It was a perfect fall evening for the Black Carpet premiere of this year’s Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. (Sabina Ibarra/LOL-LA)
Finally we were able to experience a Halloween event on Los Angeles’ gloomiest Sunday. Crisp leaves, crunchy hay on the ground and a chilly fall wind set the tone for an evening at the Old L.A. Zoo for the 2015 Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. With the weather on its side, this was literally the perfect evening to experience the annual event.
Here were the highlights of this season’s wilderness haunt:
Hayride – This year, the Boogeyman took over the Hayride as the main set-piece scare, but before we get there, let’s go over the most awe-inspiring beats of the ride that takes you into woods filled with the things of nightmares. We loved the eerie start with the little girls playing outside way past their bedtime, worshiping something sinister at a stained-glass altar. You have to give it to the ride designers who nailed misdirection this year: You go through each stage so completely captivated by the unfolding scenes that you make yourself vulnerable in unexpected ways. Another wonderful set piece was the outdoor ball scene with a wonderfully talented violinist playing to a ravenous crowd – just how ravenous, you’ll find out.
This year we finally saw some use out of the Old Zoo cages with a series of infamous animals coming at you. Murder fans will delight at that one, as well as the short skit-like ’70s throwback to serial scares that literally unfolds like some of the best horror movies of that era. I really hope they go further with this concept next year. Perhaps creating a narrative hayride play that guests will be pulled through with a more structured storyline, characters to follow and lose until a killer ending would work – like a camp terror massacre or cabin in the woods sort of a thing.
Mazes – Let’s start with the new House of Shadows maze. This one took you into a campy and twisted home that’s filled with hidden walls and clever moments to terrify you. A highlight of this maze was the fantastic living room set which will freak out everyone in a very ingenious way. The Hayride’s In-Between: Dark Maze was back with a major change: You literally become part of the scares. You go in with a clown mask and encounter actors who you couldn’t tell if they were going in the maze with you or were just there to frighten you. It was also fun to throw them off and scare them.
Then there was the new Trick or Treat horror and gag show. A good concept in theory: You go door to door and either get a trick or a treat, but the execution was a bit muddled due to timing issues moving groups along. Plus, the reveals behind each door were a bit underwhelming mostly. This was a good idea that needs revisiting next year.
Performances and Activities – The monsters that milled about the event were gorgeous, grizzly creations. From the creepy ghostly bride to the netted monsters and a cool Slender-Man that creeps up on you, everyone looks spooktacular! (Yes, gimme that pun)
The theater macabre, I’m guessing comes from the fun activity that was offered during the Great Horror Campout in which participants were able to shadowcast iconic horror scenes in slapstick ways. It was a fun live show when attendees get really into it on stage. There was also pumpkin carving for the kiddies, psychics to tell you your future and fun food-truck snacks. The Misery Mac and Cheese balls were a crowd cheeser! (OK, last pun.)
The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride runs through Oct. 31. For hours, tickets and more information, visit losangeleshauntedhayride.com.