Monday, September 19, 2016

REVIEW: Creep Los Angeles 2016


We are driving down a dark road in an industrial area. I haven't seen any houses in a while; just gas stations with their buzzing fluorescent lights, fast food joints and mysterious unmarked warehouses. Have we passed it? Our eyes strain to make out numbers. Then, projected on the side of a building, stark white on black: CREEP

"There it is!" I exclaim. I make a U-turn and pull into the lot.

A small group of people linger out front. A man in a dark hoodie and mask hands us cards inscribed with a single word and silently points to the X's on the ground in front of the door. We take our places. An orchestral cover of Radiohead's "Creep" plays. Are those children singing? It's hot in LA - still summer, really - but Halloween is in the air.

The door swings open. It's our turn to enter.

I ask to use the bathroom. It's lit only by candles; incense smolders in the sink. One of the creeps repeatedly pounds on the door while I try to pee. "This is all part of it," I reassure myself.

They call us forward, four at a time, and ask us to sign waivers. I don't even read mine, I just scribble my name. "Don't fuck it up," a creep hisses in my ear. After everyone has signed their lives away, they gesture: This way. Look for the man with the clipboard and introduce yourselves. We slink down a twisting maze in pitch blackness, the eight of us, thrown together by fate. Where are we heading?

Suddenly, a light. No one jumps out at us. There are no flayed corpses or fog machines or spiderwebs. Just a room that looks like a nightclub from a David Lynch movie, bathed in red light. PJ Harvey's "Electric Light" is playing. We order vodka sodas and wait, nervously. What have we gotten ourselves into?

A beautiful woman asks me to dance and makes me promise to go wherever the darkness takes me. A stranger pulls me away from my husband and takes me into an enclosed space. A man tells us the story of Erebus Burwyck, who believed the path to transcendence was paved with suffering, both mental and physical, before hammering nails into his face.

Then, the man with the clipboard says the word printed on the cards we were given. Purgatory is behind us now; only hell lies ahead.

We are led away. Our adventure begins in earnest.


What happens at CreepLA? To say much more would be to spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say that this haunt is totally unique, and true to its name. Will you be touched? Absolutely. You may be blindfolded, or told to hide. Your face may be painted. You're guaranteed to have a different experience than your friends. (But for those who fear McKamey Manor-esque hijinks like faux water boarding or live insects on your face, rest assured that nothing like that will befall you from the creeps at CreepLA. You will be touched, but you won't be harmed.)

If you're game, this is an experience that's rich with petrifying possibilities. Enter the darkness, and let the darkness enter you.

Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary passes to review this event.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Halloween in July: Midsummer Scream 2016


While the rest of the nation writhes and sweats in the summer sun, something magical is brewing in the greater Los Angeles area...yes, my spooky friends, the rumors are true: Southern California is absolutely lousy with Halloween conventions in 2016. Last weekend was the inaugural year of Midsummer Scream a brand new Long Beach-based "Halloween Festival" from haunt season stalwarts Creepy LA and Theme Park Adventure.

Sure, smaller minds may balk at the idea of kicking off the Halloween season when October 31st is still three months out, but connoisseurs know that this is a long time coming, and midsummer is actually the perfect time to start pretending it's fall.

To wit:

  1. The last significant festive holiday is the 4th of July. And then nothing until Halloween, which leaves a huge pumpkin-shaped hole in the hearts of the American public. 
  2. The 4th of July is actually the holiday that's perhaps closest in spirit to Halloween, automatically putting everyone in the mood for tricks 'n treats. I mean, the 4th of July is a community holiday, not a family holiday. People run wild in the streets, there are terrifying explosions, and if you do the 4th right, it should pretty much border on anarchy. Just like Halloween! (Well, maybe not the explosions. MAYBE.)
  3. Unlike premature Christmas, which can totally ruin early fall vibes - not to mention completely overshadowing everyone's favorite calendar-sanctioned food fest, Thanksgiving - premature Halloween steps on no one's toes. It's not like your Labor Day is going to be ruined if you catch a glimpse of the velvet skulls on the shelves at Michael's. 
  4. Late summer is less obviously spooky than fall, but it still has an inherent moodiness to it that lends itself well to horror movies. To name just a few perfect-for-summer horror flicks: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, The 'Burbs, Jeepers Creepers, The Devil's Rejects
So yeah, I am definitely on board with firing up the broomstick a little early. And that's exactly what Halloween fans got with Midsummer Scream.



Mr. Spooky with the creepy creeps of Creep Los Angeles


In addition to panels, classes, film screenings and a full roster of eerie exhibitors peddling jewelry, apparel, housewares, bath products, perfumes, baked goods, movies, books, special FX for the home haunter, and just generally every kind of Halloween-related tchotchke imaginable, there was the Hall of Shadows, full of mini mazes and small-scale haunted houses, live theater from Zombie Joe's Underground, a stunning collection of artwork in the Ghoulmaster's Gallery, and even a collection of beautiful cats available for adoption.


Glittery bat ring, planchette post earrings and fucking dope Witch hoops from Dulce Calaveritas.
Artwork by Michelle Prebich (Bat in Your Belfry).
I also managed to procure The Worst Witch on DVD - which means I no longer have to dust off my VCR to enjoy Tim Curry in all of his unspeakably wonderful wizardly glory! - and the complete Groovie Goolies cartoon series, including the Looney Toons crossover episode. Clearly, my day was a tremendous success.

Fuck your beach and fuck your BBQ* -  with Midsummer Scream behind us and Scare LA looming ahead, Halloween conventions are the new jam for summer fun in SoCal. 


*DISCLAIMER: I kid, I kid. I love the beach. And I really love BBQs! Please invite me to your BBQ!!! Thx.





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