Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Breakfast Television Halloween Set

The set that Sean and I have put together can be seen on Breakfast Television this Thursday and Friday. Channel 13 (city tv) from 6-10am. We're very happy with how it turned out.

Haunt Reviews

We've not had the chance to check out all the haunts we wanted to this year, but we've made it to a few that were excellent.

Potters House of Horrors: This is the biggest and most elaborate haunted house in the lower mainland (Surrey). There are lots of neat sets, fancy animatronics, special effects, great actors and some really great scares. They've figured out the scaring perfectly, not always scaring the first person through, and providing distractions so they can get you when you don't expect it. The sets are often very detailed and professional, with lots of little subtle touches that took our second time through to notice. There are a few masks that seemed a bit goofy and out of place, and some areas that are little too brightly lit, but overall a great haunt for some great startles. The final room is a vortex tunnel. I've seen these on the Internet, but until you step inside it, you can't understand how disorienting the thing is. Defiantly go to Potters. It's well worth the wait in line and the $12 (I couldn't find them offering any coupons or discounts if you bring a food bank donation, which is unfortunate).

Bear Creek Ghost Train: This is just minutes away from Potters and worth going to if you're checking out potters. Most of the sets and scares are pretty ordinary, but they have a few things that really stand out. There's a super creepy set with many (bear?) skulls on stakes, it's lit well and elaborate. They also break some of the boundaries that haunted houses normally have (don't touch actors, they wont touch you). You will be grabbed! The train ride is well done, and for only $7.

Dunbar Haunted House
YES! YES! YES!!! This is the one haunt to visit in Vancouver. An amazing production that rivals professional haunted houses, and all done in someone's (large) yard. Lots of time, money, love and creativity have gone into this production. The sets are very elaborate and detailed (and expensive). There is also a theme to the haunt, which I enjoy, "Horror through the ages." You start out in ancient Egypt, and all the way through genetic modified pumpkins. With all the greatness, there were a few issues we had with some of the volunteer actors coming out of character; the giant tree that asks you, "Are you the last guys through, we were supposed to close at 10," takes you out of the mood. Admission is by donation (I'd suggest $8 or so) and proceeds go to a number of charities. Located in Southlands (6478 Dunbar) and open all day until 10pm, midnight on Friday and Saturday with actors coming out to haunt at 7.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Aberthau Imposters?

I noticed that this year Aberthau Mansion is listing a haunted house on the weekend before Halloween. Before I took over, and after I left, the haunt there was very amature. Without going, I cannot comment on the quality of the haunt this year, but I can comment on the fact that they have stolen the writeup I used for my haunt in 2001. I am interested if the haunt can actually live up to being a "more creative sensory experience" with a storyline, or if it will be teenagers in hockey masks. If anyone goes, please let me know.

The copy I wrote in 2001 which appears in this year's flyer:

Brave your fears as you explore the manifestations
of your darkest nightmares. We move beyond the
realm of teenagers in hockey masks and peeled grape
eyeballs into much more creative and artistic
sensory experience where our audience is hurled
into the middle of our gruesome storyline. What’s
happening at Aberthau? Find out as nightmares
become reality at Aberthau Haunted Mansion

Monday, October 13, 2008

Halloween Shopping Updated 2009

If you're looking for Halloween decorations and costumes here are some places you can try:

The Party Bazaar: (Vancouver and North Vancouver) Overpriced, but they have Vancouver's widest selection of Halloween items.
Thomas FX: (North Vancouver) Some things are overpriced, other prices are fair. They have a lot of unique items. Many items year-round.
New York Novelties: (Main and Broadway): Some goofy stuff, some scary stuff.
Dressew: (Downtown Vancouver) Masks, Wigs, costume accessories. Few decorations. Good prices on fabric to make your own costumes.
Homesense: Lots of reasonably priced decor and kitchen items. Some props and costumes.
Spencer Gifts: Not a great selection this year, but they have both costumes and decorations.
Walmart/Superstore: Check them out, some good prices, and sometimes some cool items.
Value Village: Mainly costumes and accessories, but they have some decorations.
More Madness Costumes: (Fraser St.): They rent and sell costumes and accessories.
Shoppers Drug Mart: Every once and a while shoppers has something really cool and often affordable.
HollyNorth: (Burnaby) Mainly theatrical makeup (bloods), but a couple severed limbs. They also rent gear and have great supplies like nicotine spray and snot tape.
Micahel's Crafts: They put their stuff out early, and transform to x-mas before Halloween which is good in the sense that now what's left is all on sale. Some neat props and decorations.
Carols Costume Corner: (North Vancouver) Mainly sales and renatls of costumes and accessories. 
Spirit Store: (Burnaby) A large store with some cool props and lots of costumes. Not as many products as I was hoping for.

