I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween Horror Nights. Beginning back in 1998 when I was cast as part of the Chainsaw Drill Team and I quickly discovered it was NOT as fun as I had hoped, to the nights in the original Scary Tales house, I learned I am NOT HHN scareactor material. It definitely takes a special person to commit to doing the same stuff over and over and over again in a fog-filled street or room, covered in sticky blood or smelling the inside of your latex mask, screaming "AHHHHHH" a hundred times a night until you lose your voice, and walking out to your car at 2:30 in the morning, only to drive home, go to bed around 5am and sleep until noon or 1 the same day to just do it all over again............. It's not for me.
Doing Bill and Ted's in 2002 was a wonderful bright spot in my HHN history. It truly was the closest I've ever felt like being a rock star. You become super close with your cast and the after parties were legend. I love my Bill and Ted memories.
In 2005 Mike became a Show Director and thus I began my life as a HHN widow, which, if you don't know, can be a miserable time for the wives that are left behind for the millions of nights while their husbands work into the wee hours. I know that as soon as late August rolls around, the HHN superfans begin freaking out on social media, excited about the new year of the event, but for me it brings varied degrees of emotions. Pride, excitement, jealousy, anger, anxiety, frustration, elation, protectiveness; all of these things are felt by a HHN widow during the months of August to the first of November. It can be tough on the best of marriages. Having been through this side of it for ten years now, Mike and I have smoothed out some of the roughest edges but it can still wear on both of you.....But we get through it. AND IT'S ALMOST OVERRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!! Hahaha!! I kid, I kid.....sort of. Lol.
One thing that *is* for sure, I AM a fan of the event. I love going through the mazes to see the beautiful work that Mike and his team come up with every single year. And for as much as I didn't like working the event, I LOVE coming to see it. I am certain you were hanging onto the edge of your seats, anxiously awaiting my review of the event, here it is in all it's detailed glory!
( ALL of this is my own, unbiased opinion. Yes, I know I live with one of the creators of the event, but these are all my own opinions. Mike has nothing to do with this. )
Every year I try to go to the event as much as I can, but this year, I was only able to get there twice- Once on opening night where I Didn't get to see everything, and last night where I was able to do it all.
I like to see how the casts come together from opening night energy to the settled in routine of later in the event. I also like to see which scareactors are still kicking ass and giving it their all even this late in the run. I saw several of those last night, I'm happy to report. I'll get to that in a bit.
My feelings on the event as a whole...... AMAZING. Absolutely amazing. There are always stand outs every year- stand out houses and zones and shows- but this year, from top to bottom, it was all AMAZING. Jack is back. You can't deny the staying power of this crazy clown. People LOVE Jack. *I* LOVE Jack. Having him as the Master of ceremonies was perfect for this special year. The MainStage show, The Carnival of Carnage is by far the best Main stage style show they've ever had. It's bloody, it's raw, its funny and perfectly acted. I've seen four Jack shows total, ( 3 on opening night and 1 last night ) and 3 of Jack's "Personalities" and they were ALL great. All of his personalities have different spin and feel but all capture the maniacal energy of Jack. Chance is perfection. The dancing, the aerialists, the music the sound, the fire....it's all awesome. I Could have probably watched it all night.
Bill and Ted was so fun this year. I really have loved the past few years of this show and the faster pacing that it's become. In my opinion In past years, it really got mired down with bits that if they didn't work, they sort of slowed the show down, but in the last few years the pace of the show has quickened to the point where the funny jokes are punched and the ones that might not work so well they just move on by. No dwelling or trying to make it work. The show has really benefitted from that directing choice. I also love the decision to add a dancing chorus to the show. Who doesn't love looking at hot bodied 20 somethings to make you regret that Lard Lad donut you just crammed down your gullet? Again, I kid- the dancers are great. I do have to admit though, this was the first year I had to ask Mike, " Who is that?" a couple times. It wasn't the show's fault. It was my fault for being old and out of touch. Apparently Cookie on the show "Empire" is a thing? I saw the show on opening night and last night. Bonus points goes to last night's cast who was down not 3 or 4 people but SIX people!! And the show still kicked ass. I hope they all got applause cards.
By Far my favorite scare zone was Hollywood. Not only did they have the mini kill shows going on with some of the past icons like the Usher, Caretaker, Storyteller and the Director, but it also showcased some of the favorite scare zone characters from years past. A few of my Scare actor standouts were in this zone. BOTH Ushers win for their subtle way of bringing their own flair to this character. While both had different approaches to the character, they both were equally creepy and awesome. The actress playing La LLarona was KILLING IT last night. Seriously, give that girl a Boo Buck. She had grown men running from her with her performance alone. Loved it.
Psychoscarapy at the Halloween Block party:
This was my second favorite. SO many funny portrayals of severely demented psychos who were terrorizing the people of the small town block party. Standout scare actor was the Cowgirl in the costume party who yelled out " Bang Bang!!! " and then blew the toes of the severed foot she was holding like a gun. I cackled like a crazy person at that. VERY funny.
All night Die IN:
I didn't get a chance to see the other cast- the colorized movie characters- which bums me out, but the ones working the zone from the Classic movie era were doing a great job. Standout here of course was The Bride of Frankenstein who NEVER stopped moving. She was constantly bobbing and weaving through the crowds and getting some really good scares, which is hard because the Bride is generally not really a "scary" character. She was also fun and messed around with one of our friends who was having the time of his life as she chased him around the car.
Evil's Roots and Scary Tales:
Okay, so, I'm pretty sure that the lackluster scares in these areas was mostly due to the time; It was around 12:30 when walking through them so I am sure they were tired and done with the evening, but one of the evil fairies was literally leaning against a box, hand on hip, looking as bored as she could possibly look and that bothered me. At least be bored and over it in character.
The Scary Tales cast was lost in a sea of people and I mostly think they were fearing for their lives so they weren't scaring, just more walking quickly through the zone. At least they were moving though. I'm looking at you, Bored Fairy.
These guys and gals get an honorable mention for still running their asses all over the place at 1am. When I was waiting in line to get that aforementioned Lard Lad donut, one of the clowns scared a group of latin teens so badly I almost got into an altercation with them because one of the very tough dudes was stomping all over my feet from running from this clown. Tip of the hat to that clown.
The classic chainsaw guys weren't out when we passed through their area so I didn't get to see them in action last night, but on opening night I caught a few of them out there and they were doing a great job. You can never go wrong with a scary, bearded guy with a chainsaw.
I have so much to say about the houses, and since there are 9 of them, I'll save that for tomorrow and a part two!
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading it. :)