Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creepy L.A. GIVEAWAY: Last Chance to Enter

Today is your last opportunity to enter the Creepy L.A./Magnets de los Muertos giveaway! Leave your horror-themed haiku as a comment on the post (click the link below) and you could win a set of macabre magnetic poetry - choose from among 10 different varieties. Good luck!

Click here to enter! The winner will be chosen tomorrow, October 1st

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Knott's Scary Farm 2009

Attending Knott's Scary Farm (a.k.a. Knott's Berry Farm's Halloween Haunt) is one of my most treasured Halloween traditions. I've been frequenting the event since I was about 8 years old; some of my fondest childhood memories involve seeing Elvira - one of my idols growing up - perform at the Charles M. Schulz Theatre, and screaming myself hoarse in the mazes. No matter what happens, I will always love the Haunt.

That being said, I think it's time for me to take a little break.

Of course, the Haunt was still fun this year, as always. (It's pretty difficult not to have fun in an entire theme park that's been decked out in ghoulish homage to your favorite holiday.) But, in maze after maze, I couldn't shake the feeling that - with a couple of very notable exceptions - I had seen it all before. Knott's is fantastic because it's such a reliable southern California stalwart when it comes to Halloween fun, but unless there are all new mazes next year, I think I might skip the Haunt in favor of checking out some lesser known local attractions, just to see what I've been missing all these years. Who knows? Maybe in 2011 I'll come running back to Knott's with open arms.

