Saturday, October 31, 2009


It's here! The best holiday of the year is officially upon us. What are you planning to dress up as tonight? I have a white dress that has been liberally sprayed with blood and pair of vampire fangs that are calling my name...

Black cats and goblins
And broomsticks and ghosts,
Covens of witches with all of their hosts.
You may think they scare me,
You're probably right.
Black cats and goblins
On Halloween night.


Friday, October 30, 2009

TONIGHT: Ghost Adventures Live from the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

It's Devil's Night, and if you don't already have plans to wreak havoc on the neighborhood, why not stay home and bro down with Zak, Nick and Aaron of Ghost Adventures? Their 7-hour live ghost hunt at West Virginia's haunted Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, which will be broadcast on the Travel Channel, starts tonight at 8 PM and runs until 3 AM. Even if nothing supernatural is captured on film, you can rest assured that, at the very least, the guys will get royally freaked out. Yay!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spooky Self-Promotion: Win Tickets to See My Band at the Troubadour

In addition to bringing you the latest on all things spooky, I also play bass, write lyrics (and, occasionally, sing) in a band called Shiloe. I think my favorite description of our sound to date came courtesy of a review in Big Takeover magazine, which likened us to "Sonic Youth throwing a punk rock through the windows of a goth club." What's not to like about that?!
This Sunday, November 1st, we are playing at the Troubadour in West Hollywood with Girl in a Coma and Black Gold, and guess what? You can win tickets! LAist is giving away a pair to one lucky individual who comments on the post and shares what they're planning to dress up as for Halloween. The contest ends at midnight on October 29th, so enter now. (And if you do go, say hi to me - and mention this blog - and I'll give you a free bonus gift!)

In honor of the holiday, Shiloe will be rocking a Dia de los Muertos theme for the night. And if you win, show up early! We go on at 8:30 PM. See you there.

Burbank's Backwoods Maze

As previously stated in my post about the Halloween shenanigans taking place all over the greater Los Angeles area this week, the Backwoods Maze in Burbank is, without a doubt, the best private yard haunt I've ever encountered. L.A. has always been home to a wealth of spectacularly executed home haunts, from the venerable Hallowed Haunting Grounds to the whimsical Boney Island (both of which are now, sadly, defunct) to the eminently eerie House of Restless Spirits, which you can visit this year on October 30th and 31st. However, none of them have actually made me scream...until I visited the Backwoods Maze.

Located on a rather nondescript suburban street, the fun starts as soon as the front yard comes into view. You'll encounter an entire cemetery full of headstones paying homage to horror icons, from Regan (The Exorcist) to Edgar Allan Poe, as well as hulking, larger-than-life figures of Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Chucky, the Creeper (from Jeepers Creepers), and so forth. Even the sign is amazing; unfortunately, my camera's battery died right after I captured the above shot of the graveyard scene, so you'll have to take my word for it (or, you know, visit their MySpace to check out a picture).

Once inside, you'll go through a maze that is absolutely on a par with anything you would find at Knott's or Universal - but better. Why? For two reasons: First of all, the Backwoods goes places that the big amusement parks wouldn't dare. At one point, the maze was so dark, so thick with fog, and so claustrophobic that we were literally walking into a wall over and over again simply because we couldn't figure out where to go - and there were no black-clothed ushers with flashlights there to lend a hand. And second, this is in someone's backyard. I really have no idea how they crammed so much detail and so many actors into such a small space, but they did it - and it really must be seen to be believed.

I don't want to spoil anyone's fun by saying too much, but I will say this: If you live in or near L.A. and you consider yourself a Halloween and/or horror fan, you must visit this maze. And keep in mind that, while the maze is free, they do accept donations - so bring along a little cash to toss into the donation bucket, because with this level of skill and commitment, they absolutely deserve it. The Backwoods Maze, which is located at 1912 N. Pepper St. in Burbank, will be operating October 29th, 30th and 31st from 6:30 until 10 PM (11 PM on Halloween night).

Halloween Time at Disneyland

My birthday this year, which I celebrated at Disneyland thanks to their unprecedented "Free Entry on Your Birthday!" promotion, marked my first foray into Halloween Time at Disneyland. According to Disney, "Halloween Time" is very specific period of time - September 25th through November 1st, to be exact - so my mid-October birthday happened to fall right in the middle of the festivities.