I am in no way associated with any of these merchants and am not linking to them on purpose, however a quick web search should bring you their info.

Monday, September 15, 2008

2008 Halloween Event Listing

I am compiling a list of what's happening around the lower mainland this Halloween. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment. As soon as I visit the haunts, I'll add my reviews.

Potters House of Horrors -Surrey
Fright Nights -Vancouver
Parade of Lost Souls Oct. 25th -Vancouver
Stanley Park Ghost Train (For Kids)-Vancouver
Barnyard Phantoms -Surrey
Haunted Trolley Tour -Vancouver
Burnaby Village Museum Haunted Village -Burnaby
Reapers -Chilliwack
Bear Creek Haunted Train Ride -Surrey
Double Spurs Haunted House -Abbotsford
The Great Big Boo (For Kids) -Various performances
Brinkworth Dungeon -Surrey
Dunbar Haunted House-Vancouver

Updated 10/13/08

Monday, September 01, 2008

PNE/Playland Haunt Review

I went to the PNE last night and checked out the haunted house ScreamWorks has created there. It has been changed quite a bit since last year. The haunt is set up as "two haunts in one" meaning there are two different themes. The first is a traditional haunted house style exploring different rooms of a house, including a kitchen with hot and cold running blood. Aside from 2 or three times an actor popped out from a drop-panel and a shaking coffin, there weren't really many startles. There were several areas in a row where I kept waiting for something to happen and it didn't. I don't believe that there needs to be a startle in every room when a room acts to build suspense/fear or when it's detailed enough to appreciate the set alone. These rooms were overly bright and fairly boring. The second part of the haunt began with a series of dark corridors where you had to feel your way through. Normally these can be very scary, since you never know when and where something will startle you, unfortunately, not much did and I couldn't hear any soundtrack that could have helped to heighten my apprehension. The one truly scary room came at the end: a square room, lit by a slowly flashing strobe light. All around the walls of the room were various figures, and no obvious door. People are forced to enter the room with their senses confused by the strobe and surrounded by figures, some of which come at you. I hope that they can put some more time into adding some better scares before they reopen for Fright Nights.

Homeless for 2008

Things have fallen through with the museum for this year despite some really solid ideas. It's looking like Sean and I will be concentrating on creating some (hopeful) award-winning costumes as well as touring around to some of the local haunts.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Halloween in August

We have returned triumphant from Fright Fest BC and Halloween in August at the Fort Langley Campsite. For the past several years, the campground has hosted a Halloween-themed weekend where the children go trick-or-treating from campsite to campsite. Of course the highlight of the weekend is the haunted house put on by the FrightFest BC group. Our contribution was a circus themed area with a drop-panel ticket booth and an encounter with the creepy Fingers the Clown. We had a couple neat pneumatic gags, one where a man's balloon head popped and was replaced with a skull, and another air cannon that show popcorn up at people. Things went very well and there was much screams and merriment

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nightmares in Victoria

I had the opportunity to catch a helicopter into Victoria to meet up with Sean and his friends and to see (as far as I know) Western Canada's only year-round haunted attraction. The attraction is not a haunted house per se, but two 15 minute experiences: The Hot Seat, and Madame Isabella's. The Hot Seat brings you and no more than 4 of your friends (comfortably) into the execution chamber to witness ol' sparky in action. The actor we had was really good, and there were some scary anticipation involved. More laughs than screams for us, but I hope it's the other way around for normal people. The other attraction, Madame Isabella's, is a séance in a room that comes alive with spirits ( of the pnumatic and animatronic variety). Both attractions were a lot of fun, but not really scary. I'd certainly reccomend going.