That being said, here's my maze by maze review, ranked in order from best to worst:
  1. Dia de los Muertos 3D: One of the two new mazes (along with Terror of London) that persuaded me to return to the Haunt this year. I have been crossing my fingers for a Day of the Dead-themed maze for years. Knott's went above and beyond with this maze, including holiday-specific scenes such as a graveyard decorated with colorful altars, and rooms that nod to such icons of Mexican folklore as the Chupacabra and La Llorona. There's even a human sacrifice to the Aztec gods toward the end. Everything I had hoped for and more, this maze is pure eye candy and absolutely awesome. It also lends itself extremely well to the 3D concept.
  2. Terror of London: I definitely missed 13 Axe Murder Manor this year. That maze, with its haunted house/axe murder theme, had something that many of the mazes lack: Subtlety. Fortunately, Terror of London does a very good job of filling that void. It's a beautiful, atmospheric maze that really gets under your skin. Watch for the Victorian hearse shrouded in fog, the graveyard scene, and the brothel. Creepy rather than horrifying, this maze is ideal for those who would take The Haunting over the Saw franchise any day of the week.
  3. The Doll Factory: This maze was less scary to me than in years past, but I still have to give it high marks for both concept and execution. What I like most about the Doll Factory is that the idea is so original and disturbing, and the monsters - rather than run of the mill zombies, clowns with chainsaws or dead cowboys - are empty-eyed dolls come to life, and a very creepy killer called "the Marionette Murderer." Pretty much the only maze that makes me wish someone would turn it into a full-length movie.
  4. Cornstalkers: When it premiered last year, this maze was another dream come true. I kept thinking it would be cool to have a good, old-fashioned corn maze that made use of classic Halloween iconography like scarecrows, pumpkins, etc. Well, the Haunt gods must have read my mind, because Cornstalkers fulfills that wish to a T. My only complaint is that it's a little brief, and there weren't enough monsters in it this year - but it still absolutely smacks of autumn, and I appreciate that it's another atypical choice for a maze.
  5. Labyrinth: Yet another unusual maze. I'll be the first to admit that this one really isn't scary at all. However, I think it does a fantastic job of creating a magical, mysterious, disorienting atmosphere. The scenery and the costumes are gorgeous, and I like how it leans toward fantasy rather than horror, adding some much-needed variety to the Haunt.
  6. Quarantine: I seem to remember this maze as being much scarier last year. This time, it was significantly less frightening, but I still appreciate it for being the closest thing to a traditional zombie maze in the park.
  7. Club Blood: Decent, but I really, really miss the old vampire maze, Lore of the Vampire. (Does anyone remember when it was called Lair of the Vampyre?!) Get the vamps out of the clubs and back to their sexy, Gothic roots! Or, alternately, hook up with the makers of True Blood, rename it "Fangtasia," and fill it with Vampire Bill and Eric lookalikes. Hmm...
  8. The Slaughterhouse: Not to sound like a broken record here ("Bring back the glory days of the Haunt, wah wah wah!"), but I really preferred Blood Bayou to the Slaughterhouse. Now there was a Deep South/chainsaw/cannibal maze I could get behind! This is a bit of grotesque fun, but it plays like a second rate Texas Chainsaw knockoff rather than the humid, swampy nightmare it could be. P.S. No chainsaw on the night I went! BOO!!!
  9. Lockdown: The Asylum: For several years, the Asylum was my favorite maze. What could be creepier than an abandoned and/or haunted insane asylum full of murderous crazies, right? Then, last year, I observed that the maze was beginning to lose its luster. I was excited at the prospect of a new concept for the Asylum (now, apparently, it's a prison for the criminally insane), but it just couldn't match the sheer creepiness of the Asylum at its peak. (Case in point: One room in the old Asylum was filled with bloody hospital beds, and things lurking in the shadows. Now that's the kind of disturbing imagery this maze needs!)
  10. Uncle Bobo's Big Top of the Bizarre 3D: Sigh. The clown maze. Always loud, always headache-inducing. I wholeheartedly support revamping the clown maze with a "bizarre circus" theme; however, they didn't take the new theme far enough. Next year, if the clowns must stay, why not reimagine the maze completely and populate it with sideshow performers, "freaks," murderous bearded ladies, and so forth? Think Carnivale, not Krusty the Clown with a chainsaw!
  11. Pyromaniax (Log Ride): I miss Red Moon Massacre (a.k.a. the Little Red Riding Hood maze). It worked so much better with the Log Ride's rustic look and feel. Bring it back!!!
  12. Black Widow's Cavern (Mine Ride): It seems like there's a lot of potential for the Mine Ride to become a really excellent maze. However, I have yet to see the ride actually realize that potential. If it weren't for the enormous spider, the theme of this maze would've escaped me entirely.
  13. Alien Annihilation 3D: I have never seen anyone purchase the $5 laser tag guns you need to "participate" in this maze. Knott's, it is with love that I point out that, although you gave the laser tag maze a good sporting chance, the experiment has officially failed. Put the space to better use next year! May I suggest a witch maze?
Other than the mazes and a handful of shows (sadly, none approaching the brilliance of an Elvira-starring song-and-dance revue), the only thing to see at the Haunt this year is a "Scare Scene" devoted to the forthcoming remake of The Stepfather. Unless you're hellbent on seeing everything the park has to offer, I recommend skipping it. It's kind of a one-gag experience. Too bad the planned Zombieland scare zone fell through, as I was very much looking forward to it.

My conclusion? If you haven't been to Knott's Scary Farm, you must visit. If you've been a few times, go again this year to check out the incredible Dia de los Muertos and Terror of London mazes. But if you're a regular like me, here's hoping for a fresh and innovative maze roster for 2010. (Seriously, Knott's - a witch maze! Think about it...)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dexter: Season 4

With all of the Knott's Scary Farm-related excitement going on last night (review to follow shortly), I completely forgot to blog about the season premiere of Dexter, despite the fact that it's one of my favorite shows!

The Showtime series follows the eminently talented Michael C. Hall as serial killer-turned-vigilante (of sorts) Dexter Morgan. See, his adoptive father recognized his diabolical leanings early on and instilled in Dexter "the Code" - how to kill, who to kill, and how to avoid getting caught. That means that Dexter only kills bad guys, making him a rather lovable, if deeply disturbed, protagonist.

This season finds Dexter newly married, with a brand new baby to distract him from doling out deliciously brutal justice to Miami's criminal element. John Lithgow, unafraid to bare his ass for the camera, plays a murderous new rival for Dexter to obsess over/bond with/eventually kill. (Am I right?! Let's be honest here.) Can Dexter really "have it all," or will his Dark Passenger interfere with familial bliss?