First and foremost, I would like to commend Disney for finally giving the spookiest of holidays its proper due, which is no doubt attributable to the continued momentum of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. (If the clothing choices of tourists are any indication, Jack Skellington may well be eclipsing Mickey Mouse in terms of popularity.) Disneyland now does Halloween proper, trotting out a mouth-watering array of seasonal treats, decorating the front entrance and Main Street USA with pumpkins, allowing famous villains like Cruella De Vil and Maleficent to "take over" the park, and even altering a few of their most popular attractions.

The most notable ride overlay is the Haunted Mansion Holiday, which injects a little bit of the ghoulish glee of Nightmare Before Christmas straight into the macabre elegance of the classic Haunted Mansion. I still prefer my Mansion the old-fashioned way, but HMH is exceedingly well-done, and the eye to detail is as astounding as one would expect from Disney. This year, the park also unveiled a brand new seasonal look for Space Mountain, called Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy. Essentially, various images of a ghostly creature that kind of reminded me of the Mummy (Brendan Fraser version, not Boris Karloff) are projected onto the walls and ceiling of the ride at key points. Space Mountain always rules, and this was a fun addition, but it is nowhere near as immersive as the Haunted Mansion overlay.

In addition, there are some truly awesome Dia de los Muertos decorations in Frontierland, as well as a new fireworks show, "Halloween Screams." If you've ever wished that it was Zero (Jack Skellington's beloved ghost dog, of course!) flying around the castle instead of Tinkerbell (and who hasn't, am I right?!), then this is the show for you. All in all, Disneyland's Halloween Time is a fun contribution to the October madness that prevails at southern California's theme parks, but it's certainly not going to scare anyone - Disney seems content to leave that honor to their brethren in Buena Park and Universal City.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Letdown de los Muertos

We may not have been able to get in to last night's Dia de los Muertos celebration at Hollywood Forever - or even find parking! - but at least our makeup looked great, right?

I'm still not sure exactly how early one has to get to the cemetery in order to land a parking spot and a place in line, but it's safe to say that it's earlier than 8 PM. Lesson learned!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

THIS WEEKEND (and Next): Halloween Fun Galore

There are so many spooky events going on this weekend in L.A. that resistance is futile - you're going to just have to resign yourself to not one, but two glorious weekends of Halloween fun. Here are my top picks for tonight, tomorrow and the week to come...
If you hurry, you can still catch the 8 PM showing of Robert Wise's 1963 haunted house masterpiece The Haunting, one of my favorite movies of all time, at the allegedly haunted Alex Theatre in Glendale. Psychic/medium and paranormal investigator Michael J. Kouri will appear before the film to discuss the haunted history of the Alex. The theatre is located at 216 North Brand Blvd. in Glendale, and tickets are $13.50.
Also tonight is the Hollywood Forever Cemetery's annual Dia de los Muertos celebration, which features ceremonial tributes, processions, decorated altars, live music, food, vendors, and thousands of costumed revelers. The celebration runs until 11 PM and costs $10 per person (free for children under 10). I am very excited to finally check this out for myself!
Tomorrow, stop by CreepyLA's Haunted Speakeasy, "a night of storytellers...[sharing] true tales of the supernatural." Click here for more information, including location and the secret password that's required for admission. The fun begins at 7 PM tomorrow night and costs $15 per person.
If you're looking for some extremely wallet-friendly fun, I highly recommend that you visit Burbank's own Backwoods Maze, which is hands down the best yard haunt I've ever experienced (review to follow shortly). The maze is located at 1912 N. Pepper St. in Burbank, and will be operating tonight and tomorrow night, as well as the 29th, 30th and 31st from 6:30 until 10 PM (11 PM on Halloween night). While the maze is free, donations are accepted, and you should absolutely throw in a few bucks, because the quality and commitment are astounding. Read CreepyLA's review here or visit their MySpace for more information. (Above photo taken from their MySpace.)
Another chance to check out the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, which was the site of a real life unsolved murder and is rumored to be haunted, occurs next week thanks to the first annual Wicked Literature Halloween Theatre Festival. The festival, which features dramatic readings of three chilling tales by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Washington Irving, takes place in various locales within the house and on the grounds of the mansion. The event runs October 27-31, and tickets are $45. Call 818-242-7910 for reservations.
Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax has all sorts of ghoulish seasonal offerings in store, but I particularly recommend TV Horror Host Night on Tuesday the 27th, which features a screening of the documentary American Scary, an examination of the rise and fall of the horror host phenomenon. The evening will be hosted by Mr. Lobo, and following the film there will be a surprise screening of a "rare" TV movie from the '70s. Tickets are $12 and the show begins at 8 PM.
The New Beverly Cinema at 7165 West Beverly Blvd. also has a host of horror goodies on their calendar for next week, with my favorite being the William Castle double feature on October 25 and 26. The bill includes Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story, a documentary about the passionately schlocky filmmaker, and the 1960 version of 13 Ghosts.
And, finally, on Halloween night itself, Cinespia will be screening John Carpenter's 1978 opus Halloween, which bears the distinction of being my #1 favorite film of all time, in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. If you missed your chance to catch a movie in the cemetery this summer, or you're simply looking for a fun activity for Halloween night, you could do a lot worse - but be warned, this event will be especially crowded (even for a cemetery screening), so get there early! Gates open at 5:30 PM and the movie begins at 7, and tickets are the usual $10 donation at the gate. Don't forget to bring snacks and boooooooze!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror XX

