“The Houses October Built”

I’d like to veer off the book theme of blogging for today and get more into the spooky spirit since it is October, and Halloween is upon us all whether you like it or not. And I want to talk a bit about “Haunted Houses or Mazes” and my experience with them.

I think Haunted Mazes or Houses have sort of shaped the feel of Halloween and the way we celebrate it.

People today, want to be scared and unfortunately, because most of us are immune to the horror genre thanks to over exposure and the repetitive factors they generally use to scare individuals, the only way to do that, is to pull out extreme forms of horror based ideals. Not only that, but to let people experience that fear.

For years, many theme parks across the US like Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios have taken to the Halloween spirit by going all out and inventing an event in which guests may come to find their way through dark mazes, witness dirty/dark humorous shows, and be chased down by amateurs dressed in Halloween costumes. These have been the places to go if you want to be-simply put-scared.

I have a very deep love and understanding of the horror genre especially after being absolutely terrified of it for so long as a kid. Even when I was scared and had nightmares that forced me to crawl into my parent’s bed, I found ways to sneak peeks at the scary movies my family watched.

Scared or not, I was always fascinated by the sights of people running from the murderer, or the monster hiding in the shadows, and above all else, the gore.

Ah yes, the lovely, beautiful scenes of excessive blood and guts that I now know, takes so much hard and messy work from the crew to piece together correctly.

There are so many different types of horror, whether it be slasher flicks, psychological thrillers, or supernatural, etc. I love all of it.

And I have seen…probably most of it. Of course there’s lots of foreign films I have yet to see. But anyway, in short, It took years of forcing myself to sit through a lot of horror movies and later the special features (it’s less scary when you know these are all just actors pretending) to finally get over my fear of horror movies.

As of today, I have seen so many kinds that they simply don’t frighten me anymore. However, I still enjoy them and I love the technical side of how they were created, because the cast and crew, always put plenty of love into the films.

With my interest in horror came my intrigue in “haunted” theme parks, particularly Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. Every year up until 2012 (at least I think it was ’12.)

God I have a bad memory.

I would watch every possibly piece of footage from HHN from the years before. The mazes, the shows, the scare zones, and even the rides (however they don’t change the rides much.) And in 2012-maybe ’13 they introduced The Walking Dead to HHN. They were bringing one of my very favorite shows to life.

I HAD to go.

I told myself, I really wasn’t that scared to go through a maze or have someone follow me around with a chainless chainsaw. I’d be fine, and I could appreciate the sights of everything they put into the event. I knew that if anyone in the California area could do Halloween, Universal did it best. And I thought it was the best idea ever.

I invited my cousin, Alicia. And because I had heard it’s better to be in a group, I invited my other cousin, Melody, who invited two of her friends. We were all set. I was nervous in a good way, and very excited.

However, the closer we got, the more nervous I became. We parked, we got some food at the City Walk and we got in the longest line ever to get past security and get in. The first thing we were greeted with was a couple of scantily clad “scary clown” dancers in these cage-like containers.

Can’t have horror without sex appeal, I guess.

My sole purpose of this event was to relish in the Walking Dead maze and the decorative details, so naturally the first thing I wanted to do was either start with a ride or the Walking Dead.

Nope.

My cousin wanted to try the first maze we came across. I had no choice but to agree and give it a try. Let it be known, I’d never been in a single maze or “haunted house” or anything really…ever. The closest I came to anything like this, was the creepy props aisle in a costume store.

We all agreed to hold on to each other and one of my cousin’s friends was quite terrified, so scared in fact that it made me a little braver. I fed off her fear in a positive way.

On the way to these mazes or on the way to any part of the park, they have what are called “Scare Zones” which are areas designated to a theme in which they have actors playing the characters that follow you around. The first one we had to go through was at the entrance of the park, and by the first maze.

I was completely fine (of course, a little nervous) realizing that these “scary clowns” (males—this time) were going after the people who looked afraid. Which I can understand, they want to get a reaction out of people and the ones they’ll get that from are the guests who already afraid. For example, Melody’s poor friend who was already scared out of her mind. These clowns walk around with real chainsaws (minus the chain), as well as other weapons and swing them around, scraping them across the floor to make sparks, and wielding them at groups to split apart.

I learned that the smartest thing to do is keep a smile on your face and not look scared. Melody’s friend was the first to get targeted by one of these characters. Where I got to look at them up close and personal, very good makeup—awesome costumes, but these guys found way too much pleasure in scaring people. Melody’s friend yelled at them to stop (they held a chainsaw at her feet) but they persisted until she eventually ran off ahead of us.

It was then that I understood, these guys love this job, and they took it way too seriously. It’s tough being thrown into a ring of monster dressed people who enjoy terrifying other people and breathing down your neck. It’s uncomfortable to have strangers follow you, call at you, and touch you without actually touching you.

I didn’t want to have these people make me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be pushed over the edge. It wasn’t that they were dressed as “monsters” or “villains” that made them scary, it was seeing how little self-control they had over how uncomfortable they made you feel.

