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This isn’t your typical summer camp.  You won’t be singing songs around the campfire and roasting marshmallows here. As horror enthusiasts and former scare actors, my companion and I are rarely left with an element of surprise at these types of events. Thankfully, the Great Horror Campout has revived the suspense and the excitement of fear for us once more.

Nestled on the backside of the hills that host the famous Hollywood sign, the old LA Zoo was the perfect area to host this haunted event.  The location is very woodsy. So much that you don’t feel like you’re anywhere near Los Angeles. There were moments where we felt that we’d gone off of the path, only to find we were being watched and hunted by beasts!  It was absolutely heart dropping.  My heart is racing just thinking about it.

We attended the event on the opening night of their second season. While relatively remote (by Los Angeles standards), the location was easy to get to and parking was easy to find. The line was buzzing with excitement as new campers met experienced campers who had attended the previous year. Everyone was really careful not to say too much or ruin any surprises. It seems like there’s a social contract to keep things a secret because the thrill of this event is in not knowing and figuring your way through the whole experience. NO SPOILERS! Thus, we won’t be spoiling anything today.

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One of the things that makes the Great Horror Campout unique is the Hell Hunt. Scattered around the event are S.C.A.G. (Stuff Campers All Get); items that the campers have to collect. They range from severed tongues to earning a mark on your body and they are all incredibly creepy to come across! Some are hidden in plain sight, others require you to get creative in order to find or earn. Whoever finds all of the S.C.A.G. becomes the Hellmaster and receives extra VIP perks on their future visits. Unfortunately, we underestimated the popularity of the Hell Hunt so while we leisurely climbed the hill looking for a scare, everyone else had run ahead and grabbed up all the S.C.A.G.!! In the entire night, my companion never found a piece of it and I only found three (one of which turned out to be just a torn piece of packing foam – not official S.C.A.G.). It was annoying and frustrating at first but after a couple of hours of searching high and low, we gave up on it entirely. As a couple monster fanatics, we were much more interested in the show elements and scares than the competition so we had an incredible time without taking part.

Another exciting element of the Great Horror Campout is that they make it very clear that the monsters WILL touch you. They will jostle you, move you, pull you, and generally invade all of what used to be your personal space. They are VERY good at it. Hosted by “The Headmaster” and managed by the hillbilly family of Camp Counselors, you will find terrifying monsters in every square foot of the camp grounds. There is no safe place in the event for you to take a break from the terror, not even in your own tent! There is one section of the camp grounds that are designated as a “safe zone”. But who wants to be a pussy? Unfortunately, we were assigned to the “safe zone” tents and we were a bit disappointed that we didn’t get the full experience. I’m sure that they didn’t know that they had a couple of hardcore haunters on their hands!

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Horror movies are messy and by the end of the night, you will look like you waded through the most unimaginable filth. The Great Horror Campout drags you kicking and screaming through almost a dozen nightmares and I’ve never had a better time! What we loved was that each area was so unique and would give you an entirely new feeling of fear. Big Creature Country will bring out the primal fear of realizing that you have become prey and the confusing assault at The Dumpsters. There were a wide range of experiences to be immersed in that shocked one’s senses to the limits of what the scare actors think they can get away with! One thing that really impressed us was how they used the existing landscape to their advantage. Each was removed and isolated from anything else so you never got bleed over lights or sounds from other areas (except for the occasional screams in the night).

While being careful to not spoil a single surprise, we have to take a moment to gush about the talent at this event. The scare actors went so far beyond our expectations at every turn. With diverse scare tactics, stunning make up, exquisite costuming, and unrelenting interactions, the scares never stopped with this group. Every kind of bogey man was there and they were ready to bully you if they couldn’t scare you. My companion and I got separated for a couple hours because be both got… redirected. They are not shy about messing with your well laid plans to get all of the S.C.A.G. by putting a bag over your head and dragging you away- seriously!

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The great stand out at this event were The Nest and Labyrinth. The Nest is an intensely interactive experience that mixes fun with terror. It’s physically challenging and the spider babes who live there won’t make it easy for you to survive. Labyrinth really blew us away with it’s intense brooding and puzzle solving. You’d be well served to read the dossier provided to make your way though this maze to the incredibly intimidating ending. I wasn’t able to experience The Witches’ Circle because I didn’t have any S.C.A.G. to trade but my companion was able to get in while we were separated (it must be awesome to be a pretty girl). If you have the right items to trade, don’t miss this one. The witches are absolutely sinister. The sweetest of sins and dark deeds will get you a special surprise.

Despite failing to even make a dent in the Hell Hunt, we could not have had a more memorable experience at the Great Horror Campout. This haunted event has made it’s mark in the growing halloween and horror fandom. The talent creates intense interactions that you will remember in your nightmares for ages. There are so many great moments that will stand out in your memory for years. If you want to spend the night trying to survive your own personal horror movie, you MUST attend the Great Horror Campout!!!

You can get tickets and see the full schedule of Great Horror Campout locations at the event’s official website. Ticket prices range from $99 to $139 dollars per person, depending on what tent location you choose. It is important to note that this event lasts all night long, so you are getting your money’s worth.

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com