Midsummer Scream 2023: Echoes of Eerie Excitement

Author: Tania Escobar

It’s been exactly a month since Midsummer Scream wrapped up, and the chills haven’t left me. After an entire year of anticipation, stepping back into the fog-filled ambiance of Midsummer Scream felt like revisiting an old, eerie tale. The distant whispers of past conventions, the chilling allure of upcoming attractions, and the familiar yet always surprising Hall of Shadows beckoned.

It’s held at the Long Beach Convention Center since its first year, and arriving at the same hall every year adds to the tradition. The convention center was transformed into a gothic masterpiece. Cobwebs hung from the ceilings, dimly lit lanterns guided the way, and life-sized animatronics added an element of surprise. With its haunting history, the distant view of the Queen Mary added an extra layer of spookiness to the event.

For those unfamiliar, Midsummer Scream is the harbinger of Halloween, held annually on the last weekend of July. It’s my curtain-closer for summer and a grand welcome for the Halloween season. It serves as a symbolic bridge between the carefree days of summer and the eerie anticipation of fall, setting the stage for Halloween. This convention is where the giants of horror – Six Flags Frightfest, Knott’s Scary Farm, Halloween Horror Nights, Haunted Hayride, and the recent Shaqtoberfest at the Queen Mary – unveil their spine-chilling attractions for the year.

Tania Escobar with the makeup artists who did her horror makeup.

I usually attend solo, but I never feel alone. Being a former scare actor at Knotts Scary Farm, I always bump into familiar faces from Scary Farm and Dark Harbor. It’s like a reunion of monsters and, undoubtedly, the summer’s highlight for us. The convention has a way of making you feel recognized and valued. This sense of reunion isn’t just limited to fellow scare actors. I was thrilled to see Billy Wirth from The Lost Boys among the notable attendees. It’s heartwarming when your favorite star remembers you, even after years and a pandemic. Throughout the event, I was enveloped in delightful encounters, reminiscing about our times in the mazes, shared experiences, and the bonds we’ve forged.

This year was monumental. Southern California’s top haunt attractions unveiled thrilling news and surprises for 2023. And like many attendees, my eyes were set on the big reveal from Knott’s Scary Farm! This year was particularly special for Scary Farm, as it was celebrating its 50th anniversary, the anticipation was palpable. Scary Farm isn’t just an attraction; it’s a repository of memories, screams, and laughter. It’s where I honed my scare actor skills and met fellow enthusiasts who became lifelong friends.

The Hall of Shadows was the epicenter of attraction. It housed mini mazes and attractions from independent companies and hobbyists passionate about Halloween. It is a labyrinth of emotions. Each turn led to a different mini maze with its own story to tell. The dim lighting, the eerie sound effects, and the occasional scream from a startled attendee made it an unforgettable experience. One particular maze, a Dungeons & Dragons theme by Cal Haunts, was particularly immersive.

Within the Hall of Shadows, Decayed Brigade, SoCal’s sliding team holds a sliding show every year, and they pack the center of the hall every single hour they have a show. Their performance was a masterclass in synchronized sliding, with each member showcasing their unique skills. The highlight was a choreographed sequence where they slid in formation, evoking gasps and applause from the audience.

For collectors and enthusiasts, the convention floor was a treasure trove. Limited edition merchandise, from vintage horror posters to exclusive action figures, were up for grabs. I personally couldn’t resist a limited-edition print from a renowned horror artist. For those keen on hands-on experiences, the convention offered interactive workshops. From DIY haunt props to special effects makeup tutorials, there was an opportunity for attendees to learn and hone their craft.

No convention is complete without themed refreshments. Food stalls offered Halloween-inspired treats, from ‘zombie finger’ hot dogs to ‘witch’s brew’ beverages, adding to the immersive experience.

A surprise appearance by actor Dave Dasmalchian, known for his role as Polkadot Man in James Gunn’s Suicide Squad, was the cherry on top. He was the moderator for the Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group Panel. When Dave took the stage, the crowd erupted in cheers. His passion for horror was evident as he shared anecdotes from his roles in horror films. The highlight was when he witnessed the release of a mark based on his comic book character, Count Crowley. Seeing this sent the audience into a frenzy of excitement. The mask is from Immortal Masks, which makes some masks for big-name events like Six Flag Fright Fest.

Beyond the scares and attractions, Midsummer Scream is not just about the thrills but also a significant hub for networking. Professionals, from special effects artists to writers and directors, converge here, making it a melting pot of talent and creativity in the horror industry. This networking extends into the evening, with events like the pajama-themed after-party. Even though I missed it, I heard it was a blast, especially with the screening of Onyx the Fortuitous and The Talisman of Souls.

Plan on attending next year? I’d recommend the Gold Bat pass. It offers a slew of benefits, including early entry and front-of-the-line privileges. And if you’re dressing up, stay in theme with the convention for the best experience.

Midsummer Scream is more than just a convention. It’s a celebration of all things Halloween and horror. It’s where memories are made and passions are reignited. If you were there, share your experiences below. And if you missed it, ensure you’re there next year. Trust me; it’s an event you don’t want to miss!

Check out the Midsummer Scream Review from my fellow horror convention attendee, Joe Di Gaetano, to learn about the Hauntbuster attraction and the Halloween Horror Nights panel!

Check out our MIDSUMMER SCREAM photo gallery!

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