That made my night flip over into something I wasn’t ready for. I told myself that I had to suck it up, that this was all in my head. So we went through the first maze, where I let my cousin guide us all through, and I kept my eyes focused on the ground, occasionally looking around at the décor. On top of everything, I have mild claustrophobia (I get fidgety on the submarines in Disneyland, even.) Needless to say, I didn’t like being in such an enclosed tight space in mostly darkness, not knowing when it was going to end. It was so impressive and elaborate, I just wish I hadn’t felt so uncomfortable.

The second thing we agreed to do was a ride, so we rode Jurassic Park: “In the Dark” which sort of relieved that discomfort, not to mention we only had to go through the second scare zone—Silent Hill—that wasn’t very scary at all. More cool than scary to me, they had the nurses, who mostly stood around when the familiar siren wasn’t going off, and the Pyramid Head guy (who was very, very cool), but they never got too close, and they didn’t make me uncomfortable so I was fine. I was at ease, and I could relax and begin to feel more excited and have fun.

Until Melody wanted to go on yet again, another maze. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is an awesome movie (original is of course–better, but the remake I can appreciate just as much) but the maze? Another one that I knew was going to be just as tight, dark, and creepy as the first one. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I really, really tried to convince myself to go through it, but I simply couldn’t. Not to mention, Melody’s friend was beginning to get upset and utterly horrified when her friend tried to force her through another maze. I honestly felt bad for her, she was truly scared, and not having fun at all, so I sat with her while my two cousins and the other friend, went through the maze. I could do rides, I could do shows, I could even do scare zones, but I couldn’t go through another maze.

I just couldn’t do it. Sadly, I probably never will again.

Melody came to meet us where we sat on a bench safe away from all the scare zones and various sights, and her friend told her that she really could not be there any longer. She wanted to go home—and I understood, Melody did not. She wanted her friend to stay, and she got upset when her friend had to be escorted out of the park. She wanted to wait in the car for us, so she did.

We continued on. There was two Walking Dead themed areas that night, which was the maze through the prison, and then the Terror Tram. Obviously, the maze was out of the question, but I was so ready for The Walking Dead that I agreed I could handle sitting on a tram and enjoy watching a bunch of walkers try to catch us as we strolled by. Plus, it’d be kind of funny.

I was excited! They had familiar walkers from the show roaming around the que to the tram. The one I remember most, was the little girl in the pink robe. Everything was spot on, and it was like being on set.

So we get on the tram, I get pumped up, until the tram slowed to stop and we were told that we would walk the rest of the way. The whole, getting off the tram thing, was completely unexpected by all of us. It was essentially an outdoor maze, where we wouldn’t see anything from the original tram ride, except the plane crash from War of the Worlds, and the Bates’ motel + the house from Psycho.

The first thing I saw, was a dark path, and a bunch of “walkers” doing their thing out there plus the “humans” in their SWAT gear and—

You guessed it.

Their personal favorite, Chainsaws!!! Waiting for us guests to step off into their territory. Something in my brain clicked that made me panic. I don’t know why or what it was that made me react the way I did, but I freaked. I think being thrown into the unexpected with these guys that I already hated, affected me.

I thought the clowns were mean, these guys were worse. And they didn’t even look scary. The scariest thing about them was their protective gear. They saw how afraid I was, because I was held tight between my two cousins and the friend, and they went straight for me.

Let’s call the guy that made me never want to go to HHN again, Bob. Bob the swat guy with a chainsaw. He was the first to greet me not even five minutes after getting off the tram. He got right in front of me, and held the stupid chainsaw against my leg (which I now know, actually begins to warm up) the chainsaw gets hot, and I could feel it. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like his aggression, I didn’t like that he didn’t stop after I tried getting away and after my cousins yelled at him seriously, and I didn’t like the situation period. It overwhelmed me, and I don’t know. Maybe I was on my period that day, who knows, but I cried. I actually cried after that because of how—I don’t know how to describe it— violated you feel, just because you’re being terrified and nearly harassed by another person you don’t even know. Someone who doesn’t stop even after you tell them to? It’s not cool, man. It’s mean. And he wasn’t the only one on that trail, there was more just like him who went straight for me. I’ll never forget that.

There was a whole lot of walking up hills, through smelly shacks, and pushy people, and of course the walkers who didn’t actually do much—that was the “humans” job.

I didn’t like how it felt, after that, I was tired and emotionally drained so we went to watch a comedic show, it was Bill and Ted or something like that, it was funny and dirty, and cheered me up a bit, but afterwards I just wanted to go home. I didn’t like the way these characters made me feel, trying to scare me, I didn’t like it. Plus, it was around 3 in the morning anyway, so we left.

All in all, I think the idea of these horror themed parks are still the coolest events of the year, and I admire all the work that goes into the making of it. I still look at all the mazes and such of HHN—here and Florida—just because I like to see what they do with it and how it’s all transformed. But for me to go there and do that again, it’s not for me. The characters take it a little too far sometimes if you ask me, and maybe I’m just overreacting, but having someone try to scare you like that, is not fun to me.

It’s just not.

Off topic, but. I came across this beauty. No idea what it’s from, but hot damn.

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