The acting on this show is always first rate, and while sometimes the plot machinations can feel forced or contrived, I still look forward to sitting down with Dexter every Sunday. Lithgow's Trinity Killer should be an intriguing addition to the cast; I only hope that this season follows a slightly different arc than the previous three.

Check it out on Sundays at 9 PM, or OnDemand.

Monster Cereal Sightings!

All hail the Great Pumpkin! Guess who I saw at my local Target today? That's right! It's the Holy Trinity of Halloween-themed breakfast cereals: Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry. (Also spotted the fiendish trio at Albertson's, although it's worth noting that they're a full three dollars cheaper at Target.) Purchased one of each and fixed myself a bowl of Monster Mash as soon as I got home.

RECIPE: Monster Mash


1 generous scoop of Count Chocula
1 middling scoop of Boo Berry
1 petite scoop of Frankenberry

Combine ingredients in a bowl; serve with gusto. VOILA!

Okay, so it's not exactly haute cuisine, but hello! Monster cereals!!!

On a related note, I hear there's a Halloween-themed Cap'n Crunch floating about as well. Has anyone found it in the L.A. area yet? Apparently, it turns your milk green.

Friday, September 25, 2009


If you're a horror fan in L.A., I'm sure you're aware of the fact that Paranormal Activity had a free midnight screening last night at the Arclight in Hollywood. (Not familiar? Think Blair Witch-meets-The Haunting, and check out the truly excellent trailer.) I was seriously chomping at the bit to see this movie, to the extent that a) I actually had a nightmare about it before seeing it, and b) I was more than happy to wait in a line for nearly 4 hours. So what's the verdict? Was it worth the wait?

Um...yeah, sorta. Here's the thing about this movie: In my opinion, it absolutely has the potential for greatness. All of the elements are there: A simple yet effective concept ("What Happens When You Sleep?"), a lack of CG effects, unknown actors in the lead roles, etc. At times, the movie is extremely effective. There were at least 3 shots that made all of the hairs on my arms stand on end. (When your body physically responds to a movie, you just can't argue about its effectiveness.) And one scene in particular, involving a trip to the attic, had me actually looking away from the screen just because it was so unpleasant. (Not gross - nothing disgusting happens in this movie - just really unpleasant.) I was ready to love it. I wanted to love it.

And then there's that ending.

I won't go into detail, because I don't want to ruin anything for anybody and this is certainly the kind of movie where the less you know the scarier it will be, but for me, the ending can absolutely make or break a horror film. If your film is kinda meh, but the ending is incredible, I'm sold; conversely, if the movie is really good but the ending is super lame, I walk out feeling cheated. This ending was definitely an eye roller. Tonally, it's completely different from the rest of the movie, and in my opinion, betrays the spirit of the film, which is a shame.

And guess what? It's not the original ending!

Apparently, Paranormal Activity actually had two different endings prior to this one - and, from what I've read, both of them were superior to what I saw in the theater last night. My favorite, of course, is the original. It fits the movie, and sounds truly terrifying. Without that ending, this movie is simply good; with that ending, it could very well have become a classic.

Would I recommend Paranormal Activity? Yes. It's fun, it's scary, and it's easily the creepiest new movie to come out this year. But keep in mind that it is flawed - not only because of the revamped ending, but due to that perennial horror movie downfall, the Character Who Makes Stupid Choices. Still, it gave me nightmares. Again. So, in the end, it did its job - and if you don't believe me, you can ask all the little hairs on the back of my neck. They don't lie.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Creepy L.A. GIVEAWAY! Enter to Win

If your curiosity was piqued by my Magnets de los Muertos post, but you haven't yet experienced the unique pleasures of having a macabre magnetic poetry set of your very own, then I implore you to check out the MdlM giveaway over at Creepy L.A.!

