I've said it before, and I'll say it again: We are absolutely spoiled with the number of Halloween and horror festivals, celebrations and conventions that we have to choose from here in southern California, many of them taking place in the ordinarily dreary off-season. I can easily rattle off half a dozen just off the top of my head: Halloween Club's Spookshow, Monsterpalooza, Scare LA, Son of Monsterpalooza, Abracadaver's Grave Harvest...and, of course, Midsummer Scream, which took place at the Long Beach Convention Center on July 29 and 30.
Not to rub it in or anything, but if you weren't there? You missed out, man.
Midsummer Scream is only in its second year of existence, which is pretty remarkable given the quality level of the event, but it's hardly surprising when you consider the Halloween pedigrees of its creators, including Gary Baker, Rick West, Johanna Atilano, Claire Dunlap, and the man behind Creepy LA, David Markland.
My favorite part of Midsummer Scream is how well-run this event is, from the flow of the showfloor to the caliber of celebrity guests to the creativity of the panel presentations. Everything feels happy and spooky and good vibes-y from top to bottom. Plus, the diversity of offerings! This is a convention with everything from cosplay to Elvira live and in the flesh to a black cat adoption lounge to live theater to a screening room to mini haunts to a zombie shooting gallery (okay, I admittedly hate the zombie shooting gallery because of the noise, but still).
There were so many gorgeously appointed booths and amazing things I wanted to buy (and some things we did buy, including black and orange vampire fang necklaces, and an American Horror Story light box/diorama, and an enamel pin of the Midsummer Scream black cat logo - well, that one was free, but I love it). Walking around Midsummer Scream, I truly felt like I was among my people.
One of the many highlights of the fest was the Hall of Shadows, a darkened, creepy, fog-choked room full of mini haunts and mazes. CalHaunts did an absolutely amazing job of creating the entryway, which included pumpkins, tombstones, a headless horseman, and a tree with roots twisting around severed heads.
The haunts were particularly cool this year. My favorites were the Hyde Street Massacre, for its Halloween theming, and Haunted Rose Presents: The Maritime Horror, for its uniquely Lovecraftian aquatic monstrosities.
And about that screening room that I mentioned earlier? Well, Mr. Spooky and I were super proud that our micro-short parody trailer, Nothing Happens, was selected to screen as part of the "Laughter is the Best Medicine" comedy shorts program. It was a real thrill for us both to contribute something and to see it go up in such good company.
If you're in California - or if you're up for the trip! - and you even remotely enjoy Halloween, mark your calendars now for Midsummer Scream 2018. Missing out would be truly terrifying.