Last weekend, a rare and wonderful event took place: The annual Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween special actually aired before Halloween! Elderly Simspsons fans like myself may recall a time when Fox would broadcast the special on or before Halloween - way back in the heady days of the '90s - but ever since 2000, we've had to wait until after the 31st to see what diabolical parodies the Simpsons had in store. But not this year! Woo hoo!

Although it didn't approach the unabashed brilliance of classic Treehouses of Horror, I still thought the twentieth (!) edition of the annual special was pretty entertaining, especially for a "new" Simpsons episode. The opening bit, with Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein's monster and the Mummy crashing the Simpsons' Halloween party, was inspired, and the first two segments - a nod to Hitchcock starring Bart and Lisa and a 28 Days Later spoof - were similarly clever and funny. I thought the episode lost some momentum with the final segment, a loose reworking of Sweeney Todd featuring Marge, Homer and Moe - but, to be honest, I'm not even a fan of the actual Sweeney Todd. (I like the cannibalism/revenge stuff, but egads, the singing!)

At the moment, my favorite THOH bits are probably The Shining - oops, I'm sorry, The Shinning - and last year's Great Pumpkin parody, which I really liked after revisiting it on Sunday. What's your all-time favorite Treehouse of Horror segment?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Now She's the Spider and You're the Fly

Looking for something new to add to your Halloween playlist? My band just recorded a brand new spooky song, called "Spider Baby." Listen to it on our MySpace...and watch out for those spiders.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Haunted Hayride Review for CreepyLA

Last night, I experienced what is, to my knowledge, L.A.'s first and only Haunted Hayride - and I loved it!

To read my in-depth review and see a few photos from the Haunted Carnival, follow the link to CreepyLA:

All Aboard the Fright Wagon! A review of the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride

Friday, October 9, 2009

Stage Review: Maverick Theater's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

This may be a bit of sacrilege, since I consider myself something of an actress, but I've always have mixed feelings about live theater. On one hand, I think it's a lot of fun to do - when you're acting in front of a live audience, you get a certain immediate gratification (laughter, gasps, applause) that acting in films just can't offer. On the other hand, however, plays are sometimes not as much fun to watch as they are to be in. Let's be honest here! How many times have you been dragged to a play and found yourself wondering, a la The Simpsons, "This is better than a movie why?!"

Rest assured, the Maverick Theater's stage adaptation of the George A. Romero zombie classic Night of the Living Dead is NOT that kind of play.

An absolute joy for horror fans - or anyone looking for a good seasonal scare - from start to finish, the Maverick does a fantastic job of making the living dead come to life (pun intended) on stage. The less said about the details, the better; you'll want to go into this one sans spoilers. Even if you've seen the original NOTLD a million times, the Maverick will still manage to find ways to surprise and thrill you.