Now through the end of the month, compose a horror-themed haiku and post it as a comment on the Creepy L.A. post (click on the link below), and you'll be eligible to win one set of spooky magnetic poetry - winner's choice. Good luck!

Magnets de los Muertos Giveaway! Win a Set of Macabre Magnetic Poetry

Saturday, September 19, 2009

TONIGHT: Rosemary's Baby at the Cemetery

If you haven't been to one of Cinespia's famous cemetery screenings yet, I demand you go tonight. Why? Well, for two reasons, really: First and foremost, they're showing Rosemary's Baby, Roman Polanski's 1968 masterpiece of witchcraft, pregnancy and paranoia starring Mia Farrow and her notoriously short hair. In addition, this will be the last cemetery screening of the season, which means you'll have to wait until next summer if you don't get your fix now. As always, don't forget the booze and the picnic dinner!

More info, from the Cinespia website:
directed by Roman Polanski (1968 136 mins)

gates 6:30 pm movie 8:00 pm NEW TIME!!
no reservation necessary
$10 donation tickets available at gate
as a courtesy to other moviegoers: NO TALL CHAIRS!!

Terrifying, hallucinatory and brimming with dark humor, Rosemary's is nothing short of a masterpiece of suspense. Farrow is an unsuspecting wife who believes her husband has become involved with a modern day witches coven. Is she being paranoid, or do they have diabolical plans for her baby? A brilliant performance by Mia Farrow made her a superstar overnight, John Cassavettes is phenomenal as her suspicious husband, and the incomparable Ruth Gordon (Harold & Maude) is hilarious as the next door neighbor. Join us under the stars for the last screening of the season!!

dj gas lamp killer spins before and after the screening
Hollywood Forever Cemetery is at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., near the intersection of Santa Monica and Gower.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Paranormal Activity: Evidence of a Haunting

I consider myself something of a connoisseur when it comes to haunted house movies, so it goes without saying that I am absolutely dying to see Paranormal Activity. The premise of the film is simple, even familiar: A couple thinks their house may be haunted, so they set up a video camera to film the events that take place during the course of the night. In the vein of The Blair Witch Project - which, in my opinion, is a really good film that's seen its reputation tarnished by its notoriety - the movie was made for just $11,000 and has been the talk of several film festivals, including Slamdance and Screamfest. Finally, Paranormal Activity has a distribution deal through Paramount, which means that on September 25th you'll be able to see the film that Bloody-Disgusting calls "one of the scariest movies of all time."

Watch the trailer here:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

TONIGHT: Spirits With Spirits at Patrick's Roadhouse

Patrick's Roadhouse (photo source)

Members of GHOULA - the Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles - meet at a haunted pub or restaurant on the 13th of every month to swap stories about the supernatural. For September's event, the meetup takes place tonight at 6 PM at Patrick's Roadhouse, a seaside establishment located at 106 Entrada Dr. in Santa Monica. In a gesture that will surely be appreciated by all who attend, Patrick's Roadhouse will be closed to the public in order to give the staff an opportunity to regale GHOULA members with stories about the building's haunted history. An RSVP is required - check out the details on the GHOULA website for more information, and for some background on the roadhouse's resident ghosts.

This is poised to be the best Spirits with Spirits since the group's exquisitely creepy visit to the Queen Mary a few months back! Don't miss out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TV Tonight: The Vampire Diaries & Supernatural

If you're looking for a little guilty pleasure TV for tonight, look no further than the CW's primetime lineup, which features season premieres for two spooky shows.
At 8 PM, we have the series premiere of The Vampire Diaries, which is apparently based on a popular series of books for teens. Admittedly, I don't know very much about this show, apart from the fact that its defining plot points seem to be:
  1. High school.
  2. Vampires.
  3. Love triangle with dark-haired chick and two hot vampires (see picture).
These dudes look a little too "male model" for me to get really worked up about, but I do love me some high school drama every once in a while, and naturally I'm partial to all things, yeah, the DVR has been set to record. Here's hoping this show skews a little more True Blood than Twilight!
Then at 9 PM, it's the fifth season premiere of Supernatural. If you've never seen this show, I highly encourage giving it a shot - it's really entertaining, and the brothers Winchester (as portrayed by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) are cute and funny. It may not be the scariest show in the universe, but it is surprisingly addictive.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

