Midsummer Scream 2017
Author: Tania Escobar
As goes the glorious Misfits’ song, “Bonfires burning bright, pumpkin faces in the night, I remember Halloween!” Yes, that’s right, Halloween is here! Well, the first signs of it, from grocery stores stocking themed candy to releases of which rides will be at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. Still, for those wanting to experience Halloween in July truly, the best place to start is Midsummer Scream, held at the Long Beach Convention Center. This is the first convention to kick off the spooky season from July 29 to 30, 2017.
Halloween is my drug of choice, so any chance to get a fill of thrills, screams, and mania during the summer fixes any withdrawals. Though Midsummer Scream is not the first convention to honor the autumn masked holiday, it has grown in its second year running. This year was a bit more crowded than last, possibly foretelling the event’s future. Unlike some conventions, the increase in crowds and commotion adds to the experience, as craziness is the spirit of the occasion.
Aside from running around and cackling wildly while taking pictures, I had an agenda for the weekend. The first stop was to watch the Decayed Brigade Sliders’ show. Armed with knee pads, this group of sliding scare performers originated from Knott’s Scary Farm and, over the decades, have taken the act of gliding along the ground on their knees to more serious stunts complemented with heavy metal music. A favorite in the Halloween Community, people can learn more about them in their upcoming documentary, Sliders of Ghosttown.
Upon walking into the convention hall, you can see it is divided by a huge black curtain. On one side is the convention floor, well-lit and full of vendors. The other side is the scare floor which holds performances and experiences in, The Hall of Shadows (bum bum bum)! This dark zone is filled with fog and actors ready to frighten guests. Showcasing small businesses and mini scare-mazes, it’s a great chance to audit some of the haunts before the season comes.
Of course, the top haunts for Southern California were ever present and ready to reveal some surprises for their mazes. Knott’s Scary Farm announced they were making their Trick or Treat maze interactive, though I don’t think it’ll involve laser guns like the Infected Maze. The best feature was their 45 Years of Knott’s Scary Farm panel, consisting of performers, special effects creators, and designers, in an epic 90-minute presentation that discussed how the Buena Park mazes inspired an industry that has now taken over the United States.
Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights took a classic route with a trick-or-treat theme to one of their scare zones. If you’ve ever been front row for an opening ceremony of HHN or ended the evening with a Chainsaw-Chase-Out, then you know the madness I live for. This year, for Scare Zone One, the area will add the element of the pumpkin jack-o-lantern scarers.
Another large park discovery I learned was that Six Flags Fright Fest is adding a virtual reality haunt to one of their coasters. This will create more roller coaster loops with VR goggles to increase the horror pumped through the riders’ veins. Though I’ve never been to Fright Fest, anyone wanting to experience the virtual reality life may need to take barf bags with them, just in case.
The final unveiling at the convention came from Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor. Adding a new fourth maze aboard their ship, Feast will bring attendees to areas of the ship that are not accessible to the regular guest. The maze follows the legend of a WWII chef who would kill soldiers in the middle of the night, cook them, and serve them to the crew. According to the tale, he was caught and burned alive in his oven.
Screaming my lungs out, cheering for the Decayed Brigade, and discovering what all the big haunts are bringing us this Halloween was a wonderful trick-or-treat. Still, previewing haunts and watching performers aside, it was great to experience Halloween in July with fellow fright aficionados. Really, in the end, we all need a good scare here and there to remind us we’re still alive.