The cast, led by Scott Johnson as Ben, handle their roles capably, and Hannah Butcher (as Judy) certainly has an ear-piercing scream queen shriek that must be heard to be believed, but the real stars here are the zombies - a whole slew of them, in fantastic makeup and unafraid to get their hands dirty, so to speak. A word of advice: Make sure you show up early so you can...erm...relax and have a drink beforehand. Heh heh heh. Oh, and if you happen to be seated at the end of an aisle, watch out!

But whatever you do, make sure you get yourself down to Fullerton to check out this play. Maverick's Night of the Living Dead is likely to be the best time you'll have at the theater all month - and, quite possibly, all year.

The Maverick Theater is located at 110 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton, CA 92832. Night of the Living Dead runs Fridays and Saturdays through November 1st, except for Halloween week, when it runs Tuesday (10/27) through Sunday (11/1). Shows start at 8:30 PM. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Maverick's online box office.

Creepy L.A. GIVEAWAY Winners!

Interested in finding out who won the Creepy L.A./Magnets de los Muertos giveaway? The winners have been announced! Click the link below to read the winner's horror haiku - and learn why more than one entrant was awarded with a set of macabre magnetic poetry...then visit the MdlM website to order a set of your own in time for Halloween!

Magnets de los Muertos Giveaway Winners: Read Their Horror Haiku

Movie Recommendation: TRICK 'R TREAT

Sometimes it's hard to be a horror fan. Living, as we do, in the age of "torture porn" and uninspired remakes, it's easy to slip into nostalgia for the fright flicks of years gone by. Don't get me wrong - I do love me some gore. (I mean, I count Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive among my favorite movies.) But a film has to have more going for it than gross-out scares and jarring "gotcha!" moments for me to fall in love. If you feel the same way, allow me to make a little recommendation: Pick up a copy of Trick 'r Treat.
After spending years in movie purgatory, Trick 'r Treat was finally released on DVD this past Tuesday, just in time for Halloween. I was lucky enough to catch a screening of this at last year's Screamfest, and I have to say it met and exceeded all of my expectations. First and foremost, TrT is a movie about Halloween. If it were simply set on October 31st, that would almost be enough, but it goes beyond that, using the holiday's mischievous, irreverent, spooky spirit as its central theme. Think about it - how many movies are there that are actually about Halloween? Precious few, particularly if you exclude children's classics like It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. This is a movie that was meant to be enjoyed with the lights low, a big bowl of Halloween candy nearby, and the smell of singed pumpkin flesh wafting through the air - perfect viewing for a chilly October night.
As if that weren't enough, TrT is also an anthology movie in the vein of Creepshow or Trilogy of Terror - a rare breed indeed in contemporary horror. Of the five intersecting story lines, my favorites are the group of teens investigating a local Halloween legend and the elderly curmudgeon tormented by a mysterious - and persistent - visitor. I'll say no more; just head to the store right now, grab the DVD, and get ready to start a brand new Halloween viewing tradition.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Universal's Halloween Horror Nights 2009

Oh, Knott' know I love you. You'll always hold a special place in my heart - you were my first, after all. But when it comes to southern California amusement-parks-turned-haunted-attractions, you've got some serious competition from Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights.

Admittedly, I'm a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to HHN. Apart from one lone year of attendance some 15+ years ago, which I remembered as vaguely disappointing, last year was my first HHN experience, and to say that I was blown away would be an understatement. First of all, when compared to other haunts in the area, Universal is absolutely terrifying. Granted, they have fewer mazes than Knott's - only 4, plus the amazing Terror Tram (and 6 scare zones) - but what they lack in quantity they more than make up in quality.

What is it about Universal's take on the Halloween season that makes it stand out from the crowd? Part of it is the setting: The Psycho house, the Bates Motel, a plane crash set from War of the Worlds and the park's House of Horrors attraction are all used to maximum effect. Part of it is the attention to detail; the mazes here are immersive and all-encompassing, tantalizing (and terrifying) every sense. Part of it is the caliber of actors they hire at the park. Is it because these "scareactors" are Hollywood hopefuls or simply because Universal has higher standards? Either way, every last chainsaw-wielding maniac in the park seems admirably committed to staying in character. And, finally, part of it is the fact that Universal has the luxury of creating mazes that evoke specific horror movies, which gives the proceedings a unique thrill. I don't know about you, but seeing Norman Bates and Michael Myers in the flesh is a little bit like a celebrity sighting for me. I practically want to ask for their autographs.