TONIGHT: Chainsaw Massacres and Vegan Delights

If you're anywhere near downtown Los Angeles tonight, don't miss this unique opportunity to take in the 1974 version of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - one of the finest horror movies of all time - while munching on amazingly tasty vegan hot dogs from the Frankenstand. Yes, folks, you'll be able to watch a movie about a crazy family of killers, cannibals and slaughterhouse workers without harming so much as a single pig for your dinner. As Bart Simpson would say, "The ironing is delicious." (And so are the me!)

The screening is FREE, courtesy of Madex's Guerrilla Drive-In, and will take place at 1032 S. Main St.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Open House

Last night I attended the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab open house event, which is held every month on the night of the full moon (!), and I am now the proud owner of my very own 5ml bottle of Blood. (As you may recall, Blood is the BPAL scent that I fell in love with after receiving a free sample, or "imp," at the Vampire Con.)To go with my purchase, I received two more bonus imps: Malice ("A profound, complex scent that encapsulates the joy one finds in another's pain. Ylang ylang, clove, Indonesian red patchouli, and dark myrrh") and Tushnamatay ("Pure internal harmony and spiritual bliss: the perfected meditation blend"). Both are just as dark and lovely as you would expect. Consider me an official BPAL fan.

Side note: They make nail polish (fittingly called "Claw Polish") too?! My wishlist just keeps getting longer and longer...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My First Post for Creepy L.A.!

Spooky Little Girl and Creepy L.A., the Los Angeles Halloween Blog, have formed an unholy alliance: I'm happy to announce that I've been recruited to write for them, so keep an eye out for my posts over there. (Of course, SLG updates will continue unabated!)

My first post, on upcoming creepy plays, just went live. Click the link to check it out!

Theatre of Blood: Creepy Plays Coming Soon

TONIGHT: Ghostly Double Feature at the Aero Theatre

I love ghosts. In fact, haunted house movies are probably my #1 favorite horror subgenre. So if I wasn't playing a show tonight, I would be at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica for this Double Feature, part of their Apparitions, Hauntings & Supernatural Sightings series:
First up is POLTERGEIST (1982), the Spielberg-produced, Tobe Hooper-directed tale of a malevolent entity that essentially kidnaps a little girl. This is one of those scary movies that I grew up watching, and I love it. There are some eerie moments (little boy is assaulted by his clown doll, omg!) and some disgusting ones (two words: bathroom sink), but what I like the most is that the suburban southern California setting reminds me of where I grew up to a T.
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) is up next. Based on a novel by Richard Matheson, this movie is an enjoyable riff on a familiar theme: Paranormal researchers find themselves in a genuinely haunted house. I prefer The Haunting (1963 version, of course), but this one is good as well. Bonus points for being made in the '70s. Horror films from that era always have a great look about them - I can only describe it as "deliciously unwholesome."

The screening starts at 7:30 PM tonight, September 3rd. The Aero Theatre is at 1328 Montana Ave. (at 14th Street) in Santa Monica, CA.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

All Hail the Return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Fall is finally here! "But how," you ask, glancing at your calendar, "can you be so sure? Why, fall doesn't officially start until September 22nd!" No, dear reader, you are wrong. Fall officially starts the day the pumpkin spice latte returns to Starbucks - and, lo, today is the day. If you're not familiar with the magic of the PSL, it's "a delicious blend of pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors combined with...espresso and freshly steamed milk, and topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices." I'm not a huge Starbucks fan under normal circumstances, but I'm definitely a diehard supporter of the PSL. (In fact, I'm heading out to grab one right now!) No word yet on whether the Coffee Bean will be bringing back their pumpkin pie latte, or what autumnal offerings other coffee shops will be unveiling in the weeks to come...


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