Celebrate Halloween Any Time of Year with the “The Halloween Experience” DVDs!

Get your haunted house fix this summer with simulated walk-thru videos of eleven of the best haunts on the West Coast on two volumes of “The Halloween Experience.”

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray—

“California Dreamin’,” The Mamas & the Papas

John and Michelle Phillips might have been dreaming about California on a winter’s day when they wrote this song in 1965, but most of the readers of this website are dreaming about the brown and gold leaves of October during the southern heat of the summer, so we’ve decided to devote this column to some of the best haunted attractions on the West Coast.

Enter “The Halloween ExperienceVolume One and Two.

What a great idea! Folks that love to explore haunted attractions are mostly limited to five or six weeks in September/October, and then there’s the restriction of haunt hours (around dusk until midnight on weekends) and how much gas you can afford driving to haunts around the region. There are literally thousands of haunts out there, all of them different, and most of them DIY efforts put on by passionate local owners and crews.

The team behind “The Halloween Experience” (http://www.hauntedtelevision.com/) has created two volumes of haunted attraction walk-thru videos that allow haunt fans to check out the chills and thrills of some of best haunts on the West Coast anytime they feel like it. These videos aren’t just cheesy POV videos you might find on YouTube; they’ve been artfully post-edited to try and give the viewer the atmosphere you would experience live at each attraction.

Each segment is professionally lit, shot and post edited to give the viewer a closer look and some of the better sets, props, masks and makeups. Not all of the editing was to my taste, but the style of each segment is generally tailored to the theme of that particular haunt.

Volume One is hosted by Bloody Jenny and includes the following haunts:

Sinister Pointe (www.sinisterpointe.com): A crumbling southern mansion populated by inbred hillbillies, cannibals and zombies, this huge haunt features amazing sets and atmospheric lighting.

The Haunted Hotel (www.hauntedhotel.com): Once actually the sister haunt of Louisville’s own Haunted Hotel on S 4th Street, this version in the Gaslight District of San Diego is often rated among the top haunts in the country. You might feel right at home here as the two haunts still share the same logo and wild elevator ride, but everything else is completely different. Hotel hallways and rooms give way to more of an insane asylum vibe as you make your way through the vintage café and past animatronic beasties and undead former guests, right through to the chainsaw clown finale.

The Chambers of the Mausoleum: A huge Castle Keep façade leads to an elaborate maze of above ground crypts with some of the more impressive breakaway doors and stain glassed windows I’ve ever seen in a haunt. If you’re a fan of “Tombs of the Blind Dead,” you’ll appreciate the oppressive mood and cloaked creepers here. Skull littered dungeons might remind some of you of “Pirates of the Caribbean” in detail and scale. Grave robbing ghouls haunt the outside portion of the haunt and the tour climaxes with an appearance by the Devil himself.

The Backwoods Maze: This one is a post-apocalyptic/steampunk themed haunt filled with radioactive freaks and mutated beasts. You’ll make your way through lots of simulated burning buildings past machine gun totting marauders.

Fears Gate (www.fearsgate.com): Possibly the lowest rent haunt in this volume, this one is an all zombie themed haunt where the zombies are mostly actors with black circles painted around their eyes. Appropriately, “The Halloween Experience” has post-edited this walk-thru to simulate the look of George Romero’s black-and-white classic, “Night of the Living Dead,” all silent except for the sound of flickering film reels.

Reign of Terror (www.rothauntedhouse.com): Beginning like a Western style ghost town full of skeletal bartenders and piano players, there are a number of good animatronic jump scares as you journey through a forgotten, cobwebbed manse into an icy frozen area and back into the decaying Gothic hallways. This haunt seems more focused on atmosphere than shock scares. There is second haunt here called “The Asylum,” a trip through a literal madhouse that is much more actor driven and shock oriented. It’s a nice balance of mood and shock.

Volume Two is hosted by Bloody Ben and includes the following haunts:

The Empty Grave (www.themtgrave.com): A haunted mortuary theme reminiscent of our own Baxter Avenue Morgue sends you through a series crypts to face undead undertakers and rotting corpses thirsty for fresh blood.

The Labyrinth of Lost Relics (www.figmentfoundry.wix.com/haunts): By far my favorite haunt on either volume, this fantasy oriented haunt is the incredible creation of the Figment Foundry in Redlands, CA. You enter an ancient ruin only to be greeted by a fully animated alien-lizard type of creature sitting on a throne. He sends you on an adventure through a laser tunnel into the strange realms beyond filled with trolls, bird creatures, Minotaurs, dragons and suit-mation monstrosities. The sets, costumes and monsters, all created in house, are amazing original creations.

Haunted Hollywood Sports (www.hauntedhollywoodsports.com): This is a huge, 23 acre multi-haunt scream park. Two of their attractions, Venom and Cannibal Caverns are included here. Venom is a dark, swampy attraction steeped in Voodoo and poisonous creatures. I’d love to see the fog machine expense bill for this haunt. Cannibal Caverns is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a mine shaft filled with people that want to eat you followed immediately by a clown maze.

The Perdition Home (www.perditionhome.com): Right out of a Rob Zombie movie, complete with subtle hints of banjo strings on the soundtrack, this is basically “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Haunt,” and “The Halloween Experience” even edits the footage to the sounds of flash bulb crime scene photography as heard in that horror classic’s opening reel. The acting here might be the stalest of the lot with dialogue like, “Get out of my barn,” “Where do you think you’re going?,” and “Come play with us.” What it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in gore.

Scream in the Dark (www.screamhauntedhouse.com): For some reason, “The Halloween Experience” chose to shoot this one with a slightly distorted fisheye lens and there are a lot of fades, wipes and extreme close-ups in the editing. Perhaps it was an attempt to give an original feel to a fairly traditional haunt, but I had a hard time getting much of an impression of this haunt’s style or detail through the cinematography and editing. It’s still entertaining.

You can purchase your copies of “The Halloween ExperienceVolumes One and Two for $12.99 each at www.hauntedtelevision.com. That’s eleven virtual haunt tours that you can brave anytime of the year the mood strikes you. It’s going to be a chilling summer.

The Phantom of The Ville

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