It’s here kids! The season of cooler nights, creepy decor and (maybe) even some costumed partying. Last year was scary for real thanks to the pandemic. But this year, things are little bit different thanks to vaccines. As of Oct. 12, California has had a confirmed a total of 4,557,285 COVID-19 cases and 69,756 deaths. The curve has not quite flattened due to those who won’t vaccinate, but it is trending in an encouraging direction. Event promoters have reanimated some of the most popular seasonal gatherings for 2021, and depending on your comfort level in coronavirus times, there’s plenty to do and see. Click hyper-links to learn about each event’s virus protections and protocols.
PHANTOMS IN THE FUN PARK
While a lot of us aren’t exactly ready for the kind of fright that comes with being in large crowds, that hasn’t stopped the local amusement parks including Knotts Scary Farm, Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, Six Flags Fright Fest from bringing back mazes and scare zones at their locales. The outdoor portions of these attractions –in which actors get in your face and surprise you throughout the grounds– might be the least risky aspects you’ll experience. Indoor mazes tend to be about tight quarters with screaming strangers and vaxxed or not, it’s a chance some are willing to take and others aren’t. More than ever before, we welcome masked ghouls (outside)… we just wish patrons would follow suit by wearing face coverings more diligently as well. Enforcement, especially outdoors is inconsistent from what we’ve seen at most parks. As Disneyland (which offers a Pumpkin fest and Oogie Boogie Bash this year, amid other Halloween fun) states on its website: “an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”
Spiced crap aside, there’s just something about the great pumpkin that gets us all warm and tingly for Fall. In particular, lit-up gourds, carved with happy, creepy, comical faces never fail to amuse. Carved at Descanso Gardens in Pasadena in particularly festive, featuring 1,000 beauties along a one-mile walk in the park’s Camellia Forest. There’s also a pumpkin house, hay maze, and sinister sculptures to marvel at.
Similarly Nights of the Jack features awe-inspiring pumpkin spectacles as well as fun monster-themed stick-your-head-inside photo ops, and a spectacular light display. But if you find yourself wondering how they keep the orange fruit fresh, you’ll discover that most -not all- are in fact, plastic. That shouldn’t take away from the eye candy experience here, though, especially as a walk-thru (last year it was made a drive thru due to COVID). Hauntoween also transitions from cars to foot this year. The immersive family-friendly celebration features 150,000 sqft. full of fiendish fun such as trick-or-treating, pumpkin picking and carving, face painting, performances, games, Halloween-themed tunnels and even a wine tasting garden for the grown-ups.
The 5th Annual Haunted Little Tokyo is also a cool, not creepy option for the kiddies. A pumpkin patch, scavenger hunt, costume contests and block party for adults (on Oct. 30) are just some of the festivities offered.
Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group’s Delusion, this year themed ‘Reaper’s Remorse,’ aims to kill everyone else in the immersive theatrical event field. Horror master Jon Braver returns, with an interactive show in the ghostly Phillips Mansion in Pomona, CA. where guests get to wander in an ‘Open World’ with multiple narrative threads, a bizarre scavenger hunt and a lot more.
When we wrote about the immersive trend a couple years ago, NoHo horror theater company Zombie Joe’s Underground “Urban Death Tour of Terror” became one of our favorites. With different themed vignettes and themes, the space also offers a chilling, adults-only walk-thru and a series of dramatic and shocking plots and poetically twisted scenes.
After pivoting as a drive-through/drive-in last year, Haunted Hayride is back at Griffith Park with its traditional hayride as well. Featuring ominous jack-o-lantern creatures, clowns, other various ghouls it’s the creepy cruise you’ve missed, along with three mazes themed as a cafe, a mortuary and trick or treat jaunt.
If white faces, red noses and big feet are your ultimate fear, The Clown Academy should be (big) tops. Taking place at an abandoned school of clowns, the maze meshes nostalgia, games and schoolastic scares for a carnival of creepy fun.
The South Pasadena home that served as filming site for the 1978 classic Halloween is a popular drive by spot, but thanks to SugarMynt Gallery next door, it’s also place to visit and celebrate horror of all kinds. For October, they’ve got Halloween and Trick or Treat movie themed exhibits, “Haddonfield” walking tours and screenings of the multitude of Mike Meyers classics.
If you ask us, outdoor screenings provide the safest way to celebrate spooky season. Cinespia always celebrates Halloween right and its October schedule at the deathly perfect Hollywood Forever Cemetery includes Nightmare on Elm Street, Labyrinth, Blade, I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Shining. (Read our feature on the history of the event here). Over at Street Food Cinema, they’ve got The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, The Craft, Beetlejuice and The Rocky Horror Picture Show at venues including the Autry Museum, Verdugo park, Pointsettia Park and LA State Historic Park. And at Rooftop Cinema Club‘s various locations the film bill for Oct. includes Child’s Play, Paranorman, Get Out, Zombieland, Coco, Corpse Bride and more.
Look for our guide to 2021 Halloween Nightlife (parties, clubs and music) here next week.