Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Scary Skinny

God is in his holy temple...Earthly thoughts be silent now
So this week I was invited to my first ever Halloween Horror Nights and I must say, I was impressed. Not so much at how scared I was or how immense the haunted house were but at how much alcohol I put away! Scary!!!! I suppose my costume for this event was "out of control skinny guy drinking more than his body weight." But trust me, I was not the only one who arrived at the event in that get-up. I am not sure what it was, maybe it was the white trash culture vibe you get the second you hit the CityWalk conveyor belts, but grabbing a beverage seemed like the thing to do. At first I thought numbing myself might help me mix in with the pseudo goths making their yearly trip to Halloween Mecca in their Hot Topic zipper pants and ironic Skinny Puppy t-shirts or at least to help take the edge off the total sensory onslaught I heard attached itself to this event. I do not partake in any kind of "substance" normally (minus our friend Mr. Pibb) but it sure did make the chainsaw-wielding Grizzly Adams types and all those grabbing hands seem more like some Fellini flesh carnival than the stuff nightmares are made of. I wanna go again!!!!
Some observations if you go:
Not that it matters if you are going for the haunted houses and general scaring of the shit out of thyself, but how horrible are the grooming guidelines for Universal employees? I couldn't but help feeling a little snarky when the guy who scanned my ticket had, two earrings and a near-mullet going. I was on drink #2 by then.
The first haunted house we went to was something called "Demon Cantina" behind Doctor Doom's Freefall. This was interesting because you are lead past a backstage area at Universal that is apparently situated right between the employee smoke area and a sewage pump station. Both of which were fully operational during my visit there. Outside the house Universal was showcasing their latest purchase, an animatronic "bum" who actually vomits into a trash can. With the 70's rock blasting, the scent and a queue line full of roughnecks, the only thing missing was the Tilt-A-Whirl. Looking back, this was one of the better houses I went to. Similar to the Titty Twister in From Dusk Til Dawn, it was like you were crossing the border into Mexico and soaking in the Tequila, of which my drunken state and the sewage station heightened the experience. Lots of loud banging and people popping out of the woodwork (literally) I had really hoped for someone squirting salt and lime juice in your face or something but things really get poppin' when you reach the last room. Not sure if this is supposed to be the bar's "back room" or what but all of a sudden you find yourself face to flesh with six or seven shirtless muscle boys going "grrrr!" Several members of my party "accidentally" bumped into these fiendish ghouls before running out of the building. One of them told my friend David "Take a picture, it'll last longer." Classic.
I was not particularly scared by the notion of this year's icon being a sinister looking old woman who reads out of a storybook, although I know they felt like it would be a rather creepy juxtaposition having a seemingly kind oldster actually be the purveyor of all kinds of horrific acts. Not so much. Now, start talking Pastor Kane from the Poltergeist series of movies, and now you have me grabbing for the Depends! How awful was he?! The thing I think that unnerves me the most is that A) he died while filming the movie and thus cemented the Poltergeist "curse." It makes me think that quite possibly he haunted the rest of the cast and crew afterwards. And B) the man really looked like that in real life! Check out the prolific works of Julian Beck sometime. I remember once being in church and singing "God is in his holy temple." I completely freaked out. Also, on this topic before I get too off track, I think I was the only person who got Chris Elliott's reference to Henry Kane in Scary Movie 2. I might also be the only one who actually saw Scary Movie 2.
If you are looking for the main haunted house themed after the Storyteller character, it is over behind Seusseland in one of the soundstages called "Where Evil Hides." Simliar to the "Where Magic Lives" slogan...but different! The layout was impressive for this house as they had room enough to actually create a "house" complete with front yard you walk through and then an upstairs level. Not meant to be a spoiler or anything but your encounter with the storyteller is well, a bit of a let-down. It almost felt like you were being led into a meet and greet with some celebrity as it was very well lit (not creepy style lighting) which allowed you to see through the pancake to a girl of about 23 who couldn't be more enthused about sitting there for hours holding a book. Literally, there was no movement, but she did stare at you which was a little awkward. I almost wanted to say "nice house" or something to break the silence. Funny too was the fact that she had a pair of scissors in her other hand getting ready to cut a rope attached to an anvil that hung precariously over....a mannequin! God no!! I thought it would have been nice if it was an actual guy but then again the mannequin was naked I think and that would probably have been even a little more awkward.
Stay away away away from the cemetery mine shafts that scatter the landscape in Jurassic Park. This is unless of course the wolf-like G'mork from Neverending Story didn't scare you when he darted out of his cave to eat Atreyu. You are made of stronger stuff if it didn't. Speaking of scary muppets: here are three that have always freaked me out:

G'mork, Uncle Deadly and a pair of Lanstriders

I think we hit all of the houses except for one, all without the advantage of the express pass. My three favorite houses were The Skool, Body Collectors and Terror Mines.

"The Skool" (sigh...anything 2 attract da youth kulchur these days, yo) located by the entrance to Jurassic Park was probably the creepiest house that I visited. In the distance you would see little school children whose faces were blackened running past you down the hall. Every once in a while one would jump out at you but for the most part, I was creeped out at the subtle giggling and tapping of mary janes. By the way, paddles against chalkboards are waaaay worse than nails against them.

"Body Collectors" behind theVisitor's Center in Jurassic Park is eeirly similar to the remake of House on Haunted Hill, which had some pretty scary visuals in it. The doctors looked a lot like the Cenobytes from the Hellraiser series where they had no faces to speak of. By this point, my ears and face were numb; I was at my haunted house zenith. All I remember about this one was running through sheets of sterile-looking plastic and strobe lights and falling face down as everyone ran past and over me. Strobe lights and innebriation do not mix. Todd Rye finally helped me up bless him. It was about a half hour before we caught our breath from laughing so much.

"Terror Mines" was the biggest and best house by a lot of ways. First of all it is housed inside of Poseidon's Fury which itself is immense and second of all, they have left the water vortex and fire explosions operational! Inside you are arranged in groups and one designated leader is given a miner's hat which turns on and off by itself through some infared technology through the house. This is the house I like to call "handsy house" I think I had more run in's with peoples appendages here than I did anywhere else. This was also a very olfactory experience as the walls were lined with burlap and old horse hair ropes hung form the ceiling scraping you across the face every step you took. I kind of wish this house lasted longer than it did, it has less twists and turns than the others but it had the most OPD hanging out in it.

The Visuals

Outside each of the houses at Halloween Horror Nights are giant screes that flash clips from various scary movies set to ambient noise (think Black Dice or Wolf Eyes). This was one of my favorite parts of the event. Near The Skool they showed Children of the Corn where you could hear the "Kill, Kill, Kill!" being shouted on screen. Over at the "Body Collectors" they had clips from House on Haunted Hill and Night of the Living Dead. For the most part, the actual audio from the film was muted but the ambiet music/noise made up for it.

Lots of cool lighting everywhere and menacing stilt walkers with horns and wings but then again, that looks pretty much like any Gay Pride parade. Quite honestly, we were zooming around so much that I didn't get to take in all of the ambience but some of the alterations made to the area were pretty neat. In the Marvel Comics area for instance, the DINER had the letters "N" and "R" were shorted out to spell out DIE. Food and beverage tables were pulled out and given a spooky makeover but sadly not the food. I did however not want to try the Pizza Turkey Leg. Although I think they just ran the words together, it conjured up an interesting thought. I would have loved a speciatly themed food item like "small children's legs." It's Universal so come on!

No comments: