images associated with the season to share their faith.

For five years during my college career at Liberty University, I was part of the creative board and management team for such an attraction. Started by Liberty professors in 1972, Scaremare is an annual haunted walk-through attraction that draws in nearly a thousand people every night. While it is typically categorized as a hell house, I personally take offense at that. Hell houses, in general, are filled with imagery that depicts the consequences of sin and the futility of life without Christ, but in a cold and manipulative manner. The vignettes are often extremely graphic (indeed, oftentimes more graphic than their secular brethren) and nihilistic, focusing on the worst possible subjects. Visitors are often forced to participate in prayer after the event, without any consideration given to their personal beliefs. Scaremare wasn't, and isn't, like that. During my time there, all our rooms and scenes were inspired by classic horror movies and/or our own warped imaginations. We were encouraged to frighten people as much as we could, since they were paying customers who came for entertainment. And while we do have a depiction of Jesus Christ at the end of the attraction and prayer tents where visitors could pray and receive him as Savior, that was up to them. If they wanted to leave after exiting the house, they were free to do so. Christians and non-believers alike continue to debate the effectiveness/appropriateness of the place, but I know that I had a great time working there and sharing my faith with others. It felt good to literally scare the Hell out of people. Here's an ad that LU ran last summer:

Alright, enough advertising for Scaremare. Haunted attractions continue to perform during the Autumnal season, particularly the "scream" park makeovers. While Knott's Berry Farm was the first to try it, the most successful would probably be Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios park in Orlando, Fl. Now in its 23rd year, HHN features as many as eight different walk-through attractions, most of them based on well-known horror properties. This season includes tributes to The Cabin In the Woods, The Walking Dead, the Resident Evil series, and more. There are also costumed performers who wander randomly through the park to provide extra chills, and many of the rides are operational during the event.

Similar in concept but much more friendly to children and the easily freaked is Mickey's Not-so-Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World, also in Orlando. Costumes can be worn by guests throughout the event, there are special stage shows and parades, and trick-or-treating throughout the park. Even better, several characters from Disney's vast library only appear during this event, making it a great time for photos and autographs. This year, Jack Skellington and Sally of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas will be part of the festivities for the first time. Who wants to buy me a ticket?

The haunted attraction is as much a part of the Halloween tradition as candy corn, jack-o-lanterns, and watching Linus wait for the Great Pumpkin. If you've never experienced one, visit the awesome database at www.hauntworld.com and give 'em a try. I accept no responsibility for soiled pants or shattered dignity.


The Haunted Drive-in is hosting a giveaway all October long, and you could win a copy of Grabbers, the flick about tentacle aliens squaring off against piss-drunk Irishmen releasing on November 12th! Visit the giveaway at the top of our page and complete each option for multiple entries! You can also tweet about it each day for another entry! Good luck, and spread the word! Here's the trailer for Grabbers:

1 comment:

  1. Cool stuff. I have found, sadly, that I do not enjoy the haunted walk-throughs like I did when I was a kid or teen. Just not the same. Love watching the freaked out reactions of others, though!