Here are my detailed reviews of the mazes, ranked in order from best to worst, according to my personal preference:
  1. Terror Tram: Live or Die! Last year, the Terror Tram was loosely Freddy Krueger-themed; this year, the host/primary antagonist is "Billy, Jigsaw's messenger of doom from the Saw horror film franchise." [Full disclosure: Despite the fact that I absolutely love horror, I can't stand the Saw movies - I find them completely uninteresting.] Obviously, last year's Terror Tram was better. That being said, holy @#$!, the Terror Tram is awesome! This is the best maze/haunted ride I've experienced to date, bar none. Lots of scares, a creative use of the Universal backlot's natural terrain, and yes, the opportunity to see the Bates Motel and the Psycho house up close and personal. It warms the cockles of my heart - until I run away screaming, of course. Oh, and it lasts a good 15-20 minutes. Honestly, if this were the only attraction that Halloween Horror Nights offered, I would still want to go.
  2. Halloween: The Life and Crimes of Michael Myers: OMG OMG A HALLOWEEN MAZE!! My anticipation level for this maze was off the charts. As I remarked to my boyfriend in line, "I'm so happy right now. How often do you get to see your favorite movie of all time in maze form?!" The maze begins when you cross the threshold of the Myers house, but the fun begins before that: Michael's murder of his sister plays out in silhouette on one of the home's upstairs windows. Once inside, you feel instantly transported to 1978 Midwestern suburbia. (Is that The Thing I spy playing on the television?! That is, of course, the movie playing on TV on Halloween night in the original film.) You wind your way past little Michael standing over the body of his sister, Michael's bedroom door (plastered with photos of clowns and "KEEP OUT" scratched into the woodwork in a nod to Rob Zombie's reimagined version), a creepy kitchen, etc. There is a very convincing Dr. Loomis warning you not to enter Smith's Grove, the asylum from which Michael escapes. You'll see Lynda strangled by ghost Michael, wearing Bob's glasses. They even remembered Halloween III: Season of the Witch, also known as "the Halloween without Michael Myers." Brilliant! If you're a fan of the series, this maze is a must. You won't be disappointed.
  3. Chucky's Funhouse: Okay, I feel the need to clarify something here: I'm not a fan of Chucky or the Child's Play movies - but especially Chucky. Last year, his role at HHN was to hurl insults at the crowd very, very loudly; this year, he gets his own maze. Luckily for him, it's housed inside of the House of Horrors, a year-round attraction that Universal jazzes up for the holiday. (Last year it paid tribute to classic monsters, which is far preferable...but I digress!) The House of Horrors is inherently spooky and an effective setting for a maze. Thus, Chucky's Funhouse scared me silly. Fortunately, like the Saw-themed Terror Tram, you can certainly enjoy this maze even if you don't enjoy its namesake. Watch out for the line, though - that's where Chucky gets his big opportunity to, you know...hurl insults at the crowd very, very loudly. Ha ha?
  4. My Bloody Valentine: Be Mine 4 Ever: Despite the cheesy name, this is a very cool maze. The movie on which it's based is a fun but forgettable little trifle, but the mine setting really works. Watch out for that pickaxe!
  5. Saw: Game Over: I've already made my feelings about Saw abundantly clear, so it should come as no surprise that the Saw maze (not the same as the Terror Tram, mind you!) was my least favorite of the night. Still, it was a lot more fun than watching one of the 4,527 Saw movies - but when set against the other mazes, this one pales in comparison. Oh, and the whole thing smells terrible. Yes, I know it's intentional, but ugh!
In addition to the mazes, there are a few really cool scare zones. My favorites were "Freakz," featuring demented carnival escapees including one spectacular stilt performer, and a positively inspired tribute to Shaun of the Dead, which has a real-life Shaun brandishing a cricket bat and leading Zombie Ed around on a kiddie harness. Brilliant!

If you only visit one Halloween theme park attraction this year, make it Halloween Horror Nights. It is truly as close to actually being in a scary movie as one could hope to get - and I, for one, can't wait to see which horror movies they'll bring to life next year.


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