Now in its third year, ScareLA has become quite the Southern California horror convention, with exhibitors ranging from haunted houses to special makeup effects vendors and a whole lot more – not to mention playing host to over 10,000 attendees! The producers behind ScareLA: Lora Ivanova, David Markland, Johanna Atilano, and Rick West have seemingly learned a great deal since the first ScareLA, which took place at “The Reef” in Los Angeles. While this location was great for their needs at the time, the team has moved ScareLA to the much larger Pasadena Convention Center. I love the Pasadena Convention Center – not only does it have a ton of floor space but it also has great parking as well as tasty eateries right across the street.
Drunken Devil was an unknown to me this year before entering ScareLA. However, after having gone through their French Quarter themed mini-haunt, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us this Fall. Their full haunted house is said to be located somewhere in the fashion district of Los Angeles. One of the people manning their mini-haunt mentioned to me that they like to go for a traditional haunted house experience, focusing on scares rather than the trend of haunted events going “extreme” with full-contact and more. Good on them, as not everyone likes those extreme experiences. You can find the Drunken Devil on Facebook!
Curse of Devil Swamp
The Curse of Devil Swamp is a home haunt with tons of heart and some great scares. Their mini-haunt at ScareLA was a true testament to this with good set design and enthusiastic monsters. You can find the Curse of Devil Swamp on Facebook here.
Field of Screams
This was a crazy mini-haunt in the best sense of the word – so much so, in fact, that I completely forgot to take photos of the experience! Walking into what appeared to be a small church complete with altar, we were treated to some sort of demonic ritual performed by two monstrous nuns on some poor, unsuspecting Shemp. The pews in which we were seated were on motion platforms which rocked back and forth along with the incantations. Field of Screams is located at the Lake Elsinore Storm baseball team field in Lake Elsinore, CA. You can find the event on Facebook here.
Spooky Hollows Legends of the Swap
This mini-haunt had some great set decoration starting off with an eye-catching graveyard set in a swamp. The mini-haunt had several monsters within and some great lighting effects to go along with it. This mini-haunt also featured a great transition between what was supposed to be the swampy outdoors and an indoor set (a real feat as this was all constructed in a generic-looking convention space). Their full haunted house is located in Van Nuys, CA but you can find them on Facebook right now.
The Fear Station mini-haunt easily featured the tallest facade to their attraction. Looking like an old, dilapidated wooden structure, guests were on a hunt to seek out a strange, terrifying creature. This mini-haunt featured actors, not just monsters, and I applaud their creating an actual storyline for the short experience. Last year, Fear Station was based in Stanton, CA but word has it that they are moving locations for 2015. We will update our horror column when we find out the new location. You can find them on Facebook here.
The Vault of Darkness
The Vault of Darkness was produced by Evil Twin Studios, the folks behind last year’s Raymond Hill Mortuary and the upcoming Ward13 haunted attraction. Unlike the mini-haunts at ScareLA, this was a walk-through experience showcasing various vendors and technology. Entering the vault, attendees were given a dim flashlight to light the path ahead. Unfortunately for them, this flashlight has a tendency to go out at the worse possible moments! Actually, this is all part of the show as there is some serious technological wizardry behind it. The flashlights just don’t go out when entering various parts of the vault but, also, change color to enhance the mood. The Vault of Darkness allowed us a look at cool props, a full anti-zombie military vehicle, crazy lighting and even shocking wall panels. It was a neat experience that I hop they bring back next year. Also, I hope more exhibitors take note of this experience and submit their wares for display as it is a great way to let guests see your products at work, in a scary environment.
The Decayed Brigade
The Decayed Brigade is a group of “sliders” who have worked, or are working, at various haunted attractions in Southern California. These sliders throw their bodies and slide across the ground on knee pads as a way of scaring people. This activity, in recent years, has become more of a sporting event, with haunted attraction guests cheering as monsters perform sliding stunts. That’s what the Decayed Brigade excels at. It’s always a pleasure to watch them perform. Their show this year seemed a bit more structured, which was good in that it was tightened up, but it also seemed to lose a bit of the spontaneity that it had in past years. Overall, still a great show to watch and we hope they return in 2016 (and I wish them all a speedy recovery as that stuff looks like it hurts)!
ScareLA has become such a Mecca for Southern California haunt-goers that the big events out there, Knott’s Scary Farm and Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights (as well as many others), even have their own panels where they get to announce stuff for the upcoming Fall season. Knott’s Scary Farm announced a new maze titled “The Dead of Winter”, the return of Special Ops: Infected, and a new stage show featuring Elvira. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights announced “Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home”, a new maze based on the classic John Carpenter film.
The “Making Monsters” panel returned for 2015, this time focusing on the art directors of various haunted attractions. Also new for 2015 was the amazing “Legend of Disneyland’s Hatbox Ghost” panel, which focused on the lore and history of the fabled Haunted Mansion resident.
Of course, there were a plethora of additional panels, these are just the ones that stand out in my mind as I type this up.
Being that I was covering the convention on the show floor and in panel rooms, I didn’t get a chance to explore this facet of ScareLA. The convention hosts a huge number of classes and workshops devoted to various aspects of horror – from haunted house design and decoration to makeup effects tutorials. If I had more time, I would love to just sit-in on these workshops. You would be hard-pressed to find these classes anywhere else!
Another aspect to ScareLA (in case you haven’t figured it out by now, there is A LOT to do there) is its screening room. While I didn’t get a chance to attend any of the screenings personally, the list of showings was impressive. Not only were there short horror films like Nick Lines’ “It’s a Wonderful Knife” but, also, feature screenings such as “The Houses that October Built”, about a group of people looking for the most extreme haunts around the country and find more than they bargained for. Also in the line-up was a test screening of “Haunters The Movie”, a documentary about the people behind modern-day haunted attractions. I wish I got the chance to check that one out but, again, just didn’t have enough time.
Walking around the show floor, I was blown away by the number of vendors and exhibitors. I was even more blown away by how much empty space was still available on the show floor (that convention space is huge). While this meant there was a lot of breathing room, something not seen at most conventions these days, it also means they could, theoretically, pack in even more booths and experiences next year!
We had a great time at the 2015 edition of ScareLA and would like to thank the event’s producers for having us out again. We highly recommend this event for fans of Halloween, haunted attractions, and horror in general. Thanks to ScareLA, our appetites for the upcoming haunted attraction season have been whetted. The haunt season is about to begin, kiddies (insert diabolical